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Tue, 27 Oct 2020
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Earth-Hitting Asteroids: Katrina From Space

LOS ANGELES, California - Natural events such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes rock this planet from time to time. But when the Earth gets stoned by an asteroid, consider it akin to a Katrina from outer space.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the United States in August of last year, it became a deadly, destructive, and costly episode--one that has also become a metaphor for lack of government action, both pre- and post strike.

At the current time there is no agency of the U.S. government--nor of any government in the world--with the explicit responsibility to develop and demonstrate the technology necessary to protect the planet from near-Earth object (NEO) impacts.�

The U.S. Congress needs to be encouraged to take a step in demonstrating the ability to deflect a menacing NEOs believes former NASA astronaut, Russell Schweickart, Chairman of the B612 Foundation. He presented an update today on dealing with troublesome asteroids here at the 25th International Space Development Conference.

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102 dead after four months of heavy rains in Colombia

BOGOTA - Heavy rains and flooding since the beginning of the year have killed 102 people and damaged thousand of homes across much of Colombia, according to state rescue agency Socorro Nacional.

On Sunday, four more people died in a landslide in a poor Bogota neighborhood, and much of the capital remains under emergency warning due to elevated river levels.

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Italian lawmakers reach stalemate on first day of presidential vote

ROME - The first round of voting for Italy's next president ended in stalemate with no candidate obtaining a majority of two-thirds of parliamentary votes needed.

Italian lawmakers were unable to break a deadlock which threatens to further stall incoming prime minister Romano Prodi's accession to power, a month after winning a general election.

The presidential candidate presented by the right-wing coalition, Gianni Letta, outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's close aide and undersecretary, received 368 votes, according to a first count.

There were 438 blank votes after Prodi said that the centre-left would leave their ballots blank, in a signal that he could not muster the votes to have his candidate elected in the first round.

Comment: Comment:
"More than 150 voters ignored voting orders and gave their support to people who were not on voting lists. Berlusconi received two votes and his friend, lawmaker and lawyer Cesare Previti, in prison for corrupting magistrates, received three votes."
Voting officials later revealed that in an unheard of act of selflessness, Berlusconi had actually cast five votes: two for himself, and three for his friend in prison. They noted, however, that Berlusconi had also signed his ballots and wrote a little note at the bottom that read, "Dear little person, Save this signature. It'll be worth billions. Now, get back to work! What do you think I'm paying you for, you [expletive deleted]?!"


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Cindy Sheehan pressures Canada

OTTAWA -- Canadian soldiers have no business being in Afghanistan and their presence there merely enables the United States to carry on its "illegal and immoral" war in Iraq, prominent U.S. anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said yesterday.

"I believe my country shouldn't be in Afghanistan anyway," Ms. Sheehan said at a news conference on Parliament Hill. "It's never about spreading freedom or democracy or making the world safe, it's about lining the war profiteers' pockets."

While lambasting President George W. Bush and the U.S. government for the Iraq war, Ms. Sheehan also fired broadsides at the UN-backed international mission in Afghanistan.

"My country supported Osama bin Laden in the fight against Russia," she said. "And now they go in and tear down that country. It's back in the hands of the drug lords, it's producing more opium than ever, and it's not safe. There's not any rebuilding going on, because it's being occupied by occupying forces."

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Major hurricane season brewing in the Atlantic

FREDERICTON -- In what could signal a frightening new fact of life in the age of global warming, Canadian and U.S. forecasters are warning that another major hurricane season is brewing in the Atlantic Ocean.

The 2006 hurricane season officially opens on June 1, and already scientists are telling people living in eastern North America that numerous storms are predicted, with as many as five major hurricanes packing winds of 180 km/h or greater.

"It's kind of comparable to what we were looking at last year at this time," says Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S.

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Florida Issues State of Emergency Over Fires

New Smyrna Beach - Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency Monday as brush fires burned more than 8,000 acres, destroyed homes and forced authorities to shut down highways.

Officials are tracking about 50 active wildfires throughout the water-parched state, and Bush said lightning was probably not to blame in most cases.

"The likelihood is most of these fires have been created by either negligence or people doing harm," he said.

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Crocs ply flood waters as killer Kenyan storms fry pelicans

NAIROBI - Dozens of man-eating crocodiles plied flood waters along Kenya's Indian Ocean coast after heavy thunderstorms that killed at six people and fried nearly 50 pelicans.

About 30 of the carnivorous reptiles were spotted swimming near children's playgrounds and municipal parks in Kilifi, frightening parents in the coastal town where floods have claimed at least six lives in the past week, officials said Saturday.

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Dead Starfish Are Discovered in B.C.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Hundreds of starfish have been found dead on a beach on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast, and a scientist says a nonnative parasite is likely to blame.

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Spring Snow Brought Up to 5 Feet to Plains

LEAD, S.D. - Residents of the northwestern Plains on Thursday started to dig out from this week's spring blizzard, which dumped up to 5 feet of snow, cut power and threatened to flood low-lying areas.

The heaviest snow was reported in the city of Lead in western South Dakota, near the Wyoming line, where the weather service reported 59.4 inches.

Crews struggling with the weight and volume of snow also had to find a place to put it after scooping it up, said Pat Milos, Lead's city administrator.

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Southern Louisiana in a Severe Drought

NEW ORLEANS - Mother Nature has outdone herself with this cruel joke: Southern Louisiana, much of which was underwater not so long ago, is in the throes of a severe to extreme drought.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita accounted for most of the rain the region has seen in more than a year, weather experts say. Southeastern Louisiana is on pace for its driest January-though-April ever.

According to the Lincoln, Neb.-based National Drought Mitigation Center, southern Louisiana is under conditions of either severe or extreme drought - with the extreme conditions closer to the coast.