Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great Article on Why Be Alarmist on Fukushima

Worrying Image of Fukushima Steam Release

Must See Video

Well Said!

Hat tip Whoopie from Enenews

The New Nuclear Arms Race

Apparently the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union was not the end of the nuclear arms race.

Today the Washington Post has an editorial written by Walter Pincus that is essentially criticizing AZ Senator Jon Kyl’s demands for “nuclear weapons modernization.”

I am going to include excerpts from the Washington Post editorial with some of my previous commentary about the nuclear arms race.

In the fall of 2011 Counterpunch criticized the Obama Administration plan to “modernize” nuclear weapons by building MORE of them. Below find an excerpt from that Counterpunch article.

You will see in the Washington Post editorial some hard numbers on the costs of these weapons of death and destruction. The New York Times in the fall of 2011 decried increased spending on these weapons that can never be used.

Truly, humanity is a suicidal species. 
Nuclear weapons modernization: not fast enough for Kyl

[excerpt] "...there is $565 million in the Navy’s 2013 research and development budget for the program, on top of $2 billion already spent. Another $1 billion is in the 2013 budget for the sub’s nuclear…

The Air Force’s 2013 budget has $292 million for what is now called the Long-Range Strike-B (LRS-B) program, a stealth bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons that could be flown by remote control....The initial aircraft will be for use with conventional weapons, although they will be structured to carry nuclear weapons in later versions.

Today the United States has about 1,800 warheads deployed and available for delivery on 450 land-based Minuteman III ICBMs, 14 ballistic missile submarines and 60 strategic bombers. The number of warheads will drop to 1,550 by 2018 under START.

Counterpunch Fall 2011 (available only to subscribers) described Obama's unprecedented (post WW II) escalation of nuclear weapons spending: Succeeding Where Bush Failed: The Obama Administration's Nuclear Weapon Surge. Counterpunch. By Darwin Bond-Graham

[excerpted] "Obama's first term will go down in history, however, as containing one of the single largest spending increases on nuclear weapons ever. His administration has worked vigorously to commit the nation to a multi-hundred-billion-dollar reinvestment in nuclear weapons, mapped out over the next three-plus decades.At the center of Obama's ambitious nuclear agenda is the expansion of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex via a multibillion-dollar construction program.

...Also, at the center of Obama's nuclear agenda is a commitment of tens of billions of dollars to designing and building the next generation of nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers. Stockpiled nuclear warheads will receive billions more in refurbishment and new components. All of this is now underway. Completion dates for various pieces of this puzzle span the next half-century. Finally, Obama's nuclear policies have been designed to leave the door open to new weapons at some future date..."

And, finally, we see that even the bellicose New York Times has reservations about this new nuclear arms race.

Monday, October 31, 2011 Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget and Arsenal The New York Times:

"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..."

Nuclear war can never be waged without wrecking genocide on innocents. Is this new arms race a perverted form of military Keynesianism? Is it about ensuring access to limited resources in an ever depleted earth? 

Although I do not know the motivations that have produced this renewed race, I do know that building nuclear arms (and nuclear energy) is a sure path toward extinction.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WSJ: "S&P Declares Greece in Default"

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today 2/23 in its print edition (p. C3) that Standard and Poor's cut Greece's long-term credit rating to "selective default." A panel is going to decide whether or not the credit default swaps should be payed out.

I bet the Wall Street vultures pushed for this rating so that they can cash in on their credit default swaps, which are insurance contracts on defaults.

And what insurance companies would have to pay out on these credit default swaps?

AIG! No surprise there. Here is an excerpt from an article written by the New York Times back in June 2011 on exposure to a Greek default:

[excerpted] "The looming uncertainties are whether these contracts — which insure against possibilities like a Greek default — are concentrated in the hands of a few companies, and if these companies will be able to pay out billions of dollars to cover losses during a default. If there were a single company standing behind many of these contracts, that company would be akin to the American International Group of the euro crisis. The American insurer needed a $182 billion federal bailout during the financial crisis because it had insured the performance of mortgage bonds through derivatives and could not pay on all of them.

And since AIG is on the dole from the US Government, those credit default swap payouts would ultimately be paid by Uncle Sam.
More back-door bailouts of the Greedy Bankers on the way, brought to you by the villainous destroyers of nations!

Greenpeace Report: Lessons From Fukushima

Video of Fukushima Units 3 and 4

Watch the video and pause it at 49 seconds. 

Look to the left of unit 3 (which is featured). Unit 4 is in the background.

An Enenews commentator believes that the black flow visible in the background between unit 3 and the crane is melted corium from unit 4's spent fuel pool. [correction:unit 3]

[correction: the enenews commentator who posted this has corrected my representation of what he said: He wrote this comment: Majia, just a brief correction to your description above. I did not claim you are looking into corium from the SFP4, but that you are looking directly into the corium for SFP3 - which lost it's water in early December and I believe burned for two months]

I have no idea what it is, but I thought viewers more educated than I might be able to decipher what they are seeing.

Today the New York Times has an article, "Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis," about a new report documenting the chaotic early days of the crisis. The NYT states that authorities were very concerned about the spent fuel pools. The report indicates that the pools were subsequently found to be safe.

[excerpt from the NYT article] "The report also describes the panic within the Kan administration at the prospect of large radiation releases from the more than 10,000 spent fuel rods that were stored in relatively unprotected pools near the damaged reactors. The report says it was not until five days after the earthquake that a Japanese military helicopter was finally able to confirm that the pool deemed at highest risk, near the No. 4 reactor, was still safely filled with water...."

The article goes on to state that the US government "overreacted" because it thought that one of the spent fuel pools (unit 4) was burning:

[excerpted] "The report seems to confirm the suspicions of nuclear experts in the United States — inside and outside the government — that the Japanese government was not being forthcoming about the full dangers posed by the stricken Fukushima plant. But it also shows that the United States government occasionally overreacted and inflated the risks, such as when American officials mistakenly warned that the spent fuel rods in the pool near unit No. 4 were exposed to the air and vulnerable to melting down and releasing huge amounts of radiation..."

Majia here: Is the report described by the New York Times another whitewash? 

Did spent fuel pool #4 burn? 

If not, what was that strange, massive, glowing blob that was visible in the middle of building 4 from the JNN/TBS cam for weeks in Jan and early Feb?

There are too many unanswered questions here and too many accounts of inexplicably high radiation levels still on the US west coast, as documented by Michael Collins

Monday, February 27, 2012

BP Hid Oil With Corexit Knowing Civil Penalty Is Per Barrel

BP Liable for Civil Penalties for Oil Spill By Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press
24 February 12

[excerpted] "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that BP PLC and one of its minority partners in the blown-out Macondo well are liable for civil penalties under the Clean Water Act for their roles in the nation's worst offshore oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier also ruled that Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. may be liable under the same law as an "operator" of the well. The judge, however, said he couldn't decide before a trial scheduled to start Feb. 27 whether Transocean meets the definition of that term...."

Here are some of my previous comments about BP's use of corexit to attempt to reduce its legal exposure since the penalties will be charged per barrel

BP wanted to pay per barrel I bet. 

They used the corexit to reduce their legal exposure because the dispersant  broke up the oil into tiny droplets that were more difficult to measure and may have even fallen to the bottom.

BP may have created a toxic soup for all bottom life and feeders on bottom life (that means us folks--eat shrimp?), but they limited their financial exposure.

According to Milton Friedman, that is good corporate policy. Profits above all us, even human health and the biosphere.

BP uses this strategy in its air releases as well

With Fukushima Debris Heading to the US West Coast...

...the US Federal Government is trying to cut funds for monitoring beaches...


From the Washington Post "Americans love the beach, but should watch out for bacteria" [majia: and radiation!]: 

"[excerpted] environmentalists are criticizing the Obama administration’s proposal this month to cut all funding for states to monitor contamination at beaches starting in 2013.

The president’s budget request has a long way to go before passing, but “if it goes through, the states are going to have a tough choice — cut back the number of beaches they monitor or find state revenue to cover their efforts,” said Jon Devine, an attorney for the water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC...."

Furthermore, the article explains that the EPA has actually lowered standards for regulating beach closures due to bacteria in ocean waters:

"Recently the EPA set that standard, saying it’s okay if 1 in 28 swimmers develops a gastrointestinal illness that leads to diarrhea and vomiting. Fleischli said that number should be closer to 1 in 100."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lessons from Fukushima: The Power of Denial and the Optimismm of Youth

The Lessons of Fukushima symposium held at Willamette ended Saturday afternoon and I will be heading home.

There was a diverse group of participants at the symposium, including people from Japan, Canada, and the US.

Although I learned much at the conference, what struck me most forcefully was the power of denial and the optimism of youth.

I discussed the power of denial yesterday when expressing my outrage over Mercy Corp's oblivious attitude toward the radiation contamination in the area of Northern Japan they were assisting.

I learned more about the power of denial today. A thoughtful professor from Japan described the horrors of children forced to stay inside for fear of radiation contamination, day in and day out.

Yet, this same thoughtful professor who was so genuinely concerned about the welfare of his nation's children simultaneously claimed, without hesitation, that the Japanese government is testing ALL food and drinking water thoroughly, despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

I also learned about denial when an "independent researcher" from Fukushima claimed that radioactive Iodine-131 is gone in 8 days and therefore children in the area are now free from any risk of thyroid cancer. 

This misunderstanding of what a half-life represents (in 8 days 1/2 of the Iodine-131 has decayed; in another 8 days 1/2 of that is left, etc.), as well as the isotope's health effects, seemed deliberate, as was the failure to acknowledge my power point slide that demonstrated Iodine-131 was found in snow in Tokyo on Jan 20th of 2012.

Maybe denial is necessary to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape?

Maybe denial is an ubiquitous, human survival mechanism, hard-wired into our neural networks?

But, what happens if Chernobyl's toxic legacy of terribly damaged children is repeated in Japan?

Can denial salve the unfathomable depths of despair experienced by a parent of a suffering child?

I am at a loss at how to even begin to understand....

On another note, a strange aspect of denial at the symposium was its transmutation into optimism.

The optimism of the young Americans who had visited post-crisis Japan was as striking as the stoic efforts at normalcy (through denial) among the older Japanese adults.

The threat of radiation contamination was not real for these early 20-something students.

Their energy and desire to help "reconstruct" northern Japan was simultaneously refreshing and troubling.

Might their very presence reinforce the capacity to deny the invisible toxicity?

Or will their youthful care and optimism operate as a salve for people who have been essentially abandoned by default since no viable alternatives have been made available for their relocation?

I do not know the answers to these questions.

I do not know what is right. I am troubled.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lessons From Fukushima Conference

here is the link to the conference

Willamette is a beautiful university and everyone who works here has been very gracious.

The conference has been very interesting so far.

However, I want to reflect upon a disturbing presentation.

Today there was a speaker from Mercy Corps who discussed how her NGO is helping residents in Northern Japan resume their economy, especially by helping them resume their fishing activities and resume bringing their agricultural goods to market.

She spoke for approximately 25 minutes. No mention was made of radiation, Fukushima fallout, or any contamination.

The disaster, by definition, was limited to the earthquake and the tsunami. 

No nuclear disaster that has contaminated most of Northern Japan existed in her world.

I have no doubt Mercy Corp does good work in many areas of the world. 

However, how can the organization ignore the problems radiation contamination poses to resuming "normal" economic activity when fish are already bio-accumulating radiation in Japan?

When I asked about this incredible absence in the delivery of her message about Japan's "recovery," she replied that was not her NGO's "responsibility."

Everyone should watch her presentation (Carol Skowron) and decide for themselves whether this model of disaster relief is appropriate in radiation contaminated areas.

I believe that anyone who participates willingly in the denial/cover-up of one of, if not the, worst nuclear disaster in human history is complicit.

here are some maps of contamination produced by Japanese citizens and others 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quick Links

In Oregon... Thoughts on How to End the Slumber

I made it to Salem without delay. The conference on Lessons From Fukushima starts tomorrow afternoon.

I had the good fortune of sharing the bus from Portland to Salem with an independent scientist who has worked for universities in the past and now works for an NGO.

She (the scientist) and I went to dinner and over good Indian food discussed the challenges facing researchers who study environmental issues, particularly in the hot topic areas of lead, mercury and ionizing radiation.

Her experience, which has much greater breadth and depth than my own, reaffirms the challenges I've witnessed confronting researchers who study environmental health.

Researchers at universities might explore the link between an environmental pollutant and health (e.g., lead and autism), but the researcher's career is over if s/he ever dares step into the public spotlight to discuss the industrial and/or commercial source(s) of the contaminant.

Death by lack of future funding is a painful way to go.

And perhaps we should not judge these scientists, because if they do speak out publicly, they will lose what little funding they have fought hard to get in order to study health effects objectively.

Furthermore, rarely do we hear the public crying out for more environmental research and so I can imagine that disciplining unruly scientists who speak up is relatively easy since a public outcry is unlikely.

Scientists who work at NGOs may have more freedom, but that freedom also translates into few resources (including laboratory equipment and space) and few dollars to pursue studies. 

We concluded from our conversation that perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge is waking up the population from slumber so that environmental health becomes a priority.

The government doesn't really need to silence discussion of the implications of the findings that are published in journals such as Environmental Health Perspectives because so few people in the general public seem to pay attention or care.

Ok, I know that the people who read this blog probably care.

However, I can tell you that most of my students do not seem to care, despite my efforts to educate them on sustainability in the most holistic sense possible.

How can we help people realize that our very existence as a species is at risk as a consequence of our thoughtless destruction of vital resources, such as our air, our water, and our soil?

How can ecological well-being be a hot Facebook topic?
Must each citizen of the world be faced with a terrible crisis, personally, before this awareness dawns?

Heading to Oregon for the Fukushima Conference

Should I wear a mask on the plane? 

When Enviroreporter Michael Collins and his partner flew they recorded alpha particles, which had stuck to their masks during the flight

However, wearing one of those uncomfortable, steamy masks and tolerating all the stranger glances is daunting.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ionizing Radiation and Germ Cell Damage: Link to Autism?

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


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: Classical autism in children has been linked to father's age in a positive relationship (older father higher risk of autism in offspring)

This article on the effects of ionizing radiation suggests one mechanism. The body's susceptibility and/or capabilities to repair DNA damage from ionizing radiation wane with age, increasing the likelihood that the offspring will inherit damaged DNA.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interesting Article About Plutonium Transport

[excerpt]"Thanks to the research, the most perplexing element on the periodic table is slowly losing some of its mystery about how it travels underground faster and farther than anyone at first expected."

Majia here: A little late to be figuring that out now about US nuclear sites that are decades old.

Not optimistic news for Fukushima byproducts...

Must See Fukushima Video Uploaded Feb 20

The Dangers of Place and the Failure of Modernity

Most people who inhabit America's middle-classes and upper-middle-class (and lower upper-class) have a strong, but rarely explicated faith that in the event of a crisis situation the US federal and state governments will conduct evacuation and rescue plans and procedures.

The idea that it is possible to create contingency plans for emergency situations derives from the modern assumption that society is a space that can be governed, engineered, and controlled.

During the cold war period, this faith in government was quite strong. All manner of contingency plans were created to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear bomb explosion, including evacuation strategies and plans for citizens sheltering in place.

I really don't know for sure, but my impression is that the people who created these documents actually believed that they would, and could, be implemented.

Faith in government reason, power, and good will infuse these modernist documents.

And so nuclear power plants were built in the midst of highly populated areas, such as San Onofre near LA and San Diego and Palo Verde, near Phoenix.

Such was the faith in engineering, that it was presumed that no evacuation plans would ever need implementing for no nuclear plant could be conceived as failing.

However, driven by the modernist impulse to envision and plan for contingencies, evacuation plans and shelter in place strategies were developed and shelved.

The populace rest easy knowing plans were in place to protect their welfare in the event of some disaster because policy makers and public health officials were credited with the capacities to envision and plan for all possible scenarios.

When Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans and thousands were abandoned at hospitals, retirement homes and evacuation centers, the middle-class reasoned that this failure of government was a measure of the inadequacy of the poor to follow evacuation orders and procedures.

The contradictions specific to this interpretation--especially the abandonment of thousands of citizens at evacuation centers--was studiously ignored by citizens not affected directly by the disaster.

The middle-classes were confident that their value as citizens would necessarily cause government to ensure their safe passage in the event of a major crisis, despite growing evidence that this faith was/is misplaced.

The fact of the matter is that evacuating a large city is nearly an impossible task, particularly within a narrow time frame.

Furthermore, there are great economic and social costs associated with efforts to move large populations quickly.

Finally, governments may not be inclined to protect the health and welfare of their populations when efforts toward these ends produce economic costs and threaten social order.

Those modernist documents that presume government willingness and capacities to respond to crises are, in fact, works of fiction.

The truth is that we will be left to our own devices should disaster strike a heavily populated area. There will be no mass evacuation, no massive response.

The BP oil spill response demonstrated this truth.

Rich residents living in coastal areas were chemically victimized by the millions of gallons of corexit used to hide the oil; class offered little protection when it came to the public policy response.

Invisible threats like radiation fallout are convenient for government officials tasked with, but unable to implement, emergency response procedures.

Threats can be managed by denying their existence.

Middle-class populations are endangered by their naivete. 

Unlike working class people who are more likely to understand the game, middle-class groups are deluded by their faith in modernity and their faith in the goodwill of their governments.

Fukushima has laid bare the complicity of governments with a corporate order that attaches little to no value to human life or the vitality of the biosphere.

Yet, the invisibility of the threat has enabled a web of denial to be woven across nations. 

The corporate media have largely been complicit in accommodating deception.

And so each one of us, irrespective of our income or occupation, is essentially equally vulnerable to the risk quotients of our place of residence.

No gated neighborhood or elevated zipcode can guarantee security unless inhabitants are the actual decision makers.

Modernity--its rationality, faith in engineering, and cybernetic decision models--is a lie and every protection it promises is a seductive fiction.

We are on our own and we are naked, vulnerable against the very modernist technologies that promised us security....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Privatization of Prisons Will Further Corrupt Penal System

Private Prison Company to Demand 90% Occupancy By Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov 19 February 12

[excerpted] The nation's largest private prison company is offering cash-strapped state governments to buy up their penitentiaries and manage convicted criminals at a cost-savings. But there's a catch…the states must guarantee that are there are enough prisoners to ensure that the venture is profitable to the company.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has reached out to 48 states as part of a $250 million plan to own existing prisons and manage their operations. But in return CCA wants a 20-year contract and assurances that the state will keep the prisons at least 90% full..."

Read the article at the link above.

Private corrections create incentives for incarceration and there are documented cases where judges have incarcerated young people because of kickbacks from the detention centers. Private prisons are less transparent than public facilities, thereby allowing more abuses to occur.

Here are my thoughts about the US penal system, taken from my book on childhood, Governing Childhood: Biopolitical Strategies of....

Once children enter the juvenile court system, particularly, minority and poor children, they are in danger of being sentenced to the total institutions of juvenile “boot-camps.” Juvenile offenders often are secured in privatized facilities such as “boot-camps” where they are subject to remediation, often through strict disciplines and corporeal punishment, as illustrated by the recent beating death of a Florida boy at the hands of his bootcamp “instructors” (Goddard). In 2007 the following New York Times article described conditions within a Texas juvenile detention center:
AUSTIN, Tex. — Juvenile detainees as young as 13 years old slept on filthy mats in dormitories with broken, overflowing toilets and feces smeared on the walls. Denied outside recreation for weeks at a time, they ate bug-infested food, did school work that consisted of little more than crossword puzzles and defecated in bags. After months of glowing state reports, the squalid conditions were disclosed on Oct. 1 by state inspectors at the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center in Bronte. They are another sign of the deep disarray of the Texas Youth Commission, the nation’s second-largest, after Florida’s, and most troubled juvenile corrections agency. (Moore “Troubles Mount”)
As illustrated by this article, bootcamps re-invent the abusive horrors of earlier nineteenth and early twentieth century detention institutions for young people.
            Society contains its contradictions through incarceration. As Orlando Patterson reports
America has more than two million citizens behind bars, the highest absolute and per capita rate of incarceration in the world. Black Americans, a mere 13 percent of the population, constitute half of this country’s prisoners. A tenth of all Black men between ages 20 and 35 are in jail or prison; Blacks are incarcerated at over eight times the white rate.
The public white imagination, conditioned by at least two centuries of racist propaganda, conceives this tragedy as deriving from either the inborn deficiencies or the culture of poverty (supposedly) afflicting Black America.
The role of political economy (e.g., high unemployment and poverty) in driving criminality, criminalization, and sentencing is swept aside by the compelling economic incentives of the prison-industrial complex as an entire nexus of private and public apparatuses have converged to exploit the bodies and labor of incarcerated prisoners. Dissent exists, as illustrated by a 2007 report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which describes a school-to-prison pipeline that begins with underfunded and neglected schools but also includes “overzealous” discipline policies that remove students from school and rely on police officers to dispense punishment through the criminal justice system, blurring discipline and punishment (J. Johnson). “No tolerance,” “zero tolerance” “public safety” campaigns have profited privatized juvenile detention facilities, overwhelming dissenting voices.
Privately owned and operated institutions have vested economic interests in juvenile incarceration as do privately run prisons for adult populations. Poor rural areas rely on these institutions to provide work for otherwise unemployed citizens, dampening public outrage against the institutionalization of children in for-profit punishment centers. In 2009 the U.S. media began publicizing reports that approximately 2,000 juveniles had been sentenced to detention centers by judges who received “kickbacks” exceeding $2.6 million (Pilkington). The pervasiveness of fraudulent decision-making in the juvenile justice system has not yet been investigated. Still, media publicity of the sickeningly abusive environments of juvenile detention centers and bootcamps may eventually encourage states to adopt more pastoral approaches toward their “risky” children (e.g., see Moore “Missouri System”).
Ironically, the cultural preoccupation with disadvantaged youths, gang violence, and street crimes obscures the crimes that most adversely impact the economic vitality of the nation. Just as the biopolitical statistics on bullying elide the less overt (i.e., physical) forms of bullying found among affluent students, so also do the biopolitical representations of the precursors of adult crimes in disadvantaged youths obscure the impact of white collar crime. In 1949 Edwin Sutherland defined white collar crime as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation" (9). White collar crimes range from outright fraud and embezzlement to heath and environmental crimes perpetrated by businesses and corporate entities. The Savings and Loan disasters of the 1980s, Enron and Waste Management accounting scandals in the 1990s, and the recent Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme illustrate white collar crimes as does Peanut Corporation of America’s knowing distribution of peanut products contaminated with salmonella. An entire genre of research documents that white collar crimes destroy more lives and produce more economic costs to the nation than street crime, yet media outrage occurs only in the immediate aftermath of publicity about some recent instance. Yet, in contrast with street crime, no widespread efforts are made to reduce white collar crime by governing the social morality and business ethics of American’s affluent children in k-12 education...