The disasters threatening the world

IF the speed of light didn’t exist, if the closest star to our sun weren’t four light years away from Earth, the only inhabited planet in our solar system, if UFOs truly existed, imaginary visitors to the planet would continue their journey without understanding much of anything about our long-suffering human race.

Just a few centuries ago in the long history of humanity, no one knew what happened on the other side of the globe. Today we can find out instantaneously and, sometimes, they are events of great importance which affect all of the world’s peoples.

With no further introduction, I will limit myself to the most important news of the last two days.

“Volcanic eruption in Japan cause for alarm.” (Telesur, March13, 2011)

“The Japanese Meteorological Agency reported that the Shimoedake volcano, located on the island of Kyushu, southeast of Japan, erupted this Sunday, sending ashes and rocks to an altitude of 4,000 meters, after two weeks of relative calm and two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami which ravaged the country…

“[… the volcano] became active last January for the first time in 52 years.

“According to a BBC report, buildings located within four kilometers were damaged and hundreds of panic-stricken people fled the surrounding area.

“The 8.9 Richter scale earthquake has already had an effect on other volcanoes, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.”

“Japan overwhelmed by earthquake, tsunami and explosions in nuclear power plants.” (AFP)

“SENDAI, Japan, March 14, 2011—A double explosion within the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant’s reactor number 3 on Monday contributed to the fear of a nuclear disaster in Japan, a country overwhelmed by an earthquake and tsunami which may have left 10,000 dead.

“Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operator of the Fukushima 1 facility (250km northeast of Tokyo), admitted that the fuel in reactor 2 may have entered into a meltdown as a result of damage to the cooling system. The government, for its part, minimized the possibility that a serious explosion could occur in that reactor.

“Rescue teams discovered close to 2,000 bodies on the coast of Miyagi prefecture (northeast), while millions of Japanese are trying to survive without water, electricity, fuel or sufficient food and hundreds have had to seek refuge in emergency shelters since the tsunami destroyed their homes.

“Relief workers from around the world arrived to the island country to collaborate with more than 100,000 soldiers trying to provide assistance in a country still experiencing after-shocks and continuously frightened by false tsunami alarms.

“Fear of a nuclear catastrophe has added to the anguish caused by the devastation. The earthquake, the tsunami and the explosions in nuclear power plants have dealt the country its most serious crisis since WWII,’ said Prime Minister Naoto Kan.”

“An explosion occurred Saturday in reactor number 1, killing one technician and wounding 11.

“The meltdown is produced as a result of overheating of the fuel rods which begin to melt like candles.

“Authorities decreed a state of emergency in a second nuclear plant, in Onagawa (northeast)…”

“Another plant in Tokai suffered damage to its cooling system…

“A 8.9 Richter scale earthquake and subsequent 10-meter high tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan on Friday.

“More than 10,000 people may have lost their lives in the coastal prefecture of Miyagi (in northeastern Japan)…

“At least 5.6 million homes without electricity…

“Factbox – What is happening inside Japan’s nuclear reactors?

March 14 (Reuters)—A second blast on Monday rocked the quake-stricken nuclear plant in Japan where authorities have been working desperately to avert a meltdown.

  • The core of a nuclear reactor consists of a series of zirconium metal pipes or rods containing pellets of uranium fuel bundled into what engineers call fuel assemblies.
  • Water is pumped between the pipes to keep them cool and create steam to drive an electricity-generating turbine.
  • Back-up cooling has struggled at various times over the past three days at reactor units 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima plant […]
  • However the natural decay of the radioactive materials in the reactor core continues to produce heat, called decay heat, which falls to a quarter of its original level in the first hour, and then disappears more slowly.
  • Normally that heat is removed by coolant pumps whose back-up power supply was knocked out by the earthquake, tsunami or both at the Fukushima plant […]
  • It is hydrogen gas which has caused the two explosions at the Fukushima plant, at unit 1 on Saturday and reactor unit 3 on Monday, experts and authorities say […]
  • If an inner reactor vessel were breached that would raise radiation levels. But there is no longer enough heat to blow these apart, experts say.
  • The worst remaining risk is that the core melts, which would make it much more difficult and perhaps impossible to remove the fuel, which is what happened at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. The site would have to be sealed permanently.”

“EFE 14-03

“U.S. moves ships away from Japan’s coastline after radiation exposure is detected in 17 soldiers (EFE March 14)

“The Pentagon reported today that 17 soldiers participating in relief efforts in Japan showed positive signs of ‘basic levels’ of exposure to radioactivity and ordered the temporary repositioning of 7th Fleet ships, based in the Japanese city of Yokosuka.”

“The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was located 160 kilometers northeast of the power plant when the leak occurred as a result of the tsunami which followed the 9.0 Richter scale earthquake which shook Japan.

“Workers struggle to cool Fukushima reactors 2 and 3, while number of dead grows

“International News, Mar 14 (EFE)—Those responsible for the Japanese Fukushima power plant’s reactor number 2 are attempting to cool it, after a possible partial meltdown due to overheating, as they cooled reactor number 3 where there was an explosion which did not produce a radioactive leak.

“While authorities are desperately trying to control the threat of a nuclear catastrophe, the number of victims of the earthquake continues to grow, causing worse tragedy in Japan since WWII.

“The quake was felt strongly in Tokyo, the biggest city in the world with more than 30 million inhabitants, where the atmosphere is one of sadness and citizens are resorting to alternate means of transportation such as bicycles given                             electrical power cuts.

“The Japanese Meteorological Agency has warned the population of the possibility of week-long aftershocks, with a 70% probability of a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake occurring in Japan on Wednesday.

“Germany postpones nuclear expansion plans for three months (DPA)

“Berlin, Mar 14 (DPA)—The accident which occurred this weekend with Japan’s

Fukushima power plant as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami which devastated the country on Friday has completely changed the world situation,” Merkel said.

“’The accidents in Japan show that what we thought was impossible is possible and that risks considered unlikely, are not that unlikely,’” she continued emphasizing…

AFP. Yemen: Three protesters dead, including 12-year-old boy”


“SANA (AFP)—Three protesters died, among them a 12-year-old boy, and hundreds were injured on Saturday in Yemen, where rebels accused the police of having used poison gas to disperse them.”

“One protester died and close to 300 were injured or poisoned by gases…”

“According to the UN, 37 protesters and at least six police have died since the beginning of the disturbances in Yemen.”

“ABU DHABI, Mar 14 (Reuters)

“A jump in oil prices and the fast recent drawdown in global stocks of cereals could herald a supply crisis, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf told Reuters…”

“The high prices raise concern and we’ve been quickly drawing down stocks…”

LONDON (AP) — British-based defense contractor BAE Systems PLC bribed Saudi officials in return for lucrative arms deals in Saudi Arabia, according to a newly released secret U.S. diplomatic cable on the WikiLeaks website.

“…BAE, Europe’s largest defense contractor, paid more than 70 million pounds ($113 million) to a Saudi prince…”

“EFE. Ashton not discounting possibility of imposing flight exclusion zone over Libya”

“Catherine Ashton, high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, did not discount the possibility of imposing a flight exclusion zone over Libya after meeting in Cairo today with Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League.”

“TRIPOLI, 14 (ANSA)—Muammar Gaddafi’s forces today attacked Ajdabiya, in eastern Libya, and the locality of Zuwarah in the northeast, while the opposition National Council assured that it would recover positions and said that it has an international commitment to establish a flight exclusion zone.”

“The Council confirmed today that it has won a commitment from the United States, Britain and France to prepare a flight exclusion zone.”

“General Abdul Fattah Younis, member of the rebel military council, affirmed that they will recover positions in the coastal areas and eastern region of the country…”

“’We shall retake control of those cities and soon they will feel our army advancing on Sirte and Tripoli.’”


“TRIPOLI, 14 (ANSA)—Around 100,000 volunteers have joined the Libyan armed forces since the start of fighting between troops backing Muammar Gaddafi and rebel groups, government sources said today.”

“Bahrain: opposition condemns “occupation” after arrival of Saudi soldiers.”

“MANAMA, Mar 14 2011 (AFP)

“’The people of Bahrain are facing a real danger: that of war on Bahraini citizens without a declaration of war,’ the seven members of the opposition, including the Shiite Wefaq group highlighted in a communiqué.

“’We consider the entry of any soldier, any military vehicle into the land, air of maritime space of the kingdom of Bahrain as a flagrant occupation, a conspiracy against the unarmed Bahraini people, and a violation of international agreements,’ the opposition added.”


“MANAMA AND ADEN, 13 (ANSA)—Protest demonstrations continued today in Yemen, where three people died, Bahrain and Morocco, in actions against the governments of those countries, local sources reported today.”

“…in Saudi Arabia, dozens of people gathered today in the vicinity of the Ministry of the Interior in Riyadh calling for the release of a group of activists detained by the police.”

“MANAMA (AP)—Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters encircled one of the royal family’s palaces Saturday, shouting calls for political freedom and the king’s ouster a day after a similar march triggered a violent response from security forces.”

“The protests in Bahrain are modeled on the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.”

“Bahrain holds particular importance to Washington as the host of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet…”

“United Arab Emirates to send troops to Bahrain”

“DUBAI, Mar 14 2011 (AFP)—The United Arab Emirates announced Monday that they are going to send troops to Bahrain to contribute to ‘preserving order and stability’ in that neighboring country, where Saudi military personnel have already arrived for the same end.”

“MANAMA, 14 Mar 2011 (AFP)—In reaction to the arrival of Saudi troops in the kingdom, the Bahraini opposition affirmed Monday that ‘any foreign military presence will be considered as an occupation.’”

More than 1,000 Saudi soldiers, part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Peninsula Shield Troops, have arrived in Bahrain, shaken by a wave of protests, a Saudi official told AFP.”

“MEXICO (AFP)—The so called Operation Fast and Furious in the United States, which presumably permitted the deliberate entry into Mexico of close to 2,000 weapons, has placed relations between the two countries in a delicate moment, according to experts, and has prompted unanimous anger on the part of Mexican legislators.”

“If the United States acted without including any Mexican authority, this is a totally unacceptable interference and a clear demonstration of Washington’s lack of confidence in the Mexican police forces,’ Jorge Montaño, former Mexican ambassador in the United States, commented to AFP.”

“Mexico is confronting an unprecedented spiral of violence which has left close to 35,000 dead since December of 2006 in confrontations between drug traffickers and anti-drug operatives, as well as 100 victims caught in crossfire.”

“The Mexican Senate described Fast and Furious as ‘an aggressive and unilateral operation and an attack on Mexico’s sovereignty.’”

(IPS) March 14, 15:04

“It was reported tonight that Fukushima 1 reactor number one was melting after two emergency cooling efforts failed, aggravating fears of radioactive contamination. Explosions took place on Saturday and Monday in reactors number one and three.

“Reactor number two functions with a fuel called MOX, an oxide mix, which contains plutonium, a substance especially dangerous to health.”

“ROME, March 14 (ANSA) – A total of 442 active nuclear reactors exist around the world, concentrated in 29 countries and constructed by no more than 10 companies.

“Europe […] where governments today began to review their nuclear policies has 148 reactors in 16 countries.

“To this group of plants in operation, 65 under construction can be added…

“The highest number of nuclear reactors worldwide exist in the United States, with 104, followed by France (58), Japan (54)…

Breaking news which just arrived in Cuba indicates that there was a third explosion in Fukushima:

(EFE) 15-03 20:13

“Radioactive leak feared as result of melting in the core of Fukushima reactor

“Tokyo – The company operating the Fukushima nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan admitted today that it fears a radioactive leak as a result of a possible meltdown within the core of its reactor number 2, within which an explosion occurred this morning.”

“Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) admitted that radiation could have been released after the reactor number 2 containment structure was damaged, while levels of radioactivity in the surrounding area reached 8.217 microsievert an hour, compared to the 500 allowed.”

One can see the complex situation reigning in the Arab world, where a revolutionary wave has been unleashed.

The Saudi king is backing the NATO war in Libya, while, in Bahrain, NATO is backing the Saudi invasion. The blood of the Arab peoples will be shed to the benefit of the large U.S. transnationals, while oil prices will rise to unpredictable levels as wars are unleashed in the regions of highest production, and Japan’s nuclear disasters are multiplying the resistance of peoples to a proliferation of nuclear power plants.

Squandering and the capitalist consumer societies in their neoliberal and imperialist phase are taking the world down a one-way street, where climate change and the growing cost of food are leading billions of people to the worst levels of poverty.
| castro signature | MR Online
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 14, 2011
9:35 p.m.