Military Muppet: TV character urges Israelis to prepare for strike on Iran

(Aug 29, 2012) A new emergency pamphlet in Israel instructs residents to prepare for the worst if Tel Aviv conducts a military strike on Iran. But the face on the brochure isn’t the country’s President or Prime Minister – it’s a Muppet. The cover of the 15-page leaflet pictures a smiling Moishe Oofnik, the Israeli Muppet version of Oscar the Grouch. He’s the resident pessimist on Rechov Sumsum, Israel’s co-production of the long-running American children’s program ‘Sesame Street.’Muppets on the popular show are known for teaching children numbers and the alphabet, but Moishe Oofnik has taken on a different job with this pamphlet – instructing Israelis how to react if their nation’s government launches a war against Iran.The booklet, issued by the Israeli military, says that once air raid sirens sound, residents of the Jewish state would have between 30 seconds and three minutes to find cover before rockets hit their area. The brochure, which is being distributed across the country, also teaches Israelis how to prepare a safe room or shelter for emergency situations.The furry Muppet puts a happy face on the warnings, though the issue is anything but lighthearted: Israeli ministers have estimated that up to 500 civilians could die in the conflict that would follow a strike on Iran.

The pamphlet comes in the wake of recent remarks by the country’s officials suggesting that Israel may soon launch a unilateral attack on Tehran’s nuclear program. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly favor a strike on Iran. Public statements and anonymous quotes to Israeli media in the past week have raised speculation that Israel may soon attack Iran.The bellicose rhetoric comes over Israeli and Western allegations that Iran’s nuclear program is a cover for the development of atomic weapons, while Tehran claims the facilities are for civilian purposes.Less than two weeks ago, Netanyahu announced that negotiations with Iran had “failed,” and claimed that Israel will attack Iran in the near future, with or without US consent.The Israeli Defense Minister also supports military action against Iran: “Barak is advocating for action and the defense establishment is investing billions to prepare for an Israeli military operation,” an Israeli official told Ynet NewsBut the ambition to set back Iran’s nuclear program could come at a high cost to Israel’s citizens, causing many Israelis to protest a potential attack. The country’s president also recently spoke out against a unilateral strike against Iran.”It’s clear to us that we can’t do it alone. We can only delay [Iran’s progress]. Thus it’s clear to us that we need to go together with America,” Shimon Peres told Israel’s Channel Two television.Iran has promised to retaliate against in Israeli attack in what could lead to a wider regional war among several different forces. Tel Aviv fears that Tehran could induce its Hezbollah guerrilla allies in Lebanon and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to launch rocket strikes against Israel if Iran were attacked.As the Israeli government prepares for the worst, it is urging residents to have a “family talk” about preparing for a national emergency. But it’s not just pamphlets that indicate that an attack may be imminent – Israel increased the distribution of gas masks and other protective gear to the public several weeks ago.
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Massive evacuation in Louisiana as dam threatens to break

Photo: (Aug 30, 2012) http://youtu.be/sVM3dYwa43g A mandatory evacuation has been ordered as a dam threatens to break at Lake Tangipahoa at the Percy Quin Dam in Mississippi. The evacuation area runs from Kentwood, Louisiana to Robert, Louisiana along the river.The evacuation is estimated to impact 50,000 to 60,000 people. While the dam is currently holding up, officials said there was at least a 50 percent chance it could break, making it essential people leave the area, especially those in lower-lying areas.Officials are going door-to-door to let people know of the evacuation.The governor has activated evacuation transportation, including flights and buses. http://www.wfaa.com/news/national/Massive-evacuation-in-Louisiana-Mississippi-as-dam-threatens-to-break-167999026.htmlhttp://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501363_162-57503481/evacuations-ordered-as-dam-threatens-to-break-at-park-lake-near-louisiana-mississippi-border/(Aug 30, 2012)A mandatory evacuation has been ordered as a dam threatens to break at Lake Tangipahoa at the Percy Quin Dam in Mississippi. The evacuation area runs from Kentwood, Louisiana to Robert, Louisiana along the river.The evacuation is estimated to impact 50,000 to 60,000 people. While the dam is currently holding up, officials said there was at least a 50 percent chance it could break, making it essential people leave the area, especially those in lower-lying areas.Officials are going door-to-door to let people know of the evacuation.The governor has activated evacuation transportation, including flights and buses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typhoons stoke fears of humanitarian crisis in North Korea

Footage from North Korea's Central News Agency depicts a small boat off Kangwon Province (Aug 30, 2012) Typhoon Bolaven struck the North on Tuesday and Wednesday, submerging houses and roads, ruining thousands of acres of crops and triggering landslides that buried train tracks. A second major storm, Typhoon Tembin, pounded the Korean Peninsula with more rains on Thursday.The storms come as North Korea is still recovering from earlier floods that killed more than 170 people and destroyed thousands of homes. That in turn followed a springtime drought that was the worst in a century in some areas.Foreign aid groups contacted on Thursday said they are standing by in Pyongyang, but had not received new requests for help from the North Korean government. They had little information on the extent of damage and were relying on reports from state media.

The country’s wariness toward the outside world, as well as a primitive rural road system, means aid may be slow arriving, if it is allowed to come at all.Typhoon Bolaven swept through parts of northeast China from Tuesday evening to Wednesday, flooding cities and delaying flights.”These fresh storms, coming just a few weeks after the serious flooding they do raise concerns because we see parts of the countryside battered again that have already been left in a vulnerable state,” said Francis Markus, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Asia.Tembin’s strong winds and hard rain were pounding South Korea on Thursday, as residents of some cities waded through streets flooded with murky, knee-deep water. The national weather agency in Seoul said the storm would move off the peninsula’s east coast and that some cities in North Korea would see severe weather conditions.

West Nile virus cases rising; 40% increase in one week: 66 dead in U.S.

Culex mosquitos (Culex quinquefasciatus shown)...

Culex mosquitos (Culex quinquefasciatus shown) are biological vectors that transmit West Nile Virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‎(Aug 29, 2012) One of the worst outbreaks of West Nile virus to ever hit the United States continues to expand, with 66 deaths and 1,590 illnesses reported as of Tuesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases have jumped 40 percent nationwide since just last week, the agency added. Cases have now reached their highest level since the mosquito-borne virus was first found in the United States in 1999, agency officials said in a Wednesday press briefing. While almost all states have reported at least one case of West Nile illness, over 70 percent of cases have come from six states Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan. The outbreak has hit hardest in Texas, where nearly half (45 percent) of the total U.S. cases have been reported. “The number of people reported with West Nile virus continues to rise,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases. “We have seen this trend in previous West Nile epidemics, so the increase is not unexpected,” he added. “In fact, we think the reported numbers will get higher through October.” According to Peterson, of the cases reported so far, 56 percent are what is called neuroinvasive disease, when the virus enters the nervous system causing conditions such as meningitis or encephalitis. The remaining reported cases (44 percent) are non-neuroinvasive. “These numbers represent a 40 percent increase of last week’s report of 1,118 total cases and 41 deaths,” Petersen said.

16 dead, 10 missing as typhoon pounds South Korea

(Aug 29, 2012) 16 people were killed and 10 were missing after a strong typhoon pounded South Korea Tuesday, uprooting trees, sinking ships and cutting power to almost 200,000 homes. By early evening Typhoon Bolaven the strongest to hit the South for almost a decade had moved to North Korea, which is still struggling to recover from deadly floods earlier this summer. Hundreds of flights in the South were grounded, ferry services were suspended and schools in Seoul and several other areas were closed. Bolaven left a trail of death and damage in southwestern and south-central regions of the country, although it was little felt in central parts of Seoul. Off the southern island of Jeju, the storm drove two Chinese fishing ships aground early Tuesday, sparking a dramatic rescue operation.The transport ministry said all 87 sea ferry services had been halted. A total of 247 flights — 183 domestic and 64 international have been cancelled since Monday. The typhoon packing winds of 144 kilometres (90 miles) per hour at one time brought heavy rain and strong winds to southern and western areas. It toppled street lights and signs, shattered windows, uprooted trees and tore off shop signs. The National Emergency Management Agency said 197,751 homes in Jeju and the southwest and south-central regions lost power.

Hurricane Isaac storm surge tops levee in Plaquemines Parish

Photo: (Aug 29, 2012) A storm surge from Hurricane Isaac topped a levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans early Wednesday, officials said, trapping those who chose not to evacuate.Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser said the 18-mile, 8-foot-high levee--which is not part of the near $15 billion federal levee system constructed after Hurricane Katrina--was in the process of being raised."We knew we had a potential storm surge of nine to 12 feet--we had an eight foot levee," Nungresser said on CNN. "We're trying to get the few people who have stayed out. We've got a serious situation over there." Isaac made landfall at 6:45 p.m. CDT Tuesday in Plaquemines Parish, and the slow-moving Category 1 hurricane--now centered about 50 miles southwest of New Orleans with maximum sustained winds topping 80 mph--is expected to dump as much as 20 inches of rain in several parts of Louisiana."Not only did we see the worst case scenario, it got worse than that by this storm just stalling," Nungresser said. "So the levees can only take so much."Nungresser said there were reports of up to 12 feet of water in some homes. "This is something I've never seen before," Nungresser said. "And I rode out Katrina."He said three parish residents, including a woman on a roof, were saved by a private boat. Rescue workers were waiting for conditions to improve--and skies to lighten--before attempting other rescues."We're working with U.S. Coast Guard to rescue people stranded on top of levee," Nungresser said at a press conference.The southern end of the parish was under a mandatory evacuation order, though it's not clear how many residents followed it."There are homes inundated and some folks trapped by water in those homes," Guy Laigast, director of homeland security for Plaquemines Parish, told the Weather Channel. "Over 150 people have had to be rescued from #Isaac flooding," CNN's Rob Marciano tweeted. "The majority were within mandatory evacuation zones."According to News Orleans' Times-Picayune, Jesse Schaffer and his son have been rescuing stranded residents with their boat."We've rescued at least 23 people including children," Jesse Shaffer Jr. said.The Army Corps of Engineers said the New Orleans levee protection system appeared to be working. Meanwhile, more than 500,000 customers were left without power in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, utility companies said. According to the Associated Press, most of the outages are in areas around New Orleans.A tornado warning has also been issued in southern Mississippi. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/hurricane-isaac-plaquemines-parish-124906826.html(Aug 29, 2012) A storm surge from Hurricane Isaac topped a levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans early Wednesday, officials said, trapping those who chose not to evacuate.Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser said the 18-mile, 8-foot-high levee–which is not part of the near $15 billion federal levee system constructed after Hurricane Katrina–was in the process of being raised.”We knew we had a potential storm surge of nine to 12 feet–we had an eight foot levee,” Nungresser said on CNN. “We’re trying to get the few people who have stayed out. We’ve got a serious situation over there.” Isaac made landfall at 6:45 p.m. CDT Tuesday in Plaquemines Parish, and the slow-moving Category 1 hurricane–now centered about 50 miles southwest of New Orleans with maximum sustained winds topping 80 mph–is expected to dump as much as 20 inches of rain in several parts of Louisiana.”Not only did we see the worst case scenario, it got worse than that by this storm just stalling,” Nungresser said. “So the levees can only take so much.”Nungresser said there were reports of up to 12 feet of water in some homes. “This is something I’ve never seen before,” Nungresser said. “And I rode out Katrina.”

He said three parish residents, including a woman on a roof, were saved by a private boat. Rescue workers were waiting for conditions to improve–and skies to lighten–before attempting other rescues.”We’re working with U.S. Coast Guard to rescue people stranded on top of levee,” Nungresser said at a press conference.The southern end of the parish was under a mandatory evacuation order, though it’s not clear how many residents followed it.”There are homes inundated and some folks trapped by water in those homes,” Guy Laigast, director of homeland security for Plaquemines Parish, told the Weather Channel. “Over 150 people have had to be rescued from #Isaac flooding,” CNN’s Rob Marciano tweeted. “The majority were within mandatory evacuation zones.”According to News Orleans’ Times-Picayune, Jesse Schaffer and his son have been rescuing stranded residents with their boat.”We’ve rescued at least 23 people including children,” Jesse Shaffer Jr. said.The Army Corps of Engineers said the New Orleans levee protection system appeared to be working. Meanwhile, more than 500,000 customers were left without power in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, utility companies said. According to the Associated Press, most of the outages are in areas around New Orleans.A tornado warning has also been issued in southern Mississippi.