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  1. Barry Pless
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ivan Barry Pless, 434 Lansdowne, Westmount, Quebec H3Y2V2, Canada

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Fukushima nuclear ‘accident’: not natural disaster

An investigative panel concluded that the Fukushima nuclear disaster was the result of a mix of ‘man-made’ factors including regulators who failed to provide adequate prevention and a government lacking commitment to protect the public. Tokyo University professor emeritus Kiyoshi Kurokawa, wrote ‘It was a profoundly manmade disaster—that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response’. His conclusions differ from other reports that concluded the reactors withstood the earthquake only to be disabled when the ensuing tsunami hit the plant. This finding may have implications for all of Japan's nuclear plant operators if it leads to tougher earthquake-resistance standards. Professor Kurokawa clashed with the government when the Prime Minister approved a bill to create a new nuclear regulatory agency. He stated: ‘It is very hard to understand how the cabinet decision has been made before the panel finishes its investigation’.

Update on Florida firearm gag law

As we reported in an earlier issue, Florida passed a law backed by the National Rifle Association that banned physicians practicing in the state from discussing gun ownership with their patients. A federal judge has now ruled that Florida may not enforce this law. Medical groups challenged the constitutionality of the legislation and it was struck down as a violation of physicians’ First Amendment rights. The Republican-controlled legislature passed the law, subsequently signed by Gov Rick Scott, after a Florida couple complained that their child's paediatrician asked about guns in their home. After the mother refused to answer, the physician reportedly told her she had 30 days to find a new paediatrician. Florida passed the law to safeguard patients’ ‘fundamental right to bear arms’. But opponents noted that physicians providing honest advice to their patients do not interfere with their rights to bear arms. To put this issue …

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