Nuclear Cleanup — The New York Times sheds light on the lack of progress in Japan’s nuclear cleanup, nearly two years after the meltdown in Fukushima. The post-Fukushima cleanup, writes the Times, “remains primitive, slapdash and bereft of the cleanup methods lauded by government scientists as effective in removing harmful radioactive cesium from the environment.” Much of the central and local governments’ decontamination effort of $11.4 billion (1 trillion yen) has been given to the country’s largest construction firms that have little radiological cleanup expertise. Another concern is the lack of concrete plans on storing the large amounts of contaminated soil and leaves generated by the cleanup.
Labor Camp Reforms — The Chinese government announced it will soon end its practice of sending petty criminals and dissidents to forced labor camps, reports the South China Morning Post. China’s security chief Meng Jianzhu said the “reeducation through labor,” or laojiao, system would be abolished after the National People’s Congress rubber-stamps the proposal in March. Beijing has yet to offer more details on reforming its labor camps, which were established by Mao Zedong in the 1950s to control “class enemies.” Chinese media has reported that roughly 160,000 prisoners were held at labor camps at the end of 2008, notes NPR.
Reykjavik’s Recovery — The BBC examines how Iceland has been able to pull off an economic recovery after the collapse of its banking system in 2008. Cutting the country’s dependence on banking and finance and fostering its renewable energy industry have been crucial in lifting Iceland out of the crisis, notes the British broadcaster. Today the island country’s average annual growth rate of 2.5% is the envy of other European nations.