Powered by Blogger.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

EU plans to ban all petrol and diesel cars from cities to force drivers to go ‘green’

By Daily Mail Reporter

A more common sight? Electric parking bays would become the norm under the new EU rules

The vast majority of British motorists will be outlaws in their own land under controversial new EU plans to ban petrol and diesel powered cars from cities.

But critics said the latest Brussels blueprint to force people into 'green' cars, slash dependence on oil and tackle climate change, was bamboozling drivers and taking the European Union into "the realms of fantasy".

The European Commission says its plan to drive out 'conventionally fuelled' petrol and diesel cars within 40 years and replace them with 'clean' alternatives such as electric or hydrogen powered vehicles is necessary to save the planet.

It is vital to cut pollution and stop global warming which scientists blame on carbon dioxide (CO2) - the so-called 'greenhouse gas' emitted from car exhausts.

The Commission is calling for a 50 per cent shift away from conventionally fuelled cars in urban areas by 2030, phasing them out altogether in cities by 2050.

Brussels says the aim is also to achieve "essentially CO2-free movement of goods in major urban centres by 2030".

Setting out another major goal, it adds that by 2050 Europe should "move close to zero fatalities in road transport", with an interim target of halving all road casualties by 2020.

Coupled with proposals and targets covering road, rail and air travel, the Commission says its transformation of the European transport system can increase mobility and cut congestion and emissions.

But motoring groups said it smacked of yet another assault on the motorist by authorities using 'green' measures as a smokescreen for more taxes and charges noting:'Drivers don't know whether they're coming or going with environmental measures'.

They also noted wryly that with soaring oil and pump prices and fuel taxes, motorists face being priced off the road anyway.

And Christopher Monckton, transport spokesman for the UK Independence Party' said: "The proposals suggested by Commission take us into the realms of fantasy. They want to ban cars from cities, they want to force everybody onto rail and canals, it is if they have been taken over by the shade of the Victorian engineers.

'They may as well call for an end to wars and large subsidised chocolate cakes for pre-school infants as to make these impossible self aggrandising statements".

But EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas defended the green policy drive: "The widely held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true.

Riverboats would be encouraged as one of the main alternatives to petrol cars

"Competitive transport systems are vital for Europe's ability to compete in the world, for economic growth, job creation and for people's everyday quality of life."

He insisted: "Curbing mobility is not an option; neither is business as usual. We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win-win."

He was unveiling plans adopted by the Commission on Monday for a 'Single European Transport Area'.

The measures could "dramatically reduce Europe's dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050", says the Commission.

Its key goals by 2050 are: no more conventionally fuelled cars in cities; 40% use of low-carbon fuels in aviation; at least a 40% cut in shipping emissions; and a 50% shift of medium distance inter-city passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and water-borne transport.

The document says that by 2050 the majority of medium-distance passenger journeys - those above 186 miles- should be by rail. More than half of road freight travelling that distance or greater should move to rail or boat and up to 30% by 2030.

All core network airports should be connected to the rail network by 2050, with all core seaports "sufficiently connected to the rail freight and, where possible, inland waterway system".

For longer-distance travel, and intercontinental freight, air and sea travel will benefit from "new engines, fuels and traffic management systems (which) will increase efficiency and reduce emissions", says the document.

The use of low-carbon fuels in aviation should reach 40% by 2050, with a complete modernisation of Europe's air traffic control system already achieved by 2020 to deliver the "Single European Sky".

Already crowded transport systems will become even more heavily used and congested

Edmund King, the AA's president said: 'Drivers don't know whether they're coming or going with environmental measures. One minute they're supposed to be cutting CO2 and switch to diesel, the next they get pilloried and taxed for doing just that.

'The reality is that, by 2050, fossil fuel will be so expensive that a new approach to personal mobility will be inevitable. At present, pollution scare tactics are simply a cover for more local taxation.'

But Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner, Richard Dyer, said: ‘Weaning our transport system off its oil addiction is essential to protect people from soaring fuel prices and the planet from climate change.'

The eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe criticised the plan: 'This goes to show the extent of the EU's ambitions to interfere in the UK's national affairs. Banning all petrol-fuelled cars in city centres is an absolutely crazy idea and one that could only have come from unaccountable bureaucrats in the European Commission.'

It added:''The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.'


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Addicted to junk food and celebrities...Lonely Planet's damning verdict on England today

By Jonathan Petre

England has been damned as celebrity-obsessed with a ‘dicey’ economy and an addiction to junk food.

The verdict is in the latest Lonely Planet travel guide, which also portrays the Coalition Government as devious over spending cuts.

The guide, published this month and expected to be bought by 100,000 people worldwide, is regarded as a bible by many travellers.

Co-ordinating author David Else laments that the nation which spawned Shakespeare, Dickens and the Brontes has become obsessed with celebrity.

He writes: ‘It’s impossible to overlook the recent trend for scurrilous celebrity autobiographies – penned by everyone from footballers to reality TV also-rans – a reminder of the increasing importance of hype over merit in the modern market.

Whatever you make of the literary qualities of these memoirs, the British buy them by the bucketload.’

The guide claims England is still blighted by bad food and dismal dietary habits.

It says: ‘A culinary heritage of ready-sliced white bread, fatty meats and boiled-to-death vegetables, all washed down by tea with four sugars, remains firmly in place in many parts of the country.

‘Many English folk love to sit on the sofa and watch TV food shows, then, inspired, they rush out and buy all the TV-tie-in recipe books.

‘Then, on the way back, they pop into the supermarket and buy a stack of ready-made meals.

More junk food and ready-made meals are consumed in the UK than in all the rest of the countries of Europe put together.’

Mr Else adds that ‘nutrition rates are lower now than they were during Fifties rationing’.

The guide continues: ‘Most commentators agree that the Government will reduce spending and raise taxes more than it has admitted.’

It describes the economy as ‘looking dicey’ and warns of ‘choppy waters ahead’.

Dover is described as ‘down-in-the-dumps’ and a ‘sad introduction to Blighty’.

London’s Notting Hill, made famous by the romantic comedy film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, is as ‘shabby as it is chic’, while once-swinging Carnaby Street is now populated by ‘chain stores’.

Mr Else said: ‘The point of a guidebook is to be honest. We are not a tourist brochure.’

Visit England spokeswoman Sarah Long said: ‘Lonely Planet gives a very colourful view, some of it good and some of it bad.

‘But I don’t think its critical comments will deter anyone from visiting this country.’

Author David Else said English people consume more junk food and ready-made meals than in all the rest of the European countries put together


Saturday, March 26, 2011

The pizza firms slicing a 900% profit off your delivery: £1.25 to make a Margherita... but you pay £12.49

By Sean Poulter

Pizza delivery firms are cashing in with a price mark-up of up to 900 per cent, industry insiders have revealed.

Sales are rising at a time when more people are trying to save money by eating in rather than dining out.

Yet customers may be unaware that while they are being charged £12.49 for a large cheese and tomato Margherita pizza, it has been made with ingredients costing just £1.25.

Some of the 900 per cent mark-up can be explained by the fact the Government takes its own cut, with VAT at 20 per cent.

The firms also have other costs, including rent, rates and wages.

But leaked details of the prices paid by the major pizza chains for their ingredients demonstrate how there is still huge money to be made.

The figures relate to Britain’s biggest home delivery pizza chain, Domino’s – where profits rose by 27.3 per cent in 2010 to £38million – but are typical for the industry.

All the ingredients are bought in bulk and so are cheaper than if they were bought on the high street.

To make the large Margherita, the businesses are paying just 55p for a large base, a maximum of 14p for a ladle of tomato sauce and 56p for 154g of cheese – accounting for the £1.25.

They can add five toppings to make a deluxe pizza with 4p worth of onions, 11p of mushrooms, 13p of green peppers, 19p of pepperoni and 21p of sausage – a total of £1.93.

Yet, when it is delivered to the customer, it comes with a bill for £17.99 – a difference of £16.06 or 832 per cent.

Chef Aldo Zilli, who has launched his own range of pizzas for restaurant chain Prezzo, said: ‘I would always avoid takeaways as they do overcharge and the ingredients are often processed and unhealthy.

People can avoid extortionate mark-ups on takeaway pizzas by creating their own at home: vegetables for the toppings such as peppers and red onion cost hardly anything and pizza sauce can be made from a tin of tomatoes with some chopped garlic and onion.

‘Making dough is also cheap and a great thing to get kids to do.’

A spokesman for Domino’s Pizza, which is run on a franchise basis, said the mark-ups were typical for the industry.

He added: ‘In common with all food businesses, raw ingredients make up a relatively small portion of the total costs.

‘The majority of cost is in rents, business rates and especially labour, which is an area we tend to spend more than our competitors on as we have such a fanatical focus on service times.

‘Franchisees also contribute to the national advertising fund and bear the costs of local marketing of their businesses.’


Friday, March 25, 2011

Estimated 74 dead and over a hundred injured after 6.8 earthquake hits Burma


Disaster: At least 74 people were killed when a strong earthquake struck Myanmar, officials said, with fears that the toll would rise

Quake was felt in Thai and Vietnamese capitals

Four-year-old boy killed in mountain town where earthquake hit

UN sending relief teams to affected areas

A strong earthquake that toppled homes in north eastern Burma has killed over 70 people, and there were fears today the toll would mount as conditions in more remote areas became known.

Last night's quake, measured at a magnitude 6.8 by the US Geological Survey, was centred just north of the town Tachileik in the mountains along the Thai border, but was felt hundreds of miles away in the Thai capital Bangkok and Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Burmese state radio later put the death toll at 74 people with at least 111 injured and officials are concerned that the damage could be even worse in rural areas.

Reduced to rubble: The damage caused to a building by the 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Tachilek, near the Thai border, Myanmar

UN officials said medicine would be sent to the affected areas as soon as possible along with an assessment team in co-operation with the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

Most of rural Burma, one of Asia's poorest countries, is underdeveloped, with poor communications and other infrastructure, and minimal rescue and relief capacity. The country's military government is also usually reluctant to release information about disasters because it is sensitive to any criticism.

The government tightly controls information, and in 2008 delayed reporting on - and asking for help with - devastating Cyclone Nargis, which killed 130,000 people. The junta was widely criticised for what were called inadequate preparations and a slow response to the disaster.

A Thai Buddhist monk looks on a collapsed 800-year-old pagoda damage caused by the earthquake at Wat Chedi Luang temple, Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai province near the Thai-Myanmar border

Thai residents sleep outside the city hall after being evacuated due to a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in the Chiang Rai province

In Mae Sai, one woman was killed when a wall fell on her, according to Thai police, but damage was otherwise minimal.

Somchai Hatayatanti, the governor of Chiang Rai province, said dozens of people suffered minor injuries on the Thai side of the border. Cracks were found in buildings in downtown Chiang Rai city, about 55 miles from the epicentre, including a provincial hospital and city hall. The tops of the spires fell off from at least two Buddhist temples.
As a precaution for aftershocks, a relief centre was being set up in Mae Sai.

Chinese people standing outdoor to evade the aftershock at midnight when the earthquake happened, in downtown Jinghong city which is a Chinese border city beside Myanmar

Ruined: A soldier is photographed by a building toppled by the earthquake

source: dailymail

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Naked woman, 27, rescued from cliffs after getting stuck trying to reach nudist beach


Nowhere to go: A 27-year-old climber was caught on the bluffs in the buff and had to be rescued by lifeguards on Tuesday

A naked woman had to be rescued by lifeguards yesterday after she got stuck trying to climb down cliffs to a secluded nudist beach.

She had taken off her clothes before trying to clamber 450ft down to Black's Beach, which lies in Torrey Pines State Park in San Diego, California.

But the 27-year-old got into difficulties and found herself stranded on a ledge unable to climb back up or head down to the shoreline.

At last! A female coastguard is lowered down the rock face to help rescue the woman - and save her blushess

Her blushes were saved around 15 minutes later when a mystery wellwisher spotted the woman perched precariously on the cliff face and called 911.

Officials believe a paraglider could have spotted the woman, as she could not be seen from the top of the cliff face.

When emergency crews arrived they sent down a female lifeguard with some borrowed clothes.

Nearly there: The naked woman and the lifeguard are gently winched down to the beach for her to collect her clothes

A series of photos from a video taken by Fox show the lifeguard standing over the naked woman and strapping her into a harness first, before helping her into a pair of trousers.

The woman and her rescuer were then gently lowered down to the beach - where she had thrown her clothes before starting the naked climb - using a rope pulley system.

After she got dressed she made her way gingerly back up a safe path to the top of the cliff where she had left her car. She suffered only minor injuries, scraping both knees.

Safe at last: The woman finally gets all her clothes back on just before she gets ticketed by officers for ignoring signs and entering a restricted area

Lieutenant Greg Buchanan told NBC the woman would not be charged, but had been ticketed for disregarding signs warning about the sheer and unstable cliffs, using a path that is not a marked trail and entering a restricted area.

Officials said climbers often get stuck in Torrey Pines, but they rarely choose the path the woman tried to follow.

Lt Buchanan said: '[She got into] a spot where she really couldn’t go up, down or sideways. So that’s a little bit unusual. Beyond that, everything else was just a classic cliff rescue.

Destination: Black's Beach, in Torrey Pines State Park, is a well-known nudist beach. Laws against public nudity are not enforced along a section of the beach

But he did admit yesterday's events were rather more unusual than the 'classic' rescue.

He told NBC: 'That’s true. She is naked. But she had clothes on the cliff and so she has since retrieved her clothes and she now has her clothes back on.'

Black's Beach is popular with nudists and has been considered a 'clothing optional' spot for years, as laws against public nudity are rarely enforced.


source: dailymail

The Japanese road repaired SIX days after it was destroyed by quake


The picture of gaping chasms in a Japanese highway demonstrated the power of the March 11 earthquake.

Now the astonishing speed of reconstruction is being used to highlight the nation’s ability to get back on its feet.

Work began on March 17 and six days later the cratered section of the Great Kanto Highway in Naka was as good as new. It was ready to re-open to traffic last night.

Now you see it...: This stretch of the Great Kanto highway was wrecked by deep chasms in the March 11 earthquake - but was repaired in just six days

Many workers returned to their jobs the day after the quake and subsequent tsunami and some businesses in the worst-hit regions have already reopened.

The Japanese recovery has prompted some investors, including American Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, to declare that the disaster which has left 23,000 dead or missing represents a ‘buying opportunity’ in the money markets.

Meanwhile, mothers in Tokyo were warned yesterday not to give tap water to their babies.

Cars with loudspeakers toured the streets of the capital after levels of radiation from the damaged nuclear plant at Fukushima, nearly 150 miles away, reached more than twice the safety level for children aged a year or less.

Supermarkets were quickly emptied of bottled water in many parts of the city. Parents were also told to ensure that milk was not from cows in the Fukushima district.

Tokyo residents said they had growing concerns about radiation.

‘If they’re saying it’s harmful for children because their bodies are smaller and dangerous iodine can accumulate in their thyroid glands, we can understand that,’ said 29-year-old department store worker Yasuke Harade.

‘But can we really believe it when they say that it’s OK for adults to drink the water? Can we cook our rice in tap water, can we drink tea, coffee? They’re telling us we can, but what is the truth?’

To add to the fears, two strong earthquakes shook the devastated east coast yesterday, and black smoke billowed once again from the crippled plant.

The ‘Fukushima Fifty’, the team of courageous employees working inside the plant, and firemen spraying water on the complex were ordered to evacuate immediately.

It was not known when efforts to restore the plant’s cooling mechanism would be restarted.

The scare followed reports that small amounts of radiation had travelled as far as Iceland.

source: dailymail

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Interest rate rise fear grows as inflation hits a 20-year record

By Becky Barrow

Retail Price Index rises from 5.1 to 5.5 per cent

Families are being punished by the highest rate of inflation for two decades amid fears of an interest rate rise.

Figures published yesterday put the retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation at 5.5 per cent, the biggest annual increase in the cost of living since 1991.

At the current level, inflation is higher in Britain than any other European country – except Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The figures were released on a day of bad news for the economy, which included:
n The cost of fuel hitting a record average price of £1.33 for a litre of unleaded.

n The announcement that public sector borrowing was the highest ever for a February at £11.8billion.

The spike in inflation is being partly blamed on January’s sharp rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent. This has increased the cost of food, fuel and clothes.

Expert say that pay deals are failing to keep pace with the soaring cost of living.

The average worker is getting a rise of 2.1 per cent and state workers paid £21,000 or more are enduring a two-year pay freeze.

Rates rise? Inflation was higher than expected in February, piling pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates which have been at a historic low of 0.5 per cent for 24 consecutive months

To make matters worse, soaring inflation raises the prospect of the Bank of England hiking rates within months from the historic low of 0.5 per cent.

Around seven in ten home-buyers have a variable mortgage, which means their monthly mortgage payments will jump.

The biggest problem facing families is that the cost of ‘essential’ items is rising, which means they cannot escape. For millions, the biggest battle is finding the money to fill up their car.

The average price of petrol and diesel has never been higher.

For example, a 50-litre diesel car now costs £70 to fill, compared with £59 last year.

Unions said the inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics show ‘how tough it is for working families struggling to afford the most basic necessities, like food and fuel’.

Dr Ros Altmann, the director general of Saga, described the inflation figures as ‘truly dreadful’. The consumer prices index (CPI), an alternative measure of inflation, also rose sharply, from four per cent in January to 4.4 per cent in February.

This is more than double the Government’s two per cent target, and the 15th month that it has stubbornly stayed above the target.

In a further blow, a key member of the Bank of England yesterday warned that the figure could ‘easily’ hit five per cent this year.

Andrew Sentance, who has repeatedly voted for interest rates to rise, acknowledged the ‘squeeze’ on family finances from high inflation.

But many experts urged the Bank to resist the temptation to raise interest rates at such a fragile time for the economy.

Andrew Goodwin, senior economic advisers to the accountants Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said: ‘It would further crank up the pressure on embattled households.’

For savers, the misery which has lasted for two years continues, with their nest eggs being gradually eroded by inflation.

The average instant access savings rate is a paltry 0.85 per cent, and there is not a single savings account which beats the cost of living.

Jason Riddle, from the campaign group Save Our Savers, said retired people are being hit by a ‘double whammy.’

‘Pensioners can’t squeeze meaningful interest from their savings, so they are forced to draw on the nest egg itself, which reduces what little interest they can hope to receive,’ he added.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The moment nuclear plant chief WEPT as Japanese finally admit that radiation leak is serious enough to kill people

By David Derbyshire

-Officials admit they may have to bury reactors under concrete - as happened at Chernobyl
-Government says it was overwhelmed by the scale of twin disasters
-Japanese upgrade accident from level four to five - the same as Three Mile Island
-We will rebuild from scratch says Japanese prime minister
-Particles spewed from wrecked Fukushima power station arrive in California
-Military trucks tackle reactors with tons of water for second day

Overwhelmed: Tokyo Electric Power Company Managing Director Akio Komiri cries as he leaves after a press conference in Fukushima

The boss of the company behind the devastated Japanese nuclear reactor today broke down in tears - as his country finally acknowledged the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted that the disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing 'several radiation deaths' by the UN International Atomic Energy.

Officials said the rating was raised after they realised the full extent of the radiation leaking from the plant. They also said that 3 per cent of the fuel in three of the reactors at the Fukushima plant had been severely damaged, suggesting those reactor cores have partially melted down.

After Tokyo Electric Power Company Managing Director Akio Komiri cried as he left a conference to brief journalists on the situation at Fukushima, a senior Japanese minister also admitted that the country was overwhelmed by the scale of the tsunami and nuclear crisis.

He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: 'The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans.

'In hindsight, we could have moved a little quicker in assessing the situation and coordinating all that information and provided it faster.'

Nuclear experts have been saying for days that Japan was underplaying the crisis' severity.

It is now officially on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. Only the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 has topped the scale.

Deputy director general of the NISA, Hideohiko Nishiyama, also admitted that they do not know if the reactors are coming under control.

He said: 'With the water-spraying operations, we are fighting a fire we cannot see.

That fire is not spreading, but we cannot say yet that it is under control.'

But prime minister Naoto Kan insisted that his country would overcome the catastrophe

'We will rebuild Japan from scratch,' he said in a televised speech: 'In our history, this small island nation has made miraculous economic growth thanks to the efforts of all Japanese citizens. That is how Japan was built.'

It comes after pictures emerged showing overheating fuel rods exposed to the elements through a huge hole in the wall of a reactor building at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant.

Radiation is streaming into the atmosphere from the used uranium rods at reactor number four, after a 45ft-deep storage pool designed to keep them stable boiled dry in a fire.

And some of the radioactive material could reach Britain within a fortnight, according to experts.

However they say it will not be dangerous when it reaches our shores while low levels of radiation have already hit Southern California.

Exposed: this shots shows a gaping hole in the building of reactor number four. The green crane, circled, is normally used to move spent fuel rods into a 45ft deep storage pond, just out of shot. But the pool has now boiled dry and the spent rods are heating up and releasing radiation

These pictures show overheating fuel rods exposed to the elements through a huge hole in the wall of a reactor building at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant.

Radiation is streaming into the atmosphere from the used uranium rods at reactor number four, after a 45-ft deep storage pool designed to keep them stable boiled dry in a fire.

And some of the radioactive material could reach Britain within a fortnight, according to experts who say it will not be dangerous when it reaches our shores.

Boiled dry: This shot shows of the inside of reactor number four at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant before the disaster. The spent fuel storage pool is seen at the front of the shot. The rods are at the bottom of the pool, which has now boiled dry

Particles spewing from the stricken plant at Fukushima have already been traced on planes arriving in the U.S. from the disaster-torn country.

An airborne plume of radiation is expected to hit America's western seaboard today before being swept towards Europe. However, officials have stressed that the levels reaching the UK will not be high enough to pose any risk to human health.

Lars-Erik De Geer of the Swedish Defence Research Institute, said particles would eventually be detected across Europe.

'It is not something you see normally,' he said. 'But it is not high from any danger point of view. It is only a question of very, very low activities so it is nothing for people to worry about.'

The prediction that particles could reach Britain within two weeks is based on previous data, gathered by scientists observing nuclear testing in China.

Meanwhile, workers at the devastated power station are continuing their desperate battle to prevent a complete meltdown which some fear could be as bad as Chernobyl.

The latest pictures show a whole wall missing from the building housing reactor number four. Inside, a green crane normally used to move spent fuel rods into the storage pool can be seen. Underneath the crane, but not seen in the picture, is the 45ft deep spent fuel storage pool which has boiled dry.

Japan's nuclear safety agency today raised the rating of the Fukushima accident from four to five on a seven level scale.

And the Japanese government today admitted that it had been overwhelmed by the scale of the twin disasters.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said today: 'The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans.

'In hindsight, we could have moved a little quicker in assessing the situation and coordinating all that information and provided it faster.'

Nuclear experts have been saying for days that Japan was underplaying the crisis' severity.

It is now on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. Only the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 has topped the scale.

Officials at Fukushima are rapidly running out of options to halt the crisis. Military trucks are spraying the reactors for a second days with tons of water arcing over the facility.

And they today admitted that burying reactors under sand and concrete - the solution adopted in Chernobyl - may be the only option to stop a catastrophic radiation release.

Attempts to quell the overheating plant with waterbombs from helicopters yesterday failed and despite the army pelting the site with water cannon, radiation levels rose higher.

Engineers are also working to restore power to the coolant pumping system knocked out by the tsunami.

Destroyed: A satellite image of the Fukushima nuclear station shows the destroyed reactor buildings and radioactive steam rising form the plant

There was a potential breakthrough when engineers succeeded in connecting a power line to Reactor 2. This should enable them to restore electricity to the cooling pumps needed to prevent meltdown.

But it is not certain the system will work after suffering extensive damage.

As the crisis entered its eighth day, the Japanese government was facing growing international condemnation for its handling of the world's second worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and for the lack of information it is giving experts and the public.

Officials have declared a 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant on the north eastern coast. Another 140,000 people living within 18 miles have been told not to leave their homes.

But Britain, which is pressing Japan to be more open about the disaster, has advised citizens to give the area a 30-mile berth and to quit Tokyo nearly 150 miles to the south.

Yesterday thousands headed to Tokyo's airport to leave the country for whichever destination they could find.

Two Foreign Office-ordered chartered flights, with almost 600 seats, begin their work today to bring Britons home.

America, France and Australia are also advising nationals to move away from the plant.

A week after the earthquake and tsunami, authorities are still struggling to bring it back from the brink of disaster.

Four of six nuclear reactors at the site have been hit by explosions and fires which have sent clouds of low-level radiation into the air.

The team of exhausted workers battling to prevent meltdown at the site – dubbed the 'Fukushima Fifty' – are unable to approach the most badly damaged reactors because radiation levels are so high.

Yesterday concern focused on two large tanks used to store spent nuclear fuel at Reactors 3 and 4.

Hydrogen explosions blew the roofs off both buildings earlier this week, leaving the pools exposed to the elements.

Water levels in the tanks have dropped dramatically in the last few days, possibly because of a leak caused by the earthquake. Waste in Reactor 3 is completely exposed to the air and is emitting alarming levels of radiation as it heats up.

Dangerous work: officials wearing protective clothing and respirators head towards the Fukushima nuclear plant

Getting worse: The Inernational Atomic Energy Agency has upgraded the disaster to a level five. But French officials have previously claimed it is a six

Staging point: Fiire engines gather in Iwaki today as they prepare to douse overheating reactors and spent fuel at the plant

Unlike the other reactors which use uranium, Reactor 3 uses a mixture of uranium and plutonium. Plutonium, best known as an ingredient in nuclear weapons, is particularly dangerous if released into the environment.

In the worst case scenario, exposed fuel will melt, triggering a chemical explosion that will send radioactive dust hundreds of yards into the air.

Chinook helicopters flying at less than 300 feet dropped four loads of water over the wrecked building in the hope that some water would seep into the dried-out pool and cool the fuel.

Fearful residents: Officials scan people for radiation, 60 km west of the nuclear power plant in Koriyama on March 18

Growing criticism: The Japanese government is the target of growing criticism over the nuclear crisis. A businessman are pictured receiving a radiation scan at a screening centre in Koriyama after being evacuated form their homes

International alarm: Passengers arriving from Japan are scanned at Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia, left, and Japanese passengers disembraking from a ferry walk through a scanner in Busan, South Korea

However, footage suggested much of the 2,000 gallons of water missed its target.

Later, six fire engines and a water cannon tried to spray the building with 9,000 gallons of water from high pressure hoses. However, radiation levels within the plant rose from 3,700 millisieverts to 4,000 millisieverts an hour immediately afterwards.

People exposed to such doses will suffer radiation sickness and many will die. Today Tokyo Electric Power, which owns the plant, will try to restart the reactor's cooling systems after workers connected a half mile long power cable from the national grid to Reactor 2.

Spokesman Teruaki Kobayashi said: 'This is the first step towards recovery.'

He added: 'We are doing all we can as we pray for the situation to improve.'

Last night 14,000 were confirmed dead or missing in Japan and 492,000 are homeless. There are 850,000 households in the north of the main island without electricity in freezing temperatures.

Fleeing: Passengers queue at the ticket counter to buy tickets for the earliest possible flight as they attempt to evacuate from Japan at Narita International Airport near Tokyo

Exhausted: Children sleep on the floor of Narita International Airport as their parents try to get on a flight out the country.

Source : dailymail

When Harry met Silly... Young royal makes quite an impression as he mimics his father, Prince Charles

By Daily Mail Reporter

Young pretender: Prince Harry does a rather good impression of his father while on a tour of the Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Prince Harry played his royal joker card today... with a half-decent impression of his father Charles.

Braving the cold rain on a tour of the Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, he tried out his comical grimace on a group of schoolchildren.

The young royal took part in a ceremony laying a foundation stone for a new museum to house the Tudor warship and its artefacts.

The ceremony involved a time capsule created by pupils from Haslemere Preparatory School being buried in the floor of the new museum.

Harry added his own personal note to the time capsule before it was buried.

As he tapped the foundation stone into place with a small mallet, he joked: 'What if it cracks? I'm literally pretending to do this.'

As he posed for a group photo with some of the site workers on the new museum, there was laughter as it was realised Prince Harry was blocked from view and someone said: 'Let the Prince through a bit please.'

Built between 1509 and 1511, the Mary Rose was one of the first ships able to fire a broadside and was a firm favourite of King Henry VIII.

The Mary Rose Trust has received a £21 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to complete the £35million project for the conservation of the hull and to build the permanent museum which is to open next year.

Harry, who shares his real name, Henry, with Henry VIII, is following in the footsteps of his father, who has been closely involved in the Mary Rose project.

Prince Charles dived on the wreck site before the Mary Rose was raised from the Solent, just outside Portsmouth, in 1982.

As he inspected a longbow recovered from the ship, Prince Harry joked: 'Don't worry, I won't drop it.'

He said in the foreword to a commemorative programme for today's ceremony: 'I am delighted to be able to mark another milestone today in the extraordinary history of the Mary Rose.

'The foundation stone in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard moves us a step closer to turning the vision and hard work of so many over the past 30 years - some might say 500 years - into reality.

'This will be a special place of celebration and learning for future generations and one of commemoration for the English sailors and soldiers who lost their lives in the disaster on July 19, 1545.

'I would like to acknowledge the long-standing support for this project of my father, the Prince of Wales.

'I am so pleased to be building - quite literally - on his good work of so many years.

'I wish every success to the volunteers and world-leading experts who are working towards the completion of the new Mary Rose Museum.'

John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, presented Harry with a new Mary Rose commemorative £2 coin produced by the Royal Mint.

Mr Lippiett said: 'The Mary Rose Trust is thrilled that Prince Harry laid the foundation stone of our new museum.

'This ceremony marks a very important milestone in the long project to conserve and exhibit this iconic ship and her unique collection of artefacts.

'It is notable that we are doing this on the 500th anniversary of her launch and in a location which is just a few dozen yards from where she was built.'

Prince Harry also carried out his first medal presentation to Royal Navy counter mine personnel.

In his role as Commodore-In-Chief, Small Ships and Diving, he presented medals to members of the First and Second Mine Countermeasures Squadrons (MCM1 and MCM2) at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, to mark their service in Iraq.

Smiles: Prince Harry presents Operational Service Medals to members of the First and Second Mine Countermeasures Squadrons at the Naval Base, in Portsmouth

The prince was then given a tour of the minehunter HMS Cattistock and had a chance to meet groups of naval personnel and their families.

Able seaman Grant Mallion, of HMS Shoreham, from Cambridge, received his medal as he celebrated his 20th birthday today.

He said that the prince talked to him about the Six Nations rugby tournament and England's chance of winning.

Salute: Harry serves his duty as Commodore-In-Chief, Small Ships and Diving

Having a laugh: Harry shares a joke with the sailors as they stand to attention

'It was a great honour to receive my medal from Prince Harry,' he said.

'It was my first deployment and it was exciting to work in quite different conditions - it was much hotter than here.'

Leading Seaman Sam Dixon, 24, of HMS Grimsby, from Plymouth, Devon, said: 'I was immensely proud to receive a medal from Harry because not everyone gets such an opportunity.'

Long to rain over us: The Prince pins a medal on to a sailor as the rain falls in Portsmouth

The Telic Operational Medal was presented to the returning ships' companies of HMS Grimsby, HMS Middleton and HMS Shoreham, as well as the deployed Mine Warfare Battle Staff.

The staff and ships of MCM1 and MCM2 can act as part of a deployed operational force, or represent British interests within a NATO force.

Alternatively they could be operating in UK waters ensuring that ordnance remaining from the world wars is safely disposed of.

Service: The Royal Navy troops were being awarded for their service in Iraq

Source : dailymail

Friday, March 18, 2011

Just eight months in prison for drunk mother who attacked disfigured girl in a bar after telling her 'take off your mask'

By Daily Mail Reporter

-Prosecutors lobbied for tougher prison sentence

-To add insult to injury a BBC security guard asks 'Don't you think you're taking Red Nose Day a bit too far?'

Attacked: Chantelle Richardson, left, was taunted and punched by Rachel Rooney on a night out in Oldham. Here the 23-year-old is pictured with Katie Piper who suffered an acid attack

A drunken mother who attacked a disfigured girl in a bar in an 'appalling' disability hate crime sobbed as she was jailed yesterday.

On a night out in Oldham, Rachel Rooney taunted and attacked 23-year-old Chantelle Richardson, who rarely leaves the house because of her deformity and could die if struck.

Miss Richardson's condition severely disfigures her face leaving her vulnerable to stroke, or worse if hit on the nose, and she is required to wear a balloon-like device under her skin.

But when Rooney, 31, spotted Miss Richardson in a bar during a rare night out with friends in September last year, she cruelly taunted her about her appearance jeering 'take your mask off' before punching her in the face.

As Miss Richardson was rushed to hospital suffering from a life-threatening haemorrhage, Rooney attempted to escape the scene, but she was arrested by police nearby.

The mother of one pleaded guilty to assault at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court as the CPS successfully lobbied for a longer sentence of eight months for the attack on the basis that it was a disability hate crime.

Hate crime: Rachel Rooney, pictured outside Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, demanded that Miss Richardson 'take off your mask' on a drunken night out for the mother of one

The court heard that Rooney, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, who works as an administrator for a family roofing business, had numerous previous convictions, including common assault, public disorder and criminal damage.

Following the case Miss Richardson slammed Rooney as a 'bully' and hailed the result as important for her and for disfigured people in society, saying she hoped the sentence 'gives other people the confidence to go out in public without fear of prejudice'.

Sentencing Judge Peter Lakin said: 'Miss Richards is vulnerable and rarely goes out. On this particular night she thought she was safe in the Weaver's Arms [in Oldham], having a quiet drink with some of her friends. Sadly, she was mistaken.

'Whilst drunk you made quiet unnecessary and highly offensive remarks about Miss Richardson's face.

'You then, for no good reason whatsoever, aimed a blow at her which contacted with her nose and caused it to bleed.

'In my judgement, you quite deliberately targeted Miss Richardson because of her deformity.'

He added: 'I've been told in mitigation that you are disgusted with yourself, as you should be.'

Miss Richardson suffers from Aterio-venous Malformation, or AVM, an abnormal collection of blood vessels that caused a 'severe deformation' of her face.

She is an ambassador for a charity run by model Katie Piper, who was left seriously disfigured when acid was thrown in her face in 2008 in a vicious attack arranged by a man she had been dating, and features in her upcoming Channel 4 documentary, 'Katie, My Beautiful Face,' due to be aired next week.

Meanwhile BBC chiefs launched an inquiry today after a security guard made an offensive remark to Miss Richardson, who was a radio guest.

While waiting to appear on a Radio 5 chat show, the man approached her and said: 'Don't you think you're taking Red Nose Day a bit too far?'

Embarrassed radio host Phil Williams apologised and stated he felt terrible that the incident had happened within the BBC building, adding that an investigation was underway.

Miss Richardson was being interviewed about her appearance on upcoming Channel 4 series 'Katie: My Beautiful Friends', about people who are fighting for normality while living with disfigurement.


Dark days in ghost town of Tokyo


Ghost town: A landmark crossroads in Tokyo's Ginza district is eerily dark and empty as people stay indoors after warnings about a radioactive cloud from the stricken nuclear plant 150 miles away

It is one of the great cities of the world, home to 13million and as advanced as any metropolis on the planet.

Now Tokyo, usually so full of life by day and night, has the aura of death about it.

Its lights have been cut, supermarket shelves are empty, there are queues for everything and aftershocks come every day.

You could find a few die-hard Brits and other expatriates who wouldn't leave their beers on the counter in the party-time district of Roppongi for any threatening radioactive cloud, but mostly Tokyo has become eerily quiet. Nobody wants to venture out and the streets are deserted.

Everyone, it seems, shares the opinion that something very bad is happening at the Fukushima nuclear power plant 148 miles away, and nobody wants to risk breathing the air.

The British government has joined other nations in urging its citizens to leave the country whatever way they can, including banding together to join a charter flight. Other Britons trapped in the tsunami-stricken Sendai area have been offered the chance of being driven to Tokyo on a chartered bus.

But it will be a long journey because the vehicle will have to skirt around the nuclear power plant which stands between Sendai and the capital.

Some Britons have taken their own steps to get out of Tokyo, among them 23-year-old Kezia Poole, an English language teacher from London who has lived in Japan for 13 months.

'I'm flying to the Australian Gold Coast tomorrow,' she said. 'I'll sit back and breathe in the clean, fresh air. It's just not worth waiting around in Tokyo listening to officials telling us this and telling us that.'

Dimmer: Buildings in Tokyo turn down the lights as part of electricity saving efforts to avoid massive power outages and, right, its usual neon shine

She leaves behind a city in fear – a city that was plunged into darkness last night as electricity was cut to conserve power following the massive loss of production at Fukushima.

In Roppongi, the red-light district which is usually thick with crowds, where English girls play hostess to deceitful Japanese husbands, there was hardly a customer in sight.

A British hostess, who would give her name only as Jenny, was already on her way home before midnight, when usually business is thriving.

'They've said I can leave early,' the blonde, heavily wrapped in leather and furs, said in her north country accent. 'A lot of us haven't seen much of the news – how bad is it, then?'

There was no one in the whole of Tokyo who could tell her that, and even if they did, would it be the truth?
For the words coming from the lips of government spokesmen and the Tokyo Electric Company officials who have been holding daily press conferences carry mixed messages: 'We are working at the problem, the radiation is not harmful to humans, you should stay indoors and keep the windows closed, the levels have gone up, the levels have gone down, we've managed to pour water on the rods and that should cool them, the radiation has gone up again.'

No man's land: The normally bustling streets of the dynamic city are virtually deserted

Darkness falls: The usually brilliantly lit skyline has been shrouded in darkness to conserve scant resources of electricity as the crisis continues

Little wonder that many businesses sent their workers home early in the hope of beating the evening rush hour.

The result was long queues at stations for trains, many of which were suddenly cancelled because of fears that rolling blackouts would affect services.

'I just want to be with my children right now,' said an insurance company secretary waiting in the biting cold in a long queue.

'I don't know if my train is running, there are no cabs available and I have no other means of getting home. Everyone wants to leave Tokyo, or at least be home with their families because of the uncertainty.' Some, braving the cold and whatever they feared might be carried in the air, stood in front of public TV sets to watch government officials trying to explain what was happening at Fukushima. Their reaction was sceptical.

'We're living in modern times. We have robots in the factories, our technology is world famous and yet we end up pouring buckets of water on a nuclear plant,' said one office worker.

'This is taking us back years. We're going to be in darkness for a long time.' Whether he meant darkness at night because of power cuts or darkness because of what lies ahead for the nation, didn't seem to matter.

It is going to be dark in Tokyo and up the coast, where hundreds of thousands shiver and cry for everyone and everything they have lost, for a very long time to come.

Business is slow: A taxi driver reads a newspaper as he waits for a fare on an empty street

Contrast: An evacuee from a junior high school studies under the light of a kerosene stove at a makeshift shelter in stricken Ofunato

Eerie: People weave their way between blacked out high rises. Tokyo faces at much as six months of blackouts

What a contrast: While the streets of Tokyo are empty, the city's airports are packed with residents hoping to get away

source: dailymail

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Top Web Hosting | manhattan lasik | websites for accountants