Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Intelligence sources say top Indonesian terror suspect Umar Patek has been arrested in Pakistan. 

Patek is one of the main suspects in the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people dead.

Two officials speaking on condition that they not be named said Patek was taken into custody in Pakistan on March 2. One of the sources is an Indonesian security official, and the other is a Philippine intelligence official who cited information from U.S. counterparts.

more updates are coming

More than six decades after his death, Gandhi remains a polarizing figure for some. So the arrival of a new book on him is a chance for those with well-formed unflattering opinions of Gandhi to trot out all his trespasses, as those on the other end of the spectrum leap to his defense.

Which is exactly what they did in reactions to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Lelyveld “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” officially out in the U.S. on Tuesday.

Of course, it’s not often a book on Gandhi—even the many revisionist books, plays and films that have come out in recent years and that have highlighted his unkindness to his wife, his remoteness as a father and his odd ways of testing his sexual self-control—has suggested that he might have been gay, or at least had one gay relationship.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/03/29/was-gandhi-gay-new-book-raises-question/

Tanks and troops loyal to Moamer Kadhafi swept through rebel-held Misrata on Tuesday, a rebel spokesman said as a doctor in Libya's third city put the death toll at 142 since March 18.

Kadhafi troops indiscriminately shelled Misrata, 214 kilometres (132 miles) east of Tripoli, and are preparing for a "massacre," the rebel spokesman told AFP by telephone.

"Misrata is in danger. The criminal forces are advancing on the city and the tanks are firing shells indiscriminately," he said, asking that his name be withheld.

"The massacre that was avoided in Benghazi thanks to the intervention of coalition forces will be carried out in the Misrata," the spokesman said.

The rebel stronghold of Benghazi is located 810 kilometers (503 miles) east of Misrata along the Mediterranean coast.

Western coalition forces launched a campaign on March 19 to enforce a UN no-fly zone in Libya and to protect civilians under attack and pounded Kadhafi forces in and around the rebel stronghold.

"Unlike what happened in Benghazi, coalition warplanes did not hit (Kadhafi) tanks that are already inside Misrata to avoid civilian casualties," the spokesman said.

He also spoke of a "humanitarian catastrophe" while a city doctor speaking separately to AFP said that at least 142 people were killed and more than 1,400 others injured since Kadhafi loyalists began hammering the city on March 18.

"We have had 142 dead since March 18," including four people who died on Monday, said the doctor, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We can't keep count anymore of the wounded but it is clearly more than 1,400, including 90 in a serious condition," he added.

He said that a Turkish boat was expected to dock at Misrata port later Tuesday to evacuate at least 50 wounded.

Rebels earlier said that a hospital ship was due in Misrata.

"It is a floating hospital that is being escorted by NATO that was delayed," a rebel spokesman, Shamsiddin Abdulmolah, said.

He said the vessel's arrival came two days after that of another ship in Misrata carrying humanitarian supplies, including food, milk, flour and other staples.

Abdulmolah could not provide further details about either ship, or which organisation chartered them.

Journalists in Tripoli on Monday were bussed to the outskirts of Misrata by Libyan government officials, to witness a pro-Kadhafi demonstration as it was broadcast live by Libyan state television.

They said they were not taken into the city, but it was clear that widespread destruction and fighting had occurred, and black smoke hung over the area.

Rebels have said that Kadhafi forces expelled more than 5,000 families from their homes in the western part of the city.

"Hundreds of families have found refuge in schools and mosques. The situation is very dangerous, very delicate," a rebel spokesman said.

He said Kadhafi forces were controlling the northwestern part of Misrata.

The Libyan foreign ministry said on Monday that its troops completed an offensive against Misrata and that "calm" reigned once again in the strategic city.

"Anti-terrorist units have ceased firing on armed terrorist groups who have committed all manner of acts of terrorism against the population of Misrata and disrupted their lives," a foreign ministry statement said.

"The town of Misrata currently enjoys an atmosphere of safety and calm and its public bodies are once again able to serve the public normally," said the statement carried by the official news agency Jana.

It was not clear however if Kadhafi forces were in full control of Misrata or just part of it.

Plutonium found in soil at the Fukushima nuclear complex heightened alarm on Tuesday over Japan's battle to contain the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years, as pressure mounted on the prime minister to widen an evacuation zone around the plant.

Some opposition lawmakers blasted Naoto Kan in parliament for his handling of the disaster and for not widening the exclusion zone. Kan said he was seeking advice on such a step, which would force 130,000 people to move in addition to 70,000 already displaced.

The drama at the six-reactor facility has compounded Japan's agony after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 left more than 28,000 people dead or missing in the devastated northeast.

In a gesture of support, France said it had sent two nuclear experts to Japan to help contain the accident and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit on Thursday for a meeting with Kan.

France is the world's most nuclear-dependent country, producing 75 percent of its power needs from 58 nuclear reactors, and selling state-owned Areva's reactors around the world. Sarkozy will be the first foreign leader to visit since the earthquake.

In the latest blow to hopes authorities were gradually getting the plant under control, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said plutonium was found at low-risk levels in soil samples at the facility.

A by-product of atomic reactions and also used in nuclear bombs, plutonium is highly carcinogenic and one of the most dangerous substances on the planet, experts say.

They believe some of the plutonium may have come from spent fuel rods at Fukushima or damage to reactor No. 3, the only one to use plutonium in its fuel mix.

Libyan forces pounded parts of Misrata on Tuesday, with tanks firing mortar shells and troops using heavy artillery in an effort to retake control of the city, a witness told CNN.

Coalition planes circled overhead but did not strike the tanks, he said.

As representatives of numerous countries met in London to decide the next steps in the Libya effort, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi showed no sign of letting up his effort to crush the rebellion that seeks an end to his nearly 42 years in power.

The day after Gadhafi's regime tried to convince journalists that it was in control of Misrata by taking them on a trip to part of the city but not allowing them into the city center, his troops were killing and wounding civilians and evicting thousands of people from their homes, the witness told CNN.

"The carnage and the destruction and the human suffering from both the evictions and... terrorizing the city -- it's beyond imagination," said the witness, an opposition councilman in Misrata, in western Libya east of Tripoli. "It's incredible."

Gadhafi forces did not even allow people to take belongings with them from their homes, he added. "They tell them, 'Run for your lives,' and fire bullets just above them."

Troops are looting the homes, he said.

Farley Granger, who found quick stardom in films like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train” in the 1940s and ’50s but who then turned aside from Hollywood to pursue stage and television roles, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 85.

A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office said he died of natural causes, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Granger’s youthful good looks gave him matinee-idol potential, and he was linked romantically to some of the biggest names of the day, of both sexes. But his passion for stage acting and his discontent with the studio system kept him from reaching the Hollywood superstardom of some of his contemporaries. Though he had scores of television and film credits and made a half-dozen Broadway appearances, his best-known performances were two of his earliest: as a preppie thrill-killer in Hitchcock’s “Rope” in 1948, and as a tennis player wrongly suspected of murder in “Strangers on a Train” in 1951.

Mr. Granger was born on July 1, 1925, in San Jose, Calif. His father, also named Farley, owned a car dealership, but the stock market crash killed that business, and, hoping to find work, the senior Mr. Granger took the family to Los Angeles. It was an auspicious move for young Farley, an only child: in 1943 a casting director for Samuel Goldwyn saw him in a play called “The Wookie” at a showcase theater and had him come in for a reading, where the onlookers included Goldwyn and Lillian Hellman.

“The war was on, and men were in short supply,” Mr. Granger recalled in an interview for this obituary in 2007. Not yet 18, he was cast in the film version of Hellman’s “The North Star,” playing a resident of a Ukrainian village that is invaded by the Nazis. Then, in 1944, came “The Purple Heart,” about a downed bomber crew, followed by real-life military service in the Navy.

At least 13 people were hurt -- three seriously -- when gunmen opened fire near 75th Street and Vincennes Avenue in Englewood this morning and apparently caused a CTA bus to crash, officials said.

It did not appear that anyone was wounded by gunfire, but instead were injured in the accident or by flying glass, the officials and witnesses said.

The incident began around 9:30 a.m. when two men jumped from a red truck and began walking down the block, firing as the truck followed them, a witness said. They appeared to be aiming at a black sedan.

"These young guys stepped out with AK-47s or Uzis or something and shot up the whole block," said Al Perkins, head cook at Ryan Anthony's restaurant in the 7400 block of South Vincennes.

"They got out of this red truck and starting walking and shooting," Perkins said. "I think they were aiming at a black car down the block... Once they got done, they ran back to the truck."

He said the black car was roped off by police at the scene.

Perkins said he saw at least five people hurt: one in a car, three on the sidewalk and a woman who staggered into the restaurant with a wound to the arm.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

At least 19 people have been killed and 65 injured after armed men stormed a government building in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit immediately after a suicide bomber detonated explosives that cleared the way for the attack.

"A suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt outside the provincial council building in Tikrit, and immediately after gunmen stormed into the building," a police official told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Another provincial official said the men who wore security forces' uniforms threw hand grenades and opened fire at a checkpoint of the Salahuddin provincial council building before they managed to storm it.

"All the employees are still in the building, and police cannot approach because the gunmen are shooting from inside," he said.


Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital Baghdad, said there has not been this kind of attack since the siege on a Baghdad church in November.

Anti-government fighters are still capable of carrying out lethal attacks eight years after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, though overall violence in the country has fallen sharply since the peak in 2006-7 of sectarian violence that was triggered after the invasion.

Bombings and attacks remain a daily occurrence.

Teens who frequently use Facebook have more to worry about than lost homework time.

A new condition dubbed "Facebook depression" may affect teenagers who spend a significant amount of time on the social-networking site, researchers warned in the latest issue of Pediatrics Journal.

The problem, researchers found, was that the popular website's constant feed of status, picture and message updates gave users a skewed view of reality, which could make vulnerable kids feel like they aren't good enough.

Facebook, according to the study, can create a false reality because people normally post the best sides of themselves, or at least not the full story.

Rejection quite literally hurts — the experience and the memory of getting dumped by a loved one trigger brain regions linked with physical sensations of pain, scientists find.

Around the world, people for centuries have used the same language — words like "hurt" and "pain" — to describe mental suffering as well as physical suffering, leading researchers to wonder if the sensations weren't activating the same parts of the brain.

Speculatively, it makes sense that getting your heart broken could feel like something literally breaking. During the course of human evolution, rejection from a group could leave one extraordinarily vulnerable, researcher Edward Smith, a cognitive neuroscientist at Columbia University in New York, told LiveScience, "so that might be why this link evolved between rejection and pain, to make us want to avoid rejection."

Past research had not found much to suggest rejection triggered pain areas in the brain. However, those studies had attempted to elicit feelings of rejection in test subjects by telling them they had been excluded from a computer game, for instance, or that anonymous feedback suggested a stranger did not like them — examples that might trigger only tepid feelings of rejection. "We wanted something bigger," Smith said.

Smith and his colleagues put out fliers in Manhattan and online ads on Facebook and Craigslist looking for people who had been through an unwanted breakup of a romance in the last six months. As the brains of the 40 volunteers were scanned through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), half the time they looked at photos of their ex, and half the time they looked at photos of a friend. During both situations, participants were asked to focus on experiences they shared with the people in the pictures.

Medtronic has received FDA approval for its Protecta line of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy-defibrillators (CRT-Ds).

The new family of implantable defibrillators features SmartShock™ Technology, which includes six new Medtronic-exclusive algorithms that recognize life-threatening arrhythmias and deliver therapeutic shocks only when appropriate, therefore enhancing patient quality of life. Findings from the Virtual ICD study, based on a statistical model, shows that 98 percent of patients with SmartShock Technology will be free of inappropriate shocks one year after implant and 92 percent will be free of inappropriate shocks five years after implant.

• Wavelet + PR Logic, SVT discrimination in the VF zone, and Confirmation + in Protecta devices are designed to detect non-lethal arrhythmias and deliver lifesaving shock therapy only when necessary.
• T-wave Discrimination and Lead Noise Discrimination distinguish oversensing from deadly arrhythmias and withhold shock therapy when appropriate.
• Lead Integrity Alert, first released in 2008, provides advanced warning of potential lead fractures so the patient can seek medical attention, and reduces the risk of receiving an inappropriate shock.

All Protecta XT devices have OptiVol® 2.0 Fluid Status Monitoring, a new update on the Medtronic-exclusive feature that measures changes in fluid build-up in heart failure patients to identify patients at risk of worsening heart failure. Medtronic implantable defibrillators have Conexus® Wireless Telemetry that allows patients to transmit device data to a physician’s clinic from virtually anywhere via the industry’s largest remote monitoring system, the Medtronic CareLink® Network. CareLink serves more than 4,000 clinics and 500,000 patients in 30 countries.

Military action against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will continue until he "ceases his attacks on civilians, pulls his troops back from places they have forcibly entered and allows key services and humanitarian assistance to reach all Libyans," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed Tuesday.

The United Nations-backed bombing of Gadhafi's forces "prevented a potential massacre," she said.

Clinton spoke in London after meeting with a leader of the Libyan opposition as the United States sought to expand ties with rebel leaders fighting to oust Gadhafi.

It was the second meeting in less than two weeks between Clinton and the Libyan Interim National Council's Mahmoud Jabril, a former head of Libya's economic

Clinton wanted to gain a "clearer picture" of the opposition and how a post-Gadhafi government could look, according to a senior official who took part in the meeting.

The meeting came on the sidelines of a conference in London on the future of Libya.

Envoys came from more than 40 countries and international organizations, including members of the coalition supplying airpower to protect civilians against Gadhafi forces.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has accepted the resignation of the country's government, following two weeks of anti-government protests that have gripped Syria.

"President Assad accepts the government's resignation," an announcement on state television said on Tuesday.

Naji al-Otari, the resigning premier, has been chosen by Assad as caretaker prime minister.

The government has little power in Syria, where power is concentrated in the hand of Assad, his family and the security apparatus. Otari has been prime minister since 2003.

The 32-member cabinet will continue running the country's affairs until the formation of a new government.

A new cabinet is to be formed in 24 hours, sources have told Al Jazeera.

Assad is expected to address the nation later on Tuesday in a speech which may include a decision to abolish emergency laws.

More than 60 people have died since March 18 as security forces cracked down on protesters, Human Rights Watch has said.


Tuesday's announcement came as thousands of supporters of Assad poured into central Damascus in a show of support for their leader.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports on the resignations

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are in heated battles with rebels trying to advance west toward Gadhafi's hometown and stronghold of Sirte.

Foreign journalists said an onslaught Tuesday by the pro-Gadhafi fighters forced the rebels to retreat farther east. They reported rocket and machinegun fire near the town of Bin Jawad where rebels are scrambling.

The battles came after pro-government forces drove the rebels back with heavy tank and artillery hits late Monday.

International airstrikes against pro-Gadhafi troops have enabled the anti-government forces to recapture large amounts of territory in recent days.

The battle for Sirte is expected to be critical in the rebels' push to end Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

Sirte is dominated by members of the Libyan leader's Gadhadhfa tribe. But many in another large local tribe, the Firjan, are believed to resent his rule, and rebels are hoping to encourage them and other tribes there to help them.

Western nations began enforcing a United Nations-authorized no-fly zone over Libya on March 19. Allied warplanes targeted Sirte for the first time late Sunday.

The New York Times has raised a pay wall yesterday. From now on, you must choose between three subscription models ($15/$25/$35 every four weeks) to access online articles at NYTimes.com. As you know, everyone can read up to twenty articles each month for free and home delivery subscribers get to enjoy unlimited access to online articles on NYTimes.com and via smartphone and tablet apps.

In addition to those deals, Amazon partnered with the paper and announced yesterday that subscribers to the Kindle version of The New York Times will get free and unrestricted access to all online articles at the NYTimes.com site. Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s VP of Kindle content:
Given The Times’ transition to a digital subscription model, we’re excited to be able to offer Kindle subscribers online access to all the digital content available at NYTimes.com at no additional cost.
You’ll receive an email notice when the offer goes live. The New York Times is the bestselling newspaper in the Kindle Store, Amazon tells us. This interesting proposition was obviously conceived as another reason to buy the Kindle hardware. If last couple of week are an indication, Amazon sure knows how to keep themselves in the news.

Amazon got the jump on Apple and Google this evening with the launch of a much-anticipated digital music locker service that allows users to store their music on the Web and then listen to their collections on computers with a Web browser or on Android devices.

Amazon Cloud Drive allows users to upload their digital music files--either AAC or MP3 formats--at their original bit rate to Amazon servers for storage and playback on any Web-connected PC, Mac, or Android device, wherever they are.

"Our customers have told us they don't want to download music to their work computers or phones because they find it hard to move music around to different devices," Bill Carr, vice president of movies and music at Amazon.com, said in a statement. "Now, whether at work, home, or on the go, customers can buy music from Amazon MP3, store it in the cloud and play it anywhere."

The Amazon service's Cloud Player for Web allows customers to listen to their music on any computer running the Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari for Mac, or Chrome browsers. The Cloud Player for Android is a new version of the Amazon MP3 app and includes the full Amazon MP3 Store and the mobile version of Cloud Player. Customers can use the app to play music stored on their Cloud Drive and music stored locally on their device.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, is seeking help from France to tackle the "critical" situation, Industry Minister Eric Besson said Monday.

"TEPCO, for the first time, I'm pleased to say ... has asked for help from French industrial concerns," the minister told RTL radio, specifying French energy giant EDF, nuclear group Areva and CEA, the atomic energy commission.

Besson said the current situation at Fukushima, where highly radioactive water has leaked from a reactor turbine building following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, was "extremely critical".

The water, found in an underground tunnel linked to the number two reactor at the Fukushima plant, showed a radiation reading of more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour, a TEPCO official told reporters in Japan.

A dose that strong can cause temporary radiation sickness with nausea and vomiting for people who are exposed.

The massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out the cooling systems of the plant's six reactors, triggering explosions and fires, releasing radiation and sparking global fears of a widening disaster.

Long before the nuclear emergency in Japan, U.S. regulators knew that a power failure lasting for days at an American nuclear plant, whatever the cause, could lead to a radioactive leak. Even so, they have only required the nation's 104 nuclear reactors to develop plans for dealing with much shorter blackouts on the assumption that power would be restored quickly.

In one nightmare simulation presented by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009, it would take less than a day for radiation to escape from a reactor at a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant after an earthquake, flood or fire knocked out all electrical power and there was no way to keep the reactors cool after backup battery power ran out. That plant, the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station outside Lancaster, has reactors of the same older make and model as those releasing radiation at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which is using other means to try to cool the reactors.

And like Fukushima Dai-ichi, the Peach Bottom plant has enough battery power on site to power emergency cooling systems for eight hours. In Japan, that wasn't enough time for power to be restored. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Institute trade association, three of the six reactors at the plant still can't get power to operate the emergency cooling systems. Two were shut down at the time. In the sixth, the fuel was removed completely and put in the spent fuel pool when it was shut down for maintenance at the time of the disaster. A week after the March 11 earthquake, diesel generators started supplying power to two other two reactors, Units 5 and 6, the groups said.

U.S. single family home prices fell for the seventh straight month in January, bringing prices to just above April 2009 lows, a closely watched survey said on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.2 percent in January from December on a seasonally adjusted basis where a Reuters poll of economists forecast a drop of 0.4 percent. Prices in the 20 cities have fallen 3.1 percent year-over-year compared to 3.2 percent expected.

"The housing market recession is not yet over," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P. "At most, we have seen all statistics bounce along their troughs; at worst, the feared double-dip recession may be materializing."

Eleven of the 20 cities fell to the lowest levels since home prices peaked in 2006 and 2007, while the overall index was just 1.1 percent above the April 2009 low, the report showed.

Unadjusted for seasonal impact, home prices fell 1.0 percent for the month. Only San Diego and Washington, D.C. showed annual price increases.

Libyan government tanks and rockets blunted a rebel assault on Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte on Tuesday and drove back the ragtag army of irregulars, even as world leaders prepared to debate the country future in London.

Rockets and tank fire sent Libya's rebel volunteers in a panicked scramble away from the front lines, before the opposition was able to bring up truck mounted rocket launchers of their own and return fire.

The latest rebel setback emphasizes the see-saw nature of this conflict and how the opposition is still no match for the superior firepower and organization of Gadhafi's forces, despite an international campaign of deadly airstrikes.

The two sides traded salvos over the small hamlet of Bin Jawwad amid the thunderous crash of rockets and artillery shells as plumes of smoke erupted from the town. The steady drum of heavy machine gun fire and the pop of small arms could also be heard above the din.

"There aren't a lot of us in Bin Jawwad right now," said Faisal Ali, a 20 year-old-rebel who had retreated from the town. "If (Gadhafi) has enough firepower and forces using tanks, he will surely take over Bin Jawwad," he added, noting that the rebels' special forces, one of their few trained units, had not yet retreated.

A U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and campaign of strikes by the U.S. and its allies helped rebel forces regain territory lost of the past week, when they were on the brink of defeat by government forces.

A Ministry of Information official, right, grabs Iman Al-Obeidi, who said she spent two days in detention after being arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli, Libya, and was sexually assaulted by up to 15 men while in custody in Tripoli Saturday March 26, 2011, after storming into the hotel's breakfast room to show her wounds to foreign media. A scuffle between hotel employees, information ministry officials and plain clothed police trying to grab her and stop the press for filming on one side and foreign media representatives followed. Two cameras were smashed on the ground and at least one reporter was beaten and kicked. Al-Obeidi was later taken in a car to an undisclosed location. Left and top right are foreign journalists .

After 10 days of military action, the president finally addressed the nation on Libya. His main points were these:

• that Qaddafi is a monster who has killed Americans and would have massacred thousands of people had no intervention been launched

• that America responded to pleas for help from the Libyan people

• that it is in our national interest to help the Libyans because a brutal massacre that we could have stopped would have been partially on the conscience of the United States

• that we are different from other countries in the sense that we do not turn a blind eye to atrocities around the world

• that we will not directly engage in overthrowing Qaddafi and nation-building in Libya because we tried that in Iraq and the price was too high.

So there wasn't much new in the speech. It was fairly straightforward, and the president's explanation is logical. You may not agree with it, but Mr. Obama can defend his position.

If the USA is indeed an exceptional nation and we can save lives without harming our country, we should. Strong argument, and "Talking Points" agrees with it.

There is a valid criticism of Mr. Obama, however, in that he did not lead in this matter. If he feels so strongly about stopping Qaddafi from killing people, he could have acted quicker and more decisively. He did not.

That doesn't mean it was wrong to seek U.N. approval or world consensus. That is the smart thing to do. But Mr. Obama was not publicly aggressive in doing that. He laid back.

TOKYO — Cool water powered by diesel generators or firetruck pumps continued to circulate around nuclear fuel rods in reactors at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Tuesday, limiting the potential for new releases of toxic particles, as workers struggled to contain the spread of radioactive

Crews piled sand bags and concrete blocks around the mouths of flooded tunnels to keep contaminated water from spilling out into the sea and slowly pumped stagnant radioactive water out of darkened turbine rooms.

At the same time, scientists — under orders from nuclear regulators — painstakingly increased their documentation of the environmental damage that explosions from the malfunctioning reactors and a probable leak from the reactor’s core have begun to inflict on the country’s food and water supply and its environment.

“Monitor,” “measure,” “follow,” “study,” have become the mantras of government officials who have only the earliest glimpses of how the disaster will evolve.

At a meeting of the Japanese parliament, Prime Minister Naoto Kan criticized plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. for failing to adequately protect the facility from disaster. The plant was flooded by a wave that easily swept over its 20-foot-high protective wall.

“It’s undeniable,” Kan said, in language unusually harsh by Japanese standards, that Tokyo Electric’s “assumptions about tsunamis were greatly mistaken.”