_ US RUSHES FRESH WATER TO HELP STRICKEN NUCLEAR PLANT. U.S. naval barges loaded with fresh water speed toward Japan's overheated nuclear plant to help workers who are scrambling to stem a worrying rise in radioactivity and remove dangerously contaminated water from the facility. Workers at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have been pumping seawater in a frantic bid to stabilize reactors that went haywire after a tsunami knocked out the complex's crucial cooling system earlier this month. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. is now rushing to inject the reactors with fresh water instead amid concerns about the corrosive nature of the salt in seawater, Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency says. Defense Minister Yoshimi Kitazawa says the U.S. government has made "an extremely urgent" request to switch to freshwater. He says the U.S. military is sending water to nearby Onahama Bay and will begin water injections early next week.
_ DISASTER DEATH TOLL MORE THAN 10,000. The official death toll from the disaster stands at 10,151, with more than 17,000 listed as missing, police say. The final death toll is expected to top 18,000. Hundreds of thousands whose homes were destroyed still have no power, no hot meals and, in many cases, have not showered in two weeks.
_ HONDA SAYS LACK OF PARTS MAY AFFECT NORTH AMERICA PLANTS. Production will likely be interrupted at Honda Motor Co.'s six North America plants after April 1 due to a lack of critical parts as Japanese suppliers work to recover from earthquake and tsunami damage, the automaker says. Interruptions are expected at Honda's two Ohio plants and at plants in Alabama, Indiana, Canada and Mexico until the issues are resolved, says spokesman Jeffrey Smith. Honda says workers at the plants were informed Friday. The company says on its website that a few suppliers in Japan are still working to re-establish operations, and that Honda is looking for other possible supply sources.
_ GM TO RESTART SHUT PICKUP PLANT IN LOUISIANA. General Motors will resume regular production at its pickup plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Monday, a week after the company shut it down and blamed a shortage of parts from Japan. Doug Ebey, head of the United Auto Workers local, says the 800 employees at the Louisiana plant will resume their normal four-day work week on March 28. GM also confirmed the plant is reopening.
_ MAJOR LABELS JOIN FOR COMPILATION FOR JAPAN. The four major record labels have joined together to produce an all-star digital album to raise money for Japan. "Songs for Japan" will feature Lady Gaga's No. 1 hit "Born This Way," John Lennon's classic "Imagine" and dozens more songs from acts ranging from Adele to Eminem. The compilation was announced Friday by Sony Entertainment Music, EMI Music and Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. It's available starting Friday on iTunes for $9.99. Proceeds from the 38-track set will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society. A physical two-disc CD will be available early next month.