Earthquake is felt across China

A powerful earthquake, magnitude 7.9, near Sichuan has killed at least 10,000 people and numbers are expected to rise. In Beichuan, 80% of the buildings collapsed. It struck in the early afternoon when people were at work and at school. When schools collapsed, hundreds of students were killed. Two chemical plants have also collapsed. There is no news from the epicentre of the quake, which is a relatively remote and mountainous area, about 100 km northwest of Chengdu. Roads are damaged. In contrast to Burma, China has mounted a massive rescue effort. The Red Cross Society of China are bringing in blankets and assessing the situation with the help of a disaster management expert from the international organization. Volunteers and the Chinese army are pressing towards Beichuan on foot. China is relatively lucky in that it practises disaster recovery regularly and also has been preparing for any eventuality during the Olympics.

Chinese quake 2008 near Chengdu, ruins of a hospital

This is the strongest earthquake since 1976. The earthquake was felt in Peking, a thousand kilometers away. Aftershocks have been felt about every 20 minutes and survivors are sleeping outdoors for fear of further building collapses. Harold Asmis of Ontario-geofish estimates that the epicentre might be as much as 30 km deep.

The New York Times has a good link.

What’s America famous for?

Blake Rig was conducting a class exercise with his students when he got a disconcerting response: What’s America Famous For?” Blake is a writer and teacher in Sudan.

Maybe the U.S. is framing it wrong.

Brian Rig\'s blog

Arguing against evolution by invoking Hitler

Blog Submitted to a Candid World has a good article about the nonsense of “Arguing against evolution by Invoking Hitler.” Submitted says,

I’ve had it up to here with this crap. I try to restrict my use of profanity on this site, but this argument is batshit insane, and it’s time for it to die. I want to save you from viewing the idiocy expressed therein, so I’ll gist the arguments of the link for you: it’s the typical creationist canard, that evolution, by iterating the idea of the “survival of the fittest,” gave Hitler the intellectual armaments he needed to perpetrate the Holocaust. As the author (Benjamin Wikier, “PhD”) says,

All this doesn’t mean that Darwinism was the sole cause of Hitler’s barbarism. But it does make clear that Darwinism must shoulder its share of the moral burden, because the connection is undeniable.

Lunacy.

Go read.

Fishing trawler cuts Sudan’s main Internet cable

Brian Rig\'s blog

As I was looking for pictures of the damage done by fishing trawlers to the sea floor, I found this item on Blake Rig’s blog, from February: “The damage that fishing trawlers can do.”

I am going to briefly mention one particular Italian trawler, which, sometime last week, was fishing not far from Palermo.

Some days ago, we noticed that our new high-speed connection at work was starting to run exceedingly slow, and occasionally was not working at all. This is proving immensely frustrating.

How are the two seemingly random comments above connected? Well, the answer came to me last night, whilst I was chatting with a friend who holds a fairly senior position at Canar, the telecommunications company. He told me that, whilst this trawler was fishing off the Italian coast, it somehow managed to cut through the major cable that plugs most of Sudan into the Internet…. The internet in Sudan is screwed because of some poxy Italian fishing vessel.

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