Sunday, March 12, 2017

Global Leaders Rattle Their Sabers As The World Marches Toward War

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By Michael Snyder

Iran just conducted another provocative missile test, more U.S. troops are being sent to the Middle East, it was just announced that the U.S. military will be sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to South Korea in response to North Korea firing four missiles into the seas near Japan, and China is absolutely livid that a U.S. carrier group just sailed through contested waters in the South China Sea.  We have entered a season where leaders all over the globe feel a need to rattle their sabers, and many fear that this could be leading us to war.  In particular, Donald Trump is going to be under the microscope in the days ahead as other world leaders test his resolve.  Will Trump be able to show that he is tough without going over the edge and starting an actual conflict?
The Iranians made global headlines on Thursday when they conducted yet another ballistic missile test despite being warned by Trump on numerous occasions…
As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to mount, the semi-official news agency Tasnim is reporting that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully conducted yet another ballistic missile test, this time from a navy vessel.  Called the Hormuz 2, these latest missiles are designed to destroy moving targets at sea at ranges up to 300 km (180 miles).
Reports on the latest test quotes Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, who confirmed that “the naval ballistic missile called Hormuz 2 successfully destroyed a target which was 250 km away.”
The missile test is the latest event in a long-running rivalry between Iran and the United States in and around the Strait of Hormuz, which guards the entrance to the Gulf. About 20% of the world’s oil passes through the waterway, which is less than 40 km wide at its narrowest point.
So how will Trump respond to this provocation?
Will he escalate the situation?  If he does nothing he will look weak, but if he goes too far he could risk open conflict.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, things are already escalating.  It is being reported that “several hundred Marines” are on the ground in Syria to support an assault on the city of Raqqa, and another 1,000 troops could be sent to Kuwait to join the fight against ISIS any day now.  The following comes from Zero Hedge
While the Trump administration waits to decide if it will send 1,000 troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS, overnight the Washington Post reported that the US has sent several hundred Marines to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Defence officials said they would establish an outpost from which they could fire artillery at IS positions some 32km (20 miles) away. US special forces are already on the ground, “advising” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance according to the BBC.
The defence officials told the Washington Post that the Marines were from the San Diego-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and that they had flown to northern Syria via Djibouti and Kuwait. They are to set up an artillery battery that could fire powerful 155mm shells from M777 howitzers, the officials said. Another marine expeditionary unit carried out a similar mission at the start of the Iraqi government’s operation to recapture the city of Mosul from IS last year.
Meanwhile, China is spitting mad for several reasons.  For one, the Chinese are absolutely furious that South Korea has allowed the U.S. to deploy the THAAD missile defense system on their soil…
China is lashing out at South Korea and Washington for the deployment of a powerful missile defense system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, deposited at the Osan Air Base in South Korea on Monday evening.
The deployment of THAAD follows several ballistic missile tests by North Korea in recent months, including the launch of four missiles on Monday, three of which landed in the sea off the coast of Japan. Though THAAD would help South Korea protect itself from a North Korean missile attack, China is vocally protesting the deployment of the system, claiming it upsets the “strategic equilibrium” in the region because its radar will allow the United States to detect and track missiles launched from China.
Of course the U.S. needed to do something, because the North Koreans keep rattling their sabers by firing off more ballistic missiles toward Japan.
But it is one thing to deploy a missile defense system, and it is another thing entirely to fly strategic nuclear bombers into the region.
So if the Chinese were upset when THAAD was deployed, how will they feel when B-1 and B-52 bombers start showing up in South Korea?
Earlier this week, trigger-happy Kim pushed his luck once more when he fired off four ballistic missiles into the seas near Japan.
Now US military chiefs are reportedly planning to fly in B-1 and B-52 bombers – built to carry nuclear bombs – to show America has had enough.
South Korea and the US have also started their annual Foal Eagle military exercise sending a strong warning to North Korea over its actions.
A military official said 300,000 South Korean troops and 15,000 US personnel are taking part in the operation.
The Trump administration has openly stated that all options “are on the table” when it comes to North Korea, and that includes a military strike.
It has been more than 60 years since the Korean War ended, but many are concerned that we may be closer to a new Korean War than we have been at any point since that time.
And of course our relationship with China is tumbling precariously downhill as well.  Another reason why the Chinese are extremely upset with the Trump administration is because a U.S. Navy carrier battle group led by the USS Carl Vinson sailed past islands that China claims in the South China Sea just a few weeks ago.
In China, the media openly talks about the possibility of war with the United States over the South China Sea.  Most Americans are not even aware that the South China Sea is a very serious international issue, but over in China this is a major focus.
And the U.S. military has recently made several other moves in the region that have angered the Chinese
Also in February, the U.S. sent a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Tindal AB in northern Australia, the closest Australian military airbase to China, for coalition training and exercises. It’s the first deployment of that many F-22s in the Pacific.
And if that didn’t get the attention of the Chinese government, the U.S. just tested four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles during a nuclear war exercise, sending the simulated weapons 4,200 miles from the coast of California into the mid-Pacific. It’s the first time in three years the U.S. has conducted tests in the Pacific, and the first four-missile salvo since the end of the Cold War.
I can understand the need to look tough, but eventually somebody is going to go too far.
If you are familiar with my work, then you know that I believe that war is coming.  Things in the Middle East continue to escalate, and it is only a matter of time before a great war erupts between Israel and her neighbors.  Meanwhile, U.S. relations with both Russia and China continue to deteriorate, and this is something that I have been warning about for a very long time.
We should hope for peace, but we should also not be blind to the signs of war that are starting to emerge all over the planet.  Relatively few people anticipated the outbreak of World War I and World War II in advance, and I have a feeling that the same thing will be true for World War III.

This Region Of The World Is Being Hit By The Worst Economic Collapse It Has Ever Experienced

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By Michael Snyder

The ninth largest economy in the entire world is currently experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history”, and in a country right next door people are being encouraged to label their trash so that the thousands upon thousands of desperately hungry people that are digging through trash bins on the streets can find discarded food more easily.  Of course the two nations that I am talking about are Brazil and Venezuela.  The Brazilian economy was once the seventh largest on the globe, but after shrinking for eight consecutive quarters it has now fallen to ninth place.  And in Venezuela the economic collapse has gotten so bad that more than 70 percent of the population lost weight last year due to a severe lack of food.  Most of us living in the northern hemisphere don’t think that anything like this could happen to us any time soon, but the truth is that trouble signs are already starting to erupt all around us.  It is just a matter of time before the things currently happening in Brazil and Venezuela start happening here, but unfortunately most people are not heeding the warnings.
Just a few years ago, the Brazilian economy was absolutely roaring and it was being hailed as a model for the rest of the world to follow.  But now Brazil’s GDP has been imploding for two years in a row, and this downturn is being described as “the worst recession in recorded history” for that South American nation…
Latin America’s largest economy Brazil has contracted by 3.6 percent in 2016, shrinking for the second year in a row; statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday. It confirmed the country is facing its longest and deepest recession in recorded history.
Data shows gross domestic product (GDP) fell for the eighth straight quarter in the three months to December, down 0.9 percent from the previous quarter. The figure was worse than the 0.5 percent decline economists had forecast and left the country’s overall GDP down 3.6 percent for the full year following a 3.8 percent drop in 2015.
“In real terms, GDP is now nine percent below its pre-recession peak,” Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told the Financial Times.
“This is comfortably the worst recession in recorded history,” he added.
It had been hoped that things in Brazil would be getting better by now, but instead they just keep getting worse.
The number of bankruptcy filings has soared to an all-time record high, and the official unemployment rate has more than doubled since the end of 2013.  The following comes from Wolf Richter
In a stunning deterioration, the unemployment rate in Brazil spiked to 12.6% in the rolling three-month period through January, a record in the new data series going back to 2012, according to Brazil’s statistical agency IBGE. Up from 11.8% in the three-month period through October. Up from an already terribly high 9.5% a year ago. And more than double the 6.2% in December 2013.
Meanwhile, hordes of hungry people are rummaging through garbage cans in Venezuela in order to find something to fill their aching stomachs.
Things have gotten so bad that one of President Maduro’s chief opponents has urged citizens to label which trash bags have food in them so that people that are searching through the garbage can find food scraps more easily
Controversial Priest and opponent to President Nicolás Maduro’s administration Father Jose Palmar posted on social media this week about labeling discarded waste so those looking through it for food can do so more easily and “with dignity.”
Palmar called on Venezuelans to celebrate Lent by identifying bags where food has been discarded for those with no where else to turn. That way, they don’t have to dig through non-edible items to find it.
And previously I have written about how people are so hungry in Venezuela that some of them are actually slaughtering and eating cats, dogs, pigeons and zoo animals.
I keep telling people that this is coming to America, but a lot of people out there don’t want to believe me.
But it is most certainly coming.
Thanks to chronically empty store shelves and severe food shortages, people in Venezuela are losing weight at an astounding pace.  In the United States it would be a good thing if much of the population lost this much weight, but in Venezuela it definitely is not
Three quarters of the country’s population lost an average of over 18 pounds over food shortages in 2016, according to a survey by Venezuelan universities and nonprofit groups. Last year, over 80 percent of foodstuffs disappeared from shelves and many had to get by with one meal a day, Foreign Policy reported.
Venezuela was once South America’s most powerful petrostate. But decades of government mismanagement sent the country into decline. Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez choked the economy with heavy-handed regulations, price controls, and a campaign to nationalize major industries that chased out foreign investments.
Further north, very alarming signs are starting to pop up in Mexico.
It probably won’t happen next week or next month, but there are indications of emerging “liquidity problems” which could precipitate a major debt crisis at some point…
In Mexico foreign investors hold around $100 billion of the country’s local-currency government debt, the most for any emerging market economy. That’s almost 20 times what it was 20 years ago. They also hold billions of euros worth of corporate bonds, which are also showing signs of strain, prompting some Mexican business leaders to call for “new programs” to be implemented before the situation causes “a large-scale crisis” among Mexican companies.
The most ominous sign yet came last week when Bloomberg reported sources saying that the Bank of Mexico (or Banxico, as it is referred to) had sought a swap line from the Federal Reserve in case of “liquidity problems,” which immediately triggered furious denials from Banxico. “I can say clearly and unequivocally that we are not in the process of asking for any credit line from any authority,” said the central bank’s governor, Agustin Carstens, who has postponed by six months his departure from the bank, initially scheduled for May.
One of the biggest problems for nations such as Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico is the strength of the U.S. dollar.  During the good times they went into tremendous amounts of debt, and much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars.  So when the U.S. dollar becomes stronger, it takes more of their own local currencies to pay that debt back.
And if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at their next meeting, that will strengthen the U.S. dollar even more and put even more pressure on emerging market economies.
Unfortunately, it appears that this is precisely what the Fed is going to do
Even one small interest rate increase by the Fedcould have a sweeping impact on U.S. and world economies, Komal Sri-Kumar told CNBC on Monday.
“I think they are going to hike” on March 15, Sri-Kumar said on “Squawk Box,” echoing a theory shared by many analysts. “But that is going to prompt capital outflows from the euro zone, especially with the political risk. It is going to increase the capital outflow from China, and the U.S. economy will feel the impact.”
The global economy is more interconnected than ever before, and pain that starts in one region can rapidly spread to others.
The biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen is starting to burst, and over the coming years we are going to see financial pain on a scale that would be unimaginable to most of us at this moment.
But even now there are those that would suggest that this colossal debt bubble can continue growing much faster than global GDP indefinitely, and this sort of exceedingly reckless optimism is leading many astray.

Landmark Bill Introduced In Congress Would Legalize Cannabis on Federal Level

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Republican representative, Tom Garrett proposed legislation on Monday that could be considered groundbreaking. The title, “The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017,” pretty much says it all.
If passed, marijuana would be removed from the federal controlled substance list. Both Garrett and Tulsi Gabbard presented the legislation to Congress. According to the bill, marijuana would become excluded from the CSA, or Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, the inaccurate position which cannabis holds on that list as a schedule 1 substance- which insinuates that marijuana has no medicinal value, would also be removed.
According to Garrett,
“I have long believed justice that isn’t blind, isn’t justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce. Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.”
Continuing, he said that, “this step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia. In the coming weeks, I anticipate introducing legislation aimed at growing the hemp industry in Virginia, something that is long overdue.”
The bill was not originally proposed by Garrett and Gabbard, however, Instead, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the bill in 2015, but nothing was done to push the bill forward.
And this newest legislation arrives exactly on time, as the new U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to tighten restrictions on marijuana. According to him, cannabis is actually a potent and violence inducing substance. He continues to review the previous administration’s memo that provided the states with flexibility regarding marijuana laws.
Eight states, including Washington D.C have legalized recreational marijuana use. However, since marijuana became known as an “illicit” drug, marijuana arrests take up a massive 40% of annual drug arrests, including over 700,000 arrested during 2014 due to pot-related offenses. The majority of those charges were merely possession.
Despite Jeff Session’s opinion on the matter, Donald Trump spoke on various occasions regarding cannabis legislation during his campaign, ultimately emphasizing the need for a more hands-off approach.
While speaking in front of the National Association of Attorney Generals, Sessions refutedscientific research that has proven that the legalization of marijuana would actually help in the fight against the opioid epidemic. “Give me a break,” he responded, and then implored that, “We don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”
Spicer, the White House Spokesperson notorious for citing fabricated terror attacks also weighed in on the issue, “I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people (by regulating the adult use of marijuana).”
However, science proves him wrong. A widely publicized study in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine reported that in states that had enacted marijuana legalization laws found a massive reduction in opioid overdose deaths. “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”
And while Sessions may push his propaganda under the guise of safety, he doesn’t seem to be worried about the government approved opioid replacement therapies. And what’s worse is that marijuana has no associated overdose deaths while on Suboxone.
One user of Suboxone, Miles Malone, aged 20, received one text message the day of his death that said, “we can do the suboxone as soon as I give them to u, iight, dude?” He was later found dead in his South Berwick, ME home. The death was ruled as a buprenorphine poisoning.
His friend, Shawn Verrill was then imprisoned for 71 months. “I didn’t know you could overdose on Suboxone,” Mr. Verrill said in an interview at a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y. “We were just a bunch of friends getting high and hanging out, doing what 20-year-olds do. Then we went to sleep, and Miles never woke up.”
Suboxone has taken the drug world by storm, surpassing Viagra and Adderal. It’s obvious success was fueled by the opioid abuse epidemic that began almost five years ago. During it’s introduction to the population it has been promoted as a safer alternative to methadone. Sadly, the new medication has become the new dope and medication that has been making rounds on the streets since it began sales.
But, because of the money trail that follows in its wake, doctors, manufacturers, dealers and patients, there hasn’t been much controversy surrounding the substance.
A private-public between a British company and the American government was responsible for financing clinical trials, and the drugs protection from competition. The company, Reckitt Benckiser has hired a handful of federal officials and financially supported scientists and doctors that study it and support the drug.
While it claims to be a long-term treatment for addicts, it also has the ability to induce a euphoric sensation that promotes addiction. And unlike its predecessor methadone, it can be prescribed to recipients.
Due to its stature as the miracle cure for opioid dependancy, the CDC does not track the deaths associated with its use. Furthermore, medical practitioners and government testing agencies typically do not conduct tests for the substance, either.
Unfortunately, this only proves that the government’s prohibition against any substance is determined the profit margin produced by it. It’s also worth mentioning that due to marijuana’s success at thwarting opioid dependancy that it could pose a threat to the Suboxone industry. Of course, marijuana would do so with very few negative side effects, and also provide further medicinal benefits to the user. Until we as consumers, and citizens become informed and voice our opinions loud and clear, we will remain the victims of the flawed system in which we are a part of.

MSM Openly Discussing FEMA Camps for Radical U.S Citizens

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During an MSNBC news broadcast, former U.S General Wesley Clark begins discussing what he felt needed to be done with “radical” individuals. Of course, rather that the camps being like WWII internment camps where Japanese-Americans were held, he feels that any political dissident would need to be placed there to separate them from the rest of society.
The interview takes place shortly after a mass shooting took place in Chattanooga, California, According to Clark, in WWII, “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the U.S, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.” Continuing, he states that he feels it is due time to bring such punishments back to the U.S.
“There are always a certain number of young people who are alienated. They don’t get a job, they lost their girlfriend, their family doesn’t feel happy here, ” he says, and while he is speaking in regards to mainly radical Muslims, his comments are aimed towards ANY radical individuals. Radical meaning that you hold beliefs that are separate than the government or state.
What makes this interview strange, is that the comments are actually quite out of character for Clark, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, and held beliefs that were critical of the Bush administration’s extreme response to 9/11. Furthermore, he said back in 2006 that torture violated “the very values we espouse.”
Unfortunately, the interview only gets worse. “So, if these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. And I think we’re going to have to increasingly get tough on this, not only in the United States but our allied nations like Britain, Germany, and France are going to have to look at their domestic law procedures.”
Since his statements were made, Clark has denied making a response to the public regarding what he said. Of course, the point could be made that actual prisoners of war, who did indeed pose a threat to U.S citizens, should be removed from the general population and held for trial. However, he doesn’t quite say how exactly his plans would be implemented and based on past legislation there is a very slippery slope regarding the powers of the government.

Everything Trump Did in His 7th Week That Really Matters

His administration escalated bombing in Yemen while barring travelers and immigrants from that country from coming to the US.

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By Zoë Carpenter and George Zornick

Donald Trump’s seventh week in office opened with confusion about his accusation, via Twitter, that his phones had been tapped by President Obama. There’s no evidence that happened. But other things did, like the unveiling of a new executive order banning immigrants and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, and a decision to send hundreds of American troops into Syria. 
Here is everything you need to know about what the Trump administration did this past week.
Instituted a new travel ban. After protests and legal challenges to his original set of restrictions on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Trump rolled out a narrower executive order. The policy bans people from six countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—from immigrating or traveling to the United States for 90 days, exempting Iraqis, as well as green-card and current visa holders.  “But even with these key changes,” Julianne Hing explains, “Trump’s latest executive order is, in intention and function, the same as the administration’s first time around.” Democratic attorneys general in several states have already initiated legal challenges to the new order.
Sent 400 Marines into Syria. The Pentagon announced Thursday that it was deploying 400 Marines into Syria, near Raqqa, to aid in the battle against ISIS. The deployment nearly doubles the amount of US troops in Syria, and the new deployments will reportedly fire artillery rounds at ISIS fighters in support of the local ground forces. This is an important shift in the US approach to Syria—under Obama, the military “mostly shied away from using conventional forces in Syria,” reported The Washington Post. The head of US Central Command also said this week that more US troops will likely be headed to Afghanistan.
Bombed Yemen more in a week than Obama did in a year. American pilots heavily bombed over 40 targets in Yemen this week, which is more American strikes than occurred in all of 2016. The Trump administration is clearly very quick to green-light military strikes, as opposed to the “slow-moving policy discussions” under Obama, Foreign Policy notes. “The expanded bombing in Yemen signals a more aggressive use of military force by the Trump administration against Islamist militant,” they write. The military also released the results of an investigation into the commando raid in Yakla, which killed a US service member in January. The report said only 12 civilians were killed, lower than what journalists and human-rights groups have estimated, and cleared the military of any wrongdoing.
Broke a federal rule about the jobs report. On Friday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer wrote on Twitter that the economy added 235,000 jobs in February, 22 minutes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the figures. In so doing, he violated the Office of Management and Budget’s Statistical Policy Directive No. 3, which forbids Executive Branch officials from commenting on the jobs numbers for one hour after they are released. It’s an obscure and potentially worthless rule, but a rule nonetheless, and far from the first this White House has casually violated.

Yet Another Hate Crime in US Mistakes Indians for Arabs

The attacker told law enforcement that he wanted to “run the Arabs out of our country” with the dumpster fire.

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The latest in a recent string of incidents in the United States that have targeted South Asians mistaken for Arabs, a Florida man has been arrested for setting fire to a dumpster in front of a convenience store that is owned by Indians.

Sixty-four-year-old Richard Leslie Lloyd told deputies that he wanted to “run the Arabs out of our country,” and so on Friday morning, he took to rolling a dumpster in front of the store in Port St. Lucie, lighting it on fire and tearing down signs posted outside the store.
“When the deputies arrived, they noticed the dumpster had been rolled in front of the doors and the contents were lit on fire,” St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Upon seeing our deputies, the man put his hands behind his back and said ‘take me away.’”
Lloyd was arrested that day and is being held in the the St. Lucie County Jail in lieu of a US$30,000 bond. While his mental health is evaluated, the state attorney’s office will determine whether the incident was a hate crime.
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Arabic when, in fact, they are of Indian descent,” Mascara said. “Regardless, we will not tolerate violence based on age, race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, mental or physical disability.”
The incident comes after a 39-year-old Sikh man narrowly escaped death last week after he was shot in a suspected hate crime in Washington Friday, just nine days after Kansas-based Indian immigrant Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, tragically lost his life in a similar incident.
The Sikh man was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood at about 8:00 p.m. local time, when an unidentified, white male approached him. Following a squabble, the perpetrator shot him in the arm, shouting, "Go back to your own country.”
In addition to these hate crimes, another white man across the country has been charged with assault and intimidation after he attacked an employee at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Salem, Oregon, with a pipe Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Jason Lee Kendall went into the restaurant Al Aqsa Tuesday afternoon and hit an employee in the head with a pipe after yelling, "Get out of America.” He had targeted the employee after he said he saw a "Saddam Hussein looking guy" holding a woman captive as his slave. His proof was the shirt the woman had been wearing.
According to the affidavit of the incident, the officer who came on scene could feel a small bump on the employee's head.

Fukushima catastrophe unfolds ... key facts and figures for an unhappy sixth anniversary

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By Hervé Courtois

The 2011 Fukushima catastrophe is an ongoing disaster whose end only gets more remote as time passes. The government is desperate to get evacuees back into their homes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but the problems on the ground, and in the breached reactor vessels, are only getting more serious and costly, as unbelievable volumes of radiation contaminate land, air and ocean.

If Fukushima taught us one thing it is that people should not expect the government to protect them - nor will corporations be held responsible in time of nuclear disaster.
Six years after the catastrophe at Fukushima, the situation is still far from being resolved, still ongoing.
Three reactor core meltdowns still releasing radioactive nanoparticles into the open skies, contaminated water is still leaking continuously into the Pacific ocean, and partially decontaminated water is being dumped into the ocean.
All available information and figures are controlled by Tepco and the Japanese government, with no independent party allowed to verify the veracity of the given information.
A massive public relations campaign of disinformation and denial is under way, to brainwash the Japanese population and the whole world that everything is now under control and OK. Systematic denial of the radiation risks for the people's health is the rule, economics being the Japanese government priority, not public health protection.
Evacuated persons are coerced to return to live with high radiation in their previously evacuated townships so that Japan may seem safe, clean and beautiful to welcome the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
If Fukushima taught us one thing it is that people should not expect the government to protect them - nor will corporations be held responsible in time of nuclear disaster.
This article that follows is based on officially released data by Tepco and the Japanese government. All the figures and claims should therefore be taken with a pinch of salt. Always bear in mind that the officially released information does not really teach us the essential truths about the still ongoing catastrophe, and about its victims getting more abandoned than ever.
As we approach the sixth anniversary of the disaster, here are some key figures as they appear in the media and official sites.
Reactor status
The main aim of the work is to secure the damaged reactors which are still threatening. In the vicinity, the dose rates are such that the attendance time must be very limited, which complicates the work. See the latest official Tepco document with dose rates.
Reactor #4
The reactor vessel was empty on March 11 2011, and there was no melting of the core, but a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. Since December 2014, the reactor fuel pool has been emptied and the work is stopped.
Reactor #3
There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. All debris from the upper part were removed using remotely operated gear. A new building that will cover the whole and allow to empty the fuel pool is being assembled.
The dose rate is so high that the work is more complex than expected and the site has fallen behind.
Reactor #2
There was a core meltdown, but the reactor building is whole. Tepco did not begin to remove the spent fuel from the pool, but attempted to locate the corium, this mixture of molten fuel and debris, by various means.
The dose rates inside the building are such that it is impossible to work on it. In the containment, record levels were observed. Even the robots that were sent there did not resist long.
Reactor #1
There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. This building was covered with a new structure in 2011, which was completely dismantled in November 2016.
Tepco will begin to remove the debris from the upper part of the reactor and then rebuild a new structure to empty the fuel pool.
Contaminated water
Tepco injects 72, 108 and 72 m3 of water per day into reactors 1, 2 and 3 to cool the corium. This makes a total of 252 m3 / d. This water is strongly contaminated and infiltrates into the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings where it mixes with the ground water that floods these basements.
To reduce radioactive groundwater leakage into the sea, Tepco pump water upstream before that water is contaminated by the reactors and then rejects it directly into the ocean. It has also built a barrier along the shoreline and pumped groundwater at the foot of the reactors.
Part of this water is partially decontaminated and dumped into the ocean. Another part, too contaminated, is mixed with the water pumped in the basements of the reactors to be put in tanks after treatment, waiting for a better solution.
As a result, Tepco is pumping 135 m3 of contaminated water into the basements of the reactors and turbine buildings daily, in addition to the one it injects for cooling and 62 m3 of groundwater. A total of 197 m3 is accumulated daily in tanks after treatment. It is more when it is raining, or even more during the typhoons.
Tepco announced that it had already processed 1,730,390 m3 of contaminated water, which generated 597 m3 of radioactive sludge. Part of this is used for cooling and the rest is stored in tanks. According to the company, the stock of treated or partially treated water amounts to 937,375 cubic meters, to which must be added the 52,200 cubic meters of water in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings. There are nearly a thousand tanks to keep this water that occupy almost the entire plant site.
Since March 2016, Tepco has been trying to freeze the ground around the damaged reactors to reduce infiltration and dispersal of polluted water, but this is not as effective as expected. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the NRA, seriously doubts the effectiveness of this technique, which it now considers as secondary.
It can be seen on this graph, where the drop in the volumes of water to be stored each day is not very high. The ice does not take place, where the underground currents are strongest. Official data on freezing of the ground. About half of the workers on the site are there because of the contaminated water.
Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
From March 11, 2011, to March 31, 2016, 46,956 workers were exposed to ionizing radiation at the site of Fukushima Daiichi, including 42,244 subcontracted workers. It is the subcontracted workers who take the highest doses, with an average of between 0.51 and 0.56 mSv per month between January and February 2016. It is between 0.18 and 0.22 for employees of Tepco.
There are also 1,203 people who have a higher limit to continue entering the site. Their average cumulative dose since the beginning of the accident is 36.49 mSv and the maximum value of 102.69 mSv.
On April 1, 2016, all measures were reset. Thus, 174 workers who have exceeded the dose limit will be able to return. Since that date, up to 31 December 2016, 14,643 workers have been exposed to ionizing radiation at the site of Fukushima Daiichi, of which 13,027 are subcontracted workers (89%). Subcontracted workers take the highest doses. Among them, it is not known how many were already exposed to radiation before April 1, 2016.
There were workers of Brazilian origin who did not speak good Japanese and did not always understand the instructions of radiation protection. The Embassy of Brazil reacted and protested.
While progress has been made in working conditions on the site, with the construction of a building dedicated to reception and rest, equipped with a canteen and a mini market, there are still problems thanks to cascade subcontracting.
Three workers had their cancer recognized as occupational disease: two leukemias and one thyroid cancer. One filed a complaint against Tepco and Kyûshû Electric. There are 15 cancers in all of these workers, including eight cases of leukemia.
Radioactive pollution mapping
The latest aerial mapping of radioactive pollution around the Fukushima Daiichi plant dates from 2015 and is available online on the dedicated site.
This new map shows the areas still evacuated and an average decrease of 65% of the ambient dose rate compared to what was measured in autumn 2011. The radioactive decay is responsible for a drop of 53%. The remainder is due to the leaching of soils and, in some places, to decontamination work.
The decontamination of evacuated areas is the responsibility of the government. Elsewhere, where the external exposure could exceed 1 mSv / year, it is the municipalities that have to deal with it.
In the evacuated areas, decontamination work is officially completed, except for so-called difficult return zones. This means that decontamination has been carried out in homes and their gardens, along roads, on agricultural land and over 20 m in the forest bordering these areas.
In non-evacuated areas, 104 townships were affected, but with the natural decline in radioactivity, the number became now 94. A map is given on page 14 of this document. In Fukushima, 15 out of 36 municipalities have been completed.
The other prefectures concerned are Iwaté, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saïtama and Chiba. The number of townships where work was completed is on page 15 of the same document. It should be noted that a township in Tochigi prefecture has still not established a decontamination program.
Radioactive waste
According to official data, there are 7,467,880 bags of contaminated soil from decontamination work in evacuated areas (one bag is approximately 1 m3), and in non-evacuated areas, 5,740,858 m³ of contaminated soil spread over 146,489 sites.
For the interim storage facility, which is expected to contain approximately 22 million cubic meters of waste over 1,600 ha or 16 km2 around the Fukushima Daiichi plant for a maximum of 30 years, the government signed a contract with only 633 landowners (26.8%), for a total area of 287 ha (or 2.87 km2), or just 17.9% of the total area.
The authorities want to reuse these soils when they have fallen below the limit of 8,000 Bq / kg for cesium.
Displaced persons
Japan conducts a census of its population every five years. The last two took place in 2010, just before the disaster and in 2015. As of October 1, 2015, the population of Fukushima province decreased by 5.7% compared to 2010 (115,000 fewer people) Miyagi of 0.6% and that of Iwate of 3.8%.
This census is based on the persons actually present and not on the registered persons. Thus, in the townships of Namie, Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka there is zero inhabitant.
The population of Kawauchi, where the evacuation order was partially lifted in 2014, the population decreased by 28.3%. In Naraha, where the evacuation order was fully lifted in September 2015, the population decreased by 87.3%.
Some townships hosting displaced persons have seen their population increase.
In all of Japan, the number of inhabitants decreased by 0.7% (- 947,000) in five years and was 127.11 million by 1 October 2015. The number of inhabitants increased in Tokyo (+2.7%), Saïtama and Aïchi prefectures. The biggest decline was in Akita prefecture (-5.8%), which was not affected by the triple disaster. Fukushima prefecture has the second biggest drop, with -5.7%.
In Fukushima, there are still officially 84,289 displaced persons, 40,405 of them residing outside the prefecture.
The evacuation order was lifted in five townships, but only 13% of the persons concerned have returned. It should also be lifted at the end of March 2017 in a part of Iitate and Kawamata.
Health impact
With regard to thyroid cancers: the total is 184 potential cases of which 145 are confirmed after surgery.
The number of disaster-related deaths due to worsening living conditions (worsening of disease, suicides, etc) is 2,099 at Fukushima, as of 28 November 2016.
Cost of the disaster

Official figures on the cost of the disaster were revised upwards in December 2016 to ¥21.5 trillion (€175 billion). This includes the dismantling of the Fukushima dai-ichi reactors, worth ¥8 billion (€65 billion), ¥7,900 billion (€64 billion) for compensation, nearly ¥4,000 billion (€32.5 billion) for decontamination and ¥1,600 billion (€13 billion) for the temporary storage facility for radioactive waste. 

This sum does not include the cost of storing the waste resulting from the dismantling of the damaged power station or the creation of a decontaminated block in the so-called 'difficult return' areas whose sole purpose is the non-disappearance of the villages concerned.

TEPCo has already received a total of ¥7,006.9 billion (€57.3 billion) in advance for compensation. This money is loaned without interest.

The government still holds 50.1% of the shares of TEPCo. It had to start selling shares from April 2017, but will have to maintain control over the company to avoid its bankruptcy.
Japan's other nuclear reactors
Of the 54 nuclear reactors operating before the nuclear disaster, six were partially or completely destroyed at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Six others, too old, were stopped definitively. So there are only 42 nuclear reactors left in Japan.

Only 26 of them have applied for restart authorization and only 12 reactors have been granted a restart authorization. Two reactors at the Sendai power station in Kagoshima prefecture generate electricity to power the grid. A third is in operation at the Ikata power station in Ehime prefecture, both in southern Japan.