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Tue, 05 Dec 2023
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US Experts Fear 'Chernobyl-like' Crisis for Japan

© Reuters
Natural gas containers burn at a facility following an earthquake in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, Japan March 11, 2011.Explosion was heard at Japan's nuclear plant on Saturday, following melt-down.
US nuclear experts warned Saturday that pumping sea water to cool a quake-hit Japanese nuclear reactor was an "act of desperation" that may foreshadow a Chernobyl-like disaster.

Several experts, in a conference call with reporters, also predicted that regardless of the outcome at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant crisis, the accident will seriously damage the nuclear power renaissance.

"The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don't have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilize it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water," said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.

"I would describe this measure as a 'Hail Mary' pass," added Alvarez, using American football slang for a final effort to win the game as time expires.

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on Friday set off the emergency at the plant, which was then hit by an explosion Saturday that prompted an evacuation of the surrounding area.

Workers doused the stricken reactor with sea water to try to avert catastrophe, after the quake knocked out power to the cooling system.

What occurred at the plant was a "station blackout," which is the loss of offsite air-conditioning power combined with the failure of onsite power, in this case diesel generators.


US: Giffords Makes 'Leaps and Bounds' in Recovery

Gabrielle Giffords
© The Associated Press
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., seen here with House Speaker John Boehner, was shot at a public event in Tucson, Ariz.
Doctors helping Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recover from a gunshot wound to the head talk enthusiastically about her progress, saying some of the greatest moments come when her personality shines through with big grins and excitement over her rehabilitation milestones.

"That's Gabby. It's a constant, wonderful thing," said Dr. Dong Kim, a neuroscientist.

Doctors provided the new details about Giffords' condition Friday, saying she now can talk in short sentences, and can walk with some help. She also knows that she was shot.

Previously, tidbits of information came from friends and family, but the doctors, those with the understanding and knowledge of what each setback and step forward means for long-term recovery, remained tight-lipped.

They gave their first official update since she began intensive rehabilitation in Houston on Jan. 26.

Kim and two other members of her medical team described several breakthroughs in Giffords' recovery from her brain injury, saying she has made "leaps and bounds."

He breathing tube was removed last week, a "fist-pump" moment, said Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, a neurosurgeon. She also can express desires, such as "I'm tired. I want to go to bed."

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Japan Earthquake Strands Sony Employees, Shuts Down Six Factories

© unknown
Japanese electronics manufacturer Sony airlifted supplies to employees stuck inside its Blu-ray Disc factory in Miyagi, Japan, on Saturday after a tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake swept through the area. Sony has six factories closed down in the region hardest hit by the quake and subsequent tsunami.

The earthquake struck about 125 kilometers (about 78 miles) off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday and measured 8.9 on the Richter scale. Experts believe this is the greatest quake Japan has ever experienced since seismic activity tracking began.

Employees working at Sony's Tokyo headquarters, hundreds of kilometers from Miyagi, were also stranded. Unable to return to home because of inoperative building elevators and crippled transportation, workers spent the night in offices.

Sony was able to evacuate all staff from factories disabled by the quake except for the Miyagi plant, which appears to have received the most damage. The Miyagi factory employs about 1,000 people, with the latest reports saying there are about 400 workers still in the building. Employees were able to find safety on the second floor of the building as the first floor was besieged by the tsunami. No fatalities have been reported.


Major Japanese Industries Close to Assess Damage

© unknown
Japan's economy was left limping through Saturday in the wake of Friday's devastating earthquake, with many factories shut to examine the damage caused.

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.


US: Woman jumps to death inside Salt Lake City Library

A woman jumped to her death off an indoor pedestrian bridge at the main branch of the Salt Lake City Library Friday - the third public suicide reported at the downtown site since 2006.

Salt Lake City police Lt. Bryce Johnson said that about 9:30 a.m. Friday, several people around the library saw and heard a woman screaming and then saw her lying on the ground inside the library.

Johnson said the woman, who did not have any identification, apparently jumped off a fourth-floor pedestrian bridge.

"There was no question how it took place," Johnson said Saturday, adding library surveillance footage recorded what happened. "It was an intentional suicide."

Police later identified the woman.

Salt Lake City Library Executive Director Beth Elder said the woman jumped from a bridge used to walk to bathrooms in a public area on the west side of the building.

Elder said trauma and grief counseling was immediately offered to staff witnesses.

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Facebook blamed for 1 in 5 divorces in the US

Update: the "1 in 5 divorces in the US" statistic is from December 2009 and has simply been pushed to the top again by a new press release. All the other statistics in the original story (below) are new:

facebook divorce
© Unknown
Facebook is cited in 1 out of every 5 divorces in the United States, according to the Loyola University Health System. Furthermore, 81 percent of the country's top divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence during the past five years, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Last but not least, Facebook is the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence with 66 percent citing it as the primary source, the AAML said.

It's not that Facebook is solely to blame: already-strained marriages are bound to break with or without the service. Still, a couple doesn't have to be experiencing marital difficulties for an online relationship to develop from mere online chatting into a full-fledged affair.


The Oppression of Women as a Party Platform

To start with, let me be clear: The oppression and general subjugation of women is not an exclusively Republican issue. Measures proposed, adopted, or supported by some Democrats, such as the Stupak-Pitts amendment and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, make that clear. Nor is the oppression and subjugation of women even an exclusively male issue. The fact is, a lot of conservative women adhere and/or contribute to the doctrine of male domination, perhaps because it is politically useful (see Palin, who is no feminist), or perhaps because they have simply been indoctrinated to do so. Despite all the calls for equality and the efforts of feminists throughout the country and around the world, everyone who has grown up in the United States has been influenced, in one way or another, by the pervasive and prevailing mindset of masculine domination. Some of us are more resistant to indoctrination than others, but few are entirely immune. We are all subject to the influences of gender stereotyping, no matter how careful our parents may have been to prevent it. Every day, we are inundated with indoctrinating images and ideas, through television, literature, music, and innumerable other mediums.

oppresswomen-1 Reagan McCain
© Unknown

What is most important isn't that we are completely free of assumptions about the opposite sex, or even our own, but that we strive to understand the causes and effects of sexism and rail against it when we perceive it.

So let's make sure I am being sufficiently transparent about this issue and my overall take on it. I am not writing this diary to "blame men" in general. I happen to be very fond of men, and in fact, most of my friends are male. But while both men and women in this country are confronted with a nigh constant deluge of sexist and/or stereotyping information and behavior, and while people from both parties occasionally participate in attacks on women's rights, it is the GOP which has specifically made the oppression, domination, and even degradation of women a party platform.

Comment: Psychopaths in power are a danger to us all, particularly disadvantaged women. If we substitute the word 'Republican', for Psychopath when reading this article, it may bring us close to the reality of the situation.


Blind man keeps his old guide dog after it loses its sight... and then gets a new one who now leads them both around

© Albanplx
Walkies! Graham Waspe, who is registered blind, with his blind guide dog Edward (left) and his new guide dog Opal (right) who now guides both of them on walks

© Alex Fairfull
Best buddies: The Waspes say the two dogs have got on fine since they came together, with Opal taking Edward to all his old haunts

After six years of loyal service, Graham Waspe was devastated when his guide dog Edward was left blind after developing cataracts.

But his devastation turned to joy when his replacement Opal turned out to be a real gem.

Mr Waspe's new dog is not just aiding his owner to carry out everyday tasks, but also helping Edward to get around.

Mr Waspe, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, received his new dog last November after Edward developed the inoperable problem which resulted in him needing both eyes removed.

And the two-year-old bitch has stepped in where Edward left off as they tour their old haunts together.


Canada: British Columbia Vulnerable in Giant Quake: Experts

Seismic upgrading of public buildings in Vancouver has increased the chance that people and structures would survive a catastrophic earthquake like the one that hit Japan, but the city's mayor says more has to be done.

"There's more vulnerability than I certainly would like," Gregor Robertson told CBC News on Friday.

"We've been ... seismically upgrading schools and city owned buildings, provincially owned buildings for the last a number of years, but they're not all done yet," Robertson said. "There are still vulnerable buildings."

Skyscrapers were seen swaying ominously in downtown Tokyo in videos taken during Japan's 8.9 quake that struck mid-afternoon local time Friday.

None of the buildings toppled, although thousands of smaller structures were destroyed north of Tokyo and closer to the quake's undersea epicentre. Many of the buildings were swept away by the huge tsunamis that swept ashore.

But it's not certain that all tall buildings in B.C.'s largest urban area would fare as well as Tokyo's.


Bronx Bus Crash Kills 13 in New York

At least 13 people have died after a tour bus overturned on a highway in the Bronx, New York, early this morning, authorities said.

The accident happened at about 5:30 a.m. after a tractor trailer clipped the Worldwide Tour bus from behind on the New England Thruway at the Hutchinson River Parkway, according to the driver, who survived. The truck failed to stop after it hit the bus, police said.

The bus was heading southbound when it flipped on its side. It then skidded into the support post for a large highway sign. The post sliced through the length of the bus at the passenger seat level, officials said.