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Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise. The vessel had appeared to be the last fully intact line of defense against large-scale releases of radioactive materials from that reactor, but it was not clear how serious the possible breach might be. The announcement came after Japanese broadcasters showed live footage of thick plumes of steam rising above the plant. Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said the government believed the steam was coming from the No. 3 reactor, where an explosion on Monday blew out part of the building surrounding the containment vessel.

The reactor has three layers of protection: that building; the containment vessel, and the metal cladding around fuel rods, which are inside the reactor. Satellite Photos - Japan Before and After Tsunami - Interactive Feature. French News Web Site Shakes Up Sarkozy Camp. In an intensifying drama over accusations of political corruption, a news Web site called Mediapart this week published its most incendiary article yet, accusing Mr.

French News Web Site Shakes Up Sarkozy Camp

Sarkozy of receiving illegal donations from , the 87-year-old heiress to the L’Oréal fortune, during his 2007 election campaign. Spokesmen for Mr. Sarkozy have issued vehement denials. On Thursday, they said that the source of the accusations, a former accountant to Ms. Bettencourt, had partly recanted in testimony to the police. Has Twitter Really Reached a Tipping Point?