Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why was Seth Rich Murdered?


So much seems to hinge on this question of why Seth Rich died. The "conspiracy theory" is that Seth Rich was a young disenchanted staffer with the Democratic National Committee who leaked files to Wikileaks after witnessing unlawful or unethical treatment of Bernie Sanders. The conspiracy holds that he was murdered point-blank on the street for his whistle-blowing.

This conspiracy theory challenges the official story that Seth Rich's murder was simply another random murder and that Russia is responsible for hacking the DNC files.

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article claiming that the Seth Rich conspiracy theory has been proven false as it was retracted by Fox News, leaving the unreliable Dotcom as its made purveyor:
David Weigel. The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. The Washington Post, May 23, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/the-life-and-death-of-the-seth-rich-conspiracy-theory/2017/05/23/aba640c4-3ff3-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html?utm_term=.24298801e768&wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1
I've followed this story loosely as its been covered in the mainstream and alternative media (especially ZeroHedge.com).

There is no way to discern the truth in the matter but I believe the Washington Post story is iconic of the larger effort to cast the Russians as meddling in the election in order to bring down President Trump.

I abhor most of Trump's policies and have remarked at this blog about his efforts to cut environmental protections and social services for the poor.

But did Trump really align with the Russians to rig the election?

There are so many gradients of this general question.

Perhaps the Russians act on their own to bolster public support for a Trump presidency in an effort to ignite and/or fuel an American color revolution.

Or, perhaps the Russians merely provide media support for dissent within the US, deploying platforms such as RT, in a kind of passive Voice of America strategy.

Answers to these questions are bound up in the answer to who murdered Seth Richards.

Seth Rich the whistleblower and martyr is iconic of public disillusionment with the DNC and the more general legitimacy crisis I've described at this blog.

In contrast, Seth Rich the random victim of random violence helps contain the fracturing of legitimacy surrounding the DNC and in so doing reinforces the new "cold war" that Trump has had so much difficulty navigating.

I have no idea where truth lies but I think the competing narratives are indicative of the broader legitimation crisis I've described at this blog *(here).





 


Rabbit Dreams and Nuclearity



Rabbit Dreams V Psychedelic Kaleidoscope Digital Art

Rabbit Dreams artistically interprets our fascination with nuclearity (including both nuclear weapons and energy see Gabrielle Hecht Being Nuclear). It engages the fantasy of endless energy and bountiful human growth, interrogating the effects of this fantasy.

Below see a clip from the larger image:


See the full image at https://www.etsy.com/listing/527751611/rabbit-dreams-v-psychedelic-kaleidoscope?ref=shop_home_active_1


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Japan's Proposed Anti-Conspiracy Bill Echoes Politics of its State Secrets Rule


Japan's lower house passed a controversial anti-conspiracy bill, which has been criticized broadly in Japan for enabling greatly expanded surveillance:
Lower house passes 'anti-conspiracy' bill at plenary session despite protests. The Mainichi, May 23, 2017, https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170523/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

The House of Representatives on May 23 approved a controversial "anti-conspiracy" bill that would criminalize preparation for terrorism and other crimes by changing the conditions that constitute conspiracy, despite protests from main opposition parties.

The ruling coalition comprised of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, as well as the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) voted for the bill to revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds at a May 23 plenary session. The bill will now be referred to the House of Councillors for deliberation.
Resistance to the legislation has been ubiquitous:
Sasaki, Ryo. (May 22, 2017). Anti-conspiracy law will stifle society, warns cartoonist, 89. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705220058.html

FUKUOKA--Eighty-nine-year-old Susumu Nishiyama has first-hand experience of Japan’s past mistakes and he fears that the contentious anti-conspiracy legislation, which critics say threatens free speech, could be history repeating itself.

The cartoonist is compelled to share his wartime experiences of freedom of expression being suppressed with young people to warn of the new legislation’s dangers.

On May 21, Nishiyama rushed to a protest rally in a park in central Fukuoka to oppose the anti-conspiracy legislation after hastily drawing a manga poster to hoist at the gathering. Many protesters at the rally denounced the legislation, which was pushed through two days earlier at a Lower House committee, despite widespread public outcry.

Although the government says the legislation proposes effective means to prevent organized crime, opponents argue it will likely lead to human rights violations concerning freedom of thought as the intended law would enable authorities to intensify surveillance. Nishiyama sees a parallel between the legislation and the notorious public security preservation law of 1925, as many demonstrators pointed out when they spoke up in the gathering of about 400.
Public opinion polls show low support for the legislation:
EDITORIAL: Anti-conspiracy bill a travesty of justice in light of public opinion. The Asahi Shimbun, May 20, 2017, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705200026.html

A recent Asahi Shimbun poll highlighted the lack of broad public support for the anti-conspiracy legislation that is being considered by the Diet.

In the survey, 63 percent of respondents said they didn’t know the content of the legislation, while 64 percent answered “no” to the question whether it should be enacted during the current Diet session. Moreover, 78 percent replied that the government’s explanation about the legislation was insufficient.
The legislation is being "pushed through" despite low levels of public support and widespread activism against it. The main concern in Japan is that "ordinary people" will be subject to surveillance:
Railroaded 'anti-conspiracy' bill fails to balance public safety and individual rights. The Mainichi, May 20, 2017, https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170520/p2a/00m/0na/008000c#cxrecs_s

The biggest point of contention -- whether "ippanjin" (ordinary people) will be subject to investigations under the anti-conspiracy law -- has baffled even Justice Ministry officials, because of how it has been used and the different contexts in which the expression has been mentioned.

The government has repeatedly said that unlike "anti-conspiracy" bills that have been scrapped three times in the past, the bill currently under deliberation explicitly notes that "organized crime groups" are subject to conspiracy charges. Therefore, "ordinary people who have no ties to organized crime groups will not come under suspicion and thus investigation."

However, both the DP and the JCP have argued that without investigations, there is no telling if one would come under suspicion or not, meaning that "ordinary people" would be subject to conspiracy-related investigations.
Concerns expressed about the anti-conspiracy bill echo many of the same concerns expressed against the State Secrets Act that was passed after the Fukushima disaster. Here is an excerpt from an editorial describing concerns with the State Secrets law:
The Mainichi (25, December). As I See It: State secrets law goes into effect, what now? http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20141225p2a00m0na004000c.html

The more one reads the law, the more problems emerge. Twenty-three categories of secrets (55 under the operation guidelines) are named, but it's difficult to draw a clear distinction between secrets and non-secrets. One is left with the impression that information the administration finds inconvenient could be buried.

The designation of secrets is renewed every five years, for a maximum of 30 years, and at times 60 years. In some cases, the designation can be extended for even longer, if the information is deemed an exception.

The maximum penalty for leaking secrets is 10 years' imprisonment. Until now under the National Public Service Act, those charged with violating confidentiality requirements faced a maximum penalty of one year in prison, and those charged with leaking defense-related secrets were subject to a maximum of five years in prison, so the penalty has toughened dramatically under the state secrets law.

Punishments for those who try to acquire secrets are harsh, too. If authorities determine that one has attempted, conspired to effect, induced or incited information leakages, one can face up to five years in prison.....
Combined with the State Secrets Law, Japan's proposed anti-conspiracy bill will further erode the space in society for free thought and critical engagement with public policy. Of course, these are no doubt the intent of this type of legislation. Read more here:
Majia's Blog: Japan's Open Society in Crisis
Majia's Blog: Japan's State Secrets Law Goes into Effect  
Majia's Blog: Snowden Alleges Japan's State Secrets Law Was ... 
Majia's Blog: Japan on Way Down Slippery Slope of Fascism






Monday, May 22, 2017

Recycling Contaminated Soil in Fukushima


Fukushima's radioactive waste escapes efforts at containment and management.

Japan tried to incinerate Fukushima's waste,  as described by The Mainichi in September of 2011.[i]

In November of 2011, radioactive ash caused incinerators in Kashiwa (Chiba Prefecture) to shut down because of the challenges of storing the highly contaminated debris.[ii] Levels of contamination reached 70,800 Becquerels of cesium per kilogram (Bk/kg), as measured by radiation checks conducted at two incineration plants and one disposal facility.

The Mainichi reported in April of 2012 that Fukushima would begin burning 1 billion pounds of radioactive waste measuring 100,000 Bq/kg in the exclusion zone.[iii] Residents in Fukushima City promptly protested these plans.[iv]

In November of 2012, Japan announced plans to transport 13 million tons of debris 400 kilometers away from Fukushima to be ground up into mulch and burned, despite widespread citizen resistance across Japan.[v] It is not altogether clear why Japan has selected incineration given this practices does not eliminate or reduce radioactivity of waste and may spread radiation contamination in the atmosphere.[vi] Indeed, one study of incinerator ash from Fukushima contaminated debris estimated that 88 percent of the total radioactive cesium in the debris was at risk for elution and diffusion with wind and rain.[vii]


Now Japan is trying to recycle its nuclear waste:

Masatoshi Toda (2017, May 18). Ministry shows plan to recycle radioactive soil in Fukushima. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705180051.html

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture--In an apparent attempt to quell fears, the Environment Ministry on May 17 showed how it will recycle radioactive soil in construction projects to reduce the growing piles of widely abhorred contaminated debris.

In the demonstration to media representatives here, the ministry measured radioactivity levels of bags of soil collected in decontamination work around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and sorted the earth from other garbage.

Using soil with readings up to 3,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, the ministry plans to create a 5-meter-tall mound measuring 20 meters by 80 meters. Such mounds could be used, for example, as foundations for seawalls and roads in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere.

Testing of the methods started on April 24. After confirming the safety, the ministry wants to promote the use of the recycled soil.
Pretty soon, everything will be nuclear waste, including us as humans. Killer Whales may already have reached that point of bioaccumulation of radionuclides, as modeled by Alva and Gobas for killer whales:
Juan Jose Alava and Frank Gobas. A Marine Food Web Bioaccumulation model for Cesium 137 in the Pacific Northwest,” Conference for Society for Environmental Toxciology & Chemistry (SETAC); 2014 Nov 9 – Nov 13; Vancouver, Canada. Available https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268982476_A_Marine_Food_Web_Bioaccumulation_model_for_Cesium_137_in_the_Pacific_Northwest

REFERENCES

[i]Rubble from Quake- and Tsunami-Hit Areas to be Disposed in Tokyo’ (29 September 2011) The Mainichi, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/mdnnews/news/20110929p2a00m0na010000c.html, date accessed 30 September 2011.

[ii] ‘Radioactive Ash Causes Kashiwa Incinerators to Shut Down’(4 November 2011), Japan Today, http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/radioactive-ash-causes-shutdown-of-kashiwa-incinerators, date accessed 5 November 2011.

[iii] ‘Storage Space to be Built at 2 Sites in Fukushima for Tsunami Debris’ (8 April 2012), The Mainichi, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120408p2g00m0dm055000c.html, date accessed 9 April 2012.

[iv] ‘Decontamination Work Begins in Fukushima Prefecture City Amid Concerns Over Incinerator Plans’ (27 July 2012), The Mainichi, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120727p2a00m0na010000c.html, date accessed 29 July 2012.

[v] A. Zolbert (8 November 2012) ‘Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Recovery Still Underway’ KSDK News 2012, http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/346639/28/Japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-recovery-still-underway, date accessed 9 November 2012.

[vi] Institute for Energy and Environmental (May 2012) ‘Incineration of Radioactive and Mixed Waste’, http://ieer.org/resource/factsheets/incineration-radioactive-mixed/, date accessed 9 November 2012.


[vii] Y. Iwahana, A. Ohbuchi, Y. Koike, M. Kitano, and T. Nakamura (2013) ‘Radioactive Nuclides in the Incinerator Ashes of Municipal Solid Waste Before and After the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant’, Annals of Science, 29.1, 61-66.









Sunday, May 21, 2017

MIA: Public Records of Radiation Research Conducted During War


I'm writing a research paper on nuclear "governmentality." Governmentality research takes a particular problem, such as radiation exposure and dose effects, and explores how key constructs were defined and deployed historically, and up to the present era, by addressing the following:
Institutions that produced, managed, or exploited radiation: E.g., Manhattan Project, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Report (ABCC).

Knowledge formations/discourses about radiation: E.g., "Health Physics" and alternative knowledges produced by dissident authorities. Researchers' address key problem-solution frames and models that are foundational to particular knowledge formations.

Authorities: Key types of authorities (and expertise) privileged within dominant institutions, as well as the characteristics and operations of oppositional authorities.

Technologies developed to exploit or contain radiation: Atomic bomb, atomic medicine, radiation dentistry, etc.

Strategies and Tactics: Strategic designs and deployments of the above, as illustrated by the medical isotope program that was promoted by the war machine to help legitimize atomic power to global populations horrified by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

All together, these components produce an assemblage that organizes the social field. 
So, this is what an "academic genealogy of nuclear governmentality" might look like.

I'm really interested in the interdependencies across nuclear weapons, research on the biological effects of atomic radiation, and atomic medicine because these seemingly disparate fields were in fact inseparable beginning in the 1930s.

After the end of World War II, authorities involved in the Manhattan Project and in the newly established US Atomic Energy Commission (1946) chaired by David Lilienthal, former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, agreed that wartime research on the biological effects of ionizing radiation would need to continue in the post-war environment to understand atomic weapons’ full killing potential.[i]

Manhattan Project medical director Safford Warren had before war’s end promoted extensive post-war biomedical research, an agenda that resonated with contractors eager to pursue wartime research on the human effects of ionizing radiation.[ii]

Research on the biological effects of ionizing radiation was regarded as “Urgent because effective defensive measures (in the military sense) against radiant energy are not yet known" concluded the 1947 Medical Board of Review commissioned by Lilienthal, which reported on the Atomic Energy Commission’s biomedical research program (https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/achre/final/intro_4.html).


Among the most important research programs conducted on ionizing radiation in terms of its capacity to delimit the field of biological effects was the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission launched after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The history of the ABCC and its successor organization have been very thoroughly documented and I won't re-cap here beyond a few citations:
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. Available Nasaonline, http://www.nasonline.org/about-nas/history/archives/collections/organized-collections/atomic-bomb-casualty-commission-series/abccrpt_toc.pdf

Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Report (1947). Appendix No. 6, written by James V. Neel addresses “The Question of the Genetic Effects of the Atomic Bomb” http://www.nasonline.org/about-nas/history/archives/collections/organized-collections/atomic-bomb-casualty-commission-series/abccrpt_pt3app6.pdf

Frank W. Putnam. 1998. The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in retrospect. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 May 12; 95(10): 5426–5431. PMCID: PMC33857

Sey Nishimura August 2009. Promoting Health in American-Occupied Japan: Resistance to Allied Public Health Measures, 1945-1952. American Journal of Public Health, 99.8, 1364-1375; S;

Susan Lindee (2016) Survivors and scientists: Hiroshima, Fukushima, and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, 1975–2014. Social Studies of Science 2016, Vol. 46(2) 184–209. DOI: 10.1177/0306312716632933 

Yet, despite the breadth of information, there is something missing from the historical account. What is missing from the historical account is war-time research on radiation effects. 

The best information available about the US radiation experiments is probably encoded in the Adivisory Committee for Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE) report outlined here, which covers experiments conducted from 1944 to 1974:  http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/radiation/dir/mstreet/interim/interim.html (The best active link for final report is here).

I also recommend Eileen Welsome's book on radiation experimentation, The Plutonium Files. Her work demonstrates that US government and corporate authorities worked together to understand radiation's weapons' potential (see also Paul Langley's work here). You can learn more in this YouTube Interview:
 

The CIA destroyed cold war files on medical experimentation with radiation in the 1970s:
Patrick Cockburn. (1994, Janaury 5). CIA 'destroyed files on radiation victims': The public may never know full details of secret experiments on Americans during the Cold War. The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/cia-destroyed-files-on-radiation-victims-the-public-may-never-know-full-details-of-secret-1397987.html
War time research on radiation's biological effects appears to be highly sensitive information. Now why is that?

And why is it that I can find no information at all about similar wartime radiation research on biological effects by Japan?

Japanese scientists were quite knowledgeable about radiation prior to WW II and understood its weapons potential. They were investigating the biological effects of radiation prior to World War II under the leadership of Dr. Yoshio Nishina, described as the “father” of modern physics in Japan (p. 142). See Kim, Dong-Won. (2007). Yoshino Nishina. Father of modern physics on Japan. New York: Taylor and Francis.

After World War II, Japanese scientists began their own research on the effects of the bombs until they were censored by American authorities. Some of their findings were eventually included in the ABCC report, but their contributions were selectively incorporated.

These assertions are well supported by the official record of formal organizational reports, media coverage from the period, and academic analyses.

So, I expected to have no trouble digging up some findings using a combination of Google and JSTOR search platforms on Japan's wartime radiation experimentation.

Surprise, surprise. I cannot find any accounts of Japanese wartime research on the biological effects of radiation, although there are many, many detailed accounts of hideous biological research of many forms of invention.

The dearth of accounts of Japanese wartime research on the biological effects of radiation is interesting. Japan had an atomic weapons program during the War.  Why would scientists, under the influence of Japan's founding modern physicist, discontinue radiation research on biological effects during the war when all other manner of weaponized biological effects were researched and the country was trying to build an atomic bomb?

I may have missed some vital cache of information on the subject so I'll keep searching but governmentality also requires that analysts address what is missing from the official record, the strange occlusions or inconsistencies in the official records of events that are easily glossed over or dismissed when they may reveal the most deeply embedded relations of power...


END NOTES
[i] This discussion is derived from the findings of the ACHRE report, The Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments established January 15, 1994 by US President Bill Clinton to investigate and report on the use of human beings as subjects of federally funded research using ionizing radiation. The ACHRE report is annotated in the NSA Archive here: http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/radiation/ but the link to the final report at the Department of Energy is no longer active. Therefore, references to information gleaned from the ACHRE report are sourced from the text made available by Georgetown University here: https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/achre/final/intro_4.html, accessed August 1, 2016.
[ii] Endnote 34 from the ACHRE report: “The program expanded from the base of Manhattan Project research sites such as Oak Ridge, Hanford, Chicago, and the Universities of California, Chicago, and Rochester to take in a growing portion of the university research establishment. The minutes of the January 1947 meeting record an ambitious program to focus on the physical measurement of radiation, the biological effects of radiation, methods for the detection of radiation damage, methods for the prevention of radiation injury, and protective measures. There followed an itemized list of the work to be done at Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos, Monsanto, Columbia University, and the Universities of Michigan, Rochester, Tennessee, California, and Virginia. The University of Rochester was to be the largest university contractor, receiving more than $1 million, followed by the University of California (about one-half million for UCLA, where Stafford Warren was dean of the new medical school, and Berkeley, to which Stone had returned to join Hamilton), Western Reserve (to which Warren's deputy Hymer Friedell was headed), and Columbia (more than $100,000). Argonne received an amount comparable to Rochester; other labs, including Los Alamos National Laboratory and Clinton Laboratories (now Oak Ridge National Laboratory), were scheduled for $200,000 or less. Stafford Warren, Interim Medical Committee, proceedings of 23-24 January 1947 (ACHRE No. UCLA-111094-A-26). See also ACHRE Briefing Book, vol. 3, tab F, document H. https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/achre/final/intro_fn.html#fn33