Strong quake hits northern Japan, but no tsunami follows

A strong earthquake has struck Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, but authorities say there is no danger of a tsunami and there are no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Japan’s Meteorological Agency says the quake had a magnitude of 6.4 and hit at 11:17 P.M. yesterday in the Tokachi region in southern Hokkaido, at a depth of 120 kilometers. The U.S Geological Survey says the quake’s magnitude was 6.9. Japanese public broadcaster NHK says nearby nuclear power plants, including Tomari and Higashidori, which are currently idled for safety inspections, have reported no abnormalities.

Weather-predicting groundhog foresees early spring

An end to winter’s bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania’s famous prognosticating groundhog. Following a stretch of weather that has included temperatures well below freezing, record warmth, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair yesterday in front of thousands but didn’t see his shadow. Legend has it that if the rodent sees his shadow on February 2 on Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.