A video of a man nervously drinking a glass of water on live TV is flooding social media. After the government said water from the flooded basement of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant had been decontaminated, a journalist dared Japanese politician Yasuhiro Sonoda to drink it. The plant, which suffered meltdowns after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, originally wanted to pump the excess water into the sea. But after objections from the local fishing community, plant officials decided to use the excess water on the compound's greenery. After Sonoda, a local politician, drank the water in what was called a "tense scene," he said, "Just drinking decontaminated water doesn't mean safety has been confirmed. Presenting data to the public is the best way." When John Large, a British nuclear expert, heard of Sonoda's actions he told the New York Times, "Oh God ... That is incredibly foolhardy and somewhat patronizing to members of the public." The story reminds many of Britain's Agriculture Minister John Gummer, who attempted to quell public fears about mad-cow disease. In a photo-op in 1990 to assure the country of the safety of its beef, Gummer tried to get his 4-year-old daughter to eat a hamburger in front of the media. After the girl refused, Gummer downed the burger himself. What do you think of politicians using photo-ops to try to prove a point? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter!
Social media has been key in getting the word out about the Occupy Wall Street movement around the nation. But in Portland, Oregon, the police have turned the tables. They're using Facebook to post mug shots of arrested protesters, and now the police are coming under fire. The comments on the mug shots have been mostly negative, calling the photos "disgusting" and "an incredible violation of privacy," especially because the protests have been mostly peaceful. Others protest supporters have thanked the Portland Police Department on Facebook because, they say, the photos give the movement more publicity. In a Facebook post, the Portland Police Bureau defended its actions saying, "This is not a new procedure. The Police Bureau receives daily requests for arrest information from the public as well as the media. Many of these cases are of high public interest and, as such, information is distributed widely through news releases, the Portland Police Bureau webpage, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook." The Police Bureau also said it's proud of its lack of violence toward protesters, comparing itself to Oakland, California, police using rubber bullets on demonstrators.
- John Gummer