Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Kennedy picked as envoy to Japan

 WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced he would nominate Caroline Kennedy, a close friend and key political ally, as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The daughter of President John F. Kennedy, the 55-year-old Kennedy is president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She has written and edited a series of books, most of them related to the Kennedy family and its legacy, but has never held a government post. More.


M’s Fall To 1-1 With 4-1 Loss To A’s

Mariners' Justin Smoak hits a solo homer in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki in the seventh inning of their American League MLB baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo onThursday. Story here. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Question: Predict the finish of the 4 teams from the American League West.

Ichiro, Ackley Lead M’s In Opener

Ichiro Suzuki racked up four hits — including an RBI single in the 11th inning — as the Mariners' right fielder had a homecoming to remember in a 3-1 victory for the Mariners in the first game of the Japan Opening Series with the A's on Wednesday. Second baseman Dustin Ackley drove in Seattle's other two runs with a home run in the fourth and the go-ahead single in the 11th, while Felix Hernandez pitched eight innings of one-run ball. "More than the four hits, it was more being able to enjoy the atmosphere with the fans," Ichiro said through interpreter Antony Suzuki in the cramped Tokyo Dome visitor's clubhouse. "Being there with the same feelings, that was special to me. That's what will stay in my heart"/Greg Johns, MLB.com. More here. (AP photo: Dustin Ackley hits an RBI single in the 11th inning of their American League season opening MLB baseball game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo today)

Question: How does it feel, Seattle fans, for your beloved Mariners to have the best record in Major League Baseball (1-0)?

Tuesday Video: What a radioactive Japan looks like

Check out this beautiful short film, called “Blind,” which imagines what would happen if the gas masks that many Japanese bought after Fukushima had ended up being necessary in Tokyo. It's a terrifying experience.


His Future is in His Hands

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  


    My eyes flew open and I was instantly awake.

    It wasn’t that long ago that when I woke suddenly in the middle of the night, I would lie still for a moment, listening for what had pulled me out of a sound sleep, straining to hear the plaintive wail of an infant’s crying or the footsteps of a preschooler who was out of bed and into mischief. Later, it was the sound of a teenager coming home, chased by curfew  But this night there was only silence.

    I sat up, rubbed my eyes and then walked out of the bedroom. The rest of the house was dark but a single light burned in the living room and I saw my jetlagged son, home from Japan, sitting on the sofa. He was concentrating on the yarn and needles in his hands and didn’t look up until I was beside him.

    He had learned to knit while he was away and in the dim light of the lamp on the table, in the darkest part of the night, he worked on the pair of mittens he was making for his father.

    I sat down beside him and watched his hands as he worked. He is young, only 24, but his hands already show the wear and tear of all his projects. He is always busy making something, a piece or a part for one of the massive, expensive, machines he designs and builds or one of the tiny works of art he creates when he is bored or thinking hard about something. When he needs to keep his hands busy so he can still his mind.

    Looking at the scarred knuckles, the callouses, as he looped the rag wool yarn around the needle, making one stitch at a time and linking it with the chain, I thought about the things he’s made and brought me over the years.

    When he was five he took a piece of paper and marked it with North, South, East and West. He folded the edges up into a cup and inserted a brad into the center, covering the top with cling wrap. He’d made me a compass, he told me as he presented it. You could, if you wiggled it, make the brad rotate and point in a new direction.

    Later, in school, I was called to a conference with his teacher. “He’s not paying attention,” she told me. “He’s always working on something else.” And then she handed me a little paper tube. It was folded flat but if you allowed to rectangular tube to  open, a miniature classroom popped up. Rows of paper-doll heads looking toward the miniature blackboard and teacher. I studied it as the teacher, a woman my family knew and adored, talked to me about his lack of attention in class. She, like me, was torn. What he could do with his hands was astounding, but you have to pay attention if you want to move on to third grade.

    I have a treasure box filled with his handiwork. Clay pots, tiny shadowboxes, elaborate sketches and diagrams. This Christmas, his gift to me was a miniature loom. Perfect in every detail, he’d created it while on a ship in Japan, killing time while he waited to test the complex underwater drill he’d built, piece by piece. Bored, a lot on his mind that needed to be worked through, he grabbed a handful of coffee stir-sticks from the galley, some pieces of wire and the thread he usually carries with him as he travels. He built the working loom, complete with a tiny bit of cloth woven on it, and then, for a moment, considered throwing it away.

    But, because he is my son and I have hoarded his creations all his life, he put it into a box and mailed it to me. And Christmas morning I opened it, speechless at the cleverness of it. The beauty of it.

    When I found him knitting in the living room, he was doing what he does best, setting his hands free so his mind can follow. And, in the shadowy and quiet cocoon of the room, I listened as he talked about his work, his dreams, his concerns and his worries.

    I slipped my bare toes under his knee and tucked myself into the opposite corner of the sofa as one stitch linked to another and the mittens took shape.

    I thanked him again for the gift of the loom, working to keep the tears out of my voice and, taking advantage of the moment, I told him, just as I did when he was a boy, a sweet, busy, square peg trying to fit in a tight round world, that I am proud of him and always will be.

    Wherever life takes him, it won’t be on the same path others follow. He’ll always come into each new adventure through a side door. Through an opening no one else noticed. He’ll find his own way and he’ll be OK. Because his future, just like his heart, is in his hands.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and  CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Celebrating Another Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)




    I turned the corner, down an unfamiliar street, my mind so oblivious to where I was going I might just as well have been a dog with its head out the window, lost in the delicious rush of mysterious and fragrant air, just happy to be out and about with no thought of what might be ahead.

    Most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, swept down by the wind and an early snowfall, and the sidewalks and street were littered with the russet and copper remnants of a spectacular autumn. But at the end of the block a scarlet tree still blazed, a burning bush, bright and vibrant against the faded landscape. Even the sun could not ignore it and sunlight danced in the tree, painting the leaves with subtle shades and shadows.

    It was impossible to look away and I didn’t try. I gazed at it as I drove by and even looked back at it in the rearview mirror. 

    Thursday my family will sit down to our Thanksgiving meal and for the first time one of our small group will be absent. My son is away, working in Japan, and we will miss him even as we celebrate his success.

    We are so fortunate to have made it this far without an empty seat at the table. Even in difficult times—and I have never pretended there weren’t some truly difficult days—we gathered, held hands, and spoke aloud the things for which we were most grateful.

    Each year I compose a mental list but when it is my turn to speak, the words fly out of my head. I tear up and can say only that I am grateful for the love of those around me. But what I can never seem to get out is that I am filled with gratitude for the gift of a million small moments.

    There were quiet Sundays spent reading, curled in the big chair beside the fire, my husband stretched out on the sofa. There were Saturday morning feasts that lured home grown children who filled the house with the sound of laughter and the smell of bacon and coffee.

  There were quiet walks through the park with my dogs and the rapturous look on my daughter’s face as we stood in Notre Dame Cathedral on a rainy January day in Paris. There was the afternoon my son turned to me and recited a poem I’d read to him when he was a boy, and my firstborn’s secret smile when she told us her news.

   There were shooting stars glimpsed from my back door and my youngest daughter’s shining face as she sat in the saddle, flying on horseback. There was, just this week, the chance encounter with a beautiful brilliant tree in a landscape that had already surrendered to winter.

 On Thanksgiving Day I will blink back tears and fumble the opportunity to say what I feel. But in my heart I will celebrate the quiet gift of time and the chance to have lived one more extraordinary year of ordinary days.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is a contributing editor at Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Gregoire going to China, Japan

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is racking up the frequent flier miles this month. She's in Washington, D.C., right now for a National Governors Association meeting. Next week, she'll be going to China and Japan.

Gregoire is leading an NGA delegation to Beijing that leaves Monday, a spokeswoman said. That organization is paying the cost of the trip for her and an aide. She'll also have a couple state patrol officers accompanying her for security, which will be covered by the state.

Also making the trip will be governors from Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Guam and the Northern Mariannas Islands.

After finishing in Beijing, Gregoire, her aide and security folks will make a brief side trip to Tokyo where she will meet with two Japanese companies that have manufacturing facilities in Washington and are looking to expand. One company makes carbon fiber parts for Boeing and is thinking of expanding into the automobile field; another makes silicon wafers.

The group is scheduled to return to Washington state on Friday.

Total cost to the state for the trip is still being calculated.

Did you know more radioactive water is leaking at Fukushima?

This story just won't quit.
Japan's damaged Fukushima plant is now holding oceans of contaminated, radioactive water in its storage tanks. Bigger shocker: This water keeps leaking out. Yesterday, the country's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency said fifteen tons or so of water leaked. Yes, the the leak was said to be water with only low levels of radiation but leaks have been an ongoing problem at the plant, certainly a trend that doesn't make one optimistic about the health of Fukushima.

Excerpt from Reuters:

About 15 metric tons of water with a low level of radiation leaked from a storage tank at the plant on the Pacific coast, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said it was investigating the cause of the leak which was later repaired.

Vast amounts of water contaminated with varying levels of radiation have accumulated in storage tanks at the plant after being used to cool reactors damaged when their original cooling systems were knocked out by the March 11 disaster.

25 Years after Chernobyl

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Check out this scary film showing scientists venturing inside the plant's cement sarcophagus, which keeps its nuclear material contained - for the moment.


Trace levels of I-131 detected in Idaho air, drinking water, rainwater and milk

Trace levels of radioactive iodine-131 have now been detected in air, drinking water, rainwater and milk in Idaho, the state DEQ, Department of Agriculture and Department of Health & Welfare report in a joint news release, but "the levels detected are far below levels of public health concern." The I-131, from the nuclear disaster in Japan, first was detected on March 21 in an air sample in Boise. Mark Dietrich, the Idaho DEQ's emergency response program coordinator, said, "At no point have detected levels come close to levels of concern." You can read more here.

How Fukushima is the Deepwater Horizon of nuclear accidents

Last week I came across a well-written piece in Slog, The Stranger's blog, by Goldy about the Fukushima reactors. The writer admitted they succumbed in the early stages to peer pressure and a basic understanding of the science to reassure readers that Fukushima was not Chernobyl. I could relate. I spent time espousing that theory myself. Today, with our technology, it would be impossible to produce a similar explosion. (It certainly doesn't mean the environmental damage could be worse.)

"No, the better metaphor for Fukushima is turning out to be last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a disaster that dragged on for months, steadily spilling millions of gallons of toxic crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico," Goldy writes. "Like last year's Gulf spill, corporate and government incompetency/misinformation has made the severity of the Fukushima leak impossible for the public to measure. Likewise, Japanese government officials are now admitting that the release of radioactive materials may too continue for months."

Now comes the news of the evacuation area expanding.

Japan releases radioactive water several million times the legal limit into the Pacific Ocean

Democracy Now reports
radiation at the shoreline of the Fukushima nuclear power facility has measured several million times the legal limit, just four weeks after the earthquake and tsunami and days after workers discovered a crack where highly contaminated water was spilling directly into the Pacific Ocean.

On yesterday's program, host Amy Goodman was joined by Phillip White, an international liasion officer at the Citizens Nuclear Information Center in Japan.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the millions—the radiation is millions of times the acceptable limit. What does this mean in the water, in the ocean?

PHILIP WHITE: Well, it depends how it spreads out, whether it goes off into the Pacific or whether it accumulates in pockets along the coastline. It will certainly have an effect on fishing. The fishing industry is already seriously damaged by this. But I think you’ve got to look at it as—it’s an ongoing thing. It’s not as if this one release solves the problem. Tokyo Electric Power Company says that this will have a very small—be a very small dose, represent a very small dose to people who continue to eat fish. But whether or not that is an accurate analysis, it’s not as if this is the end of the story. So, it’s a very serious situation, and it’s a long way before this is going to be brought under control.

Flyover of Fukushima shows damage

This scary flyover video in HD of the Fukushima plant shows the extent of the damage with rubble still smoking. Now the utility responsible for the reactors, did not until very recently have enough dosimeters for all of the employees who are working to stop an even worse catastrophe at the plant.

Normally, dosimeters would be worn at all times in order to measure cumulative exposure to radiation. Because of that error, worker exposure can only be estimated. A mother of one of the workers said her son and his colleagues are "have accepted they will all probably die from radiation sickness in the short term or cancer in the long-term."

More depressing news: Radiation has seeped into the groundwater and there are more reports of food becoming tainted.

Japanese N-Workers Willing To Die

Workers at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan say they expect to die from radiation sickness as a result of their efforts to bring the reactors under control, the mother of one of the men tells Fox News. The so-called Fukushima 50, the team of brave plant workers struggling to prevent a meltdown to four reactors critically damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, are being repeatedly exposed to dangerously high radioactive levels as they attempt to bring vital cooling systems back online. Speaking tearfully through an interpreter by phone, the mother of a 32-year-old worker said: “My son and his colleagues have discussed it at length and they have committed themselves to die if necessary to save the nation/Fox News. More here. (AP file photo, of damaged Unit 3 of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi)

Question: Do you think American nuclear energy workers would be willing to make the same sacrifice under similar conditions?

Chernobyl cleanup survivor to Japan: “Run away as quicky as possible”

This is the amazing story of Natalia Manzurova. She was a 35-year-old engineer at a nuclear plant in Ozersk, Russia, in April 1986 when she and 13 other scientists were told to report to Chernobyl only four days after a reactor caught fire. Manzurova and her colleagues were among the cleaners tasked with leading the removal and burial of all the contamination in what's still known as the dead zone.

She spent 4 1/2 years in an abandoned town called Pripyat , which was less than two miles from the Chernobyl reactors, helping clean. Manzurova says she is the only member of her team still alive. Now 59 and an advocate for radiation victims worldwide, she has the "Chernobyl necklace, " a scar on her throat from the removal of her thyroid. (Something Hanford "downwinders" have experienced.)

Yesterday morning, AOL news spoke to her about Japan before she began a tour organized by Beyond Nuclear. Please take the time to read this interview:

AOL News: What was your first reaction when you heard about Fukushima?
It felt like déjà vu. I felt so worried for the people of Japan and the children especially. I know the experience that awaits them.

But experts say Fukushima is not as bad as Chernobyl.
Every nuclear accident is different, and the impact cannot be truly measured for years. The government does not always tell the truth. Many will never return to their homes. Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They'll worry about their health and their children's health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn't harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they've lost. What they lost can't be calculated.


Japan’s N-Crisis Spikes Pill Demand

Humboldt County resident Steve Timmons got the last bottle of kelp at Eureka Natural Foods in Eureka, Calif., about 90 miles south of the tsunami-stricken Crescent City, Ca. harbor, after a run on iodine cleaned out the store's supply and ran up more than 100 names on a rain-check list on Tuesday. Japan's nuclear crisis is spiking demand in the U.S. and a few other places for potassium iodide, a cheap drug that can protect against one type of radiation damage — even though the risk is only in Japan. (AP Photo/The Times-Standard, Josh Jackson)

Question: Are you concerned at all that fallout from Japan's nuclear crisis may expose the Inland Northwest to high doses of radiation? Are you taking potassium iodide as a precaution?

When the real facts emerge…

Good morning, Netizens…


I am sick to death of listening to the half-truths and outright lies being told in the news media, if not the alternative news media sources about unfolding events in Japan with regard to the nuclear crises. Over the previous 72 hours it has become more and more difficult to truly tell just what is going on in that tragedy-tinged corner of the world, and if you have studied, as I have, the various sources all of whom claim to speak for the power company in charge of the six nuclear reactors, it becomes a steady source of double-speak, most of which is dutifully and immediately sent to the various news agencies for dispersal as fact.


Perhaps the most-important question remains, just who is in charge of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant and its ultimate recovery? Most sources suggest that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is purportedly in charge, the Japanese government deferring to them and the International Atomic Energy Agency deferring to the government. That perhaps is the beginning of where the half-truths originate, as the power company has, in the past, been responsible for not being entirely forthright in their public announcements according to several news sources.


It gets worse. In the early days of the nuclear crisis, if one did not consult with a good map of the area, it would have been all but impossible to remember there are six reactors in the Fukushima atomic plant complex, as most of the members of the news and alternative news media seemingly could not recall just what they were talking about.


As of three A.M. Pacific Daylight Savings time this morning, no one from any source has actually stated the amount of radiation emanating from any of the damaged atomic plants. News moderators warble on and on about the feeble attempts to cool down the various reactor cores, but without any real sense of just how much radiation is being spewed into the atmosphere. Once again, TEPCO is the only company with manpower on the ground capable of either knowing nor providing this information, and apparently they simply are not telling or perhaps, lacking the technology to track such information, do not know.


Then there is the repetitive and often misleading comparisons between the Fukushima Plant(s) and Chernobyl which are flat-out distortions of the truth. The physical types of the reactor vessels are not even closely similar; Chernobyl had no containment vessel, as compared to Fukushima, which does. In retrospect, at Chernobyl radioactive graphite, noble gases and various other radionuclides were the primary source of the post-event damage and continuing radiation. Since it is not yet factually known whether or not the plants at Fukushima have breached their reactor cores, nor of the true amount of radioactive substances being released into the atmosphere, it may be quite awhile before anyone will know how bad the potentially-released radiation from Japan will be.


Left unattended, without any in-depth analysis, we will continue to be inundated with half-baked rumors, various schemes and other bureaucratic half-truths. How soon will the radiation from Japan reach the United States? It would help to know how much radiation has been released at its source point. Anything else is a wild-assed guess.



Why Fukushima is not Chernobyl

Yesterday's Tuesday Video looked back at Chernobyl
 with a rare glimpse into the dangers of radiation- but now we're finding more factors which will fortunately prevent Fukushima from reaching those levels. According to the Guardian:

A concern for the people not just of Japan but the Pan Pacific area is whether Fukushima will turn into the next Chernobyl with radiation spread over a big area. The answer is that this scenario is highly unlikely, because of the wildly different design of the two reactors.

The reason why radiation was disseminated so widely from Chernobyl with such devastating effects was a carbon fire. Some 1,200 tonnes of carbon were in the reactor at Chernobyl and this caused the fire which projected radioactive material up into the upper atmosphere causing it to be carried across most of Europe. There is no carbon in the reactors at Fukushima, and this means that even if a large amount of radioactive material were to leak from the plant, it would only affect the local area.

Jumpers for Japan

Kids and grownups throughout the area can participate in Jumpers for Japan, a shoot-a-thon to raise money for the Red Cross Japan Tsunami relief fund March 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Hub Sports Center, 19619 E. Cataldo.

From Phil Champlin, executive director of the Hub: "Check and cash donations are due at the door to participate to shoot jump shots. Times to shoot are open.
Each participant will need to allow twenty minutes to complete shooting 50 jump shots.
There will be food, music, skills contests and prizes. Our goal is for each child or adult to request $20 from
each person they ask to donate, however any amount of donation will be much appreciated."

For more information, call the Hub at (509) 927-0602 or visit their website here.

Wikileaks reveals Japan warned about nuclear plant safety

Thanks to the forces that be for protecting us from this information.

A document obtained via a U.S. embassy cable
by Wikileaks quoted an unnamed expert who expressed concern that guidance on how to protect nuclear power stations from earthquakes had only been updated three times in the past 35 years.

Tuesday Video: This is what a meltdown looks like

The explosion at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was elevated to a  "serious accident" on a level just below Chernobyl. The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale — or INES — goes from Level 1, which indicates very little danger to the general population. "It's clear we are at Level 6, that's to say we're at a level in between what happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl," Andre-Claude Lacoste, president of France's nuclear safety authority, said today.


Due to higher safety standards, advance warning, and evacuation notices, it's not likely that things will get as bad as in Chernobyl. Below is a rare silent film was taken on location just days after the Chernobyl meltdown- even the filmmaker was killed in the process. 

His name was Vladimir Shevchenko and he worked for Central TV in Ukraine in 1986. He was given unprecedented access to the Chernobyl zone right after the meltdown and explosion destroyed reactor number four at the nuclear power plant. Radiation levels weren't entirely understood at the time- most of the people you see received lethal doses while working close to the reactor. Shevchenko himself climbed on the roof of the plant to get footage of the destroyed reactor core wearing just a cotton facemask for protection. He died of cancer a few weeks later.

At the plant in Daichi, about 200,000 people in a 12.4 mile radius were previously evacuated. Still, according to David Lochbaum,  director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, "The contamination levels aren't linear, so the farther away you get doesn't necessarily mean you get a lower dose rate. Chernobyl, in some cases, had areas 100 miles away from the facility having significantly higher radiation levels than areas only 10 or 15 miles away."

Are we enough?

Today's news:

"…the region north of Tokyo where officials say at least 10,000 people were killed…whole villages and towns have been wiped off the map…at least 1.5 million households lack running water…Japan is facing its worst crisis since World War Two."

 In the 1977 film, "Oh, God!"  God (George Burns) tells Jerry (John Denver) that God is not responsible for the world's suffering; that we are given everything we need: "I gave you each other!…It can work. Don't hurt each other. If it's hard to have faith in me, maybe it will help to know that I have faith in you."

Let's hope to God we are enough:  

"Lady Gaga has raised more than $250,000 for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami…World Vision will provide children's cold-weather jackets, diapers, powdered milk and blankets, and it plans to establish child-friendly spaces where kids can resume normal activities and find security….Mercy Corps'partner, Peace Winds, on Monday helicoptered emergency supplies — including tents, blankets, cooking fuel, tarps, rice and bread — to families evacuated from the tsunami-devastated city of Kesennuma…"

Global grief

Today our hearts are heavy as we witness the aftermath of Japan's devastating earthquake. We remain in solidarity with the people of Japan as they face the days ahead. Even when we know no one, even when the land is not our own…we grieve for those whose lives are forever-changed from the earth's unpredictable chaos.

APhoto Of The Day — 10.22.10

A humanoid robot code-named HRP-4C , center, performs with dancers at DIGITAL CONTENT EXPO in Tokyo Saturday. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

Top Cutlines:

  • 1. In a brave performance, Robin Williams reprises two previous roles (Bicentennial Man and Mrs. Doubtfire) for his new movie — Nic.
  • 2. Dorothy and Toto are shocked when the Tin Man finally reveals his true self — JohnA.
  • 3. Robert Palmer, does a futuristic video remake of his 1988 hit; with ‘Roberta the Robot’ declaring:”I-am-sim-ply Irr-e-sist-ible” — Kage Mann.
  • Another Dimension: Mr. Bloggy

Week 4: Obama, Japan

I remember earlier in the year, around election time, there were stories of Obama, Japan. It’s a Japanese village located about 4 hours by train from Tokyo. Obama means little beach in Japanese. I found the town interesting not only for it’s name, but for the fact that it is incredibly modern. It’s town hall looks like something from the future.

Short post this week, I’m heading to a Vox meeting. Have you ever visited Japan? Do you want to?

Note: I’ll get the map in later. I can’t figure out how to crop it.