Mad About The News
Paying Red-Light Camera Fines Are For Suckers!

That’s the message that motorists in Los Angeles got when it was revealed that red-light camera fines - some of which were as high as $476 - were actually “voluntary.”

Amplify’d from

Did you get a red-light camera ticket? Did you pay the fine? If you did, then you’re a sucker.

That’s the message that motorists in Los Angeles got when it was revealed that red-light camera fines - some of which were as high as $476 - were actually “voluntary.”

The Los Angeles Times has the story:

City officials this week spotlighted a surprising revelation involving red-light camera tickets: Authorities cannot force violators who simply don’t respond to pay them. For a variety of reasons, including the way the law was written, Los Angeles officials say the fines for ticketed motorists are essentially “voluntary” and there are virtually no tangible consequences for those who refuse to pay. […]

Unlike other moving citations, which are issued directly by a police officer to a driver who signs a promise to appear in court, red-light camera tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle allegedly involved in the violation.

That has limited the Los Angeles County Superior Court system’s willingness to aggressively enforce camera ticket collections for the city and 32 other photo enforcement programs in Los Angeles County, officials said.

Under state law, court officials have discretion over how they pursue those who do not respond to camera-generated citations. Los Angeles County Superior Court officials, as a matter of fairness, said that for the last decade they have chosen a less forceful approach partly because the person receiving the ticket may not be the person who was driving the car.

Japan: High radiation detected in grass

You know, what the cow ate before it was your burger.

Amplify’d from
Tokyo - Local officials in north-eastern Japan said on Thursday they had found high levels of radioactive substances in a sample of pasture grass.

Miyagi prefecture officials detected 1 530 becquerels of radioactive caesium/kg in a sample collected a week ago from a farm run by the town of Marumori, about 60km north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The figure was more than five times the legal limit of 300 becquerels.
The plant has leaked radioactive substances into the environment since it was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The government and operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) have struggled to bring it under control.
Local officials said they also found 350 becquerels of caesium in a sample from a farm in Osaki city.
The Miyagi prefectural government has told around 6 000 livestock farmers across the prefecture to refrain from feeding grass to livestock and putting cattle out on grazing land.

But the move will mainly affect dairy farmers as the legal limit of grass for breeding and commercial cattle is much higher – 5 000 becquerels, said Inao Yamada, a prefectural official.
Water circulation system
Japan: “Eat radioactive veggies”

Japan’s officials try to take a bite out of radiation fears about Fukushima vegetables

Would we lie to you.

Amplify’d from

Gallery: Japanese government seeks to calm food fears: A Japanese government restaurant is now offering Fukushima vegetables, fresh from the nuclear emergency zone. It’s not the first time governments have sought to convince citizens that local food is ready for the eating.

Now offered at lunch at a Japanese government restaurant: a rich curry and rice, topped with Fukushima vegetables fresh from the nuclear-emergency zone.

It is part of an unlikely twist in the eat-local movement as the government presses a skeptical public to accept that food from the contaminated northeastern coastline should be purchased, roasted and devoured, not avoided.

“Damage by perception,” reads a poster promoting the revamped menu at Sakuna, located inside a government ministry. “Let’s fight against it.”

When the restaurant opened for business Friday, politicians rushed in, filling a table of 12. Three parliamentarians were there. Same with the foreign minister, Takeaki Matsumoto. Within minutes, waitresses presented the meals. Each curry dish was topped with two button-size cuts of carrot and broccoli, a few mushroom slivers and two silver-dollar slices of purple potato. Cameras clicked, and politicians sampled their lunches and nodded their approval.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has also been doing his part, urging people to eat food from the disaster-hit areas as a show of support. So has Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, who went to a farmers market and ate a Fukushima strawberry.

“Only safe produce is being distributed,” Edano said. “Please eat it.”

To be sure, no one is pretending that all Fukushima food is absolutely safe; many products from the nuclear zone are indeed contaminated. But the message from the government is that the Japanese should have faith in a monitoring system intended to keep cesium- and iodine-tained products off the shelves.

The officials hope that their promotion of Fukushima food can end the growing confusion about what is safe and what is dangerous. Four weeks ago, people here heard the first reports that spinach and milk had radiation levels exceeding the nation’s standards, and shipments were restricted. Since then, radioactive elements have continued to leak from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, leaving vast areas of farmland unusable, perhaps for decades.

Farmers from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures now fit into two categories. Some cannot be helped by promotion of any kind, because they have products that truly are unfit for sale or consumption. The rest have products that pass inspection, but they are finding that wholesalers are reluctant to buy them, figuring shoppers will still resist.

“When you talk about Fukushima, it’s a vast area,” said Takanobu Tsuda, a food safety investigator from Japan Agriculture, a powerful union of co-ops. “Some areas farther inland — their food is fine. But some places won’t even put it on the shelves. Even food that has cleared the tests is being left untouched.”

Japan faces consumer fears that stretch beyond its borders. South Korea has temporarily banned vegetables from Fukushima and four other prefectures. China and the United States have banned certain produce and seafood from around the Fukushima area. And earlier this month, India placed a blanket ban on all food from Japan, although it later called that decree “unwarranted” and narrowed the restrictions.

Each day on its Web site, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare publishes a list of tested food products, detailing where the items were grown and the level of contamination. The latest list has 98 items, everything from mackerel to rapeseed. Seventy-six of those products had levels of iodine or cesium below restriction level. But several varieties of Fukushima spinach were laced with cesium. And a sand lance fish, caught 22 miles away from the crippled nuclear plant, contained 12,500 becquerels per kilogram of cesium — about 25 times the legal limit.

Farmers, furious at the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima plant, are demanding some compensation. Mamoru Moteki, the Japan Agriculture chairman, submitted a letter to Tepco on Thursday that called the utility’s disaster response “unacceptable.”

“The foundation of agriculture in the Tohoku and Kanto regions itself is threatened,” Moteki wrote.

As for the uncontaminated food, Fukushima farmers tried to sell some of it last week at an open-air market in Tokyo. One Japan Agriculture executive even tested rice and vegetables with a Geiger counter, trying to prove they were safe.

On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsored a smaller indoor farmers market, selling produce from across the northeastern region. A folding table displayed a cornucopia of vegetables: cucumbers from Gunma prefecture, strawberries from Ibaraki, parsnips from Chiba.

Just before noon, parliamentarian Hiroshi Hamamoto walked into the market and grabbed a shopping basket. He stuffed it with tomatoes and leafy greens. Then he reached for a carton containing a bundle of asparagus.

“That’s from Fukushima,” a vendor told him.

Japan’s nuclear emergency
See more at
Japanese Radiation in US Rain

Massachusetts officials: radiation from Japan in rainwater

The nuclear steam you see in the picture below is drifting in the direction of the US. This has been going on for more than a week and no one know when or if it can be stopped.

Beware the yellow rain.

Amplify’d from

“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Sunday that very low concentrations of radioiodine-131 that were likely from the Japanese power plant severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this month have been detected in a sample of rainwater. Officials did not say where the sample was taken.

“The agency said the sample was taken in the past week and is one of more than 100 around the country. It is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency network that monitors for radioactivity.

“State officials say similar testing was done in other states, including California, Pennsylvania and Washington, and showed comparable levels of I-131 in rain.

“Officials also say there is no health impact to drinking water supplies, but will continue to monitor

“The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation,’’ said John Auerbach, commissioner of public health.”
read more: Boston Globe