By Luisa Frey
♦ Aid workers’ comparison of typhoon Haiyan’s devastation in the Philippines with the one after 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is “daunting”, says Shawn Donnan. It raises questions about whether the world has learned lessons and will apply them now.
♦ In Europe, Germany’s “holy trinity” – tight monetary policy, export-led growth and financial system dominated by small banks – came under fire last week from the ECB and the European Commission, comment’s Peter Spiegel in Brussels.
♦ Three hospitals in northern Israel have been treating severely wounded Syrians, reports FT’s John Reed. Some of the wounded are civilians, while others acknowledge affiliation with the Free Syrian Arming fighting Bashar al-Assad.
♦ Outside private funds are helping sustain the Syrian conflict, writes The New York Times. They exacerbate divisions in the opposition and strengthen its most extreme elements.
♦ Mike Giglio, from BuzzFeed, tells the story of a Syrian activist who believes the revolution is already lost.
♦ Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s organisation Setad has been used to amass assets worth tens of billions of dollars. Its holdings rival the ones of the late shah and support Khamenei’s power over the country, according to Reuters.
Few can now doubt that Japan’s economy, hardly in the most robust of shapes anyway, has taken a battering from last year’s tsunami. On Monday, data showed that output fell between October and December for the third time in four quarters as companies battled a perfect storm of problems.
I have just returned from a trip to Tohoku, the north-east region of Japan pulverised by the worst tsunami and earthquake to hit the country in decades. More than 20,000 people are dead or missing and some of the coastal towns in the worst-affected areas lost up to 10 per cent of their inhabitants. Some 200,000 homes and shops have been washed away, nearly 80 per cent of the buildings in some places.
There had been hope that the shock would jolt some sense into Japan’s politicians. Sadly, that seems not to have occurred.
We are borrowing Gideon’s blog to cover Japan’s earthquake. I am Shannon Bond in New York and I have taken over from Alan Rappeport and, earlier, Leyla Boulton in London. We are tapping our correspondents around the world. Please keep your comments coming. All times are London time.
2330 – We’re suspending rolling coverage until our colleagues in Asia are able to join us once again. Stay tuned.
2328 – More from Michiyo Nakamoto in Tokyo, who has spoken to sources at Tepco: Pressure in units 1,2,3 at Fukushima Nuclear power plant Number 1 has risen in the primary containment vessel but unable to confirm the level. All units almost completely sealed. The government has ordered Tepco to release the pressure and Tepco is preparing to do so. There is no electricity so unable to cool. All units at Fukushima Number 2 power plant shut down but all units apart from those that had been under maintenance are still functioning.
2319 - Reuters quotes a Tepco spokesman saying that pressure is stable inside the reactors but rising in the containment vessels. He said he did not know if there would be a need to release pressure – and radiation – at the plant at this point.