Category Archives: Disasters

United States and New Zealand conducted secret tests of a “tsunami bomb” designed to destroy coastal cities

Photo: ALAMY | Jan 1, 2013

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

The tests were carried out in waters around New Caledonia and Auckland during the Second World War and showed that the weapon was feasible and a series of 10 large offshore blasts could potentially create a 33-foot tsunami capable of inundating a small city.

The top secret operation, code-named “Project Seal”, tested the doomsday device as a possible rival to the nuclear bomb. About 3,700 bombs were exploded during the tests, first in New Caledonia and later at Whangaparaoa Peninsula, near Auckland.

The plans came to light during research by a New Zealand author and film-maker, Ray Waru, who examined military files buried in the national archives.

“Presumably if the atomic bomb had not worked as well as it did, we might have been tsunami-ing people,” said Mr Waru.

“It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami … and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.” The project was launched in June 1944 after a US naval officer, E A Gibson, noticed that blasting operations to clear coral reefs around Pacific islands sometimes produced a large wave, raising the possibility of creating a “tsunami bomb”.

Mr Waru said the initial testing was positive but the project was eventually shelved in early 1945, though New Zealand authorities continued to produce reports on the experiments into the 1950s. Experts concluded that single explosions were not powerful enough and a successful tsunami bomb would require about 2 million kilograms of explosive arrayed in a line about five miles from shore.

“If you put it in a James Bond movie it would be viewed as fantasy but it was a real thing,” he said.

“I only came across it because they were still vetting the report, so there it was sitting on somebody’s desk [in the archives].”

Forty years after the joint testing, New Zealand faced a dramatic breakdown in its security ties with the US after it banned the entry of nuclear-armed ships from entering its territory during the 1980s. The dispute led to the US downgrading its relationship with New Zealand from an “ally” to a “friend”.

In his new book Secrets and Treasures, Mr Waru reveals other unusual findings from the archives including Defence Department records of thousands of UFO sightings by members of the public, military personnel and commercial pilots.

Some of the accounts of the moving lights in the sky include drawings of flying saucers, descriptions of aliens wearing “pharaoh masks” and alleged examples of extraterrestrial writing.

FEMA shelters in northeast resemble police state prison camps

. . .
(NaturalNews) Doom, gloom and despair is growing in the Northeast in the weeks following Superstorm Sandy, as winter sets in with thousands of New Yorkers and New Jersey residents still reeling from the loss of their homes and property.

For many, the despair has grown into an intense anger, as tent cities set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency begin to resemble prison camps. Moreover, the aftermath of Sandy is a story the mainstream media is largely ignoring, unlike Hurricane Katrina. (

Stressed residents who spoke to the Asbury Park Press talked bitterly about the cold, harsh conditions in tent cities with Blackhawk helicopters buzzing overhead.

“Sitting there last night you could see your breath,” Brian Sotelo, a Seaside Heights resident who was at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River with his wife and three kids a half-hour before the shelter opened as superstorm Sandy approached last week, told the small press. “At (Pine Belt) the Red Cross made an announcement that they were sending us to permanent structures up here that had just been redone, that had washing machines and hot showers and steady electric, and they sent us to tent city. We got (expletive).”

This is where people start falling through the cracks

Sotelo is at a makeshift shelter that is called – ironically – “Camp Freedom.” But no one there feels free or secure – or comfortable.

“The elections are over and here we are. There were Blackhawk helicopters flying over all day and night. They have heavy equipment moving past the tents all night,” he said, an apparent reference to the difficulty he and his family – and other camp dwellers – have in trying to relax and get some rest.

Reported the paper: “Welcome to the part of the disaster where people start falling through the cracks.

. . .
FEMA Camp “Prison like” tent city NOW erected in NJ while NY considers turning jails into homes

We suppose the paper was lucky to get any interview at all; no media is allowed inside “Camp Freedom,” which also serves as a base of operations for power company workers who are not from the area. Until recently, the camp was also a shelter where first responders, construction and utility workers could take a break, though the compound now contains a full-time shelter that is being maintained by the state Department of Human Services.

During the interview with the Asbury Park Press, Sotelo scrolled through pictures he took inside the camp as his wife, Renee, huddled for warmth inside their late-model Toyota Corolla which was stuffed with personal belongings, as they drove through the snow and slush to talk about what they have been through. Images he showed the paper included lines of outdoor porta-potties, of snow and ice penetrating the bottom of a tent, and of an elderly woman sitting alone, huddling beneath a blanket.

“All the while, a black car with tinted windows crests the hill and cruises by, as if to check on the proceedings,” the paper reported.

‘Everybody is angry over here’

Sotelo said “residents” of the tent city have recently become so frustrated with their situation, they are doing all they can to let the outside world know – but are being thwarted at every turn by the powers that be.

For instance, he says, officials have tried to stop camp dwellers from taking pictures, turned off the WiFi and have told residents they can’t charge their cell phones due to a lack of power.

“My six-year-old daughter Angie was a premie and has a problem regulating her body temperature,” Sotelo said. “Until 11 (Wednesday) night they had no medical personnel at all here, not even a nurse. After everyone started complaining and they found out we were contacting the press, they brought people in.”

“Every time we plugged in an iPhone or something, the cops would come and unplug them. Yet when they moved us in they laid out cable on the table and the electricians told us they were setting up charging stations. But suddenly there wasn’t enough power,” he continued.

Sotelo said there was a foot of water in his home when he was forced to leave. Now, he wonders why he isn’t allowed to return.

“Everybody is angry over here. It’s like being in prison,” he said.

Learn more:

Sandy victims: Life in a FEMA Camp feels like prison

Ashley Sabol, 21, of Seaside Heights, New Jersey looks over her accommodations at Tent City in Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey November 9. 2012. REUTERS/Michelle Conlin

“They treat us like we’re prisoners,” says Ashley Sabol, 21, of Seaside Heights, New Jersey. “It’s bad to say, but we honestly feel like we’re in a concentration camp.”

Reuters | Nov 10, 2012

By Michelle Conlin

OCEANPORT, New Jersey (Reuters) – It is hard to sleep at night inside the tent city at Oceanport, New Jersey. A few hundred Superstorm Sandy refugees have been living here since Wednesday – a muddy camp that is a sprawling anomaly amidst Mercedes Benz dealerships and country clubs in this town near the state’s devastated coastal region.

Inside the giant billowy white tents, the massive klieg lights glare down from the ceiling all night long. The air is loud with the buzz of generators pumping out power. The post-storm housing — a refugee camp on the grounds of the Monmouth Park racetrack – is in lockdown, with security guards at every door, including the showers.

No one is allowed to go anywhere without showing their I.D. Even to use the bathroom, “you have to show your badge,” said Amber Decamp, a 22-year-old whose rental was washed away in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

The mini city has no cigarettes, no books, no magazines, no board games, no TVs, and no newspapers or radios. On Friday night, in front of the mess hall, which was serving fried chicken and out-of-the-box, just-add-water potatoes, a child was dancing and dancing — to nothing. “We’re starting to lose it,” said Decamp. “But we have nowhere else to go.”

Hurricane Sandy: Tool of Social Engineering  

Was Tectonic Weaponry Deployed During the Super Storm to Trigger a Future Event?

The tent city is emblematic of the crisis left by Sandy: the tens of thousands of people who have no place to live. Some are without power and heat – even if the utilities have their power back, their electrics and heating systems in their homes may have been destroyed by the floods. They are the short-termers. Others have a longer-term problem – their houses were made completely uninhabitable by flooding, ripped apart, or burned to the ground. And they pose a far more daunting challenge.

For now, all are without homes in one of the harshest housing markets in the world, with low vacancy rates and high rents. “There’s inventory in other parts of the country, but not here,” said University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Susan Wachter.

To be sure, no one has been forced to stay in the tent city. But many say they have no other immediate option.

“This is an incredibly tough situation trying to find housing for these people,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Affairs Manager Scott Sanders. “With winter coming, they obviously can’t stay there.”

FEMA has plans to bring trailers into New Jersey to increase the amount of temporary housing.

While FEMA is helping at the tent city, it is being run by the state of New Jersey. The state’s Department of Human Services did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Saturday morning.

Brad Gair, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new emergency housing czar, has also talked about the complexities of post-disaster housing. The authorities in the region simply don’t have access to enough alternative housing or hotel rooms for all those who have been displaced. And all the problems this creates are on display here, where life has been even worse than during the storm, evacuees say.


One reason: the information blackout. Outside of the tightly guarded community on Friday, word was spreading that the Department of Human Services would aim to move residents to the racetrack clubhouse on Saturday. The news came after photos of people bundled in blankets and parkas inside the tents circulated in the media.

But inside the tent city, which has room for thousands but was only sheltering a couple of hundred on Friday, no one had heard anything about a move – or about anything else. “They treat us like we’re prisoners,” says Ashley Sabol, 21, of Seaside Heights, New Jersey. “It’s bad to say, but we honestly feel like we’re in a concentration camp.”

Sabol, who is unemployed and whose rental home was washed away in the hurricane, remembers being woken up on Wednesday at the shelter she was staying in at Toms River High School. Conditions there were “actually fine,” said Sabol.

Sabol was told that she had half an hour to pack: everyone was getting shipped to hotels in Wildwood, New Jersey, where they would be able to re-acquaint themselves with showers, beds and a door.

Sabol and about 50 other people boarded a New Jersey Transit bus, which drove around, seemingly aimlessly, for hours. Worse, this week’s Nor’easter snow storm was gathering force, lashing the bus with wind and rain.

After four hours, the bus driver pulled into a dirt parking lot. The passengers were expecting a hotel with heat and maybe even a restaurant. Instead they saw a mini city of portable toilets and voluminous white tents with their flaps snapping in the wind. Inside, they got sheets, a rubbery pillow, a cot and one blanket.

There was no heat that night, and as temperatures dropped to freezing, people could start to see their breath. The gusts of wind blew snow and slush onto Sabol’s face as her cot was near the open tent flaps. She shivered. Her hands turned purple.

It has taken three days for the tents to get warm.

Power workers from out of state who are helping utilities restore electricity to the area were starting to bed down in the tent city, too. Some empty vodka bottles appeared on the muddy street. There were now far more men than women or children, and the women said it was impossible not to notice the leering of some men.

Brian Skorupski, a manager with Tolland, Connecticut-based Asplundh Line Construction, had just rolled in with 50 workers, who were there to help restore power. Skorupski is used to his house in the suburbs. He missed his king-sized bed with his Hotel Collection sheets. “The only thing worse than this is sleeping in your truck,” he said.

FEMA sending more sketchy trailers to Superstorm Sandy victims | Nov 9, 2012

By Joseph Serna, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Shashank Bengali

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — In a sign of how long the rebuilding effort in the Northeast will take, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is shipping in temporary, manufactured homes for displaced residents.

About 317,000 people across the region have registered for FEMA assistance, and an estimated $314 million has been allocated for about 61,000 recipients, mostly for rental assistance. The cost and number of registrants is expected to grow.

At least 110 people were killed and thousands displaced since Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $50 billion in damage and economic loss from the Carolinas inland to the Ohio Valley and all the way north to Maine. The storm, combined with a nor’easter that knocked out more power and buried recovering cities in snow Wednesday, will be the second-costliest natural disaster in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina, according to National Weather Service statistics.

The recovery is going slow, particularly in New York and New Jersey. By Thursday evening, more than 735,000 people remained without power in those two states alone.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo castigated power companies for their slow response, in particular the Long Island Power Authority and the National Grid on Long Island.  “I believe they were unprepared,” Cuomo said. “I believe the system is archaic.”

In Middletown, where residents evacuated ahead of Wednesday’s nor’easter, Nilsa Colon was back volunteering at a disaster relief center Thursday.

Colon, 42, and her husband piled clothing and food into a van at the Middletown Assemblies of God Church and drove around nearby Keansburg, a hard-hit waterfront town where debris was piled in front of homes and alongside the waterfront amusement park where storm-damaged roller coasters, bumper cars and other rides sat abandoned.

Storm victims are “flooded out and they have no cars. That’s why we’re sending vans in there,” she said.

Colon has been trying to find housing for church members who lost everything. A few people slept stretched across chairs in the sanctuary after the storm. The nearest FEMA assistance center is in Union Beach, about five miles away, and many storm victims lost their cars to flooding.


FEMA suppressed warnings on toxic trailers

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Manufacturers knew FEMA trailers were toxic

Children in Katrina trailers may face lifelong ailments

Colon says she knows FEMA has offered some of the displaced people housing, but miles from their neighborhoods.

“It’s not doable if you put them a mile and a half out. They have to have transportation to their job. [FEMA wants] to offer help, but it has to be helpful to the person,” she said, especially storm victims with children in school who value their community. “They lost their house already; now they’re going to lose everything else.”

About 40 manufactured homes were headed to the region, although no state has requested the homes yet, FEMA said. Where the mobile homes will end up is anyone’s guess.

The states and FEMA work together to determine what kind of homes are needed and where they go. Residents can live in the mobile homes for up to 18 months, according to FEMA guidelines.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said during a Thursday morning conference call with reporters that these are not the same temporary shelters used during Katrina, when some were found to contain toxic levels of formaldehyde. The latest ones adhere to Department of Housing and Urban Development standards, Fugate said.

Since Sandy made landfall Oct. 29, thousands of storm victims found temporary refuge in American Red Cross and Salvation Army shelters. It’s unclear, however, how many will be able to return to their homes anytime soon.

Utility companies have to go door to door to evaluate the damage to equipment and buildings to see whether they can reconnect power and gas. If they can’t, homeowners may need a more long-term solution.

FEMA said 1,600 people are already using the agency’s help to live in motels or hotels. With 107,000 people qualified for similar accommodations, many places could soon be jam-packed if displaced Sandy victims don’t stay with friends or family.

On New York’s battered Staten Island, many victims have left to stay in shelters or with loved ones. In Midland Beach, Norma McCarthy, a mother of two teenage boys, said she remained in her flooded home because her relatives’ homes in New Jersey and Queens also were without power.

“We don’t really have anywhere else to go,” McCarthy said.

She applied for FEMA assistance the day after Sandy hit, but said she hadn’t heard back.

Pentagon wants to roll out bipedal terminator robots in time for the next “natural” disaster

These “terminators” would easily be the most effective weapon against civil unrest or radical revolutionaries that did not subscribe to the globalist agenda.

The beginning stages of the global Elite’s visions for “robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs” are becoming a reality. These robots will be armed and autonomous. Their cranium sensors will be able to “detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat.” | Nov 4, 2012

By Susanne Posel

In the wake of Tropical Storm Sandy, the Pentagon has requested that a team of “rescue robots” be engineered in time for the next “natural disaster”. The DARPA Robotics Challenge is putting out the call for a synthetic force that can be designed for autonomous thought; yet mitigate the risk to human life when preforming a rescue mission.

According to Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA):

“Our best robotic tools are helping, but they are not yet robust enough to function in all environments and perform the basic tasks needed to mitigate a crisis situation. Even in degraded post-disaster situations, the environment is scaled to the human world, requiring navigation of human obstacles such as doors and stairs, manipulation of human objects such as vehicles and power tools, and recognition of common human objects such as levers and valves.”

DARPA has awarded Boston Dynamics, Inc.   a $10.9 million contract to manufacture humanoid robots that are bi-pedal, built like humans and have a sensor head with on-board computing capabilities. Completion of the project is expected for August of 2014.

Another of DARPA’s interests into robotics is the Avatar for the allocation of bi-pedal robots and essential super-soldiers and has devoted $7 million of its $2.8 billion 2012 budget to developing “interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.”

These human-controlled robots will be strong enough to “clear a room” and “facilitate sentry control and combat causality recovery.” Yet these “terminators” would easily be the most effective weapon against civil unrest or radical revolutionaries that did not subscribe to the globalist agenda.

Full Story

Has Sandy saved President Obama? Comforter-in-chief takes center stage in Atlantic City

Comforter-In-Chief: Obama (left) hugs marine owner Donna Vanzant (right) during a tour of Brigantine, New Jersey, which was badly affected by Sandy

President takes one-hour helicopter tour over Atlantic Coast, viewing flooded homes and wrecked buildings

Obama skipped campaigning in battleground states in favour of visit to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s state

Gov Christie: ‘We’ve got a big task ahead of us that we have to do together. This is what New Jerseyans are built for’

Daily Mail | Nov 1, 2012

By Mark Duell, Toby Harnden , Lydia Warren and Rob Preece

President Obama took time out from the campaign trail yesterday to visit a stretch of the devastated New Jersey coast and take on a role of comforter-in-chief that could be a major boost to his hopes of re-election next week.

The President was accompanied by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican bruiser and Mitt Romney backer who showered him with effusive praise for his handling of Superstorm Sandy, giving President Obama a bipartisan sheen that aides believe could help him secure victory on Tuesday.

Leaving Republican presidential candidate Mr Romney on the sidelines holding campaign events in Florida in which he had to pull his punches and barely featured on TV, President Obama travelled to Atlantic City in New Jersey to get an aerial view of the widespread damage caused by the storm.

The images of President Obama offering solace to New Jersey residents who had lost their home could be of incalculable political value in the final few days of the 2012 presidential campaign.

He was joined on the presidential helicopter, Marine One, for the one-hour tour by Governor Christie, who faces his own re-election bid next year and is widely believed to be laying the foundations for a presidential bid in 2016 should Romney lose this time around.

‘I want to let you know that your governor is working overtime,’ President Obama told victims at an emergency shelter after the tour. ‘The entire country has been watching what’s been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit.’

Governor Christie said:  ‘It’s really important to have the president of the United States here.’ President Obama returned the compliment.

The politicians’ meeting came as people in the heavily populated US East Coast corridor battered by Sandy took the first cautious steps to reclaim their upended daily routines, even as rescuers combed neighbourhoods strewn with debris and scarred by floods and fire.

Mr Romney was forced to reassure voters, a week before election day and following the massive disaster, that his administration wouldn’t leave disaster victims in the lurch.
Map of U.S. East Coast showing deaths, damages from Hurricane Sandy, as of Tuesday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m.

With President Obama heavily involved in getting federal funds to those in trouble, the Romney campaign moved quickly to reassure the public it supports a strong program of storm relief.

Only last year, as Mr Romney hewed to the right while battling for the GOP nomination, he seemed to downplay the federal government’s role in disaster response.

‘Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction,” Romney said at a debate last June.

‘And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.’

Asked by moderator John King of CNN whether that would include disaster relief, Mr Romney said: ‘We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardising the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.’

However Mr Romney had altered that position when he released a statement on the disaster yesterday.

‘I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

‘As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.’

Mr Romney had ducked a spate of opportunities on Tuesday to personally clarify his position and the statement essentially endorsed the current disaster aid system.

President Obama and Governor Christie ladled on the mutual praise on Wednesday as they toured the damage sites.

Governor Christie, who has publicly endorsed Mr Romney, said: ‘I want to thank the president for coming here today (Wednesday). It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey and I appreciate it very much.’

The President returned the kind words, telling the crowds of beleaguered New Jersey residents who had gathered that their Republican governor was  ‘working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible everybody can get back to normal’.

By Tuesday night, the winds and flooding inflicted by the fast-weakening Sandy had subsided, leaving at least 76 people dead along the Atlantic Coast and splintering beachfront homes and boardwalks from the mid-Atlantic states to southern New England.

The storm later moved across Pennsylvania on a predicted path toward western New York State and Canada.

At the height of the disaster, more than 8.2 million customers lost electricity – some as far away as Michigan. Nearly a quarter of those without power were in New York, where lower Manhattan’s usually bright lights remained dark for a second night.

Governor Christie, who is a vocal supporter of GOP nominee Mr Romney, has changed his partisan tune after the storm, regularly singing President Obama’s praises in relation to the federal aid given toward disaster relief support.

‘The president has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency),’ Governor Christie told the Today Show on Tuesday.

Governor Christie later told news anchor Soledad O’Brien that President Obama ‘has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.’

Governor Christie continued his new tact of effusively praising President Obama and the work that the federal government is doing in response to the hurricane, saying that the two spent a ‘significant’ afternoon together touring the Jersey Shore in Marine One.

‘I cannot thank the president enough for his concern,’ Governor Christie said at the 5pm press conference yesterday. ‘The president has been all over this and he deserves great credit.’

The governor said that the two have put their partisan differences aside and had spoken six times including their afternoon-long trip yesterday.

‘It has been a great working relationship to make sure that we are doing the jobs that the people elected us to do,’ Governor Christie said of President Obama.  ‘I am pleased to report that he has sprung into action immediately while we were in the car together.’

The President was slightly more reserved with his praise, as he kept the majority of his remarks focused on the efforts of FEMA and ways for those who lost homes from the storm rather than his political rival.

‘Governor Christie has been responsive aggressive, making sure the state got out in front of this incredible storm,’ President Obama said.

Full Story

Obama Ordered DHS to Control Hurricanes | Oct 30, 2012

by Melissa Melton

While the debate rages regarding whether or not the U.S. government uses weather manipulation technology to steer storms like Hurricane Sandy, further evidence shows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been engaged in research to do just that for years.

In 2008, an article in New Scientist discussed a new DHS project that funded research into guiding and directing the intensity of hurricanes.

Obama’s October Surprise – Creating and Steering Hurricane Sandy ?

Citing Hurricane Katrina as the basis for the project, the Hurricane Aerosol and Microphysics Program (HAMP) worked with Project Stormfury veteran Joe Golden and a panel of other experts “to test the effects of aerosols on the structure and intensity of hurricanes.” HAMP was funded under contract HSHQDC-09-C-00064 at a taxpayer price tag of $64.1 million.

In 2009, Richard Spinrad, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) assistant administrator for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), sent then DHS Program Manager for Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) William Laska an official memorandum regarding OAR’s review of a “Statement for Work” for HAMP.

Full Story

. . .


Hurricane Sandy manipulated by government weather technology, meteorologist says

Could Hurricane Sandy be Weather Modification at Work?

Frankenstorm Sandy: HAARP and Chemtrails Used to Steer and Modify Hurricane

Evidence Of Creating And Steering Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy Geoengineering Ongoing Updates

Could Hurricane Sandy be Weather Modification at Work?

HAARP Engineering ‘FRANKENSTORM’ Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane SANDY 10-28 Intellicast Geoengineering Update

Japanese farmers pray for radiation-free rice

Photo credit: AP | Toraaki Ogata drives a tractor to plant rice saplings in a paddy field in northeastern Japan. Last year’s crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat, but Ogata is back at his rice paddies, 35 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, driving his tractor trailing neat rows of saplings. (May 21, 2012)

Associated Press | May 28, 2012


FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Last year’s crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat, but Toraaki Ogata is back at his rice paddies, driving his tractor, trailing neat rows of seedlings.

He’s living up to his family’s proud, six-generation history of rice farming, and praying that this time his harvest will not have too much radiation to sell.

That conflict is shared by several thousand farmers in more than 17,000 acres of Fukushima, where some of last year’s harvest exceeded government safety standards because of radiation released when the March 2011 tsunami set off the world’s second-worst nuclear accident.

For their rice to be sold, it will have to be tested — every grain of it.

“All I can do is pray there will be no radiation,” Ogata, 58, said last week, wiping his sweat during a break in his 3.7-acre paddy 35 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. “It’s not our fault at all, but the land of our ancestors has been defiled.”

Rice farming is almost sacred in rural Japan, and the government protects farmers with tight restrictions on imports. Many farmers are too close to the nuclear disaster to return to the fields, but others have gotten the go-ahead, even with the risk their harvests may end up being too radiated to ship.

Hopes are high in this major agricultural northeastern state that farmers will meet the unprecedented challenge of producing safe-to-eat rice in contaminated soil.

Following orders from the government, they have sprinkled zeolite, a pebble-like material that traps radioactive cesium, and added fertilizer with potassium to help block radiation absorption. That work is part of the $1.3 billion Tokyo has allocated for decontamination efforts this year.

There had been no time for that last year. Tens of thousands of bags of rice from that harvest were too radiated to be sold. The government bought those crops, which sit in giant mounds in storage.

Rice planting has been banned in the most contaminated areas, but the government allowed it at some farms in areas that produced contaminated rice last year, including Ogata’s. After the October harvest, their rice will be run through special machines that can detect the tiniest speck of radiation.

Ogata is filled with uncertainty. Though the government recently set up a system to buy and destroy his crop from last year, he has no assurances that it will do so again if this year’s rice can’t be eaten.

Radiation is expected to decline year by year. But Ogata and other farmers acknowledge they are in for a long haul.

BP’s Corexit Oil Tar Sponged Up by Human Skin

Corexit® dispersed oil residue accelerates the absorption of toxins into the skin. The results aren’t visible under normal light (top), but the contamination into the skin appear as fluorescent spots under UV light (bottom). Credit: James H “Rip” Kirby III, Surfrider Foundation | Apr 17, 2012

By Julia Whitty

The Surfrider Foundation has released its preliminary “State of the Beach” study for the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s ongoing Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Sadly, things aren’t getting cleaner faster, according to their results. The Corexit that BP used to “disperse” the oil now appears to be making it tougher for microbes to digest the oil. I wrote about this problem in depth in “The BP Cover-Up.”

Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

The persistence of Corexit mixed with crude oil has now weathered to tar, yet is traceable to BP’s Deepwater Horizon brew through its chemical fingerprint. The mix creates a fluorescent signature visible under UV light. From the report:

The program uses newly developed UV light equipment to detect tar product and reveal where it is buried in many beach areas and also where it still remains on the surface in the shoreline plunge step area. The tar product samples are then analyzed…to determine which toxins may be present and at what concentrations. By returning to locations several times over the past year and analyzing samples, we’ve been able to determine that PAH concentrations in most locations are not degrading as hoped for and expected.

Worse, the toxins in this unholy mix of Corexit and crude actually penetrate wet skin faster than dry skin (photos above)—the author describes it as the equivalent of a built-in accelerant—though you’d never know it unless you happened to look under fluorescent light in the 370nm spectrum. The stuff can’t be wiped off. It’s absorbed into the skin.

And it isn’t going away. Other findings from monitoring sites between Waveland, Mississippi, and Cape San Blas, Florida over the past two years:

The use of Corexit is inhibiting the microbial degradation of hydrocarbons in the crude oil and has enabled concentrations of the organic pollutants known as PAH to stay above levels considered carcinogenic by the NIH and OSHA.

  •     26 of 32 sampling sites in Florida and Alabama had PAH concentrations exceeding safe limits.
  •     Only three locations were found free of PAH contamination.
  •     Carcinogenic PAH compounds from the toxic tar are concentrating in surface layers of the beach and from there leaching into lower layers of beach sediment. This could potentially lead to contamination of groundwater sources.

The full Surfrider Foundation report by James H. “Rip” Kirby III, of the University of South Florida is open-access online here.

Could Vladimir Putin be in power until 2024?

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov, tycoon and independent candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, Nationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and A Just Russia party leader Sergey Mironov will battle for the country’s presidency on Sunday. Reuters

Having extended the presidential term of office from four to six years, Putin would remain in charge until 2018 – or 2024, if he won a second term. By then, Putin would have chalked up 24 years in power out of the 33 years since the collapse of Communism thanks to his previous terms as president and prime minister.

Could Vladimir Putin be in power until 2024? 10 key questions about Russia’s elections

MSNBC | Mar 1, 2012

More than 100 million Russians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a president who will be in office for the next six years.’s Alastair Jamieson examines the potential outcomes — and what’s at stake.

What do the polls suggest will happen?

Most polls indicate it will be an outright victory for Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister and former president who has made a deal with his ally Dmitry Medvedev, the former prime minister and current president. Despite initial public outrage over their job swap, Putin is consistently polling at around 50 per cent – well ahead of the fragmented opposition.

And even if voters do not endorse Putin, his victory is likely to be assured with the help of regional officials loyal to his United Russia party. Having extended the presidential term of office from four to six years, Putin would remain in charge until 2018 – or 2024, if he won a second term. By then, Putin would have chalked up 24 years in power out of the 33 years since the collapse of Communism thanks to his previous terms as president and prime minister.

If the outcome is such a certainty, why should the U.S. and other Western countries care?

Experts agree the U.S. will find Russia harder to deal with on Putin’s return. On Wednesday, British think tank Chatham House warned that “Russia’s stability is at increased risk” due to Putin’s determination to stay in power. “The overriding objective of Vladimir Putin and his team is to preserve the narrow and personalized ruling system that they have built over the past 12 years,” it said in a report. “Real change, necessarily involving accountability and devolution of power, would disrupt the system. But without real change, Russia cannot develop as effectively as it could, and the Putin system is vulnerable to shock.”

Opposition leaders believe Russia at a crossroads in this election, according to NBC News correspondent Jim Maceda.

“The choice is stark: six, perhaps 12, more years of an authoritative regime that is belligerent to critics … and which sees the U.S. and its allies as Cold War rivals — or a new, more democratic Russia that respects its neighbors and no longer snubs the West,” he said.

“The feeling is that a President Putin will instinctively shrink from, rather than encourage, co-operation with the West on a range of issues including Iran and Syria, so there’s a lot at stake for the U.S. in this election,” added Maceda, who has reported on the country since the days of the Soviet Union.

Although Putin enjoys strong domestic popularity, especially in rural Russia, dissatisfaction with his seemingly invincible regime has resulted in unprecedented public protests, with thousands joining recent marches in central Moscow that would have been unthinkable only a few months ago.

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