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Tough Times, Silent Blog

Anyone around any more, where has McJ been?
I hope you are all doing OK!

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Floods to Fires

Raging wildfires in New Mexico forced the evacuation of the famed nuclear lab at Los Alamos Monday, though officials insist that radioactive material is secure.

The government sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory Wednesday as a 110-square-mile wildfire burned at its doorstep

The pillars of smoke that can be seen as far as Albuquerque, 60 miles away, have people on edge. The fire has also cast a haze as far away as Kansas. But officials said they analyzed samples taken Tuesday night from some of the lab's monitors and the results showed nothing abnormal in the smoke.

Anti-nuclear groups have sounded the alarm about thousands of 55-gallon drums containing low-grade nuclear waste - gloves, tools and other contaminated items - about two miles from the fire. Lab officials said it was highly unlikely the blaze would reach the drums, and that the steel containers can in any case withstand flames and will be sprayed with fire-resistant foam if necessary.

Kevin Smith, site manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said the lab's precautions have been scrutinized by dozens of experts.

The lab has been shut down since Monday, when all of the city of Los Alamos and some of its surrounding areas - 12,000 people in all - was evacuated. The fire has held up research on such topics as renewable energy, AIDS and particle physics.

"We have 10,000 experiments running at the same time," said Terry Wallace, science chief at the lab. "We'll have to do an analysis to see what's been affected and how it's been affected."

The plane is just one part of an elaborate air monitoring network surrounding the lab. The lab and the New Mexico Environment Department have dozens of monitors on the ground throughout the region. McMillan said four high-volume air samplers were deployed Tuesday and more were on their way Wednesday.

Some experts familiar with the Los Alamos lab said there is no reason to fear that flames will scatter radiation.
"The nuclear materials are secure," said Penn State University nuclear engineering professor Barry Scheetz, who has served on National Academy of Sciences nuclear review boards and has been to Los Alamos several times. "There's multiple redundancy in the protection of this material. It's not just laying out. It's not there so that a fire is going to disrupt it there and disperse it. The procedures that are in place to protect this material are tremendous."

He added: "The U.S. government, the Department of Energy, has spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars for scenarios that are so unlikely to occur that it is even ridiculous to think about."

The worst-case scenario Energy Department planners could envision for a fire at Los Alamos would release less than 25 rems or radiation - a dosage that is below short and long-term health concerns, according to a 1998 Environmental Impact Statement for operating the lab written by the department.

would release less than 25 rems or radiation does that even make sense, it would just be a burst of radiation? not particles that emit radiation for a long time wherever they go? around and around where they stop nobody knows.

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Yemen, Syria, and other places not yet invaded by NATO

In the US, we don't hear much about these places, until people start dying violently.

from rawstory

Syrian security forces intensified their assault on protesters calling for President Bashar al-Assad to quit, killing at least 34 demonstrators in the latest crackdown in the city of Hama, activists said.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets after noon prayers on Friday in defiance of security forces determined to crush an 11-week a revolt against Assad's 11-year rule.

Security forces and snipers fired at tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city of Hama, where 29 years ago President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, crushed an armed Islamist revolt by killing up to 30,000 people and razing parts of the city to the ground.

and also from rawstory

Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded on Friday along with his premier and other officials as shells struck a mosque in the presidential palace compound, a security official told AFP.

The mosque attack came as fighting that has killed scores of people in north Sanaa spread to the south of the capital and the poverty-stricken Arabian Peninsula country teetered towards civil war.

Maybe I will have more to say in a few minutes...
Regardless, please consider this an open thread

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7/7 Ripple Effect

An excellent (albeit 4 year old) video about the 7/7 attacks in London. Back in the news since the maker (Muad'Dib) was recently arrested, for - get this - “intending to pervert the course of justice,” extradited from Ireland to England and held for 5 months, before being released after a jury hearing.

More details here
Thanks to flogging dead horses for the news.

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US Launches Air Attack on Libya

Because Iraq and Afghanistan have gone so swimmingly well, because military goods are the favorite export of the American decision-makers, because Egypt didn't give them the opportunity they'd hoped for, because the nuclear catastrophe in Japan is covering all the news, because nothing boosts the ecomony like war, right? Right?

Now Obama's shown his colors. Hoped for change? No support for labor unions at home, air support for rebels abroad.

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Open Thread - Wisconsin Union Protest

So we have a political stand off in Wisconsin, where's this thing headed in light of everything else? Are we being played for suckers, is it all part of some larger plan? Or is that too cynical, and people are finally (FINALLY!) getting pissed off to the point that things are boiling over in the USA. Even in the frigid cold Wisconsin February, Americans are saying "Enough!" to the corporate robber barons and their middlemen, the politicians.

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