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Archive for March 22nd, 2011

Sailors move food and other supplies across the USS Ronald Reagan's flight deck for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.

U.S. military considers mandatory evacuations in Yokosuka, Japan

CNN By Chris Lawrence, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
March 22, 2011 — Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)

Washington (CNN) — The U.S. military is considering the mandatory evacuation of thousands of American troops and their families in Japan out of concern over rising radiation levels, a senior defense official tells CNN.

The official, who did not want to be on the record talking about ongoing deliberations, says there are no discussions to evacuate all U.S. troops across the country. The talks have focused exclusively on U.S. troops in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo, the official said. Yokosuka is home to America’s largest naval base in Japan. The military is monitoring radiation levels on a constant basis.

As of Monday, the U.S. Navy had no more warships in port at the base. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which had been undergoing maintenance in Yokosuka, left port Monday to get away from the plume of radioactive particles that could blow over the base. Because it left port with a much smaller than normal crew, the George Washington will not take part in the Japanese relief effort.

The official said the talks originated with Pacific Command, the military authority that directly oversees U.S. troops in the region, but “discussions have since taken place here in Washington as well.”

The official told CNN this is strictly a contingency plan, and could be accomplished “if they needed to do it in a hurry, with gray tails,” or large military transport planes like a C-17.

CBS News first reported that the evacuations were being considered.

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Workers Flee Japan Nuclear Plant As Smoke Rises

AP/The Huffington Post ERIC TALMADGE and MARI YAMAGUCHI  First Posted: 03/21/11 06:20 PM Updated: 03/22/11 08:50 AM

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Officials raced Monday to restore electricity to Japan’s leaking nuclear plant, but getting the power flowing will hardly be the end of their battle: With its mangled machinery and partly melted reactor cores, bringing the complex under control is a monstrous job that is anything but a quick-fix.

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Restoring the power to all six units at the tsunami-damaged complex is key, because it will, in theory, power up the maze of motors, valves and switches that help deliver cooling water to the overheated reactor cores and spent fuel pools that are leaking radiation.

Ideally, officials believe it should only take a day to get the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear under control once the cooling system is up and running. In reality, the effort to end the crisis is likely to take weeks.

Late Monday night, the deputy director general of Japan’s nuclear safety body suggested to reporters why there is so much uncertainty about when the job will be finished.

“We have experienced a very huge disaster that has caused very large damage at a nuclear power generation plant on a scale that we had not expected,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The nuclear plant’s cooling systems were wrecked by the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11. Since then, conditions at the plant have been volatile; a plume of smoke rose from two reactor units Monday, prompting workers to evacuate.

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Bill Kristol gets a war boner

Crooks and Liars- By Brad Reed
March 21, 2011 03:05 PM

One of the many depressing aspects of Obama’s horrific decision to start a third simultaneous war with a Muslim-majority nation is that it’s providing endless pangs of pleasure to Bill Kristol. After all, America’s Chickenhawk-in-Chief hasn’t been able to watch other people risk their asses invading a sovereign country since 2003 and he’s just as thrilled and excited about this latest adventure as you’d expect him to be:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

No, seriously. That’s how Kristol actually starts out his column. Read it again:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

It’s hard for most of us to comprehend the sort of vile vampiric scumbag who relishes the thought of having his country go to war in three different countries at the same time, but that’s pretty much how Bill Kristol rolls. I wonder what would happen if America successfully invaded the entire world — whatever would Kristol do to pleasure himself? Perhaps he’d recommend sending our entire army into the depths of the Pacific Ocean to launch a long-overdue war against the lost city of Atlantis. Those shifty Mermen have had it coming for a long time, after all.

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The president didn’t want this. He’s been so unhappy about such a possibility—so fearful of such an eventuality—that first he tied himself in knots trying to do nothing. Then he decided that, if he had to act, it would be good to boast that he was merely following the Arab League and subordinating American action to the U.N. Security Council. After all, nothing—nothing!—could be worse than the perception that the United States was “invading” another Muslim country.

Yeah, where the hell did we get this stigma about “invading” Muslim countries from? It’s not like anyone’s ever died from such “invasions” before. Why, you’d think it was as bad as trying to give people health insurance!

In all seriousness, Kristol is just happy to be starting another war, since apparently the Afghanistan conflict has gotten so BOE-RING! The one downer for him is that Obama bothered to get the UN’s permission to attack Libya rather than going all in and giving other countries the finger like Bush did. Kristol is at his absolute happiest when our country is both at war and defying the will of the international community. But he’ll happily take the war all the same.

Rubbish. Our “invasions” have in fact been liberations.

They have liberated many people from their lives, yes.

We have shed blood and expended treasure in Kuwait in 1991, in the Balkans later in the 1990s, and in Afghanistan and Iraq—in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.

It’s amazing that after five glorious wars, the Middle East isn’t yet a mecca of sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and everything that’s wonderful that I feel when we’re together. But of course, there’s always the option of starting a sixth war, which I’m sure will make everything better.

[T]he Reagan tradition—indeed, the Reagan-Bush-Dole-Bush-McCain tradition—in foreign policy isn’t a burden to be borne. It’s a tradition to be proud of. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for more than a partial interest, for more than a limited point of view. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for the national interest, for national greatness, for the exceptional American role in the liberation of peoples around the globe.

I’m amazed that Kristol can’t type this crap without God coming down from the heavens, striking Kristol down with all manner of lightning and saying, “I didst err when I made thee, vile spawn of darkness!” In case Bill hasn’t noticed, we’re facing massive cuts to public education, to social safety net programs and even to services as basic as public street lights. And yet Kristol thinks we should sacrifice all of these things on his bloody altar of permanent warfare.

Thanks for aiding his agenda, Obama!

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Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock and Army Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes

Paper Publishes Photos Of U.S. Soldiers Posing With Dead Afghan Civilian

TPMuckraker

Eric Lach | March 21, 2011, 11:46AM

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published two photographs of U.S. Army soldiers posing with the corpse of an Afghan civilian, The Washington Post reports. The photographs are included in the print issue of Der Spiegel being distributed today, but advance copies of the images were sent to subscribers in an email over the weekend.

The Washington Post reports that the photographs depict a moment shortly after the civilian was killed in an incident the Army has classified as a murder.

The photos are among several hundred the Army has sought to keep under wraps as it prosecutes five members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, for the alleged murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians last year. The photographs published by Der Spiegel were among those covered by a judicial protective order issued by a military judge, prohibiting their public release.

The Post, which reviewed the photographs, says one depicts Spec. Jeremy N. Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, smiling and crouching next to the corpse of Gul Mudin, who was killed Jan. 15, 2010. The other photograph shows Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho next to Mudin’s body. Morlock and Holmes have both been charged with murder in Mudin’s case, and Morlock, who has pleaded guilty to a total of three charges of murder, is scheduled to be sentenced at a court-martial on Wednesday.

One of Morlock’s attorneys said the photographs do not have a time or date stamp, and called the setting and identity of the corpse “mere speculation.” But one of Holmes’ attorneys confirmed the authenticity of the photo showing his client, while adding that Holmes had been ordered to be in the picture by his superiors.

A third photograph published by Der Spiegel today allegedly depicts two dead, handcuffed Afghan civilians.

In response to the release of the photographs, the U.S. Army issued a statement, calling the photographs “repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army.”

“We apologize for the distress these photos cause,” the Army statement said, according to the Post. “The actions portrayed in these photographs remain under investigation and are now the subject of ongoing U.S. court-martial proceedings, in which the accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

The UK paper The Guardian reports that military commanders in Afghanistan “are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered” by the release of the photographs. On Sunday night, The Guardian says, organizations employing foreign staff in Afghanistan, including the U.N., ordered their staff into “lockdown.”

The U.S. Army did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Late Update: Gawker has published copies of the photographs obtained by Der Spiegel here.

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