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Get your fax right: Bungling officials spark Japan nuclear scare

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Bungling Japanese officials sparked a nuclear scare after a violent, late-night earthquake by ticking the wrong box on a fax form — inadvertently alerting authorities to a potential accident.

Employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), operator of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata — where the 6.4-magnitude quake struck — faxed a message to local authorities seeking to allay any fears of damage.

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But TEPCO workers accidentally ticked the wrong box on the form, mistakenly indicating there was an abnormality at the plant rather than there was no problem.

One official filled out the form, and it was checked by a colleague before being sent.

Many Japanese government departments and companies still rely on fax machines for communication.

TEPCO’s Tokyo headquarters noticed the mistake, and a correction was published 17 minutes after the original release, the firm’s Tokyo-based spokesman told AFP.

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Kashiwazaki city mayor Masahiro Sakurai saw the incorrectly filled-out form and immediately directed staff to check what was happening.

The mayor hit out at TEPCO, which also operated the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant — site of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl — when an earthquake and tsunami struck in 2011.

“When a real earthquake is happening, not a drill, this is a massive error,” Sakurai told local reporters, according to the Mainichi Shimbun daily.

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“It is extremely poor on their part to make errors in the most important and basic information at a time of crisis,” he said, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

TEPCO apologised and vowed not to make the same mistake.

The late-night quake prompted a tsunami advisory, but only small ripples of 10 centimetres (three inches) were recorded.

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The government said up to 26 people were injured — two seriously, although not life-threatening.


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Here are the six most absurd things Trump just said in his unhinged Wednesday press conference

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President Donald Trump unloaded a whole lot of crazy during a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Trump attacked America's allies in the Middle East, his own political allies on Capitol Hill and repeated talking points used by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdo?an.

Here are six of the most absurd things from the press conference.

Trump proved he has no idea what's happening

During the press conference, Trump claimed his decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria was "strategically brilliant."

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Trump’s capitulation cheered on Russian TV: Ambassador McFaul says ‘they are joyous in Moscow’

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America's former ambassador to Russia explained how their state media is celebrating President Donald Trump's capitulation in Ukraine and Syria.

Ambassador Michael McFaul was interviewed Wednesday by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"How do you think this should play out, now that they are assembling step-by-step insider accounts with people who are bravely stepping forward, some giving up their careers, Mike McKinley and others having had to quit over this," Mitchell noted. "How do you think this plays out legally or in terms of the politics of impeachment?"

"Well, legally, I’ll defer to others who are more expert. I think what it does underscore is how grossly inept and just broken down the Trump foreign policymaking process is," McFaul replied.

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Sorry, Ellen and Mayor Pete — but no: We’re not ready to forgive Trump voters

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The last question of Tuesday night's Democratic debate appears to have really teed people off.  After three hours of a debate that had, as former HUD Secretary Julián Castro noted on Twitter, "no questions tonight about climate, housing or immigration," Anderson Cooper decided to cap things off with a truly saccharine dose of pablum.

This article was originally published at Salon

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