Fast Facts about Radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors: Scientific American

Of interest to reference in these days of the nuclear accident in Japan.

Below are some facts and figures about the radiation hazard posed by the Fukushima breakdown and how it compares with other nuclear accidents in history. Many of the figures are measured in millisieverts, an international unit of radiation dosage. (One sievert is equal to 100 rems, which is a dosage unit of x-ray and gamma-ray radiation exposure; one millisievert is 0.1 rem.)

Radiation dose at the boundary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on March 16: 1.9 millisieverts (mSv) per hour

Peak radiation dose measured inside Fukushima Daiichi on March 15: 400 mSv per hour

Maximum allowable exposure for U.S. radiation workers: 50 mSv per year

Average exposure of U.S. residents from natural and man-made radiation sources: 6.2 mSv per year

Estimated total exposure at the boundary of the Three Mile Island site in Pennsylvania during the 1979 accident there: one mSv or less

Average total radiation dose to the 114,500 individuals evacuated during the 1986 Chernobyl disaster: 31 mSv

Half-life of iodine 131, a dangerous radioactive isotope released in nuclear accidents: eight days

Half-life of cesium 137, another major radionuclide released in nuclear accidents: 30 years

Decay products of iodine 131 and cesium 137: both emit gamma rays and beta particles (electrons or positrons)

Amount of nuclear fuel in Chernobyl reactor No. 4 that exploded in 1986: 190 metric tons

Amount of nuclear fuel and fission by-products released into the atmosphere during Chernobyl disaster: 25 to 57 metric tons

Approximate amount of nuclear fuel in each crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactor: 70 to 100 metric tons

via Fast Facts about Radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors: Scientific American.

How to Make Donations Directly to Japanese Red Cross Society via Google Crisis Center

I have found this way to donate directly to the Japanese Red Cross via Google.

I personally find this is the most efficient and rapid way of helping out without paying the overhead of US  organizations.

The site is

Have You Even Heard of this Guy

Jonathan Ive has long been credited for being the principle designer for many of Apple’s iconic products. Ive joined Apple in 1992 and has been responsible for the design of the unibody MacBook Pro, iPod, iPhone and iPad. His name was even thrown around as a possible successor to Steve Jobs in 2007.

via Apple’s Jonathan Ive Considering Moving Back to England? – Mac Rumors.

Sean Penn is Growing Up–International Agencies Never Cooperate

Sorry to tell you Sean, this is always the way that international multilateral, bilateral and private agencies have worked–everyone for themselves.  Each bureaucracy is unwilling to cede power to another, each follows its own procurement procedures and each responds to a different board of directors.  This will not change for a small, powerless country–only the big countries (say, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina in Latin American) set their own terms and have the power to force “some” coordination.

While every organization he’s come across has “extremely dedicated people,” there are “competing cultures in the international relief world” with one focused on emergency relief and the other on sustainable development, he added later.

“These have to work with each other against the problem of poverty and not against each other in competition for donors,” he said. “It’s one of the basic embarrassments and failures in the aid community.”

via Sean Penn sees Haiti relief shortfalls | World news |

Quote of the Week: Hossam

” In dictatorship, independent journalism by default becomes a form of activism, the spread of information is essentially an act of agitation.”


– Twitter user 3arabawy (Hossam), Egyptian journalist

via Quote of the Week: Hossam | Exploring the interactions among public opinion, governance, and the public sphere.

Internet and Social Media Commandments: For Egypt and Coral Gables. (Thanks to “BuzzMachine.”)

I have found this posting on the value of the internet and social media to revolutions and social change to be very edifying in the context of the revolution in Egypt.

Similarly, it gives some interesting perspectives on the use of the internet by our small town, the city of Coral Gables.

It is impressive to me that the internet is used mostly by city government as a one way information flow.  There is very little collecting of information;  the many times I have tried to use it to get feedback from a city department on a neighborhood problem, nothing has happened (well, maybe once). The city’s website is more like an empty blackboard than a telephone or email.  Yes, certain financial information is published, but budgets are pretty theoretical and we never see the same budget, in the same format, at the end of the year to see what really happened to the money and the revenues.  This theatrics and not transparency.

I am impressed that the candidates for public office set up really beautiful websites and some ask for questions (which I assume they answer), and that is great.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this same interest in the voters would carry over more to than 3 minute responses during commission meetings.  That is about it.

The following is a list of internet and social media rights–commandments–that local governments could beneficially think about in their communications with the community.  Read the original long post if you are interested.

…I keep calling for a discussion about an independent set of principles for cyberspace so we can hold them over the heads of governments and corporations that would restrict and control our tools of publicness. I keep revising my list of principles, from this, to this, to this, to this:

I. We have a right to connect.

II. We have the right to speak.

III. We have the right to assemble & act

IV. Privacy is a responsibility of knowing.

V. Publicness is a responsibility of sharing.

VI. Information should be public by default, secret by necessity.

VII. What is public is a public good.

VIII. All bits are created equal.

IX. The internet shall be operated openly.

X. The internet shall be distributed.

This, to me, is a far more fruitful discussion than whether Facebook and Twitter deserves credit for Egypt and Tunisia. The revolutionaries deserve credit. They also deserve the freedom to use the tools of their revolutions.

via Gutenberg of Arabia « BuzzMachine.

Transition in Egypt: Lessons from a Little Country

Having lived through the postwar political and economic transition in El Salvador starting in 1992, several big issues come to my mind that the Egyptians will have to face. (I agree, El Salvador and Egypt have very different historical origins and peoples.)

One major task is to reform the police force.  A big problem when you have a police force that has been an agent of the dictatorship, rather than protecting the community, and when the police have violated human rights through torturing, assassinating and making arbitrary arrests,  an urgent task is to reform the police force.  You have to kick out the worst elements, retrain the new forces and bring in people who represents diverse elements of society, inculcating a culture of human rights and installing an accepted  civilian leadership.  You have to create trust with the police, and this is urgent for the transition to democracy.

Secondly, kicking out the worst elements of the police will probably increase personal violence, kidnappings, etc. because you putting on the street the worst social elements of the police.  This was especially bad in El Salvador and crime and violence has been a major force constraining economic development in El Salvador.

Thirdly, the pervasive corruption in the Mubarak period cannot be changed over night and, in effect, it may never be changed,  but only scaled down somewhat.  This will depend on how hard civil society works against corruption.  New government procurement measures will change gradually and with fresh, honest leadership, but there will be huge resistance to alter the patterns of corruption with more government transparency, because of the large numbers of people who benefit from the system.

Fourth, the legal system has to be reformed. The courts absolutely have to be trusted, the selection of judges must be moved out of the political system and people have to see that justice is being meted out.

The political system has to be thrown open, while the lack of political organizations and experience will take a long time to create.  For example, it has been twenty years for the opposition party in El Salvador to elect a president (the current one).  The key is participation, financing political organization for the creation of trust in the community.  (El Salvador is a very different case because the major opposition party, the FMLN, represents the ex-guerrilla movement.)

There are many other elements that go into a real political transition, but the above are essential, and I have not commented on the need for a “truth” or “human rights” commission to establish a transparent history.