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No thanks to Walmart

Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST
No thanks to Walmart
by Mark Sumner

I think we can all agree that 2010 wasn’t the best of years. After all, unemployment at midyear was still bordering on 10 percent, home foreclosures were at a record high, and profits per employee at US corporations only rose 24 percent. Now, go back and read that last one again. As it happens, U.S. corporations were on their way to record profits in 2010, raking in more money at the same time as they were cutting both staff and benefits.

Think that’s a fluke? Profits per employee jumped another 22 percent in 2011. That’s as layoffs reached record heights and 312,000 jobs were eliminated. The year 2011 also marked another record year of profits for U.S. companies. Not only did Fortune 500 corporations pocket a record $824.5 billion, they generated earnings at a rate 23 percent percent higher than the historical average. By the end of that year, Apple alone had $76 billion in the bank, after generating a profit amounting to half a million dollars per employee.

Tell me again that this was a hard year. The economy is bad only in that we've allowed the economy of corporations and the economy of real, living human beings to become totally disconnected.

It’s one thing to say that middle class wages are stagnant while those of the top 1 percent are continuously growing, but there’s a deeper, more fundamental flaw in our current notion of capitalism: Everyone understands that profit is good, but no one seems to understand what profit is for. We’ve constructed a set of standard practices that would not only make Gordon Gekko blush, they’re self-destructive. American capitalism is profiting itself to death.

Few companies are as emblematic of the New American System as is Walmart. The company that in 2011 generated more revenues than any other, the company that is now the largest food retailer in the world is the same company that recently encouraged donations of food to its own employees. It’s also a company that, putting aside any losses generated when it replaces smaller, local stores, causes a net loss to every community it enters in the form of increased tax revenues needed to support the underpaid employees. Walnart not only counts on taxpayer dollars to subsidize its “low cost” stores, it counts on that same taxpayer dollars to drive its business. Walmart employees not only need food stamps to get by, Walmart is the largest place where those food stamps are redeemed. It’s a cycle that grinds employees (and communities) relentlessly down, while driving Walmart revenues just as consistently up.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.

While Walmart may be the corporate expression of the darkest timeline, Costco shows that it’s not required to be a corporate ass to be profitable. Costco workers start at a salary of over $11 an hour—a modest amount, certainly, but an amount that most Walmart employee never attain even after years of labor. The average Costco worker makes almost twice that amount on an hourly basis, and Costco workers also tend to work normal work weeks, with all the benefits that implies, rather than the truncated working hours Walmart imposes to keep employees just shy of such extravagances as health care or paid leave. Costco executives also make a much more reasonable sum compared to the corporate profits. Put it all together, and the CEO of Costco makes as much as 48 workers earning the median wage—a rate that’s high by historical standards, but downright Spartan compared to the situation at Walmart where the [link:money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/ceo-pay-ratios/|CEO pulls in the pay of 796 average workers] (a shameful rate that is closely matched by the 645 employees it would take to reach the pay awarded the CEO of Target).

Walmart's unending quest to inflate its profit by any means is such that it scrambles to find elaborate schemes to deny the wages promised to workers who sacrifice their holidays to the corporate coffers.

The most shameful thing out of all these numbers may be this: Walmart could quite easily afford to pay its workers a living wage. It could do so without threatening its ability to operate. It could do so without slowing its relentless expansion. It could do so without residing its prices one dime. Walmart has ample ability to pay its workers more, because it's not just profitable, it's massively profitable.

If Walmart were to pay all of its employees a living wage—not a poverty rate, but something more like the $45k average that Costco workers earn—if it did that, Walmart's corporate profits would have declined last year from $17 billion, to a mere $12.5 billion.

But this isn't just a Walmart story, it's an American story. Not so long ago, American corporations accepted the idea that they had obligations to their stockholders, but also to their workers and the communities where they did business. They understood that profit was a tool, a fuel that powered the corporation to achieve its goals. But now profit is the goal. It's been fetishized beyond all reason. Many people will even tell you that there's a law requiring companies to generate as much profit as possible. There is no such law. There never was. And the only thing more insane than believing that such a harmful law might exist, is that many seem to think it's a good idea.


Danger Lurks in That Mickey Mouse Couch

Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:39 AM PST
Danger Lurks in That Mickey Mouse Couch
by teacherken

is the title of this New York Times column by Nick Kristof that I hope will encourage you to turn on your televisions tomorrow, not for football, but to watch a documentary titled Toxic Hot Seat on HBO.

The background is simple - furniture, including that made specifically for children, contains "fire retardant" chemicals that are seriously harmful to health, whether or not they catch on fire, and which realistically do not retard or prevent fires from spreading.

Kristof provides notable service in reminding us how this came about:

The story goes back to the 1970s, when the tobacco industry was under pressure to make self-extinguishing cigarettes because so many people were dying in fires caused by careless smokers. The tobacco industry didn’t want to tinker with cigarettes, so it lobbied instead for requiring flame retardants in mattresses and couches.

This became a multibillion-dollar boondoggle for the chemical industry, but studies showed that flame retardants as actually used in sofas don’t prevent fires. This is easy to test: Just set a cushion on fire. The documentary shows that it will burn right up.

Please keep reading.

Kristof offers the words of the scientist fire safety scientist,upon the companies making the "retardants" relied, Vytenis Babrauskas,, to inform us that the comapnies relied upon his work

as showing that flame retardants do limit fires. But Babrauskas says in the HBO documentary that chemical companies misrepresented his findings “in an exceedingly blatant and disgraceful way.”

Babrauskas says that, in fact, retardants provide little if any delay for a fire, and then lead to much more toxic fumes. “You get the worst of both possible worlds,” he says.

That includes rare cancers for fireman who inhale the fumes. But there is more:

The larger danger is to people sitting on those couches. Retardants are released as dust from the foam and accumulate on the floor. The greatest risk is probably to pregnant women and to small children, who are also more likely to be on the floor.

The chemical are endocrine disruptors, which are notorious problems for human health.

When California was considering standards to ban such "retardants" - as were other states such as Maine -

That’s when a mysterious organization called Citizens for Fire Safety Institute began running commercials defending the chemicals.

Despite the feel-good presentation, the documentary will show that it was a dishonest front for a group of three large companies who manufactured the "retardants."

Kristof notes that the chemical industry is pushing back against the documentary with its own "fact-based" website for which he provides the link - I won't.

Too often in the past industry has used advertising and various front groups to distort the public discourse on issues that affect us all in order to protect their profits. Corporate executives have lied with impunity to Congressional panels. The fund initiatives and groups to change the laws and regulations intended to protect us in order to prevent us from enforcing health and safety rules, and to tilt the elective and legislative processes to exclude the voices of those who might in any way threaten their dominance and their economic interests. ALEC is but one example.

Early in his piece Kristof notes of the documentary

This is a televised window into political intrigue and duplicity that makes “House of Cards” or “Breaking Bad” seem like a Sunday school picnic.

That is a frightening thought, is it not?

And just we are clear, Kristof ends his piece with a pointed column that is sure to get him and the Times major pushback:

Let’s be clear. The companies stonewalling safety regulation include giants like Exxon, BASF, DuPont and Dow Chemical, and I hope their executives squirm on Monday evening as they watch “Toxic Hot Seat.”

But squirming is insufficient.

They should be subject to both civil lawsuits and in some cases criminal penalties - why do not laws on reckless endangerment apply to them? Why cannot individual firemen and the Firefighters Union file serious lawsuit for damages? Why cannot local jurisdiction who have had to pay out disability sue the companies as the cause of those disabilities?

Understand thst Citizens United complicates our ability to rein in corporate interests for the benefit of the rest of us. So does an administration unwilling to fully stand up to such interests because it wants their political support, or at least their neutrality on some issues (think about the pharmaceutical companies and ACA). And should we lose net neutrality, our ability to organize to push back will disappear.

IF we do not rein in such corporate excesses, what is the point of a government that is supposed to be of We the People? How do we have the ability to protect ourselves against such corporate economic power and abuse?

Let them squirm. Perhaps maybe they should feel shame. Where possible, perhaps we should boycott the products and services provided by such abusers.

Methinks this is an important documentary.

Sadly, it will expose only one of many problems our almost unrestrained corporate power is unleashing upon the rest of us.

Still, we should push back where we can.

This documentary seems like a good place to do such pushback.

So we should watch it, and encourage others as well by passing on Kristof's column.



Jesus vs Jeesus -- from 2005, but still good


Boehner Sabotages Own ACA Enrollment - Places Official Helper on Hold for 35 Minutes

Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:10 PM PST
Boehner Sabotages Own ACA Enrollment - Places Official Helper on Hold for 35 Minutes
by ericlewis0

On Thursday, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) blogged about his attempts to sign up for ObamaCare:

Earlier this afternoon, I sat down to try and enroll in the DC exchange under the president’s health care law:

Like many Americans, my experience was pretty frustrating. After putting in my personal information, I received an error message. I was able to work past that, but when I went to actually sign up for coverage, I got this “internal server error” screen:...

Blah blah blah. It now turns out that at one point during this enrollment attempt, he placed an official Healthcare marketplace representative on hold...for 35 minutes. From Talking Points Memo:

Actually, it turns out he had successfully enrolled and got a call confirming that about an hour after his tweet. But it gets better.

According to Scott MacFarlane, a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Washington, reports that a DC Health Care exchange representative actually tried to contact Boehner by phone during the enrollment process but was put on hold for 35 minutes, after which time the representative finally hung up.


I don't think one can get much more fraudulent than that - what a smug fool to think he wouldn't get busted!
Let's make sure voters remember this sad, desperate ploy when they go to the polls in 2014.


100 Things You Can Say To Irritate A Republican (HUMOR)

100 Things You Can Say To Irritate A Republican (HUMOR)
Author: Stephen D. Foster Jr. January 14, 2013 12:03 am

Conservatives are so easy to anger these days. Even the most insignificant statement can set off their tempers. If you want to enrage a conservative, I suggest saying the following:

1. A Socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor, for free.
3. Joseph McCarthy was an un-American, witch hunting sissy.
4. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were traitors.
5. The South lost the Civil War, get over it.
6. The Founding Fathers were liberals.
7. Fascism is a right-wing trait.
8. Sarah Palin is an idiot.
9. The Earth is round.
10. Reagan raised taxes eleven times as President.
11. Reagan legalized abortion as Governor of California.
12. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.
13. Ronald Reagan supported gun control.
14. Global warming is real.
15. Republicans hate illegal immigrants, unless they need their lawns mowed or their houses cleaned...

MORE AT: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/01/14/100-things-you-can-say-to-irritate-a-republican/

LOL My husband was listening to NPR today...

They were interviewing a Republican Senator (not sure who) about Reid going nuclear. The Republican was blustering on about how awful the whole thing is and how undemocratic and how the American people won't stand for it...you get the idea, the usual talking points. Then he said, "And that's why we're going to win back the Senate in 2014!" And the moderator exclaimed, "Great! So when you do, you'll be able to change it back, riiight? Since it's the right thing to do...?" The Senator was speechless!

My husband said it was hysterical!

Video of Central Illinois tornado - taken from car on freeway

Please help me locate the cartoon of the old man at the war memorial...

It throws a long shadow of a young man in his combat gear. I want to send it to someone today and can't find it. Does anyone have a copy of it? Thanks! Fourscore!

Absolutely unimaginable this could happen in America

Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 10:01 AM PST
Absolutely unimaginable this could happen in America
by Jen Hayden

This news report out of New Mexico is so disturbing, it's hard to imagine this could happen in America. Talk about an unreasonable search:

The incident began January 2, 2013 after David Eckert finished shopping at the Wal-Mart in Deming. According to a federal lawsuit, Eckert didn't make a complete stop at a stop sign coming out of the parking lot and was immediately stopped by law enforcement.

Eckert's attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks. Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity. While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.

Initially the doctor on duty refused the search, citing it as "unethical." Unfortunately, after several hours, hospital personnel relented and did the search.

Here's what happened to David Eckert at that hospital:

While there, Eckert was subjected to repeated and humiliating forced medical procedures. A review of Eckert's medical records, which he released to KOB, and details in the lawsuit show the following happened:

1. Eckert's abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert's anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.

Throughout this ordeal, Eckert protested and never gave doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center consent to perform any of these medical procedures.

Think that's outrageous? David Eckert has since been billed by the hospital for all the procedures and they are threatening to take him to collections.

Must-watch news report on the case from KOB 4 in New Mexico...

...For those who are interested, Daily Kos user operculum located a PDF of the lawsuit.


"Apocalyptic" Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal Begins Nov. 8; TEPCO Subcontracts Yakuza gangsters

Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 07:48 AM PDT
"Apocalyptic" Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal Begins Nov. 8; TEPCO Subcontracts Yakuza gangsters
by FishOutofWater for DK GreenRoots

Workers remove unused fuel rod from Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 spent fuel pool July, 2012

Removal of highly radioactive spent fuel from Fukushima Daiichi unit 4, which was rocked by a hydrogen explosion two and a half years ago, will start November 8, according to TEPCO. Unit 4 was down for refueling when the great earthquake and tsunami hit, so the reactor is in good shape, but hydrogen built up around the fuel pool when the power failed leading to a hydrogen explosion on the structure's upper level. TEPCO reinforced the damaged supports for the fuel pool, but its seismic safety remains a major concern. Two new (moderately radioactive) fuel assemblies were successfully removed from the pool in July 2012 by a team of workers (above and below). Spent fuel must be removed robotically or by operators protected by heavily shielded equipment, unlike the dry run on new fuel, because it is highly radioactive. TEPCO announced that a specialized crane has been installed a week ahead of schedule and fuel removal will begin a week from today.

In mid-November, the embattled utility is preparing to remove 400 tons of spent fuel from the damaged reactor 4, 2½ years after a hydrogen explosion damaged the structure’s exterior.

According to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, there are 1,533 spent and unused fuel rod bundles in the cooling pool that contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945.

To remove the rods, Tepco has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room.

Up to 22 spent fuel rods will be pulled from the racks they are stored in and inserted one by one into a heavy steel chamber while the assemblies are still under water. Once the chamber is removed from the pool and lowered to the ground, it will be transported to another pool in an undamaged building on the site for storage.

Extraordinary claims have been made about the level of risk of removing the spent fuel from unit 4 calling it potentially "apocalyptic". Those claims have been disputed by nuclear industry representatives. Although I left the USNRC many years ago, I think I have the expertise and independence to provide a good independent assessment of the situation.

As long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman explained, the

Spent fuel rods must be kept cool at all times. If exposed to air, their zirconium alloy cladding will ignite, the rods will burn and huge quantities of radiation will be emitted. Should the rods touch each other, or should they crumble into a big enough pile, an explosion is possible.

"In the worst-case scenario," RT adds, the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011. Wasserman says that the plan is so risky it requires a global take-over, an urging Gunter also shared, stating that the "dangerous task should not be left to TEPCO but quickly involve the oversight and management of independent international experts."

The upper level of unit 4 suffered structural damage from a hydrogen explosion. Workers have reinforced the structure since, but its seismic safety is a concern.

Structural damage to Unit4, Fukushima Daichi identified by circles.

Wasserman told Common Dreams that

The bring-down of the fuel rods from Fukushima Unit 4 may be the most dangerous engineering task ever undertaken. Every indication is that TEPCO is completely incapable of doing it safely, or of reliably informing the global community as to what's actually happening. There is no reason to believe the Japanese government could do much better. This is a job that should only be undertaken by a dedicated team of the world's very best scientists and engineers, with access to all the funding that could be needed.

The potential radiation releases in this situation can only be described as apocalyptic. The cesium alone would match the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs. If the job is botched, radiation releases could force the evacuation of all humans from the site, and could cause electronic equipment to fail. Humankind would be forced to stand helplessly by as billions of curies of deadly radiation pour into the air and the ocean.
As dire as Wasserman's warning sounds, it is echoed by fallout researcher Christina Consolo, who told RT that the worst case scenario could be "a true apocalypse." Gunter's warning was dire as well.

"Time is of the essence as we remain concerned that another earthquake could still topple the damaged reactor building and the nuclear waste storage pond up in its attic," he continued. "This could literally re-ignite the nuclear accident in the open atmosphere and inflame it into hemispheric proportions," said Gunter.

Wasserman says that given the gravity of the situation, the eyes of the world should be upon Fukushima:

This is a question that transcends being anti-nuclear. The fate of the earth is at stake here and the whole world must be watching every move at that site from now on. With 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the place, as a ceaseless flow of contaminated water poisoning our oceans, our very survival is on the line.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

The conclusions made in the Common Dreams article are strongly disputed by multiple experts associated with the U.S. nuclear power industry. Tom Kauffman of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) wrote "These claims are false and irresponsible".

The following is a guest post written by NEI's Tom Kauffman. Though Tom works in NEI's media relations shop. He also spent 23 years working at Three Mile Island, seven of those as a licensed reactor operator.

There has been a spate of online posts and articles claiming that the failure of the used fuel storage pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 could result in: “a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire,” that could have widespread health effects all over the world. These claims are false and irresponsible. Consider the facts:

If for any reason there was a rapid loss of water from the Unit 4 storage pool exposing all of the used fuel to air, the used fuel can’t catch fire or melt because it has been cooled for more than two and-a-half years and no longer generates enough heat to damage itself. The used fuel in the pools at the other three damaged Fukushima units is even older and colder.

By design, it is physically impossible for the fuel in any commercial reactor in Japan or the U.S. to explode like a nuclear weapon. It’s impossible because the concentration of uranium in the fuel is far too low to cause a nuclear explosion. And there’s nothing that can be done at a site to change that.

A spent fuel expert added a comment to Tom Kaufmann's post to clarify questions about criticality at unit 4. Blog comments are generally poor sources of information but this comment demonstrates specialized expertise with spent fuel management.

dean4fukushimahelp said...
I am with SimplyInfo.org and function as a Fukushima Nuspent fuel pool nuclear research specialist. My career spanned 35 years in the nuclear industry. There have been many articles on presumed dangers with fuel in the unit 4 spent fuel pool. I have written articles on the pool and the fuel assemblies which is found on the web link. I agree with the statements in this article and in addition, want to dispel factless information being spread the if one fuel assembly touches another in the unit 4 pool, a criticality accident will happen with no control capability. To set the record straight, it takes 12 BWR fuel assemblies configured geometrically in water to reach a condition where criticality is possible. The water is needed to act as a moderator. Our concern in fuel handling is focused on damaged fuel assemblies which may loose fuel pellets what could be fractured and release the fission fragment isotopes into the building and atmosphere.
October 28, 2013 at 8:20 AM

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had concerns about the safety of spent fuel pools at BWRs in the U.S. with the same design as Fukushima unit 4. To address these concerns, the NRC sponsored a research project to determine what might happen if a BWR spent fuel pool lost its cooling water. In June, 2000 the NRC published the results of this research in NUREG-1726 Predictions of Spent Fuel Heatup After a Complete Loss of Spent Fuel Pool Coolant

Predictions are made at each of the four decay times using best-estimate parameters. These parameters include an overall wall heat transfer coefficient of 2 W/m2-K and a ventilation rate of 2 building volumes per hour. These results represent the best estimate of the fuel temperatures and the convective flow fields, given the assumptions and limitations of this model. ...

The primary result is the decay time sensitivity given in Figure 19. The data from cases f2v2h2, f3v2h2, f4v2h2, and f6v2h2 are plotted. Critical decay times of 26 and 35 months are noted on the figure for temperature limits of 800 0C and 600 °C, respectively. Critical decay time is defined as the post shutdown time required to ensure fuel temperatures don't rise above predefined temperature limits after a complete loss of fuel pool coolant. The 26 month decay time, associated with the 800 0C temperature limit, has significant uncertainty due to the model limitations at elevated temperatures discussed earlier.

Based on the worst case curve developed by the NRC research, the spent fuel pool at unit 4 could run out of water now and temperatures would stay below 700 Celsius, given that over 2.5 years have passed since the spent fuel was removed from the reactor. The spent fuel is presently generating a little over a thousandth of the heat it was producing per rod the day it was removed from the reactor.

Assertions that individual spent fuel rods could catch fire upon removal are not credible.

However, if the structure of Unit 4 collapsed in a major earthquake and a large mass of rods piled up in the wreckage, the NRC's cooling model no longer applies. The spent fuel does not contain enough fisssionable material to explode like a weapon, but it could get very hot if a number of rods piled up. Hydrogen would be generated in the hypothetical mass so the possibility of hydrogen explosions cannot be precluded in a collapse scenario. Moreover, rainwater and groundwater could act as a moderator increasing the risk of localized criticality events. The huge inventory of radionuclides at unit 4 would be at risk of further contaminating the Pacific ocean if a major earthquake brought down the spent fuel pool. In my opinion, the spent fuel needs to be removed from the damaged structure. We already have 3 melted-down reactor cores contaminating water that is partially reaching the Pacific.

Multiple investigations by journalists have revealed severe labor problems at Fukushima, including the involvement of the Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza, in subcontracting the labor supply. Serious concerns about TEPCO's ability to manage the decommissioning and decontamination at Fukushima, have been documented in many reports. Hitachi/GE the contractor that handled spent fuel removal dry run may be an exception to the cases identified by journalists, but the concerns about the quality of TEPCO's management are valid, in my opinion.

Blogger exSKF, who has been reliably reporting from Japan on the situation at Fukushima Daiichi since the tsunami hit, translated anonymous interviews from a Japanese magazine that portray horrific labor conditions on site. These workers have been dealing with the large amounts of contaminated water around the damaged reactor units 1, 2 and 3. The anonymous interviews cannot be directly verified, but they are consistent with other investigations including a major Reuters report.

Worker C: Some of TEPCO's affiliate companies put in the bid with ridiculously low price and caused the deflation of labor cost at Fukushima I. Workers include people sent here by yakuzas for their debts and down and out yakuzas themselves. The site is full of yakuzas and rank amateurs...

作業員B 原発に潜入したジャーナリストが「作業員の1割はヤクザ」と本で書いとったけど、たしかにヤクザ者は増えた。刺青入れた作業員にも会ったことあるわ。安く人を派遣して中抜きしたり、単純にシノギとして若い衆を派遣したりしとるんやろね。一方でヤクザに頼りでもしないと、人が集まらんのも事実。

Worker B: A journalist who smuggled himself into the plant wrote in his book that "10% of workers are yakuza". I do see more yakuzas. I have met workers with tattoo. They may be sending cheap workers and skimming the wages, or sending young yakuzas simply as means to make money. On the other hand, it's a fact that they can't secure workers unless they rely on yakuza.

作業員D そもそも事故対策を考えてなかった会社に事故対応をやらせることが間違い。しかもプライドは高いから「このままでは無理です」と頭を下げることもできない。汚染水はどんどん増えるのに、作業員はどんどん減っていく。それなのに子ども・被災者支援法はあっても被曝労働者の支援法はないというんだから、そのうち素人もヤクザもイチエフからいなくなってしまいますよ。

Worker D: To begin with, it is a mistake to let a company handle the accident when that company didn't even have countermeasures in case of an accident. They are too proud to admit they can't do it under the current condition. Contaminated water keep increasing, workers keep decreasing. There is a law for supporting children and disaster victims, but there is nothing for radiation-exposed workers. Soon, not even yakuza nor amateurs will remain at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.


The report translated by blogger exSKF is completely consistent with a recent Reuters special report that involved interviewing over 80 personnel involved in the Fukushima clean up.

In reviewing Fukushima working conditions, Reuters interviewed more than 80 workers, employers and officials involved in the unprecedented nuclear clean-up. A common complaint: the project's dependence on a sprawling and little scrutinized network of subcontractors - many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some of them, police say, have ties to organized crime.

Tepco sits atop a pyramid of subcontractors that can run to seven or more layers and includes construction giants such as Kajima Corp and Obayashi Corp in the first tier. The embattled utility remains in charge of the work to dismantle the damaged Fukushima reactors, a government-subsidized job expected to take 30 years or more.


The unprecedented Fukushima nuclear clean-up both inside and outside the plant faces a deepening shortage of workers. There are about 25 percent more openings than applicants for jobs in Fukushima prefecture, according to government data.

Raising wages could draw more workers but that has not happened, the data shows. Tepco is under pressure to post a profit in the year to March 2014 under a turnaround plan Japan's top banks recently financed with $5.9 billion in new loans and refinancing. In 2011, in the wake of the disaster, Tepco cut pay for its own workers by 20 percent.

The shortage of qualified workers has been an opportunity for the yakuza. Gangsters have stepped in to supply labor to subcontract to TEPCO's contractors. The yakuza's labor pool is the most desperate men in Japan. They are poorly trained, suffer from wage theft, and are over-worked and demoralized. TEPCO is enabling the yakuza because management is unwilling to cut profits to pay competitive wages.

TEPCO is involved in criminal mismanagement of the Fukushima clean up, in my opinion. The activists' concern's about TEPCO's incompetence are valid, in my opinion.

We are depending on desperate men working for gangsters to protect the Pacific ocean from contamination by massive inventories of radioactivity.

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