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Re: Disaster in Indianapolis [Our American Cousin]

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Hello, Shoji,

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Yes, it appears that the storm approaching Indianapolis produced a "micro-burst," toppling the big steel structure built over the stage.  I think the death toll has increased to 5 today.  Janet and I attended a show like this at the State Fair about 10 years ago, but our seats were far from the stage.

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I have been keeping up with events in Japan, thanks to the US-Japan online discussion forum.  We were surprised when the government decided to abandon nuclear energy in such a drastic way.  It must be very difficult to live with reduced electricity.  I can't imagine living in a house with a temperature of 36 degrees.  Can you walk to Tokyo Bay for some cooling breezes?   

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It's a shame that all the people have to suffer because of the misdeeds of the nuclear power industry.  From the reports that I read, it's clear that the government and the nuclear industry were cooperating for many years to ignore safety standards and to prevent public knowledge of the truth. 

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I understand your concern for national defense.  Japan has many sources of vulnerability.  But, like in the USA, I think the biggest element of national defense is having internal strength--mentally and physically strong people who are committed to helping each other succeed...like you see, for example, in many successful organizations.  Unfortunately, many political leaders succeed by encouraging people to hate those who are different from themselves.  It's the fast way to success in communities with easy targets.  In the USA, the targets are often homosexuals, non-Christians, African-Americans, and Hispanic people...especially in communities where those people are competing with white Christian people for jobs. 

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Unfortunately, in the USA we are undergoing constant attacks on our unity by the "tea party" element in the Republican party.  They began as an amorphous protest against bad economic conditions.  But a small group of billionaire businessmen have used skillful propaganda and organizational tools to sell these people an agenda that is deadly to the future of the nation.  These poor fools are electing foolish representatives who have been given an ultra-conservative economic agenda.  Guess what is the primary plank in their economic platform?  Lower taxes for rich people!  Yes, it's hard to believe, but these people, many of whom are struggling financially, have been taught to believe that it's good for the rich to become richer.  In the Reagan years, it was called "trickle-down" economics.  That is, wealthy people would buy more luxury yachts and hire more servants, creating jobs for poorer people.

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As you may have seen in the news, the new "tea party" representatives in the Republican party created a near economic catastrophe by refusing to allow the government to raise the debt ceiling.  There was not a sane economist in the world who thought this was a good idea, but the extremists convinced the whole Republican party to resist all compromises offered by Democrats.  These extremists also believe that the national debt was created by President Obama.  Any child could look at the graphs and see that the national debt took a sharp spike upward during the Reagan and Bush administrations.  We are now trying to pay interest on the money borrowed by those administrations.  But the "tea party" extremists have convinced a majority of Republicans voters to believe that Obama created the national debt.  Sadly to me, Obama has not presented a strong argument against this falsehood.

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It seems to me that we (USA, Japan, and Europe also) are close to a collapse of the social and economic conditions that were constructed a great cost by our parents.  Some of the blame belongs to leftists who were careless about establishing unsustainable social programs; some of the blame belongs to rightists (certainly in the USA) who created a monstrous "defense" industry that captures and destroys large amounts of the national capital.  Right now, some of the blame belongs to ultra-rightists (certainly in the US) who hold economic theories that are transparently false.  Much of the blame belongs to voters who don't understand the issues and vote based on emotional appeals ("Obama is a Muslim who hates America.").

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Sorry to be so negative, but these are dangerous times and it's hard not to be worried.

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Best regards,

Michael 

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Michael Molenda


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So many disasters... [Our American Cousin]

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Dear Shoji,

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It is well that, at our ages, we are closer to the end of our journey than to the beginning.  I don't think the coming years will be pleasant.

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As you indicate, the earthquake and tsunami (in American English we use the Japanese word "tsunami") have done damage that we cannot fully evaluate yet...salt pollution of crop land, breaking the Toyota supply chain, radioactive contamination, etc. 

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In America, on April 27 we had over 100 tornadoes (you used the term "sand pillar") in one day in Alabama and other southern states.  It was the largest number of tornadoes ever recorded in one storm system.  That storm passed close to Bloomington.  We did not have a landing of a tornado near us, but the tornado sirens awoke people around 1:15 a.m.  Outside, I saw a violent rain storm, with hailstones as large as grapes.  The storm damaged some shingles on our roof, and we had some rain damage in the ceiling of our garage.

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Today, the problem is flooding.  In the month of April in the Indiana region we had the greatest amount of rainfall since they began keeping records in 1850.  And the rain continues into May.  The result is rapidly rising water in the rivers that flow into the Mississippi River, which includes the Ohio River, which forms the southern boundary of Indiana.  Some of the roads between Bloomington and the Ohio River are closed because of water covering the roadway.  Cities on the banks of the Ohio and Mississippi are watching the levees and adding bags of sand.  The rivers are going to reach the highest point since the Great Flood of 1937.  We can expect a lot of damage to cities and certainly to croplands. 

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And then there are the man-made disasters, such as the "war on terrorism."  Many people were relieved to hear that Osama Bin Laden was killed, but we know that his organization continues and will surely seek revenge.  By the way, I don't see this as a struggle against people of the Muslim religion (you say "Mohammedan," but that term is considered obsolete).  Ninety percent of Muslims, like ninety percent of Christians, are peaceful and are happy to live on the same planet as people of other religions.  Osama Bin Laden was promoting a very narrow doctrine, which most Muslims reject. 

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I don't know how the death of Bin Laden will affect the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, probably not very much.  The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have plenty of other reasons to continue to struggle against--and sometimes cooperate with--Westerners.  In America, no-one talks about the role of China in that region.  But you are probably correct that China's role will continue to expand.

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A much bigger problem than all these "headline" disasters is the collapse of the global financial system.  The game really ended in September 2008 when the big American financial institutions and insurance companies collapsed.  There has been some superficial improvement in the American financial situation, but the underlying problems have not been repaired.  The simplest way to portray the problem is that there is no more collateral on which to make loans. 

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By the way, the next financial disaster in America will come when people realize that student loans are as worthless at the housing loans in 2008.  The amount of student-loan debt carried by banks is over one trillion US dollars.  That is larger than all of the credit-card debt in America.  As new college graduates are unable to obtain jobs and unable to pay back their student loans, we will see a collapse of the banks that loaned the money to those students.  We will see if the US government is able to find a way to "bail out" this new tsunami of bankruptcies.  I doubt it. 

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The old game is over, and it's difficult for us to imagine what the new game will look like.  But it will not be pretty.

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We can only try to find ways to live valuable lives in a new environment.

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Warm regards,

Michael   Michael MolendaBloomington IN.          
タグ:TSUNAMI tornadoe
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Japan Quake Map [Our American Cousin]

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Wow, what a wonderful graphic presentation of the quake data.  This really helps tell the story.  And I can see that many of these hundreds of quakes must have been felt in the Tokyo area. 

http://www.japanquakemap.com/  

Are they strong enough to wake you if you're sleeping?

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Thanks very much for the chart.  Best wishes for peace in the near future.

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Michael Molenda

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ぼくあずさのComment

Quake Map は下記リンク先から入手しました。

http://kaitaro.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2011-04-13
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Summary of nuclear accident -2/2 [Our American Cousin]

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But it makes life more difficult for the operators and mechanics when they have to deal with activated (i..e. slightly radioactive) water.

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But Plan A had failed – cooling systems down or additional clean waterunavailable – so Plan B came into effect. This is what it looks like happened:In order to prevent a core meltdown, the operators started to use sea waterto cool the core. I am not quite sure if they flooded our pressure cooker with it (the second containment), or if they flooded the third containment, immersing the pressure cooker. But that is not relevant for us.

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The point is that the nuclear fuel has now been cooled down. Because the chain reaction has been stopped a long time ago, there is only very little residual heat being produced now. The large amount of cooling water that has been used is sufficient to take up that heat. Because it is a lot of water, the core does not produce sufficient heat any more to produce any significant pressure. Also, boric acid has been added to the seawater. Boric acid is “liquid control rod”. Whatever decay is still going on, the Boron will capture the neutrons and further speed up the cooling down of the core.

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The plant came close to a core meltdown. Here is the worst-case scenario that was avoided: If the seawater could not have been used for treatment, the operators would have continued to vent the water steam to avoid pressure buildup. The third containment would then have been completely sealed to allow the core meltdown to happen without releasing radioactive material.After the meltdown, there would have been a waiting period for the intermediate radioactive materials to decay inside the reactor, and all radioactive particles to settle on a surface inside the containment. The cooling system would have been restored eventually, and the molten core cooled to a manageable temperature. The containment would have been cleaned up on the inside. Then a messy job of removing the molten core from the containment would have begun, packing the (now solid again) fuel bit by bit into transportation containers to be shipped to processing plants. Depending on the damage, the block of the plant would then either be repaired or dismantled.

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Now, where does that leave us? My assessment:

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§ The plant is safe now and will stay safe..

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§ Japan is looking at an INES Level 4 Accident: Nuclear accident with local

    consequences. That is bad for the company that owns the plant, but not for

    anyone else. 

                                                                                                           § Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All

     radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed).

     A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine.

     If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting,

     you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life

     expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea

     and will never be seen again.

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§ There was some limited damage to the first containment. That means that

     some amounts of radioactive Cesium and Iodine will also be released into

     the cooling water, but no Uranium or other nasty stuff (the Uranium oxide

     does not “dissolve” in the water). There are facilities for treating the

     cooling water inside the third containment. The radioactive Cesium and

     Iodine will be removed there and eventually stored as radioactive waste in

     terminal storage. 

                                                                                                            § The seawater used as cooling water will be activated to some degree.

    Because the control rods are fully inserted, the Uranium chain reaction is

    not happening. That means the “main” nuclear reaction is not happening,

    thus not contributing to the activation. The intermediate radioactive

    materials (Cesium and Iodine) are also almost gone at this stage, because

    the Uranium decay was stopped a long time ago. This further reduces the

    activation. The bottom line is that there will be some low level of activation

    of the seawater, which will also be removed by the treatment facilities.

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§ The seawater will then be replaced over time with the “normal” cooling

    water

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§ The reactor core will then be dismantled and transported to a processing

     facility, just like during a regular fuel change.

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§ Fuel rods and the entire plant will be checked for potential damage. This will

    take about 4-5 years. 

                                                                                                            § The safety systems on all Japanese plants will be upgraded to withstand a

     9.0 earthquake and tsunami (or worse)

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§ (Updated) I believe the most significant problem will be a prolonged power

     shortage. 11 of Japan’s 55 nuclear reactors in different plants were shut

     down and will have to be inspected, directly reducing the nation’s nuclear

     power generating capacity by 20%, with nuclear power accounting for about

     30% of the national total power generation capacity.. I have not looked into

    possible consequences for other nuclear plants not directly affected.

    This will probably be covered by running gas power plants that are usually

    only used for peak loads to cover some of the base load as well. I am not

    familiar with Japan’s energy supply chain for oil, gas and coal, and what

    damage the harbors, refinery, storage and transportation networks have

    suffered, as well as damage to the national distribution grid. All of that will

    increase your electricity bill, as well as lead to power shortages during peak

    demand and reconstruction efforts, in Japan.

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§ This all is only part of a much bigger picture. Emergency response has to

     deal with shelter, drinking water, food and medical care, transportation and

     communication infrastructure, as well as electricity supply. In a world of

     lean supply chains, we are looking at some major challenges in all of these

     areas.

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If you want to stay informed, please forget the usual media outlets and consult

the following websites:

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§ http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Battle_to_stabilise_earthquake_reactors_1203111.html

§ http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Venting_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_3_1303111.html

§ http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/12/japan-nuclear-earthquake/

§  http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2011/03/11/media-updates-on-nuclear-power-stations-in-japan/ .

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Michael Molenda


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Summary of nuclear accident -1/2 [Our American Cousin]

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Dear Shoji,

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The US-Japan discussion forum to which I subscribe has, of course, hosted a lot of discussion about the Fukushima incident.  One of the contributors forwarded the following story written by the dean of an American college of engineering. It is in English and it is quite long, but it gives a good technical summary for non-engineers:

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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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This is an E-mail from the Dean of the University of Washington College of Engineering to the students - March 17

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*What happened at Fukushima*

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I will try to summarize the main facts. The earthquake that hit Japan was 5times more powerful than the worst earthquake the nuclear power plant wasbuilt for (the Richter scale works logarithmically; the difference betweenthe 8.2 that the plants were built for and the 8.9 that happened is 5 times,not 0.7). So the first hooray for Japanese engineering, everything held up.

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When the earthquake hit with 8.9, the nuclear reactors all went intoautomatic shutdown. Within seconds after the earthquake started, the controlrods had been inserted into the core and nuclear chain reaction of theuranium stopped. Now, the cooling system has to carry away the residualheat. The residual heat load is about 3% of the heat load under normaloperating conditions.

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The earthquake destroyed the external power supply of the nuclear reactor.That is one of the most serious accidents for a nuclear power plant, andaccordingly, a “plant black out” receives a lot of attention when designingbackup systems. The power is needed to keep the coolant pumps working. Sincethe power plant had been shut down, it cannot produce any electricity byitself any more.

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Things were going well for an hour. One set of multiple sets of emergencyDiesel power generators kicked in and provided the electricity that wasneeded. Then the Tsunami came, much bigger than people had expected whenbuilding the power plant. The tsunami took out all multiple sets of backupDiesel generators.

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When designing a nuclear power plant, engineers follow a philosophy calledDefense of Depth”. That means that you first build everything to withstandthe worst catastrophe you can imagine, and then design the plant in such away that it can still handle one system failure (that you thought couldnever happen) after the other. A tsunami taking out all backup power in oneswift strike is such a scenario. The last line of defense is puttingeverything into the third containment, that will keep everything, whateverthe mess, control rods in our out, core molten or not, inside the reactor.

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When the diesel generators were gone, the reactor operators switched toemergency battery power. The batteries were designed as one of the backupsto the backups, to provide power for cooling the core for 8 hours. And theydid.

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Within the 8 hours, another power source had to be found and connected tothe power plant. The power grid was down due to the earthquake. The dieselgenerators were destroyed by the tsunami. So mobile diesel generators weretrucked in.

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This is where things started to go seriously wrong. The external powergenerators could not be connected to the power plant (the plugs did notfit). So after the batteries ran out, the residual heat could not be carriedaway any more.

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At this point the plant operators begin to follow emergency procedures thatare in place for a “loss of cooling event”. It is again a step along theDepth of Defense” lines. The power to the cooling systems should never havefailed completely, but it did, so they “retreat” to the next line ofdefense. All of this, however shocking it seems to us, is part of theday-to-day training you go through as an operator, right through to managinga core meltdown.

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It was at this stage that people started to talk about core meltdown.Because at the end of the day, if cooling cannot be restored, the core willeventually melt (after hours or days), and the last line of defense, thecore catcher and third containment, would come into play.

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But the goal at this stage was to manage the core while it was heating up,and ensure that the first containment (the Zircaloy tubes that contains thenuclear fuel), as well as the second containment remain intact andoperational for as long as possible, to give the engineers time to fix thecooling systems.

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Because cooling the core is such a big deal, the reactor has a number ofcooling systems, each in multiple versions (the reactor water cleanupsystem, the decay heat removal, the reactor core isolating cooling, thestandby liquid cooling system, and the emergency core cooling system). Whichone failed when or did not fail is not clear at this point in time.

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So imagine a pressure cooker on the stove, heat on low, but on. Theoperators use whatever cooling system capacity they have to get rid of asmuch heat as possible, but the pressure starts building up. The priority nowis to maintain integrity of the first containment (keep temperature of thefuel rods below 2200°C), as well as the second containment, the pressurecooker. In order to maintain integrity of the pressure cooker (the secondcontainment), the pressure has to be released from time to time. Because theability to do that in an emergency is so important, the reactor has 11pressure release valves. The operators now started venting steam from timeto time to control the pressure. The temperature at this stage was about550°C.

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This is when the reports about “radiation leakage” starting coming in. Ibelieve I explained above why venting the steam is theoretically the same asreleasing radiation into the environment, but why it was and is notdangerous. The radioactive nitrogen as well as the noble gases do not pose athreat to human health.

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At some stage during this venting, the explosion occurred.. The explosiontook place outside of the third containment (our “last line of defense”),and the reactor building. Remember that the reactor building has no functionin keeping the radioactivity contained. It is not entirely clear yet whathas happened, but this is the likely scenario: The operators decided to ventthe steam from the pressure vessel not directly into the environment, butinto the space between the third containment and the reactor building (togive the radioactivity in the steam more time to subside). The problem isthat at the high temperatures that the core had reached at this stage, watermolecules can “disassociate” into oxygen and hydrogen – an explosivemixture. And it did explode, outside the third containment, damaging thereactor building around. It was that sort of explosion, but inside thepressure vessel (because it was badly designed and not managed properly bythe operators) that lead to the explosion of Chernobyl. This was never arisk at Fukushima. The problem of hydrogen-oxygen formation is one of thebiggies when you design a power plant (if you are not Soviet, that is), sothe reactor is built and operated in a way it cannot happen inside thecontainment. It happened outside, which was not intended but a possiblescenario and OK, because it did not pose a risk for the containment.

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So the pressure was under control, as steam was vented. Now, if you keepboiling your pot, the problem is that the water level will keep falling andfalling. The core is covered by several meters of water in order to allowfor some time to pass (hours, days) before it gets exposed. Once the rodsstart to be exposed at the top, the exposed parts will reach the criticaltemperature of 2200 °C after about 45 minutes. This is when the firstcontainment, the Zircaloy tube, would fail.

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And this started to happen. The cooling could not be restored before therewas some (very limited, but still) damage to the casing of some of the fuel.The nuclear material itself was still intact, but the surrounding Zircaloyshell had started melting. What happened now is that some of the byproductsof the uranium decay – radioactive Cesium and Iodine – started to mix withthe steam. The big problem, uranium, was still under control, because theuranium oxide rods were good until 3000 °C. It is confirmed that a verysmall amount of Cesium and Iodine was measured in the steam that wasreleased into the atmosphere.

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It seems this was the “go signal” for a major plan B. The small amounts ofCesium that were measured told the operators that the first containment onone of the rods somewhere was about to give. The Plan A had been to restoreone of the regular cooling systems to the core. Why that failed is unclear.One plausible explanation is that the tsunami also took away / polluted allthe clean water needed for the regular cooling systems.The water used in the cooling system is very clean, demineralized (likedistilled) water. The reason to use pure water is the above mentionedactivation by the neutrons from the Uranium: Pure water does not getactivated much, so stays practically radioactive-free. Dirt or salt in thewater will absorb the neutrons quicker, becoming more radioactive. This hasno effect whatsoever on the core – it does not care what it is cooled by.

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Michael Molenda.


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Fukushima nuclear power plant [Our American Cousin]

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Dear Shoji,

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Thanks for your updates on the situation in the Tokyo area and in the north.  Yes, it is very worrying that the Fukushima plant has not been fully repaired yet, but so far there does not seem to be any great risk to human lives.

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You ask about possible changes in President Obama's nuclear policies. So far there is no news about that, but I hope he does NOT change his plans to build nuclear plants in the United States.  Yes, there are risks, but there are risks associated with coal and oil also.  In the case of coal (the most popular energy source in my state), the risks include CO2 emissions and mercury poisoning.  And the mercury poisoning is not a "possible" risk, the poisoning is certain and goes on every day.  We eat and drink lethal chemicals every day.

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I expect that there will be increased public objection to nuclear power because of the Fukushima incident, as there was after "3-Mile Island" and "Chernobyl."  I hope our government leaders are smart enough to continue implementation of nuclear plants AND to increase the safety standards. 

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Best wishes,

Michael


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CNN morning report [Our American Cousin]

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Dear Shoji,

Thanks very much for your reassuring message.  In the past two days I have been finding more comprehensive and accurate information than what is carried on American television.  It seems that the situation was never as dangerous as some sources implied. 

On the whole, it appears that the Japanese government has been accurate and balanced in its public announcements, contrary to the opinion of some "sensationalist" news media. 

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I understand that the Japanese people are united in this crisis and are working together to share the burdens of the disaster.  You have our best wishes and support.

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Regards,

Michael

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Michael Molenda

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ぼくあずさのComment

大嶋さんの今朝の投稿記事を読み、Mikeへのメール送信と同時に、上記のメールを受信した。彼へは政府発表をベ-スにした状況を度々メールしてきた。

1400NHKニュースによれば、第3原子炉の格納庫内圧力が上昇し、最悪放射能を含む水蒸気を放出するが、現在炉内冷却を試みていると報道された。私は専門家でないので断言できないが、外部電源の通電検査試験が一部終えていると推測される

追記)圧力が安定してきたので大気放出はしない(20日15:53読売)


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Condolences [Our American Cousin]

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Dear Shoji,

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The news continues to grow worse about the earthquake + tsunami + nuclear plant malfunction.  Very sorry to hear that the number of deaths has risen so high, and the survivors are still suffering under cruel conditions.  I have made a contribution to Medecins Sans Frontieres to help in some small way.

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And every day the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant produces fresh disasters.  We are hoping every day that this story will end without a catastrophe. 

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It seems that many people are experiencing periodic blackouts.  Do you have electricity reliably in Yokohama? 

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Continuing wishes for relief,

Mike

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Michael Molenda


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Notes on the Tea Party Movement-5/5 [Our American Cousin]

                                                October 6, 2010

                                                Michael Molenda

                                                Bloomington, Indiana, USA

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5. Finally, some evaluative observations about the Tea Party movement, based on the facts noted above:

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a. This is not a coherent movement.  Many of its local grass-roots members are proud of its anarchic, anti-hierarchical lack of organization.  This has allowed the movement to grow by attracting individuals with fringe beliefs, such as the birthers (who claim Barack Obama was born in Kenya), overt racists, and religious zealots.  The Tea Party movement provides a self-proclaimed patriotic umbrella that allows people with far-out ideas to feel part of a larger and more respectable group.

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b. This movement is rife with logical contradictions.  Some examples:  i. They purport to oppose government deficit spending but were invisible and totally silent during the Bush administration when tax cuts and wars created deficits far more massive than all of the actions of the Obama administration.

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ii. They vilify the Obama administration for the bailout of financial institutions, but the TARP program was begun by the Bush Republican administration.  The only thing added was financial aid for American auto-makers.  Both the bank and auto bailouts have already produced partial returns of the bailout money.

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iii. They vehemently oppose progressive taxation, although progressive taxation is a benefit to the economic class for whom they claim to speak.

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iv. They claim to speak for ordinary people, but their infrastructure is provided by a very small cadre of super-rich individuals, and the policies they endorse will benefit primarily those super-rich individuals.

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v. They claim to suffer the oppression by the elites, but polls show Tea Party supporters to be older, better educated, and wealthier than the average person; so elites are well represented within Tea Party ranks.  Populists posture as an oppressed majority, but Tea Partiers are neither oppressed nor the majority.

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vi. They claim to represent a general, non-partisan citizen anger, but all the political candidates they support are running as candidates of right-wing partiesConservative, Libertarian, and/or Republicanclosely mirroring the interests of their funding sources.

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vii. Ironically, their anger has been directed at those (progressives and Democrats) who historically have worked for the interests of the lower and middle classes and who have been trying to reverse the laissez-faire policies that have crushed those economic classes.  Instead, Tea Partiers support the politicians and policies that manifestly failed to protect the economic interests of people like themselves.

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In conclusion, the Tea Party movement springs from several different traditional elements in American political life, packaged under a new brand name.  In perilous economic times, it offers an alternative to the current policies, and thus is appealing to those who are dissatisfied with the status quo.  It is attractive to many because, in addition to any possible appeal of its policy positions, it taps into reservoirs of American patriotic rhetoric.  The World Wide Web has provided a cheap, ubiquitous, and effective communications medium for the movement; the mass media have amplified the voice of the Tea Party by paying a lot of attention to it due to the entertainment and conflict values of its extremist views.  Finally, it provides neither a coherent nor logical approach to Americas social and economic problems.  It may experience some political success in terms of electing people to public office but it is unlikely to lead to the rational solution of real problems.


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Notes on the Tea Party Movement-4/5 [Our American Cousin]

                                                  October 6, 2010

                                                  Michael Molenda

                                                  Bloomington, Indiana, USA

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4. What propelled Tea Party sentiments into visible political action?  Actions under the specific label of Tea Party began in February 2009, following closely after the inauguration of the new president, Barack Obama, and his early attempts to address the financial problems left by the collapse of major banks and other financial institutions in September 2008namely the government bailout of some of those financial institutions, a plan to refinance some of the mortgages that were threatened by the collapse of the housing market, and a financial stimulus bill.  There are several forces that converged to arouse and support the  Tea Party movement:

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a. The base of the movement consisted of disgruntled Republican voters who were disappointed with the election of Barack Obama (77% of Tea Party supporters say they voted for John McCain).

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b. The severe economic recession which began in 2007 to 2008 caused millions to lose their jobs, substantial portions of their savings and retirement funds, and/or their investments in their houses.  This created a wellspring of anger, looking for a target.  The most visible targets were the newly elected Democrat-controlled White House, Senate, and House of Representatives.

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c. Beyond the 2008 election and the 2007-2009 economic recession, many Americans share a feeling that Americas status as a world power is declining.  People who are used to believing that Were Number One are beginning to question whether the country is competitive on the world stage.  This end-of-empire anxiety supports the search for enemies within who have caused the decline.

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d. At the beginning, there were scattered rallies consisting of dozens to hundreds of people in response to spontaneous individual calls for citizen action about the new administrations financial policies (most of which were continuations of policies begun in the later days of the previous administration).  These early sparks were fanned by news organizations, such as the Drudge Report, Fox News, and websites bearing the name of Tea Party.

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e. Conservative political-action front groups provide financial support to tea party activities and candidatesnamely, Richard Armeys FreedomWorks and the billionaire Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity, which are considered front groups in that they provide funding for ongoing operations (such as advertising and field offices)  but have few or no actual members or contributors beside their wealthy founders.


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Notes on the Tea Party Movement-3/5 [Our American Cousin]

                                                  October 6, 2010

                                                  Michael Molenda

                                                  Bloomington, Indiana, USA

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3. Many political observers and pundits have been trying to determine what the Tea Party movement represents.  Because there is no central organization or national spokesman for the movement, there is no authoritative answer to this question.  But certain themes have emerged with some consistency:

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a.     Echoes of the traditional opposition to strong centralized government:  this theme emerged in the days of the founding of the United States in the conflict between the Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans; since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt the Republican Party has voiced this theme (although it has not noticeably reduced the size of national government when in power).  Tea Party enthusiasts overlap with Libertarians on this issue.   

.

b .Echoes of the traditional opposition to federal taxes:  again, this theme is deeply embedded in early American colonial life and has been a prominent policy of conservative and right-wing politicians ever since.  On the other hand, the Tea Party activists also oppose deficit spending and government debt.  They want to see taxes reduced, but they oppose government borrowing, hence, government activities must be reduced or eliminated.  On this issue they overlap with Libertarians.

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c.     Echoes of traditional nativist sentiments: anxiety about immigrants has deep historical roots in America, but became politically important in the early 1800s with the arrival of immigrants from Europe who did not fit the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant norm.  Nativist anxiety later shifted to Asians, Catholics, and Jews; more recently it has focused on Hispanic immigrants.  In 2010 the Tea Party movement is fomenting fear of Muslims and links President Obama to the Muslim threat. 

.

d .Echoes of traditional nationalistic sentiments:  Observers going back to Alex de Tocqueville, 1835, have noted a chauvinistic, messianic tendency of Americans to believe that America is unique and exceptional.  This view is seldom questioned by any political party or mass media voice, but it is embraced more vocally by conservatives.  It frequently takes the form of demands for strong national defense and fighting the terrorists at the expense of all other values.

.

e. Echoes of traditional religious sentiments:  American history is marked by the periodic resurgence of fundamentalist Christian activism.  Although religious issues are not prominent in the agenda of the Tea Party movement, a good deal of the emotional appeal of its political representatives comes from opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and secularization of government.

.

f. Perhaps most importantly, the Tea Party movement embraces the rhetoric of populism, an ideology that claims that ordinary people are being deprived of their rights, their prosperity, and their voice by elites and people who are not like us.  Populists, therefore, present themselves as ordinary people; as Christine ODonnell, candidate for Senates says in her recent TV commercial: Im not a witch.  I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you.  The dangerous others often are people with advanced education, urban sophistication, and/or minority ethnic background.  For evangelical Christians in the Tea Party movement, the dangerous others are secularists.  These feelings are captured in the concept of a culture war, a notion promoted especially in books and Fox News broadcasts by commentators such as Bill OReilly, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter.


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Notes on the Tea Party Movement-2/5 [Our American Cousin]

                                                 October 6, 2010

                                                 Michael Molenda Dr

                                                 Bloomington, Indiana, USA

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2. Since early 2009, many other political activities--from public protest demonstrations to campaigns for elective offices--have been conducted by people under the umbrella of the Tea Party movement.  Perhaps most notable have been recent electoral efforts:

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a. Scott Brown (Republican) elected US Senator from Massachusetts with Tea Party Patriots support.

,

b. In Utah, Kentucky, South Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware, Alaska, and Maine the candidates supported by Tea Party enthusiasts in primary elections defeated mainstream Republicans for the Republican nomination for major offices.  How successful these insurgencies are will be determined in the general election to be held November 2, 2010.


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Re. Gadsden flag [Our American Cousin]

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Hi, Shoji

I hope you and your readers find my Tea Party Notes to be useful in understanding the movement.

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The yellow flag you refer to is called the Gadsden flag (named for an American general from the Revolutionary War).

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The Gadsden flag is an historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a coiled rattlesnake; below the snake is the motto DONT TREAD ON ME. 

It was first used in the American Revolutionary War in 1775.  The rattlesnake, native to America, was frequently used as a symbol of the fighting spirit of the new nation.  This flag has been revived from time to time throughout American history, sometimes as a symbol of disagreement with the government.  Today it has been adopted by the Tea Party.

.

The intended meaning of the original flag was that America (like the rattlesnake) was a peaceful creature, but was always ready to defend itself.  It gave a warning before striking, but after the warning, it fought to the death.  Its weapons were small, but they could cause a lethal wound.

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Regards,

Michael  2010-10-07

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Notes on the Tea Party Movement-1/5 [Our American Cousin]

http://dorflueren.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2010-10-07-1


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Notes on the Tea Party Movement-1/5 [Our American Cousin]

                                                October 6, 2010

                                                Michael Molenda

                                                Bloomington, Indiana, USA

.

.

1. Let us begin with some basic facts:

.

a. There is no American political party named The Tea Party.  There are numerous new organizations that use the term tea party in their name, such as Tea Party Patriots (which claims to have about 1000 affiliated local organizations), Tea Party Express, and Tea Party Nation, but there is no national political party with that name.

.

b. The Tea Party movement is not the only, or even the leading, source of opposition to the current Democratic administration.  The Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, other smaller right-wing political parties, the Fox News network, right-wing radio commentators, and a legion of right-wing think tanks and websites were offering a loud and effective opposition long before the Tea Party movement sprang up.  It suits the interests of the Republican Party to allow the Tea Partiers to serve as the tip of the spear for the Party, bringing volunteer workers and enthusiasm to get-out-the-vote efforts.

,

c. The Tea Party movement started in early 2009, shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama as president, beginning with local demonstrations against various government policies (e.g. the federal economic stimulus program and the program to re-finance home mortgages).  Protest organizers used the symbols of the 1773 anti-colonial protest in which American protesters dumped boxes of tea into Boston harbor to protest the British imposition of a tax on tea; this early demonstration was called The Boston Tea Party.  Opponents of government taxation have been using the tea party symbolism ever since.


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日本の安全保障:NBR Fouram, Rod Armstrong [Our American Cousin]


ぼくあずさのComment

Rod ArmstrongのQuoteについて、WatanabeさんとMikeの投稿がありました。なかなか興味ある内容です。山口氏は公明党の間違い。憲法9条問題が抜けている。

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Dear Shoji,

As I have said before, I have no expertise about US-Japan security issues, but I do read the discussions on NBR's Japan Forum bulletin board.  Today I read a contribution from Mr. Rodney E. Armstrong (former consul, US Foreign Service) that I think will be provocative to the readers of your blog.  Mr. Armstrong proposes that there is a serious lack of discussion of national security issues among Japanese citizens and even military leaders.  Here are his comments, which I have slightly abridged for length:

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"Friends --

 .

Among politicians, with the exception of some self-appointed "defense experts" such as Ishiba in the LDP and Maehara and Yamaguchi in the DPJ, the degree of willful ignorance of national security issues is profound. Indeed, although the Defense University is headed by Dr. Iokibe, one of Japan's premier intellectuals who has a strong interest in security questions, the Japanese military establishment is so beaten down and cautious that I have never been able to engage a member of the forces in a conversation about any of the issues that matter. The Chuo Koron interview with former Vice Minister of Defense Moriya on the Futenma issue last summer revealed that the highest career official of the Defense Ministry spends most of his time (and apparently the entirety of his interest) in adjusting real estate and other interests connected with Japan's defense establishment and the Alliance. [And] there are no think tanks of any great quality to raise and debate defense issues.

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I was born before World War II roughly as far away in time from the end of the American Civil War as the Japanese are today from the end of World War II. In my home state of Indiana, the memories and divisions caused by the Civil War were still alive. The monuments were all about the Civil War; the last encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, the northern veterans organization in Indianapolis in the late 1940s was a big event (all six former drummer boys). I went to college in South Carolina, and the culture shock was extreme.

.

I think the standard figure for deaths in the Civil War is 600,000. The standard figure for the number of Japanese killed in the "Pacific War" is 3.1 million. There are an unending series of family tragedies with origins in the war that play out over the years. In my Japanese family's case, it was a brother of my mother-in-law's generation who was misplaced in the confusion of the bombing by the host family when sent for refuge to a neighboring prefecture. He missed out on education, and passed his whole working life on the Yokohama docks before being rediscovered only ten years ago. Almost everyone knows someone who was imprisoned for years after the war by the Soviets or who had ghastly experiences in getting out of Manchuria. And almost on a monthly basis, buried bombs or poison gas cylinders, or collapsed air rad shelters are discovered.

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And, to use Professor Hosoya's phrase, it was such a "foolish war." The profound ignorance and irresponsibility of the Japanese militarists became clear to all. And just when the memories began to wither, along comes General Tamogami to raise for the Japanese citizenry the possibility that even today's Japanese military officers are all as mad as Ishihara Kanji of Marco Polo Bridge fame (my apologies to Mark Peattie).

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The other side of the coin of the Japanese public's refusal to think about defense questions is their remarkable willingness to consign all Japanese security questions to the Americans. After all, we won in World War II. Despite our blunders in Vietnam---not a very important country in Japanese eyes in any case---we "won" the Cold War against Russia. The doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction may have seemed crazy to Tanaka-san, but it had the great merit of having been proven effective. Again, Iraq and Afghanistan are not countries of great concern to the average Japanese, and discussion of our problems there is confined mostly to an hour-long show on Sunday, the weekly wrap up of international coverage by NHK. I would guess that there has not been more than fourteen hours of Japanese television coverage of the entire seven years of war in Iraq.

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The average Japanese worries about the Americans abandoning Japan in the midst of all these willfully ignored dangers. I tell my friends that the American generals and admirals are not going to give up their real estate and bureaucratic empires in Japan lightly. Nevertheless, the Japanese public's fear of abandonment if their government fails to do the American bidding was the political force that led to Mr. Hatoyama's downfall.

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As a result of these public attitudes, the Japanese media ignore American strategy and security policy-making. In the July issue of The Oriental Economist (subscription only) Iinuma Yoshisuke surveyed the Japanese press and found that the 62 Japanese reporters in Washington produced only one (Mainichi) non-analytical listing of interactions on Futenma between the US and Japanese governments. A single magazine article (June Bungei Shinju) applied any critical analysis to the US case on Futenma.

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Mr. Kan's naivete is astounding. But is it any more astonishing than Mr. Hatoyama's simple-minded suggestion that the Marines might wish to put their air component on Tokushima? ("Just any old island will do!")

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Are these gaps in the Japanese perception of the world around them important? Probably not in the immediate future. We are, however, in the early (very early) stages of an arms race in Asia. The power of Chinese nationalism and what sort of appetites may be generated by Chinese hubris and nationalism are yet to be seen. It would be nice to know that our partner in East Asia had an informed public and political class qualified to help us understand East Asia and possibly serve as a brake on some of the excesses of our military-industrial complex. Mr. Iinuma notes that all the Japanese press did during the Futenma imbroglio was repeat the mantra of "the deterrent power of the Marines in Okinawa." Unhappily, there are more important issues down the road than Futenma.

.

The Japanese should start to educate themselves about national security

now---right now.

.

Regards, Rod Armstrong"

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Michael Molenda 2010-08-23

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日本の安全保障:NBR Fouram, Rod Armstrong [軽井沢だより]

http://dorflueren.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2010-08-23-3


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Greeting from Bloomington [Our American Cousin]

Hi, Shoji,                                                                              Good to hear from you.  I'm pleased to learn about Bon...this is new information for me.  I'm sure it is beneficial to old and young to have spiritual ties to their relatives.

.

As in many other parts of the world, we are experiencing an unusually hot summer in Bloomington.  It has been over 90 F every day in August.  Fortunately, we had a good respite in the last week of July: we joined a tour group for 10 days in Scotland.  It was the first time in Scotland for both of us, and we enjoyed it tremendously.  Daily high temperature was only about 60 F, with frequent rain and mist, but that is normal for western Scotland, and we loved it.  The scenery is fantastic, with low mountains, valleys, lakes and sea visible from almost every part of the country...and plenty of picturesque villages and medieval castles.  We hope to return again to see more of the islands and historic sites.

.

I always enjoy your reports of visits to shrines.  Janet and I have a similar hobby--visiting the county courthouses of Indiana.  Indiana is divided into 92 counties, each of which has a government center which houses the county executive, legislative, and judicial offices.  Traditionally, the courts were the most prominent part of the government, so they are called "courthouses."  Among the 92 counties, you find some courthouses that were built at the beginning of the state around 1820, others buil throughout the 19th century and some built very recently.  So it's a way to get a grand survey of public architecture over 200 years.  A typical example is the Jefferson County courthouse http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/population/photos/ShowCH.asp?FIPS=18077

So far, we have visited 58 courthouses, with 34 remaining.  Of course, when we visit other states we try to visit their county courthouses also.

.

.

Toyota is out of the news here.  Business seems to be normal.  Did I mention that Janet adopted Abby's Toyota Rav4 when Abby moved to Guam?  So now both of us are driving Toyotas. 

.

Thanks to your questions, I have been following the discussions on the National Board of Asian Research online forum.  So I see daily exchanges of opinion about the  strategic implications of policy decisions in the US, Japan, the Koreas, and China.  The Asia experts who give their opinions often differ sharply on the significance of each policy, so it seems to me that there are at least two sides to every issue.  One of the experts who seems to be respected in the NBR forum is Rodney Armstrong. 

.

Today Armstrong gave his opinion about the Okinawa issue:

.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Here are some reasons the Marines should be sent home from Asia, and several reasons why they are likely to be welcomed home sooner rather than later.

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1. There is no requirement for infantry in Asia. When Okinawa was reverted, the US Army, recognizing the proof in the Vietnam defeat of Eisenhower's dictum against fighting land wars in Asia, withdrew infantry from Okinawa. There was recognition that American infantry on Okinawa was too far away to be useful if war broke out on the Korean Peninsula because of the proximity of Seoul to the DMZ. Any new outbreak of violence on the peninsula would have to be handled by the South Koreans themselves with their own forces, which were being rapidly strengthened in the mid-1970s as they lost confidence in the US after the Vietnam defeat..

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2. The Marines took over the infantry facilities on Okinawa for bureaucratic empire-building purposes. They had previously not had any overseas bases, and they wanted a seat at the Washington conference tables where international policies were discussed. The subsidization of their bases on Okinawa by the Japanese government's "sympathy budget" added to the attractions of a takeover from the US Army. However, now the "sympathy budget" is being reduced. The drain of dollars from the large Marine "tail" of dependents (9,000?) becomes more troubling for the US Government and the high yen provides severe household budget problems for the dependents.

.

I note former Ambassador Armacost's statement at a meeting in April this year:

.

"It is not entirely clear what the Marine Corps contributes to the defense of Japan. Our Marines do a lot of training which is useful with other services, and engage in a lot of highly worthy disaster-relief missions elsewhere in the region. Is this critical or just "nice to have if the costs are reasonable?"

.

It is not clear how many Marines are on Okinawa at this time. Both the Pentagon and Ryukyu Prefectural numbers, at upwards of 20,000 seem high. There are reports from Okinawa of mothballed facilities and empty parking lots at Marine facilities in Okinawa, and shuttered bars in the entertainment districts. Marines who were sent to Iraq from Okinawa do not seem to be coming back. One knowledgeable Okinawan friend estimates that there are somewhere between 12 and 15 thousand Marines on Okinawa at present.

.

In November the Okinawans seem likely to elect a Governor opposed to the Henoko project. If the two governments do not come to an agreement that will close Futenma, it is likely that protests will rise to the point that Futenma will become unusable (I am assuming that Prime Minister Kan will simply throw up his hands if the new governor refuses to authorize Henoko.) I do not predict violence, but the protests in Kyushu that closed in 1974 another base too close to an urban area, the Itazuke Air Force base near Fukuoka, were not violent either---but they were effective.

.

The Marines' problems will be complicated by the American budgetary problems as the Iraq and Afghan wars wind down. Both the US Army and Marines have been subjected to incredible stresses---in terms both of personnel and equipment. The Marines were going into the Guam transfer program in the time-honored Pentagon way of giving modest up-front estimates and then depending on their superb congressional lobbying resources to fill in the expected overruns.

.

This time, however, the Marines will have to compete in bitter budget battles with the larger services, all of whom have their own serious needs and priority requirements. The nuclear weapons lobbies had to be bought off with an $8 bln/year, ten-year program of weapons "maintenance" in order to get START II on its way to approval. The Air Force needs more resources for a new fighter. And so on. The Marines and their Asian ambitions are likely to come far down the list, certainly following their own need to re-equip and restore.

.

Greg Clark has suggested that the Chinese might wish to fish in the Futenma-troubled waters. Ironically, the Chinese are all for the use of Okinawa for training Marines to fight in Afghanistan. From the Chinese point of view, our efforts there help to dampen Islamic pressures in Xinkiang (although their Uighur problems really do not appear to be related to radical Salafi Islam). Pakistan is China's only strategic ally, and our aid is propping up that rickety regime.

.

But the Chinese would not like to see the Marines in Korea. The idea of monolingual US Marines going in to capture ports in North Korea in case of a DPRK collapse is risible. If the ROK Marines say they would welcome such assistance, then they are putting us on. The Koreans have two divisions of their own Marines who are well trained for the port capture eventuality. The only possible role the US Marines could play would be to assist in bringing in relief supplies and equipment under combat conditions to backstop the South Koreans' efforts. Just as was the case after the Marines' great performance in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami, they would be asked to leave as soon as their services were not required. And China would be growling from the get-go.

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Regards, Rod Armstrong"

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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

.

So, I don't know what's best for Japan, but Armstrong thinks that Marine withdrawal from Okinawa would be good for US interests.... Armstrong reminds us that, just as there are many conflicting interest groups in Japan, there are many in the US, including the different branches of the military.  It is difficult for civilians to understand and accept the competition exercised by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.  We would expect each agency to be most interested in the national welfare, not the welfare of their branch.  But this is not the case. 

.

Best regards,

Mike


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Okinawa news story [Our American Cousin]

Hi, Shoji,

.

Today I saw the FIRST news story about the Marine base in Okinawa.  I'm sure there were earlier stories that appeared in sources like the New York Times and Washington Post, but this is the first story that has been widely reprinted in local newspapers; it is from Associated Press, virtually the only international news source for American newspapers.

.

The title is "US military base impasse could topple Japan leader," and it is a coherent and concise telling of the story:

.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_JAPAN_UNWANTED_BASE?SITE=OHCIN&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT 

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Like most of the other international media, it places much of the blame on the US side, which happens to be controlled by Marine General Johnson.

.

Best,

Michael


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Arizona [Our American Cousin]

Hi, Shoji,

.

I'm sorry I can't comment specifically on the topic of Arizona's immigration law as discussed on your blog.  We are in the middle of our daughter's wedding events.  We are hosting a dinner this evening, then another on Friday after the wedding rehearsal, then the wedding and wedding dinner are on Saturday.

.

So I will just make some general comments.

1.I have not read and studied the new Arizona immigration control law.  I suspect that most of those who have been commenting also have not read the law.

2.The law was passed by a Republican controlled government in Arizona, and outsiders assume that their intentions are nationalistic, authoritarian, and a little racist, because that is who the Arizona Republicans are--the party of old, white, angry men.

   1.(The sheriff of Maricopa County, the largest and most populous part of Arizona is exactly one of these men.  He is also the most aggressive, fascist bully in America.  I am not overstating.  He consistently uses force against his perceived enemies.  He has raided the offices of any politician who does not support him 100%.  The only comparison for him is a Mafia chief--no respect for the law, no respect for decency, a full commitment to violence against all who disagree.)

3.The spokesman for the Arizona Republicans claims that there is nothing in their law that is not in the national immigration laws.  They just intend to enforce the law more rigorously than the national government.  This may be true; I don't know.

4.The opposition to the new law comes from a wide variety of sources, including most Democrats about half the Republican office-holders from outside Arizona.  These are Republicans who have large numbers of Hispanic voters in their districts.

   1.I suspect that support and opposition are based largely on symbolic grounds.  Democrats are naturally sympathetic to the oppression of poor and minority people.  Republicans like to demonstrate that they are strong in maintaining the security of white people (especially angry white Southern men). 

    2.The new law may be perfectly reasonable, but Democrats will object to its symbolism (oppression of Mexicans) and Republicans who have Hispanic voters will object because they don't want to appear anti-Mexican.

5.Non-political organizations, such as sports clubs and teachers associations, have begun to cancel meetings in Arizona.  Any group that has Hispanic members or that represents liberal interests wants to show their disapproval of the new law.  A news story yesterday said that 26 meetings and conventions have already been moved away from Arizona.  The economic impact is expected to be significant. 

6.As I said, I don't know if the new immigration law deserves this sort of strong opposition, but the opposition is happening.  (Of course, this opposition doesn't change the minds of the law's supporters.  They will never concede.)

.

That's all I know.

.

Best,

Michael


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General Jones's bad joke [Our American Cousin]

Dear Shoji,

.

Last week, General James Jones made a faux-pas last week, which might ultimately have repercussions for the Okinawa issue.  He was speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (one of many pro-Israel "think tanks") and he opened his remarks with a joke involving a Jewish merchant and a Muslim terrorist. 

.

Of course, it was a mistake for an important diplomat to tell ANY ethnic joke--always risky.  But his joke was interpreted by many Jewish listeners as anti-Semitic.  There is no bigger land-mine in American politics than the label of anti-Semitic.  General Jones may survive the wave of criticism, but his influence MAY be diminished.

.

Since he seems to represent the Marines' interests in the Futenma controversy, it is possible that some other, more diplomatic, representative will lead the final negotiations over this problem.  The problem is already complex, but this event might make the American position more uncertain.  Of course, any change away from Jones's position would probably be a good change.

.

Regards,

Mike  2010-04-28

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ぼくあずさのComment

下記の2つのリンクを参照下さい。

National Security Advisor

General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/nsa/

TIME Jones' Jewish Joke: No Laughing Matter

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1984994,00.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+time%tion+%28TIME%3A+Top+Nation+Stories%29 


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Marine base in Okinawa [Our American Cousin]

Dear Shoji,

.

As I mentioned before, I am not well informed about the issues and interests involved in the "Marines in Okinawa" crisis.  However, a knowledgeable contributor to NBR's Japan-U.S. Discussion Forum, Rodney E. Armstrong suggests this:

.

"The only realistic solution is now, as it has been for almost 14 years: The Marines send their Futenma transport plane activities to Kadena to enjoy the US Air Force's renowned hospitality and their helicopters to a new (and modest) base carved out of Camp Schwab. Otherwise, the US brings down the Hatoyama government, and the stakes go up to a total removal of the Marines from Okinawa amidst a cooling of the overall US-Japan relationship."

.

Armstrong probably represents the opinion of American Foreign Service experts.  He has a long record of involvement in US-Japan diplomacy and trade.

.

Regards,

Mike 2010-04-21


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Okinawa and Tokunoshima [Our American Cousin]

Dear Shoji,

.

I understand that the issue of American military bases in Okinawa is in the daily headlines in Japan.  You might be interested to know that there is NO discussion of the Okinawa question in the American news media.  The issue is completely invisible here.

.

As I understand it, there are competing interests among all the parties—Okinawans, other Japanese, environmentalists, US military, and US civilian government.  I understand that the military bases are an important element in the economy of Okinawa, and the building of new bases would be economically advantageous to the builders who get the contracts.  And I have some understanding of the complex mutual-defense agreements between the US and Japan.

.

So, although it would be ideal for all the American forces to leave Okinawa, that is not a viable option for the near future.  According to the reports I have read, the American response to the Okinawa crisis has been unhelpful and rather undiplomatic.  Apparently, Secretary of State Clinton is relying on General Jones as the final decision-maker on this issue, and he has a long-time vested interest in the US Marines position.  So, it doesn’t appear that the Japanese and Okinawans are going to get constructive help from the American side.  I can only hope that the people closest to the problem finally get the solution that is best for them.

.

Best wishes,

Mike   2010-04-20

.

James L. Jones

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_L._Jones 


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A new theory about Toyota troubles [Our American Cousin]

Hi Shoji,

.

I know that in Japan the news media tend to blame Toyota's troubles on "Japan-bashing" in the US.  As I have said previously, I really don't accept this theory.  Americans associate Japanese products, including cars, with the highest quality.  And they have no political motives to "bash Japan."  There are no US politicians who speak badly of Japan.  In fact, Japan is almost never a topic of news. 

.

I recently encountered a new theory, one that I had not heard before.  It proposes that Toyota became the target of American liability lawyers because they lost a major source of their revenue when Chrysler and General Motors went bankrupt.  Here is the story, told by someone named Mike Smitka, on NBR's Japan-US online Discussion Forum:

In the NBR's Japan-U.S. Discussion Forum Mike Smitka says:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I heard an anecdote from someone who was in Washington around the time that Chrysler and GM were in bankruptcy, and who encountered lawyers strategizing as to what to do next.

Now, in bankruptcy, the "old" Chrysler inherited all existing legal actions for products for which the old Chrysler can be blamed, that is, virtually all existing Chrysler vehicles. The bottom line: all those liability lawsuits are now worthless, since there's no money to be paid out.

GM's bankruptcy terms were a bit less strict.  Existing lawsuits went to the "old GM" and so are now worthless but, unlike Chrysler, new lawsuits will go to the new GM.

.

This is not a small industry.  Legal costs at those two car companies were roughly $1 billion, and with 40% going as fees to the attorneys, the bankruptcy removed $400 million from the revenue stream of the liability lawyer industry. The answer remember that the alternative for the lawyers is mass unemployment start poring through NHTSA files to see if there was a target they had missed. There was: Toyota!  Welcome to being global #1 (and boasting about it); you are a great big bulls-eye!

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Toyota didn't have to fumble the ball as badly as they did. They will face many billions of dollars in legal costs before all this is done, by playing hardball with regulators and by ignoring their people in the US on safety issues while leaving a paper trail that they had done so. GM and Ford in their heydays had similar communication issues--too many people to rely upon informal channels.  Even handled better, or even without the claims of sudden acceleration, Toyota will face a continuing stream of lawsuits. That's the cost of being #1 in a consumer product industry in the US.

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Michael  2010-04-17


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The sudden acceleration trouble of Prius [Our American Cousin]

Hi, Shoji,

I hear what you're saying.  And I think most American car buyers agree with you.  Toyota cars, especially the Prius, are highly regarded.  The Toyota brand is a very strong one, and people will continue to buy Toyotas.

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Of course, people are wondering if there really is some sort of electronic problem with certain Toyota models.  But in the past few days there are more news stories questioning the truth of some of the reports of rapid acceleration and questioning why Toyota is receiving so much bad publicity. 

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One theory is that Toyotas have no more problems and no more recalls than other brands, but that people are suddenly paying more attention.  Another theory is that a few Toyota drivers are trying to profit from the confusion by reporting "phantom" problems, hoping to receive some compensation (although it appears that Mr. Sikes is NOT trying to do this).  Some journalists have started to wonder if the Toyota problems are being magnified by someone who would profit from the decline of Toyota.

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Of course, most writers are still pursuing the original theory--that Toyota has problems in its electronics software and is unwilling to admit it, just as most manufacturers--domestic or foreign--are slow to admit problems that have huge implications. 

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I don't know.  I'm still waiting for objective evidence about the problems.

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Regards,

Michael 

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Dr.Mikeと新しいカテゴリー Our American Cousin [Our American Cousin]

blogへの日頃の御訪問、真にありがとうございます。

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新しく共同執筆陣に参加したDr.Mikeを御紹介します。

高校時代からのペンフレンド、NYシラキュース大で博士号を得て、最近までインデイアナ大で教育学を教えていました。      教え子には日本人もいますが、当人は日本の知識はなさそうです。25年ほど前に、自宅を訪ねましたが市長のお隣の豪邸に住んでいました。奥さんはI New Yorkの作者です。

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カテゴリー Our American Cousin には現在3つの記事がありますが、50年前の彼の両親と彼の写真も掲載されています。

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益々のご贔屓をお願い申し上げます。

フリューレン村 村長 

ぼくあずさ(西島 捷二)


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Toyota claims [Our American Cousin]

Dear Shoji,

Im happy to contribute my observations on the current controversy involving the Toyota Motor Sales Company.  I will try to answer each of your points.

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1. You claim that Toyota makes high quality cars, possibly better than Honda and Mazda. 

a. I have no reason to disagree.  Toyota has the highest       

reputation in the United States.  I love my 2001 Toyota Avalon.

b. Consumer Reports, the leading non-profit product rating company in the US has just released their ratings for 2009 cars (rankings are based on the performance, comfort, utility and reliability). Honda and Subaru were tied for first place. Toyota was rated third, and Hyundai (including Kia) was ranked fourth, rising from ninth last year.  So, Toyota is still very highly rated, even after the recalls.

c. Companies with good engineering sometimes produce faulty products.  As you say, it is very difficult to control quality in foreign parts manufacturers.  Unfortunately, Toyota may have accepted and installed some defective parts.

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2. You suggest that Toyota should possibly reduce or eliminate its participation in the US market. 

a. I assume you are suggesting that this would be a good way for Toyota to punish the US for unfair treatment. 

     i. First, I doubt that the Toyota management would do

something that was so contrary to their own interests. The American market is profitable, and Toyota wants to keep it.

     ii. Second, it is difficult to claim that Toyota has received.unfairtreatment.                                                       .1. The US congress has taken the lead in starting an investigation to determine if Toyota followed the proper procedures to prevent or remedy manufacturing problems.          .2. The Toyota management, including the president of the company, has admitted that they failed to take proper action to prevent or repair serious defects in some of their cars.  They admit they are guilty of failing to follow proper procedures.                                                                . .     .  .3. So far, there has been no penalty applied to Toyota.  How can someone claim they have received unfair penalties when there are no penalties (except to continue to recall and repair the faults that they admit need to be fixed)?

3. You suggest that the claims of Mrs. Rhonda Smith are questionable.

a. I dont know all the facts of her case; you may be correct.

b. However, there are many other cases of sudden acceleration that are not easily explained.  Jim Lentz, the president of Toyota USA Sales told the Congressional committee that the company may not know the cause of unintended acceleration in as many as 70 % of reported incidents.  So Toyota admits that faulty pedals and faulty floor mats may not be their only defects. 

c. There may be software problems that are causing some of the acceleration incidents. At the Congressional hearing, another witness, David Gilbert, an automotive-technology professor at Southern Illinois University, said that he was able to isolate weaknesses in Toyotas electronic throttles that arent found in units from other automakers.

d. If there is a software problem, it is in the interest of Toyota to conduct objective analyses to find and correct the problem.  They have a valuable brand, famous for reliability, and they have a huge interest in re-establishing their reliability.  Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

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4. You suggest that there may be some political motive on the part of the US government. 

a. I disagree and I see no evidence for your claim.

   i Investigations of this kind are conducted frequently, to determine if new laws or regulations are needed in order to protect the public health and safety.  The targets are usually American companies, but occasionally a foreign company operating in America causes a health or safety problem (most recently, Chinese toys with toxic ingredients)

  ii.The congressmen investigating the Toyota affair are from both parties.  Congressmen from both parties have questioned and criticized some of Toyotas business practices; those same congressmen have also praised and complimented Toyota as a company that usually upholds high standards of quality.  Some Toyota USA manufacturing plants are in districts represented by Democrats, some by Republicans.  All want to keep those plants running.

   iii.There is no significant anti-Japanese sentiment among Americans.  There definitely was such a sentiment in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s when many American jobs were being lost because of Japanese competition.  Now, thousands of Americans work in plants owned by Japanese companies, and they are glad to have the jobs.  After the baburu keiki in 1986-1991, Americans stopped worrying about Japanese global domination.

   iv. I doubt that President Obama is pursuing the Toyota problem to punish the Japanese government.

      1. His major concern is to rescue the American economy from the collapse caused by policies of the Bush administration.  His focus is on domestic economic policies.  (This includes maintaining and creating jobs, especially manufacturing jobs.)

      2. His major foreign policy concern is the security threat of terrorists in the Middle East.  He is not thinking about Japan very much.  In any event, he has no interest in making new enemies (especially Japan and China, who have bought so much of the federal government debt). .                       .   .......3. President Obama has little control over the Congressional committee that investigates problems in the regulatory agencies. If he has any influence in Congress, he is using it to try to promote his Health Care Reform legislation. This is a hundred times more important to him politically.   

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I hope these observations are helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Warm regards from your friend,

Michael


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Tea Party Movements:Comment by Dr.Mike [Our American Cousin]

「サンアントニオ短信」の記事、Tea Party Movements に関連して、オバマの熱心な支持者である友人のMikeにMA州での上院補欠選での民主党候補の敗北についてどう考えるかを問合わせた。彼のOKを得て、その返信を原文のまま掲載。 皆様のコメントを歓迎します!!

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Hallo Shoji. 

Good to hear from you.  Thanks for the pictures of Mikiko, beautiful pictures of a beautiful girl!

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I don't know what you have heard about the "Tea Party" movement, but here's my view...

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The basic premise of the 2009 Tea Party protesters is that there is some parallel between the British "oppression" of the American colonies in 1773--which caused The Boston Tea Party, the destruction of a shipment of tea--and the "oppression" of Americans by their current government.

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To me, the parallel is simply laughable.  Of course, the original Boston Tea Party protesters were not really being oppressed either.  They simply were subjected to some taxes, which they considered unjust.  Today's protesters are reacting against their own imaginations, not against anything actually done by the Obama administration.

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It's not clear who the "Tea Party" people are or what they want, except that each of them has an irrational fear of something.  At their protests (not very large crowds, actually), the signs are all different. 

Some of them protest against abortion (Obama has no control over any abortion policies).  Some of them protest against high taxes (so far, Obama has lowered taxes). 

Some of them protest against the government subsidizing of the big banks (this was done under the Bush administration). 

Some of them fear that the government will control health care (the proposed reform law would regulate the private insurance business, but would NOT establish a government-operated medical system). 

Some of them don't like Obama because he is half-black (some protest signs have used  the word "nigger" and other ugly racial stereotypes). 

Some Tea Party people claim that Obama should not be president because, according to them, he was not born in the United States (It's not clear what

is the basis for this claim because Obama's birth certificate and a newspaper report from a Honolulu newspaper support the fact that he was born in Hawaii; but some Tea Party people don't know that Hawaii is part of the United States; some Tea Party people also think that New Mexico is not part of the United States).

Many Tea Party protesters feel strongly that the Obama administration will prohibit them from owning and carrying guns (in fact, Obama supports gun ownership and signed a law that would allow carrying guns in national parks!!!!).

Many Tea Party people call Obama a Nazi, a Socialist, or a Communist (of course, it would be impossible to be all of these at the same time; and, of course, he is none of these things).

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Part of the labeling problem is that we don't have any true Leftist parties in America--no Socialists, no Communists, so the Center party--the Democrats--are called Leftists because there simply is nobody to the Left of them.  We have two parties, one Centrist and one Conservative.  Therefore, if you are not a Conservative, you must be Socialist and/or Communist.  This is childish reasoning, but that's how some people think.

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In short, Tea Party people are IGNORANT people who have a variety of grievances, and they choose to express all their ignorant fears in the form of protests against President Obama and his administration.

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Personally, I continue to support President Obama, although his policies so far have been too consistent with those of President Bush (notably on conducting the two wars).  I would prefer a more liberal policy, but Obama has never been a liberal (in spite of what the Republicans say).  If you read his two autobiographical books and listen to his campaign speeches, you hear the voice of a socially conservative man who has always advocated centrist political policies. 

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However, the most important thing is that he is very intelligent and very well informed on a wide range of issues.  He is smart enough to avoid doing things that are as tragically stupid as those done by Bush.  History will prove that Bush's stupid decisions on Iraq, Afghanistan, climate change, burning oil for energy, and banking deregulation truly "broke" not only the United States but the world.  Yes, the world is broken and it will not be repaired in our lifetime.

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Maybe the Tea Party people understand that, at some level, but they are too ignorant and angry to understand how it is broken and who broke it.

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Peace, brother.

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Your friend,

Michael

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Tea Party Movements [サンアントニオ短信]        http://dorflueren.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2010-01-28


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Greeting from Milwaukee [Our American Cousin]

michael.JPGDear Bokuazusa,

So good to hear from you!  Today Janet and I are in Milwaukee to attend the celebration of the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class, the class of 1959.  There are about 150 survivors, of 200 graduates, and we hope to see many of them later today. 

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Parents.jpgLast night we had also had a family reunion--my sister and her children and grandchildren. Two of the grandchildren will be starting college studies this Fall, both of them at the two-year technical institute in Waukesha, Wisconsin. 

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Thanks for sending the link to the New York Times article; it is a powerful message for peace. 

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I hope you and your family are doing well.

Warmest regards,

Michael 

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The New York Times opinion::Issey Miyake [軽井沢だより]http://dorflueren.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2009-07-16-3 

ぼくあずさのComment

私の高校生時代からのPenpal, Dr.Mikeと両親の50年前の写真です。


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