At 9:46PM Pacific Standard Time, an 8.9 Magnitude undersea earthquake occurred just to the east of Honshu, the main island of Japan. Damage was widespread, as were casualties.
Within minutes, huge tidal surges began arriving from the east -- videos of a massive wall of mud and water coming onshore were far worse than scenes of the Tsunami striking Thailand and Indonesia in December of 2005. Industrial areas, ports, large airports, refineries and regular neighborhoods were being swamped; the scale is mind-boggling and the amount of human suffering involved is so very high.
A friend here at my Place Of Witless Labor™ noted that "the Japanese plan for disaster", with earthquake and tsunami drills, evacuation plans and sophisticated construction techniques. Well and good -- but in one video I'd seen, shot from a helicopter, you could plainly see tiny cars, driving placidly along roads while a gigantic wall of mud and debris headed right for them. I have a feeling these areas hadn't been evacuated, and that I was watching people dying a terrifying and ugly death.
The Pacific basin remains under a Tsunami warning (NOAA's highest alert level) -- here in the San Francisco Bay area, my Place Of Witless Labor™ is actually across the water in Oakland, and if BART stops service through the tunnel under the Bay (the first stations at the San Francisco end could potentially be flooded in a major tidal surge), as a Dog away from home I'm in a tight spot.
UPDATE: Tsunami warnings have been lifted in Hawaii, and the West Coast. A nuclear power plant outside Tokyo has declared an emergency, and residents in a 3-kilometer radius are being evacuated.
On the lighter side, TPM reports that a Republican in the New Hampshire House of Representatives told one of his constituents that the "mentally challenged and other defective people should be sent to Siberia so they don't stand to inherit control of the world."
" 'The world population has gotten too big and the world is being inherited by too many defective people,' Rep. Martin Harty told one of his constituents. 'I mean all the defective people, the drug addicts, mentally ill, the retarded -- all of them.' "
Asked what should be done with those people, Harty said, "I believe if we had a Siberia we should send them to this and they would all freeze and die and we will be rid of them."
The catch, TPM added, is that he's a 91 year old, swept into office in 2012 on the "GOP wave", and everyone is "too deferential to tell him he's gone too far".
You can look at Harty's voting record in the New Hampshire House here. He doesn't like the Healthcare Act and wants the state to enjoin with the challenge to the Act by other
But, hey; he voted "Yea" on HB202, "relative to road salt applicators" -- and, he said he "regretted" saying that the United States should embrace the spirit of nazi Germany's T-4 Program -- So, it's all good!
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Oh, and Republicans in the Wisconsin state Assembly want back rubs, fancy little pastries, and "fun girls" provided with each legislative session. And they want all Democrats to die or leave the state. Maybe the country.