Things continue to get worse for the Japanese people after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Here’s what’s going on, and how you can help.
The major problem at the moment is shortages of food and water. The northeast coast suffered the most damage at the hands of the tragedy, and between damage done by the earthquake and the tsunami following immediately after, most infrastructure such as roads and bridges are totally destroyed. One group of refugees stranded on a roof have painted the Chinese character for water so that rescue groups will give them relief. The best group for getting this to refugees right now is the Red Cross: Apple has created an iTunes portal to donate to the Red Cross directly using your iTunes account, or you can donate at redcross.org.
Meanwhile, problems are continuing at the Fukushima Prefecture nuclear power plant. The plant suffered a simultaneous attack; the earthquake left it unable to cool its power rods while the tsunami destroyed backup generators and other crucial fail-safe measures. This triggered a hydrogen blast on Saturday in Unit 1, and put Unit 3 in danger of an explosion itself, which happened Monday, wounding eleven workers.
180,000 people have evacuated the area so far, and 1500 have been scanned for possible radioactivity. The first blast released some radioactivity, as detected by the U.S. Navy, but it was stated that the radioactivity was the equivalent of spending one month in the sun and currently no one was at risk.
The nuclear problems have created larger issues for Japan. Rolling blackouts were to have been imposed during the afternoons, and were then canceled when it was noticed that power demand was much lower than expected. It still caused chaos as the bullet trains were shut down and workers waited hours to get buses or were forced to arrange alternative transportation.
All of this has also caused serious trouble with Japan’s financial markets. Both major Japanese stock indexes, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Nikkei Stock Average, were off at least 6%, the worst since the financial crisis of 2008. The Bank of Japan has injected $220 billion into the Japanese economy to stabilize it and hopefully prevent any financial issues from affecting rescue operations in the northeast.
We here at Uproxx would like to encourage you to donate time, money, or resources to the Japanese; over 18,000 are dead and nearly a million have been displaced. Even a few dollars will help get vital resources to an area that has been nearly wiped out. Meanwhile, our thoughts are with the Japanese people as this crisis continues to unfold.
- Important updates on the Japanese situation (Wall Street Journal)
- More details on the nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture (USA Today)
- The Iranian government, still dealing with unrest over the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that started in 2009, has decided that beating women in the streets with sticks and throwing anybody it doesn’t like into jail and torturing them to death isn’t quite as effective as it used to be, and has formed a cyber Gestapo, oh, excuse me, “police unit”. The unit will attack the websites of its “enemies”, meaning anybody who expresses an opinion they don’t like, and will also attempt to trace the Stuxnet worm, which attacked their computers at one of facilities they’re trying to pretend isn’t involved in weapons research, and pretty much derailed their nuclear program. We’re sure that this unit will show all the same competence and professionalism of the rest of the Iranian government, but not as much Internet savvy as your grandma after a few drinks. (Associated Press)
- Hey, speaking of awful regimes, a group of exiled Myanmar journalists working from Thailand are reporting their website got hacked. It’s unclear what, precisely, the motive of the hacking was, but since it posted an article about the death of a popular singer, we’re leaning more towards “bored teenager hacks WordPress password” than “Myanmar’s regime desperately trying to cover up links to North Korea.” (Yahoo!)
- So far, 300 bodies have been recovered in Japan, but there are rumors that 2000 more have been found on various beaches in the northeast. One policeman estimates that half of the 10,000 people he oversees are either displaced or dead. (Vanity Fair)
- To close on a bright note, people are giving generously. One hardware store in Benicia, California started collecting on Saturday and collected $400 in three hours. (Benicia Patch)