Over 34,000 people flee in fear of Bali volcano erupting at any time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS ALSO KNOWN AS ‘SHINE’)

 

Over 34,000 people flee in fear of Bali volcano erupting at any time

MORE than 34,000 people have fled from a rumbling volcano on the resort island of Bali as the magnitude of tremors grows, prompting fears it could erupt for the first time in more than 50 years.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said the number of people fleeing their homes surrounding the volcano had tripled since Friday amid growing alarm that Mount Agung could erupt at any moment.

“The evacuation process is ongoing and we expect the number of evacuees to continue to rise,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The volcano, the highest point in Bali and located about 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been rumbling since August.

Officials announced the highest possible alert level on Friday following the increasing volcanic activity, and urged people to stay at least 9 kilometers away from the crater.

“I am actually very worried to leave, I left my cows and pigs at home because we were ordered to vacate our village immediately,” villager Nyoman Asih who fled with her entire family said.

The international airport in Bali’s capital, Denpasar, was anticipating the prospect of closure but no flight schedules had been affected as yesterday. The airport has prepared buses and trains to divert passengers to alternative hubs in neighboring provinces if the mountain erupts.

Flight disruptions due to drifting ash clouds are not uncommon in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity known as the “Ring of Fire.”

Last year more than two dozen domestic and international flights to Bali’s neighboring resort island Lombok were cancelled due to a drifting ash cloud from erupting Mount Rinjani.

Island still safe

Bali officials said the island was still generally safe but urged tourists to stay away from tourism spots located within the danger zone.

Pura Besakih temple, one of Bali’s most prominent temples which is located just a few kilometers away from the mountain’s slopes, has been closed to visitors since Saturday.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said the tremors had grown more powerful yesterday.

“The mountain has not erupted until now. The earthquakes are happening less frequently but the magnitude is getting stronger,” Gede Suantika, a senior volcanologist at the agency, said.

Indonesia is home to around 130 volcanoes due to its position on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.

The volcano agency’s chief Kasbani said Mount Agung had a history of major eruptions that eclipsed recent episodes in Indonesia, including the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi in Central Java that claimed at least 350 lives.

The 2010 Merapi eruption, which also forced hundreds of thousands of villagers to flee, was that mountain’s biggest since 1872.

The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed more than 1,000 people and devastated many villages.

11 Year old boy and his parents die after falling into a volcanic crater in Italy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A boy and his parents die after falling into a volcanic crater in Italy

Rescue workers stand near the crater in Pozzuoli, Italy, after three people died there Tuesday September 12.

Rome (CNN) An 11-year-old boy died after he fell into a volcanic crater in Italy and his parents also died when they tried to help him, police said.

The incident happened Tuesday at the Solfatara Crater in Pozzuoli, a popular tourist attraction near Naples.
Naples police told CNN the family of four was visiting from Turin, and the 11-year-old boy wandered into an area that is off-limits to visitors.

A view of Solfatara crater near Naples on September 12.

The Solfatara, a dormant volcano, emits sulfurous fumes. The area around it is known for a type of quicksand, which makes the ground unstable.
It’s not known if the boy lost consciousness because of the fumes or if the quicksand pulled him in. But when his parents tried to rush to his rescue, they too were were sucked in, police said.
Another child, 7, survived.
“I’ve been here for 40 years and such an accident has never happened,” Armando Guerriero, owner of a bar located near the entrance to the volcano, told the ANSA news agency.

Gold miners at a bar bragged about slaughtering members of a reclusive Brazilian tribe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Authorities: Gold miners at a bar bragged about slaughtering members of a reclusive Brazilian tribe

 September 11 at 4:59 PM

(G.Miranda/Funai/Survival International)

The outside world might never have heard about the suspected massacre if not for some barroom boasting by a group of miners fresh from working an illegal gig in the Amazon jungle.

The garimpeiros had bragged that they’d come across members of a reclusive, uncontacted Amazonian tribe near Brazil’s border with Peru and Colombia, authorities say.

The tribe members were greater in number — there were as many as 10 — but the gold miners said they’d gotten the better of them and killed the entire lot, said Carla de Lello Lorenzi, communications officer for Survival International in Brazil.

The miners cut the tribe members’ bodies so that they wouldn’t float, Lorenzi said, then dropped them into the Jandiatuba River.

The miners had collected tools and jewelry from the indigenous dead, corroborating their story.

An unidentified person who overheard the story was disturbed by it, recorded the miners’ conversation and turned the audio over to authorities. They have since launched an investigation into what, if confirmed, would be one of the largest mass murders of uncontacted people in decades.

Advocates for stricter protective measures say the suspected massacre is evidence that the Brazilian government isn’t doing enough to safeguard the more than 100 vulnerable tribes that have never made contact with the outside world — and have no desire to.

“If these reports are confirmed, [Brazilian President Michel Temer] and his government bear a heavy responsibility for this genocidal attack,” said Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry. Corry said the government has slashed funds for an agency that protects the tribes, leaving them “defenseless against thousands of invaders — gold miners, ranchers and loggers — who are desperate to steal and ransack their lands.”

“All these tribes should have had their lands properly recognized and protected years ago — the government’s open support for those who want to open up indigenous territories is utterly shameful, and is setting indigenous rights in Brazil back decades.”

According to the New York Times, the government closed five of the 19 bases it uses to monitor uncontacted tribes and prevent incursions by miners and loggers.

Three of the closed bases were in the Javari Valley, home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on Earth.

For obvious reasons, little is known about the indigenous group involved in the suspected killings.

Locally, Lorenzi said, they’re known as Fleicheros, or “the ones who throw arrows,” but their language and customs — and how they interact with at least two other uncontacted tribes in the immediate area — remain a mystery.

But the tribe members are not the only people in that part of the Amazon, Lorenzi said. It is illegal to mine there, but prospectors have brought earth-moving equipment to the area, leaving giant craters that can be seen from the sky.

They also bring violence, according to the government, which says garimpeiros are responsible for threats, child prostitution and killings.

Even their nonviolent presence in the protected lands can be dangerous to uncontacted tribes, which lack the immunity to fight the diseases that miners and loggers bring.

Any contact can be contentious and even violent, with the uncontacted usually getting the worst of it because, as Lorenzi told The Post, “it’s usually bows and arrows against guns.”

Details about those contacts remain hazy, because they involve two groups of people unlikely to speak to authorities.

Still, tales of the worst violence sometimes get out. Survival International documented the story of Marisa Yanomami and Leida Yanomami, survivors of the Haximu massacre in 1993:

“The gold-miners killed our brothers and sisters and also killed our father with machetes; some of them were killed with guns,” they told the organization. “After the first 10 people died, at the start of the war, we moved to another place to hide and stayed in our shabono(communal house), but the next day, the miners appeared again.”

In a statement on its website, the Brazilian National Indian Foundation, or Funai, said it had prompted the federal public prosecutor’s office to investigate the most recent allegation.

The government has also trumpeted its latest operation against incursions on protected lands. In August, it shut down an illegal mining operation. Soldiers destroyed four dredging machines and fined mining operators $1 million for environmental crimes.

Investigations are tough undertakings. The site of the suspected killing, for example, is a 12-hour trek by boat during the dry season. And it involves a group of people with their own language and a centuries-long wariness of outsiders.

Even the details of the killing are sketchy, Lorenzi said. And the vacuum of information speaks to another fear advocates have: that these types of violent interactions happen a lot more frequently than is reported.

“That’s highly probable, yes, because it’s so difficult to document,” she said. “It’s the uncontacted versus illegal miners who think they can get away with anything.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the time they do.”

Read more: 

Before Irma hit, a stranger gave the last generator to a crying woman for her ailing father

Archaeologists unearth a 500-year-old tower of skulls — and another gruesome Aztec mystery

A researcher discovered how cave men cleaned their teeth. It will make you want to brush yours.

Was Anne Frank’s family betrayed? After 72 years, historians have a new theory.

Pope Francis And Donald Trump: One Man Of Faith And One Without Any?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Aboard the papal plane (CNN) If US President Donald Trump considers himself “pro-life,” he should reconsider his decision to end a program that allows the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States, Pope Francis said.

“The President of the United States presents himself as pro-life and if he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that family is the cradle of life and its unity must be protected,” Francis said.
The Pope’s comments came during a news conference Sunday aboard the papal plane, as he returned to the Vatican after a five-day trip to Colombia. In the wide-ranging Q&A with reporters, the Pope also said history will harshly judge deniers of climate change.
The Pope acknowledged that he was not familiar with the specifics of DACA. “I think this law comes not from parliament but from the executive,” the Pope said. “If that is so, I am hopeful that it will be re-thought.”
Trump and the Pope have tussled over immigration before, with the Pope saying last year that anyone who thinks only of building walls instead of bridges is “not Christian.”
Trump fired back, saying that no religious leader should question another man’s faith.
The US Catholic bishops have also battled a former Trump administration official on DACA in recent days.
Steve Bannon, who until recently was Trump’s chief strategist, accused the bishops of having an ulterior motive in advocating for families affected by the decision to revoke DACA. They have called the decision “heartless” and “reprehensible.”
Bannon said the bishops “need illegal aliens to fill the churches,” a charge the bishops called “preposterous” and “insulting.”

History will judge climate change deniers

As the papal plane prepared to cross over Hurricane Irma’s path on its way back to Rome from Cartagena, Francis issued a stern warning to climate change deniers.
“If we don’t go back, we will go down,” the Pope said, referring to a study which suggested the world must reverse course within the next few years or suffer dire consequences.
Francis said he was particularly struck by news last week of a Russian boat that managed to go through the North Pole without an icebreaker.
“Whoever denies it has to go to the scientists and ask them,” he said. “They speak very clearly, scientists are precise.”
“Then they decide and history will judge those decisions.”
When asked why some governments refused to see the importance of the issue, Francis quoted the book of Psalms in the Old Testament.
“Man is a stupid and hard-headed being,” he said.

North Korea

Francis said he did not fully understand the crisis in North Korea. “I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t really understand the world of geopolitics,” he said. “I think what I see there is a fight for political interests.”
Francis’ message throughout his five-day visit to Colombia had been one of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a hard message for many Colombians, who still have the trauma of kidnappings and killings fresh in their minds, but one which seems to have already had an important effect.
The leader of the guerrilla group FARC, Rodrigo Londono, asked forgiveness on Friday for the suffering his group caused to the Colombian people, in an open letter to Pope Francis.
“Your repeated expressions about God’s infinite mercy move me to plead your forgiveness for any tears and pain that we have caused the people of Colombia,” Londono wrote.

California Governor Jerry Brown Declares State Of Emergency Due To L.A. County Fires

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County as firefighters continue to battle a 5,900-acre brush fire in the Verdugo Mountains north of downtown Los Angeles that has destroyed three homes and shut down a stretch of the 210 Freeway.

The governor’s declaration will ensure that state and federal assistance will be provided as quickly as possible. It came at the urging of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said the fire is the largest in the city’s history in terms of sheer acreage.

Fire officials said cooler temperatures and calmer winds Sunday should help firefighters tame the La Tuna fire, but warned that favorable weather conditions could change quickly.

“The biggest challenge and risk is the wind,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said.

Firefighters were hoping for some relief from a heat wave that has gripped much of the state for days. Temperatures are expected to cool somewhat Sunday to 90 to 94 degrees, with a chance of some showers and lightning, as monsoonal moisture from Tropical Storm Linda moves into the region. Winds are expected to blow 3 to 8 mph, with gusts of up to 12 mph.

“That can change in a moment’s notice and the wind can accelerate very quickly,” Terrazas warned.

By 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service was tracking a thunderstorm about 10 miles north of Burbank and there was a brief shower in the Sunland area, officials said. Scattered rainfall was expected throughout the region.

The blaze has destroyed three homes in Tujunga at the end of an isolated road. Two firefighters were transported to hospitals Saturday for dehydration, according to the L.A. Fire Department.

On Sunday afternoon, Tujunga resident Frankie Fronk, 46, sat on an easy chair in front of his single-story ranch style house on McGroarty Street, staring up at the recently burned ridgeline. He was looking for puffs of smoke, any sign of a flare up.

And he’s seen a few.

Fronk said he was ordered to evacuate on Saturday about 2:30 p.m. He and his wife grabbed a few mementos and their pitbull mix, Harley, and started calling around for a hotel. After checking about 10 different places, charging between $200 and $300, he finally found a place in Burbank for $135. But he returned home Sunday morning.

Fronk said that the fire later kicked up in the neighborhood, with the wind driving flames into a home up the street on Glenties Way.

The fire was only 10% contained Sunday, officials said. Evacuations were temporarily lifted Saturday night in Burbank. But officials said a flare-up caused them to issue new evacuation orders in the Burbank Estates and Castleman Lane areas.

Evacuation orders remain in effect in Glendale and Los Angeles. “Please — have your belongings ready and prepared in the event that you are asked to evacuate,” L.A. City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez urged residents at a news briefing Sunday.

The blaze broke out Friday, with shifting winds sending flames in multiple directions. Fire crews confronted the same erratic conditions Saturday.

Terrazas said the number of people battling the flames had doubled since Saturday morning, with more than 1,000 firefighters on the scene Sunday. The chief said they hope to fully contain the fire within three to four days. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but officials said there is no evidence of arson.

Two of the three destroyed homes are believed to have lacked brush clearance, which Terrazas stressed was crucial for firefighters to be able to protect houses.

As of Sunday morning, Terrazas said about 25% of the fire was burning north of the 210 Freeway and the rest south of the freeway, which remained closed Sunday from the 2 Freeway to Wheatland Avenue.

Hundreds of residents in Burbank, Glendale and the Sunland-Tujunga area were ordered to evacuate on Saturday.

One of those ordered to leave Saturday was Chris Hall, 37, who was spraying the roof of his Sunland home with a garden hose when two police officers pulled up to his driveway.

“Now it’s mandatory,” one of the officers told him. “Get your stuff and go.”

Hall said he wanted to stay but did not argue. He piled important documents and cherished belongings — including photos of his daughter’s birth, birthdays and visits to the zoo — into the trunk of his Nissan Sentra.

“Everything else can be replaced,” he said, sitting behind the wheel of his car.

In Tujunga, music teacher Valerie Keith frantically loaded her pets in her car, along with her two best violins, spilling the yogurt she had taken for breakfast. Before she left, she remembered something, dashing back inside to grab a framed photograph of her mother and a banjo made from a tambourine.

“When you have to leave for safety, then you suddenly realize what’s important,” she said.

Evacuation centers were opened in Burbank, Glendale and Sunland-Tujunga. Terrazas said Sunday that 1,000 people had shown up to at the centers and that 900 had been released so far. They were not allowed, however, to return to the evacuated zones.

The fire has also displaced cats, dogs and horses: Councilwoman Rodriguez urged residents to donate hay and water buckets for horses and to consider fostering pets that have been separated from their families.

To the east, a fast-moving brush fire west of Beaumont in Riverside County that erupted Saturday afternoon has grown to 3,300 acres and forced some residents to evacuate their homes.

The Palmer fire started around 1:30 p.m. near San Timoteo Canyon Road and Fisherman’s Retreat. The fire was 15% contained as of Sunday morning.

Two small brush fires were also put out Saturday in Malibu. Another one hit near a toll plaza on the 73 Freeway in Newport Beach.

The La Tuna fire has already stoked worries that mudslides could threaten the area this winter. California State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman said Sunday that she was determined to make sure that restoration efforts begin quickly to minimize the chance of mudslides, saying it was going to be “a huge concern.”

Times staff writers Alene Tchekmedyian, Ruben Vives, Andrea Castillo and David Zahniser contributed to this report.


UPDATES:

1:50 p.m.: This article has been updated with the governor’s declaration.

1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from an evacuee.

12:40 p.m.: This article was updated with new information from the National Weather Service.

11:45 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from city and fire officials.

10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with the latest weather conditions.

9 a.m.: This article was updated with news of a local disaster declaration.

7 a.m.: This article was updated with a new Burbank evacuation order.

Originally published at 5:50 a.m.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

‘Pops,’ Followed By Black Smoke And Fire, Reported At Storm-Crippled Texas Chemical Plant

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

‘Pops,’ followed by black smoke and fire, reported at storm-crippled Texas chemical plant

 August 31 at 9:56 AM

The flooded Arkema Inc. chemical plant is seen on Wednesday. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

CROSBY, Tex. — The operators of a chemical plant left without power by floodwaters said Thursday that possible explosions have been reported at the facility, and they warned that more problems could occur as rising temperatures make the highly flammable compounds inside volatile and dangerous.

Arkema, the French chemicals group that runs the plant, said in a statement that it was notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center “of two explosions and black smoke” coming from the facility, which was under about six feet of water from the relentless rains unleashed by Harvey.

Local authorities later said there weren’t explosions at the facility, but rather “pops” followed by smoke and fire. But Arkema urged residents to stay clear of a temporary evacuation zone set up Wednesday, and said in its statement that “a threat of additional explosion remains.”

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported “a series of chemical reactions” and “intermittent smoke” at the facility, about 25 miles northeast of Houston.

Bob Royall, assistant chief for emergency operations for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, said there were “small container ruptures that may have a sound” — like “a series of pops.”

“I don’t want the public thinking these are massive explosions,” Royall told reporters.

“I want to be very clear: It was not an explosion,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

He added: “It is not anything toxic; it is not anything that we feel is a danger to the community at all.”

The plant in Crosby manufactures organic peroxides, a family of compounds used in everything from pharmaceuticals to construction materials such as counter tops and pipes.

A variety of federal agencies have warned about the dangers of organic peroxides. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that “contact of organic peroxides with the eyes should be avoided. Some organic peroxides will cause serious injury to the cornea, even after brief contact, or will be corrosive to the skin.”

It added that “many organic peroxides also burn vigorously.”

An earlier study done for the Environmental Protection Agency found that organic peroxides are skin and eye irritants and could also cause liver damage.

Smoke from the plant left at least one sheriff’s deputy in need of medical treatment. A total of 15 deputies were evaluated by medical teams as a precaution, and most were later released from the hospital after experiencing what Gonzalez, the sheriff, referred to as respiratory irritation. “We believe the smoke is a non-toxic irritant,” he said.

The incident was reported between midnight and 1 a.m. on Thursday, and local authorities and Arkema officials had warned earlier that such problems were likely.

The material at the plant must remain cold — otherwise it can combust. “The material naturally degrades and some types can be unstable unless refrigerated,” Arkema explained.

The facility’s coolant system and inundated backup power generators failed, according to the company. Primary power at the plant went out on Sunday, and two sources of emergency backup power were lost shortly thereafter.

At that point, Richard Rowe, chief executive of Arkema’s North American unit, warned that trouble was likely.

“We have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire,” Rowe said in a statement Wednesday. “The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it. We have evacuated our personnel  for their own safety. The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter.  They have ordered the surrounding community to be evacuated, too.”

In the statement, Rowe apologized “to everyone impacted by our situation.”

A mandatory evacuation zone was established for a 1.5-mile radius Wednesday as the last remaining workers at the facility attempted to resolve the problem. Police cruisers and SUVs sealed off access to the plant on Highway 90, which connects Houston and Beaumont. Parts of the highway nearby were underwater.

A continuous flow of trucks, many hauling boats to participate in flood rescue efforts, approached the police barricade near the facility Wednesday afternoon only to be turned away as Crosby Volunteer Fire Department trucks crisscrossed the highway cut-through roads.

A Crosby, Tex. volunteer fireman with an evacuee in tow answers questions on road closures from bystanders near a chemical plant authorities said is going to explode. (Alex Horton/The Washington Post)

The facility, the company noted, “is in a rural area with no hospitals, schools, correctional facilities or recreational areas or industrial/commercial areas in the vicinity.” Arkema said the plant, which employs 57 people, “has never experienced flooding of this magnitude before.”

Ahead of Harvey’s arrival, “the plant made extensive preparations,” bringing extra backup generators to the facility, along with diesel-powered refrigerated tank trailers, Arkema said. But the generators were inundated by water and failed. At that point, the company said, “temperature-sensitive products” were transferred into the diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

Still, the company said Wednesday, “the most likely outcome is that, anytime between now and the next few days, the low-temperature peroxide in unrefrigerated trailers will degrade and catch fire. There is a small possibility that the organic peroxide will release into the floodwaters but will not ignite and burn. … In the alternate, there could be a combination event involving fire and environmental release. Any fire will probably resemble a large gasoline fire. The fire will be explosive and intense. Smoke will be released into the atmosphere and dissipate. People should remain clear of the area.”

The Associated Press reported that Arkema was previously required “to develop and submit a risk management plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, because it has large amounts of sulfur dioxide, a toxic chemical, and methylpropene, a flammable gas.”

The plans are supposed to detail the effects of a potential release, evaluate worst-case scenarios and explain a company’s response. In its most recently available submission from 2014, Arkema said potentially 1.1 million residents could be impacted over a distance of 23 miles (37 kilometers) in a worse case scenario, according to information compiled by a nonprofit group and posted on a website hosted by the Houston Chronicle.

But, Arkema added, it was using “multiple layers of preventative and mitigation measures” at the plant, including steps to reduce the amount of substances released, and that made the worst case “very unlikely.”

On Wednesday, James and Deborah Hyer sat, frustrated, in a white pickup truck with a plant water tower in view. They were waiting with their three young children for the police to clear out so they could return to their home in Dayton, about 10 miles north of the barricade.

They were out of milk and water, with local stores either closed or cleaned out of supplies.

Their newly purchased double-wide trailer on top of a hill escaped much of the floodwaters, Deborah Hyer said, but some of their friends living at the bottom experienced complete devastation.

“They lost everything,” she said. One friend of hers, a single mother of five children, lived in a house on 17-foot stilts, but the water rose so high she had to evacuate, she said.

In tiny Kenefick to the northeast, neighborhoods built on the floodplains and banks of the Trinity River were destroyed, and relatives of friends who tried to evacuate were still missing.

 Play Video 0:54
Houston hero rescues neighbors from Harvey’s floodwaters
Howard Harris purchased a boat last time his hometown of Cypress, Tex., flooded. Now, as Harvey unleashes record levels of rain on Houston and surrounding areas, Harris is making sure his neighbors can evacuate safely. (Kurt Kuykendall, Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

As in other areas like Houston and its western suburb of Katy, residents remarked on the quick response of volunteers with fishing boats fanning out as self-deputized rescue units.

“Some authorities are helping, but civilians like the Cajun Navy are helping the most,” James Hyer said.

A Crosby Volunteer Fire Department truck with flashing lights stopped as another man flagged him down to get updates on alternate routes to Dayton.

“We have nowhere to go,” James Hyer pleaded to the firefighter.

“I’d go away from here,” the firefighter responded, though he conceded he did not know which nearby back roads were flooded or, like Highway 90, sealed by police. The Hyer family, resigned, turned around with their backs to Dayton.

Cleveland Walters, Jr. waits for a police barricade to close down on Highway 90 in Crosby, Tex. Police sealed off the highway following reports of an imminent explosion at a chemical plant after floodwaters damaged its coolant systems. (Alex Horton/The Washington Post)

Cleveland Walters Jr., who also lives in Dayton, waited more than an hour outside his black GMC pickup to get home, where his wife and elderly 92-year old father needed to be cared for, he said.

“Dayton is where all my medicine is,” he said, ticking off the medical issues stemming from Agent Orange he said he was exposed to while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Guam during the final years of the Vietnam War.

The runways for B-52 Stratofortress bombers taking off were choked with jungles, and the defoliant sprayed around his tent sparked skin and gastrointestinal problems. He takes about 30 pills a day, he said, and had only a limited supply with him as he sat on Highway 90.

But Walters wasn’t overly concerned about the plant’s reported impending explosion, after working in the oil industry for many years after his service.

“I drive by it about every day. It is what it is,” he said. He left soon after, and like the Hyer family, put more distance between himself and Dayton as rescue vehicles roared to Beaumont.

Mufson and du Lac reported from Washington. Brian Murphy and Mark Berman contributed to this report, which has been updated.

Trump Makes Devastating Hurricane All About Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Trump Makes Devastating Hurricane All About Trump

“What a crowd, what a turnout.”

X

Crises like major weather disasters offer presidents the chance to unify the country and rise above partisan politics. Although a significant amount of aid work is done at the state and local levels, the president still has a major role in coordinating the response and setting the tone for the country.

But for Donald Trump, Hurricane Harvey has been a golden opportunity to promote himself.

“We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it,” the president said on Tuesday. “We want to do it better than ever before.”

Right now, however, Trump wants to be looked at in a way that makes people say, “I would really like to wear that hat, and I’d be willing to pay that man $40 for it.”

The president has repeatedly worn his own campaign merchandise, which is on sale at his website, to Hurricane Harvey events.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Trump has used his Harvey meetings as product placement for hats he sells for $40 two days in a row now…

For a third time, Trump is using Hurricane Harvey as product placement for a hat he sells for $40

Nearly every chance he gets, Trump brags about the size of his hurricane. He doesn’t have to deal with just any old storm like his predecessors did ― he is confronting a huge storm. The biggest storm you’ve ever seen. A storm that only he could handle. And of course, he wants everyone to know that he and his administration are doing a heckuva job.

HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!

Going to a Cabinet Meeting (tele-conference) at 11:00 A.M. on . Even experts have said they’ve never seen one like this!

Wow – Now experts are calling  a once in 500 year flood! We have an all out effort going, and going well!

Trump also continued to tout how many supporters he has, and the size of his crowds, which he also does at nearly every campaign rally. On Tuesday, he remarked on the crowd size while visiting Corpus Christi, saying, “What a crowd, what a turnout.”

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He was at a fire station to meet with local officials about the disaster response. It was not a rally.

Reporters at the event heard no mention from the president of the dead, suffering or displaced Texans, nor did they hear Trump express any sympathy for them, according to a Dallas Morning News reporter.

Trump seems to be taking a certain amount of satisfaction from the attention he and the hurricane are getting on TV, where cable news has nearly non-stop coverage.

On Tuesday, Trump boasted that Federal Emergency Management Director Brock Long “has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days.” And he defended his decision to pardon controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio during Harvey, saying he did so because of how many people were tuning in: “I assumed the ratings would be far higher.”

On the same day that Trump was tweeting about the size of the hurricane, his great rescue operation, NAFTA and his insistence that Mexico will pay for the border wall, former President Barack Obama tweeted a donation link to the Red Cross.

I worked for his opponent in 2012 and had many differences but this really is how a president should respond. In substance & tone. https://twitter.com/barackobama/status/901946021437206528 

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Trump Tweets About 2016 Election and Border Wall in the Midst of Hurricane Harvey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)

 

President Trump Tweets About 2016 Election and Border Wall in the Midst of Hurricane Harvey

10:44 AM ET

In the midst of a series of tweets about Hurricane Harvey Sunday morning, President Donald Trump shared a reminder of his 2016 presidential victory, asserted that Mexico will pay for the border wall and threatened to terminate NAFTA renegotiations.

Trump’s first tweet of the morning was a link to a book, “Cop Under Fire” by Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke Jr. A controversial figure, Clarke has called the Black Lives Matter movement a “domestic hate group” and categorized Planned Parenthood as a “destructive racist organization”

Trump, who is currently at Camp David, quickly pivoted to the storm sweeping through Texas — vowing to visit the state, which is currently getting battered by Harvey despite it being downgraded to a tropical storm, as soon as he could “without causing disruption.” ” The focus must be life and safety,” he tweeted. This was the third tweet he had sent about the hurricane Sunday morning.

I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety.

But about 15 minutes later, he tweeted that Texas would not be the only state he was visiting. ” I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in ’16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!” h wrote.

I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in ’16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!

“C.M.” is presumably a reference to Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator from Missouri who is up for reelection in 2018. The White House has not released any details about this visit.

Shortly after, Trump shifted his Twitter discourse back to Harvey, assuring his social media followers that all would end well despite the unprecedented nature of the storm, which has been linked to at least two deaths in Texas. “Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood! We have an all out effort going, and going well!” he wrote. He did not mention any of the reported fatalities.

He then switched back to political commentary, tweeting that Mexico would pay for his border wall with Mexico, even though a leaked transcript of a phone call with the country’s President Enrique Peña Nieto revealed Nieto was refusing to pay for it. Trump also threatened to end ongoing negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement because Mexico and Canada are being “difficult.”

We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada.Both being very difficult,may have to terminate?

With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

7 climbers fall to their deaths in the Alps

A view of the Zillertal Valley in the Austrian Alps, near an area where five climbers were killed.

Story highlights

  • Five climbers were killed after falling onto a glacier in the Austrian Alps
  • Two others were killed in Italy climbing in a group roped together

Rome (CNN) Seven climbers fell to their deaths in two separate incidents in the Alps on Sunday, officials said.

Five of the climbers died in the Austrian Alps, Zell am See provincial government chief Martin Reichholf told CNN. Two others were killed as they climbed in a group roped together in the Italian Alps, according to an emergency center there.
Reichholf said there were indications that the climbers were German citizens, adding that details were still emerging.
The climbers in Austria fell around 300 meters (1,000 feet) onto a glacier near the town of Krimml, according to Dr. Egbert Ritter, a trauma surgeon at the AUVA hospital in Salzburg.
Adamello Glacier
Krimml
Map data ©2017 GeoBasis-DE/BKG (©2009), Google, Inst. Geogr. Nacional
A sixth climber — a 60-year-old man — is in intensive care at the hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening, Ritter said. Six helicopters were at the scene of the accident, he told CNN.
The climbers fell at around 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) about 1.5 kilometers south of a mountain cabin called the Zittauer Hutte at an altitude of around 3,000 meters, he said.

Group roped together

In Italy, a man and woman who appear to be in their mid-30s were killed as they climbed the Adamello glacier in the the Trentino Alto Adige region, according to the emergency rescue center in the town of Trento.
They were part of a group of nine Italians from the city of Brescia. The climbers were connected by three ropesThey fell when those on the lowest rope slipped on the glacier, dragging down others higher up the slope, according to the rescue center.
A further two climbers were seriously injured, including a 14-year-old boy who is being treated in Trento hospital.
Three helicopters were used to rescue the group, officials said.

China posts air pollution ‘battle plan’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS/SHINE)

 

China posts air pollution ‘battle plan’

CHINA has promised to cut average concentrations of PM2.5 airborne particles by more than 15 percent year on year in the winter months in 28 northern cities to meet key smog targets.

In a 143-page winter smog “battle plan” posted on its website yesterday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said the new target, for the October-March period, would apply to Beijing and Tianjin, along with 26 other cities in the smog-prone provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan.

China’s efforts to control pollution have often roiled the prices of steel, iron ore and coal with output routinely curtailed as a result of emergency smog regulations and inspection campaigns.

China is under pressure this year to meet its 2017 air quality targets. It aims to cut 2012 levels of PM2.5 by more than a quarter in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and bring average concentrations down to 60 micrograms per cubic meter in the Chinese capital.

But PM2.5 averages rose in the first seven months of the year as a result of near record-high smog in January and February, which China blamed on unfavorable weather conditions.

Experts still believe, however, that China remains on course to meet the 2017 targets set out in a groundbreaking air quality action plan published by the government in 2013.

“Actually, air quality from April to June was among the best over the last five years in Beijing, and we still have confidence in achieving the target,” said Shelley Yang, a project manager at the Clean Air Alliance of China, a non-profit organization that includes academic, government and corporate organizations that “care about clean air.”

The government is leaving nothing to chance, with some of China’s smoggiest cities under pressure to complete annual steel and coal closure targets by the end of September and implement tougher restrictions in the following months.

By October, big steelmaking cities such as Tangshan and Handan must have plans in place to cut output by as much as 50 percent to limit smog during the winter heating season from November.

The region is also under pressure to eliminate thousands of coal-fired boilers, further restrict road haulage of coal and ensure power generators, steel mills and coking plants complete upgrades aimed at controlling emissions before heating systems are switched on.

Hebei is responsible for a quarter of China’s steel output, with Tangshan alone producing around 100 million tons a year. Neighboring Shanxi is China’s biggest coal producer, with more than 900 million tons of annual output.

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