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2010s Portal

The 2010s, pronounced "twenty-tens" or "two thousand (and) tens", is the current decade. It began on January 1, 2010, and will end on December 31, 2019.

The decade brought the continuation of US military involvement, both in direct combat and through foreign bases, in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Sahara, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, the Caribbean and Central America. In 2011, the U.S. Navy SEALS assassinated Osama bin Laden in a raid on his Abbottabad compound and buried his body at sea. Online nonprofit organisation WikiLeaks gained international attention for publishing classified information on topics including Guantánamo Bay, Syria, the Afghan and Iraq wars, and United States diplomacy. The website's editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, was granted political asylum by Ecuador, while the United States accused Chelsea Manning of leaking classified information and conducted a court-martial. Elsewhere, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on NSA global surveillance.

The 2010s began amid a global financial crisis dating from the late 2000s. The European sovereign-debt crisis, which stemmed from these economic problems, became more pronounced and continued to affect the possibility of a global economic recovery. Austerity policies particularly affected Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Such policies were among factors that led to the 15-M and Occupy movements. Other economic issues, such as inflation and an increase in commodity prices, led to unrest in many lower-income countries. Unrest in some countries — particularly in the Arab world — evolved into socio-economic crises triggering revolutions in Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, as well as civil war in Libya and Syria, in a widespread phenomenon — commonly referred to in the Western world as the Arab Spring — which continues as of October 2015.

World leaders Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jong-il and Hugo Chávez died. Other major international events this decade include the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, the Northern Mali conflict, the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013, the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution , the 2014 Iraq offensive, and the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

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The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (福島第一原子力発電所事故 Fukushima Dai-ichi (About this sound pronunciation) genshiryoku hatsudensho jiko?) was a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors. At the time of the quake, Reactor 4 had been de-fueled while 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance. Immediately after the earthquake, the remaining reactors 1-3 shut down automatically, and emergency generators came online to control electronics and coolant systems. However the tsunami following the earthquake quickly flooded the low-lying rooms in which the emergency generators were housed. The flooded generators failed, cutting power to the critical pumps that must continuously circulate coolant water through a nuclear reactor to keep it from melting down. As the pumps stopped, the reactors overheated due to the high radioactive decay heat that normally continues for hours or days after a nuclear reactor shuts down.

At this point, only prompt flooding of the reactors with seawater could have cooled the reactors quickly enough to prevent meltdown. Salt water flooding was delayed because it would ruin the costly reactors permanently. Flooding with seawater was finally commenced only after the government ordered that seawater be used, and at this point it was already too late to prevent meltdown.

As the water boiled away and levels in the fuel rods pools dropped, they began to overheat severely, and to melt down. In the hours and days that followed, Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced full meltdown.

In the intense heat and pressure of the melting reactors, a reaction between the nuclear fuel metal cladding and the remaining water surrounding them produced explosive hydrogen gas. As workers struggled to cool and shut down the reactors, several hydrogen-air chemical explosions occurred.

Concerns about the repeated small explosions, the atmospheric venting of radioactive gasses, and the possibility of larger explosions led to a 20 km (12 mi)-radius evacuation around the plant. During the early days of the accident workers were temporarily evacuated at various times for radiation safety reasons. At the same time, sea water that had been exposed to the melting rods was returned to the sea heated and radioactive in large volumes for several months until recirculating units could be put in place to repeatedly cool and re-use a limited quantity of water for cooling. The earthquake damage and flooding in the wake of the tsunami hindered external assistance. Electrical power was slowly restored for some of the reactors, allowing for automated cooling.

Japanese officials initially assessed the accident as Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) despite the views of other international agencies that it should be higher. The level was later raised to 5 and eventually to 7, the maximum scale value. The Japanese government and TEPCO have been criticized in the foreign press for poor communication with the public and improvised cleanup efforts. On 20 March, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that the plant would be decommissioned once the crisis was over.

The Japanese government estimates the total amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere was approximately one-tenth as much as was released during the Chernobyl disaster. Significant amounts of radioactive material have also been released into ground and ocean waters. Measurements taken by the Japanese government 30–50 km from the plant showed caesium-137 levels high enough to cause concern, leading the government to ban the sale of food grown in the area. Tokyo officials temporarily recommended that tap water should not be used to prepare food for infants. In May 2012, TEPCO reported that at least 900 PBq had been released "into the atmosphere in March last year [2011] alone" although it has been said staff may have been told to lie, and give false readings to try and cover up true levels of radiation.

A few of the plant's workers were severely injured or killed by the disaster conditions resulting from the earthquake. There were no immediate deaths due to direct radiation exposures, but at least six workers have exceeded lifetime legal limits for radiation and more than 300 have received significant radiation doses. Predicted future cancer deaths due to accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima have ranged from none to 100 to a non-peer-reviewed "guesstimate" of 1,000. On 16 December 2011, Japanese authorities declared the plant to be stable, although it would take decades to decontaminate the surrounding areas and to decommission the plant altogether. On July 5, 2012, the parliament appointed The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) submitted its inquiry report to the Japanese parliament, while the government appointed Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company submitted its final report to the Japanese government on July 23, 2012. Tepco admitted for the first time on October 12, 2012 that it had failed to take stronger measures to prevent disasters for fear of inviting lawsuits or protests against its nuclear plants.

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Malala Yousafzai (Pashto: ملاله یوسفزۍMalālah Yūsafzay, born 12 July 1997) is a school student and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She is known for her education and women's rights activism in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. In early 2009, at the age of 11/12, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region, culminating in the Second Battle of Swat. Yousafzai began to rise in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television and taking a position as chairperson of the District Child Assembly Swat. She has since been nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu and has won Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize. A number of prominent individuals, including the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, are supporting a petition to nominate Yousafzai for the Nobel Peace Prize.

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation. On 12 October, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin.

Former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a United Nations petition in Yousafzai's name, using the slogan "I am Malala" and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. Brown said he would hand the petition to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari in November. UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has announced that November 10 will be celebrated as Malala Day.


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