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U.S. shows growing alarm over Japan nuclear crisis

© Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Official in protective gear talks to a woman who is from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama March 13, 2011.
The United States showed increasing alarm about Japan's nuclear crisis on Wednesday and urged its citizens to stay clear of an earthquake-crippled power plant, going further in its warnings than Japan itself.

The State Department said the United States has chartered aircraft to help Americans leave Japan and had authorized the voluntary departure of family members of diplomatic staff in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama -- about 600 people.

"The State Department strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing," it said.

As operators of the Fukushima plant tried to douse overheating reactors, U.S. officials warned about the risks of getting anywhere near the area and relied on their own officials for details about the danger.

"The situation has deteriorated in the days since the tsunami and ... the situation has grown at times worse with potential greater damage and fallout from the reactor," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

U.S. officials took pains not to criticize the Japanese government, which has shown signs of being overwhelmed by the crisis that began after last Friday's devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.

But Washington's actions indicated a divide with the Japanese about the perilousness of the situation.


Guatemalans sue US over experiments

© Unknown
Attorneys for a group of Guatemalans have sued top US officials, accusing them of "intentionally" experimenting on them in the 1940's and infecting them with syphilis.

Hundreds of Guatemalan prisoners, psychiatric patients and orphans were infected in a program to study penicillin.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday by lawyers for seven Guatemalan plaintiffs. But there is a high possibility that the number of the plaintiffs could reach to hundreds.

Last year, the United States apologized for the "reprehensible" experiments, according to state-run BBC.

The Obama administration, however, has not yet responded to a request for an out-of-court compensation settlement.

© Unknown
The experiments took place between 1946 and 1948 and around 700 Guatemalan nationals were used to test the efficiency of penicillin as a treatment and a preventative agent.

Evidence of the program was exposed by Professor Susan Reverby at Wellesley College in the US.

Reverby believes the then Guatemalan government gave permission for the tests but the people infected were unaware they were being experimented on.

In the experiments, researchers bribed care workers to let them inject their charges, while prisoners were encouraged to sleep with infected prostitutes.

Card - MC

UK: Government charters Bahrain flights

© Unknown
he Government is to charter planes to evacuate British citizens who want to flee the deteriorating situation in Bahrain.

The Foreign Office has urged people to leave the stricken Gulf State on commercial flights on Thursday.

Those who cannot get a ticket will be evacuated on an FCO-chartered flight costing £260.

The advice comes as running battles were once again fought on Bahraini streets. Soldiers and riot police used tear gas and armoured vehicles to clear protesters from Pearl Square, which has been the focus of demonstrations in capital Manama.

Prime Minister David Cameron has called on the King of Bahrain to end the violent suppression of street protests. He spoke by phone to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on and called for restraint from all sides in the escalating stand-off.

King Hamad has declared a state of emergency in the island kingdom after a month of demonstrations in which representatives of Bahrain's Shi'ite majority have called for the end of rule by its Sunni monarchy.

Bizarro Earth

Twin Threats of Japan and Gulf Stalk Global Recovery

As catastrophe at home prompts Japan to repatriate chunks of its vast wealth, it is pulling the rug from under stock and bond markets thousands of miles away.

© unknown
The twin crises of Japan and the Gulf come as fiscal tightening in the West and credit tightening in China start to bite.
We are discovering once again that the country is the world's top creditor by far with nearly £2 trillion of net assets overseas.

The risk is doubly dangerous when combined with the fast-escalating conflict in the Persian Gulf, where Saudi Arabia's use of troops to suppress Shi'ite dissent in Bahrain risks a showdown with Iran.

"People had thought global recovery was self-sustaining and now equity markets are starting to ask whether it might be snuffed out," said David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC.

The twin crises come as fiscal tightening in the West and credit tightening in China start to bite. US economists such as Larry Summers and Paul Krugman fear recovery has not yet reached "escape velocity", leaving it vulnerable to external shocks.

"I am afraid we are near tipping point on global recovery," said Simon Derrick from BNY Mellon. "The fact has oil has not risen despite the latest events in the Mid-East tells you a lot about growth in the second half of this year. All the inflation talk may fade away as in 2008."


Get out of Tokyo: Foreign Office Tells all Britons to Leave Toxic Radiation Zone as Japanese 'Lose Control' of Stricken Reactor

  • 17,000 British nationals could be evacuated as last ditch efforts are made to stop nuclear catastrophe
  • Rich scramble to book private jets out the country as fleeing passengers pack Tokyo airport
  • French say Japanese have 'visibly lost essential control' as they urge their citizens to get out
Plans are being drawn up to evacuate every British national in Japan amid mounting fears of a nuclear catastrophe. Thousands of Britons were last night warned to leave Tokyo and all other areas under threat of radiation poisoning.

The advice - echoed by other countries around the world - followed a meeting of the Cabinet's emergency Cobra committee to discuss the meltdown-threatened Fukushima nuclear plant.

It heightened suspicions that the crisis at the plant - already ranked the second-worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl - is worse than the Japanese authorities have publicly let on. Yesterday 'last-ditch' efforts were continuing at Fukushima to prevent a catastrophe with a Japanese army helicopter dumping water onto troubled nuclear reactor.
© Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Leaving: Worried residents wait to enter the Immigration Bureau of Japan in Tokyo yesterday as they evacuate the city in the wake of the earth quake and nuclear meltdown that has caused concern around the world

© Masatoshi Okauchi / Rex Features
Chaos: Passengers crowd Mar Haneda International Airport outside Tokyo as foreigners scramble to flee the country amid radiation fears


Canada: Experts Hope Japan Quake is 'Eyeopener' of Risks to British Columbians

Vancouver, British Columbia
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Vancouver, British Columbia
While nearly half a million British Columbians ducked, covered and held on tight during a province-wide earthquake drill in late January, the other 90 per cent of the population sailed on with their day as usual.

After last week's destructive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, authorities hope the gravity of being prepared for a potential natural disaster on the West Coast hits closer to home.

"We're no different if we were to have an 8.9-magnitude, megathrust subduction-type earthquake here," said Heather Lyle, director of integrated public safety for Emergency Management B.C. "We too would suffer significant impact. I'm quite certain this is an eyeopener."

Were the so-called Big One to land a one-two punch starting about 250 kilometres off Vancouver Island shores, Victoria and about 75 coastal and First Nations communities would be the most vulnerable.

From the moment they felt the earth expel its great rumble, people living in places like Ucluelet, a tourist town along the Island's outer coast, would likely have only about 20 to 30 minutes to escape to higher grounds.

In the popular surfing destination of Tofino, about an hour's drive north, the urgency wouldn't change, but getting to safety would be hampered by long stretches of low-lying beach.

Alarm Clock

Elderly Woman Threatens Castration

© Getty Images
Former Planned Parenthood volunteer takes proposal to cut funds personally.

A threat an elderly Guilford is accused of making over Planned Parenthood funding doesn't quite jibe with recent efforts to be more civil in political discourse.

The woman is accused of threatening to castrate a politician who wants to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, the New Haven Register reports.

The FBI went to the woman's home on Norton Road on Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a report of the phone call threat.

The woman is in her 80s and used to volunteer for Planned Parenthood, police told the newspaper. It's unclear which politician she threatened.


Yen Hits Record High After U.S. Warning on Reactor

Hong King - The Japanese stock market sank again Thursday morning and the yen hit a record high against the U.S. dollar after a U.S. nuclear official warned that the situation at a damaged reactor was more serious than Tokyo has acknowledged.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 2.5 percent within an hour of the open, wiping out much of a rebound staged during the previous day and returning toward the lows plumbed during a massive, panicky sell-off on Tuesday.

The broader Topix index sagged 3.2 percent.

The latest declines came as the barrage of ominous news about the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station continued.

Late on Wednesday in Congressional testimony, Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, gave the Obama's administration first assessment of the condition of the plant, apparently mixing information it has received from Japan with data it has collected independently.


15 Nuclear Reactors on New Madrid Fault Line

New Madrid Nuclear
© US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Bob Nations, Jr., the Director of Shelby County Office of Preparedness, says that since the lack of preparation exposed by Hurricane Katrina, he is "preparing for the catastrophic event" in his six-county jurisdiction.

Nations admitted that after a major quake, Tennessee's infrastructure and response capabilities "would get overwhelmed fairly quickly."

There are 15 nuclear power plants in the New Madrid fault zone -- three reactors in Alabama -- that are of the same or similar design as the site in Japan experiencing problems.

The USGS report predicts that a major quake would create horrific scenes like something out of a science fiction movie, potentially cutting the Eastern part of the country off from the West in terms of vehicular traffic and road commerce.

Star of David

Israel fears sushi shortage after quake

© Unknown
Kikkoman. Can be found in one-third of Israeli households
Situation in Japan may affect regular supply of ingredients for one of Israelis' favorite dishes

While Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of last Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami, and has yet to recover from one of the greatest disasters in its history, Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of one of their favorite dishes: Sushi.

Many of sushi's basic components come from Japan or are imported through the battered countries. Will Israelis soon suffer from a shortage of the beloved rolls' necessary ingredients?

"There may be a shortage of sushi components, but we are still studying the situation," says Dudi Afriat of the Rakuto Kasei company, which imports the Kikkoman soy sauce, as well as seaweeds, wasabi, rice and other necessary ingredients for sushi rolls.

Rakuto Kasei is the main supplier of raw materials for sushi to all restaurants in Israel, and markets products to supermarkets as well.