How damaged nuclear plant's radiation gets into food, water
A crop of spinach is nearly ready for harvest at a field in Sukagawa in Fukushima Prefecture on Tuesday.
March 23rd, 2011
11:42 PM ET

How damaged nuclear plant's radiation gets into food, water

Officials in Japan's capital Wednesday advised parents not to give city tap water to infants after tests showed it had elevated levels of radioactive iodine - a problem attributed to a nuclear plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation exceeding legal limits also has been found in 11 types of vegetables and milk in prefectures surrounding the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, prompting some prefectures to stop shipping these products. The United States is preventing the import of milk, milk products, fresh vegetables and fruit from four Japanese prefectures, though certain products could be allowed in if tests show them to be safe, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said.

Below are brief explanations of how the radiation can get into food and water and how dangerous the  food/water contamination in this instance might be.

Traveling from nuclear plant to food, water and milk

Radioactive particles escaping from the Fukushima Daiichi plant (see this interactive for how and why this is happening) bind to dust, traveling in the air for a distance before coming to ground, according to CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The particles, such as cesium-137 and iodine-131, contaminate farm produce and water simply by falling on them.

The large surface areas of leafy vegetables, such as spinach, make them likely to collect greater amounts of particles than many other produce types, said Marko Moscovitch, professor at Georgetown's Department of Radiation Medicine.

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Libya live blog: Gadhafi troops attack Misrata hospital
Libyan rebels deploy near the city of Ajdabiya to try to attack government forces that have encircled the town.
March 23rd, 2011
10:10 PM ET

Libya live blog: Gadhafi troops attack Misrata hospital

The latest developments on the situation in Libya, where coalition forces launched a series of coordinated airstrikes on Saturday after they were convinced Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was not adhering to a cease-fire mandated by the United Nations. Read our complete story and check out our full coverage on unrest in the Arab world. Also, don't miss a gripping, high-resolution gallery of images from Libya.

[10:10 p.m. Wednesday ET, 4:10 a.m. Thursday in Libya] The coalition air effort to halt the Libyan government's attacks on civilians continued into Thursday for a sixth day, with an airstrike in the Tripoli suburb of Tajura, a government official said.

[9:20 p.m. Wednesday ET, 3:20 a.m. Thursday in Libya] After enduring five days of air strikes by coalition forces, Libyan government troops retain the upper hand. Government forces' move on Benghazi has been reversed, but attacks on Misrata and Ajdabiya continue. One witness said personnel in the main hospital were "paralyzed with fear."

Meanwhile, the Libyan government reported that military and civilian locations in Tripoli neighborhoods were struck. A U.S. official calls that assertion "unlikely" and says coalition forces have been using "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

[6:02 p.m. Wednesday ET, 12:02 a.m. Thursday in Libya] Members of Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle are contacting the United States and Arab states, but have been unclear about their intentions, senior U.S. officials said.

However, the officials said that none of Gadhafi's inner circle have indicated Gadhafi was ready to leave, nor have any of them suggested they are ready to abandon Gadhafi, CNN's Elise Labott reported.

They are indeed reaching out, but it's not clear to what end," one senior official said. "It's not clear what's the purpose of all these calls."

[5:48 p.m. Wednesday ET, 11:48 p.m. in Libya] House Speaker John Boehner has written a letter to President Barack Obama complaining of "limited, sometimes contradictory" information so far on the U.S.-led military mission in Libya and asked for the president to provide "a clear and robust assessment."

Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote that he and other House members were troubled that the president committed U.S. military resources to war "without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America's role is in achieving that mission," CNN's Deirdre Walsh reports.

[5:30 p.m. Wednesday ET, 11:30 p.m. in Libya] Tanks belonging to Gadhafi's forces shelled the main hospital of rebel-held Misrata this afternoon, a witness told CNN.

The push began at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), when "heavy tanks for Gadhafi troops start attacking the hospital - the bombs falling here 20 meters (66 feet) around us," said one person inside the hospital. He said two deaths had occurred "around the hospital."

At one point, shelling occurred without respite for 40 minutes, he said. "Now, fortunately, no more shelling, but the situation is so serious that all the teams here - the doctors, the patients - are paralyzed, scared."

He called for international intervention to protect the civilians inside the institution. "Nobody can work here," he said. All the doctors here are completely paralyzed." Ambulances were not able to leave the hospital, which had lost its electricity and was running on generator power, he said.

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50 people in 50 days: Woman disappeared after leaving party
Jamie Harper, shown in a 2005 photo, was 20 when she disappeared in March 2007.
March 23rd, 2011
09:59 PM ET

50 people in 50 days: Woman disappeared after leaving party

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 48th case, and it was shown Wednesday night on HLN.

Jamie Harper was supposed to stay at a friend's house after attending a party in Rantoul, Illinois, in March 2007.

Friends say she left the party on the early morning of March 10, but she didn't arrive at the friend's house and she never returned to her own home in Paxton, Illinois.

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March 23rd, 2011
07:48 PM ET

Suspect in MLK parade bombing pleads not guilty

A man accused of attempting to set off a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Washington, has pleaded not guilty, an FBI spokesman said Wednesday.

Kevin Harpham pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device, FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Frank Harrill said.

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Lindsay Lohan bound for trial after declining plea deal
Lindsay Lohan was offered a plea deal that could have led to more jail time.
March 23rd, 2011
06:53 PM ET

Lindsay Lohan bound for trial after declining plea deal

Lindsay Lohan is not accepting a plea deal that would involve jail time for a jewelry store theft, CNN confirms.

The decision means the troubled actor will proceed to trial on a charge of felony grand theft.

The actress is accused of walking out with a $2,500 necklace from Kamofie and Company, a jewelry store in Venice, California, on January 22.

She faces possible jail time for violating her probation for a drunk driving arrest because of the theft charge.

Lohan's attorney notified Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers that there will be no court hearing Friday, a Los Angeles Court spokesperson said.

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CNNMoney: Toyota tells U.S. plants 'prepare to shut down'
Factories in North America may have to close if parts shortages become acute.
March 23rd, 2011
05:28 PM ET

CNNMoney: Toyota tells U.S. plants 'prepare to shut down'

Toyota's U.S. manufacturing arm is preparing for a possible shutdown because of parts shortages from Japan, a Toyota spokesman said, according to CNNMoney.

Word has gone out to all 13 of Toyota's factories in the United States, Canada and Mexico. This does not mean that the plants will stop working, Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said, but that they should be ready in case the need arises.

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Court: No California same-sex marriages during appeal
March 23rd, 2011
02:59 PM ET

Court: No California same-sex marriages during appeal

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday refused to allow same-sex marriages in California while a case on the issue works its way through the courts.

Last year, a federal judge declared that Proposition 8, a voter-approved measure banning same-sex marriages in California, was unconstitutional.

The civil rights challenge is now at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, where the issue is still unresolved.

Several gay and lesbian couples asked the court to be allowed to wed in the meantime. However, the three-judge appellate panel issued a brief order Wednesday that rejected the motion "at this time."

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March 23rd, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Larry King: Taylor was 'a helluva woman'


Iconic newsman Larry King had a close friendship with Elizabeth Taylor.

Though she was older and had been ill lately, King said he was shocked to hear she had died. "She was a great pal," he said on CNN Wednesday.

Taylor was a "trooper" who made friends and kept them, devoting her loyalty to them. She was "gutsy," one of the first people to stand up for people with HIV and to push for research on the disease. "She did more than any other single individual to fight AIDS," King said.

"She did have a rough life," King said, referring to the many times Taylor married. "She was what she was.

"She had everything you could put into one life, including a great sense of humor."

But the thing that stood out the most were her purple eyes, he said. Be clear, he said, they were not blue but purple. "They were glowing," he said. "Hypnotic."

"She was a helluva woman," King said.

Here is a text of Taylor's letter to King upon his retirement:

My Dearest Larry,

I am so very sorry not to be able to be there this last historic night to celebrate with you your long and illustrious tenure as King of the Airwaves.

I am sure I am one of many, many interviewees, who, exhausted from explaining themselves, their actions, their projects, their loves, heaved a sigh of relief knowing that they were coming to talk to you. Talking to you was like a late night chat with a friend.

It thrills me to think that you are going on to a long luxurious retirement.

Our loss is your family's gain.

My good thoughts and love follow you there,

ELIZABETH TAYLOR

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March 23rd, 2011
01:46 PM ET

Woman dies of injuries from Jerusalem blast

A loud explosion shook a busy street in Jerusalem on Wednesday, wounding 50 people and killing at least one woman, authorities said. It is the first bombing of its kind in Jerusalem since 2004.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Police found a medium-sized explosive device attached to a phone booth near the site of a blast. It was close to Jerusalem's central bus station, Israeli medical services said. Watch CNN capture the scene moments after the explosion

Several of those injured were hurt critically, authorities said. The wounded include two pregnant women, according to Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem.

He condemned the "cowardly terrorist attack" in which "innocent people were hurt."

The blast took place in "a very crowded area" with "a lot of civilians and two buses," said Yonatan Yagadovsky, a spokesman for Israel's emergency services. "Three to four are in critical condition. The rest of the casualties are moderately to lightly injured," he said.

The injuries came from both the force of the blast itself and from flying shrapnel, he said. The wounded included two pregnant women, he said. The blast comes after an unusually intense period of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed since Saturday, including four militants and two children who died in an Israeli strike that appears to have missed its target.

"Israel and Jerusalem are relatively very safe recently," Barkat told CNN. "This is something that happens rarely, and we hope to keep it that way."

The attack "brings very bad memories to us," medical services spokesman Yagadovsky said. Israel had not experienced an attack for a "very, very long time," he said. "It is something that we will have to deal with again."

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Soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians pleads guilty
March 23rd, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians pleads guilty

Attorneys for Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock entered guilty pleas on his behalf at the beginning of a court martial proceeding Wednesday to charges that he murdered Afghan civilians while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.

German news outlet Der Spiegel recently published photographs of what appear to be two U.S. soldiers - including Morlock - posing over the bodies of Afghans.

Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, the military judge in the case, said he will question Morlock and hear from witnesses before he approves a plea deal.

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Gotta Watch: Reasons to love Detroit
Detroit, Michigan skyline from VBS.tv
March 23rd, 2011
12:03 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Reasons to love Detroit

Detroit has lost a quarter of its population in the past decade. That's about 237,000 people, according to new Census figures. Lawmakers blame crime, political scandals, the collapse of the automobile industry, the housing market ... and the list goes on. However, things in Detroit aren't all bad. These videos underscore some of the great things happening in the Motor City.

Seeing past urban decay – Nothing positive in Detroit? Our friends over at VBS don't think so. They meet artists and musicians who say Detroit is a blank canvas full of possibility.

[cnn-video url="http://cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/09/29/vbs.palladium.detroit.vbs"%5D

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On the Radar: Japan's radioactive water, Libya's war, Syria's protests
Libyan rebels deploy Tuesday for a second day from the key city of Ajdabiya to try to attack government forces.
March 23rd, 2011
11:24 AM ET

On the Radar: Japan's radioactive water, Libya's war, Syria's protests

Tap water worries in Japan - There may be radioactive material in tap water in Tokyo. Japan, rocked by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is reporting that radiation in the water is over the limit considered safe for infants. The announcement is causing a run on bottled water. The natural disasters caused nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to malfunction and spew radiation. (Check the status of each of the six reactors and surrounding buildings.) In addition to worries about water, there have been concerns about high radiation levels in food. For the latest developments, check out CNN.com's live Japan blog.

War in Libya - Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has vowed to continue fighting coalition forces. U.S. officials said there were airstrikes in Tripoli on Tuesday night, while the besieged town of Misrata, the scene of much previous fighting, was relatively quiet Wednesday after a night of coalition airstrikes. More details about the American fighter jet crash in Libya have emerged, and President Obama has talked more about his plan for the country.

Protests in Syria - Syria is the latest Middle East country to see protests. Violence erupted in the southern part of the country early Wednesday when security forces fired into a crowd of demonstrators near a mosque. Reports from human rights groups say up to six people were killed and several others were hurt. Earlier this week, Syrian authorities arrested a prominent opposition leader during demonstrations. Loay Hussein, who was a political prisoner from 1984 to 1991, was taken from his home in the Sehnaya district near the Syrian capital of Damascus, according to the country's Observatory for Human Rights.

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Wednesday's intriguing people
Gov. Jerry Brown says he wants California voters to decide if tax extensions are the way to cure the state's budget ills.
March 23rd, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Jerry Brown

California’s governor used YouTube this week to discuss the state’s budget woes. He is calling for a special election for voters to decide between tax extensions or cuts in state services. “This is a matter of we the people taking charge and voting on the most fundamental matters that affect all our lives,” Brown said in the YouTube video.

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Filed under: Budget • California • Crime • Economy • Jerry Brown • Military • Most Intriguing People • Politics • Race • U.S. • Virginia • YouTube
Elizabeth Taylor dead at 79
March 23rd, 2011
09:41 AM ET

Elizabeth Taylor dead at 79

Actress Elizabeth Taylor has died, her publicist told CNN. She was 79.

The two-time Oscar winner died "peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles," said a statement from her publicist. She was hospitalized six weeks ago with congestive heart failure, "a condition with which she had struggled for many years. Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be."

http://www.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/03/23/obit.elizabeth.taylor/index.html?hpt=T1&iref=BN1
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Euro playoff blowout sets records
Montepaschi Siena's Milovan Rakovic, right, tries to drive past Olympiacos' Loukas Mavrokefalidis during their Euroleague playoff game Tuesday night in Piraeus, Greece.
March 23rd, 2011
07:50 AM ET

Euro playoff blowout sets records

While basketball fans in the U.S. are poring over their NCAA tournament brackets, European professional league fans are also enjoying playoff action.

But it may not have been so enjoyable for fans of Italian team Montepaschi Siena, who saw their heroes humiliated Tuesday night in an 89-41 blowout by Olympiacos in a  league quarterfinal game. Olympiacos hails from Piraeus, Greece, where the game was played.

The thrashing set Euroleague playoff records for margin of victory (48 points), fewest points allowed in a half (9), fewest points allowed through three quarters (22), and most rebounds by one team (55), according to the league's website.

Things looked bad from the tipoff for Siena, as Olympiacos took off with a 19-0 start. Montepaschi missed its first 11 shots before Nikos Zisis finally broke the spell with a 3-pointer.

But it was too late. The score just kept getting more ridiculous as the first half wore on: It was 24-4 at the end of the first quarter, 33-4 soon after that, and 47-9 at halftime.

"I have never been beaten that much in my life before," Montepaschi forward Shaun Stonerook said. "This was as bad as it gets. We knew that we were done by halftime and tried to get ready for the next game in the second half."

Game 2 is Thursday night on the same court in Piraeus.

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Wednesday's live video events
March 23rd, 2011
07:47 AM ET

Wednesday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the conflict in Libya and the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony hearing - Another hearing is held in the case of the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.  Today's hearing is expected to focus on whether certain scientific evidence can be used during the trial.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Arizona • Barack Obama • Casey Anthony • Crime • District of Columbia • Earthquake • Florida • Hillary Clinton • Japan • Libya • Natural Disasters • Nuclear • On CNN.com today • Politics • Space • Tsunami • U.S. • World
Japan quake live blog: Bottled water to be distributed to homes in Tokyo with infants
A survivor carrying a child looks for items among debris Wednesday in Tarou, Japan.
March 23rd, 2011
01:30 AM ET

Japan quake live blog: Bottled water to be distributed to homes in Tokyo with infants

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northern Japan on March 11, 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's aftermath and check out our interactive explainer on Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[10:33 p.m. ET Wednesday, 11:33 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japan's main expressway connecting Tokyo and the quake-stricken northeast, has reopened for the first time since the earthquake struck on March 11, NHK reports. Only emergency vehicles had been allowed to travel on the 300-kilometer section of the Tohoku Expressway between Utsunomiya interchange in Tochigi Prefecture and Ichinoseki interchange in Iwate Prefecture. The ban on regular traffic was lifted at 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

[10:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Bottled water will be distributed throughout Tokyo to households with infants, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday, after government samples taken Tuesday night found 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water - two times higher than the limit that the government considers safe for infants.

Tokyo's tap water remains safe for adults, according to Edano, urging calm. "Except for infants, the radiation levels will have no effect on people."

[10:28 p.m. ET Wednesday, 11:28 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Colorado and Oregon have joined several other Western states in reporting trace amounts of radioactive particles that have likely drifted about 5,000 miles from a quake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan, officials say. But, the Environmental Protection Agency noted Wednesday that these and other readings "show typical fluctuation in background radiation levels" and - thus far - "are far below levels of concern."

[9:39 p.m. ET Wednesday, 10:39 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] A group of Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans living in Kanagawa Prefecture has been providing warm bowls of Bangladesh curry to quake and tsunami survivors in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, The Japan Times reports. Saber Sakura, his wife and 25 friends loaded up two cars, a minivan and a 2-ton truck with supplies, including rice and meat and boxes of diapers, snacks and medication on Saturday. They obtained an emergency permit to use the expressway and drove eight straight hours to Kesennuma, where they've been helping out since Monday.

[8:50 p.m. ET Wednesday, 9:50 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Co. resumed work Thursday morning to restore power and cooling functions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant a few hours after smoke stopped emitting from its number 3 reactor building, Kyodo News reports.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency confirmed the smoke had stopped as of 4:50 a.m. Thursday. The cause of the black smoke remains unknown; no fire was seen and the radiation level did not climb. TEPCO said it has ensured that it is safe for workers to return, according to Kyodo News.

[8:06 p.m. ET Wednesday, 9:06 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Rescue workers say the search for missing people in Fukushima Prefecture following has been hindered by the nuclear disaster there, Kyodo News reports. Japan's Self-Defense Forces said they may have left bodies behind as they face difficulties entering areas under evacuation orders due to the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Rescue workers in Fukushima have focused on supporting evacuations of residents, including bed-ridden hospital patients, rather than searching for the missing, they said.

[7:40 p.m. ET Wednesday, 8:40 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Toyota Motor Corp. says it will delay the sale of new minivan and wagon versions of the Prius hybrid planned for late April due to disruption of its parts procurement since the March 11 natural disasters, The Japan Times reports. A new date has yet to be determined.

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