'The situation is deteriorating,' expert says of Japan's nuclear crisis
A satellite image of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on March 14, three days after a quake and tsunami ravaged Japan.
March 15th, 2011
11:44 PM ET

'The situation is deteriorating,' expert says of Japan's nuclear crisis

A look back at Japan's nuclear crisis in the last 24 hours, through CNN.com videos:

The situation at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has reached a strange state of continual deterioration, international security analyst Jim Walsh says. As it gets worse, "The good news is that the bad news isn't quite as bad as it first looked," he says.

By way of example, he points to Tuesday's fire at a spent fuel pond that was successfully put out, but not before releasing a plume of radioactive smoke into the atmosphere. Or the fire at reactor 4, which prompted fears of a ruptured containment vessel, concerns that have since subsided, Walsh says - for now.

"Things are happening and they look very bad in the beginning. Maybe not as bad as it first looked, but the situation is deteriorating."

As the situation develops day by day, comparisons are being drawn to the 1986 Chernobyl explosion, as analysts look for ways to measure the potential scale of damage.

"This is not going to be a Chernobyl," author William Tucker says. "The Soviets didn't have a containment structure on top of their reactor."

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Japan quake live blog: Official death toll rises to 3,676
A tsunami survivor shows the family pictures she collected from the rubble of her house in Yamada on Tuesday.
March 15th, 2011
11:30 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Official death toll rises to 3,676

An 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake, tsunami and the fears surrounding Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[11:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] A white cloud of smoke or steam rising above Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have been caused by a breach in the containment vessel in reactor No. 3, government officials said.

"There's a probability the vapor is coming out of a broken part of containment vessel. This is a possibility," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday.

A spokesman for Japan's nuclear safety agency later told reporters that analysts were still trying to determine the cause of fluctuating radiation levels at the plant, but that radiation levels may have increased "because the containment vessel in reactor No. 3 has been damaged."

[11:01 p.m. ET Tuesday, 12:47 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The reported radiation readings near the front gate of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant are fluctuating by the hour, but currently do not pose any health hazard, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday. The reading spiked once Tuesday night, he said.

Meanwhile, The Japan Times reports that radiation reached around 20 times normal levels in the capital Tuesday morning, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said, while offering the assurance this reading posed no immediate risk to human health and that the public should remain calm.

"I received a report this morning that there was an important change of data," Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said at a news conference. "I heard that it will not immediately cause health problems."

[10:47 p.m. ET Tuesday, 11:47 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday workers at Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant have suspended their operations and been evacuated.

[9:20 p.m. ET Tuesday, 10:20 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan has risen to 3,676, authorities said. he number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas

At least 7,558 people are missing and 1,990 are injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[8:26 p.m. ET Tuesday, 9:26 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Stocks in Japan opened higher Wednesday morning, one day after the island nation's main market index suffered one of its biggest drops on record, CNNMoney's Ben Rooney reports.

The Nikkei 225 index, the most prominent measure of Tokyo market stocks, rose 520 points, or 6%, shortly after the market opened. The rebound comes after intense selling in the previous two sessions. On Tuesday, the index plunged 10.6%, marking the third worst one-day plunge in the Nikkei's history.

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The day's most popular stories
Actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired by Aflac after tweeting jokes about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
March 15th, 2011
11:24 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:

New fire at Japan nuclear plant: A fire was discovered Wednesday in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the latest in a series of setbacks at the stricken plant that has heightened fears that the incidents could lead to widespread radiation contamination.

Nuclear fears grow amid deaths in Japan: Wednesday broke in Japan with news of a new blaze at the damaged nuclear plant that crews have struggled to control since last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami, adding to radiation fears in a country racing to avoid a full-on nuclear crisis.

Gottfried fired as voice of Aflac duck: The Aflac duck lost its voice Monday after the insurance giant fired the comedian behind the commercial quack for tweeting jokes about the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated Japan.

New blast, fire fuel nuclear fears: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday the risk of further releases of radioactive material remains "very high," as crews struggle to contain an increasingly critical crisis at a damaged nuclear plant.

Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center: NASA's Inspector General's Office says an investigation is under way after a white powdery substance found at the Kennedy Space Center tested positive for cocaine.

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50 people in 50 days: 'Good girl' disappears on way to drugstore
Kimberly Arrington was 16 when she disappeared October 30, 1998, in Montgomery, Alabama.
March 15th, 2011
06:57 PM ET

50 people in 50 days: 'Good girl' disappears on way to drugstore

Editor's note: Nancy Grace's new show on HLN, "Nancy Grace: America's Missing," is dedicated to finding 50 people in 50 days. As part of the effort, which relies heavily on audience participation, CNN.com's news blog This Just In will feature the stories of the missing.

This is the 42nd case, and it was shown Tuesday at 9 p.m. on HLN.

Kimberly Arrington's mother died without knowing what had become of her daughter, who disappeared in 1998 without a trace.

But the memory of the 16-year-old lives on among those who love her. Kimberly's father still waits for her to come home, and her sister named her daughter after her missing aunt.

Kimberly left the family's home in Montgomery, Alabama, around 5 p.m. on October 30, 1998, telling her mother that she was going to a nearby CVS drugstore. She never came home.

Kimberly was a "good girl," a friendly, outgoing teen who accepted everyone with open arms. Someone may have asked his daughter for directions, Walter Arrington believes, and forced her into a car.

"Most people liked her, and she was very friendly towards everybody," he said. "I felt like maybe that's part of the reason why they got her."

March 15th, 2011
06:54 PM ET

Phony Rockefeller charged in L.A. slaying

A man who gained international notoriety when he kidnapped his daughter while leading a double life impersonating a member of the moneyed Rockefeller clan has been charged with murder in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Tuesday alleging a single murder count against Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter.

Gerhartsreiter, 50, is accused of killing John Sohus, 27, who vanished with his wife, Linda, in 1985. His dismembered remains were found nine years later as workers dug a backyard pool at a home his mother used to own in San Marino, California.

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Gotta Watch: Stories of survival
A tree is pulled over by tsunami waves.
March 15th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Stories of survival

Among the countless stories of devastation in Japan, there are also some amazing stories of survival. Here are a few of them:

'Looks like a bomb has gone off' – Brian Barnes was in Japan with an environmental group that protects dolphins. He was there to monitor dolphin hunts when the massive quake hit. He began rolling as the destruction began.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/03/15/gutierrez.photog.survivor.cnn"%5D

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Tuesday's intriguing people
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has signed on to help the Huffington Post create social impact and cause-based initiatives.
March 15th, 2011
10:06 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Biz Stone

The co-founder of microblogging site Twitter is joining the Huffington Post Media Group and AOL as strategic impact adviser.  "My goal in partnering with AOL and the Huffington Post Media Group is ambitious but vitally important. Together we will rally companies to think about new ways of doing business, share best practices, and strive for positive impact at all levels - from global to local."

Alia Greenbaum

The 25-year-old works as a language teacher in a rural village 20 miles from Sendai, Japan, one of the cities hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country last week.  Sherre Greenbaum, Alia's mother, has not heard from her daughter since she sent an e-mail from a friend's mobile phone.  The message said the battery on her own cellphone had run out and that she was fine. Sherre Greenbaum told the Boston Globe, "We're trying to email her, but there's no response."

Barry Diller

The media mogul and chairman and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp, speaking at the South by Southwest conference Monday, said he's not interested in investing in internet companies, but in creating them.  "What interests me is starting businesses on our own, finding ideas that we can support, and simply investing in invention," he told CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow in one of the sessions.

Stephen King

The acclaimed author hopped on stage at a rally protesting budget cuts in Florida last week, referring to three Republican governors as "Larry, Curly and Moe," the Three Stooges. King was talking about Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Brown.  The part-time Florida resident told the cheering crowd, "Maybe my next horror novel will star Rick Scott."

Lezlie Hiner

The founder of West Philadelphia's Work to Ride program has been teaching polo to inner-city kids for 16 years.  On Sunday, she led the first all African-American high school polo team to its first national victory, according to NewsWorks, WHYY's website. The team, which consists of captain Kareem Rosser, his brother Daymar and teammate Brandon Rease, has been working together over the last few years to become No. 1. It was no small feat, according to Hiner. "It's physical, it's fast, there's an element of danger involved in it because the kids are traveling at such high speeds," she said.  The trio previously placed fifth at the national championship level.

Tuesday's live video events
March 15th, 2011
07:46 AM ET

Tuesday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the situation in earthquake-devastated Japan.

Today's programming highlights...

Ongoing coverage - Earthquake, tsunami devastate Japan

8:15 am ET - Frank Buckles memorial - Friends, family and other honor World War I veteran Frank Buckles, who died last month at age 110.  A memorial in Buckles' honor takes place at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Bus accident kills 2, injures 42 in New Jersey
March 15th, 2011
02:53 AM ET

Bus accident kills 2, injures 42 in New Jersey

A bus accident along the New Jersey Turnpike near East Brunswick killed two people and injured 42 others Monday night, state police said.

The 50-year-old bus driver was killed when he was ejected through the front window, according to Sgt. Stephen Jones. A second person died at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Brunswick. Five others are in the hospital's trauma unit.

The "driver for some reason lost control ... struck a guide rail and a concrete abutment," Jones said.

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