Friday, October 19, 2018

King of the North

Putin: Russia 'ahead of competition' with latest weapons - AP
The AP reports: "The Russian leader also warned that new hypersonic missiles his country developed give it a military edge. [...] Russia already has deployed the Kinzhal hypersonic missile. Putin said that another new weapon, the Avangard, is set to enter service in the next few months. Earlier this year, Putin said the Avangard has an intercontinental range and can fly in the atmosphere at a speed 20 times the speed of sound, making it capable of piercing any missile defense system. His blunt talk Thursday comes as Russia-West relations remain frosty over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote."

Comment: Hypersonic missiles are an interesting development as they would seem to undermine existing countermeasures. I need to read more about this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Roaring Seas & Waves

Rising seas threaten dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites - AP
The AP reports: "To better characterize the risks facing sites of historic and cultural significant in the Mediterranean, scientists surveyed the exposure of 49 low-lying UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the region. Of the 49 sites, 37 would be affected by a 100-year storm surge. Another 42 are threatened by coastal erosion. As sea levels rise, the risk of a storm surge capable of damaging world heritage sites is expected to increase by 50 percent."

Comment: Will sea level rise become more real to people if they see major tourist sites like Venice impacted? Possibly. It's good that they are planning for this, although I think (re a previous post) new re-development strategies for populated coastal areas are a higher priority. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pestilence

Mysterious paralyzing illness found among kids in 22 states - AP
AP reports: "U.S. health officials on Tuesday reported a jump in cases of a rare paralyzing illness in children, and said it seems to be following an every-other-year pattern. At least 62 cases have been confirmed in 22 states this year, and at least 65 additional illnesses in those states are being investigated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similar waves of the same illness occurred in 2014 and 2016. [...] About 90 percent of the cases are children who have suffered muscle weakness or paralysis, including in the face, neck, back or limbs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after they had a fever and respiratory illness."

Comment: That's really scary, praying they will quickly find a vaccine and a cure. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Persecution

Egypt Sentences 17 to Death in Attacks on Christians - The New York Times
The New York Times reports: "An Egyptian military court handed down death sentences on Thursday to 17 people convicted in a series of fatal attacks on Christians that started in December 2016 and left more than 80 people dead and 150 wounded. Egyptian state media said the defendants were accused of belonging to the Islamic State and of plotting attacks against Christian churches and a police checkpoint."

Comment: Thankful that justice has been done and that the government of Egypt has taken this matter seriously. Despite the cynical reporting of the NYT (in which the reporter spent the bulk of the article questioning the integrity of the judicial system rather than discussing the particulars of the attacks, the motives of the attackers and the response of the Christian community), it is certainly encouraging to belivers in Egypt to see justice prevail after these barbaric attacks. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Persecution

Turkey releases U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson after 2 years in captivity
UPI reports: "Longtime Turkish captive Andrew Brunson was released from house arrest Friday, allowing the pastor to return to the United States after two years in captivity. Brunson has been in Turkish custody since October 2016 when he was arrested on charges that he spied on the government and aided in a military coup attempt."

Comment: Please join me in offering thanks that Pastor Brunson has been released from imprisonment. He had been arrested on trumped up charges, part of the drama surrounding the failed coup attempt and Turkey's efforts to secure the arrest of the U.S. based Islamic cleric they blame for it.  They had in mind a prisoner swap that apparently has not happened. Good news indeed!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Earthquakes - Roaring Waves

Indonesia Tsunami: Experts Warn of More Deadly Disasters | Time
Time Magazine reports: "Indonesia is facing a long and painful recovery from the devastating earthquake and tsunami of two weeks ago, but scientists say that this latest calamity could simply be a warning of more deadly and destructive disasters ahead. [...] The reasons are clear: more humans are moving into more densely populated cities, and surrounding themselves with infrastructure — roads, bridges, and buildings — that become deadly hazards during a disaster, and expensive to repair when it subsides."

Comment: It's time for all countries to carefully reconsider development in disaster prone areas. They must counter the emotional "we will rebuild" sentiment people so often express. It's not brave to rebuild when you know it's a flood/quake/tsunami/typhoon/hurricane/tornado zone.  At the very least, insurers should no longer pay to rebuild in such areas and opt instead to pay for relocation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pestilence

DNA vaccine shows promising, long-term results against Ebola virus
UPI reports: "A synthetic DNA vaccine is showing immediate and long-term promising results against the Ebola virus in preclinical animal research. [...] The Zaire Ebolavirus infection causes a severe hemorrhagic fever with a 50 percent fatality rate. Ebola, which is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, first appeared in 1976 in what is now, Nzara, South Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo."

Comment: I wish them luck with the vaccine, Ebola is one of the scariest diseases we track in this category. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Earthquakes

Magnitude-6.3 earthquake rocks Russia's Kuril Islands
UPI reports: "A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Russia's Kuril Islands Tuesday three days after the nearby Ebeko volcano erupted on Paramushir Island. The earthquake's epicenter was located 90 miles east of Onekotan Island at a depth of 34 kilometers, according to the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk seismic station, according to Russia's state-run Sputnik News. [...] The earlier volcanic eruption spewed ash as high as 4.5 kilometers in the air."

Comment: Scientists continue to say that there's nothing unusual going on and that quakes are not increasing in frequency and severity.  While it's true that we have better monitoring and reporting procedures now than in the past and this contributes to the misconception that they are, I do hope they will quickly let us know if the trend lines ever change.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Fear for the Future

UN climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming - UPI
UPI reports: "The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes" to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC report, which was produced with the help of 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries, was approved over the weekend at a meeting in South Korea. [...] The UN report warns the most serious impacts of climate change could arrive as early as 2030 if carbon emissions aren't significantly reduced."

Comment: Most governments are run by ideologues and not pragmatists and since all of this costs money and there are other more immediate and tangible things to spend money on, nothing will be done about this. This means we will be able to look back in the future and confirm that the climate-change skeptics had it wrong. It's not the best way to win an argument.