WASHINGTON (AP) — The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site in May, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries, according to a Sunday report by The Washington Post.
The Emirati Embassy in Washington released a statement in response calling the Post report “false” and insisting that the UAE “had no role whatsoever” in the alleged hacking.
The report quotes unnamed US intelligence officials as saying that senior members of the Emirati government discussed the plan on May 23. On the following day, a story appeared on the Qatari News Agency’s website quoting a speech by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in which he allegedly praised Iran and said Qatar has a good relationship with Israel. Similarly incendiary statements appeared on the news agency’s Twitter feed.
The agency quickly claimed it was hacked and removed the article. But Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all blocked Qatari media and later severed diplomatic ties.
The ongoing crisis has threatened to complicate the US-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State group as all participants are US allies and members of the anti-IS coalition. Qatar is home to more than 10,000 US troops and the regional headquarters of the US Central Command while Bahrain is the home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
President Donald Trump has sided strongly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the dispute, publicly backing their contention that Doha is a supporter of Islamic militant groups and a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently concluded several days of shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf, but he departed the region without any public signs of a resolution.
Greg and Jeremy discuss Donald Trump’s long time friendly relationships with top media executives, particularly CNN’s Jeff Zucker, how CNN aided Trump throughout the election, and why this proves just how ridiculous the idea is of Trump being at war with the media. We then discuss Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s business ties to major media moguls with connections to both Israel and Russia, and why it matters. We close by discussing why none of the major media outlets reporting on the Russia scandal should be trusted, and caution against centering activism around trying to debunk claims of Russia collusion.
–http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/feat… An interview from during the campaign in which Trump heaps praise on numerous media executives, including Rupert Murdoch, Ari Emanuel, Sumner Redstone, Jeff Zucker, CBS’s Les Moonves, and NBC’s Andy Lack.
–http://pagesix.com/2015/11/19/brett-r… Brett Ratner, business partner of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, claims that he never knew that Meyer Lansky was his “childhood friend” until after his father died.
–http://americanfreepress.net/who-towe… Classic article by the late Michael Collins Piper detailing how the majority of Trump’s casino empire came from his acquisition of CIA/Mossad front group Resorts International.
–http://gawker.com/500906/know-your-ne… A 2008 article about “New York Lovin Russian Oligarchs,” many of whom just happen to have close connections to Trump, Israel, Russia, and Chabad Lubavitch.
–http://www.businessinsider.com/the-ri… Profile of “Russian” mogul Len Blavatnik, another business partner of Mnuchin’s with close ties to Israel and Chabad.
–http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.p… Details the relationship between Mnuchin and yet another business partner, Australian mogul and close Netanyahu pal James Packer.
–https://youtu.be/jvLQyIJJAqE?t=24m17s A recent speech in which Trump, in a complete 180 from his campaign rhetoric, explains that the reason he has Goldman people in charge of the economy is because they are rich and smart. Mnuchin’s connections indicate that this might not be the only reason Trump surrounds himself with Goldman people.
An ultimatum issued by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to Qatar that it drop support for terrorists and meet a list of 13 demands toward that end is nearing its expiry amid a torrent of threats against Doha in the Saudi media.
The threats raise the possibility of fresh steps against Qatar to follow up a boycott and the severing of diplomatic relations by the four allies on June 5.
The ultimatum was issued on June 23 and expires on Sunday. Among its demands are that Qatar close Al Jazeera television; curb ties with Iran; close a Turkish military base; and hand over designated terrorists to the allies.
A writer in the Saudi daily Okaz, Muhammad al-Sultan, warned on Saturday that “Qatar should realize it is only one drop in the sea of Saudi politics, which is deep, profound and roaring. Riyadh and its sisters in Abu Dhabi, Manama and Cairo are serious this time about putting an end to the strife and the games of the petty. Qatar, which benefited from the patience of Riyadh, should understand that the anger of Riyadh will be very painful such that a small emirate can’t bear it.”
Qatar could face ouster from the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to Gulf diplomats quoted in the Saudi owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily. The UAE ambassador to Moscow, Omar Ghobash, was quoted by The Guardian as saying the allies could force their trading partners to choose between working with them or Doha.
“There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now,” Ghobash said.
But Sultan went so far as to imply that military force might be employed, using the word “storm” several times, which has echoes of the name being used for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen, Decisive Storm.
He wrote: “The consequences of this stage will reveal a coming storm according to which the Arab allies will punish Qatar painfully for what it has done and what it may do. Perhaps we will see liquidation of leaders and presenting them to the International Criminal Court for the conspiracies maliciously woven by the Qatar regime.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Muhammad Bin Abdul-Rahman al-Thani said over the weekend that his country is ready for dialogue, on condition of non-violation of its sovereignty, and termed as unacceptable the steps the allies are taking, Al Jazeera.net reported.
Writing in Asharq al-Awsat, that paper’s former editor, Salman al-Dossary, also adopted a threatening tone toward Qatar.
“When Doha wakes up and accepts a serious solution to the crisis, it will be too late and it will have suffered a loss too great for compensation. The billions of dollars in its sovereign fund will be of no use and the ‘money can buy you anything’ principle will not save it.”
He continued: “Serious damage has been inflicted to the system itself, and the only way to restore it is through a dangerous operation. The worst is yet to come, Qatar.”
Also writing in Asharq al-Awsat, leading commentator Abdulrahman al-Rashed called Qatar a “trapped cat.”
“Rather than dealing with its crisis and admitting it had become a serious and dangerous threat to everyone in the region, Doha resorted to its old tricks. To the Qatari cat, we say: Quit jumping off windows, the crisis has only one way out and that is through reaching an understanding with your neighbors.
“The four countries boycotting Qatar have 13 demands that share one goal: That the Qatar regime stop the damage it is creating for the region’s countries, which will resort to restraining the Doha regime if it continues to disagree.”
He added: “It seems that the [allied] countries have made up their minds not to remain silent over threats to their security and existence, thus reaching a point where Qatar will taste its own medicine.”
After their husbands praised the “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the US at the welcome ceremony for US President Donald Trump, Sara Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, told US First Lady Melania Trump that the two couples had more in common than pure geopolitical interests.
Chatting candidly on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, Sara Netanyahu said that, like the Trumps, Israel’s “first couple” had been treated unfairly by the media but were loved by the people.
“You know in Israel all the people like us. The media hate us but the people love us,” Netanyahu told the first lady in a recording that picked up their private conversation. “Like you.”
“We have a lot in common,” Trump replied. Netanyahu, with a broad smile on her face, promised to continue the discussion “over dinner.”
Minutes earlier, Donald Trump arrived in Israel for his first visit to the Jewish state, saying his trip marked “a rare opportunity” to bring peace to the region.
“We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony prosperity and peace,” he said. “But we can only get there working together. There is no other way. Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, I look forward to working with both of you during my stay.”
Netanyahu, in his own public statement, noted that Trump’s visit to Israel was the first time a US president ever arrived in the Jewish state while on his inaugural trip abroad, calling it a “powerful expression of [Trump’s] friendship to Israel” and a sign of the strong ties between the two countries.
“I’m confident that under your leadership the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States will become ever greater, ever stronger,” the prime minister said.
Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump have had famously acerbic relationships with the media, describing critical stories as “witch hunts” and dismissing some journalists as biased against them.
Trump has regularly taken aim at the media, declaring just last week that “no politician in history” had been treated “more unfairly” than he was being treated over rumors of collusion with Russia by his campaign team and ongoing criticism of his administration’s handling of several key scandals.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately. Especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down,” he said during a ceremony at the White House.
He regularly tweets about the “failing New York Times” and “fake news CNN” and has, in one tweet, decried the media as the “enemy of the people.”
Netanyahu has also repeatedly tried to curb his many detractors in the media, which he considers biased against him and whose numerous investigations have thus far failed to land him in any significant legal or political peril.
He has forgone press conferences and interviews, and has tried to reshape the media landscape in Israel. Like Trump, he has taken to social media to lambaste the press.
He recently pushed to have the state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority shut down and replaced with a new corporation, only to reverse course once the emerging personnel of the new body did not seem favorable enough to him.
Netanyahu, like Trump, has also lashed out at specific reporters. He took one newsman to court for reporting that Sara Netanyahu kicked her husband out of the car on a busy highway in a fit of rage. Last year, after acclaimed investigative TV journalist Ilana Dayan reported on mistreatment of the prime minister’s staff, she read a 6-minute rebuke from Netanyahu on the air in which he called her a “left-wing extremist” and slammed her credentials.
On Monday evening, after a visit by the Trumps to Jerusalem’s Old City, the Netanyahus will host the Trumps at the Prime Minister’s Residence for a private dinner, closed to the press.
A power hungry president has kicked a power player out of office, and the mainstream media is having a field day. Headlines have obsessively focused on Trump’s termination of FBI Director James Comey and the implications that come with it, drawing comparisons to Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and questioning Trump’s decision to fire the man who was leading an investigation into the president’s own alleged misconduct.
While the drama currently unfolding will certainly have profound implications for the present and future, the theatrics playing out on telescreens around the country are hardly representative of the bigger picture in the United States. As millions of Americans fix their eyes and minds on the ongoing developments, other stories are lurking behind the curtain — and reveal far more about the struggles we face.
Though they have received some coverage from corporate and establishment outlets, these stories are being forced out of the conversation by round-the-clock coverage of political figureheads warring in Washington.
Here are five to follow:
1. The Pentagon is seeking a troop increase in Afghanistan after 16 years of repeating that exact mistake — The last time Anti-Media put together a list of stories falling by the wayside amid a media feeding frenzy — that time, it was Trump’s decision to bomb Syria — an increase of troops in Afghanistan made the cut. Unfortunately, it’s a recurring development. As various mainstream outlets reported — with little traction — the Trump administration is considering sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Though options are still being considered – and even Trump and the likes of Condoleezza Rice have pushed for a different strategy — the potential increase amounts to business as usual for an empire mired in endless war with a country still plagued by the very same terrorists the United States vowed to eradicate sixteen years ago when the invasion first commenced. There are currently over 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, making a spike of several thousand troops significant and a sign of the military-industrial establishment’s continued hold over American foreign policy.
2. FDA-approved drugs come with rampant safety hazards —According to an analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 32% of drugs deemed ‘safe’ by the Food and Drug Administration were later flagged as potentially harmful. According to the study, which examined 222 novel therapeutics approved between 2001 and 2010, postmarket safety events included the agency either recalling drugs, issuing additional box warnings, or publishing “safety communications” for them. These after-the-fact safety actions were common among biologic and psychiatric drugs, as well as drugs granted expedited approval by the FDA.
Ultimately, this is unsurprising considering the agency is run by pharmaceutical insiders, the industry provides funding directly to the agency, and the agency often uses studies sponsored by drug companies to make its determinations. What continues to be surprising — however often the disparity is raised — is that same agency’s refusal to consider cannabis a potential medical treatment, even as it approves synthetic pharmaceutical versions of the exact same substance.
3. The Dakota Access Pipeline Has Already Sprung a Leak — Despite months of protests expressing concern that the highly-contested pipeline could threaten environmental safety and water resources, the project was pushed through and demonstrations were violently suppressed. On Wednesday, however, it was revealed that the pipeline leaked 84 gallons at the start of April. Though this is a relatively small amount, the pipeline is not even operational yet. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources did little to announce the spill to the public, instead opting to simply issue a report on its website. Pipeline leaks run rampant around the country, and according to a recent report from KCET, there have been over 740 leaks just in North Dakota in the past year alone. That amounts to a leak or spill every 11 hours and 45 minutes.
4. Cop Sues After Being Fired for Not Shooting a Suicidal Man — A former cop is suing the city of Weirton, West Virginia, after he was fired for not shooting a man who was threatening to kill himself. According to former officer Stephen Mader, a former Marine, “To tell a police officer, when in doubt either shoot to kill, or get fired, is a choice that no police officer should ever have to make…” The suicidal man, Ronald J. Williams, had been begging officers to shoot him, and another officer eventually did so, ending his life and preventing Williams from ever receiving mental health treatment. Mader also alleges that after Williams was killed, the city of Weirton waged a campaign to discredit him and his performance on the job prior to the shooting. Considering police shootings still occur daily in the United States — whether because the victim is mentally ill, the wrong race, or simply toting a toy gun — Mader’s story highlights the grave lack of accountability many violent officers still face, as well as the struggle many well-meaning cops face to remain virtuous in a barrel of bad apples.
5. NSA continues warrantless mass surveillance of millions of Americans — This story actually broke last week, but it received little attention or concern from the American public. The International Business Timessummarized the findings of a recent report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:
“Even under the revised law, which only allows the NSA to collect call metadata about individuals who have suspected ties to terrorism, the NSA was able to gather more than 151 million phone records despite having warrants for just 42 individuals in 2016 — and just a handful more from the year prior.”
Though Americans may be continually comfortable with mass surveillance, convincing themselves they have nothing to fear because they’ve done nothing wrong, this story is particularly relevant considering the FBI, like the NSA, has engaged in spying on the public many times over. In fact, the FBI itself helped pioneer technology the NSA uses for its surveillance practices. Remember, also, James Comey’s past tirades against encryption and his insistence on total government access to Americans’ smartphones and data.
Remember, also, that the FBI Comey chaired has a track record of everything from operating a child porn site in the name of stopping child porn to concocting fake terror attacks for the sake of stopping terrorism — not to mention its transgressions throughout its decades-long history.
As the nation continues to remain fixated on the action-packed narrative between the FBI and the White House, we should all keep in mind that there is far more to be learned from the stories the media isn’t obsessing over.
North Korean state media have issued a stinging denunciation of the country’s chief ally and diplomatic backer China, saying Beijing should be grateful for its protection.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried a bylined commentary warning of “grave consequences” if China tests its patience further.
Beijing and Pyongyang have a relationship forged in the blood of the Korean War, and the Asian giant remains its wayward neighbour’s main provider of aid and trade.
But ties have begun to fray in recent years, with China increasingly exasperated by the North’s nuclear antics, fearful of a regional crisis.
Beijing regularly calls for parties to avoid raising tensions — remarks that can apply to both Washington and Pyongyang — and in February it announced the suspension of coal imports from the North for the rest of the year, a crucial foreign currency earner for the authorities.
Chinese state-run media have called for harsher sanctions against the North in the event of a fresh atomic test, urged Pyongyang to “avoid making mistakes at this time”, and spoken of the need for it to abandon its nuclear programmes.
The KCNA commentary bylined “Kim Chol” — believed to be a pseudonym — denounced the “reckless remarks” and said nothing will shake Pyongyang’s determination.
“The DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear programme which is as precious as its own life,” it said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The commentary late Wednesday added that Pyongyang had acted as a buffer between Beijing and Washington since the Korean War in the 1950s, “contributed to protecting peace and security of China” and that its ally should “thank the DPRK for it”.
Beijing should not try to test the limits of the North’s patience, it said, warning: “China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations.”
The text is a sign of the level to which ties between the two have deteriorated — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has yet to visit Beijing, more than five years after taking power.
Washington is meanwhile pushing Beijing to put more pressure on Pyongyang.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week warned the UN Security Council of “catastrophic consequences” if the international community — most notably China — failed to pressure the North into abandoning its weapons programme.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi brushed aside Tillerson’s comments, saying that “the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side”.
In May 2004, one year after the U.S. commenced a full-scale invasion of Iraq, the New York Timesissued a half-baked apology for its abysmal coverage of the “intelligence” used to convince America that Iraq was a threat.
“Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge,” wrote the NYT editors. They also lamented their dependence on Iraqi defectors who made spurious claims to further the goal of regime change.
It was a grudging admission that the famous newspaper played a critical role in pushing lies and propaganda, to lead the U.S. into a ‘pre-emptive’ war of choice. Other corporate media outlets, including those in the neoconservative (i.e. The Weekly Standard) and liberal interventionist camps, apparently felt no remorse at betraying the public.
To be fair, it wasn’t all the fault of ‘patriotic’ American media. In Sept. 2002, the Bush-Cheney cabal installed a special Pentagon intelligence unit to create the web of lies and spin needed to bring forth the Iraq war drums.
The Office of Special Plans (OSP), led by Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, used their imagination and hard-line neocon belief in “regime change” to create Iraqi WMD and ties to terror out of thin air. With the “war on terror” as an excuse and Dick Cheney as their cover, OSP bypassed normal intelligence routes and brought what they wanted straight to President Bush.
In January 2004, Mother Jones exposed the workings of this “secret Pentagon intelligence unit and of the Defense Department’s war-planning task force,” made up of “a close-knit team of ideologues who spent a decade or more hammering out plans for an attack on Iraq and who used the events of September 11, 2001, to set it into motion.”
An essential part of this operation was input from the infamous defector, Ahmed Chalabi, and the Iraqi National Congress.
Mother Jones reported:
According to multiple sources, Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress sent a steady stream of misleading and often faked intelligence reports into U.S. intelligence channels. That information would flow sometimes into NESA/OSP directly, sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service, and sometimes through the INC’s own U.S.-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon. The INC’s intelligence “isn’t reliable at all,” according to Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA chief of counterterrorism. “Much of it is propaganda. Much of it is telling the Defense Department what they want to hear, using alleged informants and defectors who say what Chalabi wants them to say, [creating] cooked information that goes right into presidential and vice presidential speeches.
Fast-forward to 2017, and the U.S. is backing other “rebel” groups in other Middle Eastern countries long targeted for regime change – and using bogus intel.
The 2013 sarin gas attack that killed at least 281 Syrian civilians was immediately blamed on Assad, trumpeted by Establishment media as a “red line” meaning Assad should be forcefully removed. But it turns out the chemicals most likely came from Turkish intelligence and were fired from rebel-controlled territory.
Soon after President Trump made the comment that regime change in Syria was no longer the goal, the April 4, 2017 sarin gas attack took place in Khan Sheikhoun, killing at least 74 Syrian people. Yet again, American corporate media parroted the government line. No skepticism, no questioning.
With the Tomahawk missile response, Trump had finally come around to the neocon/liberal interventionist agenda – and the MSM were positively thrilled.
Pundits were quick to cement the narrative that ‘Assad did it’ before people could think too much, despite quickly mounting evidence that the official narrative was suspect. Former CIA agents were questioning the rationale, and then video proof emerged of evidence tampering at the chemical attack site.
In fact, an MIT weapons expert and former DoD science advisor released his analysis, saying the evidence for the April sarin gas attack was tampered with or staged. Theodore Postol stated that the White House’s supposed proof “does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.”
The parallels are easy to draw between Syrian war propaganda and Iraq war propaganda, and no less troubling in their potential to draw the U.S. into launching another “regime change” invasion. Countless lives lost and unimaginable destruction.
Neocons and liberal interventionists are gnashing their teeth at the prospect of bringing Syria into the Western fold through military might.
The Wolfowitz of today appears to be National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster – a darling of the neocon cabal and “golden child” of disgraced General David Petraeus. It was recently revealed that McMaster is “manipulating intelligence reports given to President Donald Trump” and “seeking to involve the U.S. in a full scale war in Syria” with 150,000 American ground troops.
McMaster may not have the Office of Special Plans (or he may have something else entirely), but the threat of bogus intelligence to justify full-scale war is just as real.
If the mainstream media have an ounce of credibility, they will begin questioning the government narrative instead of immediately reporting it as fact. We cannot be led into another war based on government propaganda and the abandonment of skepticism.
The White House called on the media Monday to show more zeal in investigating allegations that Obama administration officials abused their access to intelligence to seek out and disclose potentially damaging information about Donald Trump’s campaign and transition.
Struggling to defuse ongoing investigations of alleged Russian interference in the election on behalf of now-President Trump, and to deflect reports of possible ties between Trump associates and Moscow, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he was “somewhat intrigued” at the media’s “lack of interest . . . in one set of developments versus another set of developments.”
But Spicer, in contrast to weeks of outrage he has expressed from the White House podium, said he would not comment on a new report that Susan E. Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, had requested that the intelligence community provide her with names of Trump associates whose conversations with foreigners were incidentally intercepted.
Conservative social-media agitator Mike Cernovich reported Sunday that the White House counsel’s office had “identified” Rice as asking for the names of “incoming Trump officials,” during an internal review of document logs. The report did not indicate whether conversations with Russians were involved.
Rice could not be reached for comment on the report.
Information from the review, according to White House officials, was turned over to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes subsequently announced that he had briefed Trump on the information.
Both the House and Senate intelligence committees, along with the FBI, are investigating the reports of Russian interference and possible collusion. House Democrats have said that Nunes, who also served as a Trump transition official, should step down as chairman. The standoff temporarily froze the committee’s hearings. On Monday, Nunes said the panel could resume interviewing witnesses in two weeks.
The administration has pushed back on the reports of Russia contacts by saying they stem from efforts by Obama officials to undermine Trump. That, the administration insists, should be the focus of investigations, rather than the information. Trump has charged, without offering proof, that his communications were intercepted under orders from Obama.
In a Monday tweet, Trump referred to “Such amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us . . . ‘Spied on before the nomination.’ The real story.”
“Unmasking” refers to revealing a name that has been blacked out in an intelligence report on surveillance. The law does not permit surveillance of U.S. persons without a warrant; if one shows up in authorized surveillance of a foreign person, it is “masked.”
According to a former senior national security official, top aides in all administrations are assigned an individual intelligence “briefer” who gives them a curated report each morning, including foreign surveillance reports deemed of interest to them.
The former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said that in a minority of cases, the recipient may determine that the context of a particular communication, especially if it deals with sensitive security or foreign policy matters, requires knowledge of the U.S. person involved. The official can ask the intelligence briefer to “unmask” that person. The request is considered and acted upon — or not — by the intelligence agency involved. The process is neither uncommon nor illegal.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he had no independent knowledge that Rice had unmasked Trump campaign or transition figures, but called the reports that she had “explosive” and called on her to testify before Congress. He also said he was considering a bill to reform the unmasking process to protect U.S. citizens caught in foreign surveillance dragnets.
Paul, who played golf with Trump over the weekend, said he raised the issue with Trump, but he did not detail the president’s views on the matter.
Radiation levels inside Fukushima Number 2 have reached astronomical levels — experts describe the 530 sieverts per hour as “unimaginable” — yet the political establishment and its corporate media mouthpiece insist on deeming those concerned about the catastrophe ‘conspiracy theorists.’
March 11, 2011, saw a massive undersea earthquake spawn an equally formidable tsunami, and — as the world watched in horror — the wall of water slammed into the Japanese coast, knocking Tokyo Electric Power Company-operated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant offline.
Anyone who watched the cataclysmic situation unfold on live TV surmised the dire consequences of having situated a nuclear facility in one of the world’s most active fault zones — and on the Pacific coast — but the cost in radioactive impact of the disaster has yet to be fully assessed.
That, for one, concerns Tepco’s notorious penchant for underreporting and misrepresenting the fiasco that has been the cleanup effort; and, for another, the unrelenting campaign to label anyone rightly concerned about the extent of damage a tinfoil hat-wearing lunatic.
Both of those conditions must be resolved — particularly with the discovery of astonishing radiation levels present in the Number 2 reactor — because the world deserves the truth about the catastrophe and to not be denounced when expressing fears information about Fukushima might not be as innocuous as we’ve been told.
Officials at the nuclear plant had been preparing to dismantle the paralyzed facility when they found levels of radioactivity inside the reactor’s containment vessel — where fuel rods originally generated power — to be more than seven times a previous high of 73 sieverts per hour, recorded by Tepco shortly after the fateful day. Gizmodo explains,
Tepco made the readings by analyzing electronic noise caused by the radiation in video images. The company says this technique has a margin of error of plus or minus 30 percent (so even at the extreme low ball, the levels are no lower than 370 sieverts per minute — but possibly as high as 690!)Needless to say, this plant is not fit for human life. Just one dose of a single sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea. Exposure to four to five sieverts would kill about half of those exposed to it within a month, while a single dose of 10 sieverts is enough to kill a person within weeks.
Obviously, this complicates matters quite a bit for workers tasked with containing radiation, assessing total damage, and ultimately decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi — medical personnel reportedly cannot handle the kinds of illnesses these levels would cause.
Alarmingly, officials can’t pinpoint a reason for the colossal spike — they don’t know if previous readings were incorrect, inadequate, or if something altogether unforeseen is taking place inside the eviscerated reactor.
In fact, Tepco has yet to find the radioactive fuel which melted through the bottom of the containment vessel not long after the tsunami crippled the plant’s backup cooling system — but it hasn’t been for lack of attempts.
Highly-specialized, camera-equipped, remote control vehicles have explored the interior of reactors to determine what physically happened to the fuel, but — despite the ability to withstand conditions humans can’t — radioactivity has been so intense, it kills the robots.
When one of those remotely-operated vehicles explored the Number 2 reactor recently, it happened upon a 6.5-foot gash in the grating under the containment chamber’s pressure vessel, likely caused by nuclear fuel melting through — but Tepco officials aren’t entirely sure of that, either.
“It may have been caused by nuclear fuel that would have melted and made a hole in the vessel, but it is only a hypothesis at this stage,” Tepco spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi toldAFP on Friday. “We believe the captured images offer very useful information, but we still need to investigate given that it is very difficult to assume the actual condition inside.”
A new camera-toting remotely operated vehicle — designed to endure up to 1,000 sieverts per hour — had been slated to explore the newly-troubled reactor, but doubts about what caused the spike forced Tepco to reschedule its March deployment for the Number 1 reactor.
Melted nuclear fuel is suspected to have wound up on the floor of the containment vessels of the three reactors which suffered core meltdowns at Fukushima — but radiation has been so acute, even that assessment has proven impossible.
A dark mass appeared in footage taken of the hole in Number 2, but Tepco officials could not say with certainty it was the missing, melted uranium fuel rods.
In order to fully decommission Fukushima Daiichi — a process now projected to cost a whopping $190 billion and take no less than four decades — details surrounding the extent of destruction must be measured and quantified.
“Confirming the conditions inside the reactor is a first step toward decommissioning,” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko told the press Friday, as quoted by the Japan Times.
“While difficult tasks and unexpected matters may arise, we will mobilize all of Japan’s technological capabilities to steadily implement decommissioning work and rebuild Fukushima.”
Considering so little is currently understood about the catastrophe — from the location of melted uranium rods to the cause of the abrupt and troubling spike in radiation — perhaps so-called conspiracy theorists who doubt the ‘Fukushima is under control, don’t worry about it’ narrative are the only ones displaying a modicum of common sense.