Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Must Read: Japan Asks US for Help with Nuclear Crisis; Still No Radiation Threat to California

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 7:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Japanese officials asked the United States for help in dealing with its worsening nuclear power plant crisis as engineers struggled to keep dangerously exposed fuel rods from melting down, AP reports. The New York Times reports that Japanese officials also raised the threat level posed by the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and planned to import boron from South Korea, a chemical that can slow a radioactive meltdown. Officials apparently plan to mix boron with the water being sprayed on the heavily damaged nuclear reactors and nearly evaporated cooling ponds.

2. US health officials, meanwhile, continued to try to reassure anxious West Coast residents, saying the Japanese nuclear crisis poses no health threat, the Chron reports. Health officials also disputed a computer model that predicted a radioactive plume was heading across the Pacific and could hit the West Coast today, the Mercury News reports. Experts continue to say there is no threat of radiation poisoning here unless there’s a catastrophic explosion in Japan that sends heavy amounts of radioactive matter into the jet stream.

3. Californians are increasingly dissatisfied with life in the Golden State, a new Field Poll shows, according to the Chron. But a plurality of state residents do not blame illegal immigration for their woes, the SacBee reports.

4. Democratic state lawmakers approved more budget cuts yesterday, but failed to garner any of the required Republican votes for Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies and put tax measures on the June ballot, the CoCo Times reports. In addition, the Chron reports that at this weekend’s Republican Party convention, right-wing activists plan to try to censure any Republicans who strike a deal with Brown.

5. UC Berkeley coops are attempting to appeal to students’ wallets in an effort to curb the misuse of illegal drugs, warning students that insurance claims made by families of overdose victims will raise their out-of-pocket expenses, the Chron reports.

6. The Oakland Police Department continues to fail to meet some police conduct reforms mandated by the 2003 Riders settlement, the Bay Citizen reports.

7. Two Bay Area planning agencies released their vision for the Bay Area over the next 25 years and it includes a major increase in so-called smart growth — housing built near major transit hubs, the CoCo Times reports.

8. And the New York Times announced that frequent readers of its online site will have to start paying for content on March 28. The new pay-wall plan allows readers to access up to twenty articles a month before having to buy a subscription plan. However, the new program still allows unlimited visits from users who access stories through Facebook and Twitter.

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