I've been following what's going on in Japan very closely. So far the most reliable source of info seems to be the BBC. This report puts a lot of what we're hearing about the radiation levels in perspective.
I also check NHK's English language service at least once a day. NHK is Japan's national broadcasting service, similar to the BBC or CBC. So you can depend on the government playing some role in controlling what they say. But my take on things is that the Japanese government is pretty pissed off at TEPCO. So while I take everything NHK says with a grain of iodized salt, I think they're fairly reliable, all things considered.
I am not watching channels like FOX News at all. I haven't been following any big American news services. Those guys always seem more interested in increasing their ad revenues than in actually reporting. The few times I've checked any of their reports, they're so full of high priced special effects and graphics that I can't place any value on the reports themselves.
As for the so-called "alternative news sources" many of those seem just as over-the-top and biased as the commercial news sources, and possibly even hungrier for attention. Plus their own information sources are usually extremely dubious.
The BBC report above says that the psychological effects of the radiation scare are far more significant than the actual radiation, which is still negligible unless you're very close to the damaged reactors. The scares about radiation are actually hampering efforts to help those who have really been affected by the tsunami and the earthquake. Relief teams from foreign countries are staying away from Japan out of misguided fears over radiation, which is a damned shame. Almost criminally so, if you ask me.
This is all very personal to me. Some of my closest friends live in Miyagi Prefecture where the devastation was the worst, and in Tokyo, where a lot of people seem to be going quietly insane. People who were less than two miles away from the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unaffected by radiation. In fact many people who were in those cities when the blasts happened showed no effects of radiation. And the levels at Fukushima are far lower than those, even in the worst case scenarios.
Now I hear people in California are stocking up on iodine tablets. This is simply insane. Unless, of course, they're worried about their state's own nuclear reactors and how earthquake prone California is. But I really don't think that's the case. It's just pure misguided panic.
Look. I am as anti-nuke as anyone could be. I was in a band that did a song called Drop The A-Bomb On Me twenty-mumble years ago. I think nuclear power is dangerous and it's a big mistake to depend on it. I hope the recent events in Japan add some fuel to the anti-nuclear power movement.
But I am also not worried that Tokyo is going to become a radioactive wasteland because of something 128 miles away. I'm more concerned for my ex-wife's family freezing up north without heating oil and angry that rescue teams from America are refusing to come help because their organizers fear they might get sued or some such nonsense.
And here's the inevitable plugs for my talks and stuff in Saskatoon:
Today, Friday, March 18:
11:30am-1pm -Talk on Sex, Sin and Zen/intro to meditation, THORV 159 - third correction - not the Arts Building at all, but Thorvaldson. Saskatoon
2:30pm - meditation at the Multi-Faith Centre at Rugby Chapel, the old church on the west side of St. Thomas More College on College Dr.
7:30pm - introduction to meditation at
Ken Sailor's house, 422 10th St E.
For more information please contact Jan or Ken at 665-3430 or