Friday, January 26, 2018

Fire broke out on Friday morning and destroyed the bottom two floors of a six-story hospital in Miryang, South Korea, killing at least 37 people, most of them elderly. More than a hundred injuries were reported, with eighteen people in critical condition. This is the highest death toll from fire in South Korea in almost a decade.

The fire is believed to have started at about 7:30 local time, according to fire chief Choi Man-woo. It originated on the ground floor in the emergency room as per various officials. The hospital has 98 beds and a medical staff of about 35, and specializes in long-term care of elderly patients. It adjoins a nursing home, all of whose 94 residents were evacuated. Staff carried some patients out of the hospital on their backs.

One patient, Jang Yeong-jae, who told his story to JoongAng Ilbo, said he escaped by removing a screen from a window to get to a ladder placed by firefighters. He described people “running around in panic, falling over and screaming as smoke filled the rooms”. The majority of the victims died from smoke inhalation and are believed to be elderly, said the head of the city’s public hospital, Chun Jae-kyung. A doctor, a nurse, and a nursing assistant have died, according to the fire service; it took three hours to put out the fire.

In a press briefing, Seok Gyeong-sik, the director of the hospital, apologized to patients and their families. Son Kyung-chul, its chairman, stated that there were no sprinklers because the facility was small. Sprinklers are being installed in the nursing home, where a new law requires them by June 30.

Last month, 29 people died in a fire in a gym in Jecheon; the owner and the manager were arrested for safety violations. In 2014, a blaze in a nursing home in Jangseong left 21 dead. The President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, responded to the Friday fire by calling an emergency meeting of his staff, and promised that the cause would be found rapidly “to prevent the recurrence of the fire in the future”.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

NASA has decided to postpone the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, mission STS-119, for at least four more days. The further delay of launch was due to a hydrogen fuel leak. Discovery was previously set to liftoff tonight at 9:20 p.m. (EDT).

“Space shuttle Discovery’s launch to the International Space Station (ISS) now is targeted for no earlier than March 15. Liftoff on March 15 would be at 7:43 p.m. EDT. The exact launch date is dependent on the work necessary to repair the problem,” said NASA in a statement on their website.

NASA said during a press conference today that the leak is likely being caused by a hardware issue, later announced to be a suspect connector on the gaseous vent line attached to the shuttle’s external tank. Troubleshooting the problem is scheduled to begin on March 12.

Discovery’s original proposed launch was for July of 2008. Later it was changed to December 4, 2008. The next change scheduled the liftoff date for February 12, 2009. It was then delayed until February 27, but was then delayed indefinitely on February 20 after NASA discovered an issue with the hydrogen control valves.

The current scheduled mission is set to fly the Integrated Truss Structure segment to the ISS, and to install the final set of power-generating solar arrays . The arrays consist of two 115-foot-long arrays, for a total span of 240 feet, including the equipment that connects the two halves and allows them to twist as they track the sun. Altogether, the four sets of arrays can generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to provide power for more than 40 average homes.

Commander Lee Archambault will lead Discovery’s crew of seven, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.



Tuesday, October 2, 2007

David Vitter, a Republican United States Senator from Louisiana, has earmarked US$100,000 for Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a conservative creationist organization. Vitter put the earmark into the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal year 2008. The bill specifies the Louisiana Family Forum received the money “to develop a plan to promote better science education.”

Vitter has close ties to the LFF through Dan Richey, a former politician and the group’s grass-roots coordinator, who received $17,250 as a consultant in Vitter’s 2004 Senate race. Also Vitter’s campaign paid Beryl Amedee who is the education resource council chairwoman for the Louisiana Family Forum.

As part of the Louisiana Family Forum efforts to “combat” the teaching of evolution, the group included Kent Hovind‘s “Battle Plan” on its website. Hovind, whose education from the non-accredited Patriot Bible University is widely considered to be a diploma mill, is currently serving a ten year prison sentence for tax evasion and obstructing federal agents.

In a written statement Vitter explained, “This program helps supplement and support educators and school systems that would like to offer all of the explanations in the study of controversial science topics such as global warming and the life sciences.” However, reporter James Gill poked fun at Vitter’s admission of using the services of Pamela Martin and Associates, a prostitution service ran by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, and his recent creationist earmark. “We were better off when Vitter, in between homilies on the sanctity of marriage, was blowing his own money on prostitutes. At least the kids were safe,” Gill wrote. He continued, “They will not be if the Louisiana Family Forum gets its way.”



Friday, January 13, 2006

Prominent Thai civil rights lawyer, Somchai Neelapaichit, is now presumed dead, according to an admission by the country’s Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Somchai rose to prominence as a lawyer defending Muslim people accused of involvement in the troubles in the predominantly Muslim provinces of southern Thailand. According to the information provided by the PM, evidence has been provided to the Department of Special Investigations that leads them to believe the lawyer is now dead. This is not considered news by the journalist’s family, according to his wife the country’s Prime Minister admitted to her last year that her husband was dead, and gave assurances that action would be taken against those responsible.

Thailand’s DSI became involved with the disappearance of Somchai in July 2005 when allegations were made that police were involved with the lawyer vanishing. His involvement in cases related to the southern insurgency was suspected to have been behind his disappearance. Somchai had lodged appeals with the Bangkok Criminal Court on behalf of five suspects accused of being involved in a raid on a Narathiwat armoury where weapons were seized and soldiers killed, alleging that they had not been given fair treatment during their prosecution.

The admission follows on from the conviction of Police Major, Nguen Thongsuk, who was prosecuted for illegally detaining the lawyer in 2004. Following that he was last seen in public in March 2004. In the case against the police four other officers were acquitted.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the termination of a natural gas contract between Egypt and Israel is a business matter and not a political issue between the two counties. Netanyahu’s statement on Monday backs away from other officials’ earlier responses to the action.

Egyptian Natural Gas Company announced Sunday, April 22 that it will stop supplying Israel with natural gas over a disagreement about payments. The company’s leader claims the other side is in “breach of contract” as Gasco has not been paid for what has already been delivered.

In 2005, Israel and Egypt, under former president Hosni Mubarak, signed a 15-year trade deal whereby Egypt would supply natual gas at a discounted rate to the Israelis. Tensions between the two countries have made Israel cautious about relying on Egypt for its energy. Since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the pipelines for transporting natural gas from Egypt to Israel have been damaged up to 14 times.

When this decision was broadcast on Sunday night in Egypt, commentators for Egyptian news services discussed whether this decision was a blatant contractual infringement, a necessary commercial move, or an attack on the original peace treaty between Egypt and Israel made at Camp David in 1978.

In Israel, Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, said, “This is a dangerous precedent that diminishes the peace treaty [between the two countries].”

Avigdor Lieberman, foreign affairs minister, had called on Egypt to reverse the decision and prevent the contractual dispute from escalating into a political issue. Since Netanyahu’s more recent comment, Lieberman has also backed away from characterizing the issue as a political dispute.

Egypt’s natural gas exports once made up 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas reserves, but Israel has looked for other options as the political atmosphere in Egypt changed. Israel is developing its own offshore fields, and it has begun to import other types of “dirty fuels,” like gas and diesel. As a result, Israeli consumers have seen a nine percent increase in electricity costs and Israel is preparing for the possibility of blackouts.



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Sep

23

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buffalo, New York —The Buffalo Fire Department and Police were called to a hazmat situation at Canisius College on Main Street after security reported that a one gallon glass container containing chloroform broke, spilling about a pint onto the floor of the college’s science building.

According to communications by firefighters, who arrived at around 8:20 a.m. (eastern time), the glass container spilled on the third floor in room 318. As a precaution the building was evacuated and East Delevan road between Main Street and Jefferson Avenues was closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic while crews worked to clean up the spill.

At about 9:15 hazmat crews entered the room and began to clean up the chemical “using kitty litter” and fans to air out the room. They then sealed the material in a five gallon container. At 9:23 a.m. firefighters stated that they no longer detected the chemical in the air and began to pack up their gear.

Officials for the college assessed the situation and decided to keep the building closed for the day. “At 8:22am this morning the Public Safety Department and Buffalo Fire Department responded to a report of a chemical spill on the third floor of the Health Science Center. As the building is cleaned, the Health Science Building will remain closed today and reopen tomorrow morning,” a college official said to Wikinews, adding they could not confirm the firefighter reports.

Firefighters believe the container containing the chemical was knocked over while someone working with maintenance was cleaning the floors.

There are no reports of injuries, but WKBW reports that the maintenance worker was taken to Sister’s of Saint Mercy’s hospital not far from the college for observation.

Chloroform is a common solvent used in chemistry laboratories. Minimal exposure can cause dizziness, headaches and fainting while prolonged exposure can cause liver and kidney damage. It is considered a hazardous material and environmentally unsafe. Banned as a consumer product since 1976 in the U.S., it was previously used in toothpaste, cough medicines and pharmaceuticals.



Sep

23

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

On Monday, a helicopter accidentally dropped a concrete block weighing nearly 1,500 pounds when it was flying it up to an Austrian mountain for a “ski resort construction project”. The concrete block struck a cable holding a gondola, the one that suffered all of the casualties, although other gondolas reported people suffering injuries from the jolt. The car that was hit fell quite some distance to the ground, up to hundreds of meters. Two more cars started tilting as some people were flung out from these cars.

A least nine people are reported to be killed in the incidents. There are also many injured, some of them seriously. Up to a dozen rescue helicopters immediately rushed to the scene from all over the Swiss alps.

The work was made to make the infrastructure more secure after an incident that happened when a low-flying US marine plane cut through a cable killing 20 people in 1998. This incident will bring into question if those policies saved lives or need to be recast in light of this tragedy.



Sep

21

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The ship of the organisation Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior II, was blockaded off Marseille by a fleet of 30 fisherman ships. The fishermen protested against the campaign by Greenpeace regarding an alleged over-fishing of blue-fin tuna.

The fishermen encircled the Rainbow Warrior II, leaving her only the room to receive supply from the land by means of small boats. The confrontation was settled when Greenpeace accepted that a ship of the French Navy, the oceanic tug Abeille Flandre, escort her to another harbour for supply, before leaving for Spain.

After blockading the ship, the fishermen blockaded the commercial harbour of Marseille, blocking traffic of passengers.

The préfecture maritime has required an investigation by the parquet regarding the multiple infractions which the Navy reported; these include the fishermen blocking and boarding the Rainbow Warrior II, the Rainbow Warrior II twice violating orders from the préfecture maritime not to stay off Marseille, and “problematic manoeuvers” on both sides.



Sep

21

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

James Brady, former White House Press Secretary for the Ronald Reagan US presidential administration and advocate for gun control, died yesterday at age 73 in an Alexandria, Virginia retirement community. The family released a statement saying, “We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim ‘Bear’ Brady has passed away after a series of health issues”. Brady was a few weeks shy of his 74th birthday.

Brady was serving as President Reagan’s press secretary when he was the most seriously wounded out of four, in a assassination attempt on Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. on March 30, 1981. Brady was shot in the head by a hollow-point bullet damaging his right frontal lobe. Dr. Arthur Kobrine, a neurosurgeon, operated on Brady to save his life. Brady survived but was left with brain damage, slurred speech, short-term memory loss, and partial paralysis which required use of a wheelchair.

Following the assassination attempt, Brady and his wife Sarah joined with The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, and Handgun Control, Inc., two organizations lobbying for gun control. The organizations were later renamed in honor of Brady, as Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence respectively. The organizations lobbied for the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, a law passed in 1993 which requires federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States.

Brady never again held press conferences after the assassination attempt; nevertheless, he officially remained press secretary throughout the entire Reagan administration, till 1989. In 2000, the White House press briefing room was renamed after Brady. Josh Earnest, President Barack Obama’s current press secretary, along with eleven other former White House press secretaries said in a statement, “Jim Brady defined the role of the modern White House Press Secretary. With his passing we lost a friend and mentor, and the country lost a selfless public servant who dedicated his life to service, even in the face of tragedy. […] Jim set the model and standard for the rest of us to follow. It’s been a genuine honor for each of us to stand at the podium in the briefing room that will always bear his name.”



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