Flood disaster in South Asia


This video from the USA says about itself:

15 September 2017

We turn to the devastating floods in South Asia, where more than 41 million people have been battling floods and displacement. More than 1,300 people have died in Bangladesh, India and Nepal in recent months, after the region was hit by the worst flooding in at least 40 years.

Some 40 million more people have seen their homes, businesses or crops destroyed. In the coming decade, devastating floods are expected to increase as changing weather patterns worsen risks in the region, climate researchers say. Flooding accounted for 47 percent of all weather-related global disasters between 1995 and 2015, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said in a report.

Of the 2.3 billion people affected, 95 percent were in Asia. We speak with David Molden, the director general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal. The group works in eight countries across South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.

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Dutch teenage soldier abused sexually, top brass covered up


This August 2016 video from the USA is called 12 Harrowing Stories About Military Sexual Assault.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant:

Defense department covered up abuse of soldier

For the first time, a male victim of sexual abuse in the armed forces is telling his story. The abuse took place at the Royal Military School, and was covered up by the senior officers.

By Maud Effting and Willem Feenstra, September 15, 2017, 20:27

The armed forces covered up an abuse case at the Royal Military School (KMS) in Weert in 1982. A male soldier, attacked by five soldiers and abused sexually by one of them, was sent away by the platoon command when he reported the incident. The perpetrators still have impunity. Three of them still work in the armed forces, two of them in high ranks.

In an interview with the Volkskrant that will be in tomorrow’s printed edition and will be online, former soldier Ronald Vreeburg (52) tells about the abuse, the subsequent cover up and the far-reaching consequences for his life. His story is largely confirmed by three (former) fellow soldiers.

It is for the first time that a male soldier in the Netherlands tells so openly about abuse. In the USA and England, in recent years, men in the military have been increasingly victims of sexual abuse. In the USA, even more than half of the victims of abuse in the army are male.

According to experts, this disclosure can serve as a catalyst for other male (former) soldiers who have experienced sexual abuse. Abuse scandals in the sports world and in the Catholic church also came to light after individuals had broken the silence. …

On one evening in June 1982, five soldiers entered the group room of then 17-year-old Vreeburg. According to the ex-soldier, they overpowered him, took off his clothes and bound him with belts to his bed. While four soldiers overpowered him, the fifth one abused him sexually. …

Despite the Defense Department campaigns against sexually transgressive behaviour, this behaviour in the army is still more common than in many other organizations. Sexual abuse of female soldiers has been reported several times. Rarely, however, investigations are specifically aimed at abuse of men.

Most male soldiers abusing other male soldiers are heterosexual, psychologist says.

UPDATE: after 35 years, the Vreeburg case will be investigated at last.

Beautiful birds in Cornwall


This video from Britain says about itself:

15 September 2017

Birds Relaxation Sounds and Beautiful Video – Over 2 hours of relaxing tranquil bird sounds as beautiful birds visit my garden. Thanks for watching.

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

Featuring young robin, adult robin, coal tit, blue tit and others.

Endangered birds in Victoria, Australia


This 2012 video from Victoria in Australia is about mallee emu-wrens.

This video says about itself:

In September 2014, I had the excitement of finding a population of at least 3-4 Mallee Emu-wren, an endangered species, at Wyperfeld National Park in northwest Victoria, Australia. My video here is hand-held and rough but, along with the pictures I got, I hope it shows you that these tiny vulnerable birds are present at this location.

From BirdLife:

14 Sep 2017

Irreplaceable – Murray-Sunset, Hattah & Annuello, Australia

In our ‘Irreplaceable’ series, we cast a light on the globally-significant bird habitats that are in danger of disappearing forever.

By Alex Dale

Stretching across three national parks and covering 7,004 km2 of semi-arid shrubland in North-Western Victoria, this area is one of the last refuges for a number of endangered bird species dependent on its unique mallee habitat for survival.

Mallee is a term used to describe species of eucalypt plant that have adapted to survive in hot, dry areas prone to bushfires. They boast a swollen root crown laced with buds. When the plant is destroyed by fire, the dormant buds allow it to grow back in multi-stemmed form. After 15-20 years of unburnt growth, they offer the perfect environment to deliver sanctuary and shelter to several specialist species.

These include Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata, a chicken-sized megapode once widespread across Australia, but now restricted to scattered locations across southern Australia. Other resident species are scarcer still. A small colony of 20-40 breeding pairs of Black-eared Miner Manorina melanotis in Murray-Sunset National Park is considered one of only two populations deemed pure enough to be worth conserving, due to frequent interbreeding with Yellow-throated Miner Manorina flavigula. Also restricted to a handful of populations in Victoria, Mallee Emuwren Stipiturus mallee is more numerous within this Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA), with an estimated 200 breeding pairs, but its numbers are plummeting fast.

For all these species, the biggest threat to their future is destruction of mallee habitat from further fires, both unplanned and planned. Victoria’s government currently adopts a policy of planned burning of 5% of public land ever year, an initiative intended to minimise the risk of human life from bushfires. However, since species such as Mallee Emuwren are poor flyers, these firebreaks further isolate their populations, as they’re unable to travel over the burnt heath.

Modelling indicates that due to the time it takes for the mallee vegetation to grow back, this policy will render this IBA uninhabitable for these species within 20 years. BirdLife Australia is calling on the Victorian government to ensure the needs of threatened species are incorporated into their fire management planning, drawing up the Threatened Malee Birds Conservation Action Plan which also advocates strategic revegetation programs to combat habitat fragmentation, and re-establishing populations in areas within the reserve which now have suitable habitat. Without these measures, these species could be just one blaze away from disaster.

Hurricane Irma disaster in Florida, USA


This video from TV in the USA says about itself:

Hollywood police chief on sealing Florida nursing home as crime scene

14 September 2017

Florida’s Hollywood police chief Tomas Sanchez joins “CBS This Morning” from the now-closed Florida nursing home where eight patients died. Rescue crews evacuated the home Wednesday after it lost power in Hurricane Irma, and police say the deaths of the patients appear to be heat-related.

Florida officials are alleging a disturbing cover-up at the nursing home where nine people died after Hurricane Irma.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

New details highlight criminal neglect in death of Florida nursing home residents

15 September 2017

The deaths on Wednesday of eight Florida nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, left to swelter in extreme heat after Hurricane Irma knocked out power, has exposed the incompetence and indifference of the ruling class, which bears ultimate responsibility for this social crime.

The more than 150 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were left to suffer in extreme humidity and temperatures in the building approaching 110 Fahrenheit (43 Celsius).

While the facility had a generator, it was used only to power the kitchen. When power was restored by utility provider Florida Power and Light (FPL), portable air conditioning units and fans were employed, but they made little difference for the residents. The central air conditioning unit remained offline, the transformer that powered it having been damaged in the storm.

Hollywood Hills staff called 911 early Wednesday morning after residents began to complain that they felt ill. The first patient was rushed across the street to Memorial Regional Hospital at around 3 a.m. After the third patient arrived some two hours later, hospital staff rushed across the street to check on the nursing home and found residents suffering in unbearable heat.

“We had no idea the extent of what was going on until we literally sent people room to room to check on people,” Dr. Randy Katz, Memorial’s chairman of emergency medicine told the New York Times. Katz reported that at least one patient from the nursing home had come into the emergency room on Tuesday seeking treatment, but no suspicions were raised about potentially life-threatening conditions at the facility.

Three of the victims were found dead in their rooms, a fourth body was located at a funeral home, and the remaining victims died at the hospital. At least 40 of the residents were identified as having trouble breathing and suffering from life-threatening conditions.

The eight victims were identified Wednesday by the Broward County Medical Examiner as Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Betty Hibbard, 84; Manuel Mario Medieta, 96; Gail Nova, 71; Bobby Owens, 84; and Albertina Vega, 99.

Jeffery Nova, the son of Gail Nova, who had lived in the facility for eight years, told the Miami Herald that he had picked Hollywood Hills because it was so close to Memorial Hospital. “If she needed care, they literally had only feet to go,” he said.

Promotional material on the nursing home’s web site boasts that it is located across the street from the hospital, guaranteeing that “our patients have access to even more of the finest health care at all hours of the day and night.”

It remained unclear why nursing home staff waited so long to call for help, as the hospital never lost power or air conditioning during the storm or its aftermath.

The hospital had been designated as a “critical infrastructure facility” by Florida Power and Light and Broward County, while Hollywood Hills and nursing homes in general had not been designated as critical and were not a priority for the utility company.

FPL and Broward County officials sought to absolve themselves of any responsibly for the horror in the nursing home, each blaming the other for the failure to define nursing homes as critical facilities and seeking to shift blame onto the nursing home staff.

A spokesman for FPL claimed that the company did not consider Hollywood Hills a critical facility because Broward County had not designated it as such. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief in turn released a statement blaming FPL guidance documents for the county’s designation of nursing homes as “non-critical.”

Sharief also reported that while Hollywood Hills staff had reported to the county’s Emergency Operations Center that a tree had fallen on the air conditioner’s power transformer, no emergency responders were sent to investigate because they “did not request assistance or indicate any medical emergency existed.”

Hollywood Hills administrator Jorge Carballo reported that the facility had contacted FPL immediately about the damaged transformer and followed up repeatedly for updates on when a repair could be made.

Even after the tragedy at Hollywood Hills, 62 out of Florida’s 700 nursing homes remained without power on Thursday, leaving thousands of elderly residents at risk. At least 80 residents were evacuated from the Crystal Bay Assisted Living Facility in North Miami Beach Wednesday due to a lack of air conditioning. Century Village, a retirement community in nearby Pembroke Pines, remained without power Thursday.

Even as the disaster that has enveloped much of Florida in Hurricane Irma’s aftermath continued to unfold, President Donald Trump made a visit to Fort Myers and Naples on the state’s Gulf Coast to praise the government response to the storm. He made no reference to the deaths in Hollywood.

“We’re going to see some of the folks and make sure they’re happy,” Trump told reporters in Fort Myers, which was inundated by the storm surge. “I think we’re doing a good job in Florida.”

More than 150 people have been killed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and hundreds of thousands in the US have lost their homes or livelihoods, but the corporate media is boasting of the supposedly much improved response to these storms as compared to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. Citing the lower death toll in comparison to the more than 1,800 fatalities in Katrina, while ignoring the far wider impact of the recent storms in terms of homes destroyed, jobs lost and communities devastated, and the lack of planning and neglect of infrastructure exposed by this month’s hurricanes, the New York Times on Wednesday published a front-page lead article with the headline “US Shows Signs Of Improvement In Aid Response.”

Only hours later the news broke of the eight elderly Florida residents killed by official neglect and indifference in the aftermath of Irma.

This video from the USA says about itself:

12 September 2017

Jacksonville faced its worst flooding in nearly a century as Irma brought rain and record storm surge before moving north to dump rain on Georgia and South Carolina.

By Matthew Taylor in the USA:

Jacksonville area staggered by flooding, power outages from Hurricane Irma

15 September 2017

Across the city of Jacksonville and the surrounding counties in northeast Florida, residents this week struggled to adapt to the destruction brought by Hurricane Irma. Widespread power outages, flood-damaged homes and businesses and the uncertain prospects of recovery combined with the oppressive late-summer heat to create an atmosphere of dread for the hundreds of thousands affected.

The storm knocked out power for 60 percent of the city, some 288,000 homes, according to the Jacksonville Electrical Authority (JEA), the utility company that provides power for the region. As of Thursday 66,000 remained without electricity.

The JEA release estimates that 1.5 million gallons of raw sewage had been released into various rivers and creeks throughout the area due to power losses at pump stations during the storm, a number that is sure to rise. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew last October, 7 million gallons of sewage spilled into area waterways.

In a press release Thursday, the company stated that 33 different pump stations went offline at various points during the storm. The company also stated that a major disaster was averted when eight JEA employees manually pumped fuel to keep a wastewater treatment center in the Mandarin neighborhood operational after its backup generator failed during the worst of the storm.

Throughout the region, many of the worst-hit areas were along the various creeks and smaller rivers that are tributaries of the St. Johns River, which flows through Jacksonville. Along the Trout and Ribault rivers in northwest Jacksonville, fallen trees and waist-high water destroyed many homes and businesses and left residents without power.

Along the Black Creek in neighboring Clay County, dozens of homes were either destroyed or suffered major damage when the water crested at a record 28.5 feet. Approximately 300 residents along the Black Creek were evacuated by boat in the following days. Throughout Clay County, there are an estimated 37,500 homes without power.

In the Jacksonville beaches communities, which had also been hard hit by Hurricane Matthew last year, ocean waters flooded thousands of homes. The damage at the beaches and throughout northeast Florida was aggravated by a powerful nor’easter storm that inundated the area with heavy rains in advance of the hurricane.

Within Jacksonville, major flooding has damaged low-lying areas throughout the city, with the flood waters subsiding by Wednesday. In downtown Jacksonville, which experienced its worst flooding in recorded history, work crews labored to clean up the massive amounts of sludge and debris that the flooding brought ashore. Many businesses were damaged by the heavy winds, with broken windows and downed power lines throughout the area. Some of the largest employers, such as EverBank, CSX, and Wells Fargo, avoided serious damage and had already resumed operations.

Across the river in the low-lying San Marco area, where flooding had reached up to four feet, hundreds of homes and small businesses were destroyed. In the Riverside area adjacent to downtown, where flood waters had extended four blocks from the river and many residents were evacuated by boat, dozens of power company and landscaping crews worked to clean up debris and restore electricity.

In the Broadview Towers condominium building along the river, dozens of residents, many of them elderly, were trapped inside the 14-story building when flood waters covered the first floor and knocked out the building’s power, including its elevators and air conditioning. Restoring power took on a newfound urgency after it was revealed on Wednesday that eight residents of a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home died from the extreme heat caused by a lack of air conditioning.

Outside the city, the surrounding counties that make up the greater Jacksonville area were also hard hit. South of Jacksonville in St. Johns County, damage from the storm surge was compounded by multiple tornadoes that tore the roofs off of many homes. In St. Augustine, which had been hard hit by Hurricane Matthew last year, flood waters covered the historic downtown and spread out into surrounding areas. In Hastings, a rural community in St. Johns County, sections of the town were under as much as eight feet of water. Throughout the county, there are an estimated 40,000 homes still without power.

To the north of Jacksonville, in Nassau County, hundreds of homes were damaged by the hurricane and from multiple tornadoes that touched down in the region. More than 20,000 homes lost power. As of Thursday, over 10,000 still had no electricity. Dozens of roads were made impassable from flood water and fallen trees, and the Fernandina Beach municipal airport was closed until further notice. County officials report that a citizen in one of the cities shelters had died during the storm.

In tiny Baker County, along the border with Georgia, It was reported that 97 percent of residents lost power.

Throughout Northeast Florida, thousands of residents will suffer from not only the immediate damage caused by the storm but also the loss of income from being unable to work in the aftermath. Thousands of workers will be unemployed due to businesses that will be closed due to lack of electricity and flood damage. Thousands more will be unable to work due to damaged cars, blocked roads, and bridges, and the necessity to provide child care for the region’s thousands of students while the public school system is shut down.

Two million in Florida still without power nearly a week after Hurricane Irma: here.

THE CARIBBEAN CAN’T CATCH A BREAK Multiple storms are brewing in the Atlantic, prompting hurricane warnings. [HuffPost]

HURRICANE MARIA SLAMS INTO DOMINICA AS CATEGORY 5 STORM Caribbean islands are bracing for impact as the hurricane ravages Dominica, causing “widespread devastation.” [HuffPost]

Floridians line up for food assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma: here.