Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Good Editorial at Kyodo

OPINION: Japan must seize chance to reflect on energy, reform power system
By Tetsuji Ida TOKYO, May 16, Kyodo

[Final 2 sentences of editorial]:

"Unbundling or the separation of power generation and transmission as well as other organizational reforms are prerequisites for supplying energy safely while minimizing the impact on the environment.

What is important at this moment is to demonstrate a political will to eliminate resistance from vested interests and hammer out such reforms.

Well said.

Hmmm.... Radiation Refugee?

Princess Mako to study at British university. NHK

[excerpt] "Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Prince and Princess Akishino, will study fine arts at a British university starting in September.

The Princess is in her junior year at International Christian University, or ICU, in Tokyo. She is a member of the university's ski team."

MAJIA HERE: She is leaving her junior year. She is a student athlete, a skier, and she is going to Britain. Very strange.


Osaka Mayor Changes Mind and Now Supports "Limited" Re-Start

Hashimoto reverses stance; OKs limited restart of Oi reactors Jun. 01, 2012 - 11:30AM JST ( 49 )

[excerpted] "Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on Thursday reversed his stance on opposing the restart of two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, saying he now thinks a “limited” restart may be necessary to avert a summer power shortage.

Hashimoto’s turnabout came as a surprise as he has long been outspoken in his opposition to the restart of the Oi reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. . . ."

Majia here: I wonder what made him change his mind?


Japanese Panel Questions Kan and Edano But No New Info on Tepco's Plan to Evacuate Plant Altogether in March of 2011

The Mainichi: Editorial: Diet panel's questioning on gov't response to nuclear accident lacked focus

[Excerpt] "A special investigative panel on the disaster at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant set up in the Diet has questioned Naoto Kan and Yukio Edano, who were prime minister and chief Cabinet secretary, respectively, when the crisis broke out....

...None of the investigative panels has got to the bottom of allegations that TEPCO had planned to withdraw all workers from the Fukushima No. 1 plant immediately after the accident even though 14 months have passed since the outbreak of the crisis...."

Declining Opportunities for Young People

Job recovery is scant for Americans in prime working years By Peter Whoriskey, The Washington Post

[Excerpt] "The proportion of Americans in their prime working years who have jobs is smaller than it has been at any time in the 23 years before the recession, according to federal statistics, reflecting the profound and lasting effects that the downturn has had on the nation’s economic prospects.

By this measure, the jobs situation has improved little in recent years. The percentage of workers between the ages of 25 and 54 who have jobs now stands at 75.7 percent, just a percentage point over what it was at the downturn’s worst, according to federal statistics...."

[end excerpt]

"Poverty Rate 42.8% for 25-to-34-Year"
Dougherty, C., & Murray, S. (2010, September 17). Lost Decade for Family Income. The Wall Street Journal, p. A1, A4.


Income of Young People Down Dramatically

The Kids Are Not Doing Ok


WSJ: BP Probed on Leak Estimates

Wall Street Journal May 29, 2012 p. A2.

[excerpt] "Federal investigators are exploring whether BP PLC representatives lied to Congress about how much oil was leaking after the Deepwater Horizon accident...

"...Investigators also have looked into whether engineers involved in an effort to seal the well in the Gulf of Mexico tried to withhold data from the government that would reveal more about the true size of the leak..."

Majia here: BP had help. I'm re-posting a comment I made last year:

Majia's Blog: Friday, April 15, 2011

The Guardian is reporting on how BP and the White House tried to hide scientific findings on the scope of the Gulf disaster.

Here is the link to the memos that the Guardian is posted. They were obtained using the U.S. Freedom of Information Act

Here is the Guardian's story

[from the Guardian] "Emails expose BP's attempts to control research into impact of Gulf oil spill Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials discussing how to influence the work of scientists...

"Other documents obtained by Greenpeace suggest that the politics of oil spill science was not confined to BP. The White House clashed with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer when drafting the administration's account of what has happened to the spilled oil. On 4 August, Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, demanded that the White House issue a correction after it claimed that the "vast majority" of BP oil was gone from the Gulf. A few days earlier, Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, and her deputy, Bob Perciasepe, had also objected to the White House estimates of the amount of oil dispersed in the gulf...."
[end post]

Majia here: BP has an extreme record of corporate misdeeds and the U.S. and U.K. governments have helped them hide and/or manage these misdeed. 

Here are some of the headlines I've examined over the last 2 years written by me, as well as other BP critics:

Longish essay on BP's gulf oil spill: 
The BP Gulf Oil Spill Was the Rehearsal for Tepco's Fukushima

Whistleblower: BP Oil Platform Present, Imminent Danger By David Hammer, The Times-Picayune 19 March 12

Environmental Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: The Escalation of BP's Liability As oil, sickness and contamination persist, Gulf residents and lawyers file thousands of lawsuits against the oil giant.

BP, The Gulf and Amoratized Lack of Responsibility. August 2011

BP's Gulf Oil Well Is Leaking Again: "It’s A Dead Ringer For The [BP] Oil, As Good A Match As I’ve Seen" August 26, 2011

BP Macondo Well Still Leaking, Seafood Dangerous, Animals Still Dying

BP Macondo Well Still Leaking, Seafood Dangerous, Animals Still Dying  March 5, 2012 

Dolphin Deaths in The Gulf: Why the Censorship of Science?  April 5, 2012 

BP Cover-UP of Blowout 2 Years Before DeepWater Horizon

Whistleblower Claims BP Atlantis Platform Unsafe

BP Hid Oil With Corexit Knowing Civil Penalty Is Per Barrel

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

US Special Ops "Off the Leash"

From Andrew Bacevich

"the Obama White House let Special Operations Command 'off the leash.'”

From a must read essay:

May 29, 2012
The Golden Age of Special Operations
Obama’s Secret Warriors

[Excerpt from Intro] "As he campaigns for reelection, President Obama periodically reminds audiences of his success in terminating the deeply unpopular Iraq War.  With fingers crossed for luck, he vows to do the same with the equally unpopular war in Afghanistan.  If not exactly a peacemaker, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president can (with some justification) at least claim credit for being a war-ender.

Yet when it comes to military policy, the Obama administration’s success in shutting down wars conducted in plain sight tells only half the story, and the lesser half at that.  More significant has been this president’s enthusiasm for instigating or expanding secret wars, those conducted out of sight and by commandos...."

Read the entire essay!

I just have to wonder, what is going on?

More on Drone Warfare

"America's Murderous Drone Campaign Is Fuelling Terror" By Seumas Milne, Guardian UK 30 May 12

[excerpt] "More than a decade after George W Bush launched it, the "war on terror" was supposed to be winding down. US military occupation of Iraq has ended and Nato is looking for a way out of Afghanistan, even as the carnage continues. But another war – the undeclared drone war that has already killed thousands – is now being relentlessly escalated...."

Majia here: See my previous post

The amount of media coverage on this issue is really amazing.

The drone war really must be MASSIVELY ESCALATING for this much exposure, especially given I've found so much coverage in conservative news outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal (see my blog link above).

Of course, it must be great business for the military-industrial-surveillance complex.

Drone Warfare Arms Race Escalates

Excellent video: Jeremy Scahill at the Nation

[Introduction to the video] "The United States is on a new trajectory in warfare, says Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation. With its increase in drone strikes, the United States is turning away from the large-scale military interventions of the past decade and towards covert operations, beyond such known locations as Pakistan and Yemen. Check out this video to learn where else Scahill thinks these covert ops are headed."

MAJIA HERE: News stories in the WSJ indicates US hopes to spread the drone warfare. I imagine that this is a twofold strategy: 

1) It makes money for private contractors involved in drone warfare  

2) It helps the US arm its allies with the latest technology in the ongoing "new cold war."


Here is a relevant story from yesterday about the spread of US drone technology: 

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Plans to Arm Italy's Drones May 29

[excerpt]—"The Obama administration plans to arm Italy's fleet of Reaper drone aircraft, a move that could open the door for sales of advanced hunter-killer drone technology to other allies, according to lawmakers and others familiar with the matter.

The sale would make Italy the first foreign country besides Britain to fly U.S. drones armed with missiles and laser-guided bombs. U.S. officials said Italy intends initially to deploy the armed drones in Afghanistan.

Lawmakers who question the planned deal say the decision to "weaponize" Italy's unarmed surveillance drones could make it harder for the U.S. to deny similar capabilities to other North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, and set back efforts to urge sales limitations on other nations that make sophisticated drones such as Israel..."

MAJIA HERE: Don't the citizens have any say in the spread of this new arms race and the conduct of a new cold war? Why aren't we protesting in the streets about this new drone warfare given its implications for surveillance and habeas corpus?


Turkey's Attack on Civilians Tied to U.S. Military Drone Wall Street Journal May 16 2012

[excerpt] "The strike in late December was meant to knock out Kurdish separatist fighters. Instead it killed civilians smuggling gasoline, a tragic blunder in Turkey's nearly three-decade campaign against the guerrillas. The killings ignited protests across the country and prompted wide-ranging official inquiries.

The civilian toll also set off alarms at the Pentagon: It was a U.S. Predator drone that spotted the men and pack animals, officials said, and American officers alerted Turkey..."

Predator NationBy Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch 14 May 12


Dystopic Futures: Surveillance by Radioactive Drones

The Surveillance Society Meets Robotic Warfare

Fascism in America: Ubiquitous Surveillance and Poisoned Food

Forging the American Garrison State by Privatizing the State's Repressive Apparatuses

Fundamental Right of Habeas Corpus Discarded

Predator Nation

WSJ: Cash-Rich Japanese Firms Go On Global Buying Spree

Wall Street Journal May 30, 2012, p. A1.

"....Japanese companies are in the midst of the biggest boom in overseas investment the country has ever seen."

The article notes that a Japanese trading house, Maurbeni Corp. is purchasing U.S. grain handler Gavillion Group LLC for around $5.6 billion.

Japanese tobacco is purchasing Belgian tobacco maker Gryson for $600 million

Japan's Takeda pharmaceutical is acquiring a Brazilian drug maker.

The Wall Street Journal attributes this buying spree to "fear, as a shrinking home market and stagnant economy threaten earnings."

I happen to think that it is not simply fear of domestic economic conditions that is driving this spree.

Much of northern Japan is extensively contaminated by Fukushima.

There are areas of Japan that are not contaminated, but northern Japan possesses rich agriculture. Fukushima may pose a problem for domestic food production.

Furthermore, Japan's practice of incinerating radioactive debris is spreading fallout.

Recall that Gorbachev attributed the collapse of the Soviet Union to Chernobyl?

The worry I would have if I was Japanese is that the wealth and power will pull out of the country leaving the rest of the population to address contamination areas that far exceed the exclusion zone conditions in the Ukraine after Chernobyl.

Chernobyl’s Evacuation Zone was 5 millisieverts a year. Japan has set their evacuation zone at an incredibly high 20 millisieverts per year

Japan Times reported in June that Greenpeace measured 9 microsieverts per hour in many public spaces in Fukushima with a high of 45 microsieverts an hour near a school yard

“Whole body doses received from external radiation from the Ukrainian part of the 30-km exclusion zone showed an average value of 15 millisieverts.” (source OECD, 1995)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Latest Update on Japan's Proposal to Re-Start Re-Processing of Nuclear Fuel

I posted recently about criticism of the secret meeting that was held to recommend re-starting processing of nuclear fuel in Japan.

The first story I covered was this one:

Asahi: Panel backs nuclear fuel reprocessing after talks with industry officials May 24 2012

I then examined an editorial in the Mainichi criticizing the closed and secret nature of the committee meeting that made the recommendation:

Mainichi: Yoroku: Dismantling the 'black boxes' of Japanese nuclear power
(sorry cannot find link now, but covered at my blog)
Now the plot thickens: 

Mainichi: Atomic Energy panel members call for independent probe into secret meetings

[excerpt] "Some members of a Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) panel working out new nuclear energy policy have called for a third-party probe into revelations that business operators in favor of the nuclear fuel cycle project were invited to secret meetings before an assessment was altered to help promote the project...

...It has come to light that a report on a review of the nuclear fuel cycle project drafted by a JAEC subcommittee on the issue was presented at secret "study" meetings attended by only members in favor of the project, and that its comprehensive evaluation was altered to favor the project in response to utilities' requests.

The altered draft was subsequently submitted to the subcommittee, which approved the draft and reported it to the panel on a new nuclear energy policy...

Ban, Keio University professor Masaru Kaneko and lawyer Mie Asaoka, who heads the Kiko (Climate) Network, then demanded that the scandal be investigated by a third-party organization.

Asaoka even demanded that JAEC be drastically restructured. "Instead of discussing new atomic energy policy at JAEC, the organization and its members should be renewed and something like a 'National Congress on Atomic Energy' should be set up."

MAJIA HERE: The committee that approved the re-processing of fuel to make Mox consisted of 3 university professors who had received industry donations ranging from 4 million yen to 8 million yen.  These professors were from Univ of Tokyo, Osaka University, and Kyoto University.

Additionally, 9 of the employees who "staff the panel secretariat" were "on loan" from nuclear power suppliers and nuclear energy related companies.

Why did Japan hold a secret meeting stacked with paid professors and industry insiders to ensure the re-start of Mox production?

Why does Japan need to make more Mox?

Obviously, there is an agenda here that should be public.

Mainichi: "Ex-PM Kan apologizes for not preventing Fukushima disaster"

MAJIA HERE: It is hard to understand the subtexts of this important story as an outsider. I've excerpted a few passages I read as important:

[excerpted ] In reference to the government's crisis management system against a nuclear accident, Kan said, "The Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness was not responsive to a severe accident. The (government's) assumption of (nuclear) accidents was insufficient." . . .

. . .With regards to criticism that Kan overstepped his bounds as prime minister by meddling in the response to the nuclear disaster in detail, to the extent some described it as "excessive intervention," the former premier sought understanding for having taken such supra-legal responses as setting up a joint task force of the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) -- the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant -- in responding to the disaster.

"The Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness presupposes that an earthquake and a nuclear accident would take place separately. Because of such an extremely insufficient assumption, I had no choice but to meddle in and do various things. I don't think that's the way a prime minister should act," Kan told the NAIIC.

[end excerpt]

Again, I don't know what to make of this story but find it very strange that Kan is being criticized for getting involved in the management of the accident given its scale and and given that he was PM.

The internal politics implicit, but not clear to me, must be poisonous.

New Computer Virus Larger Than Stuxnet Identified

Newly identified computer virus, used for spying, is 20 times size of Stuxnet
By Ellen Nakashima, Published: May 28 The Washington Post

"Researchers have identified a sophisticated new computer virus 20 times the size of Stuxnet, the malicious software that disabled centrifuges in an Iranian nuclear plant. But unlike Stuxnet, the new malware appears to be used solely for espionage.

Variously dubbed Flame, Skywiper and Flamer, the new virus is the largest and possibly most complex piece of malware ever discovered, which suggests it is state-sponsored, researchers said..."

Majia here: The researchers who identified the virus work for a Russian cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Labs and a Budapest University researcher.

The Russian researcher argues that this new virus was probably created by the same team that made Stuxnet. The size of the virus suggests it was state sponsored and Israel and the U.S. are implicated.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Radioactive Tuna Not Safe Even at Low Levels of Contamination: Why? Because of Bio-Accumulation.

Enenews is reporting on radiation-contaminated tuna caught off San Diego

 CNN: All 15 bluefin tuna samples off California had Fukushima radiation… back in AUGUST 2011 — “This year’s fish are going to be really interesting” says Stanford scientist

Source article:

Majia here: The radiation levels in the tuna caught off of the coast of San Diego may be "low" and below the "derived intervention level" for seafood set by the FDA.

However, that does not mean these levels are safe.

Unfortunately, radiation concentrates up the food chain

Takashi Hirose gives an example in his book Fukushima Meltdown (page 73) using data on bio-accumulation from the Columbia River in the US:

If the river water assumes a value of 1,
the fish would be 15,000 that value.
The egg yolk of a water bird would be 1,000,000 times that value.

Majia here: The U.S. FDA specific Derived Intervention Levels are here:

The specific “FDA derived intervention level or criterion for each radionuclide group” are as follows “for all components of the diet” for Strontium 90, Iodine 131 and Plutonium 238 and 239
Sr-90 160 Bq/kg
I-131 170 Bq/kg
Cs-134 + 137 1200 Bq/kg
Pu-238 + Pus 239 + Am 241 is 2 Bq/kg

Majia here: Again, the problem with these levels is they do not adequately address bio-accumulation because they presuppose that the contaminated item is the only source of contamination a person is exposed to.

EPA: Cancer Risk Coefficients for Environmental Exposure to Radionuclides

page 3

"For both internal and external exposure, a risk coefficient for a given radionuclide is based on the assumption that this is the only radionuclide present in the environmental medium. That is, doses due to decay chain members produced in the environment prior to the intake of, or external exposure to, the radionuclides are not considered

Majia Here: We are not just eating radioactive tuna, I'm afraid. Remember that pollen from Los Angeles was found to contain cesium-134 and cesium-137 from Fukushima.


Background on "internal emitters" (ingested or inhaled radiation)

Bio-accumulation of cesium

Fukushima ocean contamination

 Nuclear Controversies by Vladimir Tchertkoff; Released in 2003, 51 minutes
30:20 – According to Professor Yury Bandazhevsky (former director of the Medical Institute in Gomel), "Over 50 Bq/kg of body weight lead to irreversible lesions in vital organs"

On spent fuel pool 4 and the Ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Tepco has gone all out to demonstrate to the global public that spent fuel pool #4 is intact. I think the best photos can be found here:

Many observers had believed spent fuel pool 4 was indeed intact (e.g., Sickputer & Joy) because the incineration of the pool would have been undeniably visible in the form of skyrocketing radiation readings in Tokyo and huge plumes of black smoke visible in the Tepco webcam.

I admit to have been uncertain about the status of the #4 pool for several reasons.

First, the early reports indicated that there was a fire in unit 4 spent fuel pool. This is documented in NRC minutes discussing zirconium fires in spent fuel pool 4 and early media reports (see my posts here for source citations ( and

More importantly, there have been (intermittently) considerable amounts of steam/smoke arising from the area between units 3 and 4 visible on the Tepco webcam.

I have many screen shots of these eruptions of steam and smoke. Quite a few videos documenting these releases are available at You tube (see some sample links at bottom of post).

Now that Tepco has released enough photos to convince me that spent fuel pool 4 is still there, I really wonder about the source of the very large steam /smoke releases that have been visible on the Tepco webcam.

It is possible that the #3 fuel pool or reactor (or both) may be the source of these releases.

In its recent photo debut of spent fuel pool 4, Tepco neglected to show us any photos of the inside of unit 3, which has the largest explosion. We did not even get any close-ups of the outside of the unit 3 building in Tepco’s most recent photo releases.

The mainstream media have been exceedingly quiet about this reactor, which was using Mox fuel.

So, perhaps unit 3 is the source.

An observer named Tacomagroove has argued that the real danger is unit 1, which suffered a melt-through of the reactor containment.  She contends that the melted corium is in “china syndrome” mode.

Joy, has suggested that the corium could be moving toward the ocean and Tacomagroove supports this thesis by noting that Tepco is building a wall between areas of the plant and the ocean.

I’ve seen taped segments of the Fukushima webcam by Nuckechen and others that depict vast amounts of emissions coming from the top, right hand corner of the unit 1 building (as seen from the Tepco webcam).

Unit 1 is clearly the source of some emissions, but I don’t think it explains the steam/smoke that erupts between buildings 3 and 4.

I wish I knew.

I suppose that the bigger issue is that the plant is still emitting “trillions of becquerels” each day and the fall out continues unabated (see Gunderson excerpt end of this post).

I worry that Tepco will use its latest photos of unit 4 to further promote its absurd claims that the plant is in “cold shutdown.”

I guess the most important questions are how to stop the emissions and what are the implications of 15-plus months of continuous emissions?

Dr. Chris Busby reported on the Russian television network RT on August 17 2011 that air filters from Tokyo showed levels of Cesium-137 one thousand times higher than the levels of that radionuclide found in the air at the peak of atmospheric atomic weapons testing in 1963 (see references for link).

He said that almost a year ago.

Fallout has continued to bio-accumulate, shaped only by the vagaries of uncontained contained melted fuel rods, wind, precipitation and other atmospheric variables.
Iodine-131 levels, indicative of fission, have been rising in Japan’s Gunma prefecture (see sources in references)

How long can that continue before people become demonstrably sickened?

How long will the fantasy of ‘cold-shutdown’ be perpetuated, punctuated only by the occasional warning of the collapse of a spent fuel pool. These punctuated moments of crisis will simply be handled with more strategically designed press debuts and the world will go back to sleep.

Dr. Christopher Busby interviewed by Russia Today (RT) and uploaded to YouTube “Christopher Busby: Chernobyl-like radiation found in Tokyo,” [RussiaToday] YouTube (uploaded 2011, August 17):

Helen Caldicott Interview with Arnie Gunderson: If You Love This Planet Radio May 8, 2012
EXCERPT: I would say there are billions, actually trillions, of becquerels per day being released airborne, mainly from Units 2 and 3.

Actually on cold nights you can still the steam coming off those reactors, its not just steam its radioactive steam.

Something on the order of trillions of becquerels per day… trillions of disintegrations per second per day are being released even now.

Dr. Helen Caldicott: So what you’re really saying Arnie Gundersen is that the ocean will continue to be contaminated, kind of for the rest of time. Because there’s no foreseeable way to prevent water leaking out of containment vessels continuously into the ocean… We’re talking about continual contamination of the Pacific Ocean.

Arnie Gundersen: You’re right.


Bobby1, whose highly reliable work I've cited before, has produced a graph representing rising Iodine-131 detections in the sewage sludge from Gunma Prefecture

The data for his graph comes from this Gunma Prefecture site:


Iodine-131 in Japanese Sludge from Gunma Prefecture

Bobby1, whose highly reliable work I've cited before, has produced a graph representing rising Iodine-131 detections in the sewage sludge from Gunma Prefecture

The data for his graph comes from this Gunma Prefecture site:

Readers may also find Bobby's discussion of radiation in the Jet Stream in the spring/summer of 2011 to be very interesting

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Professor's Rant...

Is college too easy? As study time falls, debate rises. Washington Post.

[Excerpt] "Declining study time is a discomfiting truth about the vaunted U.S. higher-education system. The trend is generating debate over how much students really learn, even as colleges raise tuition every year.

...Academic leaders counter that students are as busy as ever but that their attention is consumed in part by jobs they take to help make ends meet...

...Sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa identified lax study as a key failing of academia in their 2011 report “Academically Adrift,” which found that 36 percent of students made no significant gains in critical-thinking skills in college. Arum’s own research found that students study only 12 hours a week..."

Majia here: College is too easy in too many majors, including the one I teach in.

One factor driving quality education into the gutter is the singular reliance on teaching evaluations as the only measure of teaching quality.

On my teaching evaluations this semester students expressed outrage that I have an attendance policy (on the 5th absence final grade drops one grade unless I approve the absences).

I have an attendance policy because if I don't, many students do not attend regularly because they are truly very busy and most work full time or near full time.

However, if they do not attend class, they do poorly on exams and class assignments and are more likely to fail the class.

I understand students must work more because tuition costs so much more than it used to. I am strongly opposed to these tuition hikes.

However, many students today also expect a higher level of consumption than what I was accustomed to while in college for 10 years (the years it took to get my PhD). Expectations about personal consumption are also driving students to work more.

In general though I understand that students are busy and must work (mostly in low-wage service jobs).

Thus, I am typically accommodating of their need to miss class because of work, but the situation has deteriorated to a point where class has become a perceived impediment to their work (or other endeavors).

Furthermore, as far as I can tell, studying only occurs right before exams for 80% of the students.

Every semester, at least 1 student asks if they "need" to buy the textbook and many admit freely that they never read it.

I choose my textbooks carefully and avoid costly books.

Too many students see reading, especially material that is even slightly challenging, as onerous.

Our visual culture is eroding the practice of engaged learning through reading.

Consequently, 1/2 of my students typically fail my timed, but open-book exams, even while a strong minority receives As.

How can they fail an open-book exam when all the questions are from the book or lectures?

I make all my powerpoint lectures available for students to download.

Yet, students complain if there is "too" much material in the power points, even when that material simply amplifies or illustrates the main points of the lecture.

I really am very frustrated as a teacher by the lack of engagement and the expectation that learning should be a process of easily digestible bits that are spoon-fed to students by the professor in the shortest time frames possible.

So, I agree that critical thinking skills are declining.

However, I am not quite sure how to combat the economic pressures facing students and the culture of passivity that characterizes their attitude about learning.

Not all students fit the profile I've outlined here but I think the majority do.

Education is in crisis but I'm not sure how to fix the problems when they are symptomatic of the wider culture and economy.

More on Japan's Proposal to Re-Start Re-Processing of Nuclear Fuel

I posted on this a few days ago.

The story I reported on then:
Asahi: Panel backs nuclear fuel reprocessing after talks with industry officials May 24 2012

I found this proposal extraordinarily disturbing (see my linked blog post).

Apparently, I am not alone.

An excellent editorial at Mainichi: Yoroku: Dismantling the 'black boxes' of Japanese nuclear power

[Excerpt] "It was recently reported that the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) held a secret meeting on April 24, before a JAEC subcommittee compiled and submitted a report on the country's policy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to the "council of new national energy policy" on May 23. 

The discussion, dubbed a 1study meeting,' took place behind closed doors, with only pro-nuclear parties from government and power industry bodies invited to attend. The chief of the JAEC subcommittee was also in attendance."

As argued here, the proposal to re-start re-processing was made in secret by industry and government insiders. One has to wonder what is going on here? I previously suggested several possibilities. All are alarming.

Asahi: Japan Atomic Power posts profits despite plunge in electricity sold

Majia here: This headline is perplexing. I don't have a subscription so I cannot get the entire story.

However, the brief excerpt indicates that profits were 8.9 billion yen despite a 94% cut in the amount of electricity sold to regional utilities.

Headlines from Japan: Jiji's Believe it or NOT

Jiji: EXCLUSIVE: TEPCO to Back Ex-Execs in Shareholder Lawsuit Saturday May 26, 2012
 "In their written complaint, the shareholders insist that the TEPCO executives neglected to take safety measures, although they were aware of the risks of accidents after the science ministry warned in 2002  that an earthquake of a magnitude of around 8 could occur..."  

Jiji: Japan to Promote Use of Ocean Energy
JIJI (Japan) - Friday, May 25, 2012

Jiji: Japan Industry Minister Vows to Break Pro-Nuclear Alliance
JIJI (Japan) - Friday, May 25, 2012 --Japanese industry minister Yukio Edano said Friday that he is "making every effort" to break the pro-nuclear alliance between the ministry and power firms....  Edano said, "I do not think everything has changed"

Jiji: Radiation Not Cause of Deaths of Fukushima Workers: U.N. Panel
JIJI (Japan) - Thursday, May 24, 2012
"... Based on information available so far, their deaths are attributable to cardiovascular disease or other reasons, according to the report compiled by the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

One of them died of acute leukemia, but there is no correlation between the death and radiation exposure because the time between the start of the worker's participation in the operations and the death is short, the committee said...."

Jiji: WHO Puts Max Dose from TEPCO Accident at 50 Millisieverts JIJI (Japan) - May 23, 2012
"The maximum whole-body radiation dose typical Japanese received from the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 power plant is estimated at 50 millisieverts over the first four months, the World Health Organization said in a recent report."

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Nuclear Power After Fukushima. The New York Times Published: May 25, 2012

[excerpt] "...After being hit by an unusually powerful earthquake and the tsunami it generated, Fukushima lost its connection to the off-site electrical grid and its own backup generators, making it impossible to cool the reactors to prevent a meltdown and release of radiation.

Although an equally powerful earthquake and tsunami were deemed unlikely in this country,"

[end excerpt]

Let us think about this for a moment. Hmmm...

San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear plants are on the coast of California. Diablo Canyon is built ON A FAULT and San Onofre is in quake-prone LA.

I grew up in California and earthquakes are not unusual and indeed, one grows up expecting THE BIG ONE.

As children, we were prepped and prepared for "THE BIG ONE."

Those were the exact words.

Now, tell me how a strong earthquake and tsunami in California are "unlikely in this country."

San Onofre has had a series of severe pipe malfunctions. It may not take THE BIG ONE to destroy that aging plant...

Wind-farms and solar are emerging everywhere in CA and AZ. We don't have to rely on nuclear. We may have to learn with less electricity, but at least can live with alternative energy.

Ellen Brown on Cooperative Banking

Cooperative Banking, the Exciting Wave of the FutureBy Ellen Brown, AlterNet 26 May 12

[excerpt] "Move "Our" Money: The Public Bank Movement

The Move Your Money campaign has been wildly successful in mobilizing people and raising awareness of the issues, but it has not made much of a dent in the reserves of Wall Street banks, which already had $1.6 trillion sitting in reserve accounts as a result of the Fed’s second round of quantitative easing in 2010. What might make a louder statement would be for local governments to divest their funds from Wall Street, and some local governments are now doing this. Local governments collectively have well over a trillion dollars deposited in Wall Street banks.

A major problem with the divestment process is finding local banks large enough to take the deposits. One proposed solution is for states, counties and cities to establish their own banks, capitalized with their own rainy day funds and funded with their own revenues as a deposit base....

read the entire article,_the_exciting_wave_of_the_future

Chemical Warfare: Bees and Babies are the Canaries in the Coal Mine?

A Last (Chemical) Gasp for Bees?By Shannan Stoll, YES! Magazine 27 May 12

[Excerpted] "Colony collapse disorder threatens food crops valued at $15 billion a year. New research says farm chemicals put our food system at risk....

...Monsanto’s "Roundup Ready" soy and corn, which are genetically modified to tolerate the active ingredient in Roundup, are associated with the creation of "super weeds." The widespread use of these crops has led farmers to vastly increased use of the herbicide, leading to the development of resistant weeds.

The agriculture industry has responded to Roundup’s failure by developing new crop varieties resistant to another pesticide/herbicide, 2,4-D. An ingredient of Agent Orange, 2,4-D is linked to birth defects, hormone disruption, and cancer. Last December, Dow AgroSciences LLC asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve the new varieties for cultivation.

In response, the Pesticide Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch are gathering public comments for a petition to the USDA against Dow AgroSciences’ request...."

[end excerpt]

Majia here: Chemical warfare against weeds and insects is being WON by the weeds and insects as both develop resistance.

Unfortunately, some species are less able to adapt to the chemical contaminants and face extinction.

Bees are one of those species.

I have posted quite often on the plight of bees and the propaganda war that was waged by the chemical industry aimed at obscuring chemicals' role in that collapse.

The truth is now emerging that pesticides are responsible for bee colony collapse, but is it too late for the bees?

The same question can be asked about humans. We are also very susceptible to chemical warfare.

Here is a report authored by extremely well credential scholars who feel that the public has been misinformed about the risks of Round-Up. The report addresses malformations in animal embryos caused by much lower doses than used to spray crops.

Additionally, here is a study demonstrating round-up is toxic for human placental cells.
Richard, S., Moslemi, S., Sipahutar, H., Benachour, N. Seralini, G. (2005). Environmental Health Perspectives

Now it seems that the chemical warfare is being escalated in response to super-weeds and super-insects.

An ingredient of Agent Orange is the new weapon in the chemical arms race.

The same plot unfolds. The chemical will be approved, applied and cause countless health problems before it is "proven" to be dangerous. At that point, another dangerous chemical will be approved.

How much damage to the human species will have to occur before we discover that chemical warfare is not the answer to age old agricultural problems?

(this is not to say that chemicals have no role, but the use of toxic chemicals as a main line defense is true insanity)

Relevant Links

Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees
BY Ariel SchwartzFri Dec 10, 2010

Academics and Public Engagement

I spent today and all day Thursday at an international academic conference that just happened to be held in my home city

I talked to many people about "community engagement" by academics.

There are some academics in my field who primarily see community engagement in relation to their teaching and their research (which few people who are not academics actually read).

However, there are many of my colleagues who want to be engaged actively with their communities.

Some in my discipline are getting involved in local non-governmental, non-profit organizations aimed at increasing and improving citizen participation in local policy deliberations.

The goal is to get citizens to meet and discuss issues and then cooperatively suggest policy proposals or even produce papers outlining key issues and debates to help inform others in their communities.

One of my colleagues has spent considerable time studying successful cooperative movements and can provide struggling cooperatives with some helpful suggestions based on his research.

I really applaud these efforts.

Mostly, however, it seems that academics don't really know how to "do" public engagement and do not seem very aware of the 'public pulse.'

On the one hand, we might ask why we would expect academics, as opposed to some other profession, to be "engaged"?

However, on the other hand, most of us academics work in public universities paid by tax dollars.

Although we "teach," it is a reasonable question to ask whether we have some responsibility to share our research findings or academic skills with communities that might benefit from them?

The film Inside Job demonstrated how academics in the disciplines of business and economics have benefited financially from their too-cozy relationships with the corporate sphere.

Indeed, the film cast the academic profession as self-interested and corrupted.

I agree that it definitely can be both corrupt and self-interested; but, more often than not I think it is simply too insular.

So, how can the academic profession redeem itself through community engagement?

How can academics productively engage with wider communities, not just elite interests?

I started blogging because I wanted to employ my research skills to a project that would reach a wider audience, but is that community engagement?

What does it mean to be engaged and how can we do it better, and more responsibly?

I hope that some of the readers of this post can share their thoughts and recommendations.

Reprocessing Nuclear Fuel to Continue in Japan?

Asahi: Panel backs nuclear fuel reprocessing after talks with industry officials May 24 2012

[excerpt] "A Japan Atomic Energy Commission panel revised its draft policy evaluations to favor nuclear fuel recycling after closed-door consultations with pro-nuclear officials from the industry, sources said...

A senior official of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which operates a spent fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, called for plant operations to continue, the sources said..."

MAJIA HERE: Why would Japan want to continue re-processing nuclear fuel?

There are only 3 reasons I can think of that Japan would want to continue "re-processing" a.k.a. "enriching" nuclear fuel.

1. They plan to re-start breeder reactors and/or reactors that can run on MOX fuel, which contains a much higher percentage of plutonium.

2. They plan on selling re-processed fuel to other nations.

3. They have a nuclear weapons program that they want to continue producing plutonium for.

Any of these answers is deeply unsettling.

Perhaps both they are all correct?

Japan has a history of "re-processing" fuel

AND of stockpiling plutonium by purchasing it from other nations.

Please see my post here:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Check Out this Fukushima Video from the TBS-JNN Cam

Start at about 1:30 seconds.

At approximately 1:58 there is a very large light flare

A red glow ensues in the aftermath of the flare

Hat tip: ChasAha at Enenews

Fukushima Alerts

Yesterday Potrblog issued a maximum alert based on unusually high radiation readings:

Thursday, May 24, 2012 !MAXIMUM ALERT! Unusual Jet Stream Radioactivity Detected

Here is the link to the Radiation detection network references by Potrblog

Nuckelchen, an anonymous programmer, has used filters and acceleration to reveal a major nuclear event at Fukushima May 2

EPA's radnet for Denver does show spikes in May

Radnet for Yuma showing substantial gamma spikes over the last couple of weeks

Fresno data is "unavailable" for early May 

I've been having major asthma problems throughout May. I've noticed before a correlation between my asthma and radnet levels.

The Nuclear Arms Race Never Ceases

Nuclear weapons just don’t make sense. Walter Pincus. Washington Post

[Excerpt] "The United States has a multi-billion-dollar program to upgrade its three major nuclear warheads and a more costly effort to build new land, sea and air strategic delivery systems."

Majia Here: So much for Obama being a man of peace.

The New York Times: The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget (Editorial)

[Excerpted] "Twenty years after the end of the cold war, the United States still has about 2,500 nuclear weapons deployed and 2,600 more as backup. The Obama administration, in an attempt to mollify Congressional Republicans, has also committed to modernizing an already hugely expensive complex of nuclear labs and production facilities.

Altogether, these and other nuclear-related programs could cost $600 billion or more over the next decade. The country does not need to maintain this large an arsenal. It should not be spending so much to do it, especially when Congress is considering deep cuts in vital domestic programs...

"Washington and Moscow pledged in the 2010 New Start treaty to reduce their number of deployed long-range nuclear weapons to 1,550 from 2,200 by 2017. But unless something changes, both countries will increase nuclear spending in coming years, as they replace or upgrade aging nuclear production facilities and delivery vehicles — submarines, missiles and bombers. That makes no sense..."

For background see my previous posts:

New Nuclear Arms Race

We Must End Nuclear Brinsksmanship

New York Times Propaganda on GM

Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

Majia here: The NYT is in full propaganda mode this morning concerning genetically modified food. The article operates propagandistically by dismissing research on the dangers of GM and by erroneously universalizing scientific opinion in favor of GM food.

Before I provide an excerpt from the NYT article and explain its bias, let me briefly provide some background on the most common genetic modifications.

First, genetic modification is not referring to hybridization, but rather refers to the process of inserting or silencing genes, usually using a viral vector to deliver the new gene or to silence an existing gene.

Even scientists who believe GM offers some promise (myself included), have reservations about the two most commonly employed genetic modifications.

With food, 2 genetic modifications are most common. First, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a natural bacteria found in soil, is inserted into the plant and the plant subsequently produces its own bacteria in cells throughout the entire plant.

The major concern with this genetic modification is that the plant produces so  much Bt that the Bt is contaminating the environment and is being found in human placentas. (research will be cited at end of article)

Second, the plant is genetically modified to withstand round-up. The major concern here is that as the weeds surrounding the plants develop their own resistance (becoming "super-weeds"), the grower uses ever more Round-up.

Round-up is a proven endocrine disruptor that has been demonstrated to cause birth defects in animals.

There are many scientists who have concern about the health implications of our over-consumption of Round-up given its proven risks to embryonic and fetal development.

OK. Now let us look at how the New York Times writes about genetic modification:

[excerpt from the NYT] "Almost all the corn and soybeans grown in the United States now contain DNA derived from bacteria. The foreign gene makes the soybeans resistant to an herbicide used in weed control, and causes the corn to produce its own insecticide...

Farmers, food and biotech companies and scientists say that labels might lead consumers to reject genetically modified food — and the technology that created it — without understanding its environmental and economic benefits.

In a letter circulating on social networks, one Iowa farmer, Tim Burrack, criticized this month’s O, the Oprah Magazine, which cited research linking genetic engineering to health concerns that many scientists have discredited..." [ end excerpt]

Majia here: The NYT effectively dismisses any concerns about GM safety, and re-frames the issue of GM as one of labeling transparency.

This is outright propaganda because the NYT fails to explain and examine what the concerns are about the specific types of genetic  modifications that are being widely employed.

By failing to detail the concerns, the NYT makes it easy to dismiss summarily these concerns as "discredited" by "many scientists."

Let me now provide some examples of research that have raised substantial concerns about GM. Most of this research focuses on the safety of round-up but other research studies are concerned about Bt contamination of the environment and the relationship between GM and a micro-fungus linked to spontaneous abortions in livestock.

Report found here is authored by extremely well credential scholars who feel that the public has been misinformed about the risks of Round-Up. The report addresses malformations in animal embryos caused by much lower doses than used to spray crops.

Ruitenberg,  R. (2010, September 28) Toxin From Biotech Corn Detected in U.S. Streams, Study Finds

Richard, S., Moslemi, S., Sipahutar, H., Benachour, N. Seralini, G. (2005). Environmental Health Perspectives

[abstract] "Here we show that glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants. Surprisingly, Roundup is always more toxic than its active ingredient…We conclude that endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup, not just glyphosate, can be observed in mammals. We suggest that the presence of Roundup adjuvants enhances glyphosate bioavailability and/or bioaccumulation….

Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements. Environmental Sciences Europe. Gilles-Eric Séralini1*, Robin Mesnage1, Emilie Clair1, Steeve Gress1, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois2, Dominique Cellier3

[excerpt] "We reviewed 19 studies of mammals fed with commercialized genetically modified soybean and maize which represent, per trait and plant, more than 80% of all environmental genetically modified organisms (GMOs) cultivated on a large scale, after they were modified to tolerate or produce a pesticide. We have also obtained the raw data of 90-day-long rat tests following court actions or official requests. The data obtained include biochemical blood and urine parameters of mammals eating GMOs with numerous organ weights and histopathology findings...

Results: Several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects in the above-mentioned experiments. This was confirmed by our meta-analysis of all the in vivo studies published, which revealed that the kidneys were particularly affected, concentrating 43.5% of all disrupted parameters in males, whereas the liver was more specifically disrupted in females (30.8% of all disrupted parameters)" [end excerpt]

Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup in the People’s Voice February 20th, 2011  By Rady Ananda

[excerpt] A plant pathologist experienced in protecting against biological warfare recently warned the USDA of a new, self-replicating, micro-fungal virus-sized organism which may be causing spontaneous abortions in livestock, sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy, and wilt in Monsanto’s RR corn.
Dr. Don M. Huber, who coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens committee of the American Phytopathological Society, as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System, warned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that this pathogen threatens the US food and feed supply and can lead to the collapse of the US corn and soy export markets. Likewise, deregulation of GE alfalfa “could be a calamity,” he noted in his letter (reproduced in full below)."

Some of my previous posts on Round-up and genetically modified plants

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

$1 Trillion a Year for War and "Security"?

Americans Pay $1 Trillion a Year for War and 'Security' - Why? By Chris Hellman, Mattea Kramer, TomDispatch 23 May 12

 [excerpted] ...In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion — a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged.

If you’ve heard a number for how much the U.S. spends on the military, it’s probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. That’s the Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal 2013, and represents a 2.5% cut from 2012. But that $530 billion is merely the beginning of what the U.S. spends on national security. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Pentagon’s base budget doesn’t include war funding, which in recent years has been well over $100 billion. With U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq and troop levels falling in Afghanistan, you might think that war funding would be plummeting as well.  In fact, it will drop to a mere $88 billion in fiscal 2013. By way of comparison, the federal government will spend around $64 billion on education that same year...."

read the entire article here:

Mutations: Germ Line Mosaicism

Majia here: This post is a follow up from yesterday's post on genetic mutations and ionizing radiation

Today I examined some UN reports. It is worth noting that the World Health Organization (and probably all health related UN organizations) is subordinate in authority to the IAEA and is barred from conducting their own independent research on the effects of ionizing radiation.

Enenews had a report on this subordination

It is clear from the research I'm doing that the effects of ionizing radiation have been extraordinarily politicized in order to legitimize the insanity of nuclear bombs and nuclear "energy."

However, I will make that particular argument later.

Right now I'm focusing on current research summaries of the effects of ionizing radiations on mutations.

The following report offers a discussion of germ line mosaicism that accords with the 1956 report I looked at yesterday: Genetics Committee Report Concerning Effects of Radioactivity on Heredity

ANNEX UNSCAR REPORT: Hereditary effects of radiation 2001

page 62

[excerpted] "Germ-line mosaicism (the occurrence of a de novo mutation in a germ-line cell or one of its precursors during early embryonic development), however, will result in a “mutant sector” in the gonad of an otherwise phenotypically normal individual, and such an individual will generate gametes carrying the mutation, which in turn may result in individuals carrying the same mutation in the following generation (“mutant clusters”).

The occurrence of germ-line mosaicism provides an explanation for the inheritance patterns in cases where multiple affected children are born to clinically normal parents. For instance, some diseases that satisfy two of the requirements for autosomal recessive inheritance, namely, expression in the offspring of unaffected parents and recurrence within sibs, may actually be due to a dominant mutation that was present as a mosaic in the parental germ line.

In organisms such as the Drosophila and the mouse, a sizeable proportion of spontaneous mutations is known to arise as mosaics in the germ line and can be readily inferred from the occurrence of clusters of identical mutations in the progeny of singlepair matings [F27, R40, S99, S100, S101, S102, W28]." [end excerpt from page 62]

MAJIA HERE: NOTE the report argues that the calculations of risk for mice mutations should not be directly generalized (in a formula) to calculate human mutation rates:

[excerpted] (a) the use of entirely mouse-data based doubling doses to estimate human genetic risks is conceptually incorrect; (b) it is not possible to extrapolate from mouse data on mosaics and clusters to human spontaneous rates at present; and (c) the prudent way forward is to use spontaneous mutation rates of human genes and rates of induced mutations in mouse genes to estimate doubling doses, as was first done in the 1972 BEIR Report." (page 64)

MAJIA HERE: Limits of mice studies for calculating specific risk factors duly noted.


This point was noted and emphasized in the 1956 Genetics Committee Report Concerning Effects of Radioactivity on Heredity I discussed yesterday.

It is an important point because it implies that many of the genetic mutations caused by radiation (and chemicals) may not be visible until they accumulate to such an extent that they cause gross mutations. The mutations can effectively "sneak" up on a population across generations:

[excerpted] "It can be argued, however, that a significant proportion of mutations or deletions in developmental genes is recessive, i.e. heterozygotes do not manifest the abnormal developmental phenotype. Some support for this line argument comes from homozygosity tests of radiation-induced specific locus mutations in mice which uncovered the existence of this class of mutations that were not detected by phenotypic analysis (e.g. [R12]).

Majia here: The report yesterday noted that although the mutations may be latent, they can still affect the health of the affected individual and may be carried down generations whereupon the accumulation of errors produces greater magnitude problems, since each generation inherits all genetic damage to germ line cells acquired by his/her family line.

On Friday or later this weekend I plan on examining ANNEX C: Non-Targeted and Delayed Effects of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation 2006

Before concluding this post, I would like to point to a research study on mice that found that older male mice exposed to ionizing radiation had more permanent germ-line damage.

I found this study interesting because a correlation has been observed between advanced paternal age and autism.

The study still has bearing on this problem I think, while I acknowledge the error of extrapolating  actual quantitative risk figures for humans from mice:

Ionizing radiation-induced mutant frequencies increase transiently in male germ cells of older mice  Guogang Xua, C. Alex McMahanb, Kim Hildretha, Rebecca A. Garciaa, Damon C. Herberta, Christi A. Walter Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis Available online 31 January 2012


[excerpt] Spontaneous mutant frequency in the male germline increases with age, thereby increasing the risk of siring offspring with genetic disorders. In the present study we investigated the effect of age on ionizing radiation-induced male germline mutagenesis. lacI transgenic mice were treated with ionizing radiation at 4-, 15- and 26-month-old, and mutant frequencies were determined for pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids at 15 days or 49 days after ionizing radiation treatment.

Cells collected 15 days after treatment were derivatives of irradiated differentiating spermatogenic cells while cells collected 49 days later were derivatives of spermatogonial stem cells. The results showed that (1) spontaneous mutant frequency increased in spermatogenic cells recovered from nonirradiated old mice (26-months-old), particularly in the round spermatids; (2) mutant frequencies were significantly increased in round spermatids obtained from middle-aged mice (15-months-old) and old age mice (26-months-old) at 15 and 49 days after irradiation compared to the sham-treated old mice; and (3) pachytene spermatocytes obtained from 15- or 26-month-old mice displayed a significantly increased mutant frequency at 15 days post irradiation.

This study indicates that age modulates the mutagenic response to ionizing radiation in the male germline.

[excerpt from article] "Advanced paternal age (about 40 years or older at the time of conception) is associated with an increased incidence of a wide range of genetic and epigenetic diseases in offspring [2]. For example de novo mutations (C to G in fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) gene) in 57 Apert cases were all of paternal origin…In addition to several diseases with clear Mendelian inheritance, advanced paternal age is also linked to an increased risk for diabetes with a genetic component such as childhood cancers [5-7], diabetes mellitus type [8], multiple sclerosis [9], autism [10] and congenital malformations [11], and others. The association between paternal age and increased risk for diseases in offspring may be at least partially ascribed to mutagenesis in male gametes [12-16]."

Majia here: My previous post on this study and its potential implications for autism