Monday, October 17, 2005

---Wilma Up Next, Iraq Constitution Likely Approved, South Asian Quake Toll Rises, and other stories 

Oh look! Another Hurricane!
With Wilma, they’ve officially run out of names in the regular sequence for Atlantic hurricanes. Here’s NOAA 3-day track. No, it’s not “global warming”. Check 1969.

Azziz May Testify Against Hussein [ FOXNews.com ]
Then again, he may not. His lawyer claimed Tariq Aziz, the imprisoned former deputy prime minister of Iraq was planning to do no such thing.
Does it matter? It’s not like they need more evidence, is it?

Iraq Constitution Approval Likely
[ My Way News ] [ CNN.com ] [ MSNBC.com ]
Turnout was even better, and apparently more determined, than in the referendum in January. A major difference was the high turnout among Sunnis, who mostly boycotted the previous event. Sunni attempts to gather support to defeat the Constitution seem to have failed.
A necessary early lesson about Democracy is the one about making all the people happy all the time. The result almost has to be an improvement over the previous government for everyone concerned.
Violence directed against the voting resulted in the deaths of five U.S. soldiers in a roadside bomb attack near Ramadi. Otherwise, violence was far less than expected, and much less than in January.

South Asian Quake Toll Rises [ FOXNews.com ]
Estimates are that the death toll is at least 54,000. It seems almost inevitable that more will die as Winter closes in on the devastated region and its homeless survivors.

Driver of Texas Nursing Home Evacuation Bus Charged [ FOXNews.com ]
Far from the hero initially depicted in reports of the fire, which resulted in 23 deaths, the driver has been charged with criminally negligent homicide. Investigators found that the bus had poorly maintained brakes. Moreover, the bus driver appears to have been in the U.S. illegally.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

---Pakistan Suspends Rescues, Stan, H5N1 in Europe, IgNobel/Nobel, Chinese 4x4 a Perfect 0, and other stories 

Pakistan Suspends Rescue Efforts in Earthquake Aftermath [FOXNews.com]
The death toll has risen to 35,000+, with whole villages in the Kasmir region wiped off the face of the earth. The government of Pakistan has suspended efforts to find further survivors buried beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings, in favor of relief to the devastated area with the approach of Winter.

Stan devastates Central America [FOXNews.com]
The bad news continues. In contrast to the loss of perhaps 1200 lives in the U.S. from the category 4 hurricanes last month, the marginal hurricane Stan has probably claimed more than 800 lives, dead and missing, in Mexico and Guatemala.

H5N1 Influenza arrives in Europe
H5N1 is back in the front-page news. The dangerous, Amantadine-resistant strain of Avian Influenza has been confirmed in Turkey [FOXNews.com] and Romania [FOXNews.com]. Turkey has confined 9 people who were possibly exposed after 40 pidgeons in their neighborhood mysteriously died [ MSNBC.com] [CNN.com]. The World Health Organization is apparently trying to head off any public panic over the spread of the disease [FoxNews.com] for reasons only its management could probably explain. As discussed here earlier, the especially virulent strain of influenza was made especially dangerous by the application to poultry of medications intended only for humans by the Chinese government over an 8-10 year period, and is expected to mutate eventually into a form easily transmitted directly among humans. The result could be a catastrophic human pandemic.

Hurricane Katrina "Folklore"
Over at the “Gatewasy Pundit” blog, the author has collected more facts in the aftermath surrounding the disastrous hurricane, in contrast to the hysteria in local government and news media comments soon after the storm.

The 2005 Ig® Nobel Prize
They’re out. Winners were “honored” for such dubious research as “exploding trousers”, watching tar drip through a funnel since 1927, and monitoring the brains of locusts watching Star Wars™ movies. I couldn’t bring myself to look more closely to see where these lunatics got their funding.

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to IAEA, ElBaradei
Oh, wait! This is the “real” Nobel Prize! Maybe someone could monitor the brains of locusts selecting humans for Nobel Prizes. Their choices probably wouldn't be infuriating enough to satisfy the political requirements of the Nobel committee, though.

Text of Griffin Interview [USAToday] (found at Florida Today}
The actual text of what NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said about STS and ISS in the USAToday interview. Griffin has since attempted to moderate the impact of his comments, and apologized for any hurt feelings among workers on these projects. He was right, of course, but that doesn’t excuse rudeness, or something.

Maybe You Could Just Jump Out [TimesOnline UK] (found on BlogsNow)
The first Chinese-made vehicle---a 4x4 SUV---made for the European market has achieved the dubious distinction of scoring the only perfect zero in crash-safety tests ever awarded by the European test group ADAC. The result was described by the testers as “catastrophic”, and the worst safety performance “...in our 20-year history”.

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