1 Dec 2011 Platts News Release

Only nine nuclear reactors with a combined power generation capacity of 8.479 GW will soon be operating in Japan, representing just 17.3% of the country’s total installed capacity of 48.96 GW at 54 reactors, according to calculations by Platts on Thursday.

Japan is about to enter its winter power demand season, which normally runs from December to March. The weather and nuclear utilization rates have a direct impact on crude, fuel oil and LNG consumption for thermal power generation.

Kyushu Electric has estimated that it might need another 2.20 million kiloliters (13.84 million barrels) of oil equivalent of crude, fuel oil and LNG over December-March. Of this estimate, Kyushu Electric’s oil requirements are expected to be about 1.70 million kl (88,000 b/d) over December-March, Platts reported previously.

Japanese power utilities have hiked their oil and LNG consumption to make up for shortfalls in nuclear output in the wake of the devastating March 11 earthquake and subsequent nuclear outages across the country due to safety concerns. It is widely expected that the nuclear plants shut for scheduled maintenance will not be allowed to restart any time soon because of stress test conditions imposed by the government in July.

If none of the reactors are allowed to restart in coming months, Japan is scheduled to lose its nuclear power generation capability completely in April or May 2012, because of domestic regulations requiring nuclear power plants to carry out scheduled maintenance at reactors at least once every 13 months. If this occurs, it would be the ( record ) first time Japanese nuclear power production has fallen to zero since it commenced in 1966.

Nuclear capacity represents 21% of Japan’s total installed power generating capacity of 228.479 GW.

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11/08/2011  Forbes

Forbes HEADLINE: Mother Nature Mars Toyota Earnings

 

The lingering effects of March’s natural disasters in Japan, the more recent impact of floods in Thailand and a strengthening yen made for a rocky earnings report from Toyota Motor Tuesday.

The Japanese automaker said it lost 32.6 billion yen ($418 million) on an operating basis for the six months through Sept. 30, compared with income of 323.1 billion yen ($4.1 billion) a year ago. It also declined to offer guidance for the rest of the March 2012 fiscal year, “as more time is needed to complete an assessment of production and sales plans required by the impact of floods (Read: climate change ~Dek) in Thailand.”

Toyota recorded an overall revenue dip of 17.2%, to 8 trillion yen ($102.6 billion), as sales fell in every region but Asia, including a 33.8% drop in North America.

“In Japan and North America, vehicle sales decreased severely compared to the same period last fiscal year due to the large impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake, “said Executive Vice President Satoshi Ozawa .

Rival automakers were not spared by the impact of the earthquake in Japan and the Thai floods, with Honda Motor having reported production issues tied to both disasters in recent weeks.

 

We can talk about this culture’s frenzied insistence that there be no limits on growth, “knowledge,” exploitation, power, wealth. We can talk about the fact that this culture is killing the planet…Mainstream proposals all take industrial capitalism as a given and the real world as that which must conform to industrial capitalism. If we define insanity as being out of touch with reality, this is by definition insane. The real world is the real world. This culture is NOT the real world. The stock market is not the real world. The US government is not the real world. Laboratories are not the real world. The real world is sockeye salmon, black terns, Ethiopian wolves, Mekong giant catfish, Sicilian fir, the Columbia river, the Amazon Basin, polar ice caps, the Pacific Ocean. And one of the many things these cult members do not allow themselves to understand is that without a real world you do not have a social structure, even a social structure in which you can make believe that you can force matter and energy to jump through hoops on command. No planet, no you, no matter how megalomanical you can be. Fantasies aside, you ain’t God. ~~Derrick Jensen

 

 

 

 

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September 27, 2011 New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strike. Israel reels before the ( record largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries. Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.

“Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We’re the ( record ) first generation to say that voting is worthless.”

Economics have been one driving force, with growing income inequality, high unemployment and recession-driven cuts in social spending breeding widespread malaise. Alienation runs especially deep in Europe, with boycotts and strikes that, in London and Athens, erupted into violence.

But even in India and Israel, where growth remains robust, protesters say they so distrust their country’s political class and its pandering to established interest groups that they feel only an assault on the system itself can bring about real change.

Increasingly, citizens of all ages, but particularly the young, are rejecting conventional structures like parties and trade unions in favor of a less hierarchical, more participatory system modeled in many ways on the culture of the Web.

In that sense, the protest movements in democracies are not altogether unlike those that have rocked authoritarian governments this year, toppling longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Protesters have created their own political space online that is chilly, sometimes openly hostile, toward traditional institutions of the elite.

The critical mass of wiki and mapping tools, video and social networking sites, the communal news wire of Twitter and the ease of donations afforded by sites like PayPal makes coalitions of like-minded individuals instantly viable.

“You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”

Someone had to step in, Mr. Levi said, because “the political system has abandoned its citizens.

Protests in Britain exploded into lawlessness last month. Rampaging youths smashed store windows and set fires in London and beyond, using communication systems like BlackBerry Messenger to evade the police. They had savvy and technology, Mr. Jones said, but lacked a belief that the political system represented their interests. They also lacked hope.

“The young people who took part in the riots didn’t feel they had a future to risk,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out last month in New Delhi to vent a visceral outrage at the state of Indian politics.

In Japan, six prime ministers have stepped down in five years, as political paralysis deepens. The two major parties in Germany, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, have seen tremendous declines in membership as the Greens have made major gains, while Chancellor Angela Merkel has watched her authority erode over unpopular bailouts.

In many European countries the disappointment is twofold: in heavily indebted federal governments pulling back from social spending and in a European Union viewed as distant and undemocratic. Europeans leaders have dictated harsh austerity measures in the name of stability for the euro, the region’s common currency, rubber-stamped by captive and corrupt national politicians, protesters say.

“The biggest crisis is a crisis of legitimacy,” Ms. Solanas said. “We don’t think they are doing anything for us.”

“The political system has abandoned its citizens,” Mr. Levi said. “We have lost a sense of responsibility for one another.”

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16 Jun 2011 12:50 AlJazeera

“Fukushima is the ( record ) biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling.

“The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen added. “TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water.”

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive “hot spots” around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting.

“We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl,” said Gundersen. “The data I’m seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man’s-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can’t clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl.”

“We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo,” he said. “Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters.”

Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.

The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.

“These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant,” he explained, “One cigarette doesn’t get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can’t measure them with a Geiger counter. ”

In reaction to the Fukushima catastrophe, Germany is phasing out all of its nuclear reactors over the next decade. In a referendum vote this Monday, 95 per cent of Italians voted in favour of blocking a nuclear power revival in their country. A recent newspaper poll in Japan shows nearly three-quarters of respondents favour a phase-out of nuclear power in Japan.

Why have alarms not been sounded about radiation exposure in the US?

Nuclear operator Exelon Corporation has been among Barack Obama’s biggest campaign donors, and is one of the largest employers in Illinois where Obama was senator. Exelon has donated more than $269,000 to his political campaigns, thus far. Obama also appointed Exelon CEO John Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

 

 

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JUNE 13, 2011  Wall Street Journal

Vietnam changed its tone slightly in an emerging standoff with China as it held a live-fire naval drill off its coast that analysts had said reflects the increasingly uncompromising stance among countries competing with China to claim the vast energy resources believed to lie below the South China Sea.

The exercises around the island of Hon Ong, around 25 miles or 40 kilometers off the coast of central Vietnam, come after a series of clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels over oil exploration in the area and threaten to further ratchet up tensions.

The point of these exercises is to send a clear message that Vietnam is serious about protecting its interests in the South China Sea and that it won’t be bullied by China,” said Ian Storey, a specialist on the region and fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Tensions have been building for months in the South China Sea, which is claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei and also contains some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Vietnam last week accused a Chinese fishing vessel, backed up by two patrol boats, of snapping the cables of an exploration boat operated by state oil company PetroVietnam, prompting a sharp exchange of words between Beijing and Hanoi and triggering rare street protests in Vietnam’s biggest cities.

In late May, Vietnamese officials accused Chinese vessels of sabotaging another exploration vessel operating within 200 nautical miles of Vietnam’s coast, which Hanoi regards as its own exclusive economic zone as provided under international law. The Philippines, too, has complained about Chinese military intimidation of survey vessels operating in Philippine waters and has accused China of attempting to build fresh structures near the Spratly Islands.

Chinese Foreign Ministry officials couldn’t be reached for comment. But Beijing previously has said it wishes to preserve stability in the South China Sea while insisting on its sovereignty over the whole area. Last week, China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Liu Jianchao, warned neighboring countries not to explore for oil without its permission.

 

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June 5 2011 Financial Times

China defends naval actions

General Liang Guanglie, China’s defence minister, has rejected criticism that his country was acting belligerently in the South China Sea, saying China was pursuing a “peaceful rise”.

Speaking days after Vietnam and the Philippines accused China of aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea, Gen Liang denied that China was threatening security in the strategically important and energy-rich disputed waters, saying “freedom of navigation has never been impeded”.

Hundreds of Vietnamese protested at the weekend in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City against perceived Chinese aggression. Hanoi recently said Chinese coast guard vessels had sabotaged an oil exploration ship.

Last week Manila said China had unloaded construction materials on a reef claimed by the Philippines, raising fears over a regional agreement to avoid actions that “complicate or escalate disputes”.

Despite the incidents , Mr Gates struck a softer tone on China than at the 2010 forum, reflecting the recent improvement in Sino-US relations. Military ties have improved following a year of little significant contact after the US announced an arms sale to Taiwan.

John McCain, US Republican senator and former presidential candidate, said Gen Liang had been “very conciliatory” but more “hardline” over the South China Sea during a previous meeting in China.

Mr Gates said the US would maintain a strong military presence in the region, including sending a new combat ship to Singapore. He dismissed suggestions that US fiscal woes coupled with rising Chinese military budgets meant the US presence would ebb.

“I will bet you $100 that five years from now the United States’ influence in this region is as strong if not stronger than it is today,” he said.

Notwithstanding the better Sino-US ties, Washington has been urging China to press Pyongyang to act less belligerently, after North Korea last year sank a South Korean warship and shelled a South Korean island killing several people. But Gen Liang said China was doing “much more than what the outside world may expect” without giving detail.

 

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Apr 30, 2011 Bloomberg

A nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned because of a misunderstanding with the government over setting radiation limits in schools. Four reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant were damaged by hydrogen blasts after a 9-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami March 11 knocked out backup power and cooling systems, and radiation leaks have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. Kosako resigned in protest against the government’s “impromptu” handling of the crisis and delays in bringing the situation under control, Kyodo News reported, citing comments made by the adviser at a press conference yesterday. Kosako disagreed with the maximum annual radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts allowed by the government in elementary schools, according to Edano.

“We’re not saying it’s OK for children to get exposed up to 20 millisieverts,” he said. “We’re trying to reduce children’s radiation exposure as much as possible. Our plan would be much lower than 20 millisieverts a year.”

 

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Wed Apr 27, 2011 Reuters

Last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami shut down several big nuclear and thermal facilities in northeast Japan, and the shortage is expected to be even more severe in the summer, when consumption peaks due to air-conditioning usage.

The government has estimated peak power (Read: Freudian slip of the pun ~Dek) consumption in Tokyo and surrounding areas this summer would fall to around 55,000 megawatts (MW) from a peak of 60,000 MW last summer when temperatures were unusually high. [ID:nL3E7FF174]

On April 15, Tokyo Electric said it would be able to supply 52,000 MW at the end of July and has since added several plans to boost thermal power generating capacity. [ID:nL3E7FF174]

Tohoku Electric has said it would be able to supply 12,100 MW for the summer, still short of a government estimate of demand in the Tohoku region of 13,000 to 13,800 MW for an ordinary summer and 14,800 MW for an unusually hot one.

Large-lot power users are preparing to save electricity for the summer by changing working hours, cutting air-conditioner use and taking other measures (Read: More people getting by with less material resources. Which by all ‘traditional’ metrics connotes a ‘lower‘ standard of living. ~Dek)

The assumption of future growth implies the energy and material flows to support it are available. Though as we shall see, peak oil is likely to force a peak on other concentrated energy carriers. Once the effects of decline become apparent, we will lose much of what we might call the operational fabric of our civilization.  ~ Tipping Point by David Korowicz

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20 April 2011 BBC

Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, has said it will close its UK plant at Burnaston in Derbyshire for two days each week in May to manage the current shortage of car parts. Toyota has also announced plans on Wednesday to cut production in North America by 70% and that in China by 50-70%, until 3 June.

The firm has previously said it will also curb production at factories in Turkey, Poland, France and Australia.

The company has been able to resume production at all of its Japanese assembly plants, although these are equally affected by the parts shortages.

The company now faced a total production shortfall of 540,000 cars from North America, Europe, Japan and China for the period up to 3 June, he said.

That is equivalent to 7% of Toyota’s global production target of 7.7 million units for 2011.

 

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Fri Apr 15, 2011  Reuters

Japan is scrambling to ease a power shortage that could hobble the economy after last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami shut down several nuclear and thermal stations including Tokyo Electric’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The biggest (Read: the smallest but most near-term ~Dek) pinch will come in summer (Read: in ninety days ~Dek) when air-conditioning usage peaks. (Read: Freudian slip of the pun ~Dek)

Tokyo Electric, Asia’s largest utility also known as TEPCO, said it now expects to be able to supply 52,000 megawatts of power at the end of July, up from an estimate of 46,500 MW made three weeks ago but less than the company’s projected demand of 55,000 MW. Last summer power usage peaked at 60,000 MW. (Read: Regardless of what the central planning banking cartel will manufacture for public consumption as GDP, real-world tangible production will mirror electric “demand”. This is estimated to be down a huge 8%. That is real world, not fuzzy fiat inflation manipulated GDP for the planet’s 3rd largest economy is currently estimated to drop 8% year-on-year. Despite this drop in demand, total electrical generating capacity is STILL estimated to only be able to cover 95% of this extremely low demand. ~Dek)

If an energy constraint means it cannot grow, it does not just get smaller, it starts to break up. What is more, we can pinpoint directly some of the major mechanism of collapse dynamics and some of the associated timing issues.  ~ Tipping Point by David Korowicz

 

April 15, 2011 Los Angeles Times

Meat in the U.S. may be widely contaminated with strains of drug-resistant bacteria, researchers reported Friday after testing 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores.

Nearly half of the samples — 47% — contained strains of Staphylococcus aureus, the type of bacteria that most commonly causes staph infections. Of those bacteria, 52% were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

 

Understanding how this happened is critically important. There are four parts to creating the complete meltdown of a network:

  1. Create a network by building connections between systems.
  2. When a particular part of the network approaches overload (goes red), recognise that this is happening and use the connections you have created to allow you to switch load to another part of the network.
  3. Continue doing this until all areas are red.
  4. Now add more load.

~The Failure Of Networked Systems

 

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