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Flash floods hit Australia’s eastern coast

Thursday, June 30, 2005

6,000 residents of Lismore in NSW have been told to evacuate their homes.

A couple is missing on the Gold Coast in Queensland. State Emergency Services (SES) workers are currently preparing to evacuate a number of nursing homes in the suburbs of Southport and Burleigh.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) have said that South East Queensland has recorded rainfalls of 368mm in the last 24 hours and that the Gold Coast suburb of Coolangatta has been averaging 80mm per hour for at least two hours. The Coolangatta airport was closed due to flooding.

Further south the city of Lismore has been inundated. A recently constructed levy has held back the waters of the Wilson river, protecting the town’s central business district.

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How You Grant Owner Financing For Your Fsbo Home?

By Tom Beaty

If your ‘For Sale by Owner’ property has a significant amount of equity that has accrued in the house, you may find that a very profitable advantage can be gained if you are a seller who is willing to provide owner financing. Of course, sellers always hope for a cash sale to a qualified homebuyer for the asking price or above, but in practice, most sales–FSBO or otherwise–don’t work out that way. If you choose to provide owner financing for the sale of your real estate, you can come out substantially better than if the homebuyer goes through conventional financing arrangements.

If you have accrued significant equity in your ‘For Sale by Owner’ real estate, you may find it to your advantage to provide the homebuyer with a seller-financed first or second mortgage on the property. Sellers find that owner financing is beneficial because it allows the seller to charge more for the price of the house. Seller financing also allows the holder of the mortgage–the seller–to earn a higher rate of interest than could be gained by investing the money in a savings account or certificate of deposit.

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By agreeing to finance a mortgage for the homebuyer of the FSBO property, the seller makes it possible for the homebuyer to %purchase% the house. There are many reasons why the homebuyer would have trouble obtaining financing, but usually they relate to credit worthiness. There may be other problems making obtaining a mortgage loan difficult. The seller who is nearing retirement age will appreciate having a regular monthly payment arriving from the homebuyer to repair the mortgage loan.

Seller financing may take the form of either a first or second mortgage. In either case, if the homebuyer defaults on the loan, the mortgage holder can suffer a loss. The first mortgage holder can impose a forced sale on the property, known as a foreclosure, but the second mortgage holder is unlikely to get anything at all from the forced sale. Because of the higher risk of loss, most second mortgage holders impose a higher interest rate.

Qualification of the homebuyer will be your responsibility when you do a seller financed transaction. You will want to ask the borrower for a financial statement and copy of their credit report in order to verify that they have the income necessary to make the mortgage payments each month. By documenting the details of the transaction and getting the legal papers signed at closing, you will be protecting yourself financially. Be sure to have an attorney look over the legal documents to make sure they are accurate and complete.

Since bankruptcy and foreclosure rates in the United States have become more common, you must accept that taking the house back from the homebuyer in the event of a default on the loan may be required. This procedure can be complex and sometimes costly. The danger of default on the loan is the largest single disadvantage for the concept of owner financing.

Accepting the risk of foreclosure proceedings in order to obtain the advantages of a larger purchase price on your FSBO property and the ability to receive interest earnings on the amount of the proceeds for the sale of your real estate seems acceptable to many sellers who choose owner financing.

About the Author: Tom Beaty offers California Real Estate information for buyers and sellers. Don’t buy or sell without visiting this Blog or it could cost you:

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Top exorcist says schoolgirl was kidnapped for Vatican sex ring

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Top exorcist says schoolgirl was kidnapped for Vatican sex ring
May 26th, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gabriel Amorth, the Roman Catholic Church’s leading exorcist, has suggested missing schoolgirl Emanuela Orlandi was kidnapped for sexual abuse at orgies attended by foreign diplomats and arranged by Vatican police. Orlandi was fifteen when she vanished in 1983.

Amorth, 85, who was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II, makes his remarks as Italian police try to determine if bones buried near the body of a mobster belong to Orlandi. Anonymous claims have suggested the tomb of Enrico “Renatino” De Pedis contains clues to her disappearance.

Investigators are examining bones removed from his burial site in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare. Buried in a nearby crypt, the bones are thought to be centuries old but forensic tests are ongoing. One theory is Pedis kidnapped Orlandi to press Vatican officials over a financial dispute, with his onetime lover claiming her body was disposed of in a cement mixer.

Amorth refutes this explanation, and also an alleged “international dimension”; another theory is that the kidnapping was to try and secure freedom for Mehmet Ali Agca of Turkey, who shot at the pope in 1981. Orlandi’s vanishing “was a crime with a sexual motive” says Amorth. “Parties were organised, with a Vatican gendarme [policeman] acting as the ‘recruiter’ of the girls.”

He further told La Stampa “The network involved diplomatic personnel from a foreign embassy to the Holy See. I believe Emanuela ended up a victim of this circle”. “It has already previously been stated by [the late] monsignor Simeone Duca, an archivist at the Vatican, who was asked to recruit girls for parties with the help of the Vatican gendarmes.”

Orlandi has not been seen since she set off from the family apartment in the Vatican City, heading for a Rome music lesson. Orlandi’s father worked for the Holy See. Amorth is a controversial priest who lays claim to thousands of exorcisms and has criticised activities such as yoga and children reading Harry Potter books as spiritually harmful.

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California’s violent video game ban law ruled unconstitutional by US Court of Appeals

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California’s violent video game ban law ruled unconstitutional by US Court of Appeals
May 23rd, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday has declared unconstitutional California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793, the California “ultraviolent video games law” that sought to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Federal judge Consuelo M. Callahan has ruled that the 2005 statewide ban, which has yet to be enforced, violates minors’ rights under the US Constitution’s First and 14th amendment because even the most graphic on-screen mayhem, video game content represents free speech that cannot be censored without proper justification.

The Court has ruled that there’s no convincing evidence it causes psychological damage to young people. The 3-0 judgment has affirmed an earlier ruling by a U.S. District Court, which barred enforcement of the law on the basis that it was “unduly restrictive” and “used overly broad definitions,” and that the state failed to show that the limitations on violent video games would actually protect children.

In 2005, Leland Yee (???), a California State Senator (in District 8 which includes the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County), Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly (D-San Francisco/Daly City), introduced California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793 which barred “ultra-violent” video games from minors under the age of eighteen in California and mandated the application of ESRB ratings for video games.

“California Assembly Bills 1792 & 1793” were commonly called the “ultraviolent video games bills” or simply “video game ban” bills. Bill 1792 banned the sales of such video games while Bill 1793 required signs explaining the regulations on said games to be placed where such were sold. Both bills were passed by the Assembly and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger into law (AB 1179) on October 7, 2005.

Explicitly, these two bills provided that:

Yee, a former child psychologist has publicly criticized such games as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Manhunt 2, and opposes the U.S. Army’s Global Gaming League.

On October 17, 2005, before the effectivity of the challenged Act, plaintiffs Video Software Dealers Association, the not-for-profit international trade association dedicated to advancing the interests of the $32 billion home entertainment industry and Entertainment Software Association, a 1994 US trade association of the video game industry have filed lawsuit (D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW) against the defendants Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, CA Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown, Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, City Attorney for the City of San Jose, Richard Doyle, and County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara, Ann Miller Ravel.

Plaintiffs’ counsel, Jenner & Block‘s Paul M. Smith has filed a declaratory relief to invalidate the newly-enacted California Civil Code sections 1746-1746.5 (the “Act”), on the grounds that it allegedly violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs have submitted that “the Act unconstitutionally curtailed freedom of expression on its face based on content regulation and the labeling requirement, was unconstitutionally vague, and violated equal protection. California’s restrictions could open the door for states to limit minors’ access to other material under the guise of protecting children.”

By December 2005, both bills had been struck down as unconstitutional, by Ronald M. Whyte, District Judge, Presiding in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, thereby preventing either from going into effect on January 1, 2006.

Judge Whyte has granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in “Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,” 401 F. Supp. 2d 1034 (N.D. Cal. 2005), and cross-motions for summary judgment, in “Video Software Dealers Ass’n v. Schwarzenegger,” No. C-05-04188, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Aug. 6, 2007).

Similar bills were subsequently filed in such states as Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Michigan and Louisiana have been ruled to be unconstitutional by federal courts on First Amendment grounds, according to Sean Bersell, a spokesman for the Entertainment Merchants Association.

The defendants, in the instant Case No. 07-16620, have timely appealed the judgment. On October 29, 2008, the appealed case was argued and submitted to the Sacramento, California‘s U.S. Court of Appeals, hence, the promulgation of the instant 30 pages decision (No. 07-16620; D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW) by Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Sidney R. Thomas and Consuelo M. Callahan (who wrote the court’s opinion), United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judges.

In the ban’s defense, Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Zackery Morazzini has contended that “if governments restrict the sale of pornography to minors, it should also create a separate category for ultra-violent video games.” Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., California Attorney General, has also argued that “the Court should analyze the Act’s restrictions under what has been called the ‘variable obscenity’ or ‘obscenity as to minors’ standard first mentioned in Ginsberg, 390 U.S. 629. The Court’s reasoning in Ginsberg that a state could prohibit the sale of sexually-explicit material to minors that it could not ban from distribution to adults should be extended to materials containing violence.”

The “Fallo” or dispositive portion of the judgment in question goes as follows:

We hold that the Act, as a presumptively invalid contentbased restriction on speech, is subject to strict scrutiny and not the “variable obscenity” standard from Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Applying strict scrutiny, we hold that the Act violates rights protected by the First Amendment because the State has not demonstrated a compelling interest, has not tailored the restriction to its alleged compelling interest, and there exist less-restrictive means that would further the State’s expressed interests. Additionally, we hold that the Act’s labeling requirement is unconstitutionally compelled speech under the First Amendment because it does not require the disclosure of purely factual information; but compels the carrying of the State’s controversial opinion. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Plaintiffs and its denial of the State’s cross-motion. Because we affirm the district court on these grounds, we do not reach two of Plaintiffs’ challenges to the Act: first, that the language of the Act is unconstitutionally vague, and, second, that the Act violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.—”Video Software Dealers Association; Entertainment Software Association v. Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Kennedy” – No. 07-16620; D.C. No. CV-05-04188-RMW – Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Sidney R. Thomas and

Consuelo M. Callahan, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Circuit Judges.

“We need to help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder,” said the law’s author, Sen. Leland Yee, announcing he wanted Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr., the current Attorney General and a former governor of the State of California, to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Letting the industry police itself is like letting kids sign their own report cards and that a self regulating system simply doesn’t work. I’ve always contended that the … law the governor signed was a good one for protecting children from the harm from playing these ultra-violent video games. I’ve always felt it would end up in the Supreme Court,” Sen. Yee explained. “In fact, the high court recently agreed, in Roper v. Simmons (2005), that we need to treat children differently in the eyes of the law due to brain development,” he added.

According to Michael D. Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association, plaintiff, the Court’s ruling has stressed that parents, with assistance from the industry, are the ones who should control what games their children play. “This is a clear signal that in California and across the country, the reckless pursuit of anti-video game legislation like this is an exercise in wasting taxpayer money, government time and state resources,” Gallagher said in a statement.

California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent, interactive video games. While I am deeply disappointed in today’s ruling, we should not stop our efforts to assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children.

Entertainment Software Association members include Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Corp, THQ Inc, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Take-Two Interactive Software, the maker of “Grand Theft Auto” games.

Judge Callahan has also reprimanded state lawyers for having failed to show any reasonable alternatives to an outright statewide ban against the ultra-violent video games. “Ratings education, retailer ratings enforcement, and control of game play by parents are the appropriate responses to concerns about video game content,” said Bo Andersen, president and chief executive of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Andersen continues, “retailers are committed to assisting parents in assuring that children do not purchase games that are not appropriate for their age. Independent surveys show that retailers are doing a very good job in this area, with an 80 percent enforcement rate, and retailers will continue to work to increase enforcement rates even further; the court has correctly noted that the state cannot simply dismiss these efforts.”

California was already forced to pay $282,794 to the ESA for attorneys’ fees, money that would’ve helped with the state’s current budget difficulties. Andersen has urged California government officials not to appeal the case. “The estimated $283,000 in taxpayer money spent by the state on this case is so far an ‘ill-advised, and ultimately doomed, attempt at state-sponsored nannyism.’ A voluntary ratings system already exists to avoid the state-sponsored nannyism of a ban,” he explained.

“The governor believes strongly we have a responsibility to our children and our communities to protect against the effects of video games depicting ultra-violent actions,” said Governor Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Camille Anderson adding the governor was reviewing Friday’s decision.

Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, the state’s counsel in the appealed case, has stressed that “a law restricting sales of violent games is far more effective than industry self-policing, since the technological controls that the court cited as another alternative can be easily bypassed by any kid with an Internet connection.”

According to Jim Steyer, Founder of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization of 750,000 regular users dedicated to improving children’s media lives, researches have shown that playing these violent video games are detrimental for kids mental and physical health. “The health threat involved with kids playing such games is equivalent to smoking cigarettes,” Steyer said. “These violent video games are learning tools for our children and clearly result in more aggressive behavior,” said Randall Hagar, California Psychiatric Association’s Director of Government Affairs.

The Federal Trade Commission‘s data reveals that “nearly 70 percent of thirteen to sixteen year olds are able to purchase M-rated (Mature) video games, which are designed for adults; ninety-two percent of children play video or computer games, of which about forty percent are rated M, which are the fastest growing segment of the 10 billion-dollar video game industry; the top selling games reward players for killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and committing despicable acts of murder and torture upon women and racial minorities.”

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Sony Fair 2008 starts in Taipei, Taiwan with “HD Entertainment Park”">
Sony Fair 2008 starts in Taipei, Taiwan with “HD Entertainment Park”

May 23rd, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Friday, April 4, 2008

The fifth annual Sony Fair, established and organized by Sony Taiwan Limited in Taipei, Taiwan since 2004, started at the North Square of Taipei 101 near the TWTC Hall 3 from April 3 to 13. With more opportunities and chances of Blu-ray and High-definition markets, the organizer named its theme slogan with “High-definition Entertainment Park”.

Since the Sony Fair was established in 2004, several brand new AV-media products made their stages at this show and took good effects in it. And this time, after winning the consumer market in the optical storage battle, I’m proud to announce that “Not only Sony, all our groups are BACK“! With several varied and new technologies, the lifestyle changed rapidly with modern people. A typical example is the invention of LCD Television, that drove the high-definition becoming the mainstream in this digital AV-media era. Since I visited Taiwan 2 years ago, I saw several future miniatures from Blu-ray and high-definition AV-media products. Finally in this [digital AV-media] era, this dream became reality and several accessories like digital cameras and recorders also integrated with those new technologies above and showcased in this fair.
This year of Sony Fair with the main theme of “HD Entertainment Park”, showcased not only newly-launched Sony ? , but also BRAVIA, showcased at 2007 Taipei IT Month, games and consoles of PS3 and PSP, showcased at 2008 Taipei Game Show and 2008 Softex Taipei. Because of marketing strategies [by Sony], we [Sony] brought up opportunities and achievements for high-definition markets like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Chunghwa Telecom, and Public Television Service, who produced several HDTV programs with different styles. By the way, the “Audio Gallery” showcase varied ways to enjoy digital music like Walkman, integrated with Bluetooth technology recently, will be released in the middle of April 2008.

Not only executives supported this show, and high-definition AV-media showcases, but Sony BMG Taiwan will also invite several vocalists to hold some mini concerts in the Sony Fair 2008 to bring up the visitors during holiday nights.

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Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant">
Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

May 21st, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

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Ethiopia plans to expand country’s Internet access">
Ethiopia plans to expand country’s Internet access

May 21st, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, April 7, 2005

At an information technology conference in Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia vowed to offer universal Internet connectivity in the country within three years. The government is working with a United States technology company Cisco Systems to fulfill this promise.

The government will invest US$40 million in the venture, which will lay nearly 10,000 km of fibre optic cable. Ethiopia currently ranks low in Internet penetration, with just 30,000 connections available for its 71 million inhabitants. Part of the program is the installation of Internet access at 450 secondary schools throughout the country.

Zenawi explained the change of heart that led to the decision to invest in this infrastructure project. “Not long ago many of us felt that we were too poor to seriously invest in information and communication technology,” he said at the conference. “We were convinced that we should invest every penny we have on securing the next meal for our people. We did not believe serious investment in ICT had anything to do with facing the challenges of poverty that kills. Now I think we know better,” he explained to the delegates.

Not everyone thinks that the government knows better. Giovani Peri, Assistant Professor of Economics at University of California, Davis, specializes in macroeconomics and growth theory. Peri believes that the Ethiopian government may be misguided in its direct investment in the build-up of information technology, and should instead create incentives for the private sector to build such infrastructure.

Professor Peri likened the Internet access project to previous failed attempts by African governments to stimulate growth via large-scale projects. “[African governments] in the past tried to build airports … in the middle of desolation.” — but people need to know that the environment is right for business, he said, not just a good airport. He said that the investment in Internet access might be too early for that country, and that before it is built, the country needs a good educational system to get the scientific community involved in the process of building technology infrastructure.

Ethiopia’s population is mostly rural, and over half of the population is illiterate. The country’s GDP per capita is US$560.

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Tornadoes damage hundreds of Missouri homes, force closure of airport">
Tornadoes damage hundreds of Missouri homes, force closure of airport

May 21st, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An EF4 tornado struck near St. Louis, Missouri Friday night, forcing the closure of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and damaging over 2,700 buildings in St. Louis County. The National Weather Service also confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in neighboring St. Charles County and an EF2 touched down in Pontoon Beach, Illinois.

The city of Bridgeton, in North St. Louis County, was hit by the EF4 tornado. According to the National Weather Service, it was the most powerful tornado to touch down in the St. Louis region since 1967, with winds ranging from 166 and 200 miles (267 and 322 kilometres) per hour. Aftereffects of that tornado were also reported in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

One official estimated that anywhere from 50 to 200 homes in the Maryland Heights and Bridgeton areas incurred damage, but early numbers released by St. Louis County indicate that over 2,000 buildings in those two cities had suffered “noticeable damage,” which does not include minor damage. Around 30,000 people in the region did not have power Saturday, out of a total of 47,000 affected residents.

Authorities with search and rescue dogs went door-to-door Saturday, looking for possibly trapped residents. Aerial imagery was being used in damage assessment. Area residents unaffected by the tornado were assisting those that lost their homes, reported St. Louis television station KSDK.

The Harmann Estates neighborhood of Bridgeton was heavily damaged during the storm, with many residences losing roofs and siding. Officials have already condemned some of the subdivision’s homes. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley reported 25 homes in Bridgeton and Berkeley, Missouri as being completely destroyed and an additional 35 as uninhabitable.

Granite City, Illinois was struck by the EF2 tornado, while New Melle, Missouri was hit by the EF1. Fourteen New Melle homes sustained minor damage, while four were heavily damaged.

The storm also caused the temporary shutdown of two major St. Louis highways. Portions of Interstate 70 and Interstate 270 were closed Friday night due to fallen power lines and storm debris. Both blocked sections have since reopened, but officials said it would take a few days to remove all the debris, which they pushed onto the roadsides.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which is immediately west of Berkeley, suffered heavy damage Friday night from the same tornado, and was forced to halt all regular operations Saturday while crews worked to clear the affected terminals. Eight flights had been forced to land in Kansas City, Missouri Friday night due to the tornado. About 500 people were in Lambert Airport when the tornado hit. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson said other US airports were not affected by Lambert’s shutdown. Lambert is not an airline hub and is significantly less busy than it was ten years ago.

In a Saturday press conference, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Lambert’s director, said the airfield and Terminal 2 were “fully functional,” but the main terminal’s Concourse C had been severely impacted by the storm. That terminal, which sustained the heaviest damage, serves Air Tran, American Airlines, Cape Air, and Frontier Airlines. The total cost of repairs at Lambert is expected to be in the millions of dollars, but Hamm-Niebruegge said the airport does not yet have a good estimate.

It was like being in a horror movie. Grown men were crying.

One passenger of a waiting plane at Lambert told KSDK that heavy winds pushed the aircraft about 20 feet (6.1 metres) while it was still attached to the gate. Two other planes on the tarmac were unable to return to the airport, so passengers were bused back. Five planes—four operated by American and one by Southwest Airlines—suffered damage, and some will undergo major repairs.

Some travelers inside the airport received medical attention for minor injuries caused by flying glass. A handful of people were transported to a local hospital for additional treatment, but all were later released. “We get to the terminal and lights were out, glass everywhere, blood everywhere from people had been cut,” recalled one witness. Another person at the airport reported, “The ceiling was falling. The glass was hitting us in the face. Hail and rain were coming in. The wind was blowing debris all over the place. It was like being in a horror movie. Grown men were crying.”

On Saturday, it was evident that Concourse C would not be open for some time, said Mayor of St. Louis Francis Slay. A large section of its roof was missing and around half of its windows had been blown out by the high winds. Debris and water from the storm were present inside the airport as crews worked to restore power and assess damage to the terminal. Missing windows had been boarded up, ruined carpet had been removed, and the control tower was functional by Saturday afternoon. The power was back on by 7:40 p.m. CDT (00:40 UTC) that evening.

The airport resumed outgoing flight services Sunday, although several incoming flights landed at Lambert Saturday evening. Slay said the airport will be running at 70 percent capacity until mid-week, depending on the availability of airline crew members and planes. Airlines using Concourse C will have their operations temporarily relocated, he added. On Sunday, Southwest was operating at normal capacity, while AirTran moved to Concourse B and canceled four of its eleven scheduled flights. A spokesperson for American said the airline would have planes ready for normal Monday operations. American had previously canceled all St. Louis flights scheduled for Sunday.

It was horrific and for that much damage to been done, to have no loss of life, is truly a blessing

On Saturday afternoon, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon arrived at Lambert and visited areas devastated by the tornado. He originally planned to tour Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, and Berkeley, but Nixon was only able to tour Berkeley due to an approaching line of storms. While in St. Louis, the governor said 750 Missouri homes had been damaged by Friday’s tornadoes and that federal assistance was forthcoming. Nixon reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was involved in assessing storm damage, as well as that US President Barack Obama had already contacted him, promising relief funds. US Representative Lacy Clay, said Saturday that he would brief Obama on the situation.

The state declared the affected areas of St. Louis County a disaster area. No one has reported serious injuries or deaths as a result of the storm, although some people were treated for minor injuries. “It was horrific and for that much damage to been done, to have no loss of life, is truly a blessing,” Slay said.

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Emaar Properties claims Burj Dubai as world’s tallest building">
Emaar Properties claims Burj Dubai as world’s tallest building

May 21st, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Sunday, July 22, 2007

United Arab Emirates (UAE) developer Emaar Properties has claimed that their Burj Dubai commercial and residential tower, currently under construction, has become the world’s tallest building, reaching a height of 512.1 metres (or 1,680 feet) and 141 storeys.

The current official record holder, Taipei 101 of Taiwan, has a height of 508 metres and 101 storeys, and will retain the “tallest building” title for some time to come. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat sets the criteria for achieving height records for buildings, and will not evaluate the Burj Dubai until construction is complete in late 2008. Although final height details have been kept secret by the developer, the Burj Dubai is expected to reach nearly 700 metres in height, with approximately 160 storeys.

The current record holder for the world’s tallest free-standing structure is the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. It has a height of 553 metres. The Burj Dubai, therefore, would claim both records when it is completed.

Once the Burj Dubai is completed, it will have required 330,000 cubic metres of concrete, 39,000 tonnes of steel and 142,000 square metres of glass, according to Emaar Properties. The building will have 56 lifts (elevators) that can move at a rate of speed of 1.75 to 10 metres per second.

Dubai is undergoing a construction boom currently with the Burj Dubai as the planned centrepiece of a $US20 billion project, which will eventually realize some 30,000 apartments and boast the world’s largest shopping mall.

There have been criticisms of the working conditions for construction workers in the UAE. A majority of the estimated 500,000 construction workers in the UAE are foreign workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In a 2006 report on the UAE’s treatment of migrant workers, entitled Building Towers, Cheating Workers, Human Rights Watch documented abuses in UAE such as, “extremely low wages, several years of indebtedness to recruitment agencies for fees that UAE law says only employers should pay, the withholding of employees’ passports, and hazardous working conditions that result in apparently high rates of death and injury.”

In October of last year, Human Rights Watch delivered specific recommendations to the UAE government for improvement of working conditions. The UAE government acted swiftly on the report and put in place several improvements, which were applauded by Human Rights Watch.

However, the salaries of migrant construction workers remain in the range from $106 to $250 per month, while the national average wage is over $2,000 per month. Trade unions remain illegal in the UAE.

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Amsterdam pet shop owner creates beer for dogs">
Amsterdam pet shop owner creates beer for dogs

May 21st, 2019 | Uncategorized |

Thursday, January 25, 2007

 Correction — February 8, 2007 Terrie Berenden’s pet shop is located in the town of Zelhem, not Amsterdam as stated in the article & title. Zelhem is approximately 135 km (85 miles) from Amsterdam 

A woman in The Netherlands who uses her dogs to hunt in Austria has decided to give her dogs a new kind of treat: beer.

Terrie Berenden, a woman who owns a pet shop in Amsterdam, created a non-alcoholic beer for her dogs which is made from malt and a beef extract. The beer is called Kwispelbier (‘kwispelen’ means “wagging of a [dog’s] tail” in Dutch), and was put onto shelves just last week.

“Once a year we go to Austria to hunt with our dogs, and at the end of the day we sit on the verandah and drink a beer. So we thought, my dog also has earned it,” said Berenden.

According to Berenden, owners can enjoy the new beer as well, but she also stated that it will cost owners about four times as much to drink the beer than to buy a ‘human beer.’ A bottle of the dog beer sells at about $2.14.

The slogan for the new dog beer is “a beer for your best friend” and Brenden hopes that the product will grab international attention. Requests for the beer are already coming from the United States, England and Japan.

“We are overwhelmed with it. From America, England and Japan we have (received) mail and we are just going to think about it, how we can bring it on the market there,” said Brenden.

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