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Japan mulls ban on Fukushima area food products

Japan has confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine contamination in food products from near a crippled nuclear plant and is considering whether to order a halt to the sale of such products from the area, the U.N. nuclear body said on Saturday.

Ambulance

A miracle tale of survival: Grandmother and boy pulled from rubble NINE DAYS after tsunami smashed city

  • Rescuers found them after responding to their shouts
Extraordinary news emerged from the tsunami coast today when police reported they had found an 80-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy still alive under rubble in a tsunami-smashed city.

The report was greeted with scepticism at first following claims on Saturday that a young man had been found alive in his house after clinging to life for eight days - when in fact he had returned to his home from a shelter.

But police in the Mikako prefecture were insisting that there was no mistake about the two people found alive under rubble today.

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© EPA
Rescuers help 80-year-old Sumi Abe. She and her 16-year-old grandson Jin were pulled from the rubble in the city of Ishimaki after nine days

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© EPA
The teenager his hooked up before being airlifted to hospital. He and his grandmother were found buried in the kitchen of their home

Family

Behaviour drugs given to four-year-olds prompt calls for inquiry

Child taking a pill
© Murdo MacLeod
Children as young as four have been prescribed Ritalin-style drugs in breach of NHS guidelines.

Children as young as four are being given Ritalin-style medication for behavioural problems in breach of NHS guidelines, the Guardian has discovered, prompting the leading psychological society to call for a national review.

Family-based therapy is recommended for treating children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), with prescription drugs used only for children over six years old and as a last resort.

The figures, based on data from 479 GPs, show prescription rates were highest for children aged six to 12, doubling to just over eight per 1,000 in the five years up to 2008. Children aged 13 to 17 had the second highest rate at six per 1,000, while those aged 25 and over had less than one per 1,000.

Concern is greatest over children under six who should not be receiving drugs at all, says the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

X

Canada: Twin Protests Between Neo-Nazis and Anti-racists Kept Apart by Police

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© The Canadian Press/Larry MacDougal
A police line holds back white supremacist during a white power rally in downtown Calgary on Saturday, March 19, 2011. Police kept them apart from another group holding an anti-racist demonstration nearby.

There was plenty of anger but no violent confrontation after a moving cordon of police kept neo-Nazi and anti-racist groups apart at parallel rallies in downtown Calgary on Saturday.

About 200 members of Anti-Racist Action Calgary gathered at Calgary city hall after word that the neo-Nazi group, Blood of Honour, was planning a march.

"We're here to celebrate our diversity - the things that make us the same and different at the same time. We're also here to protest racism, discrimination in its different forms and most explicitly in this case the violent neo-Nazi gangs that exist within our city," said Jason Devine, a spokesman for ARA Calgary.

But the 16 members of Blood of Honour, chanting "White Pride Worldwide" found their paths blocked by Calgary Police officers, including riot squad members, who cordoned off several streets in the downtown.

"Charge me. Arrest me. It would be false imprisonment. Just do it," shouted one of the Blood of Honour group to a police officer.

Star of David

Helen Thomas to Playboy: Jews 'own the White House'

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© Unknown
Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas is not sorry, nor were the comments that ended her career accidental.

"I knew exactly what I was doing - I was going for broke," she told Playboy in the magazine's April interview. "I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up ... I finally wanted to speak the truth."

Thomas, of course, left her perch as the dean of the White House press corps last year after telling a rabbi and blogger that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else." Her family is Lebanese and she grew up in the Detroit area, home to one of the country's densest populations of Arab Americans.

Handcuffs

US: Anti-war Activists Arrested Near White House as They Mark 8th Anniversary of Start of Iraq War

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© The Associated Press / Jacquelyn Martin
Pat Loveless, right, of Takoma Park, Md., protests the 8th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, with other anti-war protesters during a rally near the White House in Washington, on Saturday, March 19,2011.

More than 100 anti-war protesters, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, were arrested outside the White House on Saturday in demonstrations marking the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The protesters, some shouting anti-war slogans and singing "We Shall Not Be Moved," were arrested after ignoring orders to move away from the gates of the White House. The demonstrators cheered loudly as Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon's secret history of the Vietnam War that was later published in major newspapers, was arrested and led away by police.

Similar protests marking the start of the Iraq war were also planned Saturday in Chicago, San Francisco and other cities.

The demonstration in Washington on Saturday merged varied causes, including protesters demanding a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those supporting Bradley Manning, the jailed Army private suspected of giving classified documents to the website Wikileaks.

One chant that was repeated was: "Stop the War! Expose the Lies! Free Bradley Manning!"

There was little talk of the U.S. missile strikes against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya on Saturday, part of an international effort to protect rebel forces.

Manning is being held in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. He is given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed and is stripped naked each night. On Sunday, a protest will be held in Quantico, outside the brig where Manning is being held.

Ellsberg has publicly defended Manning, calling him a "brother," and Wikileaks.

Crusader

Police: US man, 70, stoned to death by friend who said victim made unwanted sexual advances

A 70-year-old man was stoned to death with a rock stuffed in a sock by a younger friend who alleged the victim made unwanted sexual advances, authorities said.

According to the criminal complaint, John Thomas, 28, of a Philadelphia suburb, told police he killed Murray Seidman of nearby Lansdowne because the Bible refers to stoning homosexuals.

"I stoned Murray with a rock in a sock," Thomas told police, according to the criminal complaint. Thomas was arrested and charged with murder Friday.

According to the complaint, "John Thomas stated that he read in the Old Testament that homosexuals should be stoned in certain situations. The answer John Thomas received from his prayers was to put an end to the victim's life. John Thomas stated that he struck the victim approximately 10 times in the head. After the final blow, John Thomas made sure the victim was dead."

"He is a deeply religious man. Or so he says," said Lansdowne Police Chief Dan Kortan.

Camcorder

Driver films moment when Japan tsunami sweeps car off road in Asahi - Driver survives


Wall Street

Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages

Government payouts - including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance - make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population, a record figure that will only increase if action isn't taken before the majority of Baby Boomers enter retirement.

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© Unknown
Even as the economy has recovered, social welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

"The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus," said Madeline Schnapp, director of Macroeconomic Research at TrimTabs, in a note to clients. "Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits."

The economist gives the country two stark choices. In order to get welfare back to its pre-recession ratio of 26 percent of pay, "either wages and salaries would have to increase $2.3 trillion, or 35 percent, to $8.8 trillion, or social welfare benefits would have to decline $500 billion, or 23 percent, to $1.7 trillion," she said.

Arrow Down

U.S. Sen. Bill Ketron wants Tennessee to consider creating its own currency

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© AP/Erik Schelzig
Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro.
Nashville, Tenn. - State Sen. Bill Ketron is pushing for Tennessee to study whether the state should create its own currency in the event of a breakdown of the Federal Reserve.

Depending on the perspective, Ketron's proposal is either a harmless step toward safeguarding the state in the event of national financial calamity, or proof that the Republican-led General Assembly is distracting itself from the task of creating jobs and improving the economy.

Republican-led General Assembly is distracting itself from the task of creating jobs and improving the economy.

Ketron has filed a joint resolution to create a committee that would study whether Tennessee should adopt a currency as an alternative to the federal dollar in the event of a "major breakdown" of the Federal Reserve.