American Elephants


Sanctions, Strategic Pivots, Peace Processes: Nothing’s Working! by The Elephant's Child

From the front page of the New York Times:

TOKYO — President Obama encountered setbacks to two of his most cherished foreign-policy projects on Thursday, as he failed to achieve a trade deal that undergirds his strategic pivot to Asia and the Middle East peace process suffered a potentially irreparable breakdown.

Mr. Obama had hoped to use his visit here to announce an agreement under which Japan would open its markets in rice, beef, poultry and pork, a critical step toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the proposed regional trade pact. …

In Jerusalem, Israel’s announcement that it was suspending stalemated peace negotiations with the Palestinians, after a reconciliation between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the militant group Hamas, posed yet another obstacle to restarting a troubled peace process in which Secretary of State John Kerry has been greatly invested.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. and the European Union imposed more sanctions on Russia Monday and both the ruble and Moscow stock index rallied, the latter up 1.5% The markets didn’t take this response to the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine seriously, and neither will Vladimir Putin.

The Journal added:

Sanctions only make sense if they cause enough economic pain to make Russians begin to question the wisdom of Kremlin imperialism. Otherwise they make the West look weak and disunited. This is exactly what Mr. Putin is counting on, and so far he’s been right.



It Begins… by American Elephant
August 14, 2012, 10:43 am
Filed under: Humor, Japan, News | Tags: , ,

Fukushima ’caused mutant butterflies’

Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies from near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, scientists said Tuesday, raising fears radiation could affect other species.

Around 12 percent of pale grass blue butterflies that were exposed to nuclear fallout as larvae immediately after the tsunami-sparked disaster had abnormalities, including smaller wings and damaged eyes, researchers said. [more]

Just sayin’



Uncommon Knowledge and Historian Andrew Roberts on “The Storm of War” by The Elephant's Child

The Storm of War by British historian Andrew Roberts is a new history of the Second World War.  Host Peter Robinson, a Hoover Institute Research Fellow, is a wonderful interviewer, and Roberts is a fascinating subject.  He explores the incidents and events that led up to the war, how easily it all could have gone differently, and the huge mistakes that changed the course of the war.  It was a close-run thing.  Churchill and Britain bought time for the Allies to rearm, having been convinced that the First World War was indeed the war to end all wars, and military preparedness was unneeded.

Roberts has had access to a private collection of papers and diaries from the war that had not previously been available, and what he learned from those was the impetus for what might be questioned as why another history of the War when there have been so many? It is a new and fresh consideration of motives and events.  I have many books on the war, and I watched this interview absolutely enthralled.  Enjoy.



December 7, 1941. by The Elephant's Child

Here is the personal story of one 19 year-old survivor of the battleship Arizona on that peaceful December 7 morning in Pearl Harbor 70 years ago. He had just turned 19 in September.  Like many young men on that day, he got a brutal introduction to war, and his world changed irrevocably. He fought a war, went to school on the GI Bill, became an engineer at Boeing, had four children, and became a relative of mine.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of this year.



Huge Deposits of Rare Earth Minerals Found in Pacific. by The Elephant's Child

Dysprosium, gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium, neodymium, xenotime, cerium and lanthanum are the names of just some of the rare earth minerals that most of us have never heard of, yet are suddenly extremely important.  Rare earths are vital for making a range of high-technology electronics, magnets and batteries.  China accounts for 97 percent of global rare earth supplies and has been tightening the trade in strategic metals and causing an explosion in prices.

Introduction to economics—supply and demand.  When there’s lots of demand and one source controls the supply— they can charge whatever they want.  Conversely — high prices send others looking for more supply.

Unexpectedly — Vast deposits of rare earth minerals have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and can be readily extracted, Japanese scientists said last week.

“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths.  Just one square kilometer (o.4 square mile for Americans) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.

The team led by Kato and researchers from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology found minerals in sea mud extracted from depths of 3,500 to 6,000 meters (11,500-20,000 feet) below the ocean surface at 78 locations.  One-third of the sites yielded rich contents of rare earths and the metal yttrium. The deposits are in international waters in an area stretching east and west of Hawaii, as well as east of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Kato estimated rare earths contained in the deposits amounted to 80 to 100 billion tonnes, compared to global reserves currently confirmed by the US Geological survey of just 110 million tonnes that have been found mainly in China,Russia and other former Soviet countries and the United States.

Japan accounts for a third of global demand, and  has been looking to diversify their supply sources, particularly of heavy rare earths such as dysprosium used in magnets. “Sea mud can be pumped up from the ocean floor to ships and we can extract rare earths right there using simple acid leaching, and the process is fast,” Kato said.

The sea mud is especially rich in gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium which are used to manufacture flat-screen TVs, LED valves, and hybrid cars.   Here is a visual guide to some rare earth elements that shows how they are used, and what they look like.

I know only slightly more than I did before I heard of these elements, but if I hear someone in conversation mentioning gadolinium, I can smile brightly and say,”Oh yes, rare earths. Used in my flat-screen TV,” That will impress them.



Friday Morning Links: by The Elephant's Child

Michael Barone explains the weakest part of our political system—the presidential nomination process.  It’s not coincidental that it’s the part of the federal system that finds least guidance in the Constitution.

Investors Business Daily says the Democrats are simply not serious about the high price of gas. They have reverted to their worst and silliest ideas and claim them to be  a fresh new set of policies

The Japanese were remarkably well-prepared for a devastating earthquake. Many said that although Tokyo got a good shaking, there was little damage.  It was the tsunami that caused the devastation. The last “Big One” was the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The Atlantic has a photo gallery of that 7.9 earthquake, and the damage is unbelievable.

Christine Russell is an award-winning science writer, and president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. She offers a clear explanation of the unfolding situation at Japan’s nuclear plants in “10 Critical Questions About Japan’s Nuclear Crisis.”

—A moving story of the Wisconsin Assembly’s Bold Leap and legislators doing the right thing under very difficult circumstances, and why they did it, in spite of the hundreds of protesters screaming outside.

Eight more states are following Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker’s lead, and reforming the relationship between the government and public-sector unions with new laws protecting workers from union control and fund-raising.

 



Worried About Radiation? by The Elephant's Child

“A banana-equivalent dose is a concept used occasionally by nuclear power proponents to clarify the dangers of radiation by comparing exposure to radiation to the radiation generated by the common banana.

Many foods are naturally radioactive, and bananas are particularly so, due to the radioactive potassium -40 they contain.  The banana equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received by eating a single banana.”

Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That, one of the best science blogs ever, explains cosmic rays and radiation and worries over a “plume of radiation from Japan.”  Put your mind at ease, and understand all the radiation talk, and the excesses of the media.  Worth your time.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,509 other followers

%d bloggers like this: