Tag Archives: Natural Disasters

Japan Stocks Up On Toilet Paper (Just In Case)

Japan Toilet Paper

The Japanese government has launched a new campaign to make sure civilians stockpile a critical emergency item: toilet paper. Translation: Prepare for the shit. Before it hits the fan.

The government and paper companies kicked off a “Let’s stockpile toilet paper!” campaign to mark Disaster Prevention Day. Apparently a lack of TP during a national emergency is a legitimate concern in Japan. The campaign warns of a possible toilet paper crisis because nearly half of the TP supply comes from one of Japan’s most earthquake-prone areas and it’s one of the first items to fly off the shelves during an emergency.

Officials said people immediately think of food and water as emergency supplies, but easily forget toilet paper, and get desperate when it’s too late.

“After running out of toilet paper, people start using tissue, and that could clog up precious workable toilets,” said Toshiyuki Hashimoto, an industry ministry official in charge of paper products.

“Along with food, toilet paper was among the first items that disappeared from store shelves during the disaster, even outside disaster-hit areas,” he continued.

So to avoid panic later, start stockpiling toilet paper now! You don’t want to be without a hefty roll of TP when an earthquake causes you to crap your pants. As the campaign posters say, “Be prepared and no regrets!”

“Toilet paper is an indispensable part of daily life,” Satoshi Kurosaki, chairman of the Japan Household Paper Industry Association, said. “And yet 41 percent of the supply comes from the extremely high-risk zone. So we should be prepared.”

“A family of four should be able to survive for a month on a six-roll pack, priced at 460 yen ($4.40) and with a five-year expiration date,” Kurosaki said.

Wait, toilet paper has an expiration date…? And a family of 4 can survive on a pack of 6 rolls for a month…? What are they eating over there???

Unfortunately for some Japanese civilians, having an adequate TP stockpile to wipe their ass is the least of their earthquake problems. Four men employed to clean up the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant are suing Tokyo Electric Power and subcontractors for 65 million yen in unpaid hazard money. The Fukushima Daiichi plant, which was damaged in a March 2011 earthquake, resulted in reactor meltdowns and a contamination of the area. The men tasked with removing contaminated debris and patrolling the area say they have not been properly compensated for the dangers in their work and are worried about long term health problems. And that’s something a month’s supply of toilet paper can’t just wipe away.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Flooding in the Balkans

Current EVent Cat - Balkans Floods 

Hundreds of thousands of Bosnians were forced to evacuate their homes on Sunday, after floodwaters caused more than 3,000 landslides in the Balkans.

Bosnia and Serbia have been pounded by three months worth of rain in recent days, producing the worst floods the Balkans have seen since they began measuring rainfall over 120 years ago.

At least 35 people have died as a result of the flooding, hundreds of thousands have had to be evacuated, and about a quarter of Bosnia-Hercegovina’s four million people are without clean water.

The floodwaters hit Bosnia the worst, managing to wipe out entire villages. Helicopter airlifts rushed to pluck families from rooftops but more than 100,000 houses and other buildings were destroyed and the road infrastructure was also badly damaged. To sum up, it’s pretty bad.

Foreign minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said the destruction was “terrifying” and compared it to Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

“The consequences of the floods are terrifying,” Lagumdzija said.

“The physical destruction is not less than the destruction caused by the war.”

“During the war many people lost everything. Today, again they have nothing.”

And to make matters worse, floodwaters are threatening major power plants and have unearthed land mines leftover from the region’s war in the 1990s. Nearly 120,000 unexploded landmines remain in more than 9,400 carefully marked minefields, but the flood-induced landslides may have knocked a few loose.

“We are faced with the biggest problem and disaster after the war,” Ahdin Orahovac, director of Bosnia’s Mine Action Centre, said.

“All of our mine warning signs have been moved. We have to warn our local population that they shouldn’t hurry back to their homes because there are many locations where landmines are now in new places.”

But with every cloud spewing out torrential rains, there’s a silver lining: cute pictures of animals being rescued!

Serbia Dog Flood

serbia-bosnia-weather-flood-1 Bosnia Puppies

Wait a minute… where are all the cat rescue pictures???

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Not One, But Two Afghan Landslides… And Other News

Afghan Landslides

Afghanistan can’t seem to catch a break. First the Soviets, then the Taliban, then some other stuff… and now a monster landslide.

After a landslide swallowed hundreds of homes in the Argo district of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, rescuers struggled to help dig out the buried residents, using shovels and bare hands to recover the missing. Then tragedy struck again. A second landslide hit, consuming the hundreds of rescuers from nearby villages. The governor’s office said at least 2,000 people died in the slides. As for those missing, they are presumed dead. “That will be their cemetery,” said Mohammed Karim Kahlili, one of Afghanistan’s two vice presidents. “It is not possible to bring out any bodies.” President Hamid Karzai declared a national day of mourning, saying there was “no hope” for most of those buried and declaring the landslide a “human tragedy.” CNN

brett-hulseyRepublicans decided to stop hogging all the bad ideas for once and let Democrat Rep. Brett Hulsey have his day in the spotlight. The Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate announced Thursday that he will hand out Ku Klux Klan hoods – or what he calls “Republican Party hats” – at the state GOP convention on the weekend. The long-shot candidate (and even longer shot now) showed off his homemade white hoods that he stitched together using $1 curtain material and his daughter’s sewing machine inside the press room at the state Capitol. Hulsey’s crazy antics were quickly denounced by both sides of the spectrum as “completely unacceptable and totally inappropriate.” But Husley says he was simply trying to call attention to what he says are “racist” policies by Republicans, such as ending record-keeping on racial profiling by police, cutting back on income eligibility limits for Medicaid, and voting changes. He has a point, but this is also the guy who he threatened to have someone dress up in a chicken suit and show up at one of the Democratic frontrunner’s events because, according to him, she’s afraid of facing him in a debate… so he’s a little out there. MSNBC

Camels MERSThanks a lot camels! After a new study suggested that camels may be behind the recent deadly surge in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the virus has officially arrived in the United States. A man from Indiana was hospitalized last week with the first U.S. case of the mysterious camel virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East. The man is said to be doing well and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it’s closely monitoring the case. MERS has infected at least 400 people and killed over 100 in the two years since it first surfaced – but the camels remain unharmed. While humans fall victim to SARS-like symptoms, camels do not appear to be damaged by the virus. So far no one has figured out how humans are contracting it, but I’m pretty not at all sure it’s from camel spit. CBC News

South Korea FerryThe death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has jumped to 260, with 42 people still missing – and that’s not even including the vice principal who was so racked with guilt he hung himself or South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won’s career after he resigned in response to the ferry crash. “When I saw the people’s sadness and fury, I thought it was natural for me to step down with an apology,” Chung said in a nationally televised conference. Also, South Korean President Park Geun-hye certainly didn’t want to step down, so someone had to be fired over the tragedy. But if anyone should be fired, it’s probably the ship’s crew who told the students to stay in their cabins below deck while the ferry was sinking even though they themselves had already begun to evacuate. Instead of being fired, three crew members, including the 69-year-old captain, were arrested and charged with crimes relating to negligence – which is kind of worse than getting fired. CNN

Gene Robinson DivorceFirst they wanted gay marriage, now they want gay divorce! The world’s first openly gay bishop announced that he and his partner of over 25 years are getting divorced. Gene Robinson’s openly gay life ignited a controversy back in 2003 when he was elected as a bishop, prompting conservative Episcopalians in the US to break away and causing intense debate in the worldwide Anglican church. Now, after four years of legalized marriage and 21 years of fake marriage, the couple has called it quits. But they at least comforted by the fact that they can get divorced just like any old straight couple. “It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples.” Robinson said. And now Gene’s struggle with the church was all for nothing… except he’s still openly gay, just divorced… which might be worse?  USA Today

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Chilean Earthquake & Prison Break

Current Event Cat - CHilean EarthQuake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 struck the coast of Chile Tuesday – and what better excuse to break out of prison!

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the giant earthquake was centered 62 miles north of Iquique at a depth of 6.2 miles.  The quake, along with the dozens of aftershocks – including a 6.2 tremor – generated a tsunami with six-foot waves, prompting tsunami warnings for not only Chile, but also Peru and Ecuador.

Although only six people have reportedly died so far (not bad for 8.2-magnitude earthquake!), tens of thousands have been evacuated, power lines have been cut, fires have broken out, and landslides have been triggered.

And while the earthquake is bad news for most, it’s good news for the roughly 300 prisoners who escaped from the port city of Iquique. Following the powerful shift in the earth’s crust, the prisoners from a women’s jail saw the perfect opportunity to get out of jail free. As the prison was being evacuated following the tsunami warnings, the inmates instigated a massive jailbreak and set fire to the prison site.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet wasn’t so keen on the prisoners’ plan. Bachelet declared a state of emergency in the region and sent a military plane with 100 anti-riot police to join 300 soldiers deployed to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners. So far, 39 of the escapees have been recaptured since the quake but authorities are still frantically searching for the other missing prisoners and silently praying that the whole incident was just an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank.

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God Save the Queen! Mass Floods Swamp England… And Other News

Floods swamp england

While North America is dealing with blizzards and ice storms, England is suffering from its own weather problems.

Heavy rainstorms and hurricane force winds have flooded parts of England and Wales, making living there even more dreary than usual. The Thames river has burst its bank, flooding 1,135 homes so far and leaving another 5.2 million homes at risk of flooding. Even Windsor Castle has been threated by the floods. But don’t worry, the Queen is safe; she lives in a castle – the rainwater just acts as an extra moat. But for the commoners of England, the clean-up costs could reach £1bn by the time the floods are finished. While Prime Minister David Cameron initially declared that money is “no object” when it comes to the aftermath of the flood, his Transport Secretary is a bit more frugal, saying there is no “blank cheque” for flooding relief. The Guardian

Gay MarriageKentucky is no longer backwards? Well, it’s still pretty backwards, but it’s slowly coming around. The socially conservative redneck hub is the latest state to reject a ban related to same-sex marriage. A federal judge in Kentucky ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban on recognizing gay marriages from other states violated the Constitution and treats “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.” The decision came about after four gay and lesbian couples brought forward lawsuits complaining the state didn’t recognize their out-of-state marriages. But before you go planning a Kentucky Fried Chicken themed gay wedding, note that the ruling only requires Kentucky to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states or countries – you still can’t get married IN Kentucky – that would be way too progressive. Washington Post

SinkholePossibly in retaliation for their more lenient stance on gay marriage, a hungry sinkhole in Kentucky has swallowed up at least eight cars belonging to the National Corvette Museum. Staff at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green were shocked when they walked into work on Wednesday and saw a 40-foot sinkhole and eight missing sports cars.  “I was stunned,” Butch Hume, president of Louisville’s Falls City Corvette Club, said. “That just doesn’t happen in Kentucky and what a terrible place for it to happen.” And what a terrible time too – the museum is going to have its 20th anniversary this year! Now if only a sinkhole would somehow form under Rand Paul’s Bowling Green, Kentucky estate… or at least the Creation MuseumIndy Star

Best Buds Hollande ObamaAmerica and France are friends again. Despite some stress over last minute seating chart arrangements, French President Francois Hollande’s solo visit to the States is going smoothly – as long as France promises to stay away from Iran. Before the state dinner to celebrate the arrival of the French President, Obama vowed to come down on companies that evade sanctions against Iran “like a ton of bricks” then gave Hollande a sharp warning glare. Obama’s ton of bricks comment was in regards to a delegation of French executives who went to Tehran last week hoping to score some business deals while the interim nuclear agreement with Iran in still in play. After the moment of tension passed, the two leaders devoted their time to discussing the ongoing crisis in Syria… which should take a while. New York Times

Death to America - IranApparently Obama has good reason to tell France to stay away from Iran – they want to kill us. Despite the budding friendship/phone contact between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “Death to America!” was heard at rallied around Iran on Tuesday during the 35th anniversary celebration of the Islamic Revolution. Tens of thousands of protesters packed the streets outside the former US embassy in Tehran in what became one of the biggest anti-US rally in years. Turns out some Iranians are not too pleased with Rouhani’s outreach to Washington, and therefore America must die. And Israel too – just because. Al Jazeera

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Tornadoes Sweep Through the Midwest

Tornadoes in Illinois

Move over Philippines, there’s a new natural disaster in town, and it hits a little closer to home. Powerful tornadoes swept through the U.S Midwest, demolishing homes, cutting off power, and killing six in Illinois.

Tornado season hit the Midwest unexpectedly this year. November is typically the off-season for tornadoes, but this was no off-season series of twisters. As many as 80 tornadoes ripped through Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky on Sunday, killing six in Illinois, injuring hundreds of others, and leaving many trapped in basements.

Weather doesn’t get more extreme than this in Illinois very often,” said Matt Friedlein, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

I was first alerted to the storm when Little Reagan suddenly refused to sit by the open window (his fav spot!) and ran under the bed to hide. Awww. Cats have such an instinct for storms/ I should really start reading weather forecasts because the storm was already well under way at that point.

Luckily, Chicago was spared from the fast-moving storm and none of the 60 tornadoes in the area managed to get us. But the strong winds and flash floods caused tens of thousands to be evacuated from Soldier Field ahead of the Chicago Bears game. 

Elsewhere in the state, people weren’t so lucky. Six people died in Illinois and as many as 200 people were injured statewide. Washington, Illinois was hit particularly hard with the storm destroying or seriously damaging as many as 400 homes. So… pretty much all the homes in Washington, Illinois?

Governor Pat Quinn declared seven counties a state disaster area and is hoping for a federal disaster designation that would help people recover.

As for the storm, it has now moved on to northeastern U.S – albeit with less chance of tornadoes. Have fun you guys!

Via: CNN

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Looting in the Philippines

Current Event Cat - Looting

Step 1: Survive Typhoon Haiyan. Step 2: Panic. Step 3: Begin Looting!

Panicked survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines began looting Wednesday as food and clean water supplies become harder and harder to find.

Five days after one of deadliest storms ever recorded hit the Philippines, the official death toll stands at 2,275. The number of causalities is expected to rise – as is the number of looting related deaths.

So far 8 people were crushed to death when thousands of hungry Filipinos overran a government rice warehouse on one of the hardest hit islands. The rice mob caused a wall to collapse, crushing some people in the process, and prompting security forces to exchange gunfire with an armed gang – but at least they (well, some of them) managed to escape with thousands of sacks of grain.

The slow pace of international aid distribution also caused some residents to smash open underground pipes and break into homes and stores to strip the shelves of supplies.

“People are walking around like zombies just looking for food and water” one resident said, speaking of Tacloban, one of the worst hit cities.

“My hometown will never be the same again. About 90% of the city is destroyed – nothing left.”

As the Philippines descends into chaos, authorities are trying to control the looting – but millions of displaced Filipinos has presented quite the logistical challenge.  As international aid comes trickling in to the areas devastated by the typhoon, the government is trying its best to keep its sh*t together.

“This is the largest logistic operation in the history of the Philippines, we have never done anything like this before,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said.

“The Filipino resiliency will be proven by this crisis. Maybe somebody from the outside cannot understand the true nature of this country and the realities that can be found on the ground.”

Now, if only they could get that looting under control – although I suppose basic survival is as good of reason as any to steal food and water…

Via: CBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Typhoon Aid to the Philippines

Current Event Cat - Typhoon Aid Philippines

Super Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in the Philippines over the weekend, leaving behind mass destruction and mass casualties.

The typhoon death toll is estimated to be more than 10,000 and over 600,000 people have been displaced. In one city, Tacloban, the UN is reporting a mass grave with 300 to 500 bodies after the town was hit by waves and winds up to 235 mph.

“I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house,” U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said after taking a helicopter flight over the former city / current garbage dump.

Now the typhoon-ravaged Philippines is facing a daunting relief effort. All the Filipino cleaning ladies in the world couldn’t clean up the destruction left behind by typhoon Haiyan, so Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity in order to speed up relief efforts for victims.

Millions have been affected by the storm and many are now struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water. Rescue workers have been out and about wading through floating bloated bodies and handing out aid.  However, they are struggling to reach the hardest hit areas that have been cut off as a result of the typhoon.

The Philippines National Red Cross said people were not prepared for such a powerful storm. While authorities had evacuated hundreds of thousands of residents, many evacuation centres weren’t able to withstand the winds and storm surges.

“Imagine America, which was prepared and very rich, still had a lot of challenges at the time of Hurricane Katrina, but what we had was three times more than what they received,” said Gwendolyn Pang, the group’s executive director.

I wouldn’t say America was “prepared” when it came to Hurricane Katrina, Ms. Pang, but your country just had a pretty rough typhoon so I’ll let it slide…

Via: CBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Super Typhoon Haiyan

Current Event Cat - Typhoon Haiyan

Super/Monster/Really Big Typhoon Haiyan roared into the Philippines early Friday with winds of up to 320km per hour (aka really fast).

The storm, which may be the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit land, has forced millions to seek shelter in 20 provinces and hold on for dear life. So far, three people have been killed and seven more reported injured. Another 12 million are still at risk.

The Super Typhoon, which began battering Samar at 4:30 a.m, flooded streets and knocked out power and communications networks in many areas. The super high winds meant the destruction was over quickly – but it also meant that there was a lot of destruction.

“About 90% of the infrastructure and establishments were heavily damaged,” Gwendolyn Pang, the secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross said.

Pang also predicted that the death toll would rise as soon as aid workers could wade their way through the wreckage and the 10 feet high flood waters. Considering December’s Typhoon Bopha killed as many as 1,900 people last year, this Super Typhoon will probably do even more damage. But the Philippines is a resilient country and they will get through it. If there are two things Filipinos are good at, it’s enduring typhoons (they have an average of 20 a year) and cleaning up big messes (I have a Filipino cleaning lady).

Via: CNN & Current Event Cats

Pakistani Earthquake Kills Hundreds But Creates New Island… And Other News

Pakistan EarthQuake

Powerful earthquake packs a punch in Pakistan.

Hundreds are dead and hundreds more injured in Pakistan’s remote southwest province of Balochistan after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday.  The killer quake flattened entire villages and was so strong that it was felt as far away as Delhi and Dubai. But on the bright side, Pakistan got a new island out of it. After the earthquake struck, an island, about 200m long and 100m wide, appeared the coast near the port of Gwadar. But don’t try to visit the island yet – it’s still emitting some pretty heavy gas. BBC News

Mall AttackThe Kenyan mall attack is over but investigators are still trying to sort things out. The death toll from the attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi and the four-day siege that followed is expected to rise. Militants from the al Qaeda-linked network al-Shabab said Wednesday that 137 hostages had been killed – but no one knows if that’s true or not. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said 67 people died including six security personnel – but no one knows if that’s true or not either. Police are also still piecing together who exactly these al-Shabab gunmen were. Five of them were killed in the four-day standoff and another 11 have been arrested. Some reports suggest that a British woman (perhaps the “white widow” of a London 7/7 bomber) and two or three American citizens may have been involved, but again, no one knows if that’s true or not. To sum up: there are still questions. CBC News

Ted Cruz SmileAfter 21 hours of Dr. Seuss stories, Duck Dynasty quotes, and Obama rages, Senator Ted Cruz can finally go to the bathroom. The Texas Republican was forced to end his faux-filibuster marathon speech at noon when the Senate got together to vote on the House bill to fund the government but defund Obamacare. Cruz’s speech had no effect on the vote, and was probably just a stunt to get some campaign money from his tea-party base. The Senate is expected ignore Cruz and return the funding for Obamacare that the Republicans took out of the bill. #KeepCruzing Wall Street Journal

MacArthurThe MacArthur Genius Grant Winners have been announced but The Sun Herald definitely won’t be receiving one. The newspaper accidently published the list of this year’s “genius” grant recipients early, despite the fact that the caption under the photo read “hold for release at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.” Mistake aside, two dozen scientists, scholars, artists and other genius-like people will receive $625,000 over the course of the next five years to spend on whatever their little hearts desire. The prize money, which is meant to promote creative development, not reward past work, used to be $500,000 but was increased to take inflation into account. Now if only they could do that with the minimum wage… Washington Post

Aaron Alexis in ActionThe FBI has released a video of the Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. The video shows the shooter entering a building, loading his rifle, and searching nearly empty office space for more victims. According to the FBI, Alexis was under the “delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by electro-magnetic waves.” He had also sawed messages on his shotgun: “End to the torment,” “Not what y’all say,” and “Better off this way.” So yeah, he was a bit delusional. CNN

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