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Japan Sets New Radiation Limits for Seafood, Italy Recognizes Libyan Rebels

Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images Horse mackerels are displayed at a supermarket in Tokyo on April 5, 2011. Japan started dumping 11,500 tons of low-level radioactive water at sea to free up storage space at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant for more highly contaminated water. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

As radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific Ocean near the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the Japanese government has created new radiation level standards for seafood. Contamination in the water is several million times the standard limit, but officials say the type of radioactivity released disperses quickly over time.

A reading Tuesday showed radiation levels in water on the plant’s compound as high as 7.5 times the legal limit, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company. Tepco is quick to point out that the levels are sharply lower farther from the plant. The dumping of more than 10,000 tons of radioactive water into the ocean continues as officials work to dispose of the water surrounding the affected reactors.

Some fish caught in the area have already tested at levels higher than those outlined in the new guidelines. In addition to fishing, the Fukushima prefecture has a concentration of agricultural production, a further blow to its recovery from the already devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Residents of a 12-mile radius of the crippled plant could be homeless for months.

Libyan Opposition Recognized by Italy, Kuwait May Follow

Following in the footsteps of France and Qatar, Italy recognized the Libyan rebels as the legitimate government of Libya, adding to their diplomatic credentials as they continued to battle Moammar Gadhafi’s forces on the ground.

The rebels rejected a rumored plan to have Gadhafi’s sons take power and oversee a transition. Although Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was seen as more of a reformer than his father, he has also been a public defender of the regime throughout the crisis.

On the battlefield, an intensive artillery bombardment pushed rebels back at the oil port of Brega, the site of much of the most intense fighting in recent days, and a further indication that Gadhafi’s heavily armed forces remain intact. Fighting also continued in the western city of Misrata, which has been under attack by the government for weeks.

Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo Hunkered in Residence

Forces supporting democratically elected President Alassane Outtara have been advancing through cities in Ivory Coast in an effort to force incumbent Laurent Gbagbo out. They have seized his home in Abidjan, but Gbagbo has refused to leave office since United Nations-recognized elections in November. Hundreds have died in the violence.

France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppe, said there were negotiations underway to arrange for a possible exit for Gbagbo. The French military, which has maintained a peacekeeping presence in the country since 1960, when Ivory Coast became independent, has been authorized to assist foreigners as well as a series of U.N. raids on Gbagbo’s assets. On Monday, U.N. helicopters targeted an arsenal belonging to Gbagbo.

Yemen Unrest Raises Terrorism Concerns

As protests calling for the departure of Yemen’s longstanding president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, have grown, analysts say counterterrorism efforts have declined. Yemen, home to an off-shoot known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been allied with the United States in efforts to halt plots similar to the failed 2009 Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner and package bombs in cargo planes in October 2010, both of which were attributed to the group. Some fear anarchy within Yemen, and the continued weakening of its government will only reinforce its reputation as a haven for terror groups.

Security forces reportedly fired on protesters again Tuesday in the southern city of Taiz.

Read more on the growing conflict in Yemen.

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