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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wipha pummels Japan

Typhoon Wipha plowed into the Japanese Islands today, where 17 people are dead and another 50 are missing in its wake. The typhoon sent 122mph winds spiraling past Tokyo, carrying rains that swelled rivers past their banks and levies, and deluging mountain sides. Landslides and flooding destroyed a number of homes on Izu Oshima island, but while heavy rains pummeled the nearby damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, it was largely unharmed. Wipha is the strongest storm to hit the region in nearly a decade, nearly 20,000 people have been asked to evacuate.

China Sends Soldiers to Halt Disaster Protestors

After more than 70 percent of Yuyao city in eastern China was submerged by waters brought Typhoon Fitow earlier this month, residents massed in front of local and national government buildings to demand more adequate emergency relief. While state media has made little mention of the matter, photos on social media site, Weibo, suggest a number of residents were bludgeoned by state security forces. Despite new legal rulings ostensibly aimed at cracking down on rumormongering which have chilled online discussion, one Yuyao city resident posted, “we strongly condemn the shameless acts by the police and riot police for using any pretext to beat people.” Officials sent reinforcements this morning to discourage further protests.

Pakistan Buys Nuclear Reactors

Officials in Islamabad told the Wall Street Journal that Pakistan will be acquiring two 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors from China for roughly $9.1 billion. The deal will see the first reactor built-in 70 to 80 months alongside a smaller extant reactor on the Karachi coast. China is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which scrutinizes civil nuclear technology trade with an eye toward nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, and has assisted Pakistan with civil nuclear development for roughly 20 years.

A U.S. State Department official at the NSG said the group remains “concerned that a transfer of new reactors to Pakistan appears to extend beyond the cooperation that was grandfathered in when China was approved for membership in the NSG.” Perhaps anticipating such remarks Pakistani officials were at pains to remind concerned parties that each one of its reactors will be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and today’s deal is utterly necessary to meet the nation’s growing energy demands. Said the Pakistani official, “Every country has this. We are also entitled.”

Mexico Considers Sugary Drink Tax

With an eye toward combating rising national obesity, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, taking his cue from a similar initiative by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has proposed a tax on sales of all sugary drinks. In fact, Bloomberg’s philanthropic organization has given $10 million to support anti-obesity advertising campaigns, like the one by Consumer Power which ran billboards asking, “In your right mind, would you give your child 12 teaspoons of sugar?”

Bloomberg’s money has drawn criticisms from farmers, large corporations, and small business owners alike. Cuauhtémoc Rivera, the president of a national association of corner stores, has bought a number of newspaper ads criticizing the sugary drink tax, saying “It’s not our fault that Mr. Bloomberg doesn’t have anything else to occupy his time.”

Mexico’s senate is expected vote on Peña measure this week. According to Mexico’s National Public Health Institute, if passed, the tax will bring in roughly $700 million dollars, part of which will be devoted to installing water fountains around the nation’s schools.

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