Wednesday

Japan’s Nuclear Regulator Calls Spill of Radioactive Water at Fukushima Plant a ‘Serious Incident’

Leak at site of wrecked Japanese nuclear plant raises fears of widening problems. Japan’s new nuclear watchdog decided today to declare a highly radioactive spill at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant a Level 3 — or “serious incident” — on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. While that’s well below the Level 7 rating for the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima plant, conditions may now be getting worse, although officials say the surrounding environment isn’t immediately threatened. The operator of the plant has said about 300 metric tons of contaminated water has leaked from one of hundreds of steel tanks around the plant. Japan’s nuclear watchdog said it was worried about leakage from other tanks of the same type, which were built hastily to store water washed over melted reactors at the site to keep them cool. The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Reuters

Teenagers often were the target of New York City’s stop-and-frisk policing. The police practice, which this month was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, often stopped young people on their way to or from school and work, sometimes making them late. According to a police data analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union, 21 percent of NYPD street stops (145,652 stops) targeted people from ages 8 to 18. More than 60 percent of those stops resulted in a frisk, and 1.4 percent of the individuals turned out to have a weapon. “I constantly feel like, instead of them protecting me, I have to protect myself from them,” said a 17-year-old who claimed she was stopped four times during her sophomore and junior years of high school. Rolling Stone

Sporting goods retailer resumes selling assault rifles through a new store. Dick’s Sporting Goods, a national chain, suspended sales of assault rifles after the December shooting spree in Newtown, Conn., that took 26 lives. Gun control activists praised the chain’s decision. But last weekend Dick’s opened the first store in a new chain called Field & Stream that specializes in hunting and fishing gear, and a call to the store in Cranberry Township, Penn., revealed that Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifles are for sale. “We have a full stock,” said a store clerk, who added that the gun counter was “really busy.” Dick’s Sporting Goods did not respond to requests for comment. Adam Lanza, the Newtown massacre shooter, used a Bushmaster in the assault. NBC News

Obama administration draws criticism over a retreat in trade talks on a tobacco measure. Health advocates are blasting the administration for watering down a proposal aimed at keeping  the tobacco industry from exploiting trade agreements to fight tough anti-smoking rules. The criticism follows word that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will abandon efforts to include language in a pending Pacific Rim trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that could make nations less vulnerable to such industry attacks. It would have recognized tobacco products as uniquely harmful and made it harder for the industry or its allies to charge that aggressive anti-smoking measures are an undue restriction on trade. FairWarning

Railroads ordered to pay more than $263,000 for retaliating against two employees who reported job injuries. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped the penalties on Illinois Central Railroad and Wisconsin Central, both subsidiaries of Canadian National Railway. In the Illinois case, OSHA said, an engineer was given a 20-day suspension after reporting that he strained his back while securing a locomotive hand brake. OSHA said the company alleged that the employee violated its policy by delaying his injury report, even thoug he made it just three hours after suffering the injury, once his back began to stiffen. In Wisconsin, OSHA said, a conductor was fired for reporting an injury at the end of his shift, rather than immediately. OSHA said its penalties included $100,000 against each railroad because they were repeat offenders. OSHA

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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