Monday, June 27, 2011

Little Mr. Pluto and Today's Japan

Since the start of the nuclear boom in the 1970s, Japan's utilities have relied on temporary workers for maintenance and plant repair jobs, the experts said. They were often paid in cash with little training and no follow-up health screening. This practice has eroded the ability of nuclear plant operators to manage the massive risks workers now face and prompted calls for the Japanese government to take over the Fukushima clean-up effort.
In the mid-1990s Little Mr. Pluto debuted in Japanese TV wearing a green helmet with a pair of antennae and the chemical symbol for plutonium (Pu). Promising to "never be scary or dangerous," Little Pluto extolled the benefits of plutonium, which Japanese nuclear authorities have viewed as a fuel of the future for fast breeder reactor technology.
Today nearly 70 percent of Japanese believe nuclear safety measures are not yet sufficient to allow restarting reactors taken down for routine maintenance, a poll showed on Monday, suggesting Japan may have difficulty keeping plants running and avoiding a power crunch amid the protracted nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The end of Growth", Richard Heinberg's new book

The world's biggest economy will expand between 2.7pc and 2.9pc this year, weaker than it expected just two months ago. The latest evidence from manufacturing, the housing market and the consumer – still the engine of the economy – all suggest the deterioration that started in the first quarter of this year has extended into the second.
"Part of the slowdown is temporary, part of it may be longer lasting," said Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. "We don't have a precise reading on why this slower pace of growth is persisting." "Economists insist that recovery is at hand. Yet, unemployment remains high, real estate values continue to sink, and governments stagger under record deficits. The End of Growth proposes a startling diagnosis: humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in our economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits."The End of Growth describes what policymakers, communities, and families can do to build a new economy that operates within Earth’s budget of energy and resources. We can thrive during the transition if we set goals that promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the now-unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP."
Is the beginning of a new era of progress without growth?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

25th anniversary Maradona's immortal 11-second dash

“Maradona on the ball now. Two closing him down. Maradona rolls his foot over the ball and breaks away down the right, the genius of world football. He goes past a third, looks for Burruchaga. Maradona forever! Genius! Genius! Genius! He’s still going… Gooooal! Sorry, I want to cry! Good God! Long live football! What a goal!  A memorable run from Maradona. The greatest solo goal of all time. Cosmic Kite, which planet did you come from?”

Friday, June 17, 2011

The obscure disease of the West

Yesterday I was leafing through some newspapers on the net when a China Daily's article caught my eye. I couldn't believe it was true.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesman Yao Jian said Chinese companies invested $20.35 billion in non-financial sectors in 110 countries and regions during the first five months, up 42.3 percent year-on-year. Chinese companies investing overseas should abide by local laws and should not be discriminated against, he added.
Well, what can I say?
I guess we will have big big troubles with China in the next few years.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"The Truth of the Apple iPad Behind Foxconn's Lies"

Foxconn is the largest electronics manufacturing in the world.  It’s also one of the most profitable companies with $ 79 billion.
The company mainly works for such a notable company as Apple, Hp and Dell.
Internationally,  Foxconn is best known because in 2010 at least 18 of its workers tried to end their lives.
Therefore a number of Foxconn’s customers like Apple have publicly pledged to “work with Foxconn” to live up to higher international labour standards.
Unfortunately, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom), a Hong Kong-based labour organization, still denounces the false statement by Foxconn and its custumers.
A short video on working conditions at Foxconn's iPad production site in Chengdu, “the Truth of the Apple iPad Behind Foxconn's Lies”, has been released to unveil the exploitations at Foxconn to Apple's consumers. 
The footage was taken in March and April 2011 during Sacom's investigations. It documented labour rights abuses at Foxconn's plants in Chengdu, including misleading job advertisement, dangerous working environment, inadequate measures on work safety, excessive and forced overtime work, and deprived of social life. Foxconn's plants in Chengdu exclusively produce for Apple. Regrettably, Apple condones the labour rights violations at Foxconn.

How is it possible?