The Fukushima 50 and the White House Cipher

This was a week of enormous contrasts, in which we saw colossal courage and integrity and bravery on the part of U.S. troops and ordinary Japanese, and cowardice and childishness in the White House.

Battered by a devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami which has destroyed cities and apparently taken the lives of untold thousands of its people, Japan faced the possibility of even worse news -- a crisis in its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which if uncontrolled would wreak enormous additional damage, and which in any case will result in substantial energy constraints in a country with few energy resources of its own. One could only watch the horror and be stunned by the brave and civilized response of the Japanese nuclear technicians -- dubbed the Fukushima 50 -- who willingly risked their health and lives to save their countrymen.  As this column goes to press it appears the Fukushima heroes may have succeeded in preventing the meltdown of the fuel rods under extraordinarily difficult conditions.

But the Fukushima 50 were not alone in bringing great honor to their people.  So many people were displaced from their homes by the three events that shelters were inadequate to hold them all.  Yet picture after picture of them revealed the slots had been given to the youngest and the most elderly and infirm, and the shelters looked clean and orderly, even if short of amenities. Everywhere in the areas involved food, clothing, water and, transport and medical supplies are inadequate.  Even in Tokyo, supplies are dwindling, and as the weather is cold the lack of energy to heat homes coupled with frequent aftershocks most certainly be dispiriting.  And yet...shops REDUCED prices of food and water when they had them; people waited in orderly lines to get what was needed; there are no reports of looting or mayhem, It is a moment every one of us who witnesses it from our distant, safe havens shall never forget.

Those of our troops called to assist them matches the selflessness of the Japanese survivors.

An online friend I've nicknamed  DoT posted this email from Ensign Margaret Morton, USS Mustin (DDG 89) a cousin of his.  She's stationed on the USS Mustin and the ship's mission this week is to provide relief to the stricken near Sendai.  She provides details of the situation from her vantage point:

Dear friends and family, I am in complete amazement. The number of recipients of this e-mail has grown exponentially, and I quite literally have received replies from people all over the world. I have shared your thoughts and prayers with my sailors and they appreciate the support as much as I do. I am writing to give a second update on the events off the coast of Sendai.

I stood watch this morning from 2-7 am, carefully maneuvering through the darkness so as not to hit half submerged cargo boxes and overturned boats. To add to the challenge, our visibility decreased from about 8 miles to less than one in a matter of minutes as we entered into a blizzard. And if that wasn't enough, we still are remaining cautious of the radiation hazard a couple hundred miles away and feeling various aftershocks. In my Captain's words, "You couldn't write this stuff." Every day has been an adventure.

Today our helo was vectored off to an isolated hospital with SOS showing on the rooftop. This hospital contained over 200 patients still alive and in desperate need of supplies.  We delivered food, water, clothing, and blankets.  The pilots are about to make a final run for the day right now and are calling for any last things we can bear to give up.  I managed to grab another jacket from my closet and my old UGG boots.  I figure I don't need much more than coveralls and a pair of black boots to live on a ship.

A major concern for us out here on the water is the people we left behind.  The Navy has around 25,000 people living in the Yokosuka area.  As a preemptive measure, they have just begun voluntary evacuation of families from Japan due to the uncertainty of the nuclear plants and the potential for the winds to shift and spread radiation to the south.  They also are feeling the many aftershocks from the initial earthquake, including a six that occurred just across Tokyo Bay from the base.  For me, I only have to worry about the state of my household goods, for most of my sailors, they have a lot more on the line.

Please keep all of these people affected in your prayers, from those suffering from injury and loss, to those isolated, yet struggling to survive, and finally for the Sailors and their families who want to help, but must care for their own at the same time.

Many of you have asked how you can help and for now, I don't have much information as we are only doing what we can from the ship.  However, people from our ship are donating money to the American Red Cross who has been working with the Japanese Red Cross to tailor to their specific needs.  I will try to find a point of contact in Japan that can provide more information on donations.

Again, thank you for your support, your prayers, your pictures, and the notes you have sent. I am very thankful to have such an awesome group of people to lift me up. 


Another friend, Janet, said the week's events reminded her of this portion of the Screwtape Letters, Letter XXIX, where two demons are talking about "the Enemy"(God):

"We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, the Enemy permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame....  In peace we can make many of them ignore good and evil entirely; in danger, the issue is forced upon them in a guise to which even we cannot blind them."

As of Thursday night there are still 30 schoolchildren in Ishinomaki whose parents were to pick them up when the tsunami hit. They remained in their classrooms with their loving teachers waiting for their parents to turn up.  No one knows if their parents survived or where they are if they did, but the teachers wait with them to give them courage and love and have forbidden any reporters or strangers to enter for fear the mere opening of the door will give the children false hope and break down the reserve which has kept them calm and comforted in this awful time.

In the face of all this it is hard to believe that this blurb from the official White House web page could be real, but I am sad to report this infantile, narcissistic, piece of tripe, utterly lacking in empathy or dignity is authentic:
As he does every year, the President filled out his brackets predicting the winners of the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments, but discussing it with Doris Burke of ESPN, he began with a call to stand with the people of Japan:

One of the things I wanted to do on the show was, as people are filling out their brackets -- this is obviously a national pastime; we all have a great time, it's a great diversion.  But I know a lot of people are thinking how can they help the Japanese people during this time of need.  If you go to -- -- that will list all the nonprofits, the charities that are helping out there.  It would be wonderful for people to maybe offer a little help to the Japanese people at this time -- as they're filling out their brackets.  It's not going to take a lot of time.  That's  It could be really helpful.

In another time, people would already be chiseling the name of such an inept leader off all official tablets to hide from history his having reached such an exalted place . As it is, perhaps we will have to settle for the unmaking of all the acts and legislation undertaken in his name, Already in Asbury Park, N. J., one of the first schools named for him has been shut down. It was an elementary school where the community spent $36,000 per pupil only to get low test scores in return.

Somehow it seems fitting.
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