Daily Digest: Daiichi could rival Chernobyl, Mpls gun violence, breast milk online and chocolate milk in the schools

Jessica Van Berkel

 

About a month after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, a re-evaluation of the impact on Fukushima Daiichi power plant rated it among the worst international disasters ever – on par with Chernobyl.

The level of radioactive material that has leaked from the Japan plant is about 10 percent of what was seen in the 1986 disaster in present-day Ukraine, an official from the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told the New York Times. But that’s just a snapshot, and an official from the Daiichi plant said the continuing radiation leak could end up worse than what was recorded after Chernobyl.

Workers remain onsite, trying to contain the spread of materials. The success of their efforts is difficult to quantify, the Times reports, with one government official stating the level could be three times higher or lower than the current guess.

 

In case you missed it (like I did) Minnesota Public Radio did a riveting four-month investigation into gun violence in Minneapolis. It exposes that most guns used in the city aren’t attained legally, and looks into police attempts to create harsher sentences for gun crime.

MPR shows the scarring legacy of gun-linked murders through the story of Princess Titus, whose 16-year-old son was killed by gang members in north Minneapolis. Last year, of Minneapolis’ 30 gun-related homicides, more than half were in north.

The four-part series leaves the streets of Minneapolis and investigates the debate in Washington, D.C. between people working for greater gun restriction and guns rights activists.

 

“It just creeped me out, giving my daughter someone else’s breast milk,” Suzanne Terry told the Washington Post. But nonetheless, she has started purchasing breast milk from other mothers through online “milk-sharing” communities, where mothers who are unable to provide milk, and don’t want to bottle-feed their kids, have started migrating.

The recommendation from various medical officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, that breast milk is the most nourishing option for children bumps up against an FDA recommendation against purchasing milk from an unscreened donor (due to the dangers of disease or drug contaminants) – leaving mothers in a bind.

But the online sharing trend may be growing, and one Facebook group, Eats on Feets, has grown to 120 chapters in the past four months. This all follows a general breastfeeding increase, from 22 percent of U.S. moms in 1972 to 75 percent in 2007.

 

On another milk-related note, the Post reports that some schools near D.C. have started banning the sale of chocolate milk. In another catch-22, without the sweetened, sugary version of the drink, some students stop purchasing it altogether. So, Vitamin D and calcium + sugar and fat, or just cut the first half of that equation?

Some producers are reworking the chocolate milk formula, but others say the new versions do little to cut calories.