Archive for the ‘CommUnity of Minds Archive’ Category

Working Together

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

I am reading a wonderful new book called Resurrecting Jesus by Adyashanti this morning. He was discussing the Zen koan: “What is the sound of one hand clapping? Curiosity led me to google the Koan bringing me to Serge’s delightful essay.


What is the Sound of One Person Loving?

Serge Kahili King

There is a famous Zen koan (philosophical riddle) which asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The student of Zen is supposed to meditate on this riddle until some degree of insight or enlightenment occurs. The tricky part is that there is no right answer. What you are, or what you know, or what you believe, is what you get.

Although no longer an active student of Zen, I was recently meditating of the riddle of one hand clapping when I got an answer that might be useful to share.

The sound of one hand clapping is the same as the sound of two hands clapping.

How could that be, you ask (for the sake of this article I am assuming that you do ask)? It’s simple, I reply. The concept of clapping implies that a sound is being produced by two surfaces coming into contact, even if only one of them is actually moving. No sound, no clapping; no second surface, no sound. Yet, the riddle definitely states that there is a sound and that there is clapping. Therefore, my answer follows logically. Yes, I know, the answer to a koan is supposed to be beyond logic, but rest assured that the answer came intuitively. The logic came after.

Before you dismiss this as simply a bit of cleverness or a waste of time, let me tell you about the rest of the meditation. After the revelation that the sound of one hand clapping must be the same as the sound of two hands clapping, it struck me that this was a nice metaphor for two of the corollaries of the Second Principle of Huna. The basic principle states that there are no limits, which implies that everything is in a relationship to everything else. And that implies that if you change one side of a relationship you change both sides. Even if only one hand changes its position relative to another, unmoving hand , a clapping sound will be produced. We don’t have to wait for both sides of a relationship to participate before bringing about beneficial change. Change one side of that relationship and the other side has to change because the relationship has changed.

We use this idea a lot in teaching Huna. For instance, in third-level healing work where we assume that everything is a dream and everything is dreaming, we say that if you change one dream you automatically change all related dreams. So you can go to an imaginary garden and make changes to symbols of your life experience, and your life experience will change. In second-level healing work where we assume that everything is telepathically linked, we say that if you begin to silently bless and forgive people with whom you are having difficulties, they will know it and they will begin to change their behavior toward you without a word being spoken. And in first level healing, where we assume that everything is separate but potentially interactive, we teach that if you smile and hug a lot you will tend to get a lot more smiles and hugs back, even from people who don’t normally smile or hug.

Now what do you think would happen if you applied this idea to the whole of your life?

In a strained personal relationship, for example, instead of waiting for the other person to make the first move toward reconciliation you could start the process in your own mind, either by purposely creating a better opinion of the other person, or by imagining the two of you getting along with all of your differences. Sorry, you can’t control with your imagination what the other person thinks or does (it simply doesn’t work), but you can use imagined persuasion just as you might in a face to face meeting. As in any form of persuasion, however, the more your persuasion is based on a benefit to the other person, the more successful it is likely to be.

In a strained global relationship, assuming our theory is valid (which means workable). we might be able to get together even in a smallish group and and rethink (or redream) our relationship with one or both countries involved. Theoretically, of course, it ought to take only one person to make a change. On the other hand, the change of one person’s relationship to a country might only produce a very small change, so the more people the better. The thing to remember, in this context, is that you are trying to change how you think or feel about the country, not trying to change the country. It’s a subtle but important difference, and it applies to people as well as countries.

If this idea catches on we can introduce a Huna koan (the actual Hawaiian phrase is “nane huna,” a hidden riddle or conundrum): “What is the sound of one person loving?”

Working Together

Monday, April 28th, 2014

As readers of this blog know, I think we need to evolve beyond money, but in the mean time there are better ways to live with money. Today’s author is one of the brightest mind’s in the money field and always make good sense.


 

Wall Street Greed: Not Too Big for a California Jury

Ellen Brown, JD

Sixteen of the world’s largest banks have been caught colluding to rig global interest rates.  Why are we doing business with a corrupt global banking cartel?

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has declared that the too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks are too big to prosecute.  But an outraged California jury might have different ideas. As noted in the California legal newspaper The Daily Journal:

California juries are not bashful – they have been known to render massive punitive damages awards that dwarf the award of compensatory (actual) damages.For example, in one securities fraud case jurors awarded $5.7 million in compensatory damages and $165 million in punitive damages. . . . And in a tobacco case with $5.5 million in compensatory damages, the jury awarded $3 billion in punitive damages . . . .

The question, then, is how to get Wall Street banks before a California jury. How about charging them with common law fraud and breach of contract?  That’s what the FDIC just did in its massive 24-count civil suit for damages for LIBOR manipulation, filed in March 2014 against sixteen of the world’s largest banks, including the three largest US banks – JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup.

LIBOR (the London Interbank Offering Rate) is the benchmark rate at which banks themselves can borrow. It is a crucial rate involved in over $400 trillion in derivatives called interest-rate swaps, and it is set by the sixteen private megabanks behind closed doors.

The biggest victims of interest-rate swaps have been local governments, universities, pension funds, and other public entities. The banks have made renegotiating these deals prohibitively expensive, and renegotiation itself is an inadequate remedy. It is the equivalent of the grocer giving you an extra potato when you catch him cheating on the scales. A legal action for fraud is a more fitting and effective remedy. Fraud is grounds both for rescission (calling off the deal) as well as restitution (damages), and in appropriate cases punitive damages.

Trapped in a Fraud

Nationally, municipalities and other large non-profits are thought to have as much as $300 billion in outstanding swap contracts based on LIBOR, deals in which they are trapped due to prohibitive termination fees. According to a 2010 report by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union):

The overall effect is staggering. Banks are estimated to have collected as much as $28 billion in termination fees alone from state and local governments over the past two years. This does not even begin to account for the outsized net payments that state and local governments are now making to the banks. . . .

While the press have reported numerous stories of cities like Detroit, caught with high termination payments, the reality is there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) more cities, counties, utility districts, school districts and state governments with swap agreements [that] are causing cash strapped local and city governments to pay millions of dollars in unneeded fees directly to Wall Street.

All of these entities could have damage claims for fraud, breach of contract and rescission; and that is true whether or not they negotiated directly with one of the LIBOR-rigging banks.

To understand why, it is necessary to understand how swaps work. As explained in my last article here, interest-rate swaps are sold to parties who have taken out loans at variable interest rates, as insurance against rising rates. The most common swap is one where counterparty A (a university, municipal government, etc.) pays a fixed rate to counterparty B (the bank), while receiving from B a floating rate indexed to a reference rate such as LIBOR. If interest rates go up, the municipality gets paid more on the swap contract, offsetting its rising borrowing costs. If interest rates go down, the municipality owes money to the bank on the swap, but that extra charge is offset by the falling interest rate on its variable rate loan. The result is to fix borrowing costs at the lower variable rate.

At least, that is how they are supposed to work. The catch is that the swap is a separate financial agreement – essentially an ongoing bet on interest rates. The borrower owes both the interest onits variable rate loan and what it must pay on its separate swap deal. And the benchmarks for the two rates don’t necessarily track each other. The rate owed on the debt is based on something called the SIFMA municipal bond index.  The rate owed by the bank is based on the privately-fixed LIBOR rate.

As noted by Stephen Gandel on CNNMoney, when the rate-setting banks started manipulating LIBOR, the two rates decoupled, sometimes radically. Public entities wound up paying substantially more than the fixed rate they had bargained for – a failure of consideration constituting breach of contract. Breach of contract is grounds for rescission and damages.

Pain and Suffering in California

The SEIU report noted that no one has yet completely categorized all the outstanding swap deals entered into by local and state governments.  But in a sampling of swaps within California, involving ten cities and counties (San Francisco, Corcoran, Los Angeles, Menlo Park, Oakland, Oxnard, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Riverside, and Sacramento), one community college district, one utility district, one transportation authority, and the state itself, the collective tab was $365 million in swap payments annually, with total termination fees exceeding $1 billion.

Omitted from the sample was the University of California system, which alone is reported to have lost tens of millions of dollars on interest-rate swaps. According to an article in the Orange County Register on February 24, 2014, the swaps now cost the university system an estimated $6 million a year. University accountants estimate that the 10-campus system will lose as much as $136 million over the next 34 years if it remains locked into the deals, losses that would be reduced only if interest rates started to rise. According to the article:

Already officials have been forced to unwind a contract at UC Davis, requiring the university to pay $9 million in termination fees and other costs to several banks. That sum would have covered the tuition and fees of 682 undergraduates for a year.

The university is facing the losses at a time when it is under tremendous financial stress. Administrators have tripled the cost of tuition and fees in the past 10 years, but still can’t cover escalating expenses. Class sizes have increased. Families have been angered by the rising price of attending the university, which has left students in deeper debt.

Peter Taylor, the university’s Chief Financial Officer, defended the swaps, saying he was confident that interest rates would rise in coming years, reversing what the deals have lost. But for that to be true, rates would have to rise by multiples that would drive interest on the soaring federal debt to prohibitive levels, something the Federal Reserve is not likely to allow.

The Revolving Door

The UC’s dilemma is explored in a report titled “Swapping Our Future: How Students and Taxpayers Are Funding Risky UC Borrowing and Wall Street Profits.” The authors, a group called Public Sociologists of Berkeley, say that two factors were responsible for the precipitous decline in interest rates that drove up UC’s relative borrowing costs. One was the move by the Federal Reserve to push interest rates to record lows in order to stabilize the largest banks. The other was the illegal effort by major banks to manipulate LIBOR, which indexes interest rates on most bonds issued by UC.

Why, asked the authors, has UC’s management not tried to renegotiate the deals? They pointed to the revolving door between management and Wall Street. Unlike in earlier years, current and former business and finance executives now play a prominent role on the UC Board of Regents.

They include Chief Financial Officer Taylor, who walked through the revolving door from Lehman Brothers, where he was a top banker in Lehman’s municipal finance business in 2007. That was when the bank sold the university a swap related to debt at UCLA that has now become the source of its biggest swap losses. The university hired Taylor for his $400,000-a-year position in 2009, and he has continued to sign contracts for swaps on its behalf since.

Investigative reporter Peter Byrne notes that the UC regent’s investment committee controls $53 billion in Wall Street investments, and that historically it has been plagued by self-dealing. Byrne writes:

Several very wealthy, politically powerful men are fixtures on the regent’s investment committee, including Richard C. Blum (Wall Streeter, war contractor, and husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein), and Paul Wachter (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long-time business partner and financial advisor). The probability of conflicts of interest inside this committee—as it moves billions of dollars between public and private companies and investment banks—is enormous.

Blum’s firm Blum Capital is also an adviser to CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which also got caught in the LIBOR-rigging scandal. “Once again,” said CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Joseph Dear of the LIBOR-rigging, “the financial services industry demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to make decisions in the long-term interests of investors.” If the financial services industry cannot be trusted, it needs to be replaced with something that can be.

Remedies

The Public Sociologists of Berkeley recommend renegotiation of the onerous interest rate swaps, which could save up to $200 million for the UC system; and evaluation of the university’s legal options concerning the manipulation of LIBOR. As demonstrated in the new FDIC suit, those options include not just renegotiating on better terms but rescission and damages for fraud and breach of contract. These are remedies that could be sought by local governments and public entities across the state and the nation.

The larger question is why our state and local governments continue to do business with a corrupt global banking cartel. There is an alternative. They could set up their own publicly-owned banks, on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. Fraud could be avoided, profits could be recaptured, and interest could become a much-needed source of public revenue. Credit could become a public utility, dispensed as needed to benefit local residents and local economies.

__________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

Working Together

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Malcom Jones writing in The Daily Beast today: Martin Luther King’s gifts were manifest. He was an inspired leader, a galvanizing orator, and a brilliant polemicist and prose writer. But more than anything, he knew how to rise to an occasion.

On December 10, 1964, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, he knew the world was watching. He knew that he was the public face of the American civil rights movement, and that everything he said would be weighed and judged, sometimes harshly. Put in that position, almost any of us would tremble. But King just stepped up to the podium and delivered one of the finest speeches of his life. … King was already famous as an orator, having delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech before hundreds of thousands of people a year earlier (though hindsight has elevated that speech to a level of recognition that it did not receive in many news accounts of the 1963 March on Washington—the Washington Post story, for example, ignored it almost completely. …

If you watch a video tape  of the proceedings, you will be struck by the speaker’s somber reserve. There are no verbal crescendos; there is very little emotion and no drama at all. The template for most of King’s speeches was the sermon, but this is not a sermon. Quiet and reflective, it is more like a prayer.


 

1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Martin Luther King Jr.

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome!

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood. I say I come as a trustee, for in the depths of my heart I am aware that this prize is much more than an honor to me personally.

Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible – the known pilots and the unknown ground crew.

So you honor the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief Lutuli of South Africa, whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the most brutal expression of man’s inhumanity to man. You honor the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth. Most of these people will never make the headline and their names will not appear in Who’s Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvellous age in which we live – men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization – because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake.

I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners – all those to whom beauty is truth and truth beauty – and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1964, Editor Göran Liljestrand, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1965

Working Together

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Human intelligence develops over time and can achieve four levels of understanding. We start with PERCEPTION then develop and sometimes master CONCEPTION, then develop and sometimes master MECHANISM and finally develop and sometimes master CONSEQUENCE. These levels are sequential–CONCEPTION follows and depends on first mastering PERCEPTION, MECHANISM follows and depends on first mastering CONCEPTION, and  finally CONSEQUENCE follows and depends on first mastering MECHANISM.

It is possible for most humans to understand, and then master their intelligence fully. Those who choose to do so, can with practice, develop the ability to access five modes of thinking: Survive, Adapt, Control, Create, and Co-Operate at will. With additional study and contemplation they can gain mastery of the four levels of knowing: PERCEPTION, CONCEPTION, MECHANISM, and CONSEQUENCE.

PERCEPTION is the understanding of space and sameness—spacial integrity— recognizing WHAT is associated with Good Space and WHAT is associated with Bad Space. PERCEPTION is also knowing WHERE to go to enable or avoid a recognized event—knowing WHERE to go to secure Good Space and WHERE to go to avoid Bad Space. PERCEPTION enables the ability of Adaptation.

CONCEPTION is the understanding of time and difference—temporal sequence—local cause and effect, and from that understanding knowing WHEN to act in time to encourage a desired event, or WHEN to act in time to discourage an undesired event from occurring. CONCEPTION enables the ability of Control.

MECHANISM is the understanding of HOW things work together—what events and actions are necessary to produce a desired resultant—knowing how PERCEPTION and CONCEPTION relate to each other. MECHANISM enables the ability of Creation.

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the understanding of the potential risks and benefits of our actions and their effects on our selves and upon others. CONSEQUENCE enables the ability of Co-Operation.

Let me provide one example of these four levels of knowing, and how they might apply to one problem currently threatening our civilization. As Albert Einstein warned us over sixty-six years ago: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Einstein had discovered one of Nature’s MECHANISMS: E=mc2

The scientists and technicians working at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico used their KnowHow to weaponize this MECHANISM of Nature with the creation of nuclear bombs.

Now let us examine the threat of nuclear weapons from the perspective of our four levels of human knowing.

PERCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to adapt to a nuclear event — to know what is associated with a nuclear blast, and to know where to go to escape from the blast of a nuclear weapon. Where is Good Space? Where can I go to avoid Bad Space?

CONCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to control a nuclear event — to know when to act to either detonate, or deactivate a nuclear weapon. What is the proper sequence of actions to control the process? And, when do I enter the activation code? Or, when do I enter the deactivation code?

MECHANISM is the level of knowing necessary to create a nuclear event — to know how reality allows the forces of nature to interact and result in a nuclear explosion — E=mc2. And, it also is the level of understanding necessary to invent and manufacture the technology of a nuclear weapon — the Manhattan Project. How do I design a nuclear device?

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the level of knowing necessary in order to co-Operate — to know why we should never have created nuclear weapons in the first place. Why are we creating these devices? What will be the consequence of their existence?

 http://i.imgur.com/ZgqmB.jpg

Unfortunately some of humanities greatest mistakes result from acting on our understanding of MECHANISM without considering the CONSEQUENCE of using a newly discovered Mechanism.

The following article was first published on September 13, 2013 under the title: Endless Fukushima catastrophe: Many generations’ health at stake from the RT website.

The author describes one of humanity’s recent great mistakes. I am re-posting this article not to frighten the reader or to blame anyone, but rather hopefully to attract the best of humanity to help our scientists and engineers address this crisis NOW!


Clear and Present Danger

Helen Caldicott, MD

This hand out picture by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority on August 23, 2013 shows nuclear watchdog members including Nuclear Regulation Authority members in radiation protection suits inspecting contaminated water tanks at the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. (AFP Photo)

Bio-accumulation of radioactive elements around Fukushima will devastate many future Japanese generations, while the Pacific Ocean is also being contaminated by leaking radioactive water. Yet there is still no good solution from the Japanese government.

As I watched the tsunami power into the reactor complex at Fukushima on March 11, 2011, I realized the world would never be the same again. No nuclear reactor can withstand being drowned in a massive wave of water without catastrophic consequences.

There were three nuclear reactors undergoing fission at the time while one, unit four, had just been emptied of its radioactive core, which was now situated in an unprotected cooling pool on the roof of the building, 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground. As the power supply to the reactors was disrupted during the earthquake, and the auxiliary diesel generators in the basements of the reactors failed because they were flooded, the pumps which supplied up to 1 million gallons of cooling water to each reactor failed.

Within hours the intensely hot radioactive cores in units one, two and three started to melt. As they melted, the zirconium metal cladding on the uranium fuel rods reacted with water to produce hydrogen which exploded with overwhelming intensity in the buildings of units one, two, three and four releasing huge amounts of radioactive elements into the air.

On March 15 alone, it is estimated that 100 quadrillion Becquerels of cesium, 400 quadrillion of iodine plus 400 quadrillion of inert noble gases (xenon, krypton and argon) escaped. Over a period of time two-and-a-half to three times more noble gases were released into the air than at Chernobyl.

Noble gases are very high energy gamma emitters similar to x-rays, which penetrate human bodies externally and, when inhaled, are absorbed from the lungs and stored in fatty tissue exposing nearby organs, including the gonads, to gamma radiation. Cesium and iodine 131 are also gamma and beta emitters which enter the body by inhalation and ingestion. But over 100 other radioactive elements were also released during the weeks and months of the accident and thousands of people were exposed to clouds of radiation. The damaged reactors continue to emit radioactive airborne releases to this day.

This handout picture taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on August 22, 2013 shows a TEPCO worker checking radiation levelS around a contaminated water tank at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. (AFP/TEPCO)

This handout picture taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on August 22, 2013 shows a TEPCO worker checking radiation levelS around a contaminated water tank at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. (AFP/TEPCO)

Luckily the wind was blowing east across the Pacific in the first several days, taking 80 percent of the fallout with it – much of which was deposited in the Pacific Ocean. But around March 15 the wind changed, blowing to the northwest and large areas of Japan, including parts of Tokyo became severely contaminated. Approximately 2 million people are still living in highly contaminated areas in the Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere, areas so radioactive that similarly-populated areas were quickly evacuated by the Soviets after the Chernobyl accident.

At the time of the Fukushima accident an unprecedented quantity of highly radioactive water was also released into the Pacific Ocean. But it hasn’t stopped. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) now admits that 300 tons of this water has been leaking into the Pacific every day since the accident 30 months ago and so far 270,000 tons of water has been released.

It is becoming apparent that the three molten cores, each weighing 120 to 130 tons have not only melted their way through 6 inches of steel in the reactor vessels, but they now either sit on concrete floors of the severely cracked containment buildings or they have melted their way into the earth itself – this, in nuclear parlance, is called ‘A Melt Through to China Syndrome’.

Because the reactor complex was built upon an ancient river bed located at the base of a mountain range, huge quantities of water flowing down from the mountains (1,000 tons daily) are circulating around these highly radioactive cores absorbing large concentrations of radioactive elements.

TEPCO constructed a type of concrete dam near the sea front to prevent this radioactive water from entering the sea. But the continuous flow of water built up behind the dam and overflowed into the Pacific Ocean. Each reactor core contains as much radiation as that released by 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs and contains more than 200 different radioactive elements, which variously last seconds to millions of years.

Medical Implications

Water in the bay beside Fukushima is highly contaminated with tritium, which is constantly increasing in concentration and now measures 4,700 Becquerels per liter – the highest level ever recorded in seawater. Furthermore a total of 20 to 40 trillion Becquerels of tritium have now been discharged into the Pacific Ocean –a Becquerel is one disintegration of radiation per second. Tritium is radioactive hydrogen, H3. It combines with oxygen to form tritiated water HTO, which is very dangerous. It emits an electron, or beta particle which, if lodged in the body, is very energetic.

Tritium combines within the DNA molecule inducing mutations. In numerous animal experiments tritium causes birth defects, cancers of various organs including brain and ovaries, and it induces testicular atrophy and mental retardation at surprisingly low doses. Tritium is organically taken up in food and is concentrated in fish, vegetables, and other food groups, and it remains radioactive for over 120 years. Ingestion of contaminated food causes 10 percent to combine in the human body where it can remain for many years continuously irradiating cells.

One of the main elements is cesium, a potassium mimicker, which concentrates in the heart, endocrine organs and muscles where it can induce cardiac irregularities, heart attacks, diabetes, hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer and a very malignant muscle cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Cesium remains radioactive for 300 years and concentrates in the food chain.

Covers are installed for a spent fuel removal operation at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's unit 4 reactor building (R), in Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture on June 12, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Covers are installed for a spent fuel removal operation at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's unit 4 reactor building (R), in Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture on June 12, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Another very dangerous element is strontium 90, which also is poisonous for 300 years. Analogous to calcium, it concentrates in grass and milk, then relocates into bones, teeth and breast milk where it can cause bone cancer, leukemia or breast cancer.

Amongst the many other radioactive elements which are almost certainly escaping into the sea is plutonium which lasts for 240,000 years and is one of the most potent carcinogens known, such that a millionth of a gram can cause cancer. Each reactor core contains 500lbs of plutonium, but Reactor 3 contains even more, because it also contained plutonium/uranium fuel rods which were placed inside the core as an experiment.

As plutonium resembles iron in the body, it induces cancers in the lung if inhaled, and also cancers in the liver, bone, testicle and ovary. As an iron analogue, it readily crosses the placenta causing severe birth deformities similar to those produced by the drug thalidomide. All radioactive elements which irradiate the reproductive organs will induce genetic mutations in the sperm and eggs, thereby increasing the incidence of genetic diseases over future generations such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, hemochromatosis and 6000 others.

These are only several of over 100 deadly radioactive poisons polluting the Pacific Ocean and the air, each of which has its own pathway in the food chain and the human body. Radioactive elements are tasteless, odorless and invisible, and it takes many years for cancers and other radiation-related diseases to manifest – five to 80 years for most cancers.

Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults, fetuses are thousands of times more so. One x-ray to the pregnant abdomen doubles the likelihood of leukemia in the baby. Females are also more sensitive than men at all ages. Radiation is cumulative, there is no safe dose and each dose received by a person adds to the risk of developing cancer.

Of great concern is the fact that 18 cases of childhood thyroid cancer in children under the age of 18 have already been diagnosed and 25 more are suspected in Fukushima. This is a remarkably short incubation time for cancer, indicating that these children almost certainly received a very high dose of iodine 131 plus other carcinogenic radioactive elements that were and are still being inhaled and ingested.

A worker checks radiation levels on the window of a bus during a media tour at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on June 12, 2013. (AFP Photo)

A worker checks radiation levels on the window of a bus during a media tour at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on June 12, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Thyroid cancer in Chernobyl victims did not appear for four years. Thyroid cancer is rarely found in young children. Iodine 131 is radioactive for 100 days, and is a potent carcinogen. Iodine 129 on the other hand lasts millions of years. Over 350,000 children still live and go to school in highly radioactive areas, and as juvenile thyroid cancers are arising, so the number of leukemia cases will start to increase about two years from now, with solid cancers of various organs diagnosed about 11 years later. These will increase in frequency for the next 70 -80 years.

Food in the contaminated zone will remain radioactive for hundreds of years because it will continue to bio-accumulate radioactive elements from the soil, thus ensuring that an increased incidence of cancer will devastate many future Japanese generations.

Medical doctors in Japan are reporting that they have been ordered by their superiors not to tell the patients that their problems are radiation related.

Water and the Pacific Ocean

Now back to the reactor complex. TEPCO is still pumping hundreds of tons of salt water over molten reactor cores daily as another 1,000 tons of underground water also flows through the damaged reactors. In order to try and control this frightening situation, TEPCO is pumping 300 to 400 tons of this highly contaminated water on a daily basis into 1,060 huge holding tanks adjacent to the reactor complex. These tanks now contain 350,000 tons of water and more tanks are being added each week to accommodate this endless flow of water.

TEPCO originally attempted to filter this water using an Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove some of the radioactive contaminants, but one of its tanks corroded and it was closed down in June this year.

The tanks have been hastily constructed to last five years, some have rubber seams, others have metal bolts which are corroding and very few are securely welded. Recently, workers discovered that the highly radioactive water is leaking and contaminating the tank site. Three hundred tons of water escaped from a tank measuring 100 millisieverts, or 10 rems, per hour and some of this water had also drained into the sea. A nuclear worker is allowed a yearly exposure of 5 rems. Because of this finding the present accident level was raised from 1 to 3, the original accident being labeled 7 – equivalent to Chernobyl, and the worst possible case.

It is suspected that many more tanks are leaking. Until recently TEPCO had only two men patrolling 1,060 tanks twice a day armed with inadequate Geiger counters. When new instruments were provided, radiation of 1,800 millisieverts per hour, or 180 rems, was discovered in leaked water at another tank, while several days later a reading measuring 2,200 millsieverts, or 220 rems, per hour was discovered! This was estimated to be mostly beta radiation, which would not penetrate the clothing of the workers. However high levels of gamma are radiating continually from the tanks and gamma, like x-rays goes right through a human body unimpeded.

Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture is pictured in this combination photo taken December 15, 2011 (top), and September 6, 2013, released by Kyodo on September 7, 2013, ahead of the two-and-a-half-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Would-be 2020 Olympic cities of Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo parade before the Games' organising body on September 7, 2013 in a "least ugly" contest as they attempt to conceal their blemishes and win the right to host the world's biggest sporting extravaganza. (Reuters/Kyodo)

Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture is pictured in this combination photo taken December 15, 2011 (top), and September 6, 2013, released by Kyodo on September 7, 2013, ahead of the two-and-a-half-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Would-be 2020 Olympic cities of Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo parade before the Games' organising body on September 7, 2013 in a "least ugly" contest as they attempt to conceal their blemishes and win the right to host the world's biggest sporting extravaganza. (Reuters/Kyodo)

The LD 50, a dose at which half an exposed population dies, is 250 rems! Not only are these workers in serious jeopardy, but TEPCO is fast running out of people to manage this disaster which could continue for 100 years or more. TEPCO said tritium levels in water taken from a well close to a number of storage tanks holding irradiated water rose to 64,000 becquerels per liter on Tuesday September 10, from 4,200 becquerels/liter at the same location on Sunday.

They are also running out of room to accommodate more tanks, the water keeps coming, and if there is another earthquake measuring 6 or above on the Richter scale, the plastic piping connecting the tanks and the tanks themselves could shatter releasing their contents into the ocean. If an earthquake does not eventuate, what will the Japanese do with this water? Obviously it is going to have to be discharged into the Pacific Ocean. However Prime Minister Abe recently announced that the government will spend $320 million dollars to construct a wall of ice 0.9 miles (1.45km) in length and 100 feet deep behind and around the complex to prevent the mountain aquifer from rushing in to engulf the damaged cores.

Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer estimates that trying to clean the site and control the situation would cost at the minimum half a trillion dollars, and he says that the ice wall may not even be deep enough to block the water.

Furthermore maintaining the ice wall would require huge amounts of electricity, presumably to be generated by coal as the reactors will all be closed, which will add to global warming and obviously the ice will melt should there be a power outage. Not a good solution as the ice must remain intact for over 100 years. The government also plans to spend $150 million attempting to remove the radioactive elements from the water so they can be discharged into the sea, a Sisyphean task, virtually impossible to conduct successfully.

But there are other problems which defy solution. The whole reactor site sits on sodden ground, which has now become unstable, muddy and possibly liquefied. The site itself experiences many minor earthquakes each day, but should a quake greater than 6 or 7 on the Richter scale occur, it is likely that one or several of the buildings could collapse with absolutely disastrous consequences.


Helen Caldicott, MD Dr Helen Caldicott is one of the most articulate and passionate advocates of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises. More…

Working Together

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

From the SynEarth Archives. … Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.


 

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


More about Dr.Marin Luther King

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Former President Clinton remarks on the 50th Anniversary of MOW