Should the Military Be Called in for Natural Disasters?

December 31, 2008

Theoretically, even pacificists would probably admit that no one can respond as quickly and efficiently to a major U.S. disaster as the military. But the news that active duty soldiers fresh from a combat tour of Iraq will be gearing up to assist civilian agencies charged with responding to anything from accidental chemical spills to terrorist attacks has sparked mixed reactions from experts in emergency management and civil liberties advocates.

By 2011 the Department of Defense plans to have 20,000 uniformed troops expressly trained to assist in national disaster rapid response at a moment’s notice. Since Oct. 1, some 4,700 soldiers belonging to a brigade combat team out of Fort Stewart, Ga., have already been engaged in the new assignment, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Almarah Belk, a spokeswoman at the Secretary of Defense’s office. The $556 million, five-year training program is part of a broader, $2.3 billion FEMA project to have civilian authorities in states such as Massachusetts, South Carolina and Washington work with the military to develop response plans to a range of potential disasters, from a hurricane and earthquake to a terrorist attack and a pandemic flu.

Skeptics of the military mission at home question whether this signals a “creeping militarism” into our civilian culture and the erosion of the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old law that specifically bars the President from using the military for law enforcement in the United States.

“The founding fathers had a fear of standing armies,” says Stephen Dycus, who teaches national security law at Vermont Law School and co-authored a book on the subject, National Security Law. “Posse Comitatus is one expression of that. We’ve always had a problem of having the military involved in civil affairs. On the other hand, if we got in a bind, such as a plague released in Chicago, the only way to get out is to have the military involved. They’ve got the personnel, the training and the experience in use of force that other parts of the government don’t have.”
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Bartın Limanı Boğaz mevkiinde heyelan tehlikesi

December 31, 2008

Bartın’da, iki gündür aralıklarla devam eden yağışlarla birlikte Bartın Limanının olduğu Boğaz mevkiinde heyelan meydana geldi. TBMM Adalet Komisyonu Üyesi Avukat Yılmaz Tunç ve Bartın Belediye Başkanı Ahmet Altıntel heyelan bölgesine giderek incelemelerde bulundu. Afet İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü ve Devlet Su İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü’nden bölgeye inceleme için ekip gönderilecek.

Batı Karadeniz Bölgesi’nde 21-25 Mayıs 1998 tarihindeki aşırı yağışlar sonucu meydana gelen taşkın sebebiyle oluşan zararın giderilmesi ve ileride benzeri zararların oluşmaması gayesiyle başlatılan Türkiye Acil Sel ve Deprem İyileştirme (TEFER) projesi çalışmalarında yarım bırakılan çalışmaların olduğu bölgede heyelan meydana geldi. Bartın Limanı’nın olduğu Boğaz mevkiinde meydana gelen heyelan sonrasında TBMM Adalet Komisyonu Üyesi Bartın Milletvekili Avukat Yılmaz Tunç ve Bartın Belediye Başkanı Ahmet Altıntel heyelan bölgesinde incelemelerde bulundu.

TBMM Adalet Komisyonu Üyesi Avukat Yılmaz Tunç, teknik ekiplerin geleceğini belirterek “Afet İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü ile görüştük. Ekip gönderip afet ile ilgili inceleme yapacaklar. Kopan parçalar yağış nedeniyle akıyor. Büyük kitlenin kopması durumunda ırmağın tıkanması söz konusu. Çevre ve Orman Bakanı Veysel Eroğlu’na konuyu ilettik. Gerekli talimatları verdi. Teknik elemanlar ve jeoloji mühendisleri gelerek inceleme yapacak. Gerekli tedbirler alınacak. Hem DSİ hem de Afet İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü ayrı ayrı inceleme yapacak” dedi.

Devlet Su İşleri (DSİ) önderliğinde başlatılan 369 milyon dolarlık Türkiye Acil Sel ve Deprem İyileştirme (TEFER) projesi kapsamında yapılan ve uzun süredir duran çalışmalar denize açılan balıkçı teknelerini de tehlikeye düşürmüştü. Dinamitlerle patlatılan açılan kanalların yarım bırakılması sonucu birçok kaya yağmur yağışları sonrasında kayarak heyelan oluşmasına sebep oldu.
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Natural disasters claim 220,000 lives in 2008

December 31, 2008

disasters than 2007, the world’s number two re-insurer says 2008 was more destructive in terms of lives lost and financial cost. German based Re in its annual assessment blamed two events as the primary causes – Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar and China’s Sichuan earthquake.

Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar from May 2nd to the 3rd and killed more than 135,000 people and left more than one million homeless. Storm surge from the cyclone travelled 25 miles inland with water up to 10 feet deep. Soon after that, an earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province, leaving 70,000 dead, 18,000 missing and almost five million homeless. That area of China is particularly prone to major earthquakes and the Chinese infrastructure is entirely inadequate to deal with such temblors.

Other notable natural disasters in the year that is coming to a close:

Approximately 1,000 people died in Afghanistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan from a severe cold snap in January.
635 perished when floods struck India, Nepal and Bangladesh in August and September.
Typhoon Fengshen killed 557 people in China and the Philippines in June.
Earthquakes in Pakistan left 300 dead in October.
In terms of financial losses, over $200 billion was realized but that was below the record of $232 billion set in 2005. Insured losses in 2008 were $45 billion, 50% higher than in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Israeli-created crisis is either genocide or Holocaust

December 29, 2008

Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat- Asharq Al-Awsat’s correspondent Saleh al Naeimi, highlights the tragic situation in the Gaza strip, as Israel continues its military campaign that has resulted in the deaths of over 270 people:

Due to the electricity blackouts in the Gaza Strip families clustered around battery powered radios to follow the news of the Israeli attacks.

Morgues in the Gaza Strip are full, and hospital administrations are forced to store the bodies of the dead in halls and unused rooms until they can be transferred for burial.

Due to the large number of wounded, doctors and nurses are forced to perform operations in hospital corridors, while all non-critical patients are evacuated so that the hospitals can continue to treat the injured.

A Doctor at the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, the Dar Al Shafa hospital fainted when he discovered that the corpse he was unloading from an ambulance belonged to his brother, a police officer. While a nurse fainted at the Shuhuda Al Aqsa hospital upon recognizing the body of one of her close friends.

A Palestinian woman suffered a heart attack upon hearing that the Abbas Police Headquarters in West Gaza where her son was stationed had been bombed resulting in a number of deaths. It later transpired that at the time of the bombing her son had been outside of the station at a nearby restaurant buying a sandwich and had thereby escaped death.

Hospital receptions are overwhelmed by people enquiring as to the fate of their loved ones. A young child no older than 9 years old attempted to enter the Dar Al Shifa hospital to enquire about the fate of his father, a police officer injured in the attacks. He was prevented from doing so by a policeman and so banged his head on the hospital wall in anger and frustration leaving the policeman with no choice but to allow the boy to enter. The boy later found that his father was suffering from only minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Toll from DR Congo church massacre ‘over 100’

December 29, 2008

More details are emerging of an apparent massacre carried out by Ugandan rebels during three days of raids on villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Aid officials say members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacked a Catholic church in the north-east of the DRC, hacking more than 100 people to death.

UN officials say the LRA has killed almost 200 people in three days of attacks on villages in the area since Christmas Day.

The worst atrocities appear to have taken place in the church in the village of Doruma.

One witness said body parts were scattered all around the church and village, with many women and children among the dead.

The rebels have been carrying out similar attacks for the last 20 years.

They brought terror to northern Uganda, driving millions from their homes. Read the rest of this entry »

220 bin kişi afet kurbanı

December 29, 2008

Dünyada bu yıl içinde meydana gelen tabii afetlerde 220 binden fazla insanın hayatını kaybettiği bildirildi.

Büyük bir Alman sigorta şirketinin yıllık raporuna göre, felaketler yaklaşık 200 milyar dolarlık da hasara yol açtı.

Doğal felaketlerin sayısının geçen yıla göre azaldığı belirtilen rapora göre, 2008; 2005 kasırgaları ve 1995 Kobe depreminden bu yana en tahripkar felaketlere sahne oldu.

Bu yıl, tropikal fırtınalar ve Çin’in Siçuan bölgesini mayısta yerle bir eden şiddetli deprem, en büyük can ve mal kaybına yol açan felaketler oldu.

Tabii afetlerden en fazla Asya zarar gördü. “Nergis” kasırgası Myanmar’da 135 binden fazla insanın ölümüne yol açtı. En az 70 bin can kaybına yol açan Siçuan depreminde, yaklaşık 85 milyar dolarlık da hasar meydana geldi.

TVA Coal Ash Disaster Much Worse Than Originally Thought

December 28, 2008

Tuesday’s initial reports about the coal ash disaster in Harriman, Tennessee at the TVA’s Kingston Power Plant turned out to be false. The Tennessee Valley Authority initially estimated the spill to be approximately 500 million gallons, although they have now amended their estimate to 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic waste, which is the equivalent of over one billion gallons. My initial guess that this was the largest unnatural disaster of its kind has certainly given itself a bit of breathing room. A slurry impoundment, used to concentrate the waste byproducts that come from washing and burning coal, containing both uranium and thorium broke, releasing the toxic material into the surrounding community.

Aside from the shear devastation that this series of events has caused, including the dozen homes that have been ruined, there are a number of things that should be looked at more closely. First of all, the Kingston disaster shows the lack of attention given to the construction and engineering of waste depositories for coal byproducts – specifically slurry impoundments like the ones ruptured at Kingston, in Martin County, KY in 2000 and in Buffalo Creek, WV in 1972. Because sound engineering requires both time and money, stability in these unenforced slurry ponds is rare – if coal companies (and even the federal government in the form of the TVA) were required to dispose of coal waste in a safe and secure way, coal mining (especially mountaintop removal, where most slurry ponds are sited) would become significantly less profitable. Read the rest of this entry »