Tag Archives: US

Scientists warn California could be struck by winter ‘superstorm’


A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive “superstorm” that could flood a quarter of the state’s homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.

It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie, but scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey warned federal and state emergency officials that California’s geological history shows such “superstorms” have happened in the past, and should be added to the long list of natural disasters to worry about in the Golden State.

The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.

The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.

The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an “atmospheric river” that would move water “at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico,” according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.

Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. “We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes,” Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release.

Federal and state emergency management officials convened a conference about emergency preparations for possible superstorms last week.



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Afghanistan: Helmand IDPs tired of leaving their homes time and again

Thousands of families in Helmand have been forced to abandon their homes due to the ongoing conflict and war in the area.

These internally displaced people (IDPs) have since been living in abject conditions as a result of leaving behind their homes, livestock, farms and belongings.

Most of these families move to Lashkargah, the capital, to live in temporary camps. Some stay with relatives, others search for shelter in neighbouring districts, while some continue their painful journey to Kandahar or move as far as Kabul.

Gul Mohammad, who has been forced to abandon his home and village in Helmand’s Nadali district for the fifth time in less than a year, told UNAMA that life hasn’t changed for his family even after several clean-up operations. He regrets that each time the government promises to bring security, it fails to do so.

“The government and NATO forces started fresh offensives in Nadali and Marja. We are forced to leave our homes to safeguard our families. More than 200 families left Nadali and are currently living in Lashkargah. Some are staying with their relatives and some others have rented houses which they can’t afford for too long. They don’t have food, tents and heating material. Neither the government nor aid agencies have provided any assistance to us as yet,” he said.

1. “We are sick of operations in our area every day. We leave our homes. Our children have no future and those who can’t move are stranded due to IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and blocked roads. People are trying to move to safer areas in order to protect themselves. We appeal to the government and NATO forces to… provide us (with) security and better living conditions,” said Ahmad Wali, an IDP from Marja district, who currently lives in a rented house in Lashkargah.

The head of the government’s refugees and returnees department for Helmand, Ghulam Farooq Noorzai, admits a large number of families are coming to Lashkargah from the districts of Marja and Nadali.

“We are in contact with UN agencies and have shared our concerns with them,” said Mr Noorzai. “The UN has promised to release assistance to the new IDPs from Nadali and Marja,” he added.

According to him, the United Nations has provided assistance to over 8,000 IDP families in Helmand province in the last six months.

Lucio Milardo, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Kandahar, says the UN is helping the IDPs to build food capacity.

“First, the United Nations is providing humanitarian assistance to the IDPs based on their needs. Second, the humanitarian assistance from the UN agencies should not be aligned with military. Our aim is only to assist people in need and has nothing to do with the military,” he said.

“We are glad that UN agencies are helping the IDPs who have been forced to leave their homes and villages due to military operations. We have a good coordination mechanism in place with all UN agencies, including UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, UNAMA and others and we really appreciate their assistance”, said Mr Noorzai.

Mr Noorzai expects a fresh influx of IDPs from Nadali district, after the recent announcement by the military to launch fresh offensives. He, however, said they are prepared to meet the requirements of up to 15,000 IDPs with the assistance of UN agencies.

The United Nations is up to the task and as part of the UN’s Interagency Contingency Plan for natural and man-made disasters, the UN has pre-positioned sufficient food and non-food items at the provincial level.

United Nations agencies in the regions have always played a vital role in providing assistance to IDPs in Helmand and other provinces.

In 2009 alone, UN agencies assisted more than 30,000 families in the south with humanitarian aid – almost double when compared to 2008 – as displacement continued from areas most affected by the conflict.

By Mujeeb Rahman, UNAMA

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Debate: Should US Civilian Aid and Military Operations be Conducted Together or Separately?

The US military is perhaps the greatest logistical operation in history and the best suited for transport and supply drops in out of the way places. And in countries where the US is not involved in political security or violence, it may be well suited also to provide medical and civil assistance as well. But during war time, should the US military provide aid alongside international and local civilian nonprofits at the same time and among the same communities in which it is conducting combat operations?

The question is important now because the US Agency for International Development, one of the largest planners of civil-military operations, may have new leadership in the nominee for Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah. Many supporters of the Obama and Clinton candidacies for President believed that the Bush Administration had not only gone to war for the wrong reasons but then conducted those wars poorly. Many remain hopeful that some of the more contraversial changes in how aid was delivered might be revised.

Questions about civil-military action during wartime heated up in 2002 when the US began these efforts in Afghanistan, relying largely on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) which were military units working alongside state department employees to meet with nonprofits on the ground and distribute a variety of projects meant to help local communities recover while making the US military look more friendly. For example, I got a chance to see a tremendously successful PRT project restoring rice paddies in Kunduz…

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FREE AZLAN – GPM send protest to Embassy of Egypt


A demonstration will be held at 11am today infront of Embassy of Egypt in Jalan Rhu, Ampang to protest the detention of Maj (R) Azlan Muhammad Shariff in Cairo.

Dunia Kemanusiaan urged unconditional release for Mr. Azlan.  It was reported that the authority of Egypt was the party who had detained him and the Egypt intelligence had interrogated him.  Shockingly, CIA, MOSSAD and M15 was also involved in the interrogation.

This is not his first trip to Gaza and his mission to assist Palestine had been published in official webiste of Global Peace Mission a long time ago.

Egypt should be seen as a friend of Palestine and not as tools of Israel and America.



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AT LAST – Obama applauds Najib’s appointment as Prime Minister


Sunday May 17, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: US President Barack Obama has congratulated Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on his appointment as the Prime Minister of Malaysia and says he is looking forward to working closely with Najib in the months and years ahead.

In a congratulatory message to Najib, Obama said: “Our two countries have an excellent relationship, and I know that you have played an important role in developing those ties.

“You and I have the privilege of leading our countries at a time full of both challenges and opportunities. Our actions will have profound consequences, and our combined efforts can have lasting positive impact,” he said.

Obama said he looked forward to working closely with Najib to overcome these challenges and take advantage of these opportunities. “I wish you every success as you take on your new responsibilities as Prime Minister,” he added. — Bernama

Shahrul Peshawar – We are the 16th largest business partner to US, yet they recognize Najib after 3 months…. why ah?

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Saddam’s aides convicted of murder



Iraq’s highest court has sentenced Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, and Ali Hassan al-Majid, a power broker in Saddam Hussein’s government, to 15 years in jail.

The pair were convicted in Baghdad, the capital, on Wednesday of crimes against humanity in regards to the killing of 42 Baghdad merchants in 1992.

Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan and Sabaawi Ibrahim, two of Saddam’s half-brothers, were also sentenced by the court to death by hanging for their involvement in the same case.

Saddam’s secretary was given life in jail.

The merchants had been accused of speculating on food prices when Iraq was subject to UN sanctions after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Al-Majid already has three death sentences against him – the most recent of which was delivered on March 2 – for the murder of Shia Muslims 20 years ago.

Aziz was acquitted of war crimes charges during that court session.

Wednesday’s conviction is the first against Aziz, who acted as Saddam’s spokesman for two decades.

Al-Majid and Aziz are among 16 former officials on trial for a violent campaign against Shia Kurds.

They are accused of gassing members of the Fayli Kurdish community as part of a chemical weapons testing programme and as human shields during Iraq’s war with neighbouring Iran from 1980 to 1988.

Aziz surrendered to US forces in April 2003 after Saddam Hussein’s government was overthrown



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Pakistan: Trucks torched along US supply line

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Assailants torched 10 trucks stranded in Pakistan by the bombing of a key bridge on the main supply route for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.

Increasing attacks on transport depots and truck convoys heading to bases across the border have raised doubts about Pakistan’s ability to protect the vital road as the U.S. prepares to send as many as 30,000 more American forces into Afghanistan this year.

Attackers set fire to at least 10 trucks parked overnight near Landi Kotal, a town close to the famed Khyber Pass that connects Pakistan with Afghanistan, local government official Fazl Rabi said.

The trucks were returning from Afghanistan and it was unclear if they had carried goods for foreign troops, Rabi said.

U.S. officials have played down any concern about running out of food or fuel, despite pressure on their supply lines. American forces stockpile enough supplies to last 60-90 days in the event that their supply chain is severed, U.S. officials say.

The Khyber route was cut Tuesday when suspected militants set off a bomb that wrecked a bridge across a rocky gorge near the pass. The red metal bridge was twisted and partially collapsed at one end.

Bakhtiar Khan, another local government official, said Pakistan army engineers were working on the bridge with the aim of reopening it by Thursday.

Khan said cars and other small vehicles were able to cross the gorge by picking their way along a rough track that crossed the dry river bed near the bridge but that no trucks were moving.

Some 75 percent of U.S. supplies to Afghanistan currently travel through Pakistan, and securing efficient and safe supply routes into Afghanistan has become a top priority for U.S. officials.

With Taliban militants gaining strength on both sides of the border, American and NATO officials have been seeking alternative routes through Central Asia.

But Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday raised a new obstacle for the U.S. by threatening to close American access to a Kyrgyz air base. The U.S. Embassy in the Central Asian country said Wednesday that both sides were still in talks on maintaining a base there.

Meanwhile, militants released 30 police and paramilitary officers they kidnapped late Tuesday after surrounding a police station in the Swat Valley, a police officer said. The valley, in Pakistan’s northwest, was once a popular tourist destination but the growing influence of insurgents and a related surge in violence have made it too dangerous for travelers.

Swat police cheif Dilawar Khan Bangash said the men were released after pressure from tribal elders.

On Monday, John Solecki, an American U.N. worker was kidnapped as he traveled to work in Quetta city in Baluchistan. Police said it was not clear whether Islamist militants, criminals seeking a ransom payment or members of a regional separatist group were responsible. Authorities are questioning more than a dozen people in connection with the abduction.

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