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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Radiation inside Japan nuclear plant rises sharply

TOKYO – Emergency workers struggling to pump contaminated water from Japan's stricken nuclear complex fled one of the troubled reactors Sunday after reporting a huge spike in radioactivity, with levels 10 million times higher than normal in the reactor's cooling system, officials said.

Japanese workers shovel dirt on to coffins containing victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami during a mass funeral in Yamamoto, northeastern J
AP – Japanese workers shovel dirt on to coffins containing 
victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami …

The numbers were so high that the worker measuring radiation levels in the complex's Unit 2 withdrew before taking a second reading, officials said.

It was not immediately clear, however, how long workers were exposed to the highly radioactive water or how long the levels had been that high at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.

But it came as officials acknowledged there was contaminated water in all four of the complex's most troubled reactors, and as airborne radiation in Unit 2 measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour — four times the limit deemed safe by the government, Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita said.

Officials say they still don't know where the radioactive water is coming from, though government spokesman Yukio Edano has said some is "almost certainly" seeping from a cracked reactor core in one of the units.

While the discovery of the high radiation levels — and the evacuation of workers from one reactor unit — again delayed efforts to bring the deeply troubled complex under control, Edano insisted the situation had partially stabilized.

"We have somewhat prevented the situation from turning worse," he told reporters Sunday evening. "But the prospects are not improving in a straight line and we've expected twists and turns. The contaminated water is one of them and we'll continue to repair the damage."

The discovery over the last three days of radioactive water has been a major setback in the mission to get the plant's crucial cooling systems operating more than two weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami.

The magnitude-9 quake off Japan's northeast coast on March 11 triggered a tsunami that barreled onshore and disabled the Fukushima plant, complicating an immense humanitarian disaster.

The death toll from the twin disasters stood at 10,668 Sunday, with more than 16,574 people missing, police said. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless.

Workers have been scrambling to remove the radioactive water from the four units and find a safe place to store it, TEPCO officials said.

On Sunday night, Minoru Ogoda of Japan's nuclear safety agency said each unit could have hundreds of tons of radioactive water.

The protracted nuclear crisis has spurred concerns about the safety of food and water in Japan, which is a prime source of seafood for some countries. Radiation has been found in food, seawater and even tap water supplies in Tokyo.

Just outside the coastal Fukushima nuclear plant, radioactivity in seawater tested about 1,250 times higher than normal last week — but that number had climbed to 1,850 times normal by the weekend.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a nuclear safety official, said the increase was a concern, but also said the area is not a source of seafood and that the contamination posed no immediate threat to human health.

Experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency said the ocean would quickly dilute the worst contamination.

Up to 600 people are working inside the plant in shifts. Nuclear safety officials say workers' time inside the crippled units is closely monitored to minimize their exposure to radioactivity, but two workers were hospitalized Thursday when they suffered burns after stepping into contaminated water. They are to be released from the hospital Monday.

Edano has urged TEPCO to be more transparent about the potential dangers after the safety agency revealed the plant operator was aware of high radiation levels in the air in Unit 3 several days before the two workers suffered burns there. 

A top TEPCO official acknowledged Sunday it could take a long time to completely clean up the complex. 

"We cannot say at this time how many months or years it will take," TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said, insisting the main goal now is to cool the reactors. 

A poll, meanwhile, showed that support for Japan's prime minister has risen as the administration tackles the disasters. 

The public opinion poll conducted over the weekend by Kyodo News agency found that approval of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet rose to 28.3 percent after sinking below 20 percent in February, before the earthquake and tsunami. 

Last month's low approval led to speculation that Kan's days were numbered. While the latest figure is still low, it suggests he is making some gains with voters. 

About 58 percent of respondents in the nationwide telephone survey of 1,011 people said they approved of the government's handling of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but a similar number criticized its handling of the nuclear crisis.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meet The Coach Who's Creating A Buzz At Marquette

Some may be surprised to see Marquette University in the Sweet 16 of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, but the Golden Eagles aren't.

That's because their 38-year-old coach, Buzz Williams, has a style that sets him and his team apart — a style that actually makes the team fun to watch.

A clip of Williams breaking into dance is fun to pass around the Internet. Even his name is fun to say — Buzz Williams.

The Williams 'Edge'
Williams is bald and — it must be said — a bit stocky. At postgame press conferences, other coaches wear suits and ties, while this guy strips down to his T-shirt, usually Marquette gold.
And if you listen to him, you learn the fun was born of an almost unfathomable striving — it's just who he is.

"I do have an edge about me because of my roots," Williams says. "I recruit that way. I talk that way. I coach that way. I live that way. I'm a parent in that same manner."

Every college coach will say some variation of "I'm a teacher first, but a coach second," and then admit to frequently calling players by their uniform numbers instead of their names. But there's a certain authenticity to Williams' talk of developing people.

Take this example: After a tournament win, when his players had finished addressing the media, a raspy-voiced Williams talked about an aspect of the overall game I'd never seen a coach discuss.

"I don't mean this in an arrogant way and I don't mean this in a condescending way," he said. (Let me pause here to say Williams does this a lot — pre-apologize if his thoughts come off as arrogant. They don't.)

"Meaning has to be deeper than winning and losing. Literally every Friday we have a vocabulary word test, like you did when you were in second grade," he went on. "They just used about 25 of them. I just believe as a human being that my message to those guys has to be deeper than winning and losing."

Five days ago, Williams was asked about his first job, and what followed was a nearly 10-minute story that began at a small college in Oklahoma and involved pilfering stationery, getting a loan, selling a U-Haul, sleeping in his car outside the house of the one coach who'd shown interest in hiring him, and finally getting what may have been the worst job at the lowest rung of Division 1 basketball.

'Toughness Beats Talent'
Williams' team has internalized its coach's journey.
"Buzz knows toughness beats talent any time," says Vander Blue, a Marquette guard. "He took the hard route here. Some coaches, a lot of coaches, can't say they've been through half what he's been through. And that really rubs off on us on the court."

Aki Collins, an assistant coach, says Williams has built his team and his staff in his own image. 

"I think he wants guys that are gonna grind and are gonna work hard every day," Collins says. "If you are a guy that's really comfortable in what you do, I don't think he wants you around him because you can't survive in his world."

Roy Williams, the coach of North Carolina — Marquette's opponent Friday night — says that Williams' players have taken on the enthusiasm and energy of their coach. And he's impressed.

"To me, toughness is not just being willing to stand up there and fight," Williams says. "The toughness is in the — I just watched it this morning — the West Virginia game in the Big East Tournament. They were down 10, and you know, it was no panic — they just kept playing. To me that is toughness, too. Regardless of what's going on they kept playing, kept coming at you."

The respect is mutual. Williams, who likes to pick a topic to study each month, once selected Roy Williams as his subject. And with another victory or two, the Buzz Williams way may be what other coaches are studying for an edge of their own.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Temple University: Owls and San Diego State Aztecs Head to Second Overtime

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Temple University and San Diego State University Locked in Tight Battle

In the late goings of today's Round of 32 contest between the Temple Owls and the San Diego State University Aztecs, it looked like the Aztecs were going to get the second NCAA Tournament in the program's history (the first coming against Northern Colorado on Thursday). 

With less than two minutes to go, the Aztecs held a 54-49 lead, but the game wasn't in the bag quite yet. Temple fought back on the strength of a three-pointer from Khalif Wyatt and a Lavoy Allen jumper to tie the score 54-54 with less than a minute to go.

San Diego State had a final shot opportunity with four seconds left in regulation, but Chase Tapley's couldn't get a floater to go. The game went to overtime.

Juan Fernandez scored five of Temple's seven points in the overtime period, but the Aztecs were able to keep pace. They had yet another final shot opportunity, but Malcolm Thomas jumper was no good. The game went to a second overtime with scored tied at 61-61.

At this very moment, there is 2:38 to go in the second overtime period, and San Diego State has a 65-61 lead. As soon as the game goes final, we'll gave a full recap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not Just Julius: The Many Meanings of The Ides of March

Topics: beware the ides of march, george clooney, ides, ides of march 15, ides of march meaning, Julius Caesar, lifestyle, march 15, movie, roman calendar, Ryan Gosling, the Ides of march
March 15, Ides of March

Getty Images

Falling on the 15th of March, May, July, and October, or the 13th day of any other month, the ides signified the middle of the month on the Roman calendar. But NewsFeed is guessing that's not the only context that you've heard it in before.

So we've culled a quick list of the various things and events that the "Ides of March" could refer to:

(More on TIME.com: See where the Ides of March falls on our top 10 unforgettable days list)

1. The day that Julius Caesar was betrayed and assassinated in 44 B.C. by a group of Roman senators--an event that solidified the date in infamy.

2. The famous line, "Beware the ides of March," from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned of his impending death by a soothsayer--a warning that Caesar disastrously, but predictably, fails to heed.

3. The epistolary novel, The Ides of March, by Thornton Wilder was published in 1948 and describes the events leading up to the assassination of Caesar (notice a pattern here?)

4. The Ides of March was the American rock band behind the hit 70s song 'Vehicle'.

5. And last but not least, a non-depressing reference -- The Ides of March is the political thriller directed by George Clooney, set to be released in late 2011. The movie is about "an idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate [who] gets a crash course on dirty politics," which admittedly does sound like a bit of a downer. But it stars Clooney and Ryan Gosling, and that is anything but depressing!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Rocked by Magnitude 8.9 Quake, Tsunami

The Calamity of Japan's 8.9-Magnitude Quake



Houses are damaged by water following a tsunami and earthquake in Ibaraki city, Ibaraki Prefecture, March 11, 2011.

Yomiuri / Reuters

A magnitude 8.9 earthquake — believed to be one of the most powerful quakes in more than a century — has rocked the northeastern part of Japan. The tremblor, centered a relatively shallow 15 miles below the surface, caused a 23-foot tsunami that swept through coastal areas in Fukushima Prefecture, and a 13-foot tsunami in nearby Iwate Prefecture. Four other northern prefectures were hit with waves also up to 13 feet.

Dramatic aerial images over Miyagi, which is largely flat farming land, showed a dark, debris-filled sea of water and mud enveloping everything in its path, from houses to cars and roads, though the death toll is unconfirmed, the Associated Press is reporting that 300 bodies have washed up on a beach near Sendai. Earlier estimates put the death toll at 90. Another 349 were reported missing. (See pictures of the massive earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011.)
The Japanese government reacted quickly and has said they consider this one of the most serious natural disasters in the country's history. In a press conference, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, called for calm and cooperation. "We will secure the safety of the people of Japan and work to remain cautious, and be vigilant about keeping tuned in to television and radio reports," he said. "We ask the people of Japan to act with calm." 

For Kan, the timing is particularly sensitive: Parliament was in the middle of discussing an illegal donations scandal when the quake hit. If he leads the country effectively through the disaster, the quake may be his saving grace. 

Outside Japan, several countries were on high alert. The Honolulu-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued tsunami warning for a string of countries that now includes Indonesia, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, as well as Mexico, Chile and Peru. Earlier, the center issued a warning for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island, the Northern Marianas, Guam, Wake Island and Taiwan. The tsunami rekindled grim memories of the great Asian tsunami triggered on Dec. 24, 2004, which eventually claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. (Read "Japan Quake Causes Nuclear Emergency.")
Japan's capital, Tokyo, about 186 miles from the epicenter, was badly rattled. "Across the road there's a tenement block. It's swaying horrifically, so much so, in fact, that it looks like a miniature, as though it's been subjected to tilt shift photo technology," wrote one woman, who was live-blogging from Tokyo. "I can't quite compute seeing a building doing that." After the quake, massive crowds in Tokyo gathered outside of major stations as trains and subways came to a halt. People stood in shock. Some cried and others hugged. 

Traffic in my neighborhood of Shibuya was paralyzed during the quake. One taxi driver told me he thought he had a flat tire when his vehicle began to shake. "That must have been the biggest one I've ever felt," he said worriedly while trying to telephone his relatives up north. I then noticed a long line forming in front of a lone public phone. It was a bizarre site in this mobile-crazed society and confirmed my fear that land-lines are likely the only reliable telephone service available. Stepping out into the street I saw a growing line in front of a convenience store as people rushed to buy food, water and other necessities. The store manager said some supplies are running short and that chargers for mobile phones have sold out.

More than four million buildings in Tokyo and surrounding areas reportedly lost power soon after the quake. Hundreds of thousands of people in the city of 13 million have been left stranded after train and subway services were suspended. East Japan Railway Company says it stopped train operations, including the Shinkansen bullet trains, although no major damage has been reported so far. The Tokyo Metro subway has also been suspended all operations. Company officials say it will take time to check the safety of all tunnels before resuming operations. The Transport Ministry said that Tokyo's two airports, Narita and Haneda, had closed its runways, and the Nuclear Power Security Agency reported that the five nuclear power plants in northeastern Japan were shut down.  

At an electronics store TV display I stood in shock with strangers as we watched live coverage of a tsunami sweeping across rice fields, bridges, cars attempting to escape and hundreds of homes in northern Japan. We all agreed it was the first time we've witnessed a natural disaster of this scale in Japan. "Do you think this is the 'big one' we've been expecting," I asked. "Maybe there's more to come," said one young woman fearfully as an aftershock rolled under our feet. We fear the full extent of the damage has yet to unfold. 

— With reporting by Emily Rauhala/Hong Kong

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Japan Issues Emergency at Nuclear Plant

By Christopher Anstey and Mayumi Otsuma
March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Japan’s central bank pledged to ensure financial stability after the strongest earthquake in at least a century forced Toyota Motor Corp. to shut some plants, knocked out oil refineries and sparked a plunge in stocks.

The magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Sendai, a city of 1 million in the northeast, unleashing a tsunami as high as 10 meters (33 feet) that engulfed towns along the coast. The Tohoku region, which includes Sendai, accounts for about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to Macquarie Securities Ltd.

The disaster may slow a recovery from a contraction in the fourth quarter as Prime Minister Naoto Kan struggles to convince credit rating companies he will get a grip on the world’s largest public-debt burden. While the Finance Ministry said it’s too soon to gauge the earthquake’s economic impact, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.7 percent and insurers Munich Re and Swiss Reinsurance Co. led declines in European trading.

“It’s early days,” Stephen Gallo, head of market analysis at Schneider Foreign Exchange in London, said in an e-mailed note. “But the horrific events in Japan bear very close watching from a financial perspective, given the bloated problems in Japan’s public sector.”

The price of crude oil fell 3 percent to $99.66 per barrel. The temblor set ablaze a Cosmo Oil Co. refinery near Tokyo and closed at least three others, temporarily curbing demand for crude in Asia’s second-largest oil-consuming nation.

Disaster Response
“I call on citizens to act calmly,” Kan told reporters in Tokyo after convening his emergency disaster response team. “The Self-Defense Forces are already mobilized in various places. The government is making its utmost effort to minimize the damage,” he said, adding later at a press conference that the impact was widespread.

The Bank of Japan, which has already cut its benchmark rate to zero in an effort to end deflation, set up an emergency task force and said it will do everything it can to provide liquidity. The central bank said its settlement system was working and that it was able to settle all accounts today without disruption.
Policy makers will hold a policy board meeting on March 14 and announce its decision on the same day instead of March 15.

The earthquake struck less than half an hour before Japan’s stock market closed. The yen initially dropped before paring its losses and later advanced at least 1 percent against all 16 of its most actively traded peers. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.9 percent at 12:06 p.m. in London.

Munich Re and Swiss Re, the world’s two biggest reinsurers, lost 5.3 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Kobe Quake
The economy may nevertheless weather the shock, which evoked memories of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that hit the port city of Kobe in January 1995, said Richard Jerram, Singapore-based head of Asian economics at Macquarie. While Japanese industrial production dipped 2.6 percent in the month that the Kobe quake hit, it rebounded 2.2 percent the following month and 1 percent in March.

The area around Sendai “is a lot smaller part of the economy than Kobe, so we would expect the damage to be much less serious on the economy,” said Jerram. “The early indications are that it’s not probably going to be all that destructive from an economic point of view.”

Japan’s economy contracted 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 on an annualized basis. It shrank 2.7 percent in the same period of 1994.

Flight Cancellations
This year’s quake is disrupting a region that’s a center for auto making in the world’s third-largest economy. Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, said it and its affiliates closed three factories, with locations outside of northern Japan operating normally. Nissan Motor Co. said it extinguished two fires at factories and Kyodo reported that the Yokohama-based company halted production at four factories.

“The Tohoku region is one of the major production areas of cars and other products in Japan, so the quake may affect economic activity mainly through this sector,” said Tohru Nishihama, economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Inc. in Tokyo. “In addition, it’s possible to affect food prices as agriculture is another major industry in the region.”

Nippon Paper suspended three Japan plants after the shock, Kyodo reported. All Nippon Airways Co. said 32,700 people were affected by flight cancellations.

The quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time 130 kilometers (81 miles) off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, at a depth of 24 kilometers, the U.S. Geological Service said. It was followed by a 7.1-magnitude aftershock at 4:25 p.m., the service said. Aftershocks continued to affect office buildings in Tokyo as recently as 5:21 p.m. local time.

Televised footage showed a tsunami striking northeast Japan. Outside of Tokyo, Narita airport, the area’s main international gateway, closed, Kyodo News reported. Haneda, the main domestic airport, was reopened after closing earlier, according to Kyodo.

For Kan, managing the aftermath of the disaster may deflect immediate public attention from his becoming embroiled in a political-donation controversy. Earlier today, he told lawmakers today he “had no idea” a political contributor to his office wasn’t a Japanese citizen, violating campaign rules. The Asahi newspaper reported Kan received 1.04 million yen ($12,500) from a South Korean resident. A similar charge prompted the foreign minister to resign March 6.

Debt Burden
With opposition parties already calling for Kan to step down and refusing to pass bills authorizing sales of deficit- financing bonds, the tumult had risked prolonged paralysis. Political failure to set a path for reining in the world’s largest public debt has spurred credit-rating firms to lower, or put on notice for a cut, Japan’s sovereign grade.

The head of the Liberal Democratic Party, the biggest opposition group, said it would cooperate with the government to approve extra spending to cope with the disaster.

“We will probably need a supplementary budget to work on this,” LDP leader Sadakazu Tanigaki told reporters after Kan convened a meeting of party leaders. “We will cooperate with all our might.”

Boosting fiscal spending on any reconstruction effort in the wake of the temblor would risk adding to the nation’s borrowing without cuts elsewhere or an increase in taxes. Government debt is set to reach 210 percent of GDP in 2012, the highest among countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, compared with an estimated 101 percent of GDP for the U.S.

‘There will be fiscal stimulus to reconstruct but Japan already has a budget deficit of close to 10 percent of’’ GDP and an aging population, Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the global financial crisis, told Bloomberg Television interview from London today. “This is certainly the worst thing that can happen in Japan at the worst time.”

--With assistance from Toru Fujioka, Sachiko Sakamaki and Masahiro Hidaka in Tokyo, Jennifer Ryan and Maryam Nemazee in London and Yumi Teso in Bangkok. Editors: Simone Meier, John Fraher

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No More Easy Credits on Twiends

The website for earning Twitter followers, Facebook likes and YouTube views cut the flow of credits to the easy earners.

Twiends.com is an unique website, where people can get Twitter followers, receive Facebook likes or have more YouTube views to their videos by its credits system.

Users can earn credits by following other Twiends users on Twitter, giving Facebook likes or watching YouTube videos.

Twiends users can purchase credits as well, via payment through PayPal.

Some days ago there was a possibility to earn credits for visiting people websites, but this is no more. Today, when I logged into my account, I saw the following:

Credits are possible to earn on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Some days ago there was a possibility to earn credits by visiting people websites, but seems this is no more. For me visiting websites was the easiest and best way to earn credits all day long. It used to look like this before:

I visited hundreds of websites and earned many credits that were spent.

However, Twiends saw this easy way of earning credits as a treat to their system, so they disabled it. Was it because of the bad quality of the websites, the risk of malicious software, the unfair pages who broke the Twiends frame and gave no credits to the visitor (Triond was one of the frame breaking networks) is yet unknown, but one thing is for sure – earning credits on Twiends got harder.

Most of the websites advertised on Twiends were cash links, some Triond articles, blogs and even broken pages or deleted links, but I actually found some interesting sites there. But this is no more, so I have to manually search for these sites.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Steve Jobs Steals GDC Thunder with iPad 2 Announcement

Apple's CEO dropped the deets today on the tech company's latest tablet computer.

It almost seems that people started talking about the next iteration of the iPad even before the first version was sent to stores in April 2010. Now, with Jobs finally announcing the long-rumored iPad 2 today in San Francisco, people have already begun pondering an iPad 3. Perhaps that's because the specs for the first upgrade to the iPad are less a complete overhaul and more a minor tweaking to a sleeker design.

The biggest change is that the iPad 2 is a third thinner, but it's only .2 pounds lighter. The screen is identical, while Apple added two cameras facing front and back so that it could support FaceTime and accidentally snapping photos of your crotch. Jobs said that the new iPad will support both Verizon and AT&T but those hoping for a dip in the exorbitant price are in for some disappointment. iPad 2 still costs exactly the same, that is, from $499 to a whopping $829 for a 3G enabled 64GB computer. The iPad 2 is shipping to stores on March 11, 2011.

Oh, and it comes in white.

In other news, I just bought a Kindle for an eighth of the price of the flagship iPad. Now, I know that the devices are not at all comparable, but I find it frustrating that Apple spends its cycles catering to the top 2% of the richest people in the world instead of trying to create affordable devices that the middle class can actually use. The worst part is that the iPad isn't a substitute for a laptop or a home computer; it can only exist in addition to those already expensive appliances.

Anyone who has that kind of money will likely be excited for this minimal upgrade. If not, you always have the iPad 3 to look forward to. Seriously, people are already speculating another announcement before the end of 2011 and as early as September. If that's not self-indulgent on Apple's part, I don't know the meaning of that word.