Obama More Interested In Basketball Than World Crisis

Workers were ordered to withdraw briefly from a stricken Japanese nuclear power plant on Wednesday after radiation levels surged, a development that suggested the crisis was spiraling out of control. Panic over the economic impact of last Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami knocked $620 billion off Japan’s stock market over the first two days of this week. Confusion caused by a catastrophic earthquake and massive tsunami spread in Japan on Monday, with a quake-hit nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture suffering another hydrogen explosion and train services in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo mostly paralyzed due to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s announcement it was restricting power supply. The number of the dead or unaccounted for following the magnitude 9.0 quake came to about 5,900 after around 1,000 bodies were found Monday on several shores on the Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture, while police and firefighters worked to recover another 200 to 300 bodies in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the number of buildings that were completely or partially destroyed stood at more than 70,000 as of 11 p.m. Monday. About 550,000 people had evacuated by Monday to about 2,600 shelters in six prefectures, but water, food and fuel are in short supply in various locations where they have taken refuge, while the capacities of some shelters have reached their limits. At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a hydrogen explosion occurred Monday morning at its No. 3 reactor while fuel rods at its No. 2 reactor were fully exposed later in the day after its cooling functions failed, indicating the critical situation of the reactor’s core beginning to melt due to overheating.

The blast at the No. 3 reactor prompted the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency to urge about 500 residents within a 20-kilometer radius to take shelter inside buildings, while the incident involving the No. 2 reactor raised fears of another explosion at the plant.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi lashed out on Tuesday at backers of a no-fly zone over his country and urged Libyans to take up arms and prepare to confront a possible invasion by Western powers. In the short, emotional speech, Gaddafi lashed out at Britain for calling for a no-fly zone. “What right do you have? Do we share borders? Are you our tutor?” he asked. Libyans would fight to the death to defend their country, he said. He hit out at the Arab League, which has backed a no-fly zone, saying it was “finished,” and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which he said had lost its legitimacy.

Soldiers and riot police used tear gas and armored vehicles to drive out hundreds of anti-government protesters occupying a landmark square in Bahrain’s capital, a day after emergency rule was imposed in the violence-wracked Gulf kingdom. Demonstrators said at least two people were killed. The full-scale assault launched at daybreak swept into Pearl Square, which has been the center of uprising against Bahrain’s rulers since it began more than a month ago. Stinging clouds of tear gas filled streets and black smoke rose from the square, possibly from the protesters’ tents set ablaze.

More than 1,000 Saudi Arabian troops have been deployed in Bahrain, following fresh protests over the weekend that pitted protesters from the tiny Gulf monarchy’s Shia majority against riot police. The clashes were the worst since February 17, when seven protesters were shot dead by police The protests broke out soon after Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, met Bahrain’s king to persuade him to undertake reforms Washington believes are necessary to prevent Iran from capitalising on the arrest.  Bahrain’s monarchy is closely identified with the Bani Utbah, a central Arabian clan of Sunni Muslim faith that seized power in 1783. Obama Avoid World Conflicts

Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa, Bahrain’s king, promised a dialogue with the Shia-faith majority after he acceded to the throne in 1999. But elections held in 2002 were marred by allegations of malpractice, and the Parliament that was installed had few real powers. Bahrain’s Shias were also angered by claims that the monarchy was encouraging the migration of Sunni Arabs from Jordan and Iraq to change the demographic balance.

Meanwhile, Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes. Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.   With various urgencies swirling about him, Saturday’s weekly videotaped presidential address focusing on “Women’s History Month” seemed bizarrely out of touch. Obama Friday took time out to honor the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Thursday was a White House conference on bullying – not a bad idea perhaps, but not quite Leader of the Free World stuff either. Obama appeared a little sleepy as he weighed in against the bullies, perhaps because he’d spent the night before partying with lawmakers as they took in a Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Bobcats game.

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