When flight 214 crashed last week at the San Francisco airport, killing two people and injuring dozens, many people were in a state of disbelief. How could a Boeing 777 — the “Titanic” of commercial airliners — be piloted so carelessly that the pilot seemingly flew it into the seawall and caused the accident?
But that’s the problem, you see: There are no more pilots flying these planes. The real pilots have nearly all retired, leaving a bunch of “computer geeks” who have almost no flying skills and only know how to operate the computerized, automated flight equipment which is subject to catastrophic failure.
That’s what “Pilot X” told me in a phone interview. His identity is being secret for his own protection, but he recently retired from over two decades of flying Boeing’s largest aircraft for major U.S. airlines. He has received more actual flight time than 99% of today’s active commercial pilots, and he’s an expert in Boeing flight automation equipment. His testimony, below, reveals insider details that only a real commercial pilot would know.
Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) — Western Australia’s state premier, Colin Barnett, declared an area near the state capital of Perth a natural disaster zone after a bushfire raging out of control on the fringes of the city destroyed 59 structures.
Homes, sheds and carports have been destroyed by the blaze, Natasha Thorson, a spokeswoman with the Fire & Emergency Services Authority, or FESA, said in a phone interview today.
The fires started yesterday in the Roleystone and Kelmscott areas in Perth’s south-east from sparks by a machinist using an angle grinder, WAToday.com cited a FESA spokesman, which it didn’t identify, as saying.
More than 100 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is moving at 100 meters an hour in numerous directions with flames reaching three meters, FESA said. The bushfire poses a “threat to lives and homes,” the authority said.
The blaze has burned about 440 hectares, has cut power and closed two schools in the area. Two helicopters are assisting, FESA said. There are no reports of injuries.
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Almost a foot (300 millimeters) of rain in just a few hours renewed flood fears in Australia’s already waterlogged Queensland state Saturday, sending a surging river over its banks and into another large town.
Officials said about only 20 buildings in Maryborough, where about 22,000 people live, were expected to be flooded after the river burst its banks in the overnight downpour. The waters were expected to peak on Sunday.
“A number of businesses … will have floodwaters in their basements,” Mayor Mick Kruger said.
But the new flooding was a reminder that the state has almost no capacity to absorb more heavy rains after weeks of drenching tropical weather submerged an area the size of Germany and France combined.
Heavy rains fell in eastern Australia on Thursday, bringing fresh misery to flood-hit communities as the mayor of the flooded city of Rockhampton warned it could take up to a year to recover from the worst flooding in decades.
US wheat futures rose heavily yesterday as concerns grew that Australian wheat growers will be unable to deliver their harvests as a result of the devastation. Australia is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wheat after the USA, Canada and Russia.
At the Chicago Board of Trade, the price of wheat for March delivery rose over 3pc, at one point hitting $8.25 (£5.30) a bushel, the highest since last August. Warnings over impending cold weather in the US were also cited as reasons for the rise.
The discovery, which comes as millions of birds begin moving toward the region in the fall migration, gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened.
The oil was sighted in West Bay, which covers approximately 35 square miles of open water between Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the river, and Tiger Pass near Venice. Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up. The captains said most of their sightings have occurred during stretches of calm weather, similar to what the area has experienced most of this week.
On Friday reports included accounts of strips of the heavily weathered orange oil that became a signature image of the spill during the summer. One captain said some strips were as much as 400 feet wide and a mile long.
The captains did not want to be named for fear of losing their clean-up jobs with BP.
Toxic flood from ruptured reservoir at alumina plant claims third life amid fears for Raba and Danube rivers
Tunde Erdelyi clings to her cat after toxic sludge from an alumina plant flooded her home in Devecser, Hungary. Photograph: Bela Szandelszky/AP
The Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency after a third person died today in flooding from a ruptured red sludge reservoir at an alumina plant. Six people were missing and 120 injured in what officials said was an ecological disaster.
The sludge, a waste product in aluminum production, contains heavy metals and is toxic if ingested. Many of the injured suffered burns as the sludge seeped through their clothes. Two of the injured were in life-threatening condition. An elderly woman, a young man and a three-year-old child were killed.
The chemical burns could take days to reveal themselves and what may seem like superficial injuries could disguise damage to deeper tissue, Peter Jakabos, a doctor at a hospital in Gyor where several of the injured were taken, said on state television.
The government declared a state of emergency in three western counties affected by the flooding. Several hundred tonnes of plaster were being poured into the Marcal river to bind the toxic sludge and prevent it from flowing on, the national disaster management directorate said.
So far, about 1m cubic metres (35.3m cubic feet) of sludge has leaked from the reservoir and affected an estimated area of 40 sq km (15.4 square miles), the environment secretary, Zoltan Illes, told state news agency MTI.
Illes said the incident was an “ecological catastrophe” and it was feared that the sludge could reach the Raba and Danube rivers.
A 22-mile plume of droplets from BP’s Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico undermines claim that oil has degraded
Images taken during the descent of an underwater vehicle show oil droplets appearing at a depth of 1065-1300m. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images
Scientists have mapped a 22-mile plume of oil droplets from BP’s rogue well in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, providing the strongest evidence yet of the fate of the crude that spewed into the sea for months.
The report offers the most authoritative challenge to date to White House assertions that most of the 5m barrels of oil that spewed into the Gulf is gone.
“These results indicate that efforts to book-keep where the oil went must now include this plume,” said Christopher Reddy one of the members of the team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
The report, which is published in the journal Science, also said the plume was very slow to break down by natural forces, increasing the likelihood that oil could have travelled long distances in the Gulf before it was degraded.
“Many people speculated that subsurface oil droplets were being easily degraded,” said Richard Camilli, the lead author of the paper. “Well we didn’t find that. We found it was still there.”
A displaced family wades through floodwaters in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. The lives of 20 million people have been disrupted by the worst floods to hit the country (REUTERS)
The world Bank has offered a $900m (£577m) loan to Pakistan to help with the country’s flood recovery programme.
As aid donations to the beleaguered nation fall short of what is needed, the body said that funds would be diverted from ongoing and planned projects in the country. “We are re-prioritising to make the funds immediately available,” said spokeswoman Mariam Altaf.
With widespread destruction of roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure, experts say that rebuilding could take many years and cost billions to complete. There are concerns that millions of people will need food aid, emergency shelter and medicine for weeks, if not months, to come. While the lives of an estimated 20 million people have been disrupted by the floods, agencies say that food and clean water have only so far been provided to 500,000. Anywhere between 3.5 million to 6 million children are said to be at risk from water-borne diseases.
More than 1,600 people are confirmed to have died with millions made homeless as water levels continue to rise
A Pakistani mother carries her children through floodwater in Muzaffargarh, Pakistan. (AP)
Two weeks into the worst natural disaster in its history, Pakistan is braced for further flooding as waters in the upper reaches of the swollen Indus river reach critical levels.
With more than 1,600 people confirmed dead and as many as 20 million made homeless, the country is reeling from the scale of the catastrophe wrought by torrential monsoon rains. The prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, said Pakistan now faced challenges similar to those during the 1947 partition of the subcontinent when as many as 500,000 people were killed.
He called on Pakistanis to rise to the occasion, amid growing fears of social unrest or even a military takeover given the government’s shambolic response to the floods. “The nation faced the situation successfully at that time of the partition and, God willing, we will emerge successful in this test,” he said.
A fire alarm on the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded triggering an environmental catastrophe had been turned off, the chief electrician on the rig has alleged.
The oil rig Deepwater Horizon catches fire, Port of Venice, Gulf of Mexico Photo: REX
Michael Williams told a US government investigation that the alarm – which could have detected a build-up in natural gas and closed parts of the rig – was disarmed so it would not wake people up at night.
The BP rig exploded in April, killing 11 people and triggering a leak that released tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Speculation was mounting on Friday that Tony Hayward, BP’s chief excutive, would stand down on Tuesday after facing increasing pressure from the board as a result of the spill.
Sky News reported that the British oil giant – which has seen £46bn wiped from its market value since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20 which triggered the spill – may announce its chief executive’s exit as early as Tuesday, when the company is due to publish its interim results.
Mr Williams, who is suing the owners of the rig, claims that he raised his concerns about the alarm and other alleged safety failings with his managers.
“The general alarm was inhibited,” said Mr Williams, who worked for Transocean, the Geneva-based company that owned the rig. He claimed that the system had been disabled because rig managers “did not want people woken up at 3am with false alarms”.
The alarm was designed to automatically shut air vents into engine rooms. During the accident, natural gas is believed to have been sucked into the engines, causing them to speed up and explode.
Mr Williams alleged the system was a “wreck” when he started working on the rig in 2009, with many faulty detectors. He said he tried to repair it, but faced problems with malfunctioning equipment.
Herders leave the steppe after losing a fifth of their livestock. Now foreign firms are to exploit Mongolia’s vast resources
A day at the Mongolian horse races
A lifetime of experience, years of training and a sleepless night of preparation – yet Tsedendamba’s stallion, in the fifth and prime year of its racing career, trailed across the finish line in 12th place.
“Last year it came in second. This time we had the dzud, bitter winter conditions, and that’s why I didn’t push it harder in training. The horse is too thin,” said the 61-year-old herder.
Mongolia’s national festival of Naadam, which saw contests in the “manly sports” of archery, racing and wrestling across the country last week, dates from before Genghis Khan’s time and celebrates the country’s fabled nomadic spirit. Almost a third of the population are herders.
But the catastrophic winter has killed millions of animals and left thousands of rural families struggling to survive. It has also exacerbated the country’s financial woes, increasing the pressure to exploit its vast but largely untapped mineral resources. Two decades after the collapse of communism, Mongolia may be at another turning point.
Tsedendamba, who like many Mongolians uses only his given name, was experienced enough to foresee the dzud, or “white death”. He roamed far across central Övorkhangai province to ensure his livestock fed well despite the summer drought. He prepared fodder for the coming winter and built up their shelter. Others slaughtered the weakest animals to ensure more food for the strongest.
None of it was enough. Temperatures fell to -50C and thick snow buried the grass. By the time it finally melted in May, nearly 9,000 families had seen their entire herds freeze or starve to death. Another 33,000, including Tsedendamba’s, lost half their livestock. Almost 10m cattle, sheep, goats, horses, yaks and camels have died, a fifth of the country’s total, at a cost of 520bn tögrögs (£250m).
“The health problems are so serious,” Simmons said. “When you inhale methane you just die.”
Added: 19. July 2010
Added: 19. July 2010
Oil industry insider Matt Simmons blew the whistle on the made-for-TV
capping of the so-called oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, July
15, during an interview on KPFK radio, the NPR station in Los Angeles.
Simmons, former energy adviser to the second President Bush, explained
that according to his reading of the data from NOAA, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, capping of the so-called riser
and the subsequent announcement by U.S. President Obama was “the
biggest con job we’ve ever seen.”
Simmons, creator of an investment bank catering to oil companies, told
radio host Ian Masters that the real problem continuing to gush oil
into the Gulf was not the 6-inch “riser” that apparently has been
capped amid much TV hoopla, but that an open hole or cauldron perhaps
up to 10 miles distant from where British Petroleum’s cameras are
focused which continues to spew 120,000 BARRELS per day, and that BP’s
much publicized effort to drill relief wells in what the company says
is an effort to stop the flow of oil is nothing but a cynical
“The dimensions of this lie are beyond belief,” said Simmons,
explaining that the idea of a relief well is “tricky at best,” since
trying to hit a pipe of less than a foot in diameter 35,000 feet below
the surface of the Gulf may be entirely futile because the casing of
the original pipe is not even there, having blown away at some point.
But Simmons noted that both BP and Obama continue to deny that this
open hole, or cauldron, even exists, even though Simmons and others
insist the NOAA data from satellites prove by speed of flow and depth
of light that the amount of oil that has been flowing through the
on-camera riser could not possibly account for the amount of oil that
has spilled into the Gulf.
“The riser is totally irrelevant,” Simmons stressed, adding “and
there’s no way to cap the open hole.” He explained that BP continues
to deny the open hole exists and theorizes the continuing flow of oil
into the Gulf is really just the residue from what has already been
spilled during the first 90 days of the disaster.
“There is denial that there’s even a problem,” Simmons said. “In about
a month or two people will realize that this actually was the biggest
con job we’ve ever seen.”
Tar balls from the Gulf oil spill have been found on a Texas beach, the first evidence that crude from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well has reached all the Gulf states.
Smoke rises from the BP oil spill site, as natural gas is burned off, while the drilling of two relief wells continue in the Gulf of Mexico (Reuters)
A Coast Guard official said it was possible that the oil hitched a ride on a ship and was not carried naturally by currents to the barrier islands of the eastern Texas coast, but there was no way to know.
The amount is tiny in comparison to what has coated beaches in the hardest-hit parts of the Gulf coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle but it still provoked the quick dispatch of cleaning crews and a vow that BP will pay for the trouble.
BP was facing fresh criticism over its approach to safety on Saturday night after critics said it did not use an industry standard process to asses risk ahead of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The procedure, known as a safety case, was developed in Britain after the catastrophic Piper Alpha oil rig explosion of 1988 in which 167 people lost their lives.
Royal Dutch Shell confirmed that it always develops safety cases – a lengthy written document – on each of its thousands of wells in the world, even though they are only mandatory in some countries.
However, BP admitted to The Sunday Telegraph that it does not use safety cases on any of its US wells, including the high-pressure deep water Macondo well from which up to 60,000 barrels of oil per day are still leaking in the Gulf of Mexico.
It is now 75 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, killing 11 men and triggering the catastrophic spill.
Are you sure that you want to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? In a previous article we documented a number of the health dangers from this oil spill that many scientists are warning us of, and now it has been reported on CNN that the vast majority of those who worked to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska are now dead. Yes, you read that correctly. Almost all of them are dead.
In fact, the expert that CNN had on said that the life expectancy for those who worked to clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill is only about 51 years. Considering the fact that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now many times worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster, are you sure you want to volunteer to be on a cleanup crew down there? After all, the American Dream is not to make big bucks for a few months helping BP clean up their mess and then drop dead 20 or 30 years early.
(NaturalNews) By now, almost everyone is aware of the out-of-control oil spill down in the Gulf of Mexico that seems to be getting exponentially worse with each passing day. But what people may not know is that BP’s efforts to control the oil by burning it are actually burning alive a certain rare and endangered species of sea turtle.
For several weeks now, rescue crews have been feverishly trying to save Kemp’s Ridleys sea turtles, as well as four other endangered varieties, from being caught in the oil corral areas that are being intentionally burned by BP, but according to Mike Ellis, one of the boat captains involved in the project, BP has now blocked all such rescue efforts from taking place.
“They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us get back in there,” he explained in an interview with Catherine Craig, a conservation biologist.
According to Dr. Brian Stacy, a veterinarian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are five different endangered sea turtles living in the Gulf that are all at risk, but the type being found “dead or covered in oil” the most is the Kemp’s Ridleys variety, which is the rarest species of them all.
So why would BP intentionally block rescue efforts aimed at protecting and saving wildlife and other endangered species from being burned alive in controlled burning pits? For starters, the Kemp’s Ridleys sea turtle is listed in the Endangered Species Act, which means there are severe penalties for those who harm or kill them.
According to the law, harming or killing even one animal on the endangered species list can result in a fine of up to $50,000 and may include prison time. This means that the hundreds, or even thousands, of endangered sea turtles being burned alive by BP are going to cost the company a lot of money, not to mention the prison time its executives might have to serve.