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Bahrain government razes Pearl Square to ground


Pearl Square after demolition on Friday March 18, 2011

Bahraini authorities have razed to the ground Manama's Pearl Square, which is considered the epicenter of anti-government protests in the country.

The iconic central structure was brought down on Friday two days after Bahraini and Saudi forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, cleared the land mark square where anti-government protesters had been camped for several weeks.

At least six people were killed and many others have been injured in the brutal crackdown on Wednesday.

Pearl square consisted of six dhows (sails) projecting up toward the sky and holding up a pearl. The dhows represent the six Persian Gulf littoral sates of Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman.

The pearl represents the joint heritage of these countries, whose economies were based on pearl diving before the discovery of oil.


Cholera Epidemic - Accelerated Increase Of Haiti Cholera Cases Feared

© Reuters
Mathematical model projects almost double the cases estimated by U.N., supports additional public health measures

Current projections regarding the eventual size and extent of the cholera epidemic in Haiti may greatly underestimate the potential number of cases, according to a report that will appear in The Lancet and has been released online. A mathematical model based on current knowledge about the transmission and course of the diarrheal disease arrives at estimates of new cases through November 2011 that almost double those currently projected by the United Nations. The model also reflects the probable impact of public health measures designed to combat the epidemic.

"Our findings suggest that more resources are needed than may be currently planned," says lead author Jason Andrews, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases. "The number of cases is currently falling, but this is the natural history of an epidemic, and cholera may continue to exact a significant toll over the next year as it becomes established in Haiti."

Before the devastating earthquake of January 2010, cholera had not been reported in Haiti for more than 100 years; but the aftermath of the earthquake, which largely destroyed the country's already inadequate water and sewer systems, set the stage for the cholera outbreak that began in October. The initial U.N. projection of a probable 200,000 cases during the first year was soon raised to 400,000 cases. But those estimates were based on rough estimates of 2 to 4 percent of the population being infected.

According to Andrews and his co-author Sanjay Basu, MD, University of California San Francisco, the U.N. projections were not based on known patterns of infection and disease progression. Nor did they take into account the asymptomatic nature of some infections, the potential impact of vaccination or treatment, and the immunity that develops in those who recover from the disease. To arrive at more accurate estimates, they devised a mathematical model based on information from previous cholera outbreaks that incorporates current understanding of the disease and also includes data from the first months of the Haitian outbreak. Their model predicted that, without additional intervention, 779,000 new cases and more than 11,000 deaths would result from the epidemic from March through November 2011.


Japanese authorities: We have no control over the Fukushima Nuclear plant, people will probably die from fallout

© AP Photos/Kyodo
Overwhelmed: Tokyo Electric Power Company Managing Director Akio Komiri cries as he leaves after a press conference in Fukushima
  • Officials admit they may have to bury reactors under concrete - as happened at Chernobyl
  • Government says it was overwhelmed by the scale of twin disasters
  • Japanese upgrade accident from level four to five - the same as Three Mile Island
  • We will rebuild from scratch says Japanese prime minister
  • Particles spewed from wrecked Fukushima power station arrive in California
  • Military trucks tackle reactors with tons of water for second day
The boss of the company behind the devastated Japanese nuclear reactor today broke down in tears - as his country finally acknowledged the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted that the disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing 'several radiation deaths' by the UN International Atomic Energy.

Officials said the rating was raised after they realised the full extent of the radiation leaking from the plant. They also said that 3 per cent of the fuel in three of the reactors at the Fukushima plant had been severely damaged, suggesting those reactor cores have partially melted down.

After Tokyo Electric Power Company Managing Director Akio Komiri cried as he left a conference to brief journalists on the situation at Fukushima, a senior Japanese minister also admitted that the country was overwhelmed by the scale of the tsunami and nuclear crisis.

He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were.

Eye 2

US: 'Lovely' Kentucky woman accused of horrific war crimes

© AP
Azra Basic, 52, took jobs bathing elderly nursing home patients and working at a sandwich factory in Kentucky. She has been charged with fatally stabbing a prisoner in the neck in 1992 during the bloody conflict in Bosnia.

Stanton, Ky. - The arrest of a Croatian woman in small-town Kentucky for alleged war crimes two decades ago in the former Yugoslavia "brings her long run from justice to an end," a U.S. marshal said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier ordered that Azra Basic, 52, be held without bond pending an April 1 status hearing and appointed her a lawyer.

Prosecutors argued that no bail amount would guarantee Basic's presence in court.

Federal agents arrested Basic on Tuesday. A complaint filed by U.S. Attorney James Arehart accuses Basic of committing crimes at three camps in the early 1990s near the majority-Serbian settlement of Cardak in Derventa in Bosnia.

The Croatian woman locals in Stanton knew as "Issabella" settled years ago in this rural, hilly area and took jobs bathing elderly nursing home patients and working at a sandwich factory.

This week, acquaintances were shocked to hear the secret that Bosnian war crimes investigators said Basic has been hiding for two decades.

As a soldier in the Croatian army, she killed a prisoner and tortured others by forcing them to drink human blood and gasoline, authorities said.


Yemeni forces open fire on protesters, killing at least 31

Opposition says compromise no longer possible; 3 children reportedly among the dead

Sanaa, Yemen - Yemeni security forces firing from rooftops and houses shot at tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators, killing at least 31 - including three children - and wounding 200 others, as the protesters entered a downtown square in the capital to demand the ouster of their autocratic president.

Hours after the crackdown - the largest yet in the popular uprising - President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a nationwide state of emergency. The leader said the decision was made by the country's Highest Defense Council, but there was no immediate word on how long the emergency laws would be in place.

In response to the assault, Yemen's opposition said there was no longer any way to reach a mutual understanding with the government.

"We condemn these crimes," said Yassin Noman, rotating president of Yemen's umbrella opposition group, asking President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step aside.


High radiation recorded 18 miles from nuke plant

Official admits that government 'could have moved a little quicker' in wake of disasters

Key details:
  • High levels of radiation found miles from nuke plant
  • U.N. atomic chief calls for world to help Japan
  • 6,500 dead, more than 10,300 missing following quake
  • Officials working to fix power cable to stricken reactors
  • Japan hails 'Samurai warriors' working at nuke plant
  • Tiny amounts of radiation reach California
High levels of radiation have been recorded 18 miles from Japan's quake-damaged nuclear power plant, officials said Friday.

Experts said exposure for just six hours would result in absorption of the maximum level considered safe for a year, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Heart - Black

Japanese earthquake takes heavy toll on ageing population

Shocking stories of deaths emerge as the military is enlisted to help at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
elderly couple
© IFRC/Getty Images
An elderly couple sit near a woodburning stove in agymnasium being used to house those displaced by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in town of Otsuchi

The devastating impact of the Japanese earthquake on the country's ageing population was exposed on Thursday as dozens of elderly people were confirmed dead in hospitals and residential homes as heating fuel and medicine ran out.

In one particularly shocking incident, Japan's self-defence force discovered 128 elderly people abandoned by medical staff at a hospital six miles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. Most of them were comatose and 14 died shortly afterwards. Eleven others were reported dead at a retirement home in Kesennuma because of freezing temperatures, six days after 47 of their fellow residents were killed in the tsunami. The surviving residents of the retirement home in Kesennuma were described by its owner, Morimitsu Inawashida, as "alone and under high stress". He said fuel for their kerosene heaters was running out.

Almost a quarter of Japan's population are 65 or over, and hypothermia, dehydration and respiratory diseases are taking hold among the elderly in shelters, many of whom lost their medication when the wave struck, according to Eric Ouannes, general director of Doctors Without Borders' Japan affiliate.

This comes after Japan's elderly people bore the brunt of the initial impact of the quake and tsunami, with many of them unable to flee to higher ground.

Although the people from the hospital near Fukushima were moved by the self-defence forces to a gymnasium in Iwaki, there were reports that conditions were not much better there. An official for the government said it felt "helpless and very sorry for them". "The condition at the gymnasium was horrible," said Cheui Inamura. "No running water, no medicine and very, very little food. We simply did not have means to provide good care."

Top Secret

Japan's nuclear disaster caps decades of accidents and fake reports

© Tokyo Electric Power/Reuters
An aerial photo taken from a helicopter shows damage to the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex.
Tokyo - The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents, and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan's atomic power industry.

The destruction caused by last week's 9.0 earthquake and tsunami comes less than four years after a 6.8 quake shut the world's biggest atomic plant, also run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. In 2002 and 2007, disclosures the utility had faked repair records forced the resignation of the company's chairman and president and a three-week shutdown of all 17 of its reactors.

With almost no oil or gas reserves of its own, Japan has made nuclear power a national priority since the 1960s. Japan has 54 operating nuclear reactors - more than any other country except the United States and France - to power its industries, pitting economic demands against safety concerns in the world's most earthquake-prone country.

Nuclear engineers and academics who have worked in Japan's atomic power industry spoke in interviews of a history of accidents, faked reports, and inaction by a succession of Liberal Democratic Party governments that ran Japan for nearly all of the postwar period.

Arrow Up

Canada: Huge Toronto airport lineups 'unacceptable'

Toronto's Pearson International Airport and the Canada Border Services Agency said Thursday that a new plan would resolve a serious overnight backlog at customs that forced thousands of travellers to wait in line up to three hours.

Officials said that as of Thursday afternoon, crowds were under control following a situation on Wednesday evening in which March Break vacationers arrived home to bedlam at Canada's busiest airport.

Travel-weary flyers arrived at Terminal 1 only to be confronted with hordes of others waiting in line to get into the area where customs officers process travellers.

Vanessa Barrasa, a spokeswoman for the CBSA, said the lineups began in the mid-afternoon Wednesday. Although the agency called in a few more border guards so that 17 booths were staffed, it wasn't enough.

Barrasa said the staffing levels were based on information from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA).

Scott Armstrong, a spokesman for the authority, which works with airlines to schedule flights, said the situation on Wednesday night was "entirely unacceptable," but promised it wouldn't happen again.

Bizarro Earth

Sitting silent in their classroom, the 30 children whose parents have not come to collect them after tsunami swept away their town

  • Reporters not allowed to speak to children to guard against false hope
  • Ishinomaki confirms the huge number of its citizens missing
  • North Eastern port town was hit by 20ft tsunami
  • Fears that overall death toll has been terribly underestimated
Even amid the carnage and despair of Japan's tsunami victims, the plight of the 30 children at Kama Elementary School is heartbreaking.

They sit quietly in the corner of a third-floor classroom where they have waited each day since the tsunami swept into the town of Ishinomaki for their parents to collect them. So far, no one has come and few at the school now believe they will.

Teachers think that some of the boys and girls, aged between eight and 12, know their fathers and mothers are among the missing and will never again turn up at the gates of the school on the eastern outskirts of the town, but they are saying nothing.

japan earthquake
© The Associated Press
Desolate: An elderly woman stands on a flooded street near her destroyed house at Ishinomaki, northeastern Japan, where 10,000 people are missing

Japan earthquake
© AFP / Getty Images
Wholesale destruction: A few ruined houses are all that lies scattered amid the sludge of Ishinomaki