Rare Middle East cyclone batters Oman

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Rare Middle East cyclone batters Oman

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tropical Storm Gonu headed toward Iran today, after lashing Oman for two days with high winds and torrential rains, and causing at least 23 deaths and the evacuation of more than 20,000 people to emergency shelters. Concern was high for the oil industry, as rough seas kept tankers from leaving their ports.

Such storms are rare in the Middle East. Early today, Gonu was weakening and was downgraded to a tropical storm. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projected the storm to continue weakening as it made landfall on Iran’s southeastern coast. Offshore Iranian oil installations were expected to be spared, officials said.

In the Omani capital, Muscat yesterday, there were torrential rains and howling winds, a rarity in the quiet coastal city. Streets were flooded and emergency vehicles were useless. Flights were canceled at Oman’s Seeb International Airport.

Twenty-three deaths were reported by Omani authorities today. Electricity and phone lines were out and roads flooded. Police said a body washed ashore in Sur. There were also reports of people trapped in homes in low-lying areas of the capital.

Authorities used mobile-phone text messages to warn people away from dangerous areas. Residents were warned to stay at home, or seek shelter in buildings that could withstand the harsh weather.

Shareefa bint Khalfan, Omani minister of social development, said more than 20,000 people were evacuated to government shelters.

At Oman’s weather center, where records have been kept since 1890, metorologists said Gonu was likely the strongest storm to hit Oman since 1977. Milder tropical storms are common mid-May to late June.

In Iran, hundreds of residents of Chabahr, a port on the Gulf of Oman, were evacuated.

“University and school students were moved to higher ground in the area to avoid the cyclone effects,” Hojjat Ali Shayanfar, head of emergency services in Sistan Baluchistan province, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Some major roads were flooded in southeastern Iran. In the port city of Bandar Abbas, winds shattered windows and knocked down billboards & trees.

Oman has relatively small oil fields, and there was little damage to them. But oil exports were cut off, as the raging seas kept tankers battened down in port for a third day today. To the north, at the world’s third-largest shipping fuel center in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, all refueling and supply operations were suspended, and ships were kept in their berths. At the entrance to the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, ships passed through, despite four- to six-foot swells and strong winds. About one-fifth of the world’s oil passes through this narrow chokepoint.

Iran, OPEC’s No. 2 oil exporter, said the storm would not disrupt supplies because its main terminals were inside the Gulf waterway. Analysts were mixed on how the storm will affect prices at the gas pump.

“About 17-21 million barrels a day of oil are coming out of the Persian Gulf. Even if only some of the tankers are delayed, that could reduce the supply of oil and increase prices,” Manouchehr Takin, at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

But Tim Evans, an analyst at Citigroup Global Markets, said while the storm may delay oil tankers, they will eventually get to their destinations, so prices shouldn’t be affected too drastically.

Oil prices rose US$0.25 to $65.86 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

At its peak, Tropical Cyclone Gonu, named for a bag of palm leaves in the language of the Maldives, reached sustained winds of 240 kilometers an hour (149 miles per hour) . By early today, winds were around 83 km/h, and it was expect to keep weakening.

The storm is believed to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula since record-keeping started in 1945, and was tied for the strongest tropical cyclone in the northern Indian Ocean, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

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Australia/2008

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Australia/2008

Contents

  • 1 January
  • 2 February
  • 3 March
  • 4 April
  • 5 May
  • 6 June
  • 7 July
  • 8 August
  • 9 September
  • 10 October
  • 11 November
  • 12 December

[edit]

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NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations

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NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents in the United States, released updates on three major investigations on June 14.

The NTSB, well known publicly for its involvement in the investigation of aviation incidents which involve harm or loss of human life, is also an agency that oversees the transportation of refined petroleum and gas products, chemicals and minerals.

The agency determined the cause of a natural gas pipeline explosion that killed six. It also detailed the cause of an accidental release of 204,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia from a pipeline in an environmentally sensitive area, and released preliminary information involving two commercial aircraft coming within 30-50 feet of each other on a runway.

In the gas explosion disaster, the towing vessel Miss Megan, which was of specifications that did not require inspection by the United States Coast Guard, was being operated in the West Cote Blanche Bay oil field in Louisiana by Central Boat Rentals on behalf of Athena Construction on October 12, 2006. The Miss Megan was pushing barge IBR 234, which was tied along the starboard side of barge Athena 106, en route to a pile-driving location. Athena Construction did not require its crews to pin mooring spuds (vertical steel shafts extending through wells in the bottom of the boat and used for mooring) securely in place on its barges and consequently this had not been done. During the journey, the aft spud on the Athena 106 released from its fully raised position. The spud dropped into the water and struck a submerged, high-pressure natural gas pipeline. The resulting gas released ignited and created a fireball that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges. The master of the towing vessel and four barge workers were killed. The Miss Megan deckhand and one barge worker survived. One barge worker is officially listed as missing.

The NTSB blames Athena Construction for the disaster, citing in the final report that Athena Construction’s manual contained no procedures mandating the use of the safety devices on the spud winch except during electrical work. It was found that if the Athena 106 crew had used the steel pins to secure the retracted spuds during their transit, a pin would have prevented the aft spud from accidentally deploying. Furthermore, the spud would have remained locked in its lifted position regardless of whether the winch brake mechanism, the spud’s supporting cable, or a piece of connecting hardware had failed.

The NTSB also found that contributing to the accident was the failure of Central Boat Rentals to require, and the Miss Megan master to ensure, that the barge spuds were securely pinned before getting under way. The Board noted that investigators found no evidence that the Miss Megan master or deckhand checked whether the spuds had been properly secured before the tow began. While Central Boat Rentals had a health and safety manual and trained its crews, the written procedures did not specifically warn masters about the need to secure spuds or other barge equipment before navigating. The NTSB stated that the company’s crew should have been trained to identify potential safety hazards on vessels under their control.

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said of the investigation’s results, “Having more rigorous requirements in place could have prevented this accident from occurring. Not only do these regulations need to be put in place but it is imperative that they are enforced and adhered to.”

The NTSB has made a number of safety recommendations as a result of this accident and the subsequent investigation. Recommendations were made to Athena Construction and Central Boat Rentals to develop procedures and train the employees of its barges to use the securing pins to hold spuds safely in place before transiting from one site to another.

The most major of the other recommendations are:

To the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

  • Direct the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health to issue the following documents document to the maritime industry: (1) a fact sheet regarding the accident, and (2) a guidance document regarding the need to secure the gear on barges, including spud pins, before the barges are moved, and detailing any changes to your memorandum of understanding with the Coast Guard.

To the U. S. Coast Guard

  • Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels.
  • Review and update your memorandum of understanding with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to specifically address your respective oversight roles on vessels that are not subject to Coast Guard inspection.

The NTSB also released the result of its investigation into an environmental disaster in Kansas on October 27, 2004 in which 204,000 gallons (4,858 barrels) of anhydrous ammonia was spilled from a ruptured pipeline in Kingman into an environmentally sensitive area. Chemicals from the pipeline entered a nearby stream and killed more than 25,000 fish, including some fish from threatened species.

The incident reached the scale that it did due to operator error after the initial rupture. The 8 5/8-inch diameter steel pipeline, which was operated by Enterprise Products Operating L.P., burst at 11:15 a.m. in an agricultural area about 6 miles east of Kingman, Kansas. A drop in pipeline pressure, indicating abnormal conditions or a possible compromise in pipeline integrity, set off alarms displayed on the computerized pipeline monitoring system. Shortly after the first alarm the pipeline controller, in an attempt to remedy the low pressure, increased the flow of anhydrous ammonia into the affected section of pipeline. A total of 33 minutes elapsed between the time when the first alarm indicated a problem with the pipeline and the initiation of a shutdown.

In its initial report to the National Response Center (NRC), the pipeline operator’s accident reporting contractor reported a release of at least 20 gallons of ammonia, telling the NRC that an updated estimate of material released would be reported at a later time. No such report was ever made. Because of the inaccurate report, the arrival of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency was delayed by a full day, affecting the oversight of the environmental damage mitigation efforts.

The cause of the rupture itself was determined to be a pipe gouge created by heavy equipment damage to the pipeline during construction in 1973 or subsequent excavation activity at an unknown time that initiated metal fatigue cracking and led to the eventual rupture of the pipeline.

“We are very fortunate that such highly toxic chemicals of the size and scope involved in this accident were not released in a populated area,” commented Rosenker. “Had this same quantity of ammonia been released near a town or city, the results could have been catastrophic.”

As a result of this accident, the NTSB made the following safety recommendations:

To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

  • Require that a pipeline operator must have a procedure to calculate and provide a reasonable initial estimate of released product in the telephonic report to the National Response Center.
  • Require that a pipeline operator must provide an additional telephonic report to the National Response Center if significant new information becomes available during the emergency response.
  • Require an operator to revise its pipeline risk assessment plan whenever it has failed to consider one of more risk factors that can affect pipeline integrity.

To Enterprise Products Operating L.P.:

  • Provide initial and recurrent training for all controllers that includes simulator or noncomputerized simulations of abnormal operating conditions that indicate pipeline leaks.

“The severity of this release of dangerous chemicals into the community could have been prevented,” said Rosenker. “The safety recommendations that we have made, if acted upon, will reduce the likelihood of this type of accident happening again.”

As well as concluding their investigation of the above accidents, the NTSB also released preliminary information regarding a serious runway incursion at San Francisco International Airport between two commercial aircraft on May 26, 2007.

At about 1:30 p.m. the tower air traffic controller cleared SkyWest Airlines flight 5741, an Embraer 120 arriving from Modesto, California, to land on runway 28R. Forgetting about the arrival airplane, the same controller then cleared Republic Airlines flight 4912, an Embraer 170 departing for Los Angeles, to take off from runway 1L, which intersects runway 28R.

After the SkyWest airliner touched down, the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) alerted and the air traffic controller transmitted “Hold, Hold, Hold” to the SkyWest flight crew in an attempt to stop the aircraft short of runway 1L. The SkyWest crew applied maximum braking that resulted in the airplane stopping in the middle of runway 1L. As this was occurring, the captain of Republic Airlines flight 4912 took control of the aircraft from the first officer, realized the aircraft was traveling too fast to stop, and initiated an immediate takeoff. According to the crew of SkyWest 5741, the Republic Airlines aircraft overflew theirs by 30 to 50 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration has categorized the incident as an operational error.

The NTSB sent an investigator to San Francisco, who collected radar data, recorded air traffic control communications, and flight crew statements, and interviewed air traffic control personnel prior to the NTSB making the preliminary release.

Posted: August 16th, 2018 by MbEe89

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Inspectors close Chicago landmark Healthy Food restaurant after finding dead mouse in cooler

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Inspectors close Chicago landmark Healthy Food restaurant after finding dead mouse in cooler

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Chicago city inspectors closed the landmark Lithuanian restaurant Healthy Food on Thursday, after finding mouse feces on the meat slicer and cutting board, and a dead mouse in the cooler.

The restaurant has operated at 3236 S. Halsted, on the south side of the city in the Bridgeport neighborhood, since the 1930s.

Wikinews reporter David Vasquez placed a call to the restaurant to inquire if they were open. The call was answered by a woman who said, “No, we’re closed. There’s some technical difficulties. I’m sorry. Thank you for calling.” A second phone could be heard ringing in the background.

Streets and Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times, “To reopen, they’re going to have to present us with a revamped game plan for not only rodent control but also housekeeping, they’ll have to make all the corrections that our inspectors point out,” he continued, “and pass a very stringent follow-up inspection.”

Patrons have praised the restaurant’s sauerkraut soup and other dishes over the years. Before it was closed, the restaurant had a lot of traffic from the nearby Cook County Circuit Court. The restaurant was once voted “Best Ethnic Eastern European Restaurant in Chicago”, according to New City.

Posted: August 15th, 2018 by MbEe89

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Haze in South East Asia worsens

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Haze in South East Asia worsens

Friday, October 6, 2006

The acrid haze situation in Southeast Asia is worsening. Visibility has been severely reduced in neighboring countries and some schools have been closed due to the health hazard posed. The annual smoke season is caused by illegal slash and burn clearance of land in Indonesia, particularly the island of Borneo.

The haze has spread over 2,250 miles (3,600 kilometers) into neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and even drifting to Guam in the western Pacific.

Aviation has been severely impaired in Indonesia, where in certain areas, visibility is only a mere 200 to 300 meters. Helicopter service in Malaysia’s Sarawak state, a key mode of transportation there, has been halted due to the poor visibility. A Mandala Airlines Boeing 737-200 carrying a 110 people had overshot the runway at Tarakan airport in Kalimantan province in Indonesia. The aircraft came partly to rest in a nearby swamp. Visibility at the time was around 400 meters, 600 meters short of Indonesian landing safety regulations.

Schools in Thailand, and Indonesia have also been forced to closed, and look likely to stay closed well into next week.

Air pollution indices around the region have also registered a spike in poor air quality. Sarawak state’s index came in at 106-188 with 100-200 being unhealthy. In Malay peninsula, the air pollution index in five states came in at 101-116. In Singapore, the Pollution Standards Index registered between 80-130 with 81-100 in the moderate range and 101-200 in the unhealthy range.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Wikinews journalist Timlee90 reports:

The air quality here in Singapore is so bad that I could feel the dust in my mouth as I was walking on the streets today. The air constantly smells of burning wood and visibility is never more than a kilometer. Singaporeans I know are concerned about the deteriorating situation.

Timothy Low, a Singaporean who’s just finished his national service says that he is concerned about the situation, “I can’t run to exercise. People with lung related problems have difficulty breathing; It causes tearing also.” The government here has advised citizens to reduce vigorous activity, especially those with existing heart or lung conditions.

The Indonesian government has been criticized by environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace, which claims that the allowed conversion of forests into cropland is the cause of the problem. The also call on the Indonesian government to “investigate and hold liable plantation companies responsible for slash and burn clearing”.

The Indonesian government has responded to the criticism that it is doing all that it can do. “We don’t know when we can put out the fires but we are working tirelessly and have spent billions of rupiah (hundreds of thousands of dollars) in our efforts,” Forestry Minister Malem Sambat Kaban said. “As for complaints from neighbouring countries, there’s nothing else we can do. We don’t cause the fires deliberately.”

In 1997-98, the haze cost the Southeast Asian region an estimated US$9.0 billion by disrupting air travel and other business activities

Posted: August 15th, 2018 by MbEe89

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Spanish football: Juanfran signs one-year contract extension with Atlético Madrid

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Spanish football: Juanfran signs one-year contract extension with Atlético Madrid

Monday, June 25, 2018

On Friday, via their official website, Spanish football club Atlético Madrid announced their defender Juanfran signed a one-year contract extension with the club. The new contract runs until June 30, 2019.

The Spanish defender joined the club in January 2011 and has featured in 325 matches for them. During his tenure at Atlético Madrid, Juanfran has won one Spanish LaLiga title, two UEFA Europa League trophies, one Super Copa de España, and one Copa del Rey. Juanfran has also played 22 matches in the Spanish jersey, participating in the 2012 and 2016 UEFA Euro tournaments as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup. With the national team, Juanfran won the 2012 UEFA Euro tournament.

After signing the contract, 33-year-old Juanfran said, “Staying one more season at home makes me very proud and happy. I’m very excited about renewing one more year with the team of my life. My commitment and loyalty to this club make my heart just think about being a ‘rojiblanco’ player. I just can’t wait for next season to start to continue giving the maximum in each match and makes all the atléticos feel proud of me. Forza Atleti” ((es))Spanish language: ?Seguir un año más en mi casa me llena de orgullo y felicidad. Renovar un año más con el equipo de mi vida me llena de ilusión. Mi compromiso y lealtad a este club hacen que mi corazón solo piense en ser rojiblanco. Estoy deseando que empiece el año que viene para seguir dando el máximo en cada partido y que todos los atléticos se sientan orgullosos de mí. Forza Atleti

Juanfran’s previous contract was set to expire this summer.

Posted: August 14th, 2018 by MbEe89

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TV show Firefly’s “Serenity” movie trailer released, could spoil enjoyment for fans

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TV show Firefly’s “Serenity” movie trailer released, could spoil enjoyment for fans

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The trailer for Joss Whedon’s new feature film, Serenity, is expected to be released today (Tuesday, April 26). Joss Whedon, the creator of such prime time television successes as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, is promoting his latest movie with the official Serenity movie web site and a formal announcement. Joss Whedon has also warned fans of the Firefly show to avoid viewing the trailer, as it may be a spoiler for the movie, and may ruin their enjoyment.

This popular television writer and creator developed Serenity as a follow up to Firefly, a genre defining Sci-FiWestern that has received critical acclaim among science fiction enthusiasts, but failed to capture the interest of the typical prime time viewer. Firefly debuted on the FOX network in September, 2002, but was quickly canceled after one season.

Serenity uses many of the same lead actors and characters as the original television series. In an interview with Firefly actor Alan Tudyk, Serenity is the first film in a three-picture Firefly contract with Universal Studios.

Posted: August 14th, 2018 by MbEe89

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News briefs:August 2, 2010

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News briefs:August 2, 2010
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Posted: August 13th, 2018 by MbEe89

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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.

Contents

  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources

Posted: August 12th, 2018 by MbEe89

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Police disperse striking traders in New Delhi

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Police disperse striking traders in New Delhi

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Delhi Police used lathi(baton)-charges to disrupt striking traders when they gathered in large numbers and attempted to block traffic on the city’s streets on Wednesday morning. The 2-day old strike, protesting a Supreme Court order to seal unauthorised commercial establishments in the city, turned to a more violent note with protestors stranded several buses by puncturing their tyres.

The Supreme Court’s Monitoring committee sent a notice to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Tuesday to resume the sealing of unauthorised shops from November 2. Initially, the sealing drive was to resume on November 1.

Private medical practitioners also joined the protest on its final day, which affected health services in the city. The traders threatened to extend their strike if MCD resumes its sealing drive.

The first two days of the strike went peacefully without having any serious violence. Traders were expecting the government to meet their demands. They met Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit to resolve this dispute.

Posted: August 12th, 2018 by MbEe89

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