On the Radar: Funeral for baseball fan, nuclear checks in Japan, U.S. heatwave
The Texas flag flies at half staff for fan Shannon Stone at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
July 11th, 2011
06:27 AM ET

On the Radar: Funeral for baseball fan, nuclear checks in Japan, U.S. heatwave

Three things you need to know today.

Rangers' fan's funeral: Funeral services will be held Monday for a Texas man who died at a baseball game last week.

Shannon Stone will be buried in his hometown of Brownwood, Texas. The 39-year-old firefighter fell to his death Thursday while trying to catch a ball at a Texas Rangers game.

In the second inning of the ill-fated game, star outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed a souvenir ball into the stands after a batter hit a foul ball. Stone stuck out his glove and reached for the ball, but lost his balance and flipped over the railing of the outfield seats. He fell about 20 feet and crashed head-first into a scoreboard, suffering fatal injuries. Stone died of blunt-force trauma, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner.

Nuclear checks in Japan: Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced Monday a new round of safety tests for the country's nuclear plants in the government's latest bid to gain the public's confidence.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Baseball • Japan • On the Radar • Sports • Texas • Weather
Report: Thyroid radiation found in 45% of children in Japanese province
People in protective suits pray Wednesday for disaster victims in Tomioka, Japan, near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
July 6th, 2011
09:16 AM ET

Report: Thyroid radiation found in 45% of children in Japanese province

Japanese nuclear safety officials say 45% of children in the prefecture where three nuclear reactors melted down had thyroid exposure to radiation, Kyodo news agency reported.

None of the 1,080 children surveyed was exposed to more than 0.2 microsievert per hour, the threshold for pursuing further examinations, and most were far less, officials told Kyodo, as reported in Japan Times.

That amount is not considered a health risk, officials said.

Meanwhile, soil at four locations in the city of Fukushima was contaminated with radioactive cesium at levels 1.5 to 4.5 times the legal limit, Kyodo reported. The city is well outside 12.5-mile evacuation zone around the stricken plant.

A sample of soil from a street ditch found radiation far in excess of the amount that required permanent resettlement in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the agency reported.

Japan's government plans to require safety assessments, or "stress tests," on all the country's nuclear power plants, industry minister Banri Kaieda said Wednesday, according to Kyodo. All the plants have been shut down since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Energy • Japan • Natural Disasters • Nuclear
Nuclear crisis in Japan will probably sap 38 years of profit, study says
Protesters demonstrate outside TEPCO's shareholder meeting Tuesday in Tokyo.
June 28th, 2011
12:51 PM ET

Nuclear crisis in Japan will probably sap 38 years of profit, study says

A Japanese electric utility is likely to pay more in damages for its ongoing nuclear crisis than all the profit it made off nuclear power over 38 years, a study says.

The study by Kenichi Oshima, an environmental economist at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, estimates that Tokyo Electric Power Co. earned nearly 4 trillion yen from the time the Fukushima 1 plant opened in 1970 until the end of the 2008 business year, the Kyodo News Agency reported in The Japan Times.

The damages TEPCO will be forced to pay evacuees, farmers, fishing businesses and others hurt by the nuclear disaster will run into the trillions of yen, perhaps as high as 8 trillion to 11 trillion, according to Kyodo.

Three of TEPCO's reactors experienced full meltdowns after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and continue to leak radiation.

Nevertheless, shareholders on Tuesday rejected a motion for the company to abandon nuclear power, Kyodo reported.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Energy • Japan • Natural Disasters • Nuclear
On the Radar: Obama in Puerto Rico, 'Spider-Man' opens, help for Japan kids
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event in Miami on Monday night.
June 14th, 2011
06:04 AM ET

On the Radar: Obama in Puerto Rico, 'Spider-Man' opens, help for Japan kids

Three things you need to know today.

President visits Puerto Rico: President Barack Obama makes a rare presidential visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, spending about five hours there on a trip aimed as much at Puerto Ricans on the mainland as those on the island.

The roughly 4 million residents of the U.S. Caribbean territory are American citizens but can't vote for president, while the almost 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the 50 U.S. states have full voting rights, and Obama needs strong support in 2012 from what traditionally has been a largely Democratic constituency.

In particular, an influx of Puerto Ricans has moved in recent years to central Florida, a key swing state in Obama's re-election campaign. Other states with large Puerto Rican communities include New York and Connecticut.

Obama's trip, the first official presidential visit to Puerto Rico in 50 years, shows "the importance the Hispanic vote has in his re-election campaign," said political analyst Angel Rosa.

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June 7th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Japan pushes estimates of initial nuclear leak upward

The amount of radiation released from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the immediate aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami were twice the level that the country's Nuclear and Industrial Safety originally admitted, Japan's Emergency Response Center said.

NISA, which previously held that the amount of radiation initially leaked was as low as 370,000 terabecquerels, has revised its estimate to 770,000 terabecquerels. A terabecquerel is equal to one trillion becquerels. A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity equal to one nuclear decay per second.

The new estimate does not alter the fact that the amount of radiation leaked at Fukushima is but a fraction compared to Russia's Chernobyl disaster, but it does put the amount closer in line to some outside estimates.

The new figure refers to the amount of radiation released from March 11, the day of the accident, to March 16.

It is the latest of a several revisions the Japanese agencies have made regarding the extent of the damage at the nuclear plant.

The Fukushima power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, the Emergency Response Center said.

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June 6th, 2011
10:35 AM ET

3 Japan nuclear reactors had full meltdown, agency says

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday.

The nuclear group's new evaluation, released Monday, goes further than previous statements in describing the extent of the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The announcement will not change plans for how to stabilize the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the agency said.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown, it said.

The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., admitted last month that nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis.

It had already said fuel rods at the heart of reactor No. 1 melted almost completely in the first 16 hours after the disaster struck. The remnants of that core are now sitting in the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel at the heart of the unit and that vessel is now believed to be leaking.

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June 1st, 2011
04:24 PM ET

Dad behind 'balloon boy hoax' offers up flying saucer in online charity auction

Do you believe flying saucers have been around for "many years?" Would you like to see people travel in flying saucers as part of their daily life?

For reasons not immediately apparent, you'll have to answer these two questions, among others, if you want to bid online on the flying saucer that was used to temporarily trick authorities into believing a 6-year-old boy was floating above Colorado.

Richard Heene's claim in 2009 that his son was in the balloon prompted live coverage nationwide of authorities tracking the craft while they grappled over how to rescue the boy inside. When the balloon came to rest in a field, however, Heene's son was not inside. The boy later was found hiding in the family's house.

Now, the self-styled scientist behind the "balloon boy hoax" is offering up the saucer in an online auction to benefit relief efforts in Japan, according to the website, balloonboyflyingsaucer.com. The site, which claims to be the work of California lawyer Perry Rausher, assures potential bidders that Heene will not receive any money from the auction.

"The winning bidder’s funds will go directly into the Trust Account of Attorney Perry H. Rausher of Calabasas, California. Mr. Rausher will then write a check to a selected charitable organization that is helping the Japanese cause. The Heene family will not receive anything from the sale," the site says.

Rausher did not immediately return calls for comment.

The site says visitors can purchase the saucer outright for $1,000,000 or submit a bid online. In addition to the questions mentioned above, the form also inquires of "your main interest" in the craft, how it will be used and whether you have read Heene's paper, "Electromagnetic Fields Recorded in Mesocyclones."

The site also contains a link to a YouTube video of Heene and his wife, standing outside in front of a deflated silver balloon while they explain their motives and the craft's functionality.

"We went on the Internet and we saw that over 18,000 people have perished over in Japan because of that tsunami," Heene says in the video. "We thought, how can we help out? We can't with our hands but we have something that we think could help."

"Funds raised by the sale will go to charity to help Japanese in their recovery," his wife, Mayumi, says in subtitled Japanese.

Heene did some jail time on a felony charge for the hoax and was ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution. Since then, he has managed to remain in the public eye through stunts that included a rock band and back scratchers.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami
Greenpeace: Japan nuclear plant radiation accumulating in marine life
A Greenpeace crew tests waters off Japan for radiation contamination earlier this month.
May 26th, 2011
08:31 AM ET

Greenpeace: Japan nuclear plant radiation accumulating in marine life

Radiation from Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is accumulating in marine life off Japan's coast above legal limits for food contamination, Greenpeace said Thursday.

The environmental group said its findings run counter to Japanese government reports that radiation from the Fukushima plant, damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is being diluted as time passes.

“Despite what the authorities are claiming, radioactive hazards are not decreasing through dilution or dispersion of materials, but the radioactivity is instead accumulating in marine life," Greenpeace radiation expert Jan Vande Putte said in a press release.

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Comparisons to Chernobyl slammed as images of Japan tsunami emerge
Tokyo Electric Power Co. released images Thursday of the devastating tsunami rolling toward its nuclear plant.
May 19th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Comparisons to Chernobyl slammed as images of Japan tsunami emerge

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. has released dramatic tsunami images on its website, as a nuclear expert slammed comparisons between the Japan nuclear disaster and Chernobyl.

The photos, which are available on TEPCO's website, show the tsunami that crippled the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant barreling toward the facility before inundating it with water.

The news came as the power company continued to issue press releases reporting radiation in the groundwater and seawater around the plant. It also came two days after the company said it learned that a pressure vessel in reactor No. 1 may be leaking and that the reactor's fuel rods almost melted completely hours after the tsunami hit.

A U.S. physicist said, if accurate, the revelations would indicate a "very, very bad accident" that would be difficult to clean up.

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On the Radar: Gas prices; town awaits flood; nuclear accident compensation
A Chicago BP station advertises regular gas for $4.799 a gallon earlier this month.
May 13th, 2011
07:55 AM ET

On the Radar: Gas prices; town awaits flood; nuclear accident compensation

Gas prices: The national average price of a gallon of regular gas dropped two-tenths of a cent overnight to $3.982, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The average price is virtually unchanged from a week ago and is about 13 cents below the record average price of $4.114, recorded on July 17, 2008.

But analysts fear pump prices could rise as Mississippi River floodwaters move downriver toward New Orleans.

"When we've had floodwaters in this part of Louisiana before, it has closed up to 12 refineries," Peter Beutel, an analyst with energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover, told CNNMoney. "The fear here is that we could see refineries close again." Beutel was referring to the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

How much of your paycheck is going to pay for gas? Check out CNNMoney's state-by-state look.

Town waits for flood: The small town of Butte La Rose, Louisiana, is waiting to learn if the Army Corps of Engineers will open the Morganza Spillway to let waters from the swollen Mississippi River into the community of 800 homes.

Hundreds of people heard a dire prediction from Col. Ed Fleming of the Army Corps of Engineers at the town's firehouse.

"I'm telling you the depth of water from right here will be 15 feet," he told them.

Read what CNN's Ed Lavandera found in the Cajun community.

Nuclear accident compensation: Japan's government has announced that victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident will be getting financial compensation.

Some analysts say total compensation could amount to more than 10 trillion yen ($124 billion).

More than 78,000 people have been displaced by the disaster. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power, has made a down payment on compensation of 1 million yen (about $12,000) per household to some families.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Economy • Energy • Japan • Louisiana • Natural Disasters
On the Radar: Funerals in Hudson drownings, Japan restrictions, car award
A memorial is left at the site where a mother and her three children drowned in a minivan in the Hudson River.
April 21st, 2011
06:42 AM ET

On the Radar: Funerals in Hudson drownings, Japan restrictions, car award

Hudson drownings burials: Lashanda Armstrong, who killed herself and her three young children by driving her minivan into the Hudson River last week, will be buried in Spring Valley, New York, on Thursday, but relatives' plans to bury her children alongside her will not be carried out, according to media reports.

The father of the three children, Jean Pierre, announced Wednesday the funeral and burial of the children would be separate from that of their mother.

“After consulting with the Armstrong family, I have decided that the funeral arrangements for Landen, Lance and Laianna should be separate from that of Lashanda’s. My deepest sympathy goes out to La’Shaun and the Armstrong family," Pierre said in a statement released by his lawyer, according to a report in the Poughkeepsie Journal. "I ask that I be given the opportunity to grieve the loss of my three children privately," he said.

That angered Armstrong's aunt, Angela Gilliam, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

"She should be buried with her children, regardless of what she did," the Daily News quoted Gilliam as saying.

The children, an 11-month-old girl, a 2-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy, will be buried Monday.

Another child, 10-year-old Lashaun Armstrong, escaped the vehicle as it was sinking in the Hudson.

Nuclear zone restrictions: On Friday, Japan will begin enforcing an evacuation order on a 20-kilometer zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a top government official said.

The restriction –in place since the early days of the nuclear disaster - has often been ignored.

Many of the about 78,000 people who have homes in the evacuation zone have gone back in recent weeks to retrieve belongings, and check on farms and businesses.

No one will be allowed within 3 kilometers of the crippled nuclear facility and entry within 20 kilometers of the plant will be highly regulated, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Thursday.

People who temporarily return to their homes, businesses and farms must wear a protective suit and ride into the restricted zone on a designated bus.

Car of the Year: The winner of the World Car of the Year will be announced at the New York International Auto Show on Thursday.

Finalists are the Audi A8, the BMW 5 Series and the Nissan LEAF, whittled down from an original list of 39 entries.

A panel of 66 automotive journalists from 24 countries votes for the winner.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Auto Industry • Japan • New York
Monday's live video events
April 18th, 2011
07:36 AM ET

Monday's live video events

Congress is on a two-week recess, but that doesn't mean news is lacking from Washington.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the government spending fight in Washington.

Today's programming highlights...

12:00 pm ET - White House briefing - The battle over government spending is expected to top Press Secretary Jay Carney's agenda with the White House press corps, along with the situations in Japan and Libya.

1:45 pm ET - Obama honors Air Force football - President Obama takes a brief break from the bruising budget battle to present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team.  The trophy is awarded annually to the best service academy football team.

CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.


Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Barack Obama • Budget • College football • District of Columbia • Dollars & Sense • Earthquake • Economy • Football • Japan • Libya • Natural Disasters • On CNN.com today • Politics • Sports • Tsunami • U.S. • World
On the Radar: Tax filing day, sleepy controllers, Toyota production
The White House has an online tool that will let you see where your tax dollars go.
April 18th, 2011
06:27 AM ET

On the Radar: Tax filing day, sleepy controllers, Toyota production

Tax Day: Today is the deadline to file your federal income taxes for 2010.

The Internal Revenue Service has a free electronic filing service available for those who make less than $58,000 a year. Get details on that service here. Other electronic filing options are also available from the IRS as well as information on how to file extensions.

For those filing on paper, the U.S. Postal Service is extending hours at locations around the country so taxpayers can meet the midnight deadline.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Air travel • FAA • Japan • Taxes • Travel
April 17th, 2011
03:57 AM ET

Japan plant owner: At least 9 months before end to nuclear crisis

Engineers will need up to nine months to fully shut down the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the scene of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, its owners announced Sunday.

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U.S. government allowing families to return to Japan
Military families arrive at Travis Air Force Base in California after leaving Japan last month.
April 15th, 2011
09:27 AM ET

U.S. government allowing families to return to Japan

The U.S. State Department is lifting the voluntary departure order issued for dependents of U.S. government employees in Japan, allowing families to return to the country.

The departures were authorized after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility and led to releases of radiation from damaged nuclear reactors.

In a travel alert posted on its website, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said that while the situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility "remains serious and dynamic," the radiation dangers outside a 50-mile radius evacuation zone are low and "do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens."

"Based on the much reduced rate of heat generation in the reactor fuel after one month of cooling and the corresponding decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes, even in the event of an unexpected disruption at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, harmful exposures to people beyond the 50-mile evacuation zone are highly unlikely," the embassy statement said.

Travel inside the evacuation zone is still not recommended. Major U.S. government and military facilities are outside the 50-mile zone.

The families of military personnel who left Japan for "safe havens" in the U.S. are awaiting Pentagon orders authorizing their return, Stars and Stripes reported.

“Family members will soon receive instructions on how to obtain return flights and proceed from their selected locations,” Stripes quotes a statement from U.S. Forces Japan as saying.

The U.S. Embassy statement said the American government is using the same safety standard in allowing the return of dependents as it would if such an event occurred in the United States.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Japan • Military
Photographing a nuclear evacuation zone
Athit Perawongmetha's self-portrait was taken inside the Fukushima evacuation zone in Japan.
April 14th, 2011
02:14 PM ET

Photographing a nuclear evacuation zone

A “time stop.” That’s what photographer Athit Perawongmetha found when he entered the Fukushima evacuation zone to document the ghost town left behind in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan. The traffic lights were still on and air conditioners were running, but there were no people. “The city is untouchable. Everything I see is like a dream,” he said.

Perawongmetha documented the scene with his camera, taking photos of the destruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's cooling systems, leaving operators with no way to keep the three operational reactors from overheating after they shut down.

He came back with photos of empty streets, abandoned houses left open, cats and dogs forsaken by their owners, and shoes left in a doorway, waiting for their owners’ return - but no people.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/04/14/natpkg.japan.fukushima.photographer.cnn"%5D

On April 6, the first day of his journey into Fukushima, Perawongmetha did not see a single person.

Using only a mask as protection from the radiation, he and his travel companions used GPS to explore the area within the 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) evacuation zone. On the second day inside the zone, April 7, they did not realize how close they were to the plant. When they looked at a map later that night, they realized they were five kilometers (three miles) from the nuclear plant.

The next day, Perawongmetha went with his friends to a radiation screening center to be tested. Their levels were within the acceptable range despite how close they came to the plant. After learning that his radiation levels were OK, Perawongmetha said he wanted to return.

On Monday, Perawongmetha went inside the evacuation zone for the third time. This time he was not taking any chances; he wore a full protective suit and mask.  He went within 1.5 kilometers (one mile) of the plant, closer than he had ever been.

Perawongmetha said he decided to go “to see something inside because all the press didn’t go inside before.”

He said the crisis has given him a great respect for the Japanese.

“I thought that the Japanese people kept very calm ... and (didn't) panic with the thing that happened,” he said. “They keep their feelings inside; they try to stay very quiet and wait for some help.”

Perawongmetha is from Bangkok, Thailand. He arrived in Japan on March 21. It was his first time in Japan and his first assignment covering an earthquake or tsunami.

“It is quite sad about these things happening in Japan,” Perawongmetha said. “This is a real big crisis for Japan. I hope that Japan will come back soon, like they came back after World War II."

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Tuesday's live video events
April 12th, 2011
07:34 AM ET

Tuesday's live video events

The budget battle continues in Washington as President Obama and Congress consider spending cuts and the debt ceiling.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of this developing story.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Natural gas drilling hearing - Two Senate environment subcommittees consider natural gas drilling and its impact on public health and the environment.

FULL POST


Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Barack Obama • Budget • Congress • District of Columbia • Dollars & Sense • Earthquake • Economy • Energy • Environment • Health • Japan • Libya • Natural Disasters • On CNN.com today • Politics • Space • Tsunami • U.S. • War • World
Japan's nuclear accident 'provisionally' given Chernobyl's rating
April 11th, 2011
10:32 PM ET

Japan's nuclear accident 'provisionally' given Chernobyl's rating

Japanese authorities Tuesday "provisionally" declared the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident a level 7 event on the international scale for nuclear disasters, putting the current crisis on par with the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl.

Regulators have determined the amount of radioactive iodine released by the damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi was at least 15 times the volume needed to reach the top of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Association said. That figure is still about 10 percent of the amount released at Chernobyl, the agency reported.

The amount of radioactive Cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, is about one-seventh the amount released at Chernobyl, according to the agency.

Level 7, a "major accident," is the highest level on the event scale. The 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, event also was rated a level 7. For more information about the ratings, see this interactive.

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Gotta Watch: Japan, one month later
Hundreds of photos sit by the side of the road in the destroyed Japanese town of Minamisanriku.
April 11th, 2011
10:35 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Japan, one month later

It's been a month since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami rocked Japan, leaving more than 27,000 people dead or missing. From decimated towns that are far from recovery to the delicate reminders of how life used to be, today's Gotta Watch focuses on life in Japan one month after the crisis began.

Anatomy of a ghost town – It looks like any other town, except for one thing. It's devoid of life. Earthquake and tsunami damage forced so many residents from their homes. All that's left are the subtle signs of a hasty retreats and elevated radiation levels.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/04/11/dnt.lah.japan.radiation.city.cnn"%5D

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Gotta Watch • Japan • Natural Disasters • Nuclear • Tsunami
Monday's live video events
April 11th, 2011
07:44 AM ET

Monday's live video events

One budget battle appears to be over, but two more economic fights are coming to a head.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the economic conflict in Washington.

Today's programming highlights...

9:30 am ET - Wartime contracting hearing - The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan meets to discuss whether the federal government can learn from non-governmental organization in creating more effective and less costly federal contracting.

FULL POST


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