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Japan

Fukushima Was A 'Man-Made' Disaster

AFP, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan), NAIIC (Japan)

Worldcrunch

TOKYO – Lambasting both Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the prime minister's office, the national task force investigating last year's accident at Fukushima's No. 1 nuclear plant concluded that human error played a role in the reactor's meltdown, and was not only due to the tsunami that hit the plant, the Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese daily, reports.

"The accident was not a natural disaster but was apparently a man-made disaster," the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) said in its final report released Thursday.

The panel concluded: "The crisis management system of the prime minister's office and the regulatory authorities did not function."

Meanwhile, electricity generated from nuclear fission has began flowing again in Japan on Thursday, ending a nearly two-month hiatus in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdowns, AFP reports.

The restart of the first reactor in the town of Ohi in Fukui prefecture sparked large protests in Tokyo, but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda urged support for the move, saying a return to nuclear power was essential for the economy, BBC News reports.

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Ideas

Calmez-Vous, Americans: It's Quite OK To Call Us "The French"

A widely mocked tweet by the Associated Press tells its reporters to avoid dehumanizing labels such as "the poor" or "the French". But one French writer replies that the real dehumanizing threat is when open conversation becomes impossible.

Parisians sitting on a café terrasse.

Parisians sitting on a café terrasse.

Dirk Broddin on Flickr
Gaspard Koenig

-Essay-

PARIS — The largest U.S. news agency, the Associated Press (AP) tweeted a series of recommendations aimed at journalists: “We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing 'the' labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated. Instead use, wording such as people with mental illnesses.”

The inclusion of “The French” in this list of groups likely to be offended has evoked well-deserved sarcasm. It finally gives me the opportunity to be part of a minority and to confirm at my own expense, while staying true to John Stuart Mill's conception of free speech: that offense is not a crime.

Offense should prompt quips, denial, mockery, and sometimes indifference. It engages conflict in the place where a civilized society accepts and cultivates it: in language.

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