Meanwhile in North America: Hurricane Sandy, an earthquake, and a tsunami warning

Stay safe, everyone!


Front page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/


Hurricane Sandy update: Storm track as of 9 a.m. Sunday: The storm has tracked up the East Coast and is currently about 260 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC., and 395 miles south of New York City. Maximum sustained winds were clocked in at 75 mph, with higher gusts, and the storm is churning northeast at a steady 10 mph, the National Weather Service says. The center of the hurricane will move parallel to the southeast coast of the United States today and tonight and start moving towards the coastal Mid-Atlantic states by Monday night. The leading edge of Sandy is forecast to hit the Garden State this afternoon, strengthening as it merges with a cold weather system to the west.

peterfeldFrom the NYC summary (click through for other regions):

The worst of Sandy is forecast to converge between New York City to the Delmarva on the coast Monday into Tuesday with conditions deteriorating rapidly Sunday night. Problems ranging from travel delays and inconveniences to major damage and life-threatening conditions are to be expected with this storm. […] Salt water can spread over some rail yards and perhaps into subway stations. Some low-lying communities can take on feet of water. […]

Wind gusts in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 mph are a strong possibility in the New York area even if the center heads for Delaware or South Jersey. This can down trees, send loose items airborne. Funneling effect between the buildings can make walking extremely difficult. Windows could be dislodged from some skyscrapers, as the winds will be much stronger several hundred of feet above the ground.

accuweatherUpdates: Sandy’s Catastrophic Impacts on the Northeast

This live blog is tracking the latest info on Hurricane Sandy, along with specific information for each region and major city in its path.

coalspeaker:

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7.7 magnitude quake hits Canada’s British Columbia: “A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit Canada’s Pacific coastal province of British Columbia late Saturday, setting off a small tsunami, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, officials said.”

Hawaii tsunami downgraded as threat recedes: “Neil Abercrombie said early on Sunday the island was lucky to avoid more severe surges after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Canada. But he said that beaches and harbours remained closed.”

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Other considerations: 

Newspaper Coverage Ignores Connection To Climate Change: There is a ton of coverage on the “Frankenstorm,” but you aren’t getting the full story. Here’s why.

Hurricane Sandy and the election: “What I’m seeing a lot of right now is an assumption that Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath will hurt Obama more than Romney. This strikes me as a case of not thinking things all the way through. Yes, Sandy will hit a region where President Obama is mostly doing well and it’s sure to depress turnout. But keep in mind, we’re not extremely concerned with the popular vote. If, for example, only three people turn out in Massachusetts and two vote for Obama, the president wins twelve electoral college votes. Turnout is only a factor when compared to the other candidate’s turnout — and Romney voters will face similar challenges.”

Another earthquake in Italy: 15 dead

Reuters: An earthquake killed at least 15 people in northern Italy on Tuesday, damaging buildings and spreading panic among thousands of residents still living in tents after a tremor in the same region destroyed their homes just over a week ago.

Officials said several people were trapped under the rubble of houses and warehouses in the Emilia-Romagna region, where several building sites and workshops had just reopened after the previous quake on May 20.

Civil protection officials said 15 people were confirmed dead. Seven people were killed in the May 20 quake that, like Tuesday’s, had its epicenter not far from the city of Modena.

Italian television showed buildings shaking and collapsing, ambulances racing across towns and rescue workers battling to remove rubble.

READ MORE: 15 dead as second big quake strikes Italy

Meanwhile in northern Italy

Our thoughts are with you


(Photo: Photo By STRINGER/ITALY/REUTERS)

One of the worst quakes to hit northeast Italy in hundreds of years rattled the region around Bologna early Sunday, killing at least four people, collapsing factories and sending residents running out into the streets, emergency services said.

The magnitude-6.0 temblor struck at 4:04 a.m., with its epicenter about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 5 kilometers (3.2 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Civil defense agency official Adriano Gumina said the quake was the worst in the region since the 1300s. It left bell towers cracked, chunks of church facades lying in the streets, and roofs caved in.

Agency chief Franco Gabrielli put the death toll from quake damage at four — all overnight-shift factory workers who died as buildings collapsed in three separate locations. In addition, he said, two women died — apparently of heart attacks possibly sparked by fear, shortly after the quake rocked the area.

Sky TG24 TV reported one of them was about 100 years old.

Gabrielli said “dozens” were injured, although it was too soon for a definitive count. Continue reading…

(3/21) Wednesday morning’s 6 semi-interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

  • The White House issued this statement responding to the House Republican budget released today by Rep. Paul RyanThe House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility.  It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers.  What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time.
  • Dems To GOP: No Cover From Us On Medicare Privatization Plan - When House Republicans unveil[ed] their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support. Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it. “We don’t see a difference in principle between the original Ryan plan and the so-called Wyden-Ryan plan,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a party surrogate on health care issues, told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s equally bad or only marginally different but still would end Medicare as we know it.”

2) THE 2012 GOP PRIMARY

  • Voter Turnout Extremely Low For Illinois Primary - Turnout for Tuesday’s Illinois primary in Chicago was a meager 24 percent, officials said. It was the lowest turnout for a presidential primary in the past 70 years. Election officials said a lack of contested races was behind the lackluster activity at the polls. “It’s very, very disappointing,” said Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “I think what it indicates is that a lack of a contest on the Democratic side at the top of the ticket really did cause our voters not to be engaged in this election.”
  • Romney wins Illinois primary, gears up for Louisiana - With 99% of precincts reporting, Romney led former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by a 47%-to-35% margin. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was running third at 9%, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 8%. With the victory, Romney was poised to win at least 41 of the 54 delegates up for grabs in the state, giving him a total of 562, according to CNN’s estimate. Santorum is second with 249, Gingrich third with 137 and Paul last with 69. A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the GOP nomination. Louisiana will hold its primary on Saturday.
  • Do You Favor Phasing Out Medicare? - Not sure this is going to get the level of attention it deserves or that most political reporters will call it what it is: Paul Ryan today unveiled the new House Budget, which doubles down on Ryan’s previously announced plan to end Medicare as a source of guaranteed health care benefits for the elderly. It’ll still be called Medicare, but it will be Medicare in name only. We’ve covered this ad nauseam, but it hasn’t really penetrated elite consciousness, let alone broader public awareness. (Incredibly obtuse fact-checking on the issue has compounded the problem.) But here we sit less than eight months before the election, with Republicans firmly and irrevocably on record as planning to dismantle Medicare. No guaranteed benefits. Period. End of sentence. [...] No candidate for federal office should be able to dodge this question. It’s that simple.

3) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY

  • Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) Reaffirms That He’s A Birther - When asked about the issue on Capitol Hill today, Stearns told reporters, “I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence.” He called for credence to be given to birth certificate investigations, saying, “I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say.” The Hill has more: [...] Asked Tuesday if he thinks the birth certificate is legitimate, Stearns cited an inquiry by an Arizona sheriff – an apparent reference to Arpaio – and noted he believed there is “another investigation” as well. “I think we are just going to hold in abeyance a final decision until we hear, you know, some of these people seem to have legitimate concerns, so I don’t think it is unreasonable just to see what they have to say,” Stearns said.
  • Rep. Walter Jones: America Borrowing From ‘Uncle Chang’ To Fund Afghanistan War - Republican Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan on Tuesday let loose a rather remarkable short-hand reference to America’s financial relationship with China, calling the country “Uncle Chang.” In a question to the Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, Jones said, “What is the event that the administration and General Allen, you sir, are going to be candid with the United States Congress and more important than the Congress, the American people as we spend $10 billion a month that we can’t pay for, the Chinese, Uncle Chang, is lending us the money we are spending in Afghanistan.”
  • Man throws fire bomb at Democratic state senator Wendy Davis’ office in Texas - At least two fire bombs were thrown at the Fort Worth office of state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) on Tuesday night, according to the Star Telegram. Davis was not in her office at the time, but some staff members were present. They used a fire extinguisher to put out the small blaze. No one was injured in the attack, but the lawmaker’s office was damaged by the fire. “It’s unfortunate when things like this happen in the public arena,” she said. “It reminds us of how important it is for us to remain very civil in our discourse and to work not to foment this kind of anger in our community as we discuss things that are challenges that we all face and care about.” || ABLIt’s unclear yet whether or not the firebombing of Senator Davis’s office is connected to her advocacy for women’s health and pro-Planned Parenthood stance, but it sure feels that way to me and to the pro-choice women in Texas.

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

  • Karen Santorum Promises Rick Will ‘Do Nothing’ On Contraception - Appearing on Piers Morgan last night, Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen, tried to address concerns that her husband is “anti-woman,” noting that when she went on a book tour several years ago, he supported her by staying home “changing diapers and making meals and cleaning the kitchen.” She went on to promise women that, if her husband was elected, they would have “nothing to fear” when it comes to the issue of contraception: KAREN SANTORUM: It makes me really sad that the media tries to do that to him. They try to make it look like he is something that he’s not. Rick is a great guy, he’s completely supportive of women, he’s surrounded by a lot of very strong women, and I think women have nothing to fear. When it comes to contraceptives, he will do nothing on that issue. [image: irealizenothing]
  • Arizona Rep. Terri Proud (R-WTF): Women Should Be Forced to Watch an Abortion Before Having One - This is just getting out of hand: “Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else. Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES.”
  • Alaska Rep. Alan Dick (R-Dick): Women Need Paternal Permission for An Abortion - [I]f you’re not fully convinced yet that Alaska is the next front in the GOP’s war on women, you just have to listen to State Rep. Alan Dick. He said that he doesn’t believe that when a woman is pregnant, it’s really “her pregnancy.” As a matter of fact, he would advocate for criminalizing women who have an abortion without the permission via written signature from the man who impregnated her. He stated, “If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…” [...] no word on what women who become pregnant as a result of rape are supposed to do in Dick’s perfect world. Maybe women should carry waiver forms on them at all times. You know—just in case.

5) REPUBLICAN WAR ON THE 99% / PROTECTING THE ONE PERCENT

  • Paul Ryan’s budget: Should the poor pay for deficit reduction? - Here’s the basic outline of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget in one sentence: Ryan’s budget funds trillions of dollars in tax cuts, defense spending and deficit reduction by cutting deeply into health-care programs and income supports for the poor. At the end of his initial release, Ryan posts a table comparing his budget to the president’s budget. The single largest difference is in the tax section: Ryan raises $2 trillion less in revenue than the White House does. In the president’s budget, those revenues come mostly from increasing taxes on the wealthy. [image: savagemike]
  • Paul Ryan’s budget hurts the poor - After recalling his family’s immigration from Ireland generations ago, and his belief in the virtue of people who “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” Ryan warned that a generous safety net “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.” How very kind: To protect poor Americans from being demeaned, Ryan is cutting their anti-poverty programs and using the proceeds to give the wealthiest Americans a six-figure tax cut.

6) MISC

  • Earthquake in Mexico: Powerful, destructive but not deadly - As of early Wednesday, there were still no reports of deaths from Tuesday’s magnitude-7.4 quake centered near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, even after 10 aftershocks. Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said Tuesday night that nine people were injured in Oaxaca and two in Mexico City. [...] There were reports of damaged buildings but none were reported to have collapsed on the Oaxaca side of the border, said civil protection spokeswoman Cynthia Tovar said. In Guerrero, home to Acapulco where little damage was reported, officials say about 800 homes were damaged and 60 collapsed. [image: ABCNews]
  • Dutch Roman Catholic Church Castrated Boys As ‘Treatment’ For Homosexuality - Shocking reports have surfaced that reveal at least ten teenage boys were castrated in the 1950s by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church as a “treatment” for homosexuality, the Telegraph reports. Dutch journalist Joep Dohmen, reporting for the NRC Handelsblad uncovered ten cases of the castrations, one of which was suffered by Henk Heithuis, who was castrated as a minor for reporting to police sexual abuse by a priest that he endured while in the boarding home. Although the priests were convicted of the abuses, Heithuis was still transported to a Catholic hospital, and underwent a surgical castration as a treatment for homosexuality and, according to the report, a punishment for tattling on the clergy.

Meanwhile in Turkey


image: ABC News: Abdurrahman Antakyali, Aatolia/AP Photo — People try to save people trapped under debris in Tabanli village near the city of Van after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey Sunday Oct. 23, 2011, collapsing some buildings and causing a number of deaths, an official said.

7.2 Earthquake Hits Eastern Turkey Near Iranian Border – ABC News

A 7.2 earthquake hit eastern Turkey today where about 45 buildings collapsed and left at least 50 people injured, officials said.

The quake struck the region at 1:41 p.m. local time. The quake was upgraded from a 6.6 to 7.3 magnitude. The U.S. Geological Survey later revised the magnitude to 7.2.

Powerful 7.2 earthquake collapses around 45 buildings in eastern Turkey; reports of deaths

ANKARA, Turkey — The deputy prime minister says the earthquake in eastern Turkey has collapsed around 45 buildings.

Besir Atalay says the quake collapsed some 25-30 buildings as well as a dormitory in the eastern town of Ercis in Van province. He says 10 buildings fell in the city of Van.

Turkey quake could have killed hundreds

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Turkey could have killed up to 1000 people, the head of a seismological institute says. “Five hundred to 1000 people are estimated to have been killed in the quake,” Professor Mustafa Erdik, director of the Kandilli seismological institute in Istanbul, told a news conference on Sunday.

Raw video: (not in English)

Consequences of budget cuts, demonizing government: response to extreme weather imperiled

And just when the East Coast needs government the most — the earthquake in Virginia yesterday combined with the approach of Hurricane Irene. From Think Progress:

Last week, Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warned that federal budget cuts will force the agency to go without building a satellite that helps detect extreme weather events five years from now:

Without money to build a new satellite, the federal government will no longer be able to forecast severe weather events far enough in advance for communities to take life-saving action five years from now. That was the message that Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, delivered on Wednesday at a town-hall-style meeting in Denver. [...] “Whether the gap is longer than that depends on whether we get the money”— $1 billion — “in the next budget,” warned Dr. Lubchenco, an environmental scientist. “I would argue that these satellites are critically important to saving lives and property and to enabling homeland security.”

Unfortunately, some of the nation’s budget cuts are already hurting the ability of local communities to respond to the incoming Irene. In Palm Beach County, Florida, budget cuts have forced a cutback in the emergency management budget by 16 percent. In South Carolina, another state likely to be battered by Irene, budget cuts have led to a third of the emergency management divisions’ staff being lost. “We’re going to do what we can with less and we think we can be effective in that regard,” said Joe Farmer of the division.

As the far-right continues to demonize government and demand even more austerity, it is important to remember that government spending on things like disaster preparedness not only keeps important employees working but is crucial to saving lives.

But according to Teaparty Republicans, feds who don’t carry guns are just the unnecessary, nonessential, paper-pushers who basically suck at the federal teat anyway. It’s also more important to get those tax cuts for the wealthy extended by cutting some waste, like the government responding to extreme weather emergencies. Heaven forbid we take in more revenue so we can cut less to balance the deficit.

Related:

Virginia nuclear plant, located on a fault line, had quake sensors removed due to budget cuts

Spending cuts! Increasing tax revenue is bad! From Raw Story:

A nuclear power plant that was shut down after an earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday had seismographs removed in 1990s due to budget cuts.

U.S. nuclear officials said that the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, had lost offsite power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations after an [5.8] earthquake hit the region.

The North Anna plant, which was near the epicenter of Tuesday’s quake, is reportedly located on a fault line.

The North Anna plant was built to withstand 5.9 – 6.1 quake and today’s quake was 5.8. Close one! They’re in the process of adding a third reactor to this location too.

Myanmar earthquake kills more than 70

Many killed in Myanmar quake The famous four pagodas in the town of Chiang Saen in Thailand have also been damaged in the quake [AFP] More than 70 people have been killed and 100 injured after a strong  earthquake struck northeastern Myanmar near its border with Thailand,  officials said, adding, the toll may rise.

The famous four pagodas in the town of Chiang Saen in Thailand have also been damaged in the quake [AFP]

More than 70 people have been killed and 100 injured after a strong earthquake struck northeastern Myanmar near its border with Thailand, officials said, adding, the toll may rise.

Source

Two TEPCO employees hospitalized

Two workers at Japan plant taken to hospital:

Three workers at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant were exposed to high radiation as they sought to restore power to reactor three, with two hospitalised, the nuclear safety agency said Thursday.

“Three workers who were working to lay cables in the basement of the turbine building were exposed to radiation between 170 to 180 milli-sieverts,” a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said.

“Two were sent to hospital after they found themselves in a puddle of water. Although they wore protective clothing, the contaminated water seeped in and their legs were exposed to radiation.”

An exposure of 100 milli-sieverts per year is considered the lowest level at which any increase in cancer risk is evident.

Wow. Good thing that direct contact in the water was only 170 to 180 millisieverts! Right?

And seriously, what happened to the third worker who wasn’t hospitalized: dead or new super powers?

UPDATE 4:00 PM MST: Radiation 10,000 times normal levels has been measured in the water where three Fukushima plant workers were irradiated while laying power cable underground at the No. 3 reactor’s turbine building, Kyodo News is reporting. Via CNN

Sounds like that’s a bit more than 170 – 180 millisieverts, doesn’t it?

The pets of Japan

msnbc:

17-year-old evacuee Shoko Igarashi hugs her dog, who will have to be looked after by friends while Shoko goes into a shelter in Koriyama, 60 km west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, on March 23. (Go Takayama / AFP – Getty Images)

Anybody aware of relief efforts for Japan’s pets?

(Ways to help the human victims of the disaster can be found here)