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Fri, 27 Jan 2023
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Japan's Tsunami Victims Learning from an Earthquake Island's Rebuilding Mistakes

© unknown
Cautionary tale … Okushiri Island devastated by an earthquake in 1993 has become a concrete fortress.
Okushiri, Japan - On the night of July 12, 1993, the remote island of Okushiri was ripped apart by a huge earthquake and tsunami that now seem an eerie harbinger of the much larger disaster that struck north-eastern Japan in March last year.

Islanders still recall with horror how a wall of frothing black water raced out of the darkness to consume entire communities, leaving almost 200 people dead.

In the five years that followed, the Japanese government rebuilt the island, erecting 10.7-metre concrete walls on long stretches of its coast, making it look more like a fortress than a fishing outpost. The $1 billion worth of construction projects included not only the hefty wave defences but entire neighbourhoods built on higher ground, with a few flourishes, like a futuristic $13.8 million tsunami memorial hall featuring a stained glass panel for each victim.

But as Japan begins a decade-long $277 billion reconstruction of the north-east coast, Okushiri has become a cautionary tale. Instead of restoring the island to its vibrant past, many residents say, the $1 billion spending spree may have helped kill its revival.


2 kids, 2 Adults Killed in Fire Similar to June 2011

© The Vindicator/Jessica M. Kanalas / Associated Press
A house is shown where a man, woman and two girls died Saturday, March 3, 2012 in a house fire in Warren, Ohio.
US: Ohio, Warren - For the second time in less than a year, a house fire in the city claimed multiple victims including children.

Two adults, Edtwan Kimble, 32, and Yolanda Holmes, 38; and two children, Mari'auna Holmes, 12, and Marniece Holmes, 9, died Saturday during a fire at their home at 160 Austin Ave. NW.

"It is a sad day for Warren. Our arms are open, and if they need us, we'll be there to help them along the way to go through this period," said Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large.

Fire Chief Ken Nussle said the blaze began about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

"The [911] caller indicated she was burning up, so the firefighters knew they had occupants," Nussle said.

When firefighters arrived two minutes after the call, the entire second floor of the home was engulfed and flames were in the first-floor kitchen, the chief said.

Once inside, firefighters did a search and found the adults and children, deceased, in two bedrooms on the second floor, Nussle said.

"No working smoke detectors were found," he said.


Upstate New York Man Accused of Threat Against Obama

© unknown
Brent G. Dickinson
US, Saratoga Springs - A man is accused of threatening to kill President Obama and elementary schoolchildren in upstate New York.

Prosecutors say the U.S. Secret Service and local authorities collaborated to arrest Brent Dickinson.

The county district attorney's office said Saturday the 33-year-old man "intended to murder" the targets of his threatening messages. They said the U.S. Secret Service intercepted two threatening messages posted by Dickinson on a White House message board Friday.

Dickinson was arraigned in Saratoga Springs City Court on charges of making terroristic threats.

He was taken to city jail after bail was set at $50,000. It wasn't immediately known Saturday whether he had an attorney.

A message left at a number listed for Dickinson's possible relatives was not returned Saturday.

Source: The Associated Press


Andrew Breitbart: Coroner Wants to 'Cover all the Bases'

© Jeff Kowalsky / European Pressphoto Agency
Andrew Breitbart signs his book Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! Feb. 25 in Troy, Mich.
US, California - The Los Angeles County coroner's office said it is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before releasing an official cause of death for conservative author and activist Andrew Breitbart, who died unexpectedly Thursday at age 43.

A source familiar with the investigation told The Times the tests are routine in a death of someone so young.

An autopsy was completed Friday, and the tests are expected to take several weeks.

"It's standard procedure," coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey told Reuters. "We have a very young man who died suddenly and unexpectedly, so we want to make sure we cover all the bases."

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was still under investigation, said officials are working on the assumption that Breitbart died of natural causes. A witness saw him collapse while walking near his home and said that he had no external injuries, the source said. Paramedics rushed Breitbart to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead.

"It looks like a heart attack, but no one knows until "an autopsy is done, Breitbart's father-in-law, actor Orson Bean, told The Times.

Che Guevara

Vancouver Demonstrators Protest Robocall Scandal

'Biggest fundamental disregard of democracy'
© Libby Davies/Flickr
Hundreds rallied in Vancouver Saturday to protest the growing robocalls scandal.

Canada, British Columbia - Demonstrators marched through downtown Vancouver Saturday in protest of the robocall scandal.

Carrying placards and flags, chanting slogans and following police on motorcycles, a modest number of demonstrators that included members of Parliament, union leaders and average citizens marched to a prominent war memorial from the Vancouver Art Gallery.

"There isn't a more important issue than this in Canada right now," said rally organizer Sarah Bueller, with OpenMedia.ca.

"We can fight on every issue but if we can't trust the ballot box this is going to turn into something very shortly that isn't Canada."

Representatives from the NDP and the Liberals urged whoever is responsible to come forward, as did Vancouver City Coun. Adriane Carr.

"This is the biggest fundamental disregard of democracy I have seen in this country," she said. "We are talking about illegal activity."


TSA Forces Woman to Pump Breast Milk into Bottles Before Boarding

US - A Hawaiian mom said she was embarrassed after the TSA asked her to "prove" her breast pump was real by filling the bottles before being allowed to board.

Amy Strand was flagged in the security line at the Lihue Airport in Kauai on Wed. She was traveling with her 9-month-old daughter, reported KITV 4 News.

She had an electric breast pump with her, and because the bottles in the carry-on bag were empty, she indicated she was asked to "prove" the breast pump was real.

TSA reportedly wanted Strand to demonstrate the pump and fill the bottles. The breastfeeding mother asked if there was a private area where she could pump the milk, and the TSA sent her to a women's bathroom to fill the bottles.


2 Trains Collide in Poland; 8 Dead, Dozens Injured

© The Associated Press/Michal Legierski
Rescuers work at the site of the train collision in Szczekociny, southern Poland Sudnay, March 3, 2012.
Two trains collided head-on in southern Poland late Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring around 50 in what appears to be one of the worst rail disasters in the country in recent years, officials said.

Both trains were traveling on the same track but toward each other and collided head-on, Andrzej Pawlowski, a member of the board of the state railway company PKP, said in an interview on the all-news station TVN24. He said one of the trains, which was traveling south from Warsaw to Krakow, should not have been on the track. The other train, headed from the eastern city of Przemysl to Warsaw, was on the correct track, Pawlowski said.

It wasn't immediately clear how the southbound train ended up on the wrong track. Maintenance work was being carried out on one of the tracks where the collision occurred, in the small town of Szczekociny.


BP Reaches Settlement With the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee - Less Than 1/3 of One Year's Profits

BP announces settlement with PSC, subject to final written agreement, to resolve economic loss and medical claims from Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. Estimated $7.8B settlement expected to be paid from $20 billion Trust

© Drake Toulouse
BP has reached a settlement with the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC), subject to final written agreement, to resolve the substantial majority of legitimate economic loss and medical claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. The PSC acts on behalf of individual and business plaintiffs in the Multi-District Litigation proceedings pending in New Orleans (MDL 2179).
"From the beginning, BP stepped up to meet our obligations to the communities in the Gulf Coast region, and we've worked hard to deliver on that commitment for nearly two years," said Bob Dudley, BP Group CEO. "The proposed settlement represents significant progress toward resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast."
BP estimates that the cost of the proposed settlement, expected to be paid from the $20 billion Trust, would be approximately $7.8 billion. This includes a BP commitment of $2.3 billion to help resolve economic loss claims related to the Gulf seafood industry.


Occupy Wall Street Spreads to Colleges Over Student Debt

© unknown
Students from colleges and high schools around the country gathered Thursday for protests and rallies called the National Day of Action for Education.

Two groups associated with the Occupy movement -- Occupy Colleges and Occupy Education -- organized the event, along with a group called the New York Student Aid Alliance.

Natalia Abrams, an organizer with Occupy Colleges, said that more than 70 schools pledged through the Occupy Colleges website to send at least 100 students each to the rallies, with some schools pledging hundreds more. She estimated turnout to be in the "mid to high thousands."

The event is the second in two days that has drawn attention to what might be described as a second wave of the Occupy movement.

Call it Occupy 2.0. After evictions ended the movement's camping phase a few months ago, the occupation went into hibernation. Activists regrouped and got more organized, focusing on specific issues. Wednesday's march targeted the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that promotes policies intended to benefit corporations. Thursday's took aim at the high cost of education.


Ken Mehlman Apologizes For His Role in the 2004 Bush Campaign's Anti-Gay Marriage Agenda

US: Bush's Former Campaign Manager Apologizes for Anti-Gay Marriage Agenda

President George W. Bush's re-election campaign manager and openly gay former Republican Committee chairman Ken Mehlman expressed regret with his role in the 2004 campaign's anti-gay marriage agenda. Mehlman, who left the Republican National Committee to work for a private equity firm shortly after coming out in 2010, apologized in an interview for pushing against gay marriage in 2004.

"At a personal level, I wish i had spoken out against the effort. As I've been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I've learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved," said Mehlman in an interview with Salon. "I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I'll do my part to be helpful."