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Evil Rays

Carolinas, Florida Utilities Report Radiation from Japan

Raleigh, North Carolilna-- Utilities in Florida as well as North and South Carolina are adding to the list of states in the U.S. reporting trace amounts of radiation from a nuclear reactor in Japan that was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami.

Progress Energy says it picked up low levels of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear fission, at its nuclear plant in South Carolina and a Florida plant.

Progress Energy owns the single-unit Crystal River Nuclear Plant near Crystal River, Fla.

Dollar

Bayer ordered to pay 136.8 million in US GM rice contamination case

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A unit of Germany's Bayer AG has been ordered by a court in Arkansas to pay $136.8 million to Riceland Foods over the contamination of U.S. long grain rice stocks with a genetically modified strain from Bayer that decimated exports more than four years ago.

The judgment, handed down by a jury in Stuttgart, Arkansas, includes $125 million in punitive damages to Riceland, a farmers cooperative.

Bayer said it is "disappointed" with the verdict and is considering its legal options. It said the punitive damages exceed what is permitted by Arkansas law and will therefore be limited to the statutory cap of $1 million.

Evil Rays

Highly radioactive water found in tunnel outside nuclear plant

Tokyo -- Water found in a tunnel at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has alarmingly high radiation readings, officials said Monday, adding that it is unclear how or why the tainted water got out of the building.


The water at the plant is emitting more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour of radioactivity -- a level the plant's owner had said is at least 100,000 times normal levels for coolants inside a nuclear reactor.

It was in a tunnel that contains electrical cables and is connected to the No. 2 reactor's turbine building, an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The measurements were taken Monday afternoon.

Bizarro Earth

Japan Copes with 21st-Century Dark Age

man & child Japan
© Getty
The first pitch of Japan's baseball season has been pushed back so people don't waste gasoline driving to games.

The first pitch of Japan's baseball season has been pushed back so people don't waste gasoline driving to games. When the season does start, most night games will be switched to daytime so as not to squander electricity. There will be no extra innings.

Tokyo's iconic electronic billboards have been switched off. Trash is piling up in many northern cities because garbage trucks don't have gasoline. Public buildings go unheated. Factories are closed, in large part because of rolling blackouts and because employees can't drive to work with empty tanks.

This is what happens when a 21st-century, technologically sophisticated country runs critically low on energy. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami have thrust much of Japan into an unaccustomed dark age that could drag on for up to a year.

USA

AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM? Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga


Comment: Joe Bageant died March 26th 2011 after a relatively brief struggle with cancer. Joe was a prolific social commentator and author who used his keen insight and raw sense of humor to dissect and expose the ugly truth about the failed experiment that is human 'civilization'. Hailing from the backwoods of Virginia, Joe saved his most incisive commentary for life in the USA and his last article, written in December 2010, shows why his voice of sanity will be sorely missed.


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© Joe Bageant
If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-f*cked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? Those wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.

Handcuffs

UK: 200 arrested as hardcore 'anarchists' fight police after 500,000 march against savage austerity cuts

  • Extremists hijack anti-government cuts demonstration
  • 84 people injured - and at least 31 police officers hurt on day of violence
  • Ritz hotel attacked with paint and smokebombs and 1,000 occupy Fortnum & Mason
  • Protesters surge along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street forcing shops to close
  • Lightbulbs filled with ammonia hurled at police officers
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband defends speech to marchers
Over 200 people were arrested as extremists brought violent chaos to central London yesterday after hijacking the much-heralded trade union protest against public spending cuts.

A massive clear-up operation was underway today after trouble continued to flare late into the night as hundreds of people clashed with officers in Trafalgar Square.

Police confirmed 201 people were in custody and there had been 84 reported injuries during the protests. At least 31 police were hurt with 11 of them requiring hospital treatment.

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© Reuters
Riot: Police officers stand in front of a fire lit be demonstrators in central London last night

USA

US: Abercrombie criticized for selling push-up tops to little girls


No stranger to controversy, U.S. retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has come under fire for offering a push-up bikini top to young girls.

Its "Ashley" bikini -- described as "padded" and a "push-up" -- was posted on the Abercrombie Kids website earlier this week.

The company declined to comment Saturday but noted it has since updated the description of its bikini online.

The product is now being offered as a padded, "striped triangle." Bottoms are sold separately.

"How is this okay for a second-grader?" asked Rebecca Odes in a recent post on the Babble parenting blog.

"Playing at sexy is an inevitable and important part of growing up. But there's a difference between exploring these ideas on your own and having them sold to you in a children's catalog," she wrote.

Gail Dines, a sociology professor at Wheelock College in Boston, similarly slammed the top, saying it would encourage girls to think about themselves in a sexual way before they are ready.

Ambulance

US: 2 dead, 8 injured as sailboat sinks off San Diego

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© AP / Jim Grant
Police work the scene as two bodies lie covered on a dock in San Diego, Calif. Sunday, March 27, 2011, after a sailboat with nine people aboard capsized and sank in the San Diego Bay, leaving two men drowned and seven people injured, authorities said.
Ten people were thrown into the waters of San Diego Bay Sunday when their sailboat capsized, leaving two men drowned and eight people injured, authorities said.

The boat flipped over for reasons that remained unclear and then sank near Shelter Island shortly after 5 p.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque said.

Harbor police pulled all 10 from the water and took them to a boat dock where some 60 firefighters and paramedics were waiting. Two men in their 50s or 60s were declared dead at the scene and the other eight were taken to local hospitals. Two children were released from the hospital after being treated briefly.

Luque said none of the injuries was life-threatening or critical.

Though just 10 people were reported to be aboard, divers searched the sunken wreckage for any additional victims.

"We are confident that everyone is accounted for," Luque said.

One woman was being treated in intensive care at UCSD Medical Center for hypothermia, said Marguerite Elicone, a spokeswoman for the Port of San Diego, which includes the Harbor Police.

Attention

Merkel Christian Democratic Union Routed in German State Poll

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© unknown
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have suffered an election defeat in southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg amid public outcry over her nuclear policy.

According to exit polls, the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD) have staked out a solid lead in the state elections in Baden-Württemberg with 47.3 percent of the vote, as compared to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democrat (FDP), who gained 44.3 percent combined, AFP reported on Sunday.

The Greens polled 24 percent, an increase of 12.3 percent since the last state elections in 2006, setting the stage for a Green party premier to hold the reins of power in Baden-Württemberg for the first time in German history.

The CDU, who had an unassailable control in the state of 11 million people for nearly 58 years, obtained 39.3, while the FDP took five percent in the election, which was depicted as a litmus test of Merkel's nuclear policies in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis.

The election campaigns in Baden-Württemberg have been consumed by talks over the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Nuke

Radiation in seawater may be spreading in Japan

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© AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Masanobu Nakatsukasa
Evacuees from Fukushima, where the troubled Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is located, receive meals for dinner at an evacuation center in Saitama, Japan, Sunday, March 27, 2011.
Highly radioactive iodine seeping from Japan's damaged nuclear complex may be making its way into seawater farther north of the plant than previously thought, officials said Monday, adding to radiation concerns as the crisis stretches into a third week.

Mounting problems, including badly miscalculated radiation figures and no place to store dangerously contaminated water, have stymied emergency workers struggling to cool down the overheating plant and avert a disaster with global implications.

The coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, located 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo, has been leaking radiation since a magnitude-9.0 quake on March 11 triggered a tsunami that engulfed the complex. The wave knocked out power to the system that cools the dangerously hot nuclear fuel rods.

On Monday, workers resumed the laborious yet urgent task of pumping out the hundreds of tons of radioactive water inside several buildings at the six-unit plant. The water must be removed and safely stored before work can continue to power up the plant's cooling system, nuclear safety officials said.

The contaminated water, discovered last Thursday, has been emitting radiation that measured more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour in a recent reading at Unit 2 - some 100,000 times normal amounts, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

As officials scrambled to determine the source of the radioactive water, chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano repeated Monday that the contaminated water in Unit 2 appeared to be due to a temporary partial meltdown of the reactor core.