Balancing act in tumultuous times

March 18, 2011 1:43:19 PM PDT
The world's always in chaos. But sometimes the chaos is more acute and obvious than at other times. These times are some of those times.

Today especially. Japan's quake-tsunami-nuclear crisis. Bloodshed in Yemen. And a lot of chest-thumping and war-mongering talk in Libya.

It's dangerous for the people involved to be sure. But it's also dangerous for the rest of us. If not physically, then certainly psychologically.

Anxiety and stress affect all of us, and in ways that aren't always obvious.

We're aware of it as we gather and report the day's news, and we're aware of just how much dreadful news any audience can stomach.

That said, we'll have the latest from Japan tonight at 11, where the effort continues to bring electricity back to the crippled nuclear power plants, and get the water flowing again into the overheating nuclear fuel rod containers. There is word as I write this, that a power line has been established. Good news in a situation that has had a flood of bad news.

We're also following the tense situation in Libya, which has decided to call a ceasefire against its own people who are rebelling. It happened after the U.N. Security Council voted to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The move by dictator Moammar Gadhafi reminds us a little of how Saddam Hussein would react when U.N. weapons inspectors would tell the Security Council that the Iraqi President was not allowing them in. The Council would threaten military action, then Hussein would suddenly allow some inspections.

Will Gadhafi really comply? President Obama this afternoon made it clear that if "all attacks against civilians" don't stop, the "international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action."

Earlier today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put her foot into the muck when she implied that regime change, not stopping the killing, was the goal. "We will continue," Clinton said, "to work with our partners ?. To press Gadhafi to leave and to support the legitimate aspirations to the Libyan people."

Press Gadhafi to leave? Nowhere is that language in the Security Council, and it raised questions and eyebrows.

We're also following the increasingly sharp debate over nuclear power safety in this country - and especially at Indian Point, the nuclear plant just 40 miles north of New York (or, as Mayor Bloomberg describes it, "far away" from the City). Gov. Cuomo has called for a review, and now also taking action is Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He says federal regulators have ignored the plants' earthquake safety during the relicensing process.

Two of the plant's reactors are up for relicensing in the next few years.

Indian Point is near the 185-mile-long Ramapo earthquake fault, which has had quakes measuring more than a 4.3 magnitude. Entergy, the company that operates the plant, claims Indian Point can withstand a 6.0 quake.

The problem, of course, is that the downside of the industry being wrong is far greater than the downside if nuclear power critics are wrong.

That's the bottom line.

Meanwhile, for those old enough to remember, the nuclear power debate was at one time as contentious and emotional as, say, the debate of abortion. And with the disaster in Japan, it could very well become that way again.

We'll have the latest, at 11.

And under the heading, a whole lot of chutzpah - the conservative video activist James O'Keefe, who has made a name for himself posing as someone he's not and stinging groups like Planned Parenthood and Acorn, on undercover camera, apparently is a little thin-skinned when it comes to getting taped himself. He spoke at a Tea Party event in New Jersey last night, and told organizers to turn away a videographer with the Asbury Park Press. Charming.

And finally, Nina Pineda takes on the red-light cameras. If you've ever gotten a ticket via one of these cameras - well, you're not alone. Last year in New York City, a million drivers paid $55.4 million for "running" red lights - meaning they at least drove through an intersection after the light turned yellow. But sometimes, the camera does lie. Tonight, one local driver refused to pay the $75 fine, and instead turned into Nina and got 7 On Your Side.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.


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