The Historic Proportions Of Japan’s Nuclear Disaster

Editorial: In the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake, we see that human progress may be hardwired to turn nature's potential for catastrophe into something so much worse.

Serge Michel

Is Fukushima the catastrophe of the century? The 21st century has only just begun, and yet it has already had its full share of tragedies: the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami with its 226,000 victims, the 2010 Haiti earthquake that killed 222,500, the 15 million displaced by the 2010 Pakistan floods. Yet not all catastrophes are measured solely by the number of victims, and the disaster currently unfolding in Japan may well claim a uniquely troubling place in history.

What is now happening in Japan is reaching historic proportions as events continue to follow the path of worst-case scenario. On Saturday, the No. 1 reactor (of a total of six reactors) was first rocked by an explosion. The blast blew off the walls and the ceiling, but the confinement system was left undamaged. Then on Monday, the No.3 reactor was shaken by two explosions, which had the same effects and were followed by attempts to cool down the rods with water pumped from the sea. On Tuesday, the No. 2 reactor exploded too, this time causing the containment steel and concrete vessel to crack.

This prompted the plant's operators to evacuate almost all of their 800 workers, a clear sign of how dramatic the situation had become. Left behind was just a skeleton crew, whose heroic courage and sense of sacrifice is now the object of worldwide admiration. Their mission is to fight against the inevitable, which has now occurred at No. 4 reactor, when spent fuel rods exploded and opened two eight meter holes inside a wall. What we are now witnessing is the horrifying spectacle of mankind hopelessly trying to tame what it has built: a source of energy that has been supporting our entire way of life.

Because what makes this disaster so terrifying is the combination of natural catastrophe and human industry. Among these, the nuclear industry is the most dangerous of them all: like Prometheus who stole the fire from the Gods, humans have been playing with the atom without having the full powers to control the process. Nuclear waste -- which needs thousands of years before it becomes harmless -- and unforeseen events are both parts of the same equation. Such ‘disadvantages' have once again been brought to our attention, since they are pushing Japan towards a nuclear hell from which the country is not likely to escape soon.

We now begin to know, to feel, that what is happening at Fukushima is the ultimate proof of the fragility of humankind.

Read the original article in French

Photo - (ssoosay)

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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