Apr 12 2011

Six In The Morning

Japan: Nuclear crisis raised to Chernobyl level

Japanese authorities have raised the severity rating of their nuclear crisis to the highest level, seven.

The BBC 12 April 2011 Last updated at 08:15 GMT

The decision reflects the total release of radiation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which is ongoing, rather than a sudden deterioration.

Level seven previously only applied to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where 10 times as much radiation was emitted.

There have been no fatalities resulting from the leaks at Fukushima, and risks to human health are thought to be low.

Meanwhile a 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday prompted the plant’s operator to evacuate its staff.

The operator of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), said it was checking the status of the plant after the quake, the second to hit in as many days, but said there had been no reports of problems with external power.

Gbagbo: Stripped of dignity, stripped of power

Dictator’s capture gives hope to Ivory Coast

By Daniel Howden in Abidjan Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A bewildered old man in a hotel room, stripped to his vest and surrounded by strangers. These were the first pictures that emerged of Laurent Gbagbo after he was forced blinking into the light yesterday by a thunderous French assault on his Abidjan bunker that ended with him being handed over to his nemesis, Alassane Ouattara.

News of his capture crackled across this lagoon city, which has been transformed into a looted wasteland by the 65-year-old’s refusal to cede power.

As people who have been living with the boom of heavy weapons dared to hope that the worst was over, a shout rang out: “Gbagbo fini!”

Australia leases out mineral-rich land as China’s hunger for resources grows

No longer content with buying iron ore and coal from Australian firms, China is building its own mining operations in the country

Stephen Sackur in Cue, western Australia

The Guardian, Tuesday 12 April 2011

China is leasing huge areas of land in Australia to secure a vital source of mineral resources, the latest sign of its acquisitive approach to the commodities trade.

No longer satisfied with buying iron ore and coal from Australian mining companies, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, China is developing its own mining operations, funding a port with a mile-long breakwater jutting into the Indian Ocean.

Citic Pacific’s Sino Iron project, in the Pilbara region in the north-west of Australia, illustrates the scale of Beijing’s ambitions. China expects to mine at least 2bn tonnes of ore from Sino Iron over the next 25 years.

A Visit to Japan’s Nuclear Ghost Towns

Life after the Meltdown

By Cordula Meyer in Odaka, Japan

The house has been in Tsuneyasu Satoh’s family for generations. It is dusk, and he has come to see it, secretly, one last time. He loves the interior walls made of rice paper and the wooden floor on which his ancestors once walked. But today he will be the last member of his family to set foot in the house.

Satoh is wearing a baseball cap and glasses with black frames, as if he were trying to hide the stony expression on his face. He and his wife Sayoko don’t have much time, and they know that they will have to leave many belongings behind in their old house. Things like the framed calligraphy by Satoh’s father and the awards earned by his daughter, who plays table tennis on the Japanese national team. Satoh stacks blankets and wraps up the TV set. Sayoko gathers the most important items she can find in the cabinets: documents, bed linens, the good rice cooker.

Libyan fighting goes on after peace bid fails



The Red Cross said it was opening a Tripoli office and would send a team to Misrata to help civilians trapped by fighting, but one of Gaddafi’s ministers warned any aid operation involving foreign troops would be seen as a declaration of war.

Rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said after talks with the AU delegation in Benghazi in the rebel-held east on Monday: “The African Union initiative does not include the departure of Gaddafi and his sons from the Libyan political scene, therefore it is outdated.”

Fifty years later, relive the world’s first space odyssey

‘Moon Shot’ recounts cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s history-making orbital trip in 1961

By Jay Barbree Correspondent

If you flew 9,000 miles east from Florida’s sand spit Cape Canaveral, you would arrive at the land of the sky: the vast steppes of Kazakhstan, a flat plain where the yellowed grasslands turn green only in the spring – where at day’s end one can see nothing, not even a leaf or twig, between self and setting sun.

It was this bare, unpopulated land that was chosen in the 1950s by a small army of Russian space pioneers, scientists, rocket engineers and technicians, laborers and cooks and carpenters and masons to build the great Soviet Baikonur Cosmodrome – a sprawling space center located perfectly to launch rockets and land spacecraft where mishaps would do little damage to the sparse flora and fauna.  Even more importantly, the desolation would keep secrets hidden.

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