CABUNGAAN, Philippines (Reuters) – Mobbed by hungry villagers, U.S. military helicopters dropped desperately needed aid into remote areas of the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines, as survivors of the disaster flocked to ruined churches on Sunday to pray for their uncertain future.The Philippines is facing up to an enormous rebuilding task from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,974 people and left 1,186 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort.Philippine authorities and international aid agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at 4 million, up from 900,000 late last week.President Benigno Aquino, caught off guard by the scale of the disaster and criticized by some for the sometimes chaotic response, visited affected areas on Sunday. Not for the first time, he sought to deflect blame for the problems onto local authorities whose preparations he said had fallen short.In Guiuan, a hard-hit coastal town in eastern Samar province, he praised the city mayor for conducting a proper evacuation that had limited deaths to less than 100, saying that was a contrast to other towns.View gallery.”A Philippine Air Force personnel officer (R) tries to push away survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan fr …”In other places, I prefer not to talk about it. As your president, I am not allowed to get angry even if I am already upset. I’ll just suffer through it with an acidic stomach,” said Aquino. „Until I am satisfied with what I am seeing, I will stay here for a while.”While aid packages have begun to reach more remote areas, much of it carried by helicopters brought by the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, the United Nations said people were still going hungry in some mountainous provinces. It said information about several provinces in the west of the Visayas region remained „limited”, with 60 percent of people in towns in the northeast part of Capiz province needing food support.”I remain concerned about the health and well-being of the millions of men, women and children who are still in desperate need,” U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in a statement.The risk of skin and respiratory diseases and diarrhoea was very high, with hospital and health centers badly damaged.”It’s raining a lot so everything is wet. The quality of the water is not sufficient,” Jean Pletinckx, head of Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Haiyan response, told Reuters.View gallery.”Smoke rises from campfires as a helicopter crew of the Philippine Air Force approaches a mountainous …”In Guiuan, the city is completely destroyed. There’s nothing left. Everything is broken. The hospital is completely flat.”U.S. AID REACHES REMOTE AREAS-In Cabungaan, a village in the interior of Leyte province’s Tanauan district – where as many as 1,200 died – the arrival of a U.S. Seahawk helicopter on Sunday was the first outside help since Haiyan made landfall.With children in the lead, scores of villagers ran from jury-rigged shanties to greet the helicopter as it settled in a flattened patch of grass. Locals jostled for a view, beaming and yelling „Thank you! Thank you!” as two crew members rushed out aid marked „from the American people.”For the past week, the village’s 200-plus residents had been living on one meal a day of „dried fish, sometimes coconuts, not enough rice,” said Richel Maballo, 19. Too far from the shore to be hit by the surge of water that devastated the regional capital Tacloban city, the village suffered no deaths.View gallery.”Children riding in a truck with other people made homeless by Super Typhoon Haiyan, look out of the …Back in the air, a member of the aircraft’s crew, Jeremy Smith, scribbled in a notebook: „That LZ (landing zone) was tame compared to others where the aircrafts have been mobbed.”The international community has sent or pledged a total of $248 million (10.6 billion pesos) to help 10 million people affected by Haiyan, said the Philippine foreign ministry.The United States has about 50 ships and aircraft operating in the area, including 10 C130 planes, 12 V-22 Ospreys, Sea Hawk helicopters operating from USS George Washington.Japan has sent three ships with trucks and engineering equipment, while Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore have sent C130 planes to help deliver relief supplies.Aquino said he was not satisfied with the slow pace of aid distribution and called for more efficient loading and unloading of relief packs from ports in Luzon and for the urgent restoration of power and communications.View gallery.”Typhoon victims look out from their house that was damaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Bogo, Cebu in …The government estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture at about 10 billion pesos ($230 million), the bulk of it in the farming sector.The United Nations warned the economic and human costs could rise if aid did not reach farmers in rice-growing regions in time for the next planting season in December and January. It also said that fishing, another crucial food source, had been placed in jeopardy by the storm.”The destruction of boats, fishing gear, fish ponds and related equipment left many families with no means of livelihood and decreased protein intake,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.PRAYING FOR A FUTURE-In Tacloban, church-goers in the deeply religious Roman Catholic-majority country knelt in prayer in the shells of ruined churches.View gallery.”Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan run to get their hands onto a sack of rice dropped by a Philippine …At Santo Niño Church near the waterfront, Rosario Capidos, 55, sat crying in one row, hugging her nine-year-old grandson.Capidos had been sheltering at home with nine other members of her family when Haiyan struck on November 8. As the waters rose, she floated her three grandchildren on a slab of styrofoam through a road flooded with debris and shipping containers to a nearby Chinese temple. Her family survived.”That’s why I’m crying,” she said. „I thank God I was given a second chance to live.”In Hong Kong, thousands of Filipinos, many domestic helpers on their one day off work, rallied on Sunday in parks, churches and streets to raise aid donations and pray for their loved ones at home.”We cannot concentrate on our work, especially when we talk to them and they complain that they are so hungry,” said a helper named Fatima whose daughter had been involved in a fight for instant noodles in an evacuation centre near Boracay.Tearful Filipinos lined church pews in Hong Kong in a string of masses, while others packed boxes of relief supplies to be whisked away by courier firms offering their services for free.”We are here physically, but in our hearts we are with the people in the Philippines,” said Elvera Podador.(Writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by John Mair and Michael Perry)
On Nov. 17, 1800, Congress held its first session in Washington in the partially completed Capitol building.
On this date:
In 1558, Elizabeth I acceded to the English throne upon the death of Queen Mary.
In 1869, the Suez Canal opened in Egypt.
In 1911, the African-American fraternity Omega Psi Phi was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
In 1917, French sculptor Auguste Rodin (roh-DAN’) died in Meudon at age 77.
In 1934, Lyndon Baines Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor, better known as Lady Bird, in San Antonio, Texas.
In 1962, Washington’s Dulles International Airport was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy.
In 1969, the first round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union opened in Helsinki, Finland.
In 1970, the Soviet Union landed an unmanned, remote-controlled vehicle on the moon, the Lunokhod 1.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon told Associated Press managing editors in Orlando, Fla.: „People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”
In 1979, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 black and/or female American hostages being held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
In 1987, a federal jury in Denver convicted two neo-Nazis and acquitted two others of civil rights violations in the 1984 slaying of radio talk show host Alan Berg.
In 2000, the Florida Supreme Court froze the state’s presidential tally, forbidding Secretary of State Katherine Harris from certifying results of the marathon vote count just as Republican George W. Bush was advancing his minuscule lead over Democrat Al Gore. Also, a federal appeals court refused to block recounts under way in two heavily Democratic counties.Ten years ago: John Allen Muhammad was convicted of two counts of capital murder in the Washington-area sniper shootings. Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as the 38th governor of California. Rush Limbaugh returned to radio after five weeks of rehabilitation for a painkiller addiction. Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez won the American League Most Valuable Player award.Five years ago: In their first meeting since the election, Barack Obama and former rival John McCain met at the president-elect’s transition headquarters in Chicago, where they pledged to work together on ways to change Washington’s „bad habits.” St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols won his second NL MVP award.One year ago: Workers using jackhammers began opening the concrete-encased grave of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank so that investigators could check for a radioactive substance, polonium-210, as part of a probe into whether he had been poisoned before his death in 2004. A speeding train crashed into a bus carrying Egyptian children to their kindergarten, killing 48 children and three adults. On the fourth day of an Israeli offensive targeting militants in Gaza, the White House defended Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket fire. Israel broadened its offensive, destroying the headquarters of Hamas’ prime minister.Today’s Birthdays: Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is 79. Rock musician Gerry McGee (The Ventures) is 76. Singer Gordon Lightfoot is 75. Singer-songwriter Bob Gaudio is 72. Movie director Martin Scorsese (skor-SEH’-see) is 71. Actress Lauren Hutton is 70. Actor-director Danny DeVito is 69. „Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels is 69. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver is 69. Movie director Roland Joffe is 68. Former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is 65. House Speaker John Boehner (BAY’-nur) is 64. Actor Stephen Root is 62. Rock musician Jim Babjak (The Smithereens) is 56. Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is 55. Actor William Moses is 54. Entertainer RuPaul is 53. Actor Dylan Walsh is 50. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is 49. Actress Sophie Marceau is 47. Actress-model Daisy Fuentes is 47. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie DeVoe (New Edition; Bell Biv DeVoe) is 46. Rock musician Ben Wilson (Blues Traveler) is 46. Actor David Ramsey is 42. Actor Leonard Roberts is 41. Actress Leslie Bibb is 40. Actor Brandon Call is 37. Country singer Aaron Lines is 36. Actress Rachel McAdams is 35. Rock musician Isaac Hanson (Hanson) is 33. Actor Justin Cooper is 25. Musician Reid Perry (The Band Perry) is 25. Actress Raquel Castro is 19.Thought for Today: „Since others have to tolerate my weaknesses, it is only fair that I should tolerate theirs.” — William Allen White, American journalist (1868-1944).(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Nov. 17)
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Aquino is expected to set up camp in Tacloban, the capital of hardest-hit Leyte province, but it is not clear where he will find suitable accommodations amid the ruins. Virtually every building in the city was damaged or destroyed by the Nov. 8 Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 3,974 people, according to the latest official count released Sunday. The storm left about 1,200 people missing.Electricity is available only in small pockets through diesel generators. There is no running water, and people must manage with water supplied by tankers. Many don’t even have that.Speaking to reporters during a visit to Tacloban, Aquino said that while there has been some progress in the aid effort, it is not enough. A massive effort by the international community, which has donated aid and cash worth more than $248 million, is beginning to show improvements on the ground.”We really want to ease the burden of everybody as soon as possible. As long as I don’t see any more improvements, we’ll stay here,” Aquino said, referring to his official team. Presidential spokesman Ricky Carandang said Aquino wanted to ensure that the distribution of relief goods goes on smoothly and power is restored soon in this city of 220,000 people.Raw: 3,600+ Known Dead in PhilippinesPlay video.”This is not the first time Aquino has taken a hands-on approach to a crisis. When Muslim rebels occupied fishing villages outside Zamboanga in the south in September, he set up a camp in the regional military headquarters in the city to oversee the offensive against the insurgents. The move won him wide praise.Last month, the 53-year-old bachelor president slept overnight in an army tent to reassure jittery residents of a central town that was devastated by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake.Earlier in the day, thousands of Filipinos, many homeless and grieving, flocked to dozens of churches across the region for their first Sunday Mass since the typhoon. More than 80 percent of the 90 million people in the Philippines are Roman Catholic, a legacy of its history of Spanish colonial rule.Some came to give thanks for surviving. Others came to pray for the souls of the departed.”Coming to Mass gives people hope that things will eventually get better,” said Marino Caintic.View gallery.”A Filipino man prays on a statue of Jesus Christ prior to a Mass at Santo Nino church, which was dam …One such service was held by the Rev. Amadero Alvero at his half-destroyed Santo Nino church, a landmark of Tacloban.”Despite what happened, we still believe in God,” he said. „The church may have been destroyed, but our faith is intact, as believers, as a people of God, our faith has not been destroyed.”Sun shone for the first service, but by the second, rain was falling through a gaping hole crisscrossed by wooden beams in the roof of the downtown church and landmark. Its windows were blown out, and winds snapped at a silver cross on top of its steeple, which hangs upside down.”We are being tested by God, to see how strong our faith is, to see if our faith is true,” he said. „He wants to know that we have faith in him in good times, as well as in bad.”Santo Nino and other churches have also been helping care for those who survived.View gallery.”Typhoon Haiyan survivors enter a Catholic cathedral, where crowds of homeless people are squatting i …About 30 families are living in the church, and there are boxes of water and canned goods and food piled up on the promises. The seawater flooded much of the first floor of the compound.Filipinos elsewhere in Asia also remembered their homeland in their prayers Sunday.In Hong Kong, home to 133,000 Filipinos, volunteers outside one church were collecting food, medicine, blankets and clothing to send to the affected region. Most of Filipinos working in the city are low-paid domestic workers.”We can’t really afford to give much money, but we can help them by praying,” said Jovie Tamayo, 32, who is from central Iloilo province. The roof of her family’s house was ripped off in the storm, but her family members were uninjured.Chelly Ogania said she had been unable to contact her mother and brothers on Samar Island, where the storm made landfall, though she had heard from friends that the village was safe.”We pray that they are really safe, we pray always,” said the 35-year-old. „That’s all the things I can do, just pray and trust the Lord, because I’m very far from them. No communications, just praying, praying.”___Associated Press writer Kelvin K. Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Scientists have no doubts that oceans and rivers once pooled on the surface of Mars, but what happened to all that water is a long-standing mystery.The prime suspect is the sun, which has been peeling away the planet’s atmosphere, molecule by molecule, for billions of years.Exactly how that happens is the goal of NASA’s new Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission, or MAVEN, which is scheduled for launch at 1:28 p.m. EST/1828 GMT on Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.Upon arrival in September 2014, MAVEN will put itself into orbit around Mars and begin scrutinizing the thin layer of gases that remains in its skies.”MAVEN is going to focus on trying to understand what the history of the atmosphere has been, how the climate has changed through time and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability – at least by microbes – of Mars,’ said lead scientist Bruce Jakosky, with the University of Colorado at Boulder.Specifically, MAVEN will look at how much and what type of radiation is coming from the sun and other cosmic sources and how that impacts gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere.Scientists have glimpsed the process from data collected by Europe’s Mars Express orbiter and NASA’s Curiosity rover, but never had the opportunity to profile the atmosphere and space environment around Mars simultaneously.”We’ll get a window on what is happening now so we can try and look backward at the evidence locked in the rocks and put the whole story together about Martian history and how it came to be such a challenging environment,” said Mars scientist Pan Conrad, with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.EARTH’S LOST TWIN?-The evidence for a warmer, wetter, more Earth-like Mars has been building for decades. Ancient rocks bear telltale chemical fingerprints of past interactions with water. The planet’s surface is riddled with geologic features carved by water, such as channels, dried up riverbeds, lake deltas and other sedimentary deposits.”The atmosphere must have been thicker for the planet to be warmer and wetter. The question is where did all that carbon dioxide and the water go?” Jakosky said.There are two places the atmosphere could go: down into the ground or up into space.Scientists know some of the planet’s carbon dioxide ended up on the surface and joined with minerals in the crust. But so far, the ground inventory is not large enough to account for the early, thick atmosphere Mars would have needed to support water on its surface.Instead, scientists suspect that most of the atmosphere was lost into space, a process that began about 4 billion years ago when the planet’s protective magnetic field mysteriously turned off.”If you have a global magnetic field, it causes the solar wind to stand off. It pushes it away so it isn’t able to strip away atmosphere,” Jakosky said.Without a magnetic field, Mars became ripe pickings for solar and cosmic radiation, a process that continues today.MAVEN’s prime mission is expected to last one year, enough time for scientists to collect data during a variety of solar storms and other space weather events.Afterward, MAVEN will remain in orbit for up to 10 years serving as a communications relay for Curiosity, a follow-on rover slated to launch in 2020 and a lander that is being designed to study the planet’s deep interior.If MAVEN is launched as planned on Monday, it is due to reach Mars on September 22 – two days before India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, which launched on November 5. India’s probe has been raising its orbit around Earth and should be in position on December 1 to begin the journey to Mars.If weather or technical problems prevent Monday’s launch, NASA has 20 days to get MAVEN off the ground while Earth and Mars are favorably aligned for the probe to reach Mars.(Editing by Sandra Maler)
On the Philippine islands of Leyte and Samar that were shattered by Typhoon Haiyan, there is no doubt about it: the U.S. military has been a godsend. „It is awesome to see this,” says one grateful villager. „They are saving us.”But while U.S. military support can be critical when disasters like Haiyan strike, staging massive humanitarian relief missions for allies in need isn’t just about being a good neighbor. They can be a strategic and publicity goldmine for U.S. troops whose presence in Asia isn’t always portrayed in such a favorable light — and a powerful warning to countries that aren’t on board.”These disasters are not unique only to the Philippines. It will send a signal to all of Southeast Asia, to Asia, that the U.S. is serious about its presence here,” said Philippine political analyst Ramon Casiple. „It’s easy to translate this capability for disaster handling into handling warfare. This is the new orientation of the task forces.”From the military perspective, humanitarian missions like the ongoing Operation Damayan in the Philippines offer concrete benefits — the chance to operate in far-flung places, build military-to-military alliances and get realistic training — that they may later apply to their primary mission, which will always be fighting and winning wars.”Crisis response planning is a skillset for the military, so when you have an opportunity to execute crisis response it’s good for your planning team,” said Rear Adm. Mark C. Montgomery, who commands the George Washington strike group, stationed offshore in the Gulf of Leyte. „So, sure, there is a benefit there. But in reality the reason we do this mission is because in the Navy’s list of missions this is one of the significant efforts we plan for.”View gallery.”Villagers stranded by last week’s Typhoon Haiyan scramble for aid from a U.S. Navy Sea Hawk helicopt …In the week since the disaster, the Philippines has started to receive support from military forces around the region. Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan have sent aircraft or personnel and more support is expected soon from Brunei, Great Britain, New Zealand and Thailand.But none has come close to matching the U.S. Equally importantly, America’s regional rival China has not sent any military personnel, and contributed relatively tiny financial aid.”This is being done in a big way that highlights the meager response of China — that’s the politics there. They’re saying China is not actually your friend in the region,” said Casiple”I’m sure China is watching and assessing,” he said. China announced Sunday it is ready to send rescue and medical teams to the Philippines, but did not say when the teams would depart.For U.S. allies like the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand and to some extent Indonesia, it is an affirmation of the U.S. commitment. For others — Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar who are more closely aligned with China — he said the mission is a not-so-subtle message that the U.S remains the biggest power in the region.View gallery.”A crew member of a U.S. Navy Sea Hawk helicopter from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washingto …Within hours of the typhoon, U.S. Marines were on their way from their bases in Japan to assess the damage and plan out their response. Within days, the George Washington was pulling out of Hong Kong to lead its half-dozen ship battle group to the Gulf of Leyte. By the time they arrived, the U.S. Air Force was already in action.According to the Marines, U.S. military aircraft have put in nearly 480 flight hours in 186 aircraft sorties, moved nearly 1,200 relief workers into the devastated city of Tacloban and have airlifted nearly 2,900 displaced people from the affected areas. On Saturday alone, they delivered more than 118 tons of food, water and shelter items to Tacloban, Borongan and Guiuan — some of the hardest-hit regions.More than 600 U.S. military personnel are currently ashore in the Philippines. The USS George Washington strike group adds another 6,200 sailors supporting air operations, and 1,000 Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to arrive later this week.”Getting to help people is actually the primary thing that we signed up to do,” Toby Pickens, a Navy rescue diver, said after helping off-lift supplies during several hours of helicopter operations from the George Washington. „It’s not so much the combat that we are looking for … Compared to anything else we do, I would say that this is by far the tops.”U.S. military public affairs offices, meanwhile, have been pushing out a torrent of photos, text updates, videos and media packages to play up that message of friendship and support.View gallery.”Villagers stranded by last week’s Typhoon Haiyan scramble for aid from a U.S. Navy Sea Hawk helicopt …Col. Miguel Okol, a spokesman for the Philippine Air Force, said that while he is grateful to the U.S. assistance, he is also keenly aware that this is a military operation, with military implications.He noted that by working together on humanitarian missions, U.S. and Filipino soldiers are in effect conducting joint military exercises, such as while operating C-130 transport planes. The U.S. has deployed 15 of them in the Philippines, which has three of its own.”No country buys these kind of transports” purely for humanitarian purposes, he said as he watched two C-130 transport aircraft, one from each country, unload supplies at Villamor Air Base in Manila.”Together, now, we are doing real operations,” he said.__AP writer Jim Gomez contributed to this story from Manila.
Three Canadian military choppers to head to Philippines to help in relief effort
NASA’s newest Mars spacecraft will study atmosphere, tackle puzzle of Martian climate change
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA hopes its newest Mars spacecraft lives up to its know-it-all name.The robotic explorer called Maven is due to blast off Monday on a 10-month journey to the red planet. There, it will orbit Mars and study the atmosphere to try to understand how the planet morphed from warm and wet to cold and dry.”A maven is a trusted expert,” noted NASA’s space science chief, John Grunsfeld. Maven will help scientists „build a story of the Mars atmosphere and help future human explorers who journey to Mars.”The $671 million mission is NASA’s 21st crack at Earth’s most enticing neighbour, coming on the heels of the Curiosity rover, still rolling strong a year after its grand Martian arrival.When Maven reaches Mars next September, it will join three functioning spacecraft, two U.S. and one European. An Indian orbiter also will be arriving about the same time. Maven will be the 10th orbiter to be launched to Mars by NASA; three have failed, testimony to the difficulty of the task.”No other planet, other than perhaps Earth, has held the attention of people around the world than Mars,” Grunsfeld said.Early Mars had an atmosphere thick enough to hold water and moist clouds, said chief investigator Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. Indeed, water flowed once upon a time on Mars, and microbial life might have existed.”But somehow that atmosphere changed over time to the cold, dry environment that we see today,” Jakosky said. „What we don’t know is what the driver of that change has been.”Maven — short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, with a capital N in EvolutioN — is the first spacecraft devoted entirely to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere. India’s orbiter will also study the atmosphere but go a step further, seeking out methane, a possible indicator of life.Scientists theorize that some of the early atmospheric water and carbon dioxide went down into the crust of the Martian surface — there is evidence of carbonate minerals on Mars. Gases also may have gone up and become lost to space, stripped away by the sun, molecule by molecule, Jakosky said.Maven holds eight scientific instruments to measure the upper atmosphere for an entire Earth year — half a Martian year. The boxy, solar-winged craft — as long as a school bus and as hefty as a 5,400-pound (2,450-kilogram) sport utility vehicle — will dip as low as 78 miles (125 kilometres) above the surface for atmospheric sampling, and its orbit will stretch as high as 3,864 miles (6,218 kilometres).Understanding the makeup and dynamics of Mars’ present atmosphere will help guide humans more safely to the planet’s surface, especially if the ship takes advantage of the atmosphere for braking, Jakosky said. NASA targets the 2030s for the first manned expedition.The spacecraft also holds an antenna and radio to serve as a communications relay for NASA’s two active Martian rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity, as well as the next pair of landers to be launched in 2016 and 2020.Maven is considered so important that launch preparations were allowed to resume a couple of days after the start of the 16-day government shutdown. Maven has one month to launch; Earth and Mars line up just so, just every 26 months. So if Maven isn’t flying by mid to late December, the spacecraft will be grounded until the beginning of 2016.The red planet is a notoriously tricky target. The world’s overall success rate since the 1960s for a Mars mission is less than 50-50.NASA has attempted the most, 20 launches so far, and has the best success rate: 70 per cent. Russia, in second place with 18 Mars launches, has a dismal 14 per cent success rate. China collaborated on one of the Russian flops. Europe and Japan have attempted one Martian mission apiece; the European Mars Express has had mixed results, while the Japanese effort fizzled.”We’re never a success until we’re at Mars and we’re taking data and getting the science that these folks envisioned back in 2003,” when the idea arose, observed NASA project manager David Mitchell.There’s a light side to Maven.Attached to one of Maven’s solar wings is a DVD containing more than 100,000 names submitted by the public earlier this year, as well as more than 1,000 Japanese-style haiku verses, also penned by the public, and 377 student art contest entries.The Maven team liked this haiku from an anonymous contributor:”Amidst sand and stars/We scan a lifeless planet/To escape its fate.”But this haiku was the No. 1 public vote-getter, submitted by British blogger Benedict Smith:”It’s funny, they named/Mars after the God of War/Have a look at Earth.”
„Toronto, you say. The place with the funny mayor?” Oh yes, even in the disaster of the Philippines, volunteers packing food into bags for the hungry and homeless want to know more about Rob Ford. Didn’t expect that.We were at a Red Cross facility in Cebu, from where much of the humanitarian operation is now being directed. In those bags: five kilograms of rice, five packages of noodles, five cans of sardines and a big bottle of water. Any family struck by the storm can expect that — though it may take days more for aid to each them.The challenge is two-fold: the storm’s magnitude and the geography of the country. Typhoon Haiyan was enormous and in many communities the winds knocked down buildings, while the storm surge carried away entire villages. And this is a nation of islands, large and small.Airport towers are smashed, runways covered in debris. Docks for ferries have been washed away and roads are still tricky. In short, helicopter is the primary way to get aid into the hands of people and there just aren’t enough of the aircraft.We flew in a small plane to Roxas, where Canada’s DART team is just getting started. The flight here demonstrated how widespread the damage is, but also how complex it is to get help to those who need it.The entire world has now heard of Tacloban, which is getting the most attention for its death toll and massive destruction. It deserves the coverage, but so do other places. As I write this, I’m driving to Pilar along roads where power lines and downed palm trees make driving complicated. Wooden homes look like a giant stepped on them.The first visit for the Canadian military medical team is to Pilar — at an evacuation centre. Water treatment is gone and so, not unexpectedly, gastro illnesses have spread. In disasters, something as simple as that can kill. It’s why those Red Cross aid packages with the noodles also contain ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic.I have seen terrible natural disasters — the Haiti earthquake and the Japanese tsunami. The Philippines is better equipped certainly than Haiti to address the immediate needs. But while it’s not as wealthy as Japan, there is something here that reminds me of Japan. The worst damage is along the coastlines — in villages reliant on the sea for fishing, virtually the only local economy.But the boats are gone — and along with them, livelihoods.And nobody in Pilar is talking about Rob Ford. Their problems are far greater: survival first, and then…what to do next.
For Philippine typhoon survivors, search for missing loved ones is a hellish daily routine
dailybrew – Mon, 11 Nov, 2013
dailybrew – Tue, 12 Nov, 2013
CBC – Wed, 13 Nov, 2013
The Canadian Press – Wed, 13 Nov, 2013
Extreme weather from Down Under: Fire tornadoes and waterspouts feature in Oz calendar
A Boeing 737 belonging to a domestic Russian airline crashed Sunday while attempting to land at an airport in western Tatarstan, leaving 44 dead, the emergency situations ministry said.The plane, which took off from Moscow, „crashed at Kazan airport at 7:25 pm (1525 GMT),” the ministry’s local branch said in a statement. „According to preliminary information, 44 people were killed.”The Tatarstan Airlines plane, arriving from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport „hit the runway and burst into flames”, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.Local news agencies reported the plane had tried to land three times before crashing.