Several people have contacted me with concerns that Key West Navy personnel were among the crew of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan exposed to radiation following Japan's tsunami in March 2011.
The Regan (CVN 76), a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier, was deployed off the coast of Japan in the plume of radiation spewing from the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Navy said. The power plant had been hit by a tsunami generated by an earthquake off Japan's east coast.
One local said that at least 140 sailors had been treated for exposure in Key West; another put the number at about 50 sailors.
As to whether sailors from Key West were irradiated, that turns out to be false, the Navy said.
According to the ship's commander, Capt. Thom Burke, only 17 sailors, most of whom served on the helicopters, received low-level radiation. No one has taken ill from the exposure, he said.
"The levels that were detected were very low levels," Burke told 10News.com in San Diego, the Reagan's home port. "To put this in perspective, the maximum radiation dose received was equal to the amount of natural background radiation one would receive in one month from sources such as rocks, soil and the sun."
Generators designed to keep the power plant cooled during emergencies ceased working and the pumps that circulate coolant water in the reactor ceased to work, causing the reactors to begin to overheat. After full meltdown in three reactors, the Japanese shut down the plant by flooding the whole system with seawater.
No sailors from Key West were on the carrier, so there's no reason to worry about any Key West sailors when it comes to the Japan radiation, the Navy said.
The dogs of poor
Two recent national news items riled Key Westers who live on the edge of poverty. As everyone who lives here knows, it's incredibly expensive pay for an apartment here, much less pay a mortgage and raise kids. Key West, like other towns across America, has a suffering middle class.
So when it was reported on television networks that the 2008-2009 stock market collapse took 40 percent of Americans' savings, the news merely proved what we here have been feeling: that we got screwed. Those savings were in the form of 401K plans and other retirement plans. What happened was sinful: banking houses and investment firms took our savings and gambled them away without our permission. They had access to our money and they simply lost it on a whim, on a blue-sky investment idea, or in some scheme or other. If someone comes into your house, steals $500 from your dresser drawer and goes on a drinking spree, the result is the same. A stranger used your savings for themselves.
Meanwhile, JPMogan has yet to pay back billions in tax dollars (the money taken from your weekly paycheck) it received to keep the banking network afloat.
Here's a plan: I am going to go into a bunch of banks and steal all the money. Once banks start complaining, I'm going to put together a committee to determine what went wrong.
If the response of Republican senators on the banking committee this week is any guide, the banks I robbed would then hold me up as a model of honesty and American values.
Here's what Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), had to say about Dimon after Dimon explained that ONE guy in the JPMorgan London office blew $1.6 billion on ridiculous investments. (The guy's nickname is the "London Whale," by the way).
Corker, whose job it is to regulate bankers like JPMorgan, was unabashed in his sniveling, kneeling and pawing:
"You’re obviously renowned, rightfully so I think, as being one of the most, you know, one of the best CEOs in the country for financial institutions,” Corker swooned. “You missed this, it’s a blip on the radar screen.”
A blip? That's not what people who now have no money for retirement, much less healthcare, think of losing their money to some dude in some London office.
It made me and dozens of other Key Westers who caught the hearing ill and ashamed. Across the web, the exchange was seen as nothing less than an "ass-kissing" by Senate republicans who have no manhood.
Corker also asked Dimon how Congress can write legislation that makes it easier for banking firms to follow the rules. What he was really asking, it seems, was "How can we write rules that make it easier for you guys to not have to come here and explain?"
In my life as a critic, it's been easy to beat up on Republicans. To be fair, though, while Dimon gives Corker and other Republican banking committee members money for their campaigns, Democrats receive even more money from Dimon.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dimon and his wife, Judy, have donated more than a half-million dollars to Democratic candidates and committees since 1989. That is nearly 12 times what the couple has given the GOP.
Vice President Joe Biden ($2,000), Sen. Chris Dodd ($5,300), Sen. Tom Carper ($8,000), Sen. Charles Schumer ($12,000) and Rep. Charles Rangel ($4,500) have all received Dimon dollars. Former Vice President Al Gore received $4,000 from the Dimons in 1999. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has hauled in $7,000 from them over his career.
What this means is old news, unfortunately. Forget party affiliation; it doesn't exist. Nearly everyone up on Capitol Hill is for sale. They play fast and loose with our retirement, our futures. It's disgusting and at least the Republicans are up front about selling their souls to the rich and megapowerful.