Amidst all the hubbub surrounding a trapped soccer team, Supreme Court nominations and idiot-Canadian music stars getting engaged to models, there’s not been much talk about what’s going on in Japan right now—and that’s a shame because it’s some very serious shit.
Torrential rains battered the Pacific island nation last week, causing landslides and flash floods which, at last count, had killed at least 127 people and have forced the evacuation of millions. Many of the displaced have been able to return to their homes, but things are still really fucked up. According to Reuters, just about all of homes that lost power as a result of the storms have been reconnected to the grid. But the people in storm-affected areas are still pretty fucked. Temperatures in city of Kurashiki, for example, which was hit particularly hard, are set to reach 91°F, with high humidity. They might have air-conditioning, in some cases, but very likely don’t have easy access to potable water. Some areas are able to have bottled water, medical supplies and food trucked in, but a lot of the roads in areas strike by mudslides are just gone.
The Japanese government has budgeted billions of bucks for cleaning up after disasters like this one, but it takes time to bring infrastructure back from the brink. What’s more, the worst may still be yet to come.
Read the rest
A new evacuation order was issued on Tuesday in one part of the western prefecture of Hiroshima, after a river blocked by debris overflowed its banks.
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
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. Read the rest
Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region. Read the rest
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.
Just when you'd forgotten about all that leaked radiation.
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
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
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
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
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 NY" shirt by Sebastian Errazuriz. Available at Grey Area. 100% of proceeds go to Sandy Relief. Photo by Clayton Cubitt. Read the rest
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
Stéphane Missier, aka Charles le Brigand, has been photographing people and scenes in and around New York City in the week following Hurricane Sandy.
Read the rest
“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 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