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Japan finally acknowledged the full horrors at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant and raised the “severity rating” to 7, the highest on the accident scale and equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine a quarter-century ago. Each step up the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale represents a tenfold increase in danger, with an accident level of 7 indicative of a “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.”

According to Bloomberg News, the Fukushima catastrophe is now “Japan’s worst civilian nuclear disaster.” They have to put “civilian” in there because the worst nuclear disaster was when the United States government dropped successive atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing a quarter-million people.

(Japan had signaled its intention to surrender before the double atomic bombing, having endured the “traditional” U.S. firebombing of 67 of its cities and towns and the destruction of much of its fleet. But Washington was deliberately vague about the fate of Japan’s emperor, considered the living god of the Japanese, and the Potsdam Declaration demanding “unconditional surrender” and “stern justice … meted out to all war criminals” was not answered. So the whimsically named atomic bombs were detonated over these two cities.)

Anyway, stocks are falling in Asia as everyone begins freaking out all over again. The fallout is already showing up at dangerous levels in milk from Hawaii and Arkansas and Pennsylvania, and Western U.S. produce and drinking water, but the EPA assures us (on its website) that everything’s fine.

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