Monday, June 6, 2011

Arnie Gundersen: "On-and-Off Recriticality Possible in Fukishima Reactor 3"

I was listening the podcast of the interview Arnie Gundersen gave to Chris Martenson the other day (in order to translate into Japanese) and noticed something I had missed when I skimmed through the transcript for my post.

Gundersen is saying that 10% of the fuel core of the Reactor 3 may be repeating a re-criticality, on and off:

"Unit 3 may not have melted through and that means that some of the fuel certainly is lying on the bottom, but it may not have melted through and some of the fuel may still look like fuel, although it is certainly brittle. And it's possible that when the fuel is in that configuration that you can get a re-criticality. It's also possible in any of the fuel pools, one, two, three, and four pools, that you could get a criticality, as well. So there’s been frequent enough high iodine indications to lead me to believe that either one of the four fuel pools or the Unit 3 reactor is in fact, every once in a while starting itself up and then it gets to a point where it gets so hot that it shuts itself down and it kind of cycles. It kind of breathes, if you will.

"I think it's a relatively significant amount – maybe a tenth of the nuclear reactor core starts back up and shuts back down and starts back up and shuts back down. And that’s an extra heat load; you are not prepared to get rid of one tenth of a nuclear reactor’s heat by pumping water in the top."

Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University suspected an on-and-off recriticality in the Reactor 1 back in early April when TEPCO announced, supposedly erroneously, chlorine-38 was detected. Dr. Tetsuo Matsui of Tokyo University suspected recriticality in the Reactor 2 and/or the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool. Gundersen suspects an on-and-off recriticality in the Reactor 3 (or any of the Spent Fuel Pools). (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Fukushima No.1 reactor vessel damaged 5 hours after quake, 10 hours earlier than revealed to public

Japan's nuclear regulator says the meltdown at one of the Fukushima reactors came about 5 hours after the March 11th earthquake, 10 hours earlier than initially estimated by the plant's operator.

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on Monday issued the results of its analysis of data given to it by Tokyo Electric Power Company.

The report says the fuel rods in the Number 1 reactor began to be exposed 2 hours after the earthquake due to the loss of the reactor's cooling system in the tsunami. Its fuel rods may have melted down 3 hours later, causing the damage to the reactor. This means the meltdown occurred about 10 hours earlier than TEPCO estimated last month.

The nuclear agency also says a meltdown damaged the Number 2 reactor about 80 hours after the quake, and the Number 3 reactor 79 hours after the quake.

The agency's analysis shows that the Number 2 reactor damage came 29 hours earlier than the TEPCO estimate, and the Number 3 reactor damage came 13 hours later than in the utility's assessment. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

European Central Bank risks being 'wiped out' by bail-outs

The European Central Bank is "looking increasingly vulnerable" and may face "hefty losses" as a result of propping up indebted eurozone countries, a leading think-tank has warned.

The International Monetary Fund's partner in the recent international bail-out missions is itself in danger of becoming a liability, Open Europe has argued.

In a report published on Monday entitled A House Built on Sand?, Open Europe has calculated that the ECB has a total exposure of about €444bn (£397bn) to "struggling eurozone economies".

The bank is now "23 to 24 times levered" as a result of bailing out Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

The London-based think tank argued: "Should the ECB see its assets fall by just 4.23pc in value . . . its entire capital base would be wiped out."

Open Europe said: "Hefty losses for the ECB are no longer a remote risk." It added: "The ECB is ultimately underwritten by taxpayers which means there is a hidden – and potentially huge – cost of the eurozone crisis to taxpayers buried in the ECB's books." (read more)

Fierce clashes in Yemen; fate of Saleh uncertain



The fiercest clashes since anti-government demonstrations began in Taiz four months ago erupted overnight Monday between anti-government gunmen and members of government security forces, witnesses said.

They cited heavy gunfire near the Republican Palace, which is less than two miles from the city's Freedom Square, where tens of thousands of anti-government protesters had taken to the streets.

The witnesses did not want to be identified, citing fear for their safety.

The goal of the anti-government gunmen was to protect the anti-government demonstrators, who have repeatedly come under fire from security forces during the past two months. Last week, Yemen's government faced condemnation from the United Nations and others for the killing of as many as 50 anti-government demonstrators in Taiz. (read more)

State TV: 120 security forces killed in northern Syria by "armed gangs" -- The people strike back



More than 100 people were killed Monday in and around the northern Syrian city of Jisr Al-Shugur in the third consecutive day of violence there, according to reports from the government and opposition groups.

State television cited 120 security forces killed, including 82 in Jisr Al-Shugur. In addition, it said, dozens of civilians were wounded.

State television said the security forces were killed in several attacks including an ambush by "armed gangs" in the city, when government buildings were set afire, and in clashes at a security center.

"The armed attacks targeted public and private buildings in various regions and lately there were similar attacks in Jisr Al-Shugur," Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Chaar said in a short statement on state television. "The state will deal with sternness and force within the law and we will not remain silent when it comes to any armed attack."

State television further reported that the "armed gangs" had stolen five tons of dynamite from a storage area near the Al Abyad Valley Dam. (read more)

The battle for the South China Sea



Also in this episode of Al Jazeera's "Counting the Cost":
-- FIFA corruption in the world's largest game
-- Indonesia rainforest destruction
-- Belorussian currency collapse and IMF bailout

Japanese government document shows offsite emergency center "dysfunctional" while nuclear diaster was unfolding

An internal document from Japan's nuclear safety agency reveals that an emergency response office was nearly dysfunctional at the time of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on March 11th.

NHK has obtained a document from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that shows how the office, called an "off-site center" failed to function properly due to a rise in radiation levels in the wake of a power outage.

Off-site centers were established at 22 locations near nuclear power plants throughout the country after a criticality accident in 1999 at a nuclear fuel processing plant in Tokai Village in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Officials of the national and local governments, police and Self-Defense Forces were to gather at these offices in the event of nuclear power plant accidents to formulate plans to evacuate residents.

A Nuclear Safety and Industrial Agency log shows that an off-site center 5 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant was barely functional after the March 11th earthquake.

It reveals that after the power outage, an emergency diesel generator did not work at all, communications were down, and other critical functions were lost.

The document reveals that officials from only 3 out of more than 20 organizations assembled at the off-site center at around 10:00 PM on March 11th, 7 hours after the earthquake. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Fukishima: Scientists call for radiation exposure reduction

A group of scientists at Fukushima University is urging the prefectural government to take stronger precautions in reducing radiation exposure to citizens.

The croup comprises 12 associate professors at the university, including Hazuki Ishida, an environmental engineering specialist. On Monday they presented the Fukushima Governor with a 7-point request in
connection with the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A health risk management expert for the prefecture said that radiation exposure of up to 10 microsieverts per hour causes no health problems.

But for those remaining outdoors in such conditions for only 5 days, the total radiation exposure will exceed 1 millisievert, the annual limit for ordinary people, as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

The professors called for reducing exposure to radioactivity as much as possible and urged the prefecture to establish guidelines toward this purpose. (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

"Nuclear radiation is the most carcinogenic thing that exists" says AIOM president Carmelo Iacono

Italian oncologists unite to back the anti-nuclear referendum. From the ASCO congress in Chicago, the world's most important oncology summit, AIOM (Italian association of medical oncology) urges the people to vote 'yes' at the referendum to be held on 12 and 13 June. "Nuclear radiation is the most carcinogenic thing that exists - said AIOM president Carmelo Iacono - and it cannot be kept under control, as the Fukushima tragedy proved. Let's drop the nuclear plants project and let's start staking on alternative energy, which pollutes much less and which, unlike nuclear energy, does not pose a threat for health" (read more)

This post was reader contributed.

Researcher: Iran can produce nuke within 2 months, only US military occupation can now stop nuke building

Airstrikes can no longer stop nuclear program, US can do nothing short of military occupation, says report.

The Iranian regime is closer than ever before to creating a nuclear bomb, according to RAND Corporation researcher Gregory S. Jones.

At its current rate of uranium enrichment, Tehran could have enough for its first bomb within eight weeks, Jones said in a report published this week.

He added that despite reports of setbacks in its nuclear program, the Iranian regime is steadily progressing towards a bomb. Unfortunately, Jones says, there is nothing the US can do to stop Tehran, short of military occupation.

The researcher based his report on recent findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), published two weeks ago. Making the bomb will take around two months, he says, because constructing a nuclear warhead is a complicated step in the process.

Jones stresses that stopping Iran will require deploying forces on the ground, because airstrikes are no longer sufficient. The reality is that the US and Israel have failed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear warhead whenever it wants, Jones says. (read more)


East Haven Police Dog Lost In Budget Cuts -- Times are so tough that now even dogs can't be fed

The East Haven Police Department is losing its one police dog to budget cuts.

Sgt. John Miller, the police union president, tells the New Haven Register that acting Chief Gaetano Nappi decided to retire the 5-year-old German shepherd named Paro after the town council cut the department's budget.

Paro has been working with Officer Dave Cari, who was informed by letter Thursday that the K-9 program was being eliminated and that he could choose to have Paro retire as his pet.

Nappi has declined to comment on the decision.

Miller says it would cost about $3,500 a year to keep Paro in service. (read more)

China defends naval actions in South China sea: Is China up to something?

General Liang Guanglie, China’s defence minister, has rejected criticism that his country was acting belligerently in the South China Sea, saying China was pursuing “peaceful development”.

“You say our actions do not match our words. I certainly do not agree,” Gen Liang replied to critics at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-profile Asia defence forum in Singapore.

Speaking days after Vietnam and the Philippines accused China of aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea, Gen Liang denied that China was threatening security in the strategically important and energy-rich disputed waters, saying “freedom of navigation has never been impeded”.

He was the first Chinese defence minister to participate in the forum, which was attended by Robert Gates, US defence secretary, and other Asian defence ministers. It was Gen Liang’s first big international speech.

Mr Gates expressed “increasing concerns” about China’s recent maritime behaviour. But when asked if Beijing was undermining its “peaceful rise” claim, he replied: “I don’t think it has risen to that level yet.”

Hundreds of Vietnamese protested at the weekend in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City against perceived Chinese aggression. Hanoi recently said Chinese coast guard vessels had sabotaged an oil exploration ship. (read more)

OPEC Overshadowed by Qaddafi in Most-Hostile Meeting Since 1990 Gulf War

OPEC’s decision on production quotas this week may be complicated by hostilities in Libya as members meeting in Vienna find themselves supporting opposing camps of a military conflict for the first time in 21 years.

Not since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 has the producer group gathered with some nations giving financial and military support to a movement seeking to topple the government of a fellow member. While Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is trying to quash a rebellion in a country that holds Africa’s largest crude reserves, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are backing the insurgents.

The conflict underlines the difficulties the 50-year-old organization, which accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s oil, may have in deciding production levels. Oil has gained 9.5 percent this year to trade at about $100 a barrel amid signs that the pace of the global economic recovery may be slowing. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably leave its output target unchanged on June 8, according to a Bloomberg survey of 30 analysts conducted May 24-31.

“Amid issues surrounding representation of Libya and oil prices correcting towards $100 a barrel, OPEC is likely to sit on the fence, deferring a decision on quotas for later,” Harry Tchilinguirian, the head of commodity-markets strategy at BNP Paribas SA in London, said in an interview on June 1. “This does not mean individual countries may not take discretionary steps to increase output. OPEC has yet to fill the gap in the market left by Libya.” (read more)

Three arrested, accused of "illegally feeding homeless" -- No really, it's against the law to help a fellow man now



Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park.

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan "Keith" McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

The group lost a court battle in April, clearing the way for the city to enforce the ordinance. It requires groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.

Arrest papers state that Cross, Markeson and McHenry helped feed 40 people Wednesday night. The ordinance applies to feedings of more than 25 people.

"They intentionally violated the statute," said Lt. Barbara Jones, an Orlando police spokeswoman.

‘Bankrupt’ claim heightens Spanish debt fears


The central Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha is “totally bankrupt”, according to the incoming administration of the rightwing Popular party (PP), an accusation that will deepen concerns about Spain’s budget deficit.

The claim has prompted angry denials from the Socialist government.

Spain’s 17 autonomous regions and its more than 8,000 municipalities, with €150bn ($220bn) of accumulated debt between them, have become the latest worry for investors in Spain and its sovereign bonds.

Although the amount is less than a quarter of total public sector debt, regional debt has doubled since 2008. The 17 regions collectively exceeded official budget deficit limits in 2010, and appear likely to do so again this year despite repeated demands for compliance from the central government.

Catalonia, an economy the size of Portugal, says its deficit will be double the target.

Vicente Tirado, a senior PP politician in Castilla-La Mancha, said the region was “totally bankrupt”; owed suppliers such as pharmaceutical companies that provide drugs for hospitals a total of €2bn in unpaid bills; and would have trouble finding the money to pay the region’s 76,000 civil servants next month. (read more)

Greece starts austerity push as nation seethes -- riots, chaos everywhere

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou started a campaign on Monday to secure a new international bailout by imposing years of austerity on a nation already seething over corruption and economic mismanagement.

Unease is growing within Papandreou's ranks about the consequences of waves of budget cuts demanded under successive deals with the European Union and IMF -- and this could turn into alarm after at least 80,000 Greeks crammed a central Athens square to vent their anger over the nation's dire state.

As the government struggles to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debt, the Socialist cabinet began discussing the medium-term economic plan which will impose 6.4 billion euros of extra savings this year alone.

This is the first stage of a drive to turn the plan, agreed on Friday with the EU and IMF as the price of a new financial rescue, into law despite signs of dissent in the ruling party. (read more)

Gang Robs Man in Central Park, NY -- Have you seen this suspect?

Police are looking for the group who brutally robbed a man in Central Park last week.

Cops say the 39-year-old victim was walking along the bridal path next to the reservoir at East 95th Street last Thursday when four men approached him.

Authorities say the suspects hit the victim with a metal water bottle and knocked him to the ground before stealing cash from his pocket.

The suspects fled south into the park after assaulting the man, who did not suffer any severe injuries.

The incident happened just after 5 p.m.

The suspect who grabbed the victim and threw him to the ground is described as a 17-year-old black man about 6'1" with a medium build, short hair and a light mustache.

He was wearing a T-shirt and shorts at the time of the robbery.

The other three suspects are all described as black men between the ages of 14 and 17.

They were last seen wearing white T-shirts.

Anyone with information about the robber is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

Individuals can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or via text to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential. (Source)

The Next Financial Crisis Will Be Hellish And It’s On Its Way

“There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner,” says hedge fund legend Mark Mobius, “because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis.”

We’re raising our alert status for the next financial crisis. We already raised it last week after spreads on U.S. credit default swaps started blowing out. We raised it again after seeing the remarks of Mr. Mobius, chief of the $50 billion emerging markets desk at Templeton Asset Management.

Speaking in Tokyo, he pointed to derivatives, the financial hairball of futures, options, and swaps in which nearly all the world’s major banks are tangled up.

Estimates on the amount of derivatives out there worldwide vary. An oft-heard estimate is $600 trillion. That squares with Mobius’ guess of 10 times the world’s annual GDP. “Are the derivatives regulated?” asks Mobius. “No. Are you still getting growth in derivatives? Yes.”

In other words, something along the lines of securitized mortgages is lurking out there, ready to trigger another crisis as in 2007-08. (read more)

3 nuclear reactors melted down after quake, Japan confirms

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday.

The nuclear group's new evaluation, released Monday, goes further than previous statements in describing the extent of the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The announcement will not change plans for how to stabilize the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the agency said.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown, it said.

The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., admitted last month that nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis.

It had already said fuel rods at the heart of reactor No. 1 melted almost completely in the first 16 hours after the disaster struck. The remnants of that core are now sitting in the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel at the heart of the unit and that vessel is now believed to be leaking. (read more)

Greg Logoz the Thug who beat ex-girlfriend so badly police said they had seen 'cleaner murders' avoids prison and is fined just £20 - 6th June 2011

A domestic abuse victim who was badly beaten by her boyfriend has said his sentence of a community and supervision order is 'disgusting'.

Sophie Cale, 23, looked like a crash victim following an assault by her ex-boyfriend Greg Logoz, 21, of Rubery, Birmingham.

Logoz, who had been with his girlfriend for two years, pleaded guilty to common assault and criminal damage at Birmingham Magistrates' Court last week.

He showed no remorse as he was sentenced to a 12-month community and supervision order, unpaid work for 60 hours and given a two-year restraining order.

He was also ordered to pay £60 compensation including £40 for a broken light and £20 for Miss Cale's injuries.

Sentencing him, District Judge John Stobart told him: 'This was a hideous piece of drunken domestic behaviour and you didn't even have the goodness to plead guilty immediately.

'It was a serious offence which left nasty injuries and the prosecution would have been open to charge you with a more serious offence.'

But, speaking after the sentence, Miss Cale, from Bartley Green, Birmingham said: 'It's disgusting. The punishment does not reflect the injuries he caused me.

'He showed no remorse for what he has done and £20 for my injuries - there is something wrong with our justice system.'

It was after a night out that she became the victim of a horrific, violent attack in her own home in March.

'I don't remember much from that night,' she said.

'But the first thing I knew was him on top of me, punching my face. I felt like my face was really heavy, like it was falling off, it's so hard to describe. Read More

Disabled Dog’s Wheelchair Stolen In West Roxbury -- Dave Feeney's "Lucky" now needs a new one

A heartless crime has left a disabled dog without his wheelchair.

Dave Feeney told WBZ-TV someone stole the device that helps his 12-year-old Belgian Shepherd “Lucky” get around.

The dog was hit by a car a few years ago and lost the use of his hind legs.

After Lucky had some outside play time out of the chair Sunday morning, Feeney realized it was missing and quickly called police.

“It’s really obvious what it is and that it was in front of the house. Today’s not trash day. Today’s not recycling day,” he said.

“For somebody to do this, they knew what they were doing.”

Police say they’re looking into it. (read more)

Nodding Disease in East Africa: A mysterious and devestating plague

"Gee, The Banks Are (Still) Insolvent?"

My gosh, how did that get out into the media? You wouldn't know it from the market today...

"If we do not see a meaningful recovery in home prices by the end of the year, we may need to contemplate impairment charges on first liens owned by banks and wholesale write-downs of second lien exposures. This implies solvency issues for BAC, WFC, JPM and C, and big losses for the U.S. government and private investors," says Chris Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics.

Solvency issues eh? You mean mark-to-market suspension was just another way to lie?

Yep.

Exactly as I've noted - this sort of lying is not only pernicious it's ridiculously dangerous, as eventually the truth always shows up. When you get to the point that you can't pay the light bill any more the lies are not only exposed but the damage you allowed to accrue by pretending and dissipating further value during that time makes the eventual losses worse.

Everyone remembers that Committee Meeting in 2009 with Kanjorski, right? I sure do. It marked the bottom in the stock market nearly to the day.

And if, as I have repeatedly said I believe since, it proves to have been nothing but a pack of BS and game-playing for the benefit of those banksters, then the former value at 666 was in fact too high as the dissipation since will have to be accounted for as well.

Buckle up folks. (read more)

"The Greatest Depression Has Only Begun"

The greatest depression in human history is still in its starting stages. What the media and many officials often refer to as the "hangover" from the global financial crisis is in fact the end of the beginning. Originating in 2008, the global economic crisis took the world by storm: banks collapsed, the "too big to fail" became bigger by consolidating the rest, governments bailed out their financial industries, masses of people lost their jobs, the 'developing' world was plunged into a deep systemic crisis, food prices rose, which in time spurred social unrest; and the Western nations that took on the bad debts of the big banks are on the precipice of a great global debt crisis, originating in Europe, hitting Greece and Spain, but destined to consume the industrialized world itself. Though many claim that we are in a "recovery," things could not be further from the truth.

As the mainstream media is finally catching on to the reality of the mirage of the so-called "recovery", reports are surfacing about
a dire global economic situation:

"Evidence of a deterioration of global manufacturing growth and renewed weakness in job creation in the United States emerged Wednesday, two reversals that have markets bracing for an economic pause, or worse... Add to that a daunting list of aggravating factors: the continued implosion of the U.S. housing market, an outbreak of worldwide risk aversion, high crude-oil and gas prices pinching consumer demand, further tightening in China and other emerging-market economies, stock market losses, lack of credit growth, the looming end to the Fed’s monetary stimulus, weak business capital spending, and the still-unfolding sovereign debt crisis in Europe."

And now top financial experts are warning of a new financial crisis altogether, since the monstrous derivatives market that played such a nefarious role in the preceding crisis has not been altered, nor have its systemic risks been addressed. The derivatives market - essentially a fictional electronic market of high-stakes gambling - has a value
ten times that of the entire global gross national product of the world's countries combined. This market is dominated by hedge funds and the "too big to fail" banks, who in fact created the derivatives trading schemes. As one leading hedge fund manager recently stated, "There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner... because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis." The market for derivatives is somewhere in the realm of $600 trillion. (read more)

Obama: Proud of losing $14 billion

It's a sign of grim times indeed when the Obama administra tion is touting a potential $14 billion loss to the taxpayers as a great economic success.

The White House is running on its auto bailouts as courageous acts that saved the industrial Midwest. It's a telling point of pride. In bragging about the bailouts of GM and Chrysler, the administration is boasting of a process shot through with lawlessness and political favoritism -- not to mention reckless disregard for taxpayer dollars.

The administration believes it trumps all criticism with one data point: GM and Chrysler are still with us. GM has even been making money, and had the biggest IPO in American history last November.

Yet, as The Atlantic's Megan McArdle tartly observes, it shouldn't have been in doubt that if government threw $80 billion at two companies, not expecting to get all of it back, it could save them. She points out that the loss from the bailouts (the administration's estimate is $14 billion) will be close to the entire market capitalization of GM in 2007. It will be several times as big as the company's 2008 market capitalization.

McArdle figures that, at a cost of roughly $10 billion to $20 billion, we might as well have given GM's pre-bankruptcy workforce of 75,000 hourly workers $250,000 each and called it a day.

The government has also given GM a special tax break that will save it $14 billion on its US tax bill, and is trying to induce consumers to buy GM's signature new product, the absurdly expensive electric Chevy Volt, by giving them a $7,500 tax credit on its $41,000 sticker price. (read more)

World Bank to suggest carbon tax on jet and shipping fuel

The World Bank will suggest a global levy on jet and shipping fuel in recommendations to G20 governments later this year on raising climate finance, a senior official said on Sunday.

Developed countries have already written off chances of agreement on a new binding deal at a U.N. conference in Durban this year, placing a new focus on piecemeal efforts including fund-raising.

Binding targets under the Kyoto Protocol cap the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 40 industrialised countries but expire in 2012 and now look unlikely to be extended in time.

The World Bank is focusing on a levy on shipping and jet fuels in a report to G20 finance minister in October, among other efforts to keep climate action on track.

"We are looking at carbon emissions-based sources ... including bunker (shipping) fuels and aviation fuels, that would be internationally coordinated albeit nationally collected," said Andrew Steer, World Bank special envoy for climate change.

The Bank estimates the extra cost to help the developing world prepare for more droughts, floods and rising seas at $100 billion annually. Various sources put the extra cost of cutting carbon emissions at $200 billion or more annually.

Steer said he was disappointed by the pace of a U.N. climate process which launched talks in 2007 to find a Kyoto successor.

"I've got to say the situation is very urgent and sometimes that sense of urgency is not evident in the negotiations." (read more)

Will a monster tsunami hit Tokyo soon?

The worst-case scenario is horrifying. Waves swamp Haneda airport and hurl freighters into Shinagawa office towers. Kawasaki chemical factories explode into toxic fires. Walls of water moving at jet speed pulverize, mangle or gut buildings and rise up to the fourth floor of the Japan Times in Shibaura.

The tsunami rushes up the Edo, Arakawa, Sumida, Tama and Meguro rivers, past Naka-meguro and into the bowl of Shibuya. The reclaimed lands of Ota, Minato, Chuo and especially Koto wards -- already below sea level in places -- become an uninhabitable swamp, setting the economy back decades.

As unbelievable as it seems, that’s the Tokyo equivalent of what happened to Rikuzen-takata, Kesennuma, Minami-Sanriku, Ishinomaki and about 50 areas along a 500-kilometer swathe of Japan on March 11.

In those areas, indented coastlines -- which closely resemble Tokyo Bay from the air -- pushed tsunamis up 10 meters higher than in other areas.

But could it happen here, in the world’s biggest city?

“Researchers are now investigating what could happen here,” says Yuichi Kogasaki, director in charge of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s disaster prevention division.

“Until recently, we never expected that such a big tsunami could happen in Tokyo. But now we realize the need to review all our master plans.” (read more)

Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" – is likely to be just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

"I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," Birol told the Guardian. "It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say." (read more)

Canada's Conservatives left oilsands data out of UN report to hide huge increase in pollution

The federal government has acknowledged it deliberately excluded data indicating a 20 per cent increase in annual pollution from Canada’s oilsands industry in 2009 from a recent 567-page report on climate change that it was required to submit to the United Nations.

The numbers, uncovered by Postmedia News, were left out of the report, a national inventory on Canada’s greenhouse gas pollution. It revealed a six per cent drop in annual emissions for the entire economy from 2008 to 2009, but does not directly show the extent of pollution from the oilsands production, which is greater than the greenhouse gas emissions of all the cars driven on Canadian roads.

The data also indicated that emissions per barrel of oil produced by the sector is increasing, despite claims made by the industry in an advertising campaign.

“The oilsands remain Canada’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas pollution, and they’re the subject of a huge amount of attention and scrutiny in Canada and internationally,” said Clare Demerse, director of climate change at the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental research group. “So it’s very disappointing to see Environment Canada publish a 500-page report that leaves out these critical numbers — especially when last year’s edition included them.” (read more)

Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years'

An irreversible climate "tipping point" could occur within the next 20 years as a result of the release of huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the vast permafrost region of the Arctic, scientists have found.

Billions of tons of frozen leaves and roots that have lain undisturbed for thousands of years in the permanently frozen ground of the northern hemisphere are thawing out, with potentially catastrophic implications for climate change, the researchers said.

A study into the speed at which the permafrost is melting suggests that the tipping point will occur between 2020 and 2030 and will mark the point at which the Arctic turns from being a net "sink" for carbon dioxide into an overall source that will accelerate global warming, they said. (read more)

German Bean Sprouts NOT the Source of the Killer E Coli Outbreak - 6th June 2011

Preliminary test results reveal that bean sprouts from an organic farm in Germany are not the source of an E.coli outbreak which has so far killed 22 people.

Initially authorities feared bean sprouts from a farm in the Uelzen area, between the northern cities of Hamburg and Hannover, could be traced to infections in five German states.

A wider test will now be carried out on samples of older sprouts and packaging from the farm.

The negative result comes as the death toll in Europe increased to 22.

Germany's health minister has admitted the country is struggling to cope with the number of people suffering from E.coli.

Daniel Bahr said Germany was facing a "tense situation with patient care" adding that some hospitals had been moving patients with less serious illnesses in order to handle the surge of people with the deadly strain of the bacteria.

One woman has talked about her experience when she was admitted to hospital with suspected E.coli.

Nicoletta Pabst, a 41-year-old from Hamburg, said: "When I arrived, there were at least 20 other people and more kept coming in.

"All of us had diarrhoea and there was only one male and one female toilet."

At a news conference in Hamburg, state health minister Cornelia Pruefer-Storcks said local officials were looking at ways to prevent a looming shortage of doctors.

"We want to discuss with doctors about whether those who recently retired can be reactivated," she said, adding that medical staff in Hamburg are battling exhaustion.

The deadly bacteria has made more than 2,000 people ill in 12 countries - all of whom had been travelling in northern Germany.

Sweden has reported over 50 cases, including one death, and around 14 people in the UK are being treated. Read More

German farmer denies E.coli link to farm's bean sprouts - 6th June 2011

The head of a German farm facing an inquiry over a deadly E.coli outbreak has denied that bean sprouts grown at his farm could be to blame.

Klaus Verbeck, managing director of the "Gaertnerhof Bienenbuettel", told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that no fertilisers are used to produce his bean sprouts and that there are no animals on his organic farm.

German officials said on Sunday his bean sprouts could be behind an E.coli outbreak that has killed 22 and made more than 2,200 people ill across Europe. The farm has been shut, produce recalled and further test results are due on Monday.

"I can't understand how the processes we have here and the accusations could possibly fit together," Mr Verbeck told the paper. "The salad sprouts are grown only from seeds and water, and they aren't fertilised at all. There aren't any animal fertilisers used in other areas on the farm either."

Neither Mr Verbeck, himself a vegetarian, nor anyone else from the farm would talk on Monday to journalists and television crews, including Reuters, outside his farm in the rural town of 6,600 that is located about 70km (40 miles) south of Hamburg.

German officials, under intense pressure to identify the source of the E.coli outbreak, have warned consumers for weeks to avoid tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, and at one stage said Spanish cucumbers might be the source of the outbreak. The rare E.coli strain has killed 21 Germans and one Swede.

Two uniformed security guards were patrolling behind the closed driveway gate to the farm located in idyllic countryside.

One neighbour, Sibylle Lange, said she knows Verbeck well and that he has been in organic farming for many years.

"These are very serious, hardworking people who were very early producers of organic products," Lange, a 45-year-old mother of two, told Reuters.

"They've been working here for some 30 years. It's a high-quality product. I've eaten all sorts of vegetables from here – bean sprouts included – and they taste delicious. I can't imagine the source could come from here. The whole thing has deeply affected us in the neighbourhood and our friends."

The Lower Saxony state agriculture minister, Gert Lindemann, said on Sunday evening investigators had traced the rare, highly toxic strain of the bacteria to a farm in the Uelzen region, later identified in the media as in Bienenbuettel. Read More

Chrissy Chambers and Daughter, 3, killed in their home by 'David Oakes' - Chrissy's Other daughter, 8, managed to escape - 6th June 2011

A mother and her three-year-old daughter have been shot dead today apparently just hours before a court hearing.

Local residents in Braintree, Essex, have named the tragic mum as Christine ‘Chrissy’ Chambers, 38, and the dead child as her daughter Shania, three.

Police officers and dog handling teams arrived on the scene at 5am and after entering the property in Bartram Avenue found the bodies of the woman and child and an injured man.

It is understood that the man, named locally as David Oakes, is being treated for gunshot wounds and is under guard in hospital.

He was arrested and taken to Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, Essex, according to neighbours.

It is believed Christine was locked in a dispute with Shania’s father David and they were due to to attend court today.

A Christine Chambers is listed to appear at Chelmsford County Court at 2pm.

Neighbours also revealed that Christine’s second daughter Chelsea, eight, whose father is not David, fled the scene of the double shooting.

Neighbour Karen Ballisat, 36, was woken by the sound of police surrounding the home at 5.20 am this morning.

She said: ‘They have been together for a long time but now they are in a legal battle.

'I woke up to police shouting saying my house was surrounded and not to move.

‘I looked out and saw the man, Dave, being taken away in an ambulance at about 5.45am.

‘Christine didn’t say much about their relationship problems until recently.

‘You can never tell if people are exaggerating, but now I know that she wasn’t.

‘She was a really nice, bubbly woman, always the centre of attention and the young girl Shania was lovely.

‘The shooting was frightening for everyone but most of all we feel for the poor mum and her children.

‘How could you shoot your own child? It is disgusting.

‘The older little girl who is about eight years old ran out the back of the house and is with her dad.’

Essex police said today that they had launched a double murder investigation following the shootings but added they were not searching for anyone else in connection with the deaths. Read More

Mong The Xuong, 15, Kills 7 year old Girl To Feed Video Game Habit - 6th June 2011

Campaigners have warned about the dangers of online game addiction after a teenager allegedly killed a seven-year-old girl for her earrings to feed his video game habit.

Mong The Xuong, 15, confessed to luring the youngster into woods in Nghe An province in the north central coast of Vietnam, and beating her to death with a rock, Vietnamese police say.

He said he killed Anh Nhu because he did not have money to play online games at an internet cafe near his home in Yen Hoa, it is claimed.

Locals said the 9th grade high school pupil often spent hours at internet cafes every day, playing Vo Lam Truyen Ky (Swordsman Online) - a violent, massively popular multi-player game in Vietnam, based on Chinese kung fu stories.

Online Gamers Anonymous, a US-based support group for addicts, said the killing - and the level of violence used - highlighted the need for action to be taken to restrict excessive gaming.

Anh Nhu's killing is the latest in a long line of deaths and violent crimes around the world attributed to video game addiction.

According to his confession, Mong lured the girl into woods near their village on May 23 by asking her if she wanted to help him pick fruit to sell at a local market.

He told police he suddenly pushed her down a 20ft rocky drop near a stream before climbing down and beating her repeatedly on the back of the head with a rock, hoping people would think she suffered her injuries in the fall.

He said he cut the earrings into pieces with scissors, and then wrapped them in paper and hid them under the leg of a wardrobe. He was later arrested.

Elizabeth Woolley, who set up Online Gamers Anonymous after her son Shawn committed suicide because of his addiction to online games, said it was time governments stepped in and did something about the ever-growing habit.

"Until governments around the world recognise it's a problem, it's just going to keep getting worse and worse in terms of murders and crimes caused by excessive and obsessive online game play," she said.

"It's exactly like drugs or alcohol - once people get addicted, they feel they have to have it. There are always certain people who will get addicted to a drug, and in gaming we estimate it's about 20% to 30% of people." Source

At least 14 missing, 40,000 evacuated in south China floods - 6th June 2011

Beijing - Torrential rain caused floods that left at least 14 people missing and forced the evacuation of more than 40,000 in southern China, the government and state media reported on Monday.

A flood hit Wangmo county in the south-western province of Guizho on Sunday following several days of heavy rain, leaving 13 people missing as local authorities evacuated 20,000.

The flood affected 82,000 people, damaged 300 homes, cut power lines, blocked roads and caused estimated direct economic losses of 35 million yuan (5.4 million dollars), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on its website.

The Wangmo was running 3 metres above its normal level on Sunday but had subsided by Monday, the ministry said.

About 47,000 people were affected in other parts of Guizhou, and one more person was missing in Luodian county, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Another 21,000 people were evacuated in three nearby areas of the southern province of Hunan, the agency said.

But the heavy rain brought relief to some parched areas of central China that recorded their worst spring droughts for about 60 years.

The drought had badly affected crops and forced some areas to cancel traditional rowing races planned for Monday's Dragon Boat Festival.

Weather forecasters warned of more torrential rain in Hunan, Guizhou and other southern regions over the next three days. Source

Hotel under construction in Paris collapses killing One woman and 2 Children - 6th June 2011

PARIS — A hotel under reconstruction collapsed on a home in the Paris suburb of Montreuil, killing a woman and two children and injuring eight, officials said on Monday.

"There are unfortunately three people dead . . . a woman and two children, including a baby," Christian Lambert, the prefect of the Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris, told journalists.

Eight people were also taken to hospital, including five children and three adults, he said.

The dilapidated four-storey hotel, which had been condemned by local officials, collapsed at about 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) Sunday onto a single-storey home housing two families of Malian descent. An investigation was underway to determine the cause of the accident.

Rescue officials were continuing to search through the rubble of the two buildings on Monday and said the number of casualties may rise. Source

When all hell breaks loose: Lightning tears the sky apart above the glow of the Chilean volcano - 6th June 2011


Flames reach up to the heavens as lightning flashes criss-cross the sky.

These extraordinary images show the full force of Mother Nature as a Chilean volcano erupts for the first time in 50 years.

Ash has been thrown six miles up into the sky and the South American government has ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Winds fanned the ash toward neighbouring Argentina, darkening the sky in the ski resort city of San Carlos de Bariloche, in the centre of the country, and its airport has also been closed.

The eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 575 miles south of the capital, Santiago, also prompted authorities to close a busy border crossing into Argentina.

It was not immediately clear which of the chain's four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions. The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960.

Local media said the smell of sulphur hung in the air and there was constant seismic activity.

'The Cordon Caulle (volcanic range) has entered an eruptive process, with an explosion resulting in a 10-kilometre-high gas column,' the state emergency office ONEMI said.

As a precaution, the government said it was evacuating 3,500 people from the surrounding area.

This development is the latest volcanic activity to affect the country. Three years ago, Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere and was visible from space.

It also drifted over neighbouring Argentina, coating towns. Chile's Llaima volcano, one of South America's most active, also erupted that year and again in 2009. Read More

'Absolutely frightening': Arizona governor's horror as blinding yellow smoke spreads far beyond 144,000-acre wildfire - 6th June 2011

Crews used controlled backfires early yesterday to blunt the advance of a major wildfire near mountain communities in eastern Arizona.

The state's governor called the blaze 'absolutely frightening', and it has already burned through 225 square miles of forest and brush.

Firefighers still have not contained the so-called Wallow Fire near the New Mexico-Arizona state line, which has forced an unknown number of people to evacuate from several small towns.

The 144,000-acre fire, the third largest in state history, has sent smoke well into New Mexico and parts of southern Colorado.

After an aerial tour of the blaze and a briefing from fire team's commander in Springerville, Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer said Saturday: 'It was unbelievable - the expansion of the smoke.

'It was horrific and of the likes of a fire of which I have never experienced from the air. We hope that we get more encouraging news in the morning'.

Brad Pitassi, spokesman for the area fire management team, said fire teams around the evacuated town of Alpine, along highway 191 and 180, were using the backfires to rob the advancing blaze of fuel.

Mr Pitassi told the Associated Press: 'It's like fighting fire with fire'.

Fire managers said in a statement early Sunday that 160 firefighters were working through the night in the operation.

Mr Pitassi said 1,300 firefighters are on the scene, including some from other states.

He said: 'We're tapping into resources across the nation, from Oregon all the way to New York'.

Crews have struggled to protect property and just four summer rental cabins have burned since it started May 29, the U.S. Forest Service said. There have been no serious injuries. Read More

David Cecil, who waterboarded his 11 year old son for poor grades is Jailed for 6 Years - 6th June 2011

An 11-year-old boy confronted his bullying father in an emotional courtroom scene after he was 'waterboarded' for getting poor grades.

David Cecil was jailed for six years for forcing his son Montgomery to stand outside in chilly weather wearing only his underwear and socks while he threw buckets of cold water on him.

The father also turned on a cooling fan to make the torture worse and beat him with a piece of wood during the terrifying ordeal.

Cecil, 50, handed out the punishment after his son came home from school with a poor set of grades.

Montgomery was found to be showing early signs of hypothermia after he was found by a neighbour having fled from the home in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The neighbour wrapped him in warm clothing and called police following the November 2010 incident when temperatures in the town were at in the low 30s.

Confronting his dad in court, Montgomery took the stand on Tuesday.

'I came here to ask one thing of my dad.' Why?' he asked, his voice slightly quivering.

Cecil, who had pleaded guilty to three child abuse charges, blamed his actions on a 'diabetic issue'.

He said his blood sugar level had been low and this had clouded his judgement.

The court heard that he was upset with his son's grades and had made him strip to his underwear on the porch of their home.

While the boy stood shivering in the biting wind he threw a bucket of cold water over him every ten minutes.

At one point he put a pointed a large box fan at the boy to further his misery. He also choked him and beat him with a wooden two-by-four.

After trying to excuse his actions with the blood-sugar claim Cecil offered an apology.

'I want to apologise to my son from the bottom of my heart. I love you,' he told the court.

As part of a plea deal Cecil was jailed for five years and 10 months, with three years of post-prison supervision. Source