“There were studies which showed a one-in-1,000-year probability of the Fukushima coast being hit by a 10m tsunami. Unfortunately, those studies were dismissed. The nuclear industry didn’t think it would happen, so they didn’t prepare for it.” ~ Tatsujiro Suzuki, the deputy head of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission

In 2011 a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in a meltdown that became the world’s worst atomic crisis in 25 years. According to an article on NBCnew.com,

“Fukushima has remained the most prominent legacy of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 which killed close to 16,000 people.

Following the quake, the plant suffered three nuclear meltdowns and as many as 300,000 people were forced to evacuate or voluntarily left their homes. A survey said last month that more people had died because of the evacuation process, some 1,600, than had been killed in Fukushima by the disaster itself.”

On October 3, the plant suffered another leak radioactive water after workers overfilled a storage tank, spilling out 430 liters of contaminated water that is 6,700 times higher than the legal limit of 30 becquerels.

I came across a pictorial in The Atlantic which depicts the current status of the Fukushima Prefecture:

 

Fukushima Prefecture
Street lamps light the street in the empty town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, on September 23, 2013. Namie was formerly home to more than 20,000 residents. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

The Broken Lives of Fukushima

More than two and a half years have passed since the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, wrecking the Fukushima nuclear plant and claiming nearly 16,000 lives. When it became clear that nuclear contamination was widespread, the government evacuated about 160,000 people living near the plant and established a 20-km compulsory exclusion zone, which remains in place today. Today, Tokyo Electric Power Company is still struggling to contain contaminated water at the destroyed plant. Former residents are allowed to return up to once a month, but they’re forbidden to stay overnight. Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj recently joined one of these trips, capturing images of a haunting landscape and lives torn apart by disaster. [40 photos]

                   

Click here for a list of articles on Fukushima

 

Remembering the Cellist of Sarajevo and What He Represented

Reprinted from Reuters.

Bosnia remembers war, still scarred and divided

By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO | Fri Apr 6, 2012 11:48am EDT

(Reuters) – With row upon row of empty red chairs, one for each of the 11,541 victims of the siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia on Friday remembered when war broke out 20 years ago and the West dithered in the face of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two.

The anniversary finds the Balkan country deeply divided, with power shared uneasily between Serbs, Croats and Muslims in an unwieldy state ruled by ethnic quotas. It languishes behind ex-Yugoslav neighbors on the long road to the European Union.

“The victims fell here because we wanted to preserve the state, but I fear they fell in vain,” said 32-year-old social worker Kanita Hulic, one of thousands gathered in central Sarajevo for a memorial concert.

Some 100,000 people died and 2 million people were forced from their homes as Bosnia gave the lexicon of war the term “ethnic cleansing”. Slow-motion intervention eventually brought peace, but at the cost of ethnic segregation.

Underscoring the disunity, Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic ignored Friday’s solemn remembrance of the day shots fired on peace protesters in downtown Sarajevo marked the start of the war.

In a blood-red symbol of loss, empty chairs stretched 800 meters down the central Sarajevo street named after socialist Yugoslavia’s creator and ruler for 35 years, Josip Broz Tito.

Smaller chairs represented the more than 600 children killed in the 43-month siege by Serb forces that held the hilltops. Thousands of people gathered for a concert in remembrance with a choir of 750 Sarajevo schoolchildren.

On Thursday, cellist Vedran Smailovic, who became an icon of artistic defiance when he played on a central Sarajevo street as the city was shelled, played again for the first time in his hometown since he left in 1993 as part of an exodus of thousands.

Queuing for water or shopping at the market during the siege, Sarajevans were picked off by snipers and random shelling. Running out of burial places, many of the bodies were interred beneath a hillside football pitch.

“We were moving targets with only one principle left – that we would stay in the city,” said Bosnian artist Suada Kapic.

The war happened on NATO’s doorstep, a few hours’ drive from Vienna or across the Adriatic from Italy. Its grisly imprint survives today in the bodies still being dug up in eastern Bosnia and the million people who never returned to their homes.

Black Friday is Going to Be Black and Blue and Red All Over

Where Has All of the Time Gone?

Heads Up People: Thanksgiving is Next Week

I’ll admit that I’m not really with it all of the time, but I just realized tonight that Thanksgiving is next week. I really thought that I had at least two weeks to go. Now aside from the fact that I would really like to skip this particular holiday entirely, there is another big problem: Black Friday. The term Black Friday was coined in retail for the day after Thanksgiving, which came to be the biggest day in retail for the whole year, the day on which most stores could count on record sales. Unfortunately, most stores are expected to take a pummeling this year and not end up in the black.

Last year, Corey and I actually stayed up and went out to the sales at 4 a.m. and finished most of our Christmas shopping by 10 a.m. We had never done this before, but we decided to try it. We found terrific deals, got almost all of our shopping done, and came home and went to bed. It was kind of whacky but also a lot of fun for the two of us. We had already planned to do it again this year.

money-countingWell . . . it’s next year. Black Friday is next Friday. Just one little problem: no money. I know that retailers are sweating it big time, too, because we aren’t the only family with this problem. I just read that Target has made major slashes in their prices store wide. I was really looking forward to shopping at Circuit City this year because not only they have declared bankruptcy, but they always have great day after Thanksgiving sales. Stores everywhere are preparing to offer major deals to anyone that they can get into the stores, but that’s the biggest hurdle: getting people to leave the safety of their homes and spend money, especially when many people just aren’t certain if they are going to have a job in the coming weeks or months.

Let’s see: mortgage and groceries versus that new gaming system and Iphone for the kids . . . hmmmm

The Layoff Reality

December is a notoriously bad month for layoffs. According to a story in Reuters, “The situation is poised to worsen as the holidays approach and many businesses scrutinize budgets for the coming year. The sad truth is that Christmas layoffs are common in tough times.”

And people who are afraid of losing their jobs tend to be afraid to spend money. That’s not a hard concept to swallow. In a poll by Workplace Options, approximately 47 percent said “news of the financial crisis made them fearful about job security, and 25 percent said they had begun scanning help-wanted ads or updating their resumes” (Reuters). 

In a brief scan of recent news, these are the numbers I found on company layoffs in previous weeks:

  • DHL: 10,000 worldwide
  • Citigroup: 53,000 to date
  • Sun Microsystems: 6,000
  • Nokia: 600
  • Motorola: 3,000
  • Kansas-based Hawker Beechcraft: 500
  • e-Bay: 10% layoff
  • JP Morgan: up to 25,000 depending on if they keep it local or go worldwide
  • Even America’s beloved NASCAR has not been untouched: up to 1,000 people

These are only a few of the many, many recorded layoffs in private companies and industries. I didn’t even begin to delve into the projected government layoffs, for example those projected for the state of Massachusetts. Or the major layoffs in banking, Wall Street, and the auto industry. Even PepsiCo is anticipating layoffs of several thousand workers in the coming months.

Those Few, Those Happy Few

Those individuals who look forward to picking up extra cash during the holidays by working temporary jobs will probably be hard-pressed to find temporary work. Most companies would rather keep their permanent workers than take on temporary help. Those individuals who are fortunate enough to keep their full-time jobs will probably not be on the receiving end of bonuses or raises in the coming year, but will feel fortunate that they have kept a full-time job with benefits.

What is truly frightening is that this grim news is not sensitive or proprietary information. You can find it in at least 10 different articles at any given time.

Be Careful What You Ask Forthanksgiving

So I suppose I should do two things now: stop drooling over that Infiniti commercial because it just ain’t gonna happen (not that it ever was, but the idea of it was nice), and figure out how I’m going to make it through yet another Thanksgiving dinner with my family without losing my mind. I love my family, I truly, truly do. You just don’t understand what family dinners are like at my mother’s house and how they turn me into a nervous wreck. One of these days, my house will be finished; my new dining room table will be set up and no longer in storage, and I will be able to host a real dinner at my house the way in which I want to.

I can dream can’t I? Well, more later. Peace.