Fukushima nuclear disaster , effects of radiation and maps of radiation readings

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This chart provides an excellent explanation of the dangers of radiation exposure. There are also several links to radiation level maps in Japan and related videos.

Radiation Effects Fukushima Japan

Radiations Monographie Effets sante valeurs millisieverts mSv Japon

The Wall Street Journal was providing an excellent interactive map of radiation levels in Japan up until April 2011 and then stopped reporting further details. Wonder why?

A map of citizen measured radiation levels shows radioactivity is distributed in a complex pattern reflecting the mountainous terrain and the shifting winds across a broad area of Japan north of Tokyo which is in the center of the of bottom of the map. Radiation limits begin to be exceeded at just above 0.1 microsieverts/ hour blue. Red is about fifty times the civilian radiation limit at 5.0 microsieverts/hour. Because children are much more sensitive than adults, these results are a great concern for parents of young children in potentially affected areas.

Radiation readings in Japan Map

Radiation readings in Japan Map

Radiation Level Map of North America

Radiation Map of North America

Real time World Map of Jet Stream

Jet Stream Map

List of Radiation And Jet Stream Forecast Monitoring Sites around the World courtesy of Rense.com

Fukushima radiation nuclear fallout map

Fukushima Japan radiation testing

Japan’s Aging Workforce – Will America face the same problems?

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Japan has the fastest aging population of all industrialized nations, and now with the sharp economic downturn being experienced by global markets, the signs of an aging society are become more apparent.

An aging population that is either unable to work further places an additional burden on the health system, and an aging population that is unable to find work due to their age impacts negatively on the tax revenues. It is a double edged sword that is striking at the heart of Japan. In 2000, 17.4% of the Japanese population was 60 years or older,  and it is estimated that by 2025 and 2054 those numbers will increase to 28.7% and 36% respectively. For a more detailed analysis of the aging population in Japan and implications please read Yukiko T. Ellis’ report.

The United States and Canada are facing similiar problems with a dramatic rise in their population over the age of 60, which is estimated to jump from 16% in 2000 to over 25% in 2025. The impact of rise can be mitigated somewhat at least in the North American context with the influx of a younger immigrant base. However, Japan does not have this luxury and the fertility rate amongst Japanese females is some of the lowest in the world.

This article from Norimitsu Onishi highligts some of the social signs we are beginning to see now of an aging population combined with an economic slow down.

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A leftover city of day laborers in Japan faces grim future
By Norimitsu Onishi
Sunday, October 12, 2008

OSAKA, Japan: With job signs stuck to their vans’ windshields and sliding side doors left open in expectation, the recruiters were sizing up the potential hires at Japan’s largest day-labor market here recently.

By 4:30 a.m., thousands of aging day laborers had spilled out of the neighborhood’s flophouses and homeless shelters, or risen from its parks and streets, to form a potential work force of mostly graying men.

A sign on one blue van, barely legible in the twilight, offered a 15-day construction job paying $95 a day, minus $33 in room and board.

Although the terms were comparatively decent, the recruiter sitting in a folding chair in front of the blue van had found only one suitably young laborer by 5 a.m. Most were above the unwritten cutoff age of 55.

“It’s really hard to use the men here because they’ve gotten old,” said the recruiter, Takuya Nakamae, 55, turning his head toward his prize catch, a recruit in his 30s. “If you’re this young, everybody wants you and you get plenty of offers. Just look at how young you are!”

And yet it was the older men who really knew how to work, he said, adding: “They’re the ones who worked during Japan’s decades of economic boom, so they know the ins and outs of every job. It’s just that they don’t have the strength anymore.”

Nowadays, few young men gravitate here, the Airin district of Osaka. Little is being built in Japan’s stagnant economy, and young day laborers or part-time workers find jobs by registering their cellphone numbers with temporary employment agencies.

Many of the older men who remain arrived here to work on the 1970 Expo in Osaka, which, like the Tokyo Olympics six years earlier, became a symbol of postwar Japan’s rebirth. Over the decades, they left to work on bridges, buildings and highways all over the country, performing the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in helping build Japan. Some made it out of here and moved on to steadier jobs and lives.

But many others are still in Airin, one of the few corners of Japan where stray dogs lie in the middle of the street alongside drunken men, and Japanese mobsters, or yakuza, sell drugs openly on street corners and run gambling dens on certain blocks. After one worker claimed abuse by the police, scores of people here rioted for five days over the summer, though old-timers said the disturbances were only a faint echo of the violent and widespread riots of the 1960s and 1990s.

Many of the men left in Airin, on average just shy of 60 years old and with no family ties, are waiting to die here, said Minoru Yamada, who moved here in 1973, once worked as a day laborer and is now chairman of Kamagasaki Shien Kiko, a private organization that helps laborers.

“At one time, this was a place where you could remake yourself,” Yamada said. “But not anymore. Now it’s become a dumping ground for old men, a place where waste is disposed of.”

A grim report by the city government last year said that conditions in Airin were rapidly worsening: an aging population, rising homelessness, deepening poverty and increasing cases of tuberculosis and alcoholism. The number of welfare recipients has grown fivefold in the past decade.

An ancient slum, this area was renamed and reshaped into Airin in the 1960s when the city government cleared it of family dwellings, concentrated all the city’s day laborers here and invited others from all over Japan to meet a construction boom. Today, the city estimates that 30,000 people live here, about a quarter of its peak two decades ago, in this 62-hectare, or 153-acre, neighborhood, which is less than one-fifth the size of New York’s Central Park.

The district’s overall population is more than 85 percent male. But in Airin’s core – an urban valley hemmed in by wide avenues and an elevated train track – there are almost no women at all.

During Japan’s economic go-go years, the number of jobs offered here swelled, peaking at 9,614 a day in 1990. The number has fallen to about a third of that today and no longer includes jobs in the kind of large and lucrative construction projects that fueled Japan’s boom.

Still, recruiters show up every morning at the Airin General Center, the day-labor market, saying they need to check over hires before sending them to a job.

“This is different from bidding on dead tuna at a fish market auction,” said one recruiter, who said he shifted to Airin more than two decades ago after working as a pimp in Tokyo. “Sure, you can recruit on the Internet, but on the Internet, you can’t make out someone’s character. For example, a guy can be O.K. if he hasn’t been drinking. But if he has, he may get crazy and create problems for everybody around him.”

A couple of hours after the recruiters had left for the day, Tadashi Kato showed up at the center to put his name down for a job as a night watchman. Kato, 75, came here in 1957, abandoning forever his home in rural Hokkaido and family talk of fixing him up with a job at the national railway.

“It’d be natural to wonder whether I would have been better off joining the national railway, but I’ve led a carefree life and have seen things that people usually can’t,” Kato said in a guttural voice, explaining that he had taken photos of past riots here and was looking for a “successor” to inherit them.

He once lived in a flophouse. But nowadays, with few jobs coming his way, he sleeps on the streets. He refused to apply for welfare or enter the city-run homeless shelters, where each person receives one piece of hardtack bread a night. He would never, he said, depend on the government.

He was married briefly, and he said that, unlike many of the men who came here to escape after accumulating debts or abandoning their families, he long supported his former wife and their only child, a daughter.

He last saw his daughter, in Tokyo, when his first grandchild was born three decades ago.

“‘Your feet stink – don’t come here dressed like that,”‘ he said she told him. “She said I could come if I had some money for her, but not to bother if I didn’t. Either way, it’s hard being a man.”

He had not seen his daughter since, but he said he knew her address.

“When I die, I’ll absolutely go to my daughter’s,” Kato said of his ashes, adding, “Sometimes, you know, I think if I could go painlessly, it wouldn’t be that bad not to wake up in the morning.”

It was not 11 a.m. yet, but Airin’s tiny outdoor drinking stalls were already filling up. These days, the most popular was a five-stool stall that belonged to Yayoi Onodera, 48, who charged $5 per drink and sold rice balls. She had earned around $40,000 in profit since moving here from Tokyo six months ago.

“I never dreamed I’d make so much money,” Onodera said, adding that she had struggled in the beginning but was encouraged by a local yakuza leader who used to stop by before he was arrested and imprisoned for drug dealing.

Later that afternoon, many of the men drifted to Sankaku Park nearby where they watched sumo wrestlers on a television set atop a pole.

But Kazuyasu Ikeda, 64, went straight home to the 4.5-square-meter, or 49-square-foot, room he had been renting for the past six years for $11 a night. From his fourth-floor room, where he had a television set, 16 small cactuses and a small tank filled with guppies, he had a view of a parking lot and, beyond that, the Hankai train line.

He had just collected his wages for cutting grass that day and was in high spirits. The wages, of course, were nothing compared with what he had made during Japan’s economic boom. Helping to build a highway in Okinawa back then, he said, he far outearned American marines stationed there.

“At a foreigners’ bar that I used to go to, I was even more popular than the foreigners,” Ikeda said, adding that he was such a regular that the bar kept a bottle of Camus Cognac for him.

He never had children and thus suffered no guilt, he said with a laugh.

But as he watched the end of the sumo matches of the day, Ikeda, a red towel he had used while working still wrapped around his head, seemed to grow tired and his mood darkened. The conversation drifted, as it often did in Airin, to the topic of death.

Ikeda boasted that he had never taken a handout, stood in a soup line or stayed in a homeless shelter. When there were no jobs, he collected aluminum cans. His “policy” was to rely on no one, he said.

“I’ll hang on for another 10 years,” he said.

The men here, he said, were like cigarette lighters worth 100 yen, or less than $1.

“It’s painful to throw away a Zippo or Dunhill lighter even if it doesn’t light properly anymore,” he said. “But 100-yen lighters you just throw away. That’s what we are.”

International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

Iran stops using U.S. dollar in oil transactions

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ALI AKBAR DAREINI, The Associated Press

April 30, 2008 at 12:25 PM EDT

TEHRAN – Iran has stopped conducting oil transactions in U.S. dollars, an official said Wednesday, a concerted attempt to reduce reliance on Washington at a time of tension over Tehran’s nuclear program and suspected involvement in Iraq.

Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer, has dramatically reduced dependence on the dollar during the past year in the face of increasing U.S. pressure on its financial system and the fall in the value of the American currency.

World markets price oil in U.S. dollars. Its depreciation has concerned producers because it has contributed to rising crude oil prices and has eroded the value of their dollar reserves.

“The dollar has totally been removed from Iran’s oil transactions,” Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, a top Oil Ministry official, told state-run television Wednesday. “We have agreed with all of our crude oil customers to do our transactions in non-dollar currencies.”

At a summit last year in Saudi Arabia, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the depreciating dollar a “worthless piece of paper.”

Iran put pressure on other Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members at the meeting to price oil in a basket of currencies. But it has not been able to generate support from fellow members – many of whom, including Saudi Arabia, are staunch U.S. allies.

Iran has a tense relationship with the U.S., which has accused Tehran of using its nuclear program as a cover for weapons development and providing support to Shiite militants in Iraq who are killing American troops. Iran has denied the allegations.

Iranian oil officials have said previously that they were shifting oil sales out of the dollar into other currencies, but Mr. Ghanimifard indicated Wednesday that all of Iran’s oil transactions were now conducted in either euros or yen.

“In Europe, Iran’s oil is sold in euros, but both euros and yen are paid for Iranian crude in Asia,” he said.

Iran’s central bank also has been reducing its foreign reserves denominated in U.S. dollars, motivated by the falling value of the greenback and U.S. attempts to make it difficult for Iran to conduct dollar transactions.

U.S. banks are prohibited from conducting business directly with Iran, and many European banks have curbed their dealings with the country over the past year under pressure from Washington.

However, the U.S. has been wary of targeting Iran’s oil industry directly, apparently worried that such a move could drive up crude prices that are already near record levels.

Iranian analysts say Tehran can withstand U.S. pressure as long as it can continue its oil and gas sales, which constitute most of the country’s $80 billion in exports.

UNICEF Awards 2007 Photos of the Year

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UNICEF Awards 2007 Photos of the Year

The United Nation’s Children’s Fund recognized a handful of photographers with honors in their annual Photo of the Year contest. From Afghanistan to the Phillipines, their work exposes horrid conditions facing some of the world’s children.

The image is startling — a 40-year-old groom sitting beside his 11-year-old future bride. Photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who took the photo last year in Afghanistan, asked the pre-teenage bride what she felt on the day of her engagement.

“Nothing,” said the girl, according to Sinclair. “I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?”

The sobering image and the story behind it brought Sinclair top honors in the annual Photo of the Year contest sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).Awards were distributed to first through third place winners as well as eight honorable mentions. International judges considered 1,230 entries from 142 photographers in 31 countries.

Sinclair, an American photographer, produced her winning photograph as part of a series of pictures she took about child marriages between 2005 and 2007 in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Nepal. UNICEF estimates that about 50 percent of Afghani women are married before they turn 18.

Second place honors went to GMB Akash, of Bangladesh, whose winning photo shows a 12 year-old boy toiling in a Bangladeshi brickyard. UNICEF studies conclude that 4.7 million children between five and 14 years of age are involved in child labor in that country.

The third-place photograph was taken by German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach. His picture depicts a nine-year-old girl jumping in glee on her birthday in the midst of a smoldering garbage dump outside of Manila.

Honorable Mentions
In 2007 honorable mentions were given to the following photographers:

  • Jonathan Torgovnik, Israel, Newsweek Magazin
  • Hatem Moussa, Palestine, Associated Press (AP)
  • Wolfram Hahn, Germany, Student FH Potsdam
  • Renée C. Byer, USA, The Sacramento Bee
  • Nir Elias, Israel, Reuters
  • Finbarr O`Reilly, UK & Canada, Reuters
  • Musa Sadulayew, Chechenya, Associated Press (AP)
  • Steven Achiam, Denmark, Student, Danish School of Journalism

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1st Place

This sobering image, showing a 40-year-old groom sitting beside his 11-year-old future bride in Afghanistan, brought Stephanie Sinclair top honors in the annual Photo of the Year contest sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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2nd Place

Second-place honors went to GMB Akash, of Bangladesh, whose winning photo shows a 12-year-old boy toiling in a Bangladeshi brickyard. UNICEF studies conclude that 4.7 million children between five and 14 years of age are involved in child labor in that country.

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3rd Place

The third-place photograph was taken by German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach. His picture depicts a nine-year-old girl jumping in glee on her birthday in the midst of a smoldering garbage dump outside of Manila.

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“A Mother’s Journey”: The American photographer Renee C. Byer took this picture as part of a series about a single mother with five children and a son suffering from terminal cancer. He died in 2006.

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Finbarr O’Reilly recieved an honorable mention for his photo “A House of Hope,” an image of Lopez Vidal, right, and Aron Masahuka, both afflicted with polio, languishing in an ill-equipped hospital in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Wolfram Hahn made a series of photos titled “A Disenchanted Playroom” to accompany a study about the television-viewing habits of German children.

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Hatem Moussa won an honorable mention for “Life in Gaza”: Palestinian children were rushed from a car into a hospital after their homes were hit by Israeli shelling in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya in April, 2006. An eight-year-old child was killed in the attack and 13 other children were injured.

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Joseline Ingabire, 37, an HIV-positive Rwandan woman, is pictured with her daughter Leah Batamuliza, 11. This photo by Jonathon Torgovnik accompanied a story in Newsweek magazine about women who were raped during the Rwandan civil war and their children today.

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Musa Sadulayew made this photo as a part of a series called “Chechnya’s Forgotten Children.”

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Boys hang from a bar for five minutes as part of a physical training exercise at the Gymnastics Hall of the Shanghai University of Sports. The photo was part of Nir Elias’s series “Pain Threshold — Sports Education in China.”

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“Sumo Boys in Japan”: Steven Achiam took a series of pictures depicting life in the Hiragaya sumo club, where boys train until they have beaten a strong opponent 10 times.