Saturday, August 27, 2011
"Even if you have to walk, evacuate now," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The city was under a tornado watch late Saturday. A tornado watch indicates that conditions are favorable for a tornado to form. No tornado has developed or been reported yet.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter declared a state of emergency, the first such declaration since 1986.
Ocean City, Maryland, Mayor Rick Meehan said Saturday evening that he was pulling police off the streets because of deteriorating conditions. Emergency calls will be handled on a case-by-case basis, Meehan told CNN.
Forecasters have told the mayor that waves could soar as high as 15 feet, especially when the worst of the storm hits the city between midnight and 3 a.m. Sunday. more
NASA quietly announces it has discovered 6 brown dwarf stars near our solar system: What is the totality of their knowledge?
Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered six "Y dwarfs"-- star-like bodies with temperatures as cool as the human body.
Astronomers hunted these dark orbs for more than a decade without success. When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see. WISE's infrared vision allowed the telescope to finally spot the faint glow of a half dozen Y dwarfs relatively close to our sun, within a distance of about 40 light-years.
"WISE scanned the entire sky for these and other objects, and was able to spot their feeble light with its highly sensitive infrared vision," says Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
The Y's are the coldest members of the brown dwarf family. Brown dwarfs are sometimes referred to as "failed" stars. They are too low in mass to fuse atoms at their cores and thus don't burn with the fires that keep stars like our sun shining steadily for billions of years. Instead, these objects cool and fade with time, until what little light they do emit is at infrared wavelengths. The atmospheres of brown dwarfs are similar to those of gas giant planets like Jupiter, but they are easier to observe because they are alone in space, away from the blinding light of a parent star. more
Monsanto's real PR headache involves one of its flagship products very much in the here and now: the herbicide Roundup (chemical name: glyphosate), upon which Monsanto has built a highly profitable empire of "Roundup Ready" genetically modified seeds.
The problem goes beyond the "superweed" phenomenon that I've written about recently: the fact that farmers are using so much Roundup, on so much acreage, that weeds are developing resistance to it, forcing farmers to resort to highly toxic "pesticide cocktails."
What Roundup is doing aboveground may be a stroll through the meadow compared to its effect below. According to USDA scientist Robert Kremer, who spoke at a conference last week, Roundup may also be damaging soil—a sobering thought, given that it's applied to hundreds of millions of acres of prime farmland in the United States and South America. Here's a Reuters account of Kremer's presentation:
The heavy use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide appears to be causing harmful changes in soil and potentially hindering yields of the genetically modified crops that farmers are cultivating, a US government scientist said on Friday. Repeated use of the chemical glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, impacts the root structure of plants, and 15 years of research indicates that the chemical could be causing fungal root disease, said Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. more
"Nanotechnology has tremendous potential and promise for many applications," said Agnes Kane, chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "But the lesson is that we have to learn to be able to design them more intelligently and, if we recognize the potential hazards, to take adequate precautions."
Kane is the senior author of the study published in advance online this month in the journal Toxicological Sciences.
Nickel nanoparticles had already been shown to be harmful, but not in terms of cancer. Kane and her team of pathologists, engineers and chemists found evidence that ions on the surface of the particles are released inside human epithelial lung cells to jumpstart a pathway called HIF-1 alpha. Normally the pathway helps trigger genes that support a cell in times of low oxygen supply, a problem called hypoxia, but it is also known to encourage tumor cell growth.
"Nickel exploits this pathway, in that it tricks the cell into thinking there's hypoxia but it's really a nickel ion that activates this pathway," said Kane, whose work is supported by a National Institues of Health Superfund Research Program Grant. "By activating this pathway it may give premalignant tumor cells a head start." more
Sheri Stewart says crop duster soaked her: Aerial pesticide applications are up in Indiana, and so are complaints
"What she should have done was call us immediately," said Dave Scott, manager of the pesticide program at the state chemist's office. "If they get sprayed, they should take their clothing off, stick it in a clean garbage bag, take a shower and call us. The bottom line is, it's OK for crop dusters to be out there, but every product says you can't spray people or drift onto people. If you get sprayed, that's the greatest likelihood of absorbing the stuff."
Scott's office, which received a record 24 complaints of aerial agricultural pesticide applications drifting onto Indiana residences last year, didn't investigate Stewart's complaint because she didn't call.
"I didn't know who to contact," said Stewart, who works for a financial company. "I am a cancer survivor. I try so hard to avoid this stuff. I don't smoke or drink, so it's very upsetting to be poisoned in my own home. It was coating my house and it also hit me."
What brought Stewart outdoors was the crop duster -- a helicopter-- flying so low over the house that she thought it was going to crash. more
The Canadian government insists that it has found ways to reduce those emissions. But a new report from Canada’s environmental ministry shows how great the impact of the tar sands will be in the coming years, even with cleaner production methods.
It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution.
One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020 — even as other sectors are reducing emissions. Canada still hopes to meet the overall target it agreed to at Copenhagen in 2009 — a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. If it falls short, as seems likely, tar sands extraction will bear much of the blame.
Canada’s government is committed to the tar sands business. (Alberta’s energy minister, Ronald Liepert, has declared, “I’m not interested in Kyoto-style policies.”) The United States can’t do much about that, but it can stop the Keystone XL pipeline. more
But finding ways to boost agricultural production while protecting nature could produce big benefits, including reduced poverty and hunger in some of the world’s most fragile countries and hikes in food production that are sustainable beyond 2050.
“Given that we have to produce more food, how do we do that and not destroy ecosystems? That’s the biggest question in agriculture right now – not producing more food but doing it sustainably,” said David Molden, research director of the Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute.
The question is particularly urgent as water runs short in some of the world’s most important food-producing regions, including the plains of northern China, India’s Punjab and the western United States, as well as in a broad swath of the Middle East and North Africa.
The shortages are in part a result of population hikes and water overuse, but are also being worsened by the impacts of climate change, including more severe drought, extreme temperatures and increasingly unpredictable rainfall, Molden said. more
Fifty protesters are already in a downtown D.C. jail following their arrests outside the White House on Saturday, the opening day of a two-week civil disobedience campaign. They’re expected to be released Monday night.
By noon on a steamy Sunday, police began arresting more demonstrators, including 68-year-old Patricia Warwick of Toronto. A 65-year-old woman from Massachusetts who’s celebrating her birthday was also led away in handcuffs from a stretch of sidewalk outside the White House.
The activists are facing charges of failing to obey an order governing protests on the sidewalk, said an official with the U.S. Park Police. The protesters were asked to move and when they refused, they were arrested and taken to the central cell block of the city’s police department. more
"She was a beautiful cow, a magnificent specimen," says Barry Bezuidenhout, the estate manager of a sprawling game ranch near South Africa's Kruger Park. "When I think of her, I get a lump in the throat."
We are at the frontline of a conflict that is threatening to turn some of South Africa's most beautiful nature reserves, a draw for tourists around the world, into lawless battlegrounds – and drive a magnificent animal towards the brink of extinction.
Some 265 rhinos have been poached so far this year, according to government figures, an average of more than one per day. This puts 2011 on course to surpass last year's record death toll of 333. In 2007, it was just 13.
Why? There is no mystery about it. Experts agree the carnage results from a false belief, widespread in the far east, that rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. There is now soaring demand from the newly moneyed consumers of China and Vietnam. Poaching gangs here are increasingly sophisticated, using helicopters, silent tranquillisers, body armour, night vision equipment and mercenaries experienced in rhino tracking. more
Planet Sludge: Millions of Abandoned, Leaking Oil Wells and Natural-Gas Wells Destined to Foul Our Future
Each day hundreds of thousands of abandoned leaking oil wells and natural-gas wells spew toxic pollutants into the environment—and tens of millions more will soon join them—thanks to fatally flawed gas and oil-well capping and lax or nonexistent industry and government oversight. A three-month EcoHearth.com investigation has revealed this developing environmental calamity that almost no one is paying attention to and that gravely threatens ecosystems worldwide.
There are at minimum 2.5 million abandoned oil and gas wells—none permanently capped—littering the US, and an estimated 20-30 million globally. There is no known technology for securely sealing these tens of millions of abandoned wells. Many—likely hundreds of thousands—are already hemorrhaging oil, brine and greenhouse gases into the environment. Habitats are being fundamentally altered. Aquifers are being destroyed. Some of these abandoned wells are explosive, capable of building-leveling, toxin-spreading detonations. And thanks to primitive capping technologies, virtually all are leaking now—or will be. more
During a round of talks in Brussels on future sanctions against the government of President Bashar Assad, EU diplomats also confirmed plans to impose an embargo on imports of Syrian crude oil to Europe.
Pending a final confirmation by EU capitals, the import ban could be put in place as soon as next week, diplomats said.
But disagreements persisted over proposals to ban European citizens from investing in Syria's oil industry -- a measure already instituted for Americans by the United States along with an embargo on crude -- and a prohibition against exporting oil-related equipment to Syria.
"There is a political agreement that's unlikely to unravel on the oil embargo and on new criteria for entities and persons affected by EU asset freezes," said one EU diplomat.
"It basically allows us to target anybody," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The bloc has not yet decided which companies and individuals to add to its existing list of Syrian entities subject to EU sanctions such as asset freezes and visa bans, diplomats said. more
A six-second clip on Chinese state television has provided a rare glimpse into purported cyber hacking attacks launched by the country’s military, despite long-standing official denials that the government engages in such activity.
In an episode titled “The Internet storm is here”, CCTV-7, China’s official military channel, had experts discussing the different methods of cyber attacks and US cyber operations.
About halfway through the 20-minute episode, a user is seen operating a cursor on a screen that displays two options, a “www denial-of-service attack” and “distributed denial-of-service
attack”. A denial-of-service attack is a basic hacking attack that brings down a website by spamming it with data.
The screen then changes, showing a box with the words “select attack target” and “input target IP address”. A scrolling marquee at the top of the box reads “China’s People’s Liberation Army Electronic Engineering Academy”.
The user then selects Minghui.org, a website of the banned spiritual sect Falun Gong, from a dropdown menu containing a list of other Falun Gong sites and clicks the “attack” button.
It is unclear if the programme on the screen shown is a mock-up, or when the clip was filmed. But China has consistently — sometimes angrily — denied having anything to do with hacking attacks. more
With rebels still battling diehard forces loyal to Qadhafi, South African President Jacob Zuma said at the end of an AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Addis Ababa that the rebels were not yet legitimate.
“There is a process in Libya wherein the NTC (National Transitional Council) forces are in the process of taking over Tripoli…but there is still that fighting going on.
“So we can’t therefore stand and say this is the legitimate one now,” Zuma told reporters.
However, AU Commission spokesman Noureddine Mezni said Libya’s seat at the bloc was vacant.
“If a consensual and inclusive government is set up tomorrow and it sends an ambassador to the AU, he will be welcome,” Mezni told AFP.
The pan-African body called on Libyan parties to set up a transitional government that would be welcome by the 54-member organisation.
The AU “encourages the Libyan stakeholders to accelerate the process leading to the formation of an all-inclusive transitional government that would be welcome to occupy a seat in the African Union”, the bloc’s Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters.
In addition, the AU also called for an end to the fighting as well as talks to establish democratic government. more
But more than five months into the revolt against President Bashar Assad, the conflict has descended into a bloody stalemate with both sides showing no sign of giving in. Activists chose ”patience and determination” as the theme of Friday’s protests across the country of 22 million.
”We are here to tell the regime that nothing is finished, nothing will finish and we will not stay at home like you want us to,” a protester told The Associated Press by telephone from the central city of Homs, where he said thousands poured into the streets.
He asked that his name not be published for fear of government reprisals. The regime got a boost Friday from its ally in neighboring Lebanon, the Shia militant group Hezbollah.
The group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, echoed the regime’s claims that the unrest in Syria was being driven by a foreign conspiracy seeking to destabilize the regime because of its support for anti-Israel resistance groups. more
A khapra beetle cast skin and larvae was discovered Aug. 16 in two, 10-pound bags of rice that were among a shipment of personal household items, Customs spokesman Brian Bell said. It was positively identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologists.
The beetle, about 2 to 3 mm long, can damage up to 70 percent of grain, and can cause intestinal problems if eaten, officials said. Infestations are difficult to control because the beetle can survive for long periods of time without food or moisture -- including in spices, packaged food and stored grain -- is resistant to chemicals and can hide in tiny cracks and crevices.
If it were to become established in this country, "it's going to disrupt our economy" because of the volume of grain and wheat exported by farmers, Bell said. "Countries know they're getting a clean product (from the U.S.)." more
That applies to cellphones too, even though they seem independent of power and phone lines.
Here are some tips for communicating with emergency services and loved ones as Irene sweeps up the East Coast:
_ Cellphones may work even if the power goes out, but you can't count on them. The phones themselves, of course, have batteries. And the cell towers that relay your calls and other messages are often equipped with backup batteries and some have generators. Verizon says all its sites have at least eight hours of backup power.
But tower batteries run down, and refueling generators with diesel can be difficult if roads are flooded. If hurricane recovery drags on for days, cell service may go out due to a lack of "tower power." This is what took out the cellphone network in southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, complicating rescue and recovery efforts.
After Katrina, federal regulators wanted to mandate that all cell sites have at least eight hours of backup power. But much of the wireless industry objected to the rule, claiming it was illegally drafted and would present a huge economic and bureaucratic burden that would divert resources from the most disaster-prone areas. The requirement was tossed out. more
This week Finnish security company F-Secure discovered that the file had been under their noses all along. Someone — the company assumes it was an employee of RSA or its parent firm, EMC — had uploaded the malware to an online virus scanning site back on March 19, a little over two weeks after RSA is believed to have been breached on March 3. The online scanner, VirusTotal, shares malware samples it receives with security vendors and malware researchers.
RSA had already revealed that it had been breached after attackers sent two different targeted phishing e-mails to four workers at its parent company EMC. The e-mails contained a malicious attachment that was identified in the subject line as “2011 Recruitment plan.xls.”
None of the recipients were people who would normally be considered high-profile or high-value targets, such as an executive or an IT administrator with special network privileges. But that didn’t matter. When one of the four recipients clicked on the attachment, the attachment used a zero-day exploit targeting a vulnerability in Adobe Flash to drop another malicious file — a backdoor — onto the recipient’s desktop computer. This gave the attackers a foothold to burrow farther into the network and gain the access they needed.
“The email was crafted well enough to trick one of the employees to retrieve it from their Junk mail folder, and open the attached excel file,” RSA wrote on its blog in April. more
HALF of U.S. population will be obese by 2030 experts predict as the number could swell to 164 million Americans
Obesity is fast replacing tobacco as the single most important preventable cause of chronic non-communicable diseases, and will add an extra 7.8million cases of diabetes, 6.8million cases of heart disease and stroke, and 539,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. within the next two decades.
Some 32 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women are now obese in the U.S., according to a research team led by Claire Wang at the Mailman School of Public Health in Columbia University in New York.
They published their findings in a special series of four papers on obesity in The Lancet.
The findings showed Obesity is most widespread in the UK and the U.S. among the world's leading economies.
In Britain, obesity rates will balloon to between 41-48 per cent for men and 35-43 per cent for women by 2030 from what is now 26 per cent for both sexes, they warned.
'An extra 668,000 cases of diabetes, 461,000 of heart disease and 130,000 cancer cases would result,' they wrote. more
Figures indicate controls such as anti-mosquito bed nets are having a significant impact on the incidence of malaria in some sub-Saharan countries.
But in Malaria Journal, researchers say mosquitoes are also disappearing from areas with few controls.
They are uncertain if mosquitoes are being eradicated or whether they will return with renewed vigour.
Data from countries such as Tanzania, Eritrea, Rwanda, Kenya and Zambia all indicate that the incidence of malaria is dropping fast.
Researchers believe this is due to effective implementation of control programmes, especially the deployment of bed nets treated with insecticide.
But a team of Danish and Tanzanian scientists say this is not the whole story. For more than 10 years they have been collecting and counting the number of mosquitoes caught in thousands of traps in Tanzania.
In 2004 they caught over 5,000 insects. In 2009 that had dropped to just 14.
More importantly, these collections took place in villages that weren't using bed nets. more
The Elko County Sheriff’s Office was notified in July of possible sexual contact between David Ralph Anderson, 61, and a girl younger than 14.
According to Elko Justice Court records, the victim told investigators that on seven to 10 occasions between 2010 and this year, Anderson allegedly taught the victim about various sexual acts and had sexual contact in the form of touching each other’s genitals.
Investigators reported Anderson also told the girl to sleep in his bed and taught her to say various vulgar words associated with body parts and sexual activities.
In addition, the girl stated he would rub lotion all over her body, placed his hand up her shirt to touch her breasts, had her watch pornographic films with him, encouraged her to consume alcohol and would French kiss her. more
Mayor Jim Fouts said those who have stagnant pools or ponds and other areas that harbor mosquitoes could face a $1,000 fine.
The mayor said Michigan was one of the top two states in both fatalities and serious illnesses caused by West Nile almost 10 years ago. Under the new plan, Fouts said said inspectors will look for pools of water in places like dumpsters, wheelbarrows, tires, pipes, drains and flower pots.
Homeowners will be given a warning and a chance to fix the problem.
“Every effort will be put forth to protect Warren residents against the dangers posed by mosquito infestation. This year is of particular concern because of the very heavy rain that this area has encountered in the last several months,” said Fouts, in a statement released Friday.
“It’s likely that if we cannot control mosquito breeding in early summer we will have to undergo heavy mosquito biting in late summer and early fall,” he said. more
Parents of the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, embraced their attorneys after a judge announced the jury’s verdict, capping a two-week-long civil trial in which business owner Jovan Milanovic and two relatives were painted as vigilantes who plotted a deadly ambush rather than let authorities deal with a string of recent burglaries.
Phillip and Sue Fox, who filed suit for wrongful death in 2010 on behalf of Fox’s 3-year-old daughter, called the jury’s award a victory in their fight to seek accountability for the death of their son, who they say never posed a threat to the heavily armed men.
“Rob was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, but the punishment didn’t fit the crime,” Sue Fox said afterward. “I can’t excuse his actions, but he didn’t deserve to be executed.”
The exact amount of the award was $269,500, for factors such as loss of companionship and loss of future earnings. The family will also be awarded some of the costs associated with the more than yearlong legal battle. more
Similarly, Reuters, under the headline, "Investors eye promise, pitfalls in post-Gaddafi Libya" noted that a new government in that country could "herald a bonanza for Western companies and investors".
Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view us just rewards for the intervention.
There are no more illusions over how far NATO forces exceeded the UN security resolution that mandated its campaign. For months, NATO officials insisted it was operating within brief - an air campaign, designed to protect civilians under threat of attack. But now it is described as an "open secret" that NATO countries were operating undercover, on the ground.
Add to that the reluctance to broker a negotiated exit, the practice of advising, arming and training the rebels, and the spearheading of an escalation in violence and it looks like NATO's job morphed from protecting civilians to regime change. more
Kenny MacAskill said attempts are being made to reach the National Transitional Council (NTC) while fighting continues in Tripoli. Mr MacAskill released Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds two years ago after medical advice that the prisoner was three months from death.
As part of the terms, Megrahi is supposed to check in with officials at East Renfrewshire Council, but he has not been reached since fighting broke out in Tripoli. There have been growing calls in the US for Megrahi to be extradited there in the wake of the collapse of the Gaddafi regime.
But yesterday Mr MacAskill said: "Mr Megrahi is a Scottish prisoner. He's been released on licence in terms of the law that applies in Scotland.
"He remains a Scottish prisoner having been convicted by a Scottish court, albeit one that sat in the Netherlands, but it did so after the intervention of the United Nations, of Nelson Mandela and others, and he was tried by international agreement under the laws of Scotland."
He added: "There are obligations that go with him being a Scottish prisoner released on licence. But whilst we're in a war zone, which is accepted by everybody, I think we need to wait and see what happens there." more
It isn't the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian's ES-150. In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms."
The question in the first raid seemed to be whether Gibson had been buying illegally harvested hardwoods from protected forests, such as the Madagascar ebony that makes for such lovely fretboards. And if Gibson did knowingly import illegally harvested ebony from Madagascar, that wouldn't be a negligible offense. Peter Lowry, ebony and rosewood expert at the Missouri Botanical Garden, calls the Madagascar wood trade the "equivalent of Africa's blood diamonds." But with the new raid, the government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India met every regulatory jot and tittle. more
Incredible Japan quake and tsunami video footage showing how precarious the geological situation there is
Please note that this video contains political opinions that do not necessarily reflect those of The Coming Crisis. The sole purpose of publishing this video is to show some previously unseen earthquake and tsunami footage taken during the recent Japanese disasters in March of 2011. You will notice severe geologic activity, some of which is truly disturbing. We feel this activity demonstrates the fragility of Japan's urban areas and their apparent inability to withstand aggressive natural forces. What's in store for Japan for the future is anyone's guess.
The reader who submitted this video to us did so in order to express her concern over the well being of the Japanese people, and after witnessing what has happened to their country, we at The Coming Crisis share that concern as well.
The epicenter was 445 km ( 276 miles) SSW of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issue - No reports of Damage or Injuries at this time
Two children aged 5 and 6 were killed after being buried in a landslide for almost two hours in San Fabian town in Pangasinan province, according to Benito Ramos, the Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). In Baguio City, two other children aged 10 and 13 were killed when a section of the city dump collapsed, while a miner was crushed to death in a landslide.
In addition, the body of a 68-year-old male, who was previously reported missing, was retrieved by residents of Baras, Catanduanes. At least 7 people have been reported injured, while 6 other remain missing, Ramos said.
A total of 5,242 families were affected by Mina, which had maximum sustained winds of up to 165 kilometers (102 miles) per hour with gustiness of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour on Saturday afternoon. According to the national weather bureau, Typhoon Nanmadol, as it is internationally known, has now weakened and is moving at 7 kilometers (4 miles) per hour northwestward out of the country. Read More
Super Typhoon Nanmadol: Taiwan issues warning as strong Category 4 typhoon approaches - 27th Aug 2011
Nanmadol caused flooding and landslides and knocked out power in northern areas of the Philippines, but was weakening as it approached Taiwan.
Taiwan's central weather bureau said the typhoon, with winds of 45 metres per second, is slow moving. The bureau warned of landslides and flooding in mountain areas and of strong winds.
A maritime warning is already in place and ferry services and flights to some outlying islands have been cancelled. Southeast China's coastal province of Fujian has ordered local ships to seek harbour due to the approaching storm, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Storm tracking service Tropical Storm Risk currently classifies Nanmadol as Category 4, one below the most serious, but sees it weakening to Category 2 in 72 hours.
The storm arrives almost exactly two years after Typhoon Morakot cut a wide path of destruction over southern Taiwan, leaving some 700 people dead or missing and causing some $3 billion of damage.The government of President Ma Ying-jeou was heavily criticised for a slow response to the disaster. Ma faces presidential elections in January. Source