Japan Travel Warning

I get updates from the US Embassy and because I have so many friends and colleagues who live and work in Tokyo I thought I should pass this on….
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This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated March 21, 2011. In response to the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy, and other technical experts in the U.S. Government have reviewed the scientific and technical information they have collected from assets in country, as well as what the Government of Japan has disseminated. Consistent with the NRC guidelines that would apply to such a situation in the United States, we continue recommending, as a precaution, that U.S. citizens within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area or take shelter indoors, if safe evacuation is not practical.

On March 16, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible family members of U.S. government personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, the Foreign Service Institute Field School in Yokohama and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi. U.S. citizens should defer all travel to the evacuation zone around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and to areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, please visit the Embassy website, http://japan.usembassy.gov.

U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to the following regions: Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi.

Areas of Japan outside these above regions of concern include: the islands of Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa, and the prefectures Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Osaka, Shiga, Shimane, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, and Yamaguchi on the island of Honshu. Travelers to these prefectures should bear in mind that transit through Narita (Chiba) and Haneda (Tokyo) airports may be required.

The Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
The situation regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant remains serious. We strongly encourage you to understand the facts about how to protect your family. Please see our website: http://japan.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Government is making available Potassium Iodide (KI) solely as a precautionary measure for United States Government personnel and dependents residing within Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi. The KI should only be consumed after specific instruction from the United States Government. While there is no indication that it will become advisable to take KI, out of an abundance of caution the United States Government is making it available to its personnel and family members to be used only upon direction if a change in circumstances were to warrant. In the event of a radiological release, sheltering in place or departing the affected area remain the primary means of protection.

As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Embassy is continuing to make potassium iodide (KI) tablets available to private U.S. citizens who have not been able to obtain it from their physicians, employers, or other sources. Anyone considering availing themselves of this opportunity should consult the Embassy website (http://japan.usembassy.gov) for up-to-date information regarding distribution. We do not recommend that anyone take KI at this time. There are risks associated with taking KI. It should only be taken on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials or your doctor. For more information about KI, see this fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control (http://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp), or contact your doctor.

In the Event of Further Earthquakes, Strong Aftershocks, or Tsunamis
Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks following a massive earthquake such as the March 11 earthquake. The American Red Cross recommends that in the event of aftershocks, persons be alert to the danger of falling debris and move to open spaces away from walls, windows, buildings, and other structures that may collapse. If you are indoors, drop, cover, and hold on; if possible, seek cover under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there is no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid damaged buildings and downed power lines. Great care should be used with matches, lighters, candles, or any open flame due to the possibility of disrupted gas lines. Due to the continuing possibility of strong aftershocks, Japan remains at risk for further tsunamis. Japanese authorities have issued a warning for people to stay away from low-lying coastal areas. If a tsunami alert is issued by Japanese authorities, evacuate immediately to higher ground. See information on our website, http://japan.usembassy.gov.

Conditions
Commercial flights have resumed at all airports that were closed by the earthquake, except Sendai Airport, and commercial seats are available at the time of this posting. In Tokyo, public transportation including trains and subways are operating. Across Japan, about 90 percent of roads damaged by the tsunami and earthquake have been repaired or made passable, and most restrictions that limited traffic on roads to emergency vehicles have been lifted. Hardships caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami continue to cause severe difficulties for people in areas, including Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima, and Ibaraki prefectures. Temporary shortages of water and food supplies may occur in areas of Honshu north of Tokyo due to power and transportation disruptions. Restaurants, supermarkets, and other stores in Tokyo have resumed operations.

Planned rolling power outages are decreasing in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but continue in areas in northeast Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Please monitor the Tokyo Electric Power Company website (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html), and local news media for specific information and schedules for the planned outages. Radio stations in the Tokyo area that have emergency information in English include the U.S. Armed Forces station at 810AM and InterFM (76.1FM).

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Hollywood Visit

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I am going to LA next week to produce a TV commercial and decided to blog about some of the experiences…I am not even there yet and I am already thinking to visit one of its great landmarks.

If there is one landmark that says “Hollywood” to the world – literally! – it is the famous Hollywood Sign, perched high atop Mount Lee, the tallest peak in L.A.

The Sign measures 450 feet long, its mammoth letters are 45 feet high, and it’s visible from all parts of Hollywood. Erected in 1923 as an advertising sign for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon, the Sign originally read “Hollywoodland.” The last four letters were removed in 1945, after Hollywood had become the world’s movie capital, and the Sign had already become a well-known landmark. (In fact, it’s been officially declared “Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111.”)

In 1932, during the Great Depression, one despondent young actress, Peg Entwistle, even jumped to her death from the Sign’s giant letter “H.”

The original sign contained thousands of light bulbs, which were changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the Sign’s giant “L’s.”

And in the 1998 Disney remake of “Mighty Joe Young,” the oversized ape climbs the Hollywood Sign and perches in one of its giant letter “O.”s

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach the Sign itself, which is located atop an undeveloped hillside, far from roads. And if you did manage to reach the area, you would discover that the Sign has been fenced in to keep out the curious, and that a new high-tech alarm system has recently been installed.  Boo.

The best way to see the Hollywood Sign is to drive up Beachwood Drive. The Sign is clearly visible most the way up Beachwood, That is where my other “must” visit landmark is located…the Village Cafe or as the locals call it, the Beachwood Cafe.

DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival pays tribute to Japan

This year, Cherry Blossom Festival organizers have partnered with charities to create giving opportunities for participants interested in offering support to disaster victims in Japan.
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Before the two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival opens Saturday, organizers held a fundraising walk and vigil Thursday evening among the trees for victims of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. An estimated 18,000 people have been killed in the disaster.


The flowering trees that symbolize friendship between the United States and Japan are blooming for the 99th time in Washington in the wake of one of the world’s worst natural disasters.

Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki told the crowd that his country needs help.

“Everything started on what I call 3/11 — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident — and we are still struggling,” he said. “This is a very tough fight, but the consolation is people around the world are trying to be with us.” Fujisaki said the U.S. sent one of the first rescue teams and military support.

“Really, we need your assistance, and you’re giving that to us,” he said. After a gathering and moment of silence, the ambassador joined a crowd in walking to the cherry blossom trees along the Tidal Basin, holding glow sticks. Donation bins lined the sidewalk to benefit American Red Cross relief efforts.
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Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, said the cherry blossoms will be a reminder of Japan’s resiliency. She said the Washington festival also will rally support.

“This year, the cherry blossoms will remind the world to stand for Japan,” Norton said. “It’s important that we’re taking time to reflect,” said festival director Diana Mayhew. The celebration is a symbol of spring each year and now of the rebirth and rebuilding for Japan, she said.

“Our relationship with Japan is at the heart,” she said. Fujisaki told The Associated Press he is grateful for such support from U.S. residents, though he declined to ask for further donations. It’s too soon to know how Japan will pay to rebuild the country as the government is still focused on search and rescue, basic human needs and its nuclear reactors, he said.

“I am very grateful that American people are voluntarily extending their hands,” Fujisaki said. “This is really an impressive show of goodwill.”

Are we at war in Libya?

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A Libyan rebel holds the rebellion flag as he stands over wrecked military vehicles belonging to Moammar Gadhafi forces on Sunday March 20. The air strikes by French warplanes destroyed dozens of Gadhafi military vehicles, including tanks, west of Benghazi.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, said: “When I heard the president’s speech, I thought — well, gee, we might be. And here’s why: he said very clearly that as far as he’s concerned and the United States is concerned, Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead.”

“He has forfeited the right to be president of Libya, and he set these demands: Gadhafi not only has to stop, he has to withdraw, these are not negotiable and there will be consequences.”

That to me says we are going to use force to make Gadhafi do what we want him to do. We are already bombing him into submission…what do you guys think? And is this action justified?