Scores feared dead in Indonesian landslides after heavy rain

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Heavy rains in western Indonesia have triggered landslides across the region that have killed dozens of people. Meanwhile, other areas were devastated by major flooding, with water reaching two metres high in some locations.

Search and rescue chief Eko Prayitno in Java told reporters that police, soldiers and volounteers were working together to attempt to reach survivors, some digging with their hands or traditional tools. Heavy equipment is available and efforts are underway to get it into place, he said, but blocked roads are making such efforts difficult.

Prayitno also said that a single landslide in the Karanganyar region buried 61 people who were attending a dinner to celebrate a successful clean up of a house affected by another landslide, which had caused no injuries. “They were having dinner together when they were hit by another landslide… At least 61 people were buried.” Landslides affected the region over a four hour period from 01:00 a.m. to 05:00 a.m. local time. Meanwhile, seventeen people are feared dead in the neighbouring district of Wonogiri, which has also been hit by landslides after twelve hours of nonstop torrential rain.

Andi Mallarangeng, spokesperson for president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told reporters “The president sends his deep condolence, and has ordered Home Minister [Mardiono] to inspect the scene [in Karanganyar] and monitor the emergency responses.”

Many fleeing residents have attempted to salvage their possessions, with some using tyres to float television sets and refrigerators to dry ground. Another single massive slide in Tawangmangu, a mountainous resort, buried 37. Metro TV News was told by an eyewitness, identified only as Karsidi, that “Those people were gathering for a tea break during communal works after the rains, and suddenly the land collapsed onto them.”

The affected regions spread across Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi. The population distribution in Indonesia has worsened the situation, with many people living on river flood plains to utilise the fertile soil and many more living in inaccessible mountain regions. The total death toll is estimated at up to 81 people, and eyewitnesses and local media report that thousands of homes are affected.

Landslides are common in Indonesia, where large-scale rainfall is a regular occurrence. This is often exacerbated by deforestation. However, Heru, head of the local disaster coordinator agency in Karang Anyar, commented that “The forest in the area is thick,” and consequently he did not believe deforestation was a causal factor. The region he is responsible for has recorded 36 deaths and 30 more buried in thick mud near the banks of the Bengawan Solo river. Meanwhile Julianto, another provincial government official, said “The landslides took us by surprise. This is the first time in the last 25 years anything of this scale occurred here in Central Java.”

Julianto also commented that thousands of people displaced from their homes by flooding and landslides have been forced into temporary accommodation in buildings and tents provided by emergency response teams.

Today’s disasters coincide with the third anniversary of the Asian tsunami, which killed an estimated 230,000 people. A tsunami drill on Java was unaffected as the seasonal poor weather did not have an adverse affect on the area of the drill.

Hundreds of lawsuits filed against music sharers in US

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed 757 lawsuits against people who they alleged illegally shared music online. The vast majority of the lawsuits, 693, are against people who used peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as eDonkey and LimeWire to exchange music files. Of the remaining lawsuits, 64 are against students at 17 different universities who used the Abilene Network and a peer-to-peer file sharing program called i2hub.

The i2hub program is designed for use in sharing files over the Abilene Network. The Abilene Network is a high speed network in use by 207 U.S. universities. It was designed by Internet2 to provide a high speed alternative for researchers and other educators to share information. The Abilene Network allows for very high speed connections, many times faster than DSL or Cable connections. The RIAA became a corporate member of Internet2 two weeks ago.

Over the past two years, the RIAA has filed more than 14,800 lawsuits against people accused of illegally sharing music online. Over 3,400 of these cases were settled for an average of between $4,000 to $5,000 each. Almost 500 of these lawsuits were against students using the Internet2 network.

US clinic plans first face transplant

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

US doctors are to interview 12 patients with a view to performing the first ever transplant of a human face.

The Cleveland Clinic will choose between seven women and five men to find the person most suited for the experimental procedure, which is a radical and controversial solution to extreme facial scarring or disfigurement.

Having practiced the procedure on bodies donated for medical research, the Cleveland Clinic team believe they have a 50% chance of success. The procedure will not live up to science-fiction predictions and give the recipient the appearance of the donor; the underlying bone structure is the deciding factor in the final appearance. The new face will end up resembling neither the donor nor recipient.

Surgeons in several other countries have announced being ready to perform this procedure in the past. However, the risk and non life-threatening nature of disfigurement have meant that gaining approval for the groundbreaking surgery has been difficult. Like many other transplant operations, the recipient would be required to take drugs to prevent tissue rejection for the remainder of their life. These drugs can have side effects and carry their own risks involving the patient’s immune system.

Oil spill reported in Gulf of Mexico

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

At least 21,000 gallons of crude oil has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico near the United States mainland coast, about 30 miles off the shore of Galveston, Texas. The U.S. Coast Guard says that oil is still leaking at a rate of 80 to 400 gallons a day.

The High Island Pipeline began to leak on Sunday and was immediately shut down when a pressure loss was detected. The pipeline is owned by Plains All American Pipeline who state that the incident is “under investigation” and that officials are working to “minimize the impact of the incident.”

“A medium crude oil pipeline ruptured 30 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas, and leaked approximately 21,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, December 24,” said a press release by Coast Guard.

“There’s a 60-yard-wide oil sheen that extends for about half a mile. It is still leaking slowly, about 80 to 400 gallons a day,” added the Coast Guard.

Reports say that the oil is traveling away from any shoreline and that remaining oil is being suctioned out of the pipeline. Ships in the area have not been diverted.

“All appropriate agencies have been notified. Plains, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Texas General Land Office are working within a unified command system consisting of Federal and state agencies and oil spill response organizations to manage and mitigate this incident. In addition, Plains has activated its spill response plan to contain and clean up the spill. At present, Plains has mobilized Airborne Support, Inc., Clean Gulf Associates and other additional resources in an effort to minimize the consequences of the incident,” said a press release by the Plains oil company.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

US Defense Secretary Gates to seek extra aid for Afghanistan

Thursday, October 22, 2009

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates flew to Slovakia on Wednesday, to ask NATO defense ministers to help the United States respond to the request for more resources made by the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Gates told reporters on his aircraft that he believed it makes sense to have these talks now, because he said the effort to stabilize and develop Afghanistan is a NATO mission, not just one for the US.

“This is an alliance issue and my view all along has been we ought to do this in a way that if General McChrystal has an additional set of needs, it should not be looked upon as exclusively the responsibility of the United States to respond,” the defense secretary remarked.

Gates said that since the NATO summit last spring he has seen “more energy and more commitment” among NATO nations to doing what is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. He described current consultations with NATO allies as “intense.” General McChrystal says the allied effort could fail to prevent a militant takeover in Afghanistan unless he is given more resources. In a secret request, he is believed to be asking for 40,000 or more additional troops, on top of 68,000 U.S. and nearly 40,000 coalition troops already there. President Barack Obama is expected to decide on any additional US deployment soon.

Gates added that he wanted his NATO counterparts to consider what additional commitments they can also make to help reverse gains made by the Taliban and similar groups in recent years.

“My hope is that we can have a serious discussion about how things have changed in Afghanistan since last spring, and a way forward in which the alliance can share these responsibilities and work with the Afghan government to move the situation in a more positive direction,” he said.

But the secretary noted that all contributions to the Afghanistan effort do not have to be military. He said he headed for Bratislava with a “menu of options” for allies to consider, and that much of the capability General McChrystal wanted is not controversial, such as civilian assistance, training, and financing for development projects.

Speaking early on Thursday during a visit to South Korea, Gates also welcomed the decision to hold a runoff to decide the Afghan presidential election, saying all nations involved have an interest in a smooth process to provide the winning candidate with as much legitimacy as possible.

“I think virtually all of the nations that increased their troop presence to provide security for the elections in August have kept those forces there and so are in a position to try and, along with their Afghan Army and police counterparts, provide as good a security as possible for the [runoff] elections,” he said.

Gates, however, noted that will not end problems of corruption and weak governance in Afghanistan. He said the international community will still have much work to do with any new government in Kabul to provide the kind of stability, security and services that will have a chance of convincing the Afghan people to support the government, rather than the militants of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Actions To Take Following An Auto Accident In Vicksburg, Ms

byadmin

Driving a vehicle is a huge responsibility. Even when you follow all the rules of the road and drive in a safe manner, there is a chance you can be involved in an auto accident in Vicksburg, MS. When this happens, it’s important to know what actions to take immediately after the accident to protect yourself, other individuals in the accident, and your financial interests. Use the following guidelines to do this.

After you are in an auto accident in Vicksburg, MS, you may be hurt or unable to move. When you are able to get out of your car, check to see whether other people are hurt. Call emergency services if you or others are hurt. Stay calm. You will need to think clearly to get matters taken care of. Move your car out of the way of traffic when possible. Even if no one is hurt, it’s advisable to call the police. You will need a police report to file an insurance claim. Some states have laws in place that don’t allow police to issue reports when an accident is on personal property. A police officer can still advise you the steps you need to take or give you a form to fill out.

Get information from all parties involved in the accident. This includes names, addresses, insurance identification numbers, phone numbers, and email addresses. Don’t give your driver’s license or social security number to anyone unless the police ask for it for a report. Take pictures and videos of the accident when possible. Your attorney will want to see them. Get the names and contact information of witnesses. You may need to call these people at a later time. If a police officer responds, get his name and badge number. You will also need the police report number and phone number of the police station. Visit Lawofficeofdeanandrewsjr.com for more information.

When you are in an auto accident in Vicksburg, MS never admit fault. Be neutral and concentrate on rendering aid to those in need and sharing information. Call your insurance agent immediately for further details. You may need to seek legal advice from professionals like the ones at the Law Office of Dean Andrews Jr. when a party involved in the accident or an insurance company jeopardizes your legal rights.

State Farm Insurance allegedly destroying papers

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zach Scruggs, a lawyer for United States Senator Trent Lott, says that State Farm Insurance Company is destroying records related to claims for damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The records allegedly contain information saying that State Farm fraudulently denied insurance claims made by its policy holders, including Lott, that had homes there were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Katrina came ashore on the Gulf Coast.

Scruggs said that Lott has “good faith belief” that many employees of the insurance company in Biloxi, Mississippi are destroying engineer’s reports that were inconclusive as to whether or not water or wind was the main cause of damage to the buildings affected by the hurricane.

Lott is among thousands of home and/or business owners who had their property damaged or destroyed during the hurricane and had their claims denied because State Farm claimed that their policies don’t cover damage caused by floods or water that was driven by the wind.

State Farm has not issued a statement on the matter so far.

St. Louis hit by massive power outages after 80 m.p.h. winds, National Guard mobilized

Friday, July 21, 2006

A storm has knocked out power during a heat wave in the Greater St. Louis Area.

80 mph (130 km/h) winds accompanied by heavy rain caused many tree limbs to fall, some onto cars, some onto thoroughfares, and some on high-tension power lines that supply the city. It also caused at least three building collapses.

After 160,000 people have had their power restored, but 500,000 others are still without power. Three hundred national guardsmen joined volunteers, policemen and firefighters in aiding people during the crisis.

Vulnerable residents in nursing homes and centers for the elderly are being evacuated. Cookies and water are being distributed to those needing them. With temperatures were nearing 100°F (38°C), ice was in short supply as customers grabbed all they could get their hands on.

“I’ve never seen this many people without power, this much debris, buildings collapsed, lines down,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said.

The local power company, AmerenUE, estimated that as of 10:26 p.m. local Central time on the 20th, 418,195 customers had no electricity.

Interview with US political activist and philosopher Noam Chomsky

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Noam Chomsky is a professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Linguistics and Philosophy. At the age of 40 he was credited with revolutionizing the field of modern linguistics. He was one of the first opponents of the Vietnam War, and is a self described Libertarian Socialist. At age 80 he continues to write books; his latest book, Hegemony or Survival, was a bestseller in non-fiction. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index Professor Chomsky is the eighth most cited scholar of all time.

On March 13, Professor Chomsky sat down with Michael Dranove for an interview in his MIT office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

((Michael Dranove)) I just wanted to know if you had any thoughts on recent NATO actions and the protests coming up at the 60th NATO conference, I know you’re speaking at the counter-conference.

Could be I give so many talks I can’t remember (laughs).

On the NATO conference, well I mean the obvious question is why should NATO exist? In fact you can ask questions about why it should ever have existed, but now why should it exist. I mean the theory was, whether you believe it or not, that it would be a defensive alliance against potential Soviet aggression, that’s the basic doctrine. Well there’s no defense against Soviet aggression, so whether you believe that doctrine or not that’s gone.

When the Soviet Union collapsed there had been an agreement, a recent agreement, between Gorbachev and the U.S government and the first Bush administration. The agreement was that Gorbachev agreed to a quite remarkable concession: he agreed to let a united Germany join the NATO military alliance. Now it is remarkable in the light of history, the history of the past century, Germany alone had virtually destroyed Russia, twice, and Germany backed by a hostile military alliance, centered in the most phenomenal military power in history, that’s a real threat. Nevertheless he agreed, but there was a quid pro quo, namely that NATO should not expand to the east, so Russia would at least have a kind of security zone. And George Bush and James Baker, secretary of state, agreed that NATO would not expand one inch to the east. Gorbachev also proposed a nuclear free weapons zone in the region, but the U.S wouldn’t consider that.

Okay, so that was the basis on which then shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed. Well, Clinton came into office what did he do? Well one of the first things he did was to back down on the promise of not expanding NATO to the east. Well that’s a significant threat to the Soviet Union, to Russia now that there was no longer any Soviet Union, it was a significant threat to Russia and not surprisingly they responded by beefing up their offensive capacity, not much but some. So they rescinded their pledge not to use nuclear weapons on first strike, NATO had never rescinded it, but they had and started some remilitarization. With Bush, the aggressive militarism of the Bush administration, as predicted, induced Russia to extend further its offensive military capacity; it’s still going on right now. When Bush proposed the missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, Poland and Czechoslovakia, it was a real provocation to the Soviet Union. I mean that was discussed in U.S arms control journals, that they would have to regard as a potential threat to their strategic deterrent, meaning as a first strike weapon. And the claim was that it had to do with Iranian missiles, but forget about that.

Why should we even be debating NATO, is there any reason why it should exist?

Take say on Obama, Obama’s national security advisor James Jones former Marine commandant is on record of favoring expansion of NATO to the south and the east, further expansion of NATO, and also making it an intervention force. And the head of NATO, Hoop Scheffer, he has explained that NATO must take on responsibility for ensuring the security of pipelines and sea lanes, that is NATO must be a guarantor of energy supplies for the West. Well that’s kind of an unending war, so do we want NATO to exist, do we want there to be a Western military alliance that carries out these activities, with no pretense of defense? Well I think that’s a pretty good question; I don’t see why it should, I mean there happens to be no other military alliance remotely comparable — if there happened to be one I’d be opposed to that too. So I think the first question is, what is this all about, why should we even be debating NATO, is there any reason why it should exist?

((Michael Dranove)) We’ve seen mass strikes all around the world, in countries that we wouldn’t expect it. Do think this is a revival of the Left in the West? Or do you think it’s nothing?

It’s really hard to tell. I mean there’s certainly signs of it, and in the United States too, in fact we had a sit down strike in the United States not long ago, which is a very militant labor action. Sit down strikes which began at a significant level in the 1930’s were very threatening to management and ownership, because the sit down strike is one step before workers taking over the factory and running it and kicking out the management, and probably doing a better job. So that’s a frightening idea, and police were called in and so on. Well we just had one in the United States at the Republic Windows and Doors Factory, it’s hard to know, I mean these things are just hard to predict, they may take off, and they may take on a broader scope, they may fizzle away or be diverted.

((Michael Dranove)) Obama has said he’s going to halve the budget. Do you think it’s a little reminiscent of Clinton right before he decided to institute welfare reform, basically destroying half of welfare, do you think Obama is going to take the same course?

There’s nothing much in his budget to suggest otherwise, I mean for example, he didn’t really say much about it, about the welfare system, but he did indicate that they are going to have to reconsider Social Security. Well there’s nothing much about social security that needs reconsideration, it’s in pretty good financial shape, probably as good as it’s been in its history, it’s pretty well guaranteed for decades in advance. As long as any of the famous baby boomers are around social Security will be completely adequate. So its not for them, contrary to what’s being said. If there is a long term problem, which there probably is, there are minor adjustments that could take care of things.

So why bring up Social Security at all? If it’s an issue at all it’s a very minor one. I suspect the reason for bringing it up is, Social Security is regarded as a real threat by power centers, not because of what it does, very efficient low administrative costs, but for two reasons. One reason is that it helps the wrong people. It helps mostly poor people and disabled people and so on, so that’s kind of already wrong, even though it has a regressive tax. But I think a deeper reason is that social security is based on an idea that power centers find extremely disturbing, namely solidarity, concern for others, community, and so on.

If people have a commitment to solidarity, mutual aid, support, and so on, that’s dangerous because that could lead to concern for other things.

The fundamental idea of Social Security is that we care about whether the disabled widow across town has food to eat. And that kind of idea has to be driven out of people’s heads. If people have a commitment to solidarity, mutual aid, support, and so on, that’s dangerous because that could lead to concern for other things. Like, it’s well known, for example, that markets just don’t provide lots of options, which today are crucial options. So for example, markets today permit you to buy one brand of car or another. But a market doesn’t permit you to decide “I don’t want a car, I want a public transportation system”. That’s just not a choice made available on the market. And the same is true on a wide range of other issues of social significance, like whether to help the disabled widow across town. Okay, that’s what communities decide, that’s what democracy is about, that’s what social solidarity is about and mutual aid, and building institutions by people for the benefit of people. And that threatens the system of domination and control right at the heart, so there’s a constant attack on Social Security even though the pretexts aren’t worth paying attention to.

There are other questions on the budget; the budget is called redistributive, I mean, very marginally it is so, but the way it is redistributive to the extent that it is, is by slightly increasing the tax responsibility to the extremely wealthy. Top couple of percent, and the increase is very marginal, doesn’t get anywhere near where it was during the periods of high growth rate and so on. So that’s slightly redistributive, but there are other ways to be redistributive, which are more effective, for example allowing workers to unionize. It’s well known that where workers are allowed to unionize and most of them want to, that does lead to wages, better working conditions, benefits and so on, which is redistributive and also helps turn working people into more of a political force. And instead of being atomized and separated they’re working to together in principle, not that humans function so wonderfully, but at least it’s a move in that direction. And there is a potential legislation on the table that would help unionize, the Employee Free Choice Act. Which Obama has said he’s in favor of, but there’s nothing about it in the budget, in fact there’s nothing in the budget at all as far as I can tell about improving opportunities to unionize, which is an effective redistributive goal.

And there’s a debate right now, it happens to be in this morning’s paper if Obama’s being accused by Democrats, in fact particularly by Democrats, of taking on too much. Well actually he hasn’t taken on very much, the stimulus package; I mean anybody would have tried to work that out with a little variation. And the same with the bailouts which you can like or not, but any President is going to do it. What is claimed is that he’s adding on to it health care reform, which will be very expensive, another hundreds of billions of dollars, and it’s just not the time to do that. I mean, why would health care reform be more expensive? Well it depends which options you pick. If the healthcare reforms maintain the privatized system, yeah, it’s going to be very expensive because it’s a hopelessly inefficient system, it’s very costly, its administrative costs are far greater than Medicare, the government run system. So what that means is that he’s going to maintain a system which we know is inefficient, has poor outcomes, but is a great benefit to insurance companies, financial institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and so on. So it can save money, health care reform can be a method of deficit reduction. Namely by moving to an efficient system that provides health care to everyone, but that’s hardly talked about, its advocates are on the margins and its main advocates aren’t even included in the groups that are discussing it.

And if you look through it case after case there are a lot of questions like that. I mean, take unionization again, this isn’t in the budget but take an example. Obama, a couple of weeks ago, wanted to make a gesture to show his solidarity with the labor movement, which workers, well that’s different (chuckles) with the workers not the labor movement. And he went to go visit an industrial plant in Illinois, the plant was owned by Caterpillar. There was some protest over that, by human rights groups, church groups, and others because of Caterpillar’s really brutal role in destroying what’s left of Palestine. These were real weapons of mass destruction, so there were protests but he went anyway. However, there was a much deeper issue which hasn’t even been raised, which is a comment on our deep ideological indoctrination. I mean Caterpillar was the first industrial organization to resort to scabs, strikebreakers, to break a major strike. This was in the 1980’s, Reagan had already opened the doors with the air controllers, but this is the first in the manufacturing industry to do it. That hadn’t been done in generations. In fact, it was illegal in every industrial country except apartheid South Africa. But that was Caterpillar’s achievement helping to destroy a union by calling in scabs, and if you call in scabs forget about strikes, in other words, or any other labor action. Well that’s the plant Obama went to visit. It’s possible he didn’t know, because the level of indoctrination in our society is so profound that most people wouldn’t even know that. Still I think that it’s instructive, if you’re interested in doing something redistributive, you don’t go to a plant that made labor history by breaking the principle that you can’t break strikes with scabs.

((Michael Dranove)) I live out in Georgia, and a lot of people there are ultra-right wing Ron Paul Libertarians. They’re extremely cynical. Is there any way for people on the left to reach out to them?

I think what you have to do is ask, what makes them Ron Paul Libertarians? I don’t happen to think that makes a lot of sense, but nevertheless underlying it are feelings that do make sense. I mean the feeling for example that the government is our enemy. It’s a very widespread feeling, in fact, that’s been induced by propaganda as well.

So pretty soon it will be April 15th, and the people in your neighborhood are going to have to send in their income taxes. The way they’re going to look at it, and the way they’ve been trained to look at it is that there is some alien force, like maybe from Mars, that is stealing our hard earned money from us and giving it to the government. Okay, well, that would be true in a totalitarian state, but if you had a democratic society you’d look at it the other way around You’d say “great, it’s April 15th, we’re all going to contribute to implement the plans that we jointly decided on for the benefit of all of us.” But that idea is even more frightening than Social Security. It means that we would have a functioning democracy, and no center of concentrated power is ever going to want that, for perfectly obvious reasons. So yes there are efforts, and pretty successful efforts to get people to fear the government as their enemy, not to regard it as the collective population acting in terms of common goals that we’ve decided on which would be what have to happen in a democracy. And is to an extent what does happen in functioning democracies, like Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. It’s kind of what’s happening there more or less. But that’s very remote from what’s happening here.

Well I think Ron Paul supporters can be appealed to on these grounds, they’re also against military intervention, and we can ask “okay, why?” Is it just for their own security, do they want to be richer or something? I doubt it, I think people are concerned because they think we destroyed Iraq and so on. So I think that there are lots of common grounds that can be explored, even if the outcomes, at the moment, look very different. They look different because they’re framed within fixed doctrines. But those doctrines are not graven in stone. They can be undermined.

Find The Best Paper Shredding Services For Your Business

byAlma Abell

Individuals, and even larger companies, have become the unfortunate victims of identity theft through stolen documents. It’s important for companies to protect themselves by properly disposing of documents, and one of the best ways to dispose of documents and articles is through paper shredding. Paper shredding not only protects the employers, but it helps to protect their employees as well.

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