Monday, April 04, 2011

All Tea All the Time

(That's hapless Tea Reporter Don Gonyea)

It's no secret that like Fox News, NPR is Tea Party friendly turf - even fairly unbalanced Tea Partiers like Lori Medina of Dallas find NPR fair - well, duh. Given that a recent poll shows the Tea Party suck factor growing (almost as high as for Democrats and Republicans-see the poll here), and given that a recent Tea Party rally in Washington, DC drew a minuscule 100-200 participants (Politico and Slate have a couple of photos - you decide) - no wonder NPR felt obliged to provide amplified and robust coverage to this far right army of Dick. So what does a dinky little DC rally of hardcore rightwingers get on NPR?
So what gives? Even if one concedes that the Tea Party represents a force in American politics, one can easily argue that a group like MoveOn represents an equally powerful force in electoral politics. So take a look at how on-air Tea Party coverage compares to on-air MoveOn coverage on NPR. That's 789 for the Tea Party compared to 106 for MoveOn - very fair, very balanced.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

National Pekoe Radio?

jaytingle said...

Reminds me of Jeff Dvorkin and his weird, weird assertion that NPR doesn't rely on mainly on conservative think tanks. As proof he offered a list of the number of times NPR consulted with each of the various think tanks. And the list favored conservative think tanks 2 to 1.
http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh121605.html
There is no reasoning with this mentality. NPR will be apologizing for liberal bias long after they require their employees to wear black shirts at work, and at home.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear disaster "Nothing to worry about"? (just a big "Got Radiation?" joke) as NPR claims on a daily basis?

You decide.

Radioactive Materials Found in Fish Near Stricken Japan Nuclear Plant(WSJ)

"TOKYO—Japanese authorities reported Tuesday they had found unusually high levels of radioactive materials in fish caught about 80 kilometers from a stricken nuclear plant, stoking concerns that radioactive water from the plant threatens marine life, and possibly a key food source for the country.

In one sample collected April 1, a local fishery cooperative detected 4,080 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine. While Japan hadn't set a limit for acceptable iodine levels in seafood, on Tuesday, the government set the limit at 2,000 becquerels per kilogram, the same as for vegetables.

In another sample collected Monday, 526 becquerels per kilogram of cesium was detected in fish, exceeding the 500-becquerel limit."

/////////////////////end of quotes from WSJ



The radiation doses from cesium levels found in the fish were considerably lower than for the iodine, but cesium is actually of FAR GREATER concern because (unlike iodine which dissipates fairly quckly -- the level drops by half every 8 days if no new iodine is introduced), cesium sticks around for decades and actually bioaccumulates in the food chain (big fish eat little fish and humans eat that)

Remember, on April 4 (3 days AFTER the above readings in fish were taken), TEPCO dumped 3 million gallons of "low-level" radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

During a crisis like this, if officials actually TELL you worrisome things, you KNOW it must be bad because they invariably try to low ball the real risks.

Anonymous said...

What, NPR worry?


Radioactivity in sea up 7.5 million times
Marine life contamination well beyond Japan feared By KANAKO TAKAHARA

Anonymous said...

NPR's Jon Hamilton is still downplaying the risks.

Sushi Science: Fear, Not Radiation, Seen As Risk by Jon Hamilton

From the Hamilton piece
"Kusakabe [expert] says radioactive cesium is a lot worse: Its half-life is measured in decades, not days. But so far, much less cesium has gotten into the ocean at Fukushima."

[NOT TRUE:

"the amount of cesium-134 [found April 1 in fish] was 2 million times the maximum amount permitted and cesium-137 was 1.3 million times the amount allowable."


See Radioactivity in sea up 7.5 million times
Marine life contamination well beyond Japan feared

]

More from Hamilton:

"Also, the ocean is so vast that radioactive materials are heavily diluted by the time they travel even a few miles."

So the Japanese fish most likely to become contaminated are the ones that spend their entire lives right near the Fukushima power plant. And the government isn't letting fishing vessels anywhere near the place.

But what about the ocean-going fish that show up on sashimi platters — fish like salmon and tuna? Might they be contaminated by radioactive material from the power plant?

"I don't think so," he says, "because tuna move everywhere. They travel, you know, maybe hundreds of kilometers, so they never stay there."

///end NPR quotes

The idea that one need only worry about fish that stick around the plant is nonsense.

As the above "Radioactivity in sea up 7.5 million times" article indicates
"Marine life contamination well beyond Japan feared"

Those fears are warranted.

First, the contaminated fish were actually found 80 km ( 50 miles) from the Fukushima power plant.

As the article says "The amount of cesium-134 was 2 million times the maximum amount permitted and cesium-137 was 1.3 million times the amount allowable."

Second (and here'sthe key) Radioactive cesium (particularly Cesium 137 with a half life of 30 years) sticks around for YEARS (decades with Cs-137) in the environment and BIOACCUMULATES, which means it concentrates as small fish eat big fish etc.

Most ocean fish do NOT just stick around one small area. But even those that do stick around will inevitably get eaten by bigger fish coming through the contaminated area (thereby concentrating the level of cesium).

These bigger fish swim away from the area and then get eaten by yet bigger fish (and the level of cesium concentrates more).


Pretty soon, what started as a very localized problem becomes widespread.

The level of radioactive cesium becomes higher and higher as it moves up the food chain.

Get the picture?

Obviously it's too complex for Jon Hamilton and his "experts" to understand.

geoff said...

The NPR playbook for downplaying the nuclear hazards at Nukushima go like this:

1. Mention the awful contamination of iodine isotopes but then note that this isotope has a half life of 8 days.
2. Mention that there are also some cesium isotopes, and that the half life is in decades, but then talk about what a big ocean it is and how fish don't tend to linger in one area.
3. Talk about how the biggest danger is that people will be afraid.

Anonymous said...

If a mamma grizzly bear and her cub were in your living room , NPR would tell you there was nothing to fear because there was no record of a grizzly ever attacking a person in their living room.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the grizzly bear example is actually very applicable to the radiation risk case.

It is oft quoted by those who wish to downplay the risks of nuclear power that even in the world's worst disaster (Chernobyl)

"only 56 people have died as a direct result of the radiation released and only about 4,000 will die from it eventually", according The UN's World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But the problem with those numbers is several-fold, as pointed out by Guardian UK journalist John Vidal:

in Chernobyl nuclear accident: figures for deaths and cancers still in dispute

first, the UN only accepts results that have appeared in certain peer-reviewed papers and ignores all the other studies performed by scientists which give much higher estimates:

"The International Agency for Research on Cancer, another UN agency, predicts 16,000 deaths from Chernobyl; an assessment by the Russian academy of sciences says there have been 60,000 deaths so far in Russia and an estimated 140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus.

Meanwhile, the Belarus national academy of sciences estimates 93,000 deaths so far and 270,000 cancers, and the Ukrainian national commission for radiation protection calculates 500,000 deaths so far."


//end quote


The second problem is that many of those affected moved out of the area soon after the 'accident", so it became very difficult (if not impossible) to track them over the long term, something that is absolutely necessary in the case of slow-developing cancers.

But absence of evidence (of cancer) is not evidence of absence (of cancer).

If there is a dearth of data and you only look at a small fraction of the studies that have been done, there is a fairly high probability that you will get a distorted picture of reality.

It's like looking at a freckle on someone's arm and trying to figure out what they look like.

This is the CONTEXT that a news program like NPR should be giving people so that they can decide for themselves whether reports are trustworthy or not.

Instead, NPR assumes everyone is as stupid as their journalists and spoon-feeds listeners what they perceive to be the "Truth", which in many cases is not even close.

Anonymous said...

Er ... Could someone please explain why Tina Brown and the NewsWeek-Daily-Beast merger is getting such play (just like the Tea Party) on NPR? She seems to be constantly gloating on this or that NPR program -- the other day she was on Diane Rehm.
I've never been a fan of NewsWeek (in fact I always thought it was bloody awful) -- and I know nothing about the Daily Beast. But I am highly suspicious of smooth-talking, answer-for-everything Tina Brown so I am not hopeful for the news content of this "marriage".
On the Rehm show she appeared with a representative from NewsWeek. One of the saner listener comments posed the question of where the "left" would feature in their future reportage. Brown didn't comment while the NewsWeek guy seemed to equate Obama with the left (thereby, in my view, misunderstanding the question). Another caller feared dumbing-down of news presentation which Brown poo-pooed emphatically using terms like "intellectual content". Hmmm ...
Is Tina Brown just another irritating NPR habit or is something going on here?

Anonymous said...

@Anon,

Tina Brown has an annoyingly reoccurring "column" (Tina Brown's Must-Reads)NPR. I guess they like her because she hiply offsets the likes of old hens like Cokie Dokie Roberts.

Don Q. Public

Anonymous said...

@Anon,

Tina Brown has an annoyingly reoccurring "column" (Tina Brown's Must-Reads) on NPR. I guess they like her because she hiply offsets the likes of old hens like Cokie Dokie Roberts.

Don Q. Public

Patrick Lynch said...

My theory about Tina Brown is perhaps slightly more crude. Inskeep has the hots for her and any other woman with a posh British accent. Inskeep is typically embarrassing during these segments.

geoff said...

OMG - Jason Beaubian clearly thinks we have no way of knowing anything about Haiti other than what he tells us. In Novice Pop Star Haiti's President to Be

Haiti, however, has proved throughout history to be a tricky country to govern. There's a long line of former Haitian rulers who've been overthrown, assassinated, died mysteriously in office or forced into exile. And Martelly will be taking over the country at a particularly difficult time. Much of the capital was destroyed in last year's earthquake, the cholera epidemic continues, and Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

All these things are obviously the result of black folks being inept at self-rule, right? That's the implication. "Those poor black folks should never have overthrown their slave-masters: see what happens?"

Check out Pina for another perspective.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear disaster "Nothing to worry about"? (just a big "Got Radiation?" joke) as NPR claims on a daily basis?

You decide.

Radioactive Materials Found in Fish Near Stricken Japan Nuclear Plant(WSJ)

"TOKYO—Japanese authorities reported Tuesday they had found unusually high levels of radioactive materials in fish caught about 80 kilometers from a stricken nuclear plant, stoking concerns that radioactive water from the plant threatens marine life, and possibly a key food source for the country.

In one sample collected April 1, a local fishery cooperative detected 4,080 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine. While Japan hadn't set a limit for acceptable iodine levels in seafood, on Tuesday, the government set the limit at 2,000 becquerels per kilogram, the same as for vegetables.

In another sample collected Monday, 526 becquerels per kilogram of cesium was detected in fish, exceeding the 500-becquerel limit."

/////////////////////end of quotes from WSJ



The age related radiation dose coefficients for I-131 are provided in Table 3 of this FDA document (taken from ICRP publication 56)

Note that the I-131 dose coefficient for "thyroid" (which is most relevant because the thyroid is most susceptible to I-131) for ADULTS (we will assume infants are not going to be eating fish) is 0.00044 millisievert per becquerel (mSv/Bq)

So, based on the report that
"one sample collected April 1, a local fishery cooperative detected 4,080 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine. While Japan hadn't set a limit for acceptable iodine levels in seafood, on Tuesday, the government set the limit at 2,000 becquerels per kilogram, the same as for vegetables."


we can calculate that one kg of this fish gives a radiation dose of 4,080 x 0.00044 mSv/Bq = 1.8 millisievert.

A typical serving of fish (steak or fillet) is about 6 to 8 ounces. sushi about 2 to 4 ounces

Assume the number in the middle (7oz for fillet and 3 oz for sushi)

What that means is that one serving of fish fillet gives a radiation dose of ( 7 / 35.2) (1.8) = 0.35 millisievert -- Or, roughly 1/3 millisievert (where I have used the conversion 1 kilogram = 35.2 oz)


one serving of sushi gives a radiation dose of ( 3 / 35.2) (1.8) = 0.15 millisievert

People rarely eat 1 peice of sushi. It would seem reasonable to assume they eat about three.

3 x 0.15 = 0.45 millisievert (or about half a millisievert)

Now, let's put this in context:

The maximum recommended cumulative radiation dose for a member of the general public is 1 millisievert per YEAR.

People would only have to eat a few servings of that contaminated fish to get that 1 mSv dose.

(of course, if people eat fish more than one time, the dose adds up ie. it's cumulative)

That's for radioactive Iodine

The radiation doses from cesium levels found in the fish in japan were considerably lower than for the iodine (about 1/8), but cesium is actually of FAR GREATER concern because (unlike iodine which dissipates fairly quckly -- the level drops by half every 8 days if no new iodine is introduced), cesium 137 sticks around for decades and actually bioaccumulates in the food chain (big fish eat little fish and humans eat that)


remember, on April 4 (3 days AFTER the above readings in fish were taken), TEPCO dumped 3 million gallons of "low-level" radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

D.O. said...

Right, a couple hundred lame-ass teabaggers has NPR falling all over themselves to cover the event, then on April 4 when tens of thousands of workers & supporters hold events all over the map NPR takes a pass. Surprise!

I'd fire off another note to their "ombudsman" but just exactly where does that go?