Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Saturday, March 12, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Second nuclear reactor at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant risking meltdown after cooling system fails

Japanese officials announced Sunday that the cooling system at a second nuclear reactor crippled by Japan’s devastating earthquake had failed completely, even as they took the extraordinary step of flooding a separate reactor with seawater in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear meltdown.

The announcement Sunday compounded what was already the worst nuclear accident in Japan’s history — and perhaps the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago — as the nation was reeling from the aftermath of the largest recorded earthquake in its history.

The cooling systems at three other reactors at a second nuclear plant had also failed, officials said. While backup systems might still be revived, if they could not, these reactors too could require emergency cooling, they said. (read more)

South Sudan suspends talks with Khartoum, accuses North of trying to overthrow fledgling government

South Sudan has announced it will suspend talks with Khartoum about its planned secession in July after accusing Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, of plotting to overthrow the new government in the south.

Pagan Amum Okiech, secretary-general of Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the south would suspend talks with Bashir's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) about plans for the secession.

“The ruling National Congress Party [NCP] of Sudan is recruiting, arming, financing and deploying militias in South Sudan with the aim to destabilise the South,” he said.

“We have detailed information and documents showing the NCP and various institutions of government like military intelligence in Khartoum, so-called peace advisory council and or national security involved in arming, financing and training militias in South Sudan." (read more)

Gallery: Pictures of the devastation caused by the tsunami and earthquake in Japan

Concern about food, fuel shortages in wake of Japan disasters

Nicky Washida scoured her central Tokyo neighborhood looking for food Saturday, but was unsuccessful.

The convenience stores had already been stripped of food, batteries and most supplies when she visited in the wake of the previous day's massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake. She was hoping they had been able to restock, she wrote in a CNN iReport.

But on Saturday, the local shopping center was closed. And at the convenience stories, only alcohol-free beer and green tea-flavored candy remained.

"The one supermarket that is still open is so packed I couldn't even get through the doors," said Washida, a British woman who lives in Tokyo with her Japanese husband and their three children, ages 6, 4 and 1. "People in Tokyo seem to be panic-buying under the assumption that food will not be getting through to Tokyo for the next few days."

Stores across the city were mostly sold out of bread Saturday, said iReporter David Powell, who sent in photos of shelves bare but for a few rolls. While some loaves and rolls were available, he said, they were selling fast, as were dairy products. (read more)

Long lines persisted at food stores and at the pump as concern grew in Tokyo that food and fuel shortages may arise in the aftermath of the earthquake, which spawned a tsunami that devastated coastal areas of northeastern Japan.

Gas sales were being limited to 20 liters (5.3 gallons) per car, Powell said.

Hawaii: $3 million in tsunami damages, up to a dozen boats lost, Abercrombie signs emergency proclamation

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation Friday, the first step toward securing federal disaster relief to help pay for repairs to damage done during the tsunami.

Abercrombie said the state suffered at $3 million in damages to boat harbors, parks, and other property. That figure, he added, is likely to grow.

"This is going to be a considerable financial burden to assume, so we are going to try to maximize the opportunities to share those costs with appropriate agencies," Abercrombie said.

The state is already working with FEMA and Abercrombie said his office has been in contact with the white house to let President Obama know Hawaii will be seeking federal assistance. (read more)

Japan: 'Up To 160 Workers Risk Radiation' at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

The number of people exposed to radiation from the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan may reach as high as 160, a Japanese nuclear safety agency official said.

Nine people had already shown possible exposure to radiation from the plant, based on information from tests by municipal authorities and other sources.

Authorities suggested the number exposed could now be as high as 160 people, the official from the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said evacuations around both affected nuclear plants were well underway.

A 12-mile radius was imposed on the Fukushima Daiichi plant with an estimated 170,000 people already evacuated.

A six-mile exclusion zone was in place around the nearby Fukushima Daini station, with an estimated 30,000 people told to vacate the area. (read more)

Japan: 200,000 Evacuated From Near Reactors -- fear spreads of radiation exposure

Around 200,000 people have been evacuated from near two Japanese nuclear power stations as fear spreads of radiation exposure.

The evacuations were ordered after nine people showed signs of possible exposure to radiation at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plants.

An official from the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference that up to 160 people may have suffered radiation exposure.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said evacuations around both affected nuclear plants northeast of Tokyo were well underway.

A 12-mile radius was imposed on the Fukushima Daiichi plant with an estimated 170,000 people already evacuated.

A six-mile exclusion zone was in place around the nearby Fukushima Daini station, with an estimated 30,000 people told to vacate the area.

Officials repeatedly expanded the evacuation zones as the radiation risk became more serious. (read more)

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Meltdown may be under way at Fukushima nuclear reactor, official with Japan's nuclear safety agency has told CNN

If you are in the area of the reactors or can communicate with others there, GET OUT IMMEDIATELY!

A meltdown may be occurring at one of the reactors at a damaged nuclear power plant in northeast Japan, a government official said Sunday morning, sparking fears of a widespread release of radioactive material at a time when rescuers are frantically scrambling to find survivors from Japan's strongest-ever earthquake.

A state of emergency has been declared for three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, the same place where an explosion late Saturday injured four people. A meltdown is a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release.

Toshihiro Bannai, an official with Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency, expressed confidence that efforts to contain the crisis would be successful.

Meanwhile, a second reactor at the same facility failed shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said, according to TV Asahi. The power company said that it was having difficulty cooling the reactor and may need to release radioactive steam in order to relieve pressure. (read more)

Japan aftershock update: BREAKING -- 6.1 magnitude aftershock felt in Sendai, tsunami warning still in full effect

Hundreds injured during clashes between rival groups in Bahrain

Hundreds of people were injured in Bahrain Friday, when rival groups clashed over an attempted march in the town of Riffa, a residential area where the ruling Al-Khalifa family lives.

The national health ministry said 774 people were injured and 107 were hospitalized in the wake of the fighting.

Anti-government demonstrators in Riffa had planned a march. A crowd numbering roughly 8,000 set off on the march, according to Bahrain's ambassador to the United States.

But they were met by hundreds of people carrying swords, hatchets, metal pieces, cricket instruments and pieces of wood with nails hammered into them. The opposing group had already taken up positions in an effort to stop the planned march.

Bahrain's ambassador to the United States took the unusual step of commenting on the clashes in Riffa, which he called a "sectarian conflict" between Shia and Sunni Muslim factions. Law enforcement officers had erected barbed wire fences in an attempt to ward off any fighting, Houda Ezra Nonoo said in a statement.

The conflict began when small groups from opposing sides met at the security fence, she said. (read more)

Japan sits atop deadliest section of Ring of Fire

The recent earthquakes that have pounded Japan, New Zealand and Chile all have one thing in common: They were caused by the movement of a massive piece of Earth known as the Pacific Plate.

The Pacific Plate is one of nine giant tectonic plates that cover the Earth’s surface. But it’s bigger, faster and more deadly than the others. And Japan sits right on top of the most active section. (read more)

Japan: Damage from mega quake increasing, death toll feared to top 1,700

Damage caused by Friday's catastrophic earthquake in Japan expanded Saturday, with the combined number of people who have died or are unaccounted for is feared to top 1,700, while an explosion occurred at the nuclear reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and injured four workers.

The four are conscious and their injuries are not life-threatening, according to the electricity firm, while the Fire and Disaster Management Agency dispatched the Hyper Rescue squad from Tokyo to bring equipment to cool down the nuclear plant facilities.

Radioactive materials -- cesium and iodine -- were also detected around the No. 1 reactor of the plant, according to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The death toll has exceeded 600 so far, a police tally showed, while 200 to 300 bodies were transferred to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It was also reported that another 200 bodies were transferred to gymnasiums in Iwanuma and Natori, both in Miyagi, while around 650 people are missing following the 2:46 p.m. quake with a magnitude of 8.8, the strongest ever recorded in Japan. (read more)

Cracks starting to show: China charges man with sedition over protest calls

A human rights group says an Internet activist has been charged with subversion for spreading calls on the Internet for Middle Eastern-style anti-government protests in China.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy says Guo Weidong was detained on Thursday night and his home in China's eastern city of Haining searched. It says a document was delivered to his wife the next day stating that he was being charged with the vaguely defined charge of "incitement to subvert state power."

The center said Friday that the 38-year-old Guo is the ninth person to be charged for spreading the calls, which began appearing on Internet forums last month. China's authoritarian communist leaders respond harshly to all challenges to their authority. (read more)

Crescent City harbor 'destroyed' in tsunami; man swept off beach near Klamath missing at sea

It appears Crescent City and southern Oregon bore the brunt of Friday's tsunami, with officials reporting devastated harbors, sunken boats and a total of seven people swept out to sea, one of whom is presumed dead.

Triggered by a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, the tsunami caused tides to begin rising sharply shortly after 7:30 a.m. in Crescent City and surges pounded the coastline throughout the day, with some waves reportedly exceeding 8 feet.

Early Friday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard announced it was suspending the search for a 25-year-old man who was swept off the beach near the mouth of the Klamath River. According to officials, the man and two other people had traveled to the coast to take photos of the incoming waves when all three were swept out to sea. According to the Coast Guard, two of the people were able to get safely back to shore but the third man was not.

Authorities had not released the man's identity as of the Times-Standard's deadline Friday.

According to the dispatch center for the Curry County Sheriff's Office in Oregon, four people were also swept off a beach near Brookings after venturing down to the shore to get a closer look at the surge waves. All were able to make it back to shore, and only minor injuries were reported, according to the dispatch center.

Though both harbors were safely evacuated, the surge waves caused extensive damage to the ports in Brookings and Crescent City. (read more)

How Japan will battle the economic shock

These are difficult days for market economists. Like the rest of us, they stare in awe at the video of a raging river where none should be, consuming Japanese coastal communities and sweeping over the countryside. They know the death toll will climb into the thousands.

But they can’t really get into that. They have to assess how the earthquake and tsunami will affect the Japanese economy, the yen and global financial markets.

Sometimes they -- and those of us who seek their counsel -- try too hard.

“Some idiot told a reporter the percentage of Japan’s GDP that was generated by Sendai’s economy, and the teen-aged scribbler then published that number as an indicator of the economic risk,” Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, said in his morning note to clients on Friday. “We do not know what we do not know about the damage that has been done. Experience tells us that the economic shock can be, and likely will be, much bigger than anyone can imagine.” (read more)

Desperate measures in a race against time: Japan to fill leaking nuke reactor with sea water

Tokyo Electric Power Co plans to fill a leaking reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant with sea water to cool it down and reduce pressure in the unit, Japan's top government spokesman said on Saturday.

"The nuclear reactor is surrounded by a steel reactor container, which is then surrounded by a concrete building," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

"The concrete building collapsed. We found out that the reactor container inside didn't explode."

Japan earlier in the day warned of a meltdown at the reactor at the plant, damaged when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast coast, but said the risk of radiation contamination was small.

"We've confirmed that the reactor container was not damaged. The explosion didn't occur inside the reactor container. As such there was no large amount of radiation leakage outside," he said.

"At this point, there has been no major change to the level of radiation leakage outside (from before and after the explosion), so we'd like everyone to respond calmly," Edano said.

"We've decided to fill the reactor container with sea water. Trade minister Kaieda has instructed us to do so. By doing this, we will use boric acid to prevent criticality."

Edano said it would take about five to 10 hours to fill the reactor core with sea water and around 10 days to complete the process. (read more)

Japan may hand out iodine near nuclear plants: IAEA

Japanese authorities have told the U.N.'s atomic watchdog they are making preparations to distribute iodine to people living near nuclear power plants affected by Friday's earthquake, the Vienna-based agency said.

Iodine can be used to help protect against thyroid cancer in the case of radioactive exposure in a nuclear accident.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, thousands of cases of thyroid cancer were reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident. More cases are expected.

In Japan Saturday, radiation leaked from a damaged nuclear reactor after an explosion blew the roof off in the wake of the massive earthquake, but the government insisted that radiation levels were low.

Japan's Jiji news agency later said three workers suffered radiation exposure near the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear body, said Japanese authorities had informed it of the explosion and that they were "assessing the condition of the reactor core." (read more)

Worst fears imagined: Japan's earthquake-hit nuclear plant may be in meltdown, say experts -- radioactive caesium leaks detected

JAPAN'S quake-hit nuclear power plant Fukushima No.1, about 250km north-east of Tokyo, "may be experiencing nuclear meltdown", local media says.

The report via Kyodo News, citing the nation's Nuclear Safety Commission, follows yesterday's devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in the area, with a commission official suggesting that even if there was a meltdown it would not affect humans beyond a 10km radius.

Parts of the reactor's nuclear fuel rods were briefly exposed to the air after cooling water levels dropped through evaporation, and a fire engine was pumping water into the reactor, Jiji news agency reported.

The rods, which create heat through a nuclear reaction, can release radioactivity when exposed to the air. Without water the rods cannot be cooled properly, Fox News reported.

The water levels are recovering, operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told Jiji. In addition a TEPCO spokesman said that "we believe the reactor is not melting down or cracking. We are trying to raise the water level."

But moments later Kyodo News reported that radioactive caesium had been detected near the Fukushima plant, citing information from the nuclear safety agency.

Major Japanese industries close to assess damage: Toyota, Nissan, Sony, Honda cease operations

Many industries vital to the economy of Japan were left limping through Saturday following a devastating earthquake and tsunami as factories closed to assess damage throughout Japan’s northern region.

Japan relies on its massive export industries to drive the economy, but many of the companies that drive this industry have halted production to assess the damage from the quake and tsunami.

Sony, Toyota, Nissan and Honda are among the major corporations to have closed factories, while transport of manufactured goods remains difficult due to damage to roads and rail lines.

In addition, many ports on the northeast coast have been severely damaged by the tsunami that struck on Friday, making exports impossible.

Economists who spoke to the BBC warned that the affect on Japan’s national economy could be “profound”, but would likely be less severe than the 1995 Kobe earthquake, which had its epicentre much closer to major economic centres.

If a full meltdown does occur at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which has experienced major malfunctions since the earthquake, then the economic affects may be much larger as a potentially huge part of the country will become uninhabitable. (Source)

200,000+ displaced so far in Japan quake, tsunami -- Sendai annhilated

Tens of thousands of Self-Defense Forces searched desperately for survivors in earthquake-ravaged northern Japan on Saturday as rescue and relief efforts went into full force, even as concerns rose that a radiation leak may have occurred at a nuclear-power facility in the country.

More than 200,000 Japanese were ferried to relief shelters and millions of homes were left without power and water after the country's most powerful quake ever struck on Friday.

Rescue efforts accelerated as police, fire department and defense forces deployed to severely affected areas. Low-flying government rescue helicopters, including Japanese Self Defense Force Blackhawks, hovered low over houses with roof tiles ripped asunder, looking for survivors. Further up the coast toward Sendai, entire roads and bridges were washed away. A few cars could be seen carefully navigating twisted and sand-strewn roads in an apparent attempt to flee, or survey the damage to their communities. No more than a handful of pedestrians could be seen for hundreds of miles up the coast.

An estimated 3,400 buildings have been partially or completely destroyed. In Sukagawa, a small town located in Fukushima Prefecture, about 200 people stood in line to receive water supplies through the night at an emergency distribution center, and water was rationed to a maximum of about 2.6 gallons per household. A team of rescue workers from Singapore arrived in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon, bound for Fukushima Prefectutre, Japan's foreign ministry said.

"Power is cut in some parts of town, but what we need is water and food," said Dai Iwaya, a 37-year old city project and fiscal planning officer. Homes are in various states of disrepair, with fallen roof shingles and concrete blocks strewn about. (read more)

Bahrain protesters march on palace as Gates visits

Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters encircled one of the royal family's palaces Saturday, shouting calls for political freedom and the king's ouster a day after a similar march triggered a violent response from security forces.

There was no repeat of the violent scenes from a day earlier when police backed by pro-government mobs drove crowds back from a different palace by firing rubber bullets and tear gas in a melee that injured dozens, according to witness accounts.

In contrast, Saturday's demonstration — which coincided with a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates — was allowed to ring the palace with police deployed only inside its premises.

Gates said that Bahrain and other Arab governments facing popular uprisings need to move quickly toward democratic reforms or risk giving regional rival Iran a chance to exploit the instability. Iran, a Shiite power in the region, is seen by Sunni-led countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as a serious threat. (read more)

Omani FM calls for "Arab intervention" in Libya

Arab states must intervene in Libya through the Arab League and in line with international law and the Libyan crisis poses a threat to the stability of Arab states, the foreign minister of Oman said on Saturday.

"What is needed now is Arab intervention using mechanisms of the Arab League and at the same time in accordance with international law," Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said in his opening remarks to an Arab League meeting.

Tokyo Electric Tries to Cool Unstable Reactor, Avert `Three Mile Island'

Japanese officials battling to prevent a meltdown at a nuclear power station after Friday’s record earthquake are using seawater to try and cool a reactor and prevent damage to the chamber holding its radioactive core.

An explosion at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai- Ichi nuclear power station yesterday destroyed the walls of its No. 1 reactor building and injured four people. A hydrogen leak caused the blast, which didn’t damage the steel chamber, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a briefing yesterday.

Asia’s biggest utility “has decided to fill the containment with seawater,” Edano said. Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency couldn’t confirm a meltdown at the plant and monitoring around the reactor is showing that radiation is falling, spokesman Shinji Kinjyo said today.

Lack of adequate cooling for a reactor may cause a core meltdown, the most dangerous kind of nuclear power accident, releasing massive amounts of radiation, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania resulted in a partial meltdown, without a breach in the containment building, according to the commission.

“This case is quite difficult, it would be closer to what happened in 1979 at Three Mile Island,” Rafael Arutyunyan, first deputy director of Institute for Safety of Nuclear Energy, Russian Academy of Sciences, said on Russian television. “Only a small amount of active particles made it outside and were released into the atmosphere, so there were no consequences for the population. That’s the way we’re heading at the moment.” (read more)

HAARP Induction Magnetometer at Alaska Station picks up strange fluctuations during time of Japan Quake

Arab League considers backing a Libyan no-fly zone

Arab League officials convened Saturday to vote on backing a no-fly zone in Libya, where a civil war is being fought between forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi and a tenacious opposition movement.

The officials, who represent Arab nations in the Middle East and North Africa, also are considering recognition of the opposition's Transitional National Council as the sole legitimate representative of Libya.

Opposition forces made strides in the early days of the rebellion, but Gadhafi's military has recently gained strong momentum.

The military has been pounding the key oil port of Ras Lanuf, once in the hands of rebel forces, and has taken control of towns such as nearby Bin Jawad. The Gadhafi government appears intent on retaking all territory from the opposition despite growing international pressure. (read more)

Japan's fiscal fix deepens -- Quake compounds Japan's financial misery

Today, concern over the human suffering in Japan naturally dwarfs any worry about how much it will cost to rebuild earthquake-hit areas.

But as the scale of the tragedy comes into fuller view in coming weeks, the impact on Japan's unsteady economy and stretched fiscal position – and the implications for markets -- will start to weigh heavier.

First, the facts. The quake, at 8.9 on the Richter scale Japan's biggest ever, has killed hundreds of people. An oil refinery caught fire and residents near a nuclear reactor were forced to evacuate.

Japanese stock markets dropped and the cost of insuring against a default on Japanese debt rose 6%, according to CMA Market Data. Bond prices rose as investors pulled back from risky assets.

Like the oil spike that roiled markets in recent weeks, Friday's quake offers yet another reminder of how vulnerable aging, slow-growing, debt-burdened economies are to a shock even in what is supposed to be a period of global economic expansion.

"Japan's economic recovery has lost momentum and a large part of the reconstruction costs will add to the government's significant debt burden," writes Julian Jessop at Capital Economics. He writes that the disaster could make it even more painful for the latest Japanese government to take long overdue action to produce a plan that would put spending on a more sustainable track. (read more)

Portugal cuts deeper as EU nations hold crisis meeting

Portugal unveiled further spending cuts on Friday to try to restore confidence in its finances as eurozone leaders met to discuss the crisis in the single currency.

The yield on Portuguese five-year debt hit a new high of 7.99pc amid mounting speculation that it will join Ireland and Greece in seeking a rescue package. Yields on Greek and Irish sovereign debt also rose, making it more expensive for them to borrow.

The euro has been falling against the dollar on growing doubts that leaders can bridge differences on how to solve the region's fiscal woes.

In a last-ditch attempt to convince investors its finances are sustainable, on Friday Portugal announced new spending cuts worth 0.8pc of GDP this year and structural reforms to push its deficit down faster. The measures include cuts in spending on social welfare and infrastructure. Changes to labour market rules are also planned, including a reduction in redundancy payments. European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the "clear and important" steps.

Ireland and Greece are expected to use the meeting of the 17 euro members to argue for an easing of the terms of their rescue packages, with sources indicating some progress may be made. However, Germany doused hopes of a breakthrough on strengthening the €440bn (£380bn) rescue fund.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany would only increase its guarantees for the fund if other nations put in more capital. Instead, the focus of Friday's meeting was to make member states enshrine EU curbs on deficits and debt in national law – effectively making it illegal for any member to exceed fixed deficit and debt limits in the future. The EU's Stability and Growth Pact sets a government deficit limit of 3pc of GDP and debt of 60pc of GDP. (read more)

The tottering towers of Tokyo: Dramatic video footage of the moment the earthquake struck - 12th May 2011

Thousands undergo radioactive screening after explosion in nuclear power station - 12th Mar 2011

People were evacuated within a 12-mile radius after an explosion at one of Japan's nuclear power plants.

The building housing one of Fukushima Dai-ichi's reactors was destroyed in the blast and a cloud of white smoke could be seen pouring from it.

Four workers suffered fractures in the explosion, and three were treated for the symptoms of radiation sickness.

The Japanese government said the metal container sheltering the nuclear reactor was not damaged by the explosion.

Spokesman Yukio Edano said the radiation around the plant had begun to decrease and that pressure inside the reactor was also going down. Read More

The town that drowned: Fresh pictures from the port where 9,500 people are missing after it was swept away by the megaquake - 12th Mar 2011

  • 9,500 people missing in Minamisanriku 24 hours after double disaster struck
  • Official death toll hits 574, but hundreds believed to be buried under rubble or washed away by waves
  • Explosion at nuclear power plant, but experts say reactor is not at risk
  • Region hit by repeated aftershocks, some up 6.8-magnitude
  • Rescue operation begins but some areas still cut off by road damage and flood waters
  • Force of quake shifts Japan 8ft to the East
  • Half of the population of a Japanese coastal town are still unaccounted for as the death toll from the massive earthquake and tsunami looks set to rise.

    Government officials revealed the fate of 9,500 people in the north eastern port of Minamisanriku was still unknown more than 24 hours after the double disaster hit.

    The official death toll stands at 574, but more than 1,700 people are believed to have been buried in the rubble or washed away by the waves. Read More

    460 Earthquakes and no sign of slowing down - JAPAN - 12th Mar 2011

    The first Earhquake to strike this area during the Swarm started in fact on Wednesday 9th of March 2011 when a 7.2 Magnitude was recorded just of the Coast of Honshu, which was followed by many aftershocks including 3 measuring higher than 6 Magnitude.

    Since the 8.9 Magnitude Earthquake hit of the coast of Honshu there has been a 7.1 Magnitude aftershock and more than 20 aftershocks measuring at 6 magnitude or higher.

    As of this morning there is no sign that these aftershocks are slowing down, however several aftershocks have been recorded measuring below 5 Magnitude, which is the first time in days.

    Our thoughts are with the people of Japan.

    Libya: Arab Countries 'Back No-Fly Zone' - 12th Mar 2011

    The Arab League is urging the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect people from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces, diplomats have said.

    The organisation, which represents 22 nations, has also agreed to contact the national council set up by rebels opposed to his regime, it was claimed.

    The council, based in their eastern stronghold of Benghazi, had urged the league to recognise it as representing the country instead of Col Gaddafi's government.

    And they wanted the organisation to back a no-fly zone over Libya to curb attacks on its fighters.

    The league's foreign ministers "have agreed to invite the (UN) Security Council to assume its responsibilities and impose an air-exclusion zone to protect the people of Libya," a diplomat said.

    The decision was adopted by nine of the 11 foreign ministers attending the meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo, with Algeria and Syria voting against, the diplomat added. Read More

    West Coast USA in Danger IF Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown Occurs? (Fallout could reach US in 36 hours, if so)

    “If they can’t restore power to the plant (and cool the reactor), then there’s the possibility of some sort of core meltdown”. An alarming statement made by James Acton, a physicist who examined Japan’s Kashiwazaki nuclear plant after a 2007 earthquake, who told CNN that Japanese authorities are in race to cool down the Fukushima reactor.

    Following the fifth largest earthquake in recorded world history, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, has resulted in the closure of all Japan’s nuclear power reactors, one of which, the Fukushima reactor, is overheating and in danger of a meltdown if coolant is not restored soon. It’s like a pressure cooker… when you have something generating heat and you don’t cool it off or release the steam…

    Reported from abc NEWS, Scientists said that even though the reactor had stopped producing energy, its fuel continues to generate heat and needs steady levels of coolant to prevent it from overheating and triggering a dangerous cascade of events.

    They go on to say, “Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances,”

    “Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.” said Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist. (read more)

    Japan nuclear plant conditions worsening, local media reports

    Conditions appear to be worsening at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan, according to local media.

    The Kyodo news agency reported that the cooling system has failed at three reactors of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant. The coolant water's temperature had reached boiling temperature, the agency reported, citing the power plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power.

    The cooling system failure at the No. 2 power plant came after officials were already troubled by the failure of the emergency cooling system at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which officials feared could cause a meltdown. (read more)

    From bad to worse? Japanese official says pumping system caused nuclear plant blast

    An explosion at an earthquake-struck nuclear plant was not caused by damage to the nuclear reactor but by a pumping system that failed as crews tried to bring the reactor's temperature down, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Saturday.

    Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have begun flooding the reactor containment structure with sea water to bring the reactor's temperature down to safe levels, he said. The effort is expected to take two days.

    Radiation levels have fallen since the explosion and there is no immediate danger, Edano said. But authorities were nevertheless expanding the evacuation to include a radius of 20 kilometers (about 12.5 miles) around the plant. The evacuation previously reached out to 10 kilometers.

    The government also expanded the evacuation radius for the Fukushima Daini plant to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The evacuation radius had been 3 kilometers. It was not immediately clear what led to the order. (read more)

    Fukushima Fallout: How Bad Could It Get? - 12th Mar 2011

    Nuclear experts have warned the next few days will be crucial in determining exactly how bad the fallout from the Fukushima Number 1 power plant disaster could be.

    Advanced Japanese engineering should avoid a Chernobyl style disaster, but any radiation leak could have disastrous long term consequences.

    The 1986 explosion of Reactor Number Four at Ukraine's Chernobyl plant was the world's worst nuclear incident, immediately contaminating 200 people and killing 32 within three months. Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have suffered the after effects of the leak.

    The accident was only revealed after a giant radioactive cloud was registered moving across northern Europe.

    It was marked at the maximum level seven on the international atomic agency's scale of nuclear accidents.

    Further contamination was reported from Chernobyl in 1995 during the removal of fuel from one of the plant's reactors. Read More

    Japan Quake: 10,000 Unaccounted For In Port - 12th Mar 2011

    Around 10,000 people are unaccounted for in the Japanese port of Minamisanriku, reports say, as the estimated death toll from the country's quake and tsunami nears the 1,300 mark.

    Japanese military have also said 300 to 400 bodies have been found in Iwate's Rikuzentakata city.

    The country has asked for Britain's help with a rescue operation of unprecedented proportions.

    The foreign office confirmed they had offered assistance in the form of victim identification expertise, humanitarian aid, and expert disaster search and rescue teams and were on their way to the country.

    Foreign secretary William Hague said he had spoken to the Japanese foreign minister to offer his condolences.

    "We are appalled by the scenes of devastation, by the heavy loss of life, by the destruction we have all witnesses on our television screens.

    "I think all over the world, people's hearts go out to the people of Japan." Read More

    Japan: Tremor After Blast At Nuclear Plant - 12th Mar 2011

    An aftershock has struck near a nuclear plant in Japan - hours after an explosion and radiation leak there sparked fears a meltdown was under way.

    With a upgraded magnitude of 6.4, the tremor occured close to the site of Fukushima Number 1 nuclear power plant, where walls and a roof were destroyed in a blast.

    Plumes of smoke were sent billowing into the sky and several workers at the station were thought to be injured - but officials said the reactor's container had not been damaged.

    The Japanese government widened an evacuation radius to 12 miles (20km) and urged residents of the region to stay indoors, turn off air conditioning units and not to drink tap water.

    Radioactivity of 1,000 times the normal level in the control room at the plant and eight times the normal level in the area immediately outside the site have since fallen. Source

    6 Terrifying Ways Crows Are Way Smarter Than You Think

    Next time you see a group of crows, look closely. Try to remember which one is which, and see if you can tell the difference between them the next time you pass. Odds are good that you can't; they're crows, which makes them all big black birds. On the other hand, every last one of them very likely remembers you as the weird human who kept staring at them. We know this, because researchers in Seattle performed an experiment with some crows around their college campus. They captured seven of the birds, tagged them, then let them go. And they did it all while wearing creepy skin masks, because it was funny.

    OK, so the scientists weren't just playing out horror movie fantasies -- they were testing whether the crows could recognize human faces or not. It turns out they can. To a frightening degree: Whenever the scientists walked around campus with the masks on, the crows would "scold" and dive-bomb them... because along with the ability to recognize us as individuals, the researchers also learned that crows can hold a grudge. And pretty soon, it wasn't just the first seven crows reacting. Other birds, ones that hadn't even been captured in the first place, started dive-bombing the scientists as well.

    In case you think they were just telling each other "get the guy with the mask," they weren't: The test was repeated with multiple people wearing multiple masks, and without fail, the crows left the masked men who hadn't messed with them alone, but went murder-crazy on the mask that had been worn while messing with them. Quick, in Point Break, which Presidential mask did Swayze wear? No idea? Don't worry, we're pretty sure Johnny Utah didn't know half the time, either. But the crows would have. (read more)

    Homeland Security looked into covert body scans

    The Homeland Security Department paid contractors millions of dollars to develop and study surveillance systems that could covertly track pedestrians and check under people's clothing with airport-style body scanners as they enter train stations, bus depots or major events, newly released documents show.

    Two contracts the department signed in 2005 and 2006 were part of its effort to acquire technology to find suicide bombers in a crowd of moving people, according to documents given to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy-rights group that is suing Homeland Security.

    The department dropped the projects in a "very early" phase after testing showed flaws, Homeland Security spokesman Bobby Whithorne says. (read more)


    Note: Official report from Japan - Radiation leakage has now been confirmed

    Important: report from Japanese tv for area of Explosion -
    * Stay in doors
    * Turn Air-Conditioning off
    * DO NOT Drink tap water
    * If going outside cover exposing skin, wet towels for head and wear Face Mask
    * Move to safety if Possible

    Supermoon stories, Journalist dramatising events by playing with figures?

    I have noticed several articles regarding the supermoon causing the Megaquake that hit Japan on the 11th of March 2011.

    There is one point the journalist all seem to copy from eachother maybe a mistake or just another case of lazy journalism.

    "The next occurs next Saturday when the Moon will be at its closest point to Earth since 1992.

    The last supermoon happened two weeks after 2004’s Boxing Day tsunami, which killed 230,000 people across Asia."

    How can the moon be at the closest since 1992 and caused the Tsunami in Sumatra 2004?

    What do we know about the Supermoon? the facts not some dramatised version of made up figures.

    * On March 19, 2011 the Moon will pass by Earth at a distance of 356,577 kilometers (221,567 miles) – the closest pass in 18 years.
    * Alignment -Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.
    * it is a scientific fact when the Moon is at perigee there is more gravitational pull, creating higher tides or significant variations in high and low tides.

    Anyone who has anything to add please do.

    81 on Tsunami-Swept Japanese Boat Safe - 11th Mar 2011

    (AFP) - A boat swept away in the tsunami which struck Japan Friday following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake has been found, Jiji news agency reported Saturday.

    Japanese naval and coastguard helicopters found the ship and all 81 aboard were airlifted to safety.

    There were fears up to 100 people may have died on the boat.

    Japan's Kyodo News has estimated the final death toll from the quake and tsunami will surpass 1,000. Source

    Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet; shifted Earth's axis - 12th Mar 2011

    The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

    "At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass," said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

    Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters). Read More

    U.S. intelligence: Gaddafi is funding fightback against rebels with cash stockpile of 'tens of billions' - 11th Mar 2011

    Colonel Gaddafi is funding his fightback against rebel forces from a stockpile of 'tens of billions' in cash squirreled away in Tripoli banks, U.S. intelligence agents have revealed.

    The vast sum has allowed the dictator to continue fighting despite an international freeze on much of his beleaguered government's assets.

    He has hidden the haul in various banks across the capital, including the Libyan Central Bank.

    But since the rebel uprising, Gaddafi funneled much of it into his personal bolt hole in the Libyan capital, an intelligence source told CNBC news.

    The news follows reports that three private jets owned by Gaddafi left Libya for Vienna, Athens and Egypt, on Monday.

    Greek officials said they spotted one Libyan Airlines Falcon 900 jet as it briefly entered airspace for around 15 minutes earlier this morning.

    The sightings prompted speculation that Gaddafi or members of his family have fled the country.

    However, it later emerged that one aircraft had landed in Egypt carrying the head of the Libyan Authority for Supply and Logistics. Read More

    Our own EU chief shoots down Cameron's no-fly zone as PM warns Europe 'must do more' - 11th Mar 2011

  • 'Hold your horses': Baroness Ashton tells PM
  • White House forced into humiliating denial over U.S. intelligence claim that 'Gaddafi will win in the end'
  • PM writes letter calling for dictator to step down
  • Unicef accuses Gaddafi of using child soldiers
  • Opposition troops cling on to outskirts of oil port
  • Regime threatens to cleanse rebel 'rats' from country
  • David Cameron’s plans for tougher action against Libya were sabotaged by Britain’s own Brussels commissioner.

    Labour peer and EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton joined forces with the Germans to shoot down the prospect of a no-fly zone or targeted air strikes.

    One of her aides was heard describing the calls for action as ‘headline-grabbing desperation’. Read More

    Noted Indian astrologer predicts horrible devastation for Japan - 12th Mar 2011

    Noted astrologer Lachhman Das Madan has predicted more calamities for Japan, a day after that country was ravaged by an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter Scale.

    The earthquake also unleashed a tsunami that has so far claimed over 1000 lives and devastated an entire prefecture in the north east of the country.

    Madan has said that Japan will experience "horrible devastation" in the remaining part of the year.

    Referring to his "Baba Ji" Volume 328, which was released on December 31, 2010, Madan has predicted the following:

    "In fact, the period ending 2nd June, 2011 is horrible and they must take effective measures to protect themselves from severe troubles like escalation of military operations, more ferocious weather and nature including volcanic eruption. Setback to Govt and Parliament, eruption of violence, loss of huge property and loss of life is feared. Unexpected types of diseases and epidemics are feared. Cases of suicide are also likely to be reported."

    "The periods around April and May, 2011 are more horrible..... The year 2011 is highly ominous and the people should remain ready to meet the unexpected challenges which may develop in this year," he adds. Source

    US farmers fear the return of the Dust Bowl

    There is not much to be happy about these days in Happy, Texas. Main Street is shuttered but for the Happy National Bank, slowly but inexorably disappearing into a High Plains wind that turns all to dust. The old Picture House, the cinema, has closed. Tumbleweed rolls into the still corners behind the grain elevators, soaring prairie cathedrals that spoke of prosperity before they were abandoned for lack of business.

    Happy's problem is that it has run out of water for its farms. Its population, dropping 10 per cent a year, is down to 595. The name, which brings a smile for miles around and plays in faded paint on the fronts of every shuttered business – Happy Grain Inc, Happy Game Room – has become irony tinged with bitterness. It goes back to the cowboy days of the 19th century. A cattle drive north through the Texas Panhandle to the rail heads beyond had been running out of water, steers dying on the hoof, when its cowboys stumbled on a watering hole. They named the spot Happy Draw, for the water. Now Happy is the harbinger of a potential Dust Bowl unseen in America since the Great Depression.

    'It was a booming town when I grew up,' Judy Shipman, who manages the bank, says. 'We had three restaurants, a grocery, a plumber, an electrician, a building contractor, a doctor. We had so much fun, growing up.' Like all the townsfolk, she knows why the fun has gone. 'It's the decline in the water level,' she says. 'In the 1950s a lot of wells were drilled, and the water went down. Now you can't farm the land.' (read more)

    If they can, so can YOU: Pamphlet Guide to Revolution in Egypt -- How to Protest Intelligently

    Need to start a revolution in your own country? Here are nine translated pages from a 26-page pamphlet that has been passed around amongst demonstrators in Egypt. Creators of the pamphlet asked that protesters do not use Facebook and Twitter.

    Truck Carrying Dead Fish from Redondo Beach Crashes on Freeway; Scientists Find Toxins - 12th Mar 2011

    Officials say the fish tested positive for a neurotoxin which caused them to swim into the marina.

    Clean-up crews spent Friday afternoon cleaning up more dead fish -- but this time, it was on the 215 freeway in Colton.

    A truck carrying a load of sardines that washed up in Redondo Beach's King Harbor Wednesday morning caused quite a stink when crashed during rush-dour around 3:20 p.m. Friday. The fish were being transported to a factory in Victorville where they were to be turned into fetilizer.

    Crews spent 3 hours cleaning the slippery road near the Mount Vernon off-ramp using a mix of dirt and a special absorbent material normally used to clean up oil spills.

    Earlier Friday, USC biologists reported that the sardines tested positive for a powerful neurotoxin, domoic acid, which caused them to swim chaotically into the marina.

    They still believe critically low oxygen levels, not the toxin or an algae bloom, was the main cause of death. Read More

    Japan Quake: Nuclear Plant Meltdown possible - 12th Mar 2011

    Japan's nuclear safety commission says one of the country's nuclear power plants could be facing meltdown after being damaged during the earthquake and tsunami.

    Emergencies have been declared at two nuclear power stations due to cooling problems.

    Radioactive steam has been released to reduce rising pressure in the plants and the Japanese prime minister has ordered thousands of people living within six miles to leave the area.

    The commission's Ryohei Shiomi said officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Daiichi power plant.

    Shiomi said that even if there was a meltdown, it wouldn't affect humans within a six-mile radius Read More

    19 killed in China coal mine blast - 12th Mar 2011

    Beijing, March 12 (IANS) At least 19 people were killed Saturday when an explosion occurred in a coal mine in southwest China, authorities said.

    The gas blast hit the Xincheng coal mine in Panxian county of Guizhou province when 34 people were working underground, Xinhua reported.

    Nineteen bodies were recovered, while 15 miners managed to escape, a statement said. Source

    Nothing could prepare Japan for massive disaster - 12th Mar 2011

    At least 1,000 people have died and the toll could increase sharply, a Japanese government spokesman said Saturday morning, after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck a large area on Japan's east coast on Friday.

    TOKYO — No country may be better prepared for a major earthquake than Japan. Seismic standards for construction are among the strictest in the world. From a young age, Japanese learn to dive under desks to protect themselves in a quake. The country that gave the world the word tsunami has a state-of-the-art tsunami-warning system

    That preparation undoubtedly saved many lives Friday, when a magnitude-8.9 earthquake struck offshore of Japan's main island, shaking buildings in a large swath of the country and sending a 30-foot tsunami onto a populated stretch of coast.

    But an uncomfortable truth may emerge from this quake, which killed hundreds of people and caused damage that could mount into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The lesson is there's only so much that disaster preparedness can do. The offshore quake that struck at 2:46 p.m. local time was the biggest to hit Japan since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. It ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, scientists said. Read More