March 15th Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, Japan crisis and nuclear energy. In the second hour, disaster preparedness in the United States, and the role of mercenaries in conflicts.
NPR logo March 15th Show

March 15th Show

Homes sit next to the Exelon Bryon Nuclear Generating Stations shown April 2, 2004 in Bryon, IL. JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Nuclear Energy
Officials in Japan reported an increase in radiation levels after a third explosion and a fire at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Workers are racing to prevent major meltdowns while many residents near the plant are reportedly fleeing the area. Host Neal Conan talks with NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton about the latest developments in Japan. Plus, Wall Street Journal energy reporter Rebecca Smith discusses how Japan's crisis may affect the renewed push for nuclear energy in the United States and other countries.

Disaster Preparedness
Japan is often cited as one of the best prepared countries in the world for disaster. Last week's massive earthquake and tsunami, followed by a looming crisis at several nuclear reactors, overwhelmed even the most rigorous disaster plans — and raised fresh questions about preparations in the United States. Host Neal Conan talks with disaster planners about the most effective ways to plan for the unthinkable and whether or not most cities and towns are doing enough to prepare.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has been accused of deploying foreign mercenaries against anti-government fighters in that country's ongoing civil war. Witnesses report that Gadhafi's private army shot protesters indiscriminately, though those reports could not be independently verified. Jose Luis Gomez del Prado is the Chairman of the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. His group investigates claims of mercenaries in conflicts. He joins host Neal Conan to talk about the role of mercenaries, the differences between mercenaries and contractors and who monitors their activities.