And a lot more.. . .

We begin with the ultimate source of all that global warming, caught by NASA in spectacular effulgence. From  NASA Goddard:

NASA | Five X-class Flares

Program notes:

This movie shows 8 days – from Oct. 19-27, 2014 — in the life of the largest active region seen on the sun since 1990, including five X-class flares that erupted during that time.

Next, another reminder of the critical state of African health infrastructure, this time from the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda:

Fix hospitals’ waste issues

The Ministry of Health should help Adjumani and Masaka hospitals sort out their piles of medical wastes and stop random disposal. Masaka hospital’s pit is now filled up and medical wastes dumped on open ground, while Adjumani has its incinerator blown up because of overuse. As a result, support staff at Adjumani hospital dumps the wastes within the enclosure of the incinerator because they cannot burn them.

Unless the ministry and the district authorities move fast, this devil-may-care disposal predisposes the residents to serious health risks, environmental pollution, and even water sources being polluted. This situation means some solid wastes such as used cotton wool, blood stained bandages, surgical gloves and blades, syringes, blood drip bottles and plastic bottles cannot be disposed of entirely.

So just fencing of the stinky open-pit as suggested by Masaka Resident District Commissioner Linos Ngompek is not enough. Neither is the suggested frequent but uncontrolled burning to stop the wastes piling up any better. These options won’t amply protect the residents from these hazardous wastes. Neither would this burn entirely some solid wastes such as needles.

More African public health woes from StarAfrica:

Lack of anti-malaria drugs leads to many deaths in South Sudan – MSF

Cases of deaths from malaria are on the rise in western South Sudan due to lack of anti-malarial drugs in the country, in the peripheral health centers, Medecins Sans Frontieres( MSF) said on Thursday.

Every year, with the commencement of the rainy season, mosquitoes multiply in the stagnant water and the number of malaria cases increases.

This year, the epidemic is widespread in the western parts of the country. The unusually prolonged and heavy rainfall in many areas of the country and the lack of available treatments in some peripheral health centres means that many patients have had to travel to MSF health structures to be treated, said MSF in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Reuters covers an ominous discovery:

Drug-resistant superbug found in 1915 soldier killed by dysentery

Scientists who unlocked the genetic code of bacteria grown from a soldier who died of dysentery in World War I say it revealed a superbug already resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics decades before they were in common use.

The discovery sheds light on the history of antibiotic resistance – now a global health threat – and offers fresh clues on how to tackle dysentery, a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of children every year in developing countries.

“Even before the description and widespread use of penicillin, this bacterium was resistant to it,” said Kate Baker of Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who worked on the research with colleagues at Public Health England (PHE).

Next, one bright spot in all that electoral misery, via Grist:

Chevron spent $72 per voter to defeat these green candidates — and failed

At the headquarters for the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) Tuesday night, a man in a superhero mask made to look like the Chevron logo was capering around, handing play money to people and saying, “Vote for me!”

It might have been a depressing piece of political theater, but given how the election turned out, it wasn’t. By the end of the night, it was clear that the RPA’s entire slate of candidates had won by a landslide — despite Chevron’s funneling at least $3 million into defeating them (about $72 for each registered voter in the city).

RPA city council candidates Eduardo Martinez, Jovanka Beckles, and outgoing mayor Gayle McLaughlin all won, and RPA-endorsed candidate and city council member Tom Butt became the city’s new mayor. Butt’s election will free up a city council seat, which the RPA will try to fill with one of their own. If that happens, the group will have the four votes that will give them a majority on the council.

The campaigning continued right up until the end. Moving Forward, a political action committee funded primarily by Chevron, portrayed the RPA’s candidates as a group of commie troublemakers who couldn’t decide which they loved more, Cuba or Occupy Oakland. The morning of the election, a last-minute hit piece appeared in the Richmond Standard, a newspaper created by Sam Singer and Associates, a PR firm that often works with Chevron, alleging that “supporters of Team Richmond, candidates supported by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, have been harassing voters” at polling places.

From CNBC, more California environmental electoral news:

Despite water bond vote, California drought relief elusive

Voters in California on Tuesday easily approved a $7.2 billion bond initiative to fund various state water projects.

The measure includes funding for new water storage projects, water recycling efforts, storm water recovery, building of new dams and efforts to provide safe drinking water for those in need.

But relief from the severe drought—now heading into its fourth year—won’t be so easy to come by, analysts admit.

Back to the dark side with the Guardian:

Climate change denier Jim Inhofe in line for Senate’s top environmental job

Obama faces a fight to protect his climate change agenda after midterm results suggest Senate’s top environmental post will fall to Republican stalwart of climate denial

The Senate’s top environmental job is set to fall to Jim Inhofe, one of the biggest names in US climate denial, but campaigners say Barack Obama will fight to protect his global warming agenda.

Oklahoma Republican Inhofe has been denying the science behind climate change for 20 years – long before it became a cause for the conservative tea party wing. Following midterm elections which saw the Republicans take control of the senate, he is now expected to become the chairman of the senate environment and public works committee.

However, advocates believe Obama will work to protect his signature power plant rules from Republican attacks, and to live up to his earlier commitments to a global deal on fight climate change.

More from EcoWatch:

Dark Money Fuels Election Wins for Climate Deniers

In what turned out to be a bad midterm election for the environment, climate deniers won a slew of races across the country, fueled by big spending from fossil fuel interests such as the Koch brothers. Their money overruled increasing public support for reigning in carbon-spewing industries to address climate change.

Dirty energy money also overshadowed the heaviest pro-environmental spending yet from climate-friendly billionaire Tom Steyer and his organization NextGen Climate. Some of the media are spinning this as a big defeat for Steyer and environmentalists. But it was more a matter of more money drowning them out—and how much more is unknown. While Steyer has been open about his spending through NextGen Climate, estimated at more than $50 million, the Koch brothers conceal much of their money in so-called 501 (c) 4 organizations, a form of nonprofit that can spend unlimited amounts of “dark money” without revealing its funders.

In fact, three of the seven candidates that NextGen Climate made top priorities prevailed: Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Senator-elect Gary Peters in Michigan and governor-elect Tom Wolf. Shaheen beat Scott Brown, who has changed positions on climate more often than he’s changed the state he’s run in. Peters squelched Terri Lynn Land who has said there should be a “debate” on the extent of human involvement in climate change and called Peters and Steyer “radical liberals.” Wolf beat sitting Governor Tom Corbett who also has said climate change is a “subject of debate” and ordered references to it that he thought took a position on it deleted from a state website. Corbett is also head cheerleader for Pennsylvania’s booming fracking sector.

From AJ+, the new Al Jazeera Amrerica YouTube channel, one ongoing struggle against the tar sands pipelines from a Canadian tribe:

How To Stop An Oil And Gas Pipeline: The Unist’ot’en Camp Resistance

Program notes:

Over the past four years, the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation have literally built a strategy to keep three proposed oil and gas pipelines from crossing their land. Concerned about the environmental damage a leak could cause on land they’ve never given up, they’ve constructed a protection camp to block pipeline companies. As opposition to the development of Alberta’s tar sands and to fracking projects grows across Canada, with First Nations communities on the front lines, the Unist’ot’en camp is an example of resistance that everyone is watching.

And from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Ozone-destroying chemical making comeback, scientists find

An ozone-destroying chemical long thought to be on the decline in Earth’s upper atmosphere is making an unexpected comeback, an international team of scientists has found.

Backed by years of global observations including key contributions from a Canadian satellite, researchers reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday that concentrations of hydrogen chloride in the Northern Hemisphere have been edging upward since 2007.

The effect is pronounced enough to slow the recovery of the ozone layer, which helps to screen out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ozone thinned dramatically in the past because of the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were phased out after international adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

Declaring victory in the Potemkin Village, via Want China Times:

Beijing netizens thank APEC foreign leaders for ‘expelling smog’

In a mocking jab at the Beijing authorities’ efforts to make sure the Chinese capital has relatively clean air during the upcoming APEC leadership meetings there, Chinese internet users have posted messages saying that “we thank the foreign leaders for ‘expelling the smog hazard’ and wish that the meetings would last for 10,000 years.”

Notorious for its winter smog, Beijing has pulled out all the stops to reduce air pollution during the Nov. 5-11 meeting.

The measures include strictly limiting the number of vehicles allowed to enter the city, banning the burning of coal, ordering some factories to close and some of the city’s public servants to go on a six-day leave during the series of meetings.

The most recent measure, according to the Beijing News, a Chinese language newspaper run by the Communist Party of China’s Beijing chapter, is to ban people from burning the clothes of their newly departed relatives at funeral parlors — a traditional Chinese practice — during the meetings.

Making fun of the new measure, the netizens said that “Yama (the king of Hell) has ordered that no deaths should be allowed in Beijing or its neighboring areas, and none of the dead should be allowed to accept the clothes promptly delivered by their live relatives.”

From BBC News, climatus interruptus:

Australia is ‘holding back’ global climate change fight

Australia is a drag on international efforts to tackle climate change, says leading economist and former government adviser Professor Ross Garnaut.

Prof Garnaut said the country had failed to make its “fair share” of greenhouse gas cuts.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated his position that coal was the foundation of global energy needs.

Australia has the world’s highest carbon emissions per capita and is its second biggest coal exporter.

Organizing against another Big Oil depredation, from the Guardian:

Virunga film-makers ask viewers to join campaign against oil company Soco

Makers of a documentary set in the DRC’s Virunga national park are calling on viewers to help protect the heritage site by putting pressure on Soco to rule out all future development there

Film-makers hoping to force a British oil company to rule out all future development in a war-torn world heritage site in Africa have urged viewers to protest to the company’s financial backers.

Producers of the documentary Virunga, set in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) park which is home to many of the world’s remaining 800 mountain gorillas, will on Friday publish a list of all major British and international pension funds, companies and banks who back London-based Soco’s search for oil in some of the world’s most volatile regions. They include the Church of England investment fund, M&S, Aviva, Scottish Widows and and several high street banks.

Joanna Natasegara, a co-producer, said: “Many funds and financial investments tie into Soco without people knowing. We want people to write to the [financial] companies and ask them if Soco intend to really stay away from Virunga forever and what they will be doing to safeguard the park for the future.”

Another electoral bombshell? From EcoWatch:

Will GOP Try To Fast-Track Keystone XL Pipeline?

Now that Republicans have taken control of the Senate in addition to the House of Representatives, the attacks on the environment they’ve long advocated for will most likely rise to the top of the congressional agenda.

One prominent item on their wish list is the Keystone XL pipeline to transport tar sands bitumen oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for export overseas. They’ve been open about their frustration that President Obama has so far heeded the mounting opposition and not allowed the project to move forward. But, with backing from the fossil fuel interests that fund their campaigns, Republican leadership will likely work to push Obama hard to get the Keystone XL done.

Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who will hand over his gavel to a Republican, most likely to current Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in January, is a pipeline opponent and so far has blocked Republican efforts to force approval of the project.

“The election of several pro-Keystone Senators puts the passage of Keystone that much closer and shows energy projects like Keystone is a priority for our country,” Ryan Bernstein, chief of staff for leading pipeline proponent Senator John Hoeven’s (R-ND) chief of staff, told The Hill. “We will be working with Senator McConnell to get a vote on the floor shortly after the new Congress is seated.”

And partial victories from the Associated Press:

Fracking bans pass in 2 California counties, lose in 1

Voters in two counties approved prohibitions on fracking to extract oil and gas, while voters in Santa Barbara County rejected a ban.

Voters in San Benito and Mendocino counties adopted the ban Tuesday.

Fracking is a method of forcing chemicals and liquids underground to extract deposits from aging oil and gas fields. None of the three counties is known to have fracking operations now, and there is no oil drilling of any kind in Mendocino County.

Chevron, ExxonMobil and other oil companies donated about $7 million to try to defeat the fracking bans in the three counties.

More from the Guardian:

Texas oil town makes history as residents say no to fracking

Denton, Texas, is probably most heavily fracked town in US

Oil and gas industry asks court for immediate injunction

The Texas town where America’s oil and natural gas boom began has voted to ban fracking, in a stunning rebuke to the industry.

Denton, a college town on the edge of the Barnett Shale, voted by 59% to ban fracking inside the city limits, a first for any locality in Texas.

Organisers said they hoped it would give a boost to anti-fracking activists in other states. More than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of an oil or gas well.

“It should send a signal to industry that if the people in Texas – where fracking was invented – can’t live with it, nobody can,” said Sharon Wilson, the Texas organiser for EarthWorks, who lives in Denton.

After the jump, a climate threat to a ravaged part of Africa, climate change disrupting pollination and worsening allergies, alien invaders in Chile, a British shark and cetacean alert, highly placed Chinese ivory smugglers just one piece of a larger predation, another furor over America’s massively overmedicated livestock, the ongoing flap over Bill Gates’s charitable priorities continues, then on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with a radioactive removal, plans for removals elsewhere, a radioactive waste rebuff, Taiwan runs radioactive checks on Japanese cargo, no Fukushima birth defect spikes in wake of radiation release, another thumbs up for a reactor complex restart, Germany becomes a litigation target in wake of nuclear power shutdown order, A leaky nuclear shutdown across the border from Germany, and words you never wanted to hear: Google wants your genome. . .

A climate threat in a ravaged part of Africa from the Ecologist:

Climate renews famine risk to Africa’s Sahel

With rising population and food demand far outstripping supply, the Sahel is vulnerable to a new humanitarian crisis, writes Alex Kirby. Rainfall is expected to increase with climate change, but higher temperatures will overwhelm the benefits.

The Sahel, the arid belt of land that stretches from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and separates the Sahara desert from the African savanna, is no stranger to drought and famine. Now scientists in Sweden say the Sahel faces another humanitarian crisis even than in the recent past – with the changing climate partly responsible.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the researchers from Lund University say people in the Sahel need more food, animal feed and fuel every year. But demand, which has more than doubled over a recent 10-year period, is growing much faster than supply.

Fruits of fuelishness, via the Guardian:

Climate change is disrupting flower pollination, research shows

New research reveals that rising temperatures are causing bees to fly before flowers have bloomed, making pollination less likely

Sexual deceit, pressed flowers and Victorian bee collectors are combined in new scientific research which demonstrates for the first time that climate change threatens flower pollination, which underpins much of the world’s food production.

The work used museum records stretching back to 1848 to show that the early spider orchid and the miner bee on which it depends for reproduction have become increasingly out of sync as spring temperatures rise due to global warming.

The orchid resembles a female miner bee and exudes the same sex pheromone to seduce the male bee into “pseudocopulation” with the flower, an act which also achieves pollination. The orchids have evolved to flower at the same time as the bee emerges.

But while rising temperatures cause both the orchid and the bee to flower or fly earlier in the spring, the bees are affected much more, which leads to a mismatch.

More of the same from the Washington Post:

Global warming could make your pollen allergies a lot worse

It’s notoriously difficult to make people care about climate change. It’s a big, slow moving, long term problem that can rarely compete with everyday concerns — and it certainly doesn’t help matters that most people have a difficult time distinguishing between climate change and their everyday weather.

But according to a new study, global warming is something that a large minority of us should care about a great deal indeed — because a large minority of us have allergies. In particular, 20 percent of people are allergic to pollen from various types of grasses. And the new paper, just out in PLOS One, suggests for the first time that in a warmer world with higher atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, those particular kinds of allergies could get a heck of a lot worse.

Grass pollen allergies are a serious health issue. “Peaks in atmospheric grass pollen have been directly correlated to ambulance calls by patients under respiratory stress and ER visits for asthma and wheeze,” notes the new study, conducted by researchers at Harvard and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

From Agence France-Presse, another alien invasion:

Invasive species in Chile a threat to biodiversity

Program notes:

Invasive species such as wild boar and red deer can cause great damage to indigenous nature by increasing competition for food, spreading new diseases or hunting or eating local species.

An British shark and cetacean alert via BBC News:

Sea giants need urgent protection

The great predators of Britain’s seas need protection from over-fishing, pollution, boat traffic and marine development, a report says.

The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the government to create 17 protected zones for whales, dolphins, porpoises and sharks round the coasts of England and Wales.

Their report says current policy fails to safeguard cetaceans.

The government says it is working to support the creatures. But it adds that it is not convinced protected zones offer the best way forward.

From the Los Angeles Times, highly placed Chinese ivory smugglers:

Chinese officials accused of smuggling African ivory on official visits

Visits to Africa by high-level Chinese delegations, including a presidential trip, have been used to smuggle ivory, contributing to an explosion in poaching that has cut Tanzania’s elephant population in half over the last five years, according to a report by an environmental group released Thursday.

In December, a visit by a Chinese naval task force to the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, created a surge in business for ivory traders, with one dealer based in the Mwenge handicrafts market boasting of making $50,000 in sales, the Environmental Investigation Agency said in the report.

A Chinese national was caught trying to enter the port with 81 illegal tusks intended for two mid-ranking Chinese naval officers, said the group, which has offices in London and Washington.

From the Guardian, the bigger picture:

Chinese demand for ivory is devastating Tanzania’s elephant population

Chinese criminal gangs are causing Tanzania to lose more elephants to poaching than any other African country, says a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency

Demand for ivory from China is stripping Tanzania of its elephants and causing the East African state to lose more of the giant beasts to poaching than any other African country, according to a scathing report on the country’s illegal wildlife trade.

The Selous reserve in the country’s south has been the hotspot for ivory poaching, with elephant numbers there falling from around 70,000 in 2006 to 13,000 in 2013, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The London-based campaigning group says that seizures show more ivory is coming from Tanzania than any other African country. And it is unambiguous about who is to blame – Chinese nationals.

Another furor over America’s massively overmedicated livestock, via Reuters:

Environmental, public health groups sue FDA over feed additive

A group of environmental and public health groups sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, seeking to set aside the agency’s approvals for feed additives containing ractopamine that are used to boost the weight of cattle and pigs.

The groups, in two related lawsuits filed in federal court, claim that the FDA failed to adequately assess environmental and health issues related to ractopamine.

Used for more than a decade in the U.S. agriculture industry to build lean muscle instead of fat, ractopamine, a beta-agonist, has been barred by some major meat importers around the globe, including China. China last year began requiring third-party verification that U.S. pork products were ractopamine-free. Beta-agonists boost an animal’s ability to convert calories to marketable meat.

In the two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court for Northern California, the groups challenged the FDA’s approvals from 2008 through 2014 of 11 new animal drug applications. The approvals allow use of ractopamine as the active ingredient, as well as paired with antibiotics, some of which fall into the same class of drugs deemed critical for human health.

From RT, controversy continues:

Gates Foundation focuses $3bn agro-fund on rich countries, ‘pushes GMO agenda in Africa’

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives the majority of its $3 billion in food and agricultural grants to rich Western countries, with critics accusing it of using its money to force a pro-GMO agenda on Africa, a recent report suggests.

GRAIN, a small international non-profit, made its accusation after breaking down the foundation’s distribution of grants handed out between 2013 and 2014.

Roughly $1.5 billion ends up in the hands of hundreds of different research, development and policy organizations, 80 percent of which are based in the US and Europe. Only 10 percent of those groups, meanwhile, are in Africa.

The charity further notes a deepening of the so-called North-South divide via the allotment of money to non-governmental organizations. Of the $669 million the foundation earmarks to NGOs for agricultural work, GRAIN says over three-quarters has gone to US-based organizations. Africa-based NGOs, by contrast, only receive 4 percent.

The response from the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Gates Foundation refutes report it fails African farmers

GRAIN analysed funding from the Gates Foundation since 2003 and found that of the more than $3 billion the charitable body gave in food and agriculture grants, just 5 percent of funds went to African groups besides the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

AGRA, an international partnership set up jointly by the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006, received 13 percent, and the AATF got 2 percent.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said the report was “deliberately misleading”.

“The central assumption is that only organisations located in Africa can benefit African farmers – and we think that is incorrect,” the foundation said in a statement.

On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with a radioactive removal from the Asahi Shimbun:

TEPCO to conclude most vital phase in fuel rod extraction from No. 4 reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has removed all the spent nuclear fuel from the pool in the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The utility plans to finish extracting all the fuel rods from the building by the end of this year, completing the most critical phase of the decommissioning of the reactor.

The operator of the crippled plant said that it will have successfully removed by Nov. 5 the last of the 1,331 spent fuel rods in the pool. There were a total of 1,535 fuel rods in all in the building when the extraction process began. The operation continues there with 24 of the 204 unused fuel rods having already been removed.

More from RT:

Fukushima dismantling crew removes 400 tons of spent fuel from crippled reactor

The first of four sets of spent nuclear fuel rods has been removed from a damaged reactor building at Japan’s Fukushima power plant, scoring a major success in an effort to dismantle the quake and tsunami-wrecked facility.

The 1,331 spent fuel rod assemblies weighting some 400 tons have been recovered from the upper levels of the Reactor 4 building after a year-long operation, a spokeswoman for Fukushima operator TEPCO reported on Wednesday. The last 11 assemblies were removed on Tuesday.

The recovered assemblies were placed in a storage pool at ground level of the plant, the company said.

Other plans from Jiji Press:

N-Fuel Could Be Moved from Sendai Plant in 3 Months: Regulator

Nuclear fuel could be transferred from Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai power station in three months to keep the fuel safe from the impact of a possible huge local volcanic eruption, Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said Wednesday.

“It would be possible to stop the plant and start preparations immediately to transfer (nuclear fuel) into containers little by little and transport them to distant places” if such an eruption were predicted three months in advance, the top nuclear regulator told a news conference.

But it is difficult to set full details for how and where the fuel would be transported, Tanaka said, adding that entombing the fuel in a Chernobyl-style concrete shroud could also be possible.

A radioactive waste rebuff from NHK WORLD:

Town offers counterproposal on radioactive waste

The mayor of a Japanese town named as one of the candidate sites for the final disposal of radioactive waste says that kind of material should be stored in Fukushima Prefecture.

The central government plans to construct final disposal facilities in 5 prefectures in eastern and northeastern Japan. They will store radioactive waste generated from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The waste contains more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactive substances per kilogram.

The central government chose Shioya Town in Tochigi Prefecture, neighboring Fukushima, as one of the sites.

Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata finished delivering his town’s counterproposal to all the municipalities in Tochigi Prefecture on Wednesday. The proposal calls for all radioactive waste to be stored at an intermediate facility in a no-entry evacuation zone near the Daiichi plant. It adds the waste should be disposed of on the plant compound.

While Taiwan runs radioactive checks on Japanese cargo, via the Japan Times:

Taiwan to check waste shipments from Japan for radiation

Taiwan will conduct radiation checks on some types of container cargo arriving from Japan, the island’s legislature said on Wednesday.

The body’s Finance Committee ruled that waste materials such as plastic, scrap metal and paper must be checked with radiation meters upon arrival at the island’s four seaports: Keelung, Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

Jao Ping, director general of the Customs Administration agency, told reporters the measure will go into effect as early as this week.

No Fukushima birth defect spikes in wake of radiation release, via the Asahi Shimbun:

Birth defects never increased in Fukushima Prefecture

The rate of birth defects in babies born in Fukushima Prefecture remains no different from the national average even after the nuclear disaster there, says a report recently worked out by a study group of the health ministry.

Three surveys have targeted expectant and nursing mothers in Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The first, on which the latest health ministry study group report is based, was conducted by the Japan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the second is the prefectural government’s health survey of all residents in the prefecture; and the third was carried out by Fukushima Medical University.

The prefectural government’s survey covers women who have received Maternal and Child Health Handbooks and uses postal mail to ask them questions, including on the outcome of their pregnancies, whether they have breast-fed their babies, and whether they are feeling depressed.

Another thumbs up for a reactor complex restart via NHK WORLD:

Kagoshima likely to allow nuclear plant restart

A special committee of the Kagoshima prefectural assembly has approved the restart of a local nuclear power plant. The Kagoshima governor is also likely to express his approval on Friday.

The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is owned by Kyushu Electric Power Company. It is the first nuclear facility to pass new government regulations drawn up after the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi.

The Kagoshima prefectural assembly held a special committee meeting on Thursday. Assembly members opposing the resumption asked questions about evacuation methods and quake-proofing.

Germany’s nuke shutdown draws legal fire, via the Japan Times:

Germany faces suits worth billions over nuclear phaseout

Germany’s phaseout of nuclear energy has triggered over 20 lawsuits by big power companies that have demanded billions of euros in damages, said a government paper released Tuesday.

After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Berlin moved to immediately shutter the country’s eight oldest reactors and close all others by 2022 while boosting renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass.

Three large electricity companies — EON, RWE and Vattenfall — have responded with a spate of court challenges, which the environment ministry has listed for the first time in response to a request by the Greens party.

In total, 14 complaints have been filed against the national government, including nine cases before the top Constitutional Court, and seven cases have been filed against state governments.

A leaky nuclear shutdown across the border from Germany, via RT:

Czech nuclear plant shuts down 2 reactors after cooling system leak

The Dukovany nuclear power plant in the southern Czech Republic has halted operations of two of its reactors after a pipe in the facility’s cooling system started to leak.

The Wednesday shutdown was necessary as the repair was likely to take more than three days, which is allowed under safety regulations, the plant’s operator, Czech electricity company CEZ said.

The leaking in the technical water system, which is used for cooling the important technical and safety devices at the plant, was discovered Monday, the company said.

Reactors 3 and 4 at Dukovany have been stopped, while reactors 1 and 2 will continue working on full capacity, CEZ added.

And from the Los Angeles Times, another kind of threat:

Massive Hollywood project sits atop quake fault, California says

California’s state geologist has concluded that an active earthquake fault is underneath a massive proposed skyscraper project in Hollywood, setting the stage for a huge battle at City Hall over growth and seismic safety.

The California Geological Survey on Thursday released its final map showing the estimated path of the Hollywood fault. It shows the fault line running under Millennium Hollywood, which would be the tallest and largest development in Hollywood history.

The state map shows a fault line south of the Capitol Records tower, an area that could serve as the site of one of the Millennium skyscrapers, according to conceptual sketches filed with the city.

Developers want to build 35- and 39-story buildings that would add 1 million square feet of housing, hotel rooms, offices, restaurants and stores, transforming land littered with parking lots into a new urban hub full of workers and shoppers in a project that could be worth as much as $1 billion.

And to close, words you never wanted to hear, via MIT Technology Review:

Google Wants to Store Your Genome

For $25 a year, Google will keep a copy of any genome in the cloud

Google is approaching hospitals and universities with a new pitch. Have genomes? Store them with us.

The search giant’s first product for the DNA age is Google Genomics, a cloud computing service that it launched last March but went mostly unnoticed amid a barrage of high profile R&D announcements from Google, like one late last month about a far-fetched plan to battle cancer with nanoparticles (see “Can Google Use Nanoparticles to Search for Cancer?”).

Google Genomics could prove more significant than any of these moonshots. Connecting and comparing genomes by the thousands, and soon by the millions, is what’s going to propel medical discoveries for the next decade. The question of who will store the data is already a point of growing competition between Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft.

Google began work on Google Genomics 18 months ago, meeting with scientists and building an interface, or API, that lets them move DNA data into its server farms and do experiments there using the same database technology that indexes the Web and tracks billions of Internet users.

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