In brief: Japanese monkeys show signs of radiation

FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014

Tokyo – Wild Japanese monkeys near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have lower blood cell counts than similar monkeys who lived almost 200 miles away, according to biologists.

In a paper published Thursday in Scientific Reports, researchers tested Japanese macaques captured and killed in a forest about 40 miles from the power plant and compared the results to macaques in Shimokita Peninsula, a remote area in the country’s north.

According to researchers, monkeys in the vicinity of Fukushima City had detectable levels of radioactive cesium in their muscles, while the northern monkeys did not. Researchers also found that the Fukushima simians had significantly lower white and red blood cell counts compared with macaque troops almost 200 miles away.

“These results suggest that the exposure to some form of radioactive material contributed to hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys,” argued the study’s lead author, Kazuhiko Ochiai, a researcher at Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo, and colleagues.

The Fukushima nuclear plant released a large amount of radioactive material into the environment following a massive Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Kurdish politician named Iraqi president

Baghdad – Iraq’s parliament appointed a new president Thursday as lawmakers inched closer to forming a new government.

Veteran Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum, 76, was chosen as Iraq’s second president, a largely ceremonial post in the Iraqi governing structure. He prevailed in a runoff parliamentary vote that saw most of his opponents withdraw after the first round.

A former lecturer and instructor at the University of Basra with a degree from the Arab world’s elite Islamic studies institution Al-Azhar, Massoum is a member and mainstay of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party, a major Kurdish faction.

Under a power-sharing agreement forged in the wake of the 2003, U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, the president must come from the Kurdish bloc, with a Sunni head of parliament and a Shiite prime minister.


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