JAPAN: The Big One Hits

JAPAN: The Big One Hits

A magnitude 8.9 offshore earthquake strikes northern Japan, setting off a massive tsunami that kills hundreds and could lead to radioactive risk from a nuclear power plant.

(NASA Goddard)

Japan's strongest recorded earthquake, and the massive tsunami it unleashed, has left hundreds of Japanese dead and hundreds more missing, while residents fled coastlines across the Pacific rim from Alaska to Chile for fear of the effects washing ashore. Meanwhile, evacuations were ordered near the epicenter in northeastern Japan amidst reports that a nuclear reactor's cooling system could fail and set off a radioactive meltdown. As dawn broke, there were reports of dangerously high levels of radiation near the plant.

Over the past 18 hours, the world followed the developments and dramatic images – often in real time -- on television and the internet, as cars, boats and building were swept away and fires burned on surging walls of water. Here is how just a small fraction of the information spread from inside (and outside) Japan.


News organizations tried to make sense in the immediate aftermath of the quake. Here's LeFigaro's first take.


News organizations, big and small, tried to keep up with the steady stream of information coming in. This from the Irish new media organization Storyful.


Japanese TV: people flee, fires burn....

CNN: when it struck...

Tokyo from the air...


...from Yomiuri

....El Pais

...and La Stampa

Japanese websites





Other websites around the world




Pacific Alert

Coasts were cleared in Hawaii and California...and southward. Up and down the Pacific coast of Latin America , governments began taking precautionary measures as they braced for tsunamis. In Chile , authorities ordered the evacuation of the estimated 3,200 residents on Easter Island. In Ecuador , President Rafael Correa imposed a state of an alert for the next 60 days and ordered evacuations in some areas. Hawaiian

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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