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Tsunami projections offer bleak fate for many Japanese towns

KUROSHIO, Japan — The simulations shocked this sleepy community nestled on the tip of Japan’s Shikoku island: A huge undersea quake could bring a tsunami as high as 112 feet here, a government-appointed expert panel said.

“We’d never make it if such big waves came,” said Hachiro Okumoto, 70, a fisherman who has worked off the Kuroshio coast for half a century. “It would be a wall of water. It would block out the sun.”

Just a year after a tsunami destroyed much of Japan’s northern Pacific coast, an updated hazard map detailing the damage that could be unleashed by another quake of a similar magnitude has been met with alarm across the country.

The new simulations take into account the lessons learned from the 9.0-magnitude temblor that hit off the Japanese archipelago in March last year. The fault lines in this seismically volatile region could cause far-bigger earthquakes than previously thought possible, spawning tsunamis affecting a far wider — and far more populous — area than the one last year.

—Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

Titanic becomes a tourist attraction on the ocean floor

Explorers and United States government experts have put together the first comprehensive map of the Titanic’s resting place as a guide to better understanding the liner’s death throes and better preserving its remains.

Already, knowing the exact positions of thousands of parts, structures and artifacts has allowed the government and the International Maritime Organization to draw up recommendations for the operation of the mini-submarines that ferry tourists more than two miles down to the bottom of the North Atlantic for a glimpse of the great ship.

“People have the right to see, explore and learn,” said James P. Delgado, director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors the wreck. “But you want to put down guidelines like those at Gettysburg and the Acropolis, so visitors can experience it in the same way.”

Meanwhile, the tourist submarines have a history of damaging delicate artifacts, threatening to accelerate the wreck’s demise.

Starting in 2004, the U.S. sought to forge an agreement with France, Canada and Britain to find ways to protect the ship’s remains.

Then, in 2010, federal experts joined with RMS Titanic on an expedition to do extensive mapping. The technical muscle behind the effort came from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, which originally helped find the doomed liner.

—William J. Broad, The New York Times

A grand jury won’t convene in Trayvon Martin case in Florida

MIAMI — Angela B. Corey, a Republican state attorney with a reputation for toughness, has decided not to seek a grand jury review of the Trayvon Martin shooting, keeping the resolution of a case that has transfixed the nation solely in her hands.

Corey, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case by Florida’s governor and attorney general, must decide how to proceed with the case, in which many facts are in dispute and no witnesses have come forward publicly. She alone must determine whether to file charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator who shot and killed the unarmed Martin, or to drop the case.

The decision puts Corey not only at the center of a national discussion of race and violence — Zimmerman, 28, is Hispanic; Martin, 17, was black — but also of the finer points of law. The fact that no arrest has been made nor legal action taken in the Feb. 26 shooting has enraged many people across the country and has led to angry marches and protests.

The pressure to bring charges is “unbelievable,” said Tor J. Friedman, a criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee, Fla.

“We always talk about a rush to judgment in other cases,” he said, but in this case the question is more like, “Why wasn’t this person taken to the town square and flogged in front of everybody?”’

—Lizette Alvarez and John Schwartz, The New York Times

NEA is said to plan big cuts
in aid for PBS arts shows

The National Endowment for the Arts, a major supporter of PBS shows devoted to performing arts and independent documentaries, is proposing substantial cuts in their financing.

Collectively, the cuts, which will not be official until April 25, would strip more than $1 million in federal production aid from PBS shows, which have been hard-pressed for financing in recent years. The money falls under the NEA’s 2012 Arts in Media grant program.

The NEA began notifying applicants by mail late last week of the grant amounts they could expect. According to public television executives apprised of the numbers, who would not speak for attribution because the figures were confidential, “Great Performances” and “American Masters” were told they would receive $50,000 each in the 2012 financing cycle, down from $400,000 each in 2011. The 2011 figures are in the public record.

The independent documentary series, “Independent Lens,” was told it would get $50,000, down from $170,000, while the documentary series “POV” learned it would receive $100,000, down from $250,000.

Art21, producer of “Art in the Twenty-First Century,” is expecting $200,000, down from the $290,000 it was awarded in 2011 (including money from a separate pool for education grants). San Francisco’s KQED, which received $200,000 in 2011 for its PBS music series “Sound Tracks,” was turned down after requesting $350,000 but encouraged to reapply for 2013, KQED officials said.

Executives at the affected shows expressed disappointment. Neal Shapiro, president and chief executive of New York public media provider WNET, which produces the biography program “American Masters” and the performing arts show “Great Performances,” called the loss of NEA money “damaging.”

—Elizabeth Jensen, The New York Times