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5 stories about the Fukushima anniversary that you really need to read

This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear accident. While thousands of residents fell victim to the natural disasters, countless others are still living in fear of radiation poisoning from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s triple meltdown.

There’s a cornucopia of news in light of the March 11 anniversary, but lucky for you, we’ve broken it down into digestible morsels. Here are five stories about the Fukushima anniversary that are not to be missed:

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Crazy-ass Japanese dub music video hates on nuclear power

Okay, it's possible that this song by Rankin Taxi and the Dub Ainu band is just a teeny bit reductive about nuclear power. It's also possible that it is SUPER AWESOME. Somehow it is simultaneously serious, funny, angry, stylish, and catchy. As. Hell.

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Map shows what a U.S. Fukushima could have looked like

With the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima reactor crisis approaching, the Natural Resources Defense Council has put together a mapping tool that lets you envision what could have happened if one of the 104 U.S. reactors had suffered a similar accident. The take-home message: If you live on the East Coast, you're practically guaranteed to be in some power plant's 50-mile contamination zone.

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New revelations about how Fukushima almost forced the evacuation of Tokyo

During the most dire period in the Fukushima meltdown, the president of Japanese utility company Tepco tried to evacuate all workers at the stricken reactor. If that order went through, it would have precipitated a worst-case scenario and ultimately the evacuation of Tokyo.

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Stearns accidentally exposes GOP energy agenda

Cliff StearnsCliff Stearns in the seamy spotlight.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) was a moderate back when GOP moderates were allowed in the House of Representatives. Those days are past, however, and Stearns has had to scramble to adapt to the new atmosphere of Tea Party fruitcakery. He was trounced in the race for chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010, largely because his colleagues viewed him as a squish. Earlier this month, he announced he's leaving his district to escape a Tea Party primary challenge, jumping to a newly drawn district nearby. Now he's desperately trying to bank enough money and credibility with conservatives to survive beyond 2012.

The process has not been kind to his dignity or his integrity. Instead, Stearns has wormed his way into one of the seamier niches in the Republican ecosystem: circus ringmaster for show-trial investigations designed to create headlines, the niche Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) had hoped to dominate. The investigation into Planned Parenthood and the investigation into Solyndra are both Stearns' babies; both have dragged on forever and both have uncovered zero wrongdoing. That hasn't stopped Stearns from playing partisan warrior with a crude zeal that frequently crosses the line into cringe-worthy absurdity (like when he said Energy Secretary Steven Chu should be fired over Solyndra).

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Sales of residential solar in Japan explode like reactor #4

Sales of solar panels for Japanese homes are up 30.7 percent in 2011, despite -- or, let's be real, because of -- the economic hit the country took in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

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Japan’s emissions shot up after Fukushima — but it could have been worse

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan launched a campaign to cut energy use. Businessmen wore relatively skimpy outfits to the office, turned off lights, abstained from air conditioning. But despite those energy efficiency efforts, carbon emissions still went up after the nuclear plant shut down. Aw hell -- hot dark rooms full of scantily clad people aren’t the future of sustainability?

According to a new report from the Breakthrough Institute (which is generally skeptical of energy efficiency and cool with nuclear power), Japan produced 4 percent more carbon dioxide this November than last, and the overall carbon intensity increased, as this graph shows:

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Scientist blames James Bond for lack of nuclear support

Anti-nuclear campaigners, why do you dislike nuclear power? Is it because of the risk of massive meltdowns? The unsolved issue of what to do with waste? The lack of realistic evacuation plans? Or is it the influence of a James Bond movie you probably watched at least a couple times as a bored child -- Dr. No? David Phillips, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said recently that Dr. No's nuclear-powered island lair helped drive the "entirely negative" view people have of the industry. Yup, that must be it. The world also irrationally hates on lasers, solar power, submarines, …

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Operators fined $140k for surfing web instead of running nuke plant

Nine operators of the River Bend nuclear power plant near Baton Rouge, La., just landed their employer a $140,000 fine for surfing the web from the plant's control room, reports Mark Halper at SmartPlanet. While they were supposed to be monitoring the plant, the nine were caught surfing the web for news, sports, and their retirement accounts, but not Facebook (because they are old) or porn (because CNN says so). A press release from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lays it out: Control room operators are directly responsible for monitoring the reactor and other important plant systems to ensure that it …

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Critical List: No Grand Canyon uranium mining; Supreme Court case on wetlands

The Obama administration will announce today that it's limiting uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. And the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a major environmental case in which the Sacketts, a couple backed by the conservative property rights group Pacific Legal Foundation, claim the EPA unfairly restricted their use of the property by determining that it was a wetland. A Japanese whaling ship is holding three activists who boarded it to protest its activities. Is there a bubble in shale gas stakes? Walrus and seals have been showing up dead in the Arctic, with strange sores and hairless patches …