Progressive Radio Network, May 01, 2016 This past week the U.S. government announced the country’s economy rose in the January-March 2016 at a mere 0.5 percent annual growth rate. Since the U.S., unlike other countries, estimates its GDP based on annual rates, that means for the first quarter 2016 the U.S. economy grew by barely 0.1 percent over the previous quarter in late 2015. Growth this slow indicates the US economy may have “slipped into ‘stall speed’, that is, growth so weak that the economy loses enough momentum and slides into recession”, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase. Has the U.S. economy therefore come to a halt the past three months? If so, what are the consequences for a global economy already progressively slowing? What will an apparently stagnating US economy mean for Japan, already experiencing its fifth recession since 2008? For Europe, stuck in a long term chronic stagnation? And for emerging market economies, struggling with collapsing commodity prices and currencies, rising unemployment, and long term capital flight trends? Once heralded as the only bright spot in the global economy, the US economy now appears to have joined the slowing global trend. Some Interesting Trends Read
Jack comments on the recent Wikileaks revelations of secret IMF plans to impose still more austerity on Greece before this summer. Jack revisits his predictions of last summer 2015 that the Greek debt crisis would reappear in 2016 along with the UK exit from the EU and renewed talk of a Greece exit as well—both of which now appear on the agenda. The Troika’s origins of the Greek Debt and why a new kind of financial imperialism is now emerging. Fractures between segments of Europe’s financial-economic elites continue to grow. Jack discusses what’s wrong with US job and GDP numbers, and why China GDP stats are about half of the official GDP rates. Why US central bank, FED, policy of no interest rate hike benefits US multinational companies at the expense of tens of millions of US households and small businesses. Jack concludes with explaining why global oil prices will again fall, China’s mini-stimulus will again fade, and why Japan and Europe will slip further into QE and NIRP (negative interest rates) in coming months.
The melt down of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami of 11th March 2011 seems to have quietly slipped out of our collective awareness – as quietly as the cauldrons of radioactive elements that were once within the active cores of the reactors invisibly bleed into the groundwaters and seawaters of the region. This event has become yet another minor detail in the distorted mosaic of ruin that mirrors the latter days of a civilisation in free-fall. Arnie Gundersen is looking a little weathered these days. He has just returned from a five-week long speaking tour of Japan. He spent much of that time in the company of many whose lives have been indelibly seared by the Fukushima catastrophe. What he reports is unlikely to appear in the mainstream media, but such has ever been the case when it comes to the hidden machinations of big government and big business. What Gundersen has to say is worth closely attending to. As a nuclear engineer, he has been deeply involved in the American nuclear industry for over four decades. He has a special interest in the design and safety of containment structures and holds
HILLARY CLINTON couldn’t help but be spitting mad at the Greenpeace activist who confronted her last week about the money her campaign has taken from the fossil fuel industry, asking the candidate if she would pledge to reject such money in the future. “I don’t have–I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies,” the Democratic frontrunner snapped, pointing her finger at activist Eva Resnick-Day. “I am so sick. I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me!” But who’s doing the lying? – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – AT A time when ice in the Antarctic is melting at an accelerated rate due to climate change, prompting new warnings about a rise of the earth’s oceans by more than three feet by the end of the century, the issue of fossil fuels and climate change ought to be center stage this election season. Read
U.S.-bound plutonium that has recently been shipped out of Japan will be disposed of at a nuclear waste repository in New Mexico after being processed at the Savannah River Site facility in South Carolina, according to an official of the National Nuclear Security Administration. “The plutonium will be diluted into a less sensitive form at the SRS and then transported to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for permanent disposal deep underground,” said Ross Matzkin-Bridger, who is in charge of the operation at the NNSA, a nuclear wing of the Department of Energy. “The dilution process involves mixing the plutonium with inert materials that reduce the concentration of plutonium and make it practically impossible to ever purify again,” he said in a recent phone interview. Read
A team of Japanese researchers (and one from the U.K.) has found evidence in the remains of ancient Japanese people that suggests that people are not necessarily predisposed to living a violent existence or even to engaging in warfare. In their paper published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, the team describes their analysis of the remains of people that lived during the Jomon period (from 13,000 – 800 BC) in what is now Japan, which showed very little evidence of violent behavior or death. In recent years, scientists have found evidence of many hunter-gatherer groups that behaved in a violent manner, sometimes even banding together to wage war on other people or groups. That has led to more evidence of the common assumption that humans are inherently violent and that war has generally been the result when two or more groups have different ideas of how things should be done. In this new effort, the researchers suggest such findings might be premature as they have found an example of an early hunter-gatherer culture that did not appear to wage war or even behave in a violent manner. The teams’ study consisted of analyzing the remains of approximately 2,500 people that lived in Japan
Peter and Mickey open the program with a wide-ranging conversation with long-time social justice activist Medea Benjamin; the discussion covers topics from trade deals to drone warfare, as well as her latest project of trying to alert Americans about the human rights abuses committed by US ally Saudi Arabia. In the second half of the show, Peter and Mickey speak with nuclear-power whistle blower Arnie Gunderson, who recently returned from a visit to Fukushima, Japan; he warns that radioactive contamination is now pervasive in the Fukushima area, but the Japanese government is trying to avoid addressing the health issues.
The cocksure pro-nuclear crowd has trumpeted Fukushima as an example of Mother Nature taking lives because of an earthquake and tsunami; whereas, the power plant accident proves nuclear power can withstand the worst without unnecessary death and illness. All of the deaths (16,000) were the fault of Mother Nature, not radiation. After all, it’s only one year ago that science journalist George Johnson’s article, “When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk,” appeared in the New York Times, Sept. 21, 2015: “This spring, four years after the nuclear accident at Fukushima, a small group of scientists met in Tokyo to evaluate the deadly aftermath.” Read
A MILE NORTH OF the chaotic heart of downtown Rangoon, where electrical wires dangle haphazardly overhead and street vendors hawk roasted pig intestines, sits an upscale complex of 240 luxury residences overlooking the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda and a serene man-made lake. Marketed to wealthy expatriates and foreign businesspeople on extended stays in Burma’s bustling commercial capital, the newly built Shangri-La Serviced Apartments advertise “idyllic luxury in a modern metropolis” and amenities including a swimming pool, 24-hour private security, maids quarters, and a limousine service. Signs in the lobby inform guests that the complex now offers the Cartoon Network and yoga classes. In 2011, Burma haltingly emerged from decades of oppressive rule by a military junta when a nominally civilian government came to power. The United States eased sanctions against the country the following year, and foreign investors rushed into this resource-rich frontier market. The influx of wealthy expats formed a ready-made clientele for the Shangri-La, where apartments rent for as much as $7,000 a month. In a country where about half the population lacks electricity and there are just six physicians for every 10,000 people, Shangri-La residents enjoy luxuries that are unfathomable to the surrounding populace, including an on-call private doctor and high-speed wifi. Read
Five years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the disaster no longer dominates U.S. news headlines, although experts say it is a continuing disaster with broad implications. A new analysis by American University sociology professor Celine-Marie Pascale finds that U.S. news media coverage following the disaster minimized health risks to the general population. Pascale analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets following the disaster’s occurrence from March 11, 2011 through March 11, 2013. Only 6 percent of the coverage–129 articles–focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere. Human risks were framed, instead, in terms of workers in the disabled nuclear plant. Pascale’s research has published in the flagship journal for the International Sociology Association, Current Sociology. Read