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Relief and Recovery in Japan: U.S. Should Decline Monies from Japan’s “Sympathy Budget” and End Military Dependence Globally

July 6, 2011 

http://www.genuinesecurity.org/actions/notosympathybudget.html

Press Statement

Contact: IWNAM Secretariat, genuinesecurity [at] lists.riseup.net

April 11, 2011

Relief and Recovery in Japan: U.S. Should Decline Monies from Japan’s “Sympathy Budget” and End Military Dependence Globally

The International Women’s Network Against Militarism (IWNAM) demands that the U.S. and Japanese governments stop spending U.S. and Japanese taxpayer monies for the upkeep of U.S. military facilities in Japan and other territories. During these times of natural disasters, funds should directly help the needs of victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation poisoning from damaged nuclear power plants in Japan, and also create alternatives for employment world wide that do not rely on militarism, or further interpersonal and ecological violence.

The IWNAM, formerly named East Asia–US-Puerto Rico Women’s Network Against Militarism, has called for reallocation of global military spending in order to achieve genuine security for people.  We call for the cancellation of the “sympathy budget,” a part of the host nation support provided by the Japanese government to maintain the U.S. military stationed in Japan (See Final Statement, International Women’s Summit to Redefine Security, June 2000.) The “sympathy budget” has been criticized for covering much more than Japan’s obligation under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. It covers the salaries of Japanese employees, utilities for U.S. military personnel, and building costs for luxurious leisure facilities on US bases in Japan. In 2010, these expenses totaled 189 billion yen (about $1.6 billion).  If the Japanese government kept this money it could be used to help victims of the recent earthquake in the Tohuku region, people near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants who were forced to evacuate their communities, and farmers and fishers whose products can not be sold because of the risk of radiation contamination.  Japan is in need of this money for reconstruction of the vast disaster-stricken areas, and recovery from economic and human losses. It is no longer sustainable for the Japanese government to maintain U.S. military bases in Japan. We believe that if the U.S. government would decline the “sympathy budget,” it could be used to help those people directly and to help create a more sustainable world.

In addition, IWNAM demands that the Japanese government should stop building new military infrastructure at Henoko and Takae in Okinawa, and also in Guam, and use that money for survivors of these natural disasters.  Since the earthquake in March, the U.S. military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces have become increasingly visible in Japan. While their rescue efforts are recognized, we should not forget that the primary purpose of the military is not disaster rescue. Their primary training is to destroy the “enemy.” These natural disasters should not be used as opportunities for military forces to justify occupation of a country, as if they are heroes.  This obscures current military developments.  According to Lisa Natividad of Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice,

“On Guam (Guahan), the Japanese government has incrementally funded roughly $10 billion dollars, totaling 70% of the total cost of the relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.  The island’s people suffer poor health outcomes largely due to environmental toxicity and degradation from the presence of U.S. military bases and installations since the U.S. assumed colonial rule in 1898.  For example, cancer rates are excessively high on the island, with the largest number of cases living near military bases.  In addition, the U.S. currently occupies roughly 1/3 of the island, and is in the process of “acquiring” an additional 2,300 acres to construct a live firing range complex on ancient Chamorro sacred ground in the village of Pagat.  The acquisition of the additional land will increase U.S. control of the island to nearly 40%, thus leaving only a small portion of the island for its native people.”

Furthermore, after Hurricane Katrina in the Southeast U.S., earthquakes in Haiti, and flooding in the Philippines, corporate and military interests capitalized on these natural disasters to further their own interests in the rebuilding process.  Afterward, these places were no longer economically accessible for communities who were previously living there, and they also experienced an increase in military surveillance.  We still need disaster troops and recovery plans to help people in times of natural disaster. But, we should also have a critical awareness of the cooperation occurring between militarist and capitalist forces who do not change structures of power when they take advantage of these vulnerable times to advance to geopolitical agendas of neo-liberal interests.

Dependence on militarism occurs when institutions that perpetrate violence provide employment for people. Interpersonal and ecological violence that manifests in military-dependent societies is not often seen as a product of the larger militarized society.  A recent case in Ohio, where a former U.S. Air Force member beat his Okinawan-born wife to death, illustrates interpersonal violence in militarized societies. The two met in Nago, Okinawa, while the man was stationed in Okinawa. They were married and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. On March 11, 2011, the wife was severely beaten by the husband and taken to the hospital where she was treated, but died from the injury. The local paper reported that this man had a history of violence with a former partner, but she was able to leave the relationship.  This example highlights the recurring pattern of interpersonal violence perpetrated by service members.

In Hawai’i, there is a proposal for an increase in helicopters at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station (Oahu). A squadron of Ospreys (a hybrid helicopter and plane that transports troops), Cobra attack helicopters, and a squadron of Hueys are planned to be housed on Mokapu, Oahu, and deployed for practice on the Big Island. On March 30, 2011, a helicopter crashed killing one Marine, and injuring 3 others. The push for increased housing and training areas for of military aircraft in Hawai’i is a product of the U.S. military strategy in the Asia-Pacific, moving bases and troops from one island to another. Yet these decisions disregard the impact this has on local communities and environments in Hawai’i, Okinawa, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region where military developments increase everyday violence and insecurity.

In 2009, global military spending was estimated at $1,531 billion, an increase of 6% from 2008 and 49% from 2000. On April 12, 2011, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) will release its calculations of global military spending for 2010. We estimate that this figure could reach $1.6 trillion.  We join peace groups, budget priority activists, arms control advocates, and concerned citizens the world over in public demonstrations, solidarity actions and awareness raising events to call attention to the disparity between bountiful global investments in war-making and the worldwide neglect of social priorities. Please visit the website for Global Day of Action on Military Spending at http://demilitarize.org/.

The IWNAM demands that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration

1)    Decline the Japanese “Sympathy Budget.”

2)    End the military build up in Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii and other territories.

3)    Stop the justification of militarism in times of natural disasters

4)    Fund alternative jobs that end dependence on militarism

Signed, on behalf of the IWNAM:

Kozue Akibayashi, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Japan

Ellen-Rae Cachola, Women for Genuine Security/Women’s Voices Women Speak, U.S. & Hawai’i

Lotlot de la Cruz, KAISAKA, Philippines

Cora Valdez Fabros, SCRAP VFA Movement, Philippines

Terri Keko’olani, DMZ-Hawaii/Aloha ‘Aina/Women’s Voices Women Speak, Hawai’i

Gwyn Kirk, Women for Genuine Security, U.S.

María Reinat Pumarejo, Ilé Conciencia-en-Acción, Puerto Rico

Aida Santos-Maranan, Women’s Education, Development, Productivity and Research Organization (WEDPRO), Philippines

Kim Tae-jung, SAFE Korea, South Korea

Suzuyo Takazato, Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, Okinawa

Lisa Natividad, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, Guahan (Guam)

The International Women’s Network Against Militarism was formed in 1997 when forty women activists, policy-makers, teachers, and students from South Korea, Okinawa, mainland Japan, the Philippines and the continental United States gathered in Okinawa to strategize together about the negative effects of the US military in each of our countries.  In 2000, women from Puerto Rico who opposed the US Navy bombing training on the island of Vieques also joined; followed in 2004 by women from Hawai’i and in 2007 women from Guam.  The Network is not a membership organization, but a collaboration among women active in our own communities, who share a common mission to demilitarize their lands and communities. For more information, visit www.genuinesecurity.org.

Is U.S. military relief effort Operation Tomodachi really about friendship?

April 23, 2011 

A post on the Japan Today blog asks:

“Tomodachi?” Friends? To many Japanese living near U.S. military bases, the bilateral “friendship” has seemed more like a prolonged occupation. Will Operation Tomodachi make friends of them, and turn their sullen resistance into gratitude?

It’s the biggest ever U.S. humanitarian mission in Japan – 20,000 troops, 113 aircraft and 12 ships thrown into the battle against chaos in the wake of Japan’s greatest postwar crisis, the earthquake-tsunami-radiation nightmare.

The blogger cites the Shukan Post’s claims that the entire military operation is for publicity:

The whole vast operation is purely for show, it says – and who will be paying the bill, it demands, when the hearts and minds have been won? You guessed it – Japan.

One example cited of the shibai (deception) was story of 78 bodies found along the Iwate Prefecture coast, supposedly by Japanese and American rescuers working cooperatively. However, a Japan Maritime Self Defense Force member was quoted as saying: “All the U.S. side did was send planes and helicopters into the air. The searching was done by Maritime SDF, Japan Coast Guard and Japanese police divers.”

The cost to Japan for U.S. “friendship”?:

Friendship doesn’t come cheap, Shukan Post notes. Operation Tomodachi, it says, is an $80 million undertaking, the cost to be covered through supplements to Japan’s financial commitment to support American troops stationed in Japan.

“When nuclear reactors blow, the first thing that melts down is the truth”; What They’re Covering Up at Fukushima

March 24, 2011 

Yesterday the EPA reported its first detection in Hawai’i of radiation from the Japanese nuclear meltdown: “The isotope was “far below any level of concern for human health,” the EPA said.”

As the New York Times reported that Japanese authorities have issued a warning not to drink tap water in Tokyo due to contamination by radioactive Iodine 131, Chip Ward reminds  us in “How the “Peaceful Atom” Became a Serial Killer”, “When nuclear reactors blow, the first thing that melts down is the truth. ”

Doug Lummi published in Counterpunch this partial translation of a Japanese news media interview with Hirose Takashi, a well known Japanese nuclear expert.  The picture he paints of the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima is much worse than the media has reported.  Similar to the arguments made by anti-DU activists in Hawai’i, reports that radiation detections being at “safe levels” are terribly misleading:

They compare it to a CT scan, which is over in an instant; that has nothing to do with it.  The reason radioactivity can be measured is that radioactive material is escaping.  What is dangerous is when that material enters your body and irradiates it from inside.  These industry-mouthpiece scholars come on TV and what to they say?  They say as you move away the radiation is reduced in inverse ratio to the square of the distance.  I want to say the reverse.  Internal irradiation happens when radioactive material is ingested into the body.  What happens?  Say there is a nuclear particle one meter away from you. You breathe it in, it sticks inside your body; the distance between you and it is now at the micron level. One meter is 1000 millimeters, one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter.  That’s a thousand times a thousand: a thousand squared.  That’s the real meaning of “inverse ratio of the square of the distance.”  Radiation exposure is increased by a factor of a trillion.  Inhaling even the tiniest particle, that’s the danger.

According to Mr. Takashi, the only solution is to bury the damaged nuclear plants in a solid block of cement.  But the only thing Japanese authorities seem intent on burying is the truth.

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Source: http://www.counterpunch.org/takashi03222011.html

March 22, 2011

“You Get 3,500,000 the Normal Dose. You Call That Safe? And What Media Have Reported This? None!”

What They’re Covering Up at Fukushima

By HIROSE TAKASHI

Introduced by Douglas Lummis

Okinawa

Hirose Takashi has written a whole shelf full of books, mostly on the nuclear power industry and the military-industrial complex.  Probably his best known book is  Nuclear Power Plants for Tokyo in which he took the logic of the nuke promoters to its logical conclusion: if you are so sure that they’re safe, why not build them in the center of the city, instead of hundreds of miles away where you lose half the electricity in the wires?

He did the TV interview that is partly translated below somewhat against his present impulses.  I talked to him on the telephone today (March 22 , 2011) and he told me that while it made sense to oppose nuclear power back then, now that the disaster has begun he would just as soon remain silent, but the lies they are telling on the radio and TV are so gross that he cannot remain silent.

I have translated only about the first third of the interview (you can see the whole thing in Japanese on you-tube), the part that pertains particularly to what is happening at the Fukushima plants.  In the latter part he talked about how dangerous radiation is in general, and also about the continuing danger of earthquakes.

After reading his account, you will wonder, why do they keep on sprinkling water on the reactors, rather than accept the sarcophagus solution  [ie., entombing the reactors in concrete. Editors.] I think there are a couple of answers.  One, those reactors were expensive, and they just can’t bear the idea of that huge a financial loss.  But more importantly, accepting the sarcophagus solution means admitting that they were wrong, and that they couldn’t fix the things.  On the one hand that’s too much guilt for a human being to bear.  On the other, it means the defeat of the nuclear energy idea, an idea they hold to with almost religious devotion.  And it means not just the loss of those six (or ten) reactors, it means shutting down all the others as well, a financial catastrophe.  If they can only get them cooled down and running again they can say, See, nuclear power isn’t so dangerous after all.  Fukushima is a drama with the whole world watching, that can end in the defeat or (in their frail, I think groundless, hope) victory for the nuclear industry.  Hirose’s account can help us to understand what the drama is about. Douglas Lummis

Hirose Takashi:  The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and the State of the Media

Broadcast by Asahi NewStar, 17 March, 20:00

Interviewers: Yoh Sen’ei and Maeda Mari

Yoh: Today many people saw water being sprayed on the reactors from the air and from the ground, but is this effective?

Hirose:  . . . If you want to cool a reactor down with water, you have to circulate the water inside and carry the heat away, otherwise it has no meaning. So the only solution is to reconnect the electricity.  Otherwise it’s like pouring water on lava.

Yoh: Reconnect the electricity – that’s to restart the cooling system?

Hirose:  Yes.  The accident was caused by the fact that the tsunami flooded the emergency generators and carried away their fuel tanks.  If that isn’t fixed, there’s no way to recover from this accident.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Japan, Democracy, and the Globalization of Nuclear Power (Part 1 of “Japanʻs Nuclear Nightmare”)

March 18, 2011 

In “Japan, Democracy, and the Globalization of Nuclear Power,” Tim Shorrock, an independent journalist and blogger on Asian Pacific issues gives an excellent and critical account of the origins and rise of Japanʻs nuclear industry:

The nuclear industry was born a deformed monster in Japan when the U.S. warplane Enola Gay dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

As a journalist covering Japanese nuclear issues in the early 1980s, he witnessed and wrote about the community struggles against nuclear power.   The catastrophe unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was to be expected as an outcome of the corrupt and anti-democratic processes driving their proliferation.  He describes several ʻbig holesʻ in the public rationale for nuclear power in Japan:

I’m speaking of the industry’s and government’s tendency to play up the positives of nuclear power and ignore its many downsides; the undemocratic nature of the siting and building process, which has historically excluded citizens’ groups and made it very hard to oppose – let alone block – the construction of new plants; and the two-tiered labor system, which has created an underclass of contract workers – “nuclear gypsies” – who do the dirty work at the plants and suffer the most from radiation and other industrial diseases.

This is the first part a series Japan’s Nuclear Nightmare READ THE FULL ARTICLE The second part deals with “nuclear gypsies”.

Check out Tim Shorrockʻs blog for many other articles related to the National Security Agency and intelligence matters, North East Asia issues, globalization and global justice movements.

What the U.S. Can Do to Help Japan Recover – Stop Demanding Billions From Japan for U.S. Bases

March 17, 2011 

The following appeal was sent by the New Japan Womenʻs Association calling for an end to the billions of dollars Japan pays to the U.S. to cover the cost of foreign military bases.

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Dear our friends in the U.S. peace community,

This is Emiko HIRANO, international section head of the New Japan Women’s Association (Shinfujin).

Thank you very much for solidarity, compassion and support you have been extending to us, in this most difficult time in our postwar history. You keep reminding us that we are not alone in enduring and recovering from the unprecedented tragedy.

President Barack Obama said in his statement on Thursday, “We will stand with the people of Japan as they contain this crisis, recover from this hardship, and rebuild their great nation.” We are grateful that the president of our ally is ready to do whatever it can to help us out of this tragedy.

The New Japan Women’s Association calls on our sisters and brothers, friends of the U.S. peace and just movement to ask your president to return the money he receives from the Japanese government, that is our taxpayers’ money, to cover the 75 percent of the cost of the U.S. military stationing in Japan. We have over 130 U.S. military bases and facilities with about 40,000 personnel. The expenses for the maintaining the U.S. military in our country is called “sympathy budget,” (host nation support in your media) because it covers far beyond the Japan’s obligation under the Security Treaty; it includes the salaries of the Japanese employees working in the bases, as well as heating, electricity and water, and even dry-cleaning charges of military families. In 2010, the expenses totaled nearly 190 billion yen (about $1.6 billion), and Japan covers 50 percent of all the cost of U.S. military stationed around the world.

With the unprecedented scale of damage in Tohoku region, well-known for its fishery and agricultural products, and the possible radiation contamination, we need money for the rescue work and for assisting the people who barely survived to recover. In the long run, Japan will need more and more money not only for the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas but also for recovering from the economic and human losses we are facing as a whole nation. We cannot afford sustaining U.S. military bases and daily life of the military families any more while we need money to help our fellow people living in sorrow, grief and fear to get back to their normal life as soon as possible, although life will not be the same as it used to be.

Please tell your president to show his support by saying that he kindly declines to receive the “sympathy budget.” Please tell your congresswomen, congressmen and senators to present a resolution to this end.

Here in Japan, the New Japan Women’s Association, urges the Japanese government to stop spending the Japanese people money for maintaining the U.S. military and to reallocate the budget for human need, with immediate focus on the assistance to the Tohoku population. We believe this will lead to the drastic cut in military spending to make our world safer for all and more sustainable.

HIRANO Emiko

****************************************

International Section Head

New Japan Women’s Association

5-10-20, Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002 JAPAN

Phone: +81-3-3814-9141

Fax: +81-3-3814-9441

E-mail: s-intl@shinfujin.gr.jp / hiraemi@concerto.plala.or.jp

URL: http://www.shinfujin.gr.jp

As Japan’s nuclear crisis goes critical, we are all downwind

March 13, 2011 

In the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan, a new threat rises from the rubble with the partial meltdowns of radioactive cores in two nuclear reactors that were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

News reports paint a picture of a crisis rapidly spinning out of control.  The New York Times reported:

Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were facing serious cooling problems at three more.

The emergency appeared to be the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. The developments at two separate nuclear plants prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people. Japanese officials said they had also ordered up the largest mobilization of their Self-Defense Forces since World War II to assist in the relief effort.

On Saturday, Japanese officials took the extraordinary step of flooding the crippled No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 170 miles north of Tokyo, with seawater in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear meltdown.

Then on Sunday, cooling failed at a second reactor — No. 3 — and core melting was presumed at both, said the top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. Cooling had failed at three reactors at a nuclear complex nearby, Fukushima Daini, although he said conditions there were considered less dire for now.

The article went on:

The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that as many as 160 people may have been exposed to radiation around the plant, and Japanese news media said that three workers at the facility were suffering from full-on radiation sickness.

Even before the explosion on Saturday, officials said they had detected radioactive cesium, which is created when uranium fuel is split, an indication that some of the nuclear fuel in the reactor was already damaged.

How much damage the fuel suffered remained uncertain, though safety officials insisted repeatedly through the day that radiation leaks outside the plant remained small and did not pose a major health risk.

However, they also told the International Atomic Energy Agency that they were making preparations to distribute iodine, which helps protect the thyroid gland from radiation exposure, to people living near Daiichi and Daini.

Assurances by Japanese officials that the reactor container has not been breached are being questioned.  Statfor reports that:

Reports of iodine and cesium outside of the plant indicate that the reactor’s containment structure has been breached.

Iodine is in the fuel pins and cesium is a particulate, meaning there are heavy particles in the air, which are basically radioactive dust. Cesium 137, which Yomiuri Shimbun reports has been discovered in the surrounding area, is probably a product of the nuclear fission process and a strong demonstration of severe damage to the nuclear reactor’s core. The fact that the government has prepared a series of iodine treatments for locals in the vicinity of the nuclear plants suggests it is anticipating the need to prevent iodine exposure.

Meanwhile 90 people were reported as possibly exposed to radiation, including 30 refugees from the area and 60 people on staff at Futaba hospital. Sources suspect that Japan has already undergone “clad failure” (when zirconium in the rods reacts with water) leading to a violent exothermic reaction. This produces large quantities of hydrogen. The March 12 blast was probably caused by a combined steam and hydrogen explosion. The explosion may have destroyed the containment structure in the reactor vessel. This raises the distinct possibility that the core will gain heat to the point that it will melt through the reactor at the bottom of the reactor vessel. While there remain too many uncertainties to make reliable forecasts, the disaster has clearly escalated to a high level. Critical questions will be whether the radiation count rises above 1000 millirems per hour and whether winds should change direction to blow radiation from the north into Tokyo.

Another New York Times article reported:

Japan’s nuclear crisis begins to come to light, experts in Japan and the United States say the country is now facing a cascade of accumulating problems that suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.

The emergency flooding of two stricken reactors with seawater and the resulting steam releases are a desperate step intended to avoid a much bigger problem: a full meltdown of the nuclear cores in two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. On Monday, an explosion blew the roof off the second reactor, not damaging the core, officials said, but presumably leaking more radiation.

U.S. military personnel aboard ships assisting in the earth quake and tsunami rescue and recovery effort have been exposed to the radioactive cloud:

On Sunday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it expected no “harmful levels of radioactivity” to move on the winds to Hawaii, Alaska or the West Coast from the reactors in Japan, “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.”

“No harmful levels of radioactivity”?  Not very reassuring given that the jetstream blows eastward over the northern Pacific ocean.

As the devastating tsunami plowed across the Pacific, damage outside of Japan appears to have been minimal.  Hawai’i experienced powerful surges in certain locations. Homes were ripped off foundations, boats and docks were trashed and businesses flooded. But Hawai’i had no tsunami related deaths or injuries.

Guam was also minimally affected. However the Navy reported that two nuclear powered submarines came loose in the surge:

The Navy reported that at around 8 p.m., the mooring lines for the submarines the USS Houston and the USS City of Corpus Christi broke free from the pier at Alpha wharf at Naval Base Guam due to a tsunami wave.

Officials say tug boats from Naval Base Guam responded quickly to the situation and safely moored both submarines. The submarine tender USS Frank Cable and the submarine the USS Oklahoma City remained safely moored throughout the tsunami event.

Thankfully, there were no major mishaps related to this incident.  However, it reminds  us of the danger posed by nuclear powered and armed naval vessels in our islands.

Hawai’i has no nuclear power plants.  Early planners had the wisdom to go nuclear free. Some counties like Hawai’i island have declared themselves nuclear free zones.  But U.S. military ignores these nuclear prohibitions.  Nuclear weapons have long been stored in Hawai’i. Back in the 1980s, activists exposed the presence of nuclear weapons in Waikele gulch only hundreds of yards from the heavily populated Waipahu neighborhood.  After having their cover blown, military officials moved the nukes to West Loch.  Global Security lists 50 W-80-0 nuclear warheads (150-kiloton yield each) for Tomahawk Sea-Launched Cruise Missles and 40 B-61 nuclear aerial gravity bombs (170-kiloton yield) stored at Naval Magazine Pearl Harbor West Loch.  A dense concentration of O’ahu’s population lives within a ten mile radius of this site.

We have also  had close encounters with nuclear accidents. According to the navysite.de June 14, 1960:

USS SARGO suffers an explosion and fire in her aft end while docked at Pearl Harbor. The fire starts from a leak in a high-pressure line that was pumping oxygen aboard. The explosion occurs a few moments later. When dock units and boats are unable to bring the fire under control quickly, officers take the SARGO a short distance from the dock and submerge it with the stern hatch open to put out the blaze. The Navy says the ship’s nuclear reactors were sealed off. and there was “absolutely no danger of an explosion from the reactor compartment.” The submarine is extensively damaged and is drydocked taking three months to repair. The SARGO is the first nuclear ship in the Pacific Fleet and was scheduled to take the visiting King and Queen of Thailand on a cruise the next day.

Assurances of “absolutely no danger” are not convincing, especially when shipyard workers tell their stories of how close we were to a “China Syndrome”.  The USS Sargo had other accidents including a collision with an ice keel during Ice Exercise ’60 damaging her bow, and in 1963, collision with another nuclear powered sub, the USS Barb.

There have been a number of smaller accidents involving the release of radioactive contamination into Pearl Harbor.  The sediment near the shipyard is contaminated with radioactive Cobalt 60.

Depleted uranium has also been released in Lihu’e (Schofield) and Pohakuloa.

Anyone know good recipes for potassium iodide cocktails?

Natural disasters provide a showcase for military capabilities

October 3, 2009 

The U.S. military is mobilizing disaster relief in the Philippines, Indonesia and Samoa.   The three natural disasters to hit Asia and the Pacific in the past week (typhoon in the Philippines, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa and earthquake in Indonesia)  have provided the U.S. military with a showcase for its capabilities and a public relations bonanza.   Without belittling the human tragedy of these events, the urgent need for assistance, or the sacrifice of those involved in the rescue and relief efforts, we must question why is it, with civilian agencies and NGOs that have long responded to disaster response needs,  that the U.S. military is the only agency or organization that seems to have the resources to mobilize humanitarian relief on this scale.   Ever since the 2004 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami, there has been increasing militarization of humanitarian assistance and talk of humanitarian missions as the justification for the U.S. military expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.   Undoubtedly, the present crisis will be used to bolster arguments for intensifying and expanding the military reach in the Pacific.

Indonesia is a good example.  The U.S. Congress cut off military aid to Indonesia due to the horrendous human rights record of its military.  The Indonesian military was responsible for terrible human rights abuses in East Timor, Aceh, Maluku and West Papua.  In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. Senator Inouye inserted a clause in a bill that renewed military training for Indonesian military officers at the Pacific Command’s Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Waikiki.  This opened the door for more military cooperation with a country that the U.S. considered a valuable ally in the global war on terror.   A couple of years ago, the Hawai’i National Guard, through a Pentagon program called the State Partnership Program, established a formal military partnership with the Indonesian military.  In a high profile visit to Indonesia, Governor Lingle signed the agreement, which included among other things cooperation on military training and humanitarian assistance.

It will be worth watching to see how these natural disasters will effect the military’s posture in the region in the future.

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http://www.starbulletin.com/news/20091003_military_mobilizes_relief_aid_across_asia_and_the_pacific.html

Military mobilizes relief aid across Asia and the Pacific

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 03, 2009

The USS Denver, equipped with heavy-lift CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and a contingent of Marines, is moving from the Philippines to Indonesia to be part of the relief effort after an earthquake killed more than 1,000 people.

Adm. Timothy Keating, in charge of all military forces in the Pacific, briefed reporters in a conference call from his Camp Smith headquarters yesterday about military aid for natural disasters in Indonesia, the Philippines and the Samoas.

So far, the Pacific Command redirected about a dozen Special Forces soldiers, who were already going to Indonesia on a scheduled training exercise, to help with an Indonesian Army damage assessment, Keating said. A Navy admiral is being sent to Indonesia to oversee the response efforts, he said.

The United States has provided $300,000 for emergency relief, dispatched a team to assess needs and has set aside an additional $3 million for assistance pending the full assessment.

The Denver had been part of the amphibious ready group, including the dock landing ships USS Harpers Ferry and USS Tortuga, which were diverted from a previous scheduled training mission with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to Manila to provide emergency relief assistance following Tropical Storm Ketsana, which struck Sept. 25, said Maj. Brad Gordon, Pacific Command spokesman.

The Harpers Ferry, the Tortuga and the Marines will remain off the northern coast of Luzon because of the threat posed this weekend by a second storm, Typhoon Perma.

Gordon said that there have been 400 medical and dental assistance cases in the Philippines as of yesterday, and more than 4,300 food packages that can each feed four people have been distributed.

As for American Samoa, Gordon said there have been five C-17 Globemaster jet cargo relief flights from Hickam Air Force Base carrying supplies, food, power generation equipment, search and emergency vehicles, and rescue and mortuary affairs teams. Gordon said that several more C-17 relief missions from Hickam to ferry Red Cross relief workers to American Samoa are planned.

Keating said the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group is east of Guam ready to respond if Typhoon Melor proves to be a threat in the Northern Mariana Islands.