The “Emergency Mode” Every Smartphone Should Have

An emergency phone sign is seen next to the euro sculpture outside headquarters of the European Central Bank  in Frankfurt
Most phones already come equipped with an Airplane Mode for flights, a Do Not Disturb mode for watching movies or ignoring people, and a Low Power mode for when your battery is about to die. But what happens when you’re in an emergency? Read the rest

Texas oil firm indicted in massive 2015 oil spill off coast of Santa Barbara, CA

A brown pelican being cleaned of oil by a bird rescue volunteer on May 22, 2015, after thousands of gallons of oil leaked on to San Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific. REUTERS

In California today, a grand jury indicted the Plains All-American Pipeline and one of the oil company's employees on criminal charges over the massive 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County.

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Tar sands production in Canada pretty much shut down by Fort McMurray wildfire

Flames rise in area south of Fort McMurray, Alberta May 3, 2016.  [Reuters]

Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region.

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Navajo Nation bears burden of recent Animas mining spill disaster in Colorado

After the Animas River spill, rancher Irving Shaggy is forced to travel a 70-mile round trip to get water for his livestock. "It's going to be a long struggle," he says.
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

Deformed mutant daisies photographed near Fukushima nuclear disaster site in Japan

Photo: @san_kaido
Just when you'd forgotten about all that leaked radiation.

Survivor's story: Last night's cruise ship disaster in China

Yangtze

Survivor Zhang Hui, who doesn't know how to swim, only had 30 seconds to grab a life jacket and flee his cruise ship cabin before jumping into the dark choppy water of the Yangtze River in China. Holding on to his life jacket for dear life, he watched the Eastern Star cruise ship quickly turn over. Over 458 passengers were on board, and less than 24-hours later, hundreds are still missing. Here's his story. Read the rest

No one harmed in Whac-a-Mole/Rock-a-Fire band warehouse explosion

Thankfully, no humans were harmed by last week's explosion in Aaron Fechter's warehouse in Orlando, FL, but it did leave "robots scattered around burning rubble."

Fechter invented both the Whac-a-Mole machine and the animatronic, coin-operated Rock-A-Fire robot musicians who delighted audiences in Chuck-E-Cheeses around the world. Lately, he had been experimenting with carbohydrillium, a cleaner-burning alternative to propane, which was apparently the culprit in yesterday's explosion. His warehouse was described by one witness as a "Joker's lair," and a video tour posted to YouTube shows it full of computer models, animatronic creatures, and carbohydrillium gear. Read the rest

Airplane collides with car

2012 was a terrifying year for Russian dashcam videos, but the badness reaches its peak on Dec 29, with this footage of a plane disintegrating crosswise to busy highway traffic. Read the rest

Shopping mall shark-tank ruptures

Shanghai's Orient shopping centre experienced disaster on Dec 18 when a huge aquarium filled with lemon-sharks, turtles and fish ruptured, hurting 16 people and killing three sharks and "dozens of turtles and small fish." The tank's failure was blamed on a combination of cold temperatures and substandard materials.

Aquarium bursts in shopping centre in Shanghai (via JWZ) Read the rest

BP will admit crimes, pay $4.5 billion in Gulf spill settlement

British oil company BP today announced it will pay $4.5 billion "in fines and other payments to the government," and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges resulting from the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago. How much of that do you imagine will make it to the poor and working-class families whose homes, bodies, and lives were damaged or destroyed by the toxic disaster?

Here is BP's statement. Coverage here in the New York Times, and here in the LA Times.

Via @meghangordon, an interesting footnote: The National Academy of Sciences gets $350 million of the BP settlement to study human health and environmental protection in the Gulf of Mexico.

Boing Boing's BP spill archives are here.

Image, via NYT: The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that was connected to a well owned by BP killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil. (photo: US Coast Guard) Read the rest

Can Sandy victims sue power companies for extended outages?

Short version: yes, but it's not easy. "To win, New York ratepayers have to show that their power company was not just slow or inefficient. Instead, Kreppein said, under a 1985 New York Court of Appeals ruling called Strauss v. Belle Realty, electric company customers must establish that the utility was grossly negligent — that its conduct was way outside the bounds of reasonableness." Alison Frankel at Reuters. Read the rest

I still love New York, the t-shirt

"I Still Love NY" shirt by Sebastian Errazuriz. Available at Grey Area. 100% of proceeds go to Sandy Relief. Photo by Clayton Cubitt. Read the rest

After Sandy, on election day: photographs by Kate Black

Belle Harbor, Rockaway, November 6th, 2012. Kate Black.

Kate Black has been volunteering in post-Sandy recovery efforts in the Rockaways and other areas surrounding NYC where people lost power, homes, and belongings in the storm. She has also been photographing the people and places she encounters. Above, one of many images captured on Election Day. Read the rest

Portraits of devastation in Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy: Charles le Brigand

Stéphane Missier, aka Charles le Brigand, has been photographing people and scenes in and around New York City in the week following Hurricane Sandy.

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Engineers warned of storm surge threat to NYC in 2009

“Scientists and engineers were saying years before Katrina happened, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen, folks. Stop putting your head in the sand.” —Malcolm Bowman, professor of oceanography at the State University at Stony Brook. In 2009, he and other experts convened at a meeting in NYC of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and issued warnings that surge barriers or tide gates would help protect. Read more in James Glanz and Mireya Navarro's NYT report. Read the rest

In post-Sandy "dewatering" mission, Army engineers drain one Olympic-sized pool's worth of water per minute

In an Army Corps of Engineers press release, details on the astounding rate at which workers are draining water from New York's subway and transit tunnels: "To date, the USACE has used about 50 pumps of various sizes to remove 64 million gallons of water from the New York City mass transit system. Operations are ongoing at six sites, with pumps removing about 116,000 gallons per minute. The 696,000 gallons the pumps are draining each minute exceeds the amount of water in one Olympic-size swimming pool (660,000 gallons). There were roughly 600 million gallons in the tunnels when pumping operations began on Thursday, Nov. 1." (via Noah Shachtman). Read the rest

NOLA to New York

Katrina survivors talk to New York.

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