Companies expand and companies contract. That’s capitalism, and it’s hard to get too angry at Toyota’s decision to sack 350 workers given the high Aussie dollar which makes it incredibly tough to sell Aussie-made cars overseas, and especially compared to the greedy banks, who dispense with families’ livelihoods in order to make huge profits even bigger.
That said, there were several ugly things about the sacking of 350 workers from Toyota’s Altona plant this week.
One was the officious way Toyota did the deed, humiliating long-serving workers with heavy-handed security guards which union leaders likened to “Nazis”. Then there was Tony Abbott, who showed zero sympathy to the workers or their families by harnessing the moment as a platform to say how the auto industry would be even worse off under the “caaaaarbon tax”.
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Nothing makes me yearn for a whale steak like the sight of Aussie extremists acting all macho on the high seas.
Japanese whaling is roundly condemned by Australians (including me, for the record) but we don’t have much truck with feral activists either.
So when three Forest Rescue campaigners were detained after boarding a Japanese whaling vessel off the WA coast last weekend (with nary a tree or a whale in sight) you could well imagine the collective roll of the eyes in households across middle Australia.
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An earthquake. A tsunami. A nuclear meltdown.
Just one would’ve been devastating. But we’ve seen few catastrophes quite like this troika in human history.
A 9.0 magnitude earthquake. A tsunami that was more than a dozen metres tall in some areas. A huge radiation cloud. More than 15,000 people killed. A first world country crushed.
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Author Craig Shirley announced with some fanfare in The Australian that the United States had “no intelligence of a potential Japanese attack.”
Tell us something we don’t know.
Writing all the way back in 1962, Roberta Wohlstetter made clear that the United States “failed to anticipate [the] Pearl Harbor [attack] not for want of the relevant materials, but because of a plethora of irrelevant issues.”
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Sixty-six years ago today the face of civilization was changed forever, when a nuclear bomb almost incinerated the Japanese city of Hiroshima, instantly killing tens of thousands of people.
By the end of the decade that bomb – and another bomb dropped on nearby Nagasaki – had claimed the lives of half a million people.
This year on Hiroshima Day, 6 August 2011, Australian Red Cross begins a campaign to re-ignite the push for a ban on the use of nuclear weapons – calling on young Australians from all walks of life to finish what their parents started.
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Shame and humiliation are now par for the course. Privacy and decency are on their way out. But let’s get one thing straight - kissing is just not made for the internet.
A great kiss is impossible to transcend. Its magic lies in the moment; the timing, your surroundings and the person with whom you’re sharing it. Their touch, the sound of their voice and most importantly, their smell.
Without these things, a kiss is just all in your mind, right?
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One steamy night in February 1974, I went with friends to hear the great blues guitarist B.B. King in concert at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion.
All went well until, an hour or so in, King collapsed on stage and had to be carried off. I left the Hordern in search of a phone box.
The first one was broken. Finding one that worked, I stuffed some money in, rang one of the copy-takers at ABC News and dictated five lines of copy.
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The after effects of the quake and tsunamis in Japan will cause clear and on-going pain and suffering for years, while the risks from the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors look to be subsiding - see here for the latest updates. Meanwhile, Geoff Russell argues that any and all risks need to be put in perspective.
Residents living in the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear plant face some considerable cancer risks during coming decades. They will come primarily from cigarettes, red meat, alcohol and salty foods. These should hardly be called risks, since each will definitely cause tens of thousands of new cancer cases every single year throughout Japan.
An additional possibility, a potential risk, hardly visible in comparison, may come from radiation as a result of the quake and tsunami damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
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While Japan 2011 will be remembered for the tragic earthquake and tsunami that swept a destructive path through coastal communities, it will also go down in history as a date with destiny on the nuclear energy debate following the fallout from the Fukushima reactor emergency.
Fears surrounding the ongoing crisis at the Japanese nuclear plant have seen it described as the “New Chernobyl”.
The immediate scale of the disaster may not be as dire as Chernobyl but, like the Ukrainian accident, its potential to set back for years the proliferation of nuclear energy as an alternative to carbon-based sources of power is equally as significant.
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The Punch put some questions to one of the nation’s nuclear experts - Dr Gerald Laurence. Dr Laurence is a Radiation Safety Adviser and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemistry and Physics.
Q) How scared should people in Japan be about the nuclear situation?
A) Not a great deal – the 20-year total of deaths from Chernobyl (from the UN 20-year report) suggests that the radiation related deaths are of the order of a few thousand at most; of the thyroid cancers, mostly in the young 99 per cent were treated & cured (note all the data in the report are strongly disputed by environmental and progessive groups who claim that WHO & IAEA are under the influence of the nuclear industrial complex).
In Japan so far it is spent fuel rods that were removed from the core in November, so iodine-131 (which has an eight-day half life) is not a major risk. The most serious fission product that will be released will be caesium-137 with a 30-year half life.
The possibility of food (rice, milk, etc.) being contaminated because of contaminated fields is real, but public health measures (testing and so on) should mean such produce should not reach the public. Local contamination (houses, towns) will clear at rates dependent on the weather (dissolved in rain, etc.). Local weather also disperses & dilutes the plume (and I assume the Japan Met Bureau can model this very well).
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The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has been unfolding for about a week. The on-site situation remains extremely serious, with glimmers of hope being shrouded by a shadow of deep uncertainty.
If you’ve not been following the situation on BraveNewClimate, please visit the site, which contains assumed knowledge for understanding the rest of this post.
As predicted, attention over the last couple of days has focused on the critical situation with the ponds used for temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel at the individual reactor units, before it is moved to a centralised facility on site. Although this old fuel has lost much of its original radioactivity, the decline is exponential, which means that thermal energy must continue to be dissipated for months.
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Some parts of the environmental movement will be quietly high-fiving each other this week, as the nuclear industry’s progress over the past decade looks certain to take a massive step backwards.
They have been quick to proclaim ``I told you so’’ and make the fallacious analogy that the incidents in Japan mean that Australia and indeed all other countries should not consider nuclear as part of the energy mix.
Incidents which, it should be kept in mind, involved an unprecedently large earthquake and decades-old technology.
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It’s time that Mr. Rudd learned some manners.
Imagine, for a moment, that your house has caught fire. Imagine that some of your family members are still inside the house.
You are doing everything within your power to get them out, and to safety. At the same time, you know that some of your family members have already died.
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If you’re a science or nuclear energy buff, you’ll have to excuse us for starting pretty much at the bottom of the knowledge tree here. First of all, let’s define a meltdown: basically it’s when the core of a nuclear reactor is unable to cool, because of some kind of system failure like, oh, a 10 metre wall of sea water crashing into a nuclear power plant. Radiation can then be released, and that’s when things get really dangerous. So is it happening in Japan? Latest reports say no, not yet and hopefully not at all.
Click this link for an incredible series of graphics on the internal workings of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, pictured above. This really is some amazing work the New York Times has done at short notice. There’s another really helpful infographic here:
Despite what appears to be an easing - or at least a temporary containment - of the threat of a major radiation leak, let’s dwell briefly on the worst case scenario. Could we be facing another Three Mile Island or Chernobyl? The answer, according to the Science Media Centre of Japan, is almost certainly no. Read a full Q&A at the SMCJ website here. Highly informative, yet accessible, material. Well done them.
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It didn’t take long for the whackjobs and nutbags to start pushing their spiteful little barrows in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. In fact, it took them all of about two minutes.
The minute The Punch threw up an open thread for people to express sympathy, or share other information related to this unprecedented catastrophe, the snide, narky little comments started sneaking in. And it happened not just here but all over the internet, the twittersphere, and beyond. Sometimes, all this connectedness really is a curse.
Ludicrously, some hailed the event as evidence of climate change. Others thought they’d restart the age old religious debate on God, and the Problem of Evil. Others jumped headlong into the nuclear debate, like that couldn’t wait a day or two. One reader cheekily but tastelessly suggested the event was fair payback for Japanese whaling. Most astonishingly of all, some thought they’d harness the terrible moment to have their daily dig at Julia Gillard. Like this website hadn’t had 10 stories in the last week where people could vent on the PM.
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The day after Japan suffered its largest ever earthquake and a subsequent, devastating tsunami, the number of deaths and extent of damage is still unclear. Up to 1000 people are feared dead, and there are concerns about radiation leaking from reactors. The Pacific remains on tsunami alert.
For full coverage including pictures and video, and live updates throughout the day. see news.com.au.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard this morning described it as a “terrible, terrible natural disaster” and said about 45 Australians were registered in the region.
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General Douglas MacArthur orders Shinto to be abolished as the state religion of Japan today in 1945.
It’s Wednesday at The Punch. What’s on your mind?
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Japanese forces launched a suprise attack on an American naval base in Pearl Harbour today in 1941.
And it’s Tuesday at The Punch. What’s on your mind? Share it here.
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Australian Ambassador to Japan, Murray McLean OAM, caught up with Thom Woodroofe at APEC this week and discussed the prospect of him moving to be our man in Beijing, and the behaviour of the Chinese at Copenhagen last year .
Reports in the Australian Financial Review last weekend suggested that Murray McLean is on the shortlist to be our head diplomat in Beijing.
While the job has been advertised internally in DFAT, the mandarin speaking Ambassador humbly brushed off the suggestion he was being considered for the shift to China. He says he will go “wherever the government wants him to go” when his term expires “sometime in 2011”, but he may be asked to pack his bags for Beijing before then.
Ambassador McLean has been our main man in Tokyo for almost six years now, a lengthy appointment by any measure. But his CV oozes China.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Japan’s last shogun was born today in 1837.
And it’s Thursday, so what’s on your mind? Share it here.
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How much do we really care about whales? How much are the Australian people and its Government really willing to put on the line in our relationship with Japan to stop the killing of our sonar speaking cousins?
Tony Abbott has gone some way to answering this question by saying he doesn’t think it’s worth taking Japan to the International Court of Justice or International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. In Abbott’s summation it’s just not worth pissing off the Japanese and risking a legal fall-out with our number one trade partner.
“We don’t like whaling. We would like the Japanese to stop,” he told Macquarie Radio yesterday. “On the other hand, we don’t want to needlessly antagonise our most important trading partner, a fellow democracy, an ally.”
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This week there is an amazing discussion going on in Tokyo between Chinese and Japanese companies, academics and Government representatives about how to cooperate in the area of new energy. It is part of the ‘PVJapan Solar Power/Photovoltaic 2009’ conference and trade show.
Both countries are realizing that the new kind of economy we need to cut greenhouse gases, is itself going to become an opportunity for jobs and development.
Japan’s PM Mr. Taro Aso raised the stakes back on June 9 when he said that solar power and electric cars are the foundation of Japan’s future economic growth and the way out of the financial crisis. He announced that by 2020 Japan’s new low-carbon sector will be a 50 trillion yen market ($AU650 billion), employing 1.4 million people.
Read all about it
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