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Engineers urge government to act now to climate-proof UK infrastructure

Image
© Christopher Thomond
Resurfacing the road network are among the recommendations from engineers on how to protect the UK's infrastructure from climate change.
Report sets out how transport, water, power and communications systems can be made more resilient to effects of climate change

Generating power from human waste and resurfacing the UK's road network are among the recommendations made by engineers in the most extensive study to date of how to protect the country's infrastructure from the worst effects of climate change.

Extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves and more intense storms are expected to become more common as the world warms. This means vital infrastructure - including transport, sewage and water treatment, and electricity and communications networks - is vulnerable to severe damage. But the UK is unprepared for these effects, according to the leading professional bodies for engineers.

"We need to have a debate on this - it all depends on what politicians are prepared to do," said David Nickols, chair of the water panel at the Institution of Civil Engineers, and one of the authors of the report published today by the Royal Academy of Engineering and seven other professional engineering bodies, representing nearly half a million engineers.

The engineers said all of the country's infrastructure could be rendered more resilient to the probable effects of climate change, but this would require new regulations from the government.

Stormtrooper

Egypt army to shoot commanders?

egypt,protest

Protesters sit inside the tracks of Egyptian Army tanks both to prevent them from moving and to shield themselves from the rain, as a soldier, talks to one of them at the protest site opposite the Egyptian Museum near Liberation Square in downtown Cairo.

An Egyptian activist says several Egyptian army officers and soldiers have warned the military that they will no longer shoot protesters, instead they will shoot the commanders.

"I think some of them (the army personnel) might join protesters. We have heard some of the officers and soldiers saying if we receive an order to shoot people, we would shoot whoever issued the order," Wael Abbas, a member of the opposition Egypt Revolution Youth Movement, told Press TV in a phone interview on Thursday.

Egypt Revolution Youth Movement has been one of the active rights groups in 17 days of revolution which has rocked the North African country.

"I have no confirmation if the army is going to intervene in favor of the protesters or in favor of the regime," Abbas added.

Revolution has entered its 17th consecutive day in crisis-hit Egypt, despite massive crackdown on demonstrators in the past two days, which left more than a hundred people killed or wounded.

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters camped overnight in the streets in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, near parliament building, the site of a massive march on Wednesday.

The angry protesters blocked roads and railways connecting the northern part of the country to the south on Thursday.

Stormtrooper

Rachel Maddow Calls Out The Republicans On Their Big Government Agenda

On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow debunked the idea that all Republicans support small government. The reality is that all Republicans talk small government, but most want to take away liberties and grow government. Maddow said, "Republicans all say they are small government libertarian conservatives.But what they have done when they have power is authoritarian big government stuff."

Here is the video:


Maddow began with the three individual freedom killing abortion related bills that the House is currently working on, "Freedom, liberty, letting people do what they want! And then they arrived in Washington and immediately started working on putting government in charge of every single pregnancy in America. Even as they slowed the legislative calendar way down, stopped doing much of anything else, they advanced not one, not two, but three super radical bills to restrict abortion rights. One of those bills had a hearing in the House today. Another one has a hearing tomorrow."

Arrow Down

Ireland: Plane crashes at Cork airport, up to 8 killed

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© Michael MacSweeney/Rex Features
Emergency crews at the scene of the crash at Cork Airport, Ireland.
Six people have died and six others were injured after a plane travelling from Belfast crashed while landing in fog at Cork airport.

Confirmation of the fatalities came from a Cork county council spokesman, while unconfirmed reports said the death toll could be as high as eight. There were 12 people on board the small turboprop commuter plane, which crashed on the pilot's third attempt at landing. It is believed to be on fire near the runway.

The Irish Aviation Authority confirmed the crash happened at 9.51am on runway 17, but said the number of fatalities or injured were still unknown.

"[The plane] had been trying to land in foggy conditions. This was its third attempt to land," an IAA spokeswoman said.

It is understood debris from the wreckage has been scattered over a wide area of the runway.

A Garda Síochána spokesman said gardai, fire crews and ambulances from across the city and county were responding.

The flight was operated by the Isle of Man-based company Manx2.com, which took over the Belfast to Cork route from Aer Arann last year.

Bizarro Earth

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

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© George Steinmetz/Corbis
Saudi oil refinery. WikiLeaks cables suggest the amount of oil that can be retrieved has been overestimated.
US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels - nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.

According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12m barrels a day in 10 years but before then - possibly as early as 2012 - global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as "peak oil".

Light Sabers

Muslim Brotherhood text reveals scope of radical creed

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© Ahmed Ali/AP
Thousands of Egyptians surround army tanks in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Hundreds of anti-government protesters have returned to Cairo's central Tahrir Square, chanting slogans against Hosni Mubarak.
Translated by Palestinian Media Watch, book details group's goal of global Islamic conquest.

One of the greatest beneficiaries of the unrest in Egypt has been the Muslim Brotherhood.

Banned but tolerated for decades by successive Egyptian regimes, the Islamist movement is now emerging as a central player in the country's resurgent opposition.

On Tuesday, two Brotherhood representatives participated in an opposition delegation that met with Vice President Omar Suleiman for the first set of talks over implementing political reforms.

Pundits have portrayed the Brotherhood as uncompromising zealots or beneficent providers of social services that long-deprived Egyptians desperately need.

But a translation released Tuesday of a 1995 book by the movement's fifth official leader sheds light on just how Egypt's Brotherhood views itself and its mission. Jihad is the Way is the last of a five-volume work, The Laws of Da'wa by Mustafa Mashhur, who headed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002.

Beaker

Why Did The HIV Epidemic Decline In Zimbabwe?

In this week's PLoS Medicine Magazine, Daniel Halperin from the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues examine reasons for the remarkable decline in HIV in Zimbabwe, in the context of severe social, political, and economic disruption.

Funding: Some of the studies upon which this paper is based were funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provided some logistical support as well as helping with coordination between the studies. Two of the authors of this paper (Benedikt and Campbell) are employed by UNFPA and helped edit the manuscript. The United Nations HIV-AIDS Program (UNAIDS) and the Zimbabwean Ministry for Health and Child Welfare also sponsored this study. TBH and SG thank the Wellcome Trust for funding support. The funders had no other role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

People

Egyptian talks near collapse as trade unions back protests

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© Stringer/EPA
Egyptian employees of service companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority have joined workers across the country in strike action.
Talks between the Egyptian government and opposition have all but collapsed after the regime balked at surrendering power to a transitional administration in the hope that mass protests would die down.

Instead, the unrest is spreading as some of the largest demonstrations yet against President Hosni Mubarak were joined by labour strikes across the country, including on the Suez canal, in the city of Alexandria and by public transport workers in Cairo.

A prominent member of a key opposition group, the Council of Wise Men, said negotiations had "essentially come to an end". A western diplomat said Washington was alarmed by the lack of progress and the vice-president Omar Suleiman's warning of a coup if the opposition refused to accept the government's terms.

Pharoah

New Egyptian minister for culture resigns amid relentless protests

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© Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
Our country now: Anti-government demonstrators hold a huge national flag in Tahrir (Liberation) Square
Egypt's newly appointed Culture Minister Gaber Asfour has resigned as protests against President Hosni Mubarak's regime continue.

He resigned on Wednesday just nine days after he joined the cabinet in a reshuffle that was prompted by mounting demonstrations against the three-decade authoritarian rule of Mubarak, reports say.

Asfour, who had replaced Farouk Hosni after twenty-five years in office, has said he quit because of medical reasons. However, there is no official comment on the resignation so far.

The sixteenth day of the deadly demonstrations turned more violent on Wednesday with security forces using live bullets to disperse the outraged protesters in the small town of Kharga, witnesses said.

Having denied permit for a peaceful demonstration, Kharga police clamped down on protesters, killing at least five people and injuring hundreds of others in the past 24 hours, medics said.

On Wednesday, Cairo's Liberation Square remained flooded with demonstrators who have vowed not to go home until Mubarak steps down.

Che Guevara

Go Egypt Go! Revolution Enters Its 17th Day

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© Press TV
Demonstrators take part in a candlelight vigil for the people who were killed during the pro-democracy protests against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Liberation Square in Cairo February 9, 2011.
Revolution has entered its 17th consecutive day in Egypt, despite massive crackdown on demonstrators in the past two days which left more than a hundred people killed or wounded.

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters camped overnight in the streets in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, near parliament building, the site of a massive march on Wednesday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Pro-democracy protesters blocked roads and railways connecting the northern part of the country to the south on Thursday.

Reports say the protesters set fire to tires placed across the main motorway that goes from Cairo to Assiut, 350 kilometers south of Cairo.

Around 8,000 protesters, mainly farmers, took to the streets in Assiut, and used wooden planks and bricks to block the railway line. More than 3,000 railway workers went on strike to put more pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign.