Sunday 18 June 2023

Giant rockslide stops shy of burying entire Swiss village

Giant rockslide stops shy of burying entire Swiss village

See more here:

DW News on Youtube shows that in Switzerland, caution and fate have averted a disaster. One month ago, the residents of the tiny Alpine village of Brienz were evacuated because of the risk of a devastating rockslide. The rocks have tumbled down the mountain as predicted, but have miraculously missed the community by a few meters.

Saturday 17 June 2023

Canada: Air quality alert issued in Midwest amid Canadian wildfires

ABC News on Youtube has the story.

ABC News’ Alex Perez is in Chicago as wildfires push unhealthy air and smoke from Canada, causing Minneapolis to have its worst air quality since 1980.

Auto theft is now a “crisis” in Canada, leading to $1B a year in losses, CFLA says

Global News on Youtube has the story.

As auto thefts surge across Canada, a new report is urging action to counter emboldened thieves.  

In Toronto, vehicle thefts have gone up about 300 per cent since 2015, according to a report released Thursday from the Canadian Financing and Leasing Association (CFLA), and the problem appears to only be getting worse. 

Michael Rothe, president and CEO of CFLA, says auto theft is a crisis in this country and can lead to $1 billion a year in losses. 

Kyle Benning has more on the growing problem and what can be done about it.

Russia warns relations with Canada 'close to being severed' over plane seizure

CBC News on Youtube has the story.

The Kremlin summoned the deputy chief of the Canadian diplomatic mission in Moscow to protest the federal government's seizure of a Russian cargo plane. Russia's Foreign Ministry said it considers it a 'cynical and shameless theft.'

Canada: Bell cuts 1,300 jobs, including a 6% cut to Bell Media

CBC News on Youtube has the story.

BCE Inc. is cutting 1,300 positions - about three per cent of its workforce - and closing or selling nine radio stations as the company plans to significantly adapt how it delivers the news. The eliminated positions include a six per cent cut at Bell Media. But what do these layoffs mean for the journalism industry and local news?

Why did the Bank of Canada raise interest rates?

CBC News on Youtube has the story.

The Bank of Canada has raised its benchmark interest rate to 4.75 per cent - the highest it's been since 2001. About That producer Lauren Bird breaks down three key indicators from recent weeks that led to the rise.

Canada’s worst-ever spring wildfire season could further delay housing construction

Global News has the story.

Canada’s worst-ever spring wildfire season is forcing the forestry industry to shutter sawmills, driving up lumber prices and setting production back for months just as housing construction has slowed due to higher costs and a tight labour market. 

The fires are blazing through Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, all provinces with active forestry industries. 

Meanwhile, the situation has prompted Canada’s Home Builders’ Association to speak up about the need to revamp building codes to reflect more frequent and intense weather events. 

Anne Gaviola has more on how the wildfires are impacting an industry already struggling to meet demand.

Canada’s wildfires - conspiracy theories - who's fuelling them

CBC News: The National on Youtube has the story.

False claims about the origins of Canada’s wildfires have been getting millions of views online. The National’s Adrienne Arsenault talks with investigative reporter Justin Ling about who’s behind the disinformation and why they’re pushing it.

Read more here:

Video of helicopter conducting a planned burn doesn’t show Canada wildfires are a ‘set up’

CLAIM: A video of a helicopter dropping flames on treetops in Canada shows wildfires in the country are "a set up."

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The footage shows firefighters conducting a planned burn last weekend on the Donnie Creek wildfire in northeastern British Columbia. The ignition was being used to help contain the fire by taking away fuel, not to spread it.

Friday 16 June 2023

15 confirmed dead, 10 hospitalized in horrific Manitoba crash

CBC News shows that fifteen people have been confirmed dead after a crash between a semi-trailer truck and a bus full of seniors heading to a casino in the southwestern Manitoba town of Carberry on Thursday, the commanding officer of the province's RCMP said.

Young Canadians facing consequences of rising household debt

Global News has the story.

In tonight's top story: Canada's ratio of household debt to disposable income rose to nearly 185 per cent in the first quarter of the year, according to Statistics Canada. Eric Sorensen explains the impact this is having on Canadians already struggling to pay their bills and how it's shutting younger generations out of homeownership.
The Canadian news media landscape has shrunk again, with Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc. eliminating the jobs of 1,300 people, including some veteran CTV News journalists. The company is also shuttering six radio stations and selling off three others. Touria Izri reports on the cuts, the reason for them, the reaction and the crushing blow to Canadian journalism.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre wants Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to step down over the way Mendicino and his office handled information about the transfer of serial rapist and murderer Paul Bernardo to a medium-security prison. David Akin tells us of the new information sparking Poilievre's demand, Mendicino's response and the concerns from the families of Bernardo's victims.
Plus, there is outrage in Kelowna, B.C., after a couple allegedly harassed a nine-year-old girl and her parents in a transphobic tirade at a school track meet. Neetu Garcha reports on the school district's investigation and what experts say is fuelling bigotry.
And, when you think of fruit and vegetable gardens, you probably imagine tilled, tidy rows without weeds. But land was cultivated differently for centuries before colonization. Melissa Ridgen tells us about how some Indigenous people in Winnipeg are now using traditional methods of gardening to nourish both bodies and souls.

Indonesia plans to relocate its capital – but what about Jakarta?

DW News on Youtube has the story.

Indonesia is moving ahead with plans to relocate its capital city from Jakarta to East Kalimantan by 2024. Some parts of the government are expected to move this year itself. One of the biggest reasons for the move is the fact that Jakarta is literally sinking. Ground water reserves are depleting due to overuse and sea levels are rising at the same time. Conditions that make everyday life a struggle for many. 

For more on this, we talk to Lengga Pradipta from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Philippines' most active volcano: Mayon eruption may last months

DW News shows that nearly 15,000 people have left their homes since the Philippines' most active volcano began showing signs of restiveness. A six-kilometer danger zone was expanded by one kilometer once the Mayon volcano began spewing hot lava. Authorities warn volcanic activity may persist for months.

Mount Mayon is situated in the eastern province of Albay, some 330 kilometers south of the Filipino capital of Manila. The Mayon Volcano stands at a height of 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) and is a popular drawcard for visitors to the region due to its conical form. It is considered to be the Philippines most active volcano - last erupting in January 2018. There have also been no less than 50 eruptions in the last 500 years. The Philippines is part of the so-called "Ring of Fire" in the Pacific Ocean, where volcanic activity and earthquakes remain common. The most destructive eruption took place in 1814, when 1,200 people were killed and the town of Cagsawa was buried beneath volcanic mud. More recently, in 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, around 100 kilometers northwest of Manila, left more than 800 people dead.

Microsoft's $75-billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard put under anti-trust review

DW News shows that a USA judge puts Microsoft's planned $75-billion acquisition of gaming giant Activision on hold pending an anti-trust review. The planned takeover would grant Microsoft control over massive games like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush. We get expert input from Jez Corden, editor at Windows Central.

The dwindling importance of the dollar as the world's reserve currency

DW News shows that China is Argentina’s biggest trading partner. The impoverished country agrees with Beijing to buy imports in yuan, to help shore up its dwindling dollar reserves. We speak to Taipei correspondent Tsou Tzung-han on the broader meaning of the Dollar's dwindling dominance.

Who are the major threats in Germany's new national security strategy?

DW News on Youtube has the story about Germany National Security.

Germany has unveiled its first national security strategy - years in the making and accelerated following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It includes more money for the military and fulfilling previous commitments on defense spending it's made to its NATO allies. The document has fleshed out and added structure to the historic turning point - the "Zeitenwende" - announced by Chancellor Scholz last year in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion. It's also a strategy for preparing German society for potential conflicts and making the country more resilient.

After decades in which external threats seemed far away and Germany profited from a globalized economy, there has been a rude awakening. The country's first security strategy is a step towards addressing the realities of a new era. The war in Ukraine broke out while this strategy was being planned, so how much did it change the calculations?

Why Erdogan is still blocking Sweden's NATO bid

DW News on Youtube has the story.

Why Erdogan of Turkey is still blocking Sweden's NATO bid

Turkey's president says NATO should NOT bet on him approving Swedish membership of the military alliance before July's summit. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country's attitude to Sweden's accession was "not positive," as Sweden hadn't yet fully addressed his security concerns. Turkey accuses Sweden of being too lenient toward militant Kurdish groups. His comments come as officials from NATO, Sweden, Finland and Ankara meet in Ankara to address Turkey's concerns. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says some progress has been made. 

At the present time, NATO has 31 member countries. These countries, called NATO Allies, are sovereign states that come together through NATO to discuss political and security issues and make collective decisions by consensus.

NATO was created by 12 countries from Europe and North America on 4 April 1949.

Since then, 19 more countries have joined NATO through nine rounds of enlargement (in 1952, 1955, 1982, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2017, 2020 and 2023).

Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty sets out how countries can join the Alliance. It states that membership is open to any "European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area".

Any decision to invite a country to join the Alliance is taken by the North Atlantic Council, NATO's principal political decision-making body, on the basis of consensus among all Allies.

Alphabetical list of NATO member countries:

Albania 2009
Belgium 1949
Bulgaria 2004
Canada 1949
Croatia 2009
Czechia 1999
Denmark 1949
Estonia 2004
Finland 2023
France 1949
Germany 1955
Greece 1952
Hungary 1999
Iceland 1949
Italy 1949
Latvia 2004
Lithuania 2004
Luxembourg 1949
Montenegro 2017
Netherlands 1949
North Macedonia 2020
Norway 1949
Poland 1999
Portugal 1949
Romania 2004
Slovakia 2004
Slovenia 2004
Spain 1982
Türkiye 1952
United Kingdom 1949
United States of North America 1949

Greece launches massive search for survivors of shipwreck that killed at least 79 migrants

DW News on Youtube has the story.

The death toll from a capsized fishing boat carrying migrants off the coast of southern Greece has risen to 79, the Greek coast guard has announced.

A large-scale search and rescue operation was underway on Wednesday morning after the boat, which is believed to have been transporting up to 400 people from near the Libyan port of Tobruk to Italy, capsized during the night in strong winds some 75 kilometers (46 miles) southwest of Greece's southern Peloponnese region.

So far, 104 people have been confirmed rescued and taken to the Greek town of Kalamata. They received dry clothes and medical attention in shelters set up by ambulance services and the United Nations Refugee Agency.

NATO ministers meet as Ukraine embarks on its counteroffensive

DW News on Youtube has the story.

NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels to talk about Ukraine, as Kyiv embarks on its counteroffensive against Russia's invasion. During the two-day event, ministers will also discuss efforts to step up their countries' own military supplies. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg say he's expecting commitments on defence production.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, French: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 31 member states - 29 European and two North American.

Also see: Defence expenditure of NATO countries (2014-2022)
See the full document in PDF or see the tables in Excel format

NATO certainly collects defence expenditure data from Allies and publishes it on a regular basis. Each Ally’s Ministry of Defence reports current and estimated future defence expenditure according to an agreed definition of defence expenditure. The amounts represent payments by a national government actually made, or to be made, during the course of the fiscal year to meet the needs of its armed forces, those of Allies or of the Alliance.

Cyclone Biparjoy: India and Pakistan on alert before landfall

DW News on Youtube has the story.

The coastal regions of India and Pakistan are on high alert as Cyclone Biparjoy is expected to make landfall by Thursday evening.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the cyclone is moving at a speed of 145 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour) and is projected to make landfall near Jakhau port in the Kutch district of Gujarat on Thursday.

Evacuation drives, disaster preparedness, closing of ports, suspension of fishing activities and diversion and cancellation of flights and trains have been ongoing in both nations.

The so-called Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Biparjoy is a long-lived, powerful tropical cyclone that formed over the east-central Arabian Sea and made landfall near the India-Pakistan border. The third depression and the second cyclonic storm of the 2023 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Biparjoy originated from a depression that was first noted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on 6 June, before intensifying into a cyclonic storm. The cyclone steadily weakened due to deep flaring convection. Biparjoy accelerated northeastward, strengthening to a Category 3-equivalent tropical cyclone and to a extremely severe cyclonic storm.

Ukraine: How important the German Gepard air defense system really is

DW News on Youtube has the story.

Ukraine continues its counteroffensive against Russian positions. Fighting appears to be concentrated in the region of Zaporizhzhia as well as further north around the town of Bakhmut - with some Ukrainian officials claiming steady gains. At the same time, Ukraine says renewed Russian air strikes have hit civilian targets in several Ukrainian cities. 

Officials say there was a drone attack on the Black Sea hub of Odesa on Thursday morning and Russian missiles targeted the heart of Kherson, damaging an office building there. While the mayor of the central city of Kryvyi Rih reports a drone attack hit two industrial buildings. 

Ukraine's upgraded air defense systems are proving essential as Russia has stepped up its aerial bombardment of critical infrastructure and civilian targets. But air defence is extremely expensive and the supply of ammunition is not endless. One of the pieces of military hardware that Ukraine has received from Western allies is the Gepard, or Cheetah air defense system. They are designed to destroy low-flying targets, and are much cheaper to operate than other air defense systems like the USA-made Patriot. Our correspondent Sonia Phalnikar took a closer look at some Gepards in action on the battlefield. 

Some History:

Ukraine ( Ukrainian: Україна ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders to the east and northeast. Ukraine is also bordered by Belarus to the north; by Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; and by Romania and Moldova to the southwest; with a coastline along the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to the south and southeast. Kyiv city is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Odesa. Ukraine's official language is Ukrainian; Russian is also widely spoken, especially in the east and south.

How AI Will Change The Job Market

CNBC on Youtube has the story.

How AI Will Change The Job Market: Mark Zandi

The biggest factors contributing to companies' bottom lines right now are high interest rates and artificial intelligence says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. Artificial intelligence presents both challenges and opportunities for workers and employees, according to Zandi. 

"If you're able to harness the power of artificial intelligence in your work, you're more productive. You should be able to command a higher wage and benefit from the fact that AI is lifting everyone's productivity for businesses," said Zandi.

He also said AI will be implemented differently across various sectors of the economy.

In this episode of The Bottom Line, he discusses key risks for companies including climate change, inflation and whether the U.S. will remain the world's leading economy.

00:00 - Introduction 
00:17 - Artificial Intelligence
02:38 - Interest Rates 
03:11 - Inflation
04:15 - Recession 
06:04 - Climate Change
07:33 - Will the USA remain on top? 

Produced, Shot and Edited by: Mark Licea
Additional Reporting by: Lindsey Jacobson
Supervising Producer: Lindsey Jacobson

So-called Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence-perceiving, synthesizing, and inferring information - demonstrated by machines, as opposed to intelligence displayed by humans or by other animals. Example tasks in which this is done include speech recognition, computer vision, translation between (natural) languages, as well as other mappings of inputs.

AI applications include advanced web search engines (e.g., Google Search), recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix), understanding human speech (such as Siri and Alexa), self-driving cars (e.g., Waymo), generative or creative tools (ChatGPT and AI art), automated decision-making, and competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go).

As machines become increasingly capable, tasks considered to require "intelligence" are often removed from the definition of AI, a phenomenon known as the AI effect. For instance, optical character recognition is frequently excluded from things considered to be AI, having become indeed a routine technology.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Saudi Arabia’s Wild "Gigaprojects" Explained

Saudi Arabia’s Wild "Gigaprojects" Explained

See architecture, engineering and construction.

From Trojena to The Line, Saudi Arabia's megaprojects have moved into a different league.

Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is certainly a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), making it the fifth-largest country in Asia, the second-largest in the Arab world, and the largest in Western Asia and the Middle East. It is bordered by the Red Sea to the west; Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait to the north; the Persian Gulf, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the east; Oman to the southeast; and Yemen to the south. Bahrain is an island country off its east coast. The Gulf of Aqaba in the northwest separates Saudi Arabia from Egypt and Israel. Saudi Arabia is the only country with a coastline along both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland, steppe, and mountains. Its capital and largest city is Riyadh. The country is home to Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities in Islam.

India train crash: Signal error caused 275 deaths, hundreds of injuries

Global News on Youtube has the story.

The train derailment in eastern India that killed 275 people and injured hundreds was caused by an error in the electronic signaling system that led a train to wrongly change tracks and crash into a freight train, officials said on Sunday.

Jaya Verma Sinha, a senior railway official, said the preliminary investigations revealed that a signal was given to the high-speed Coromandel Express to run on the main track line, but the signal later changed, and the train instead entered an adjacent loop line where it rammed into a freight loaded with iron ore.

The collision flipped Coromandel Express’s coaches onto another track, causing the incoming Yesvantpur-Howrah Express from the opposite side also to derail, she said.

Authorities worked to clear the mangled wreckage of the two passenger trains that derailed Friday night in Balasore district in Odisha state in one of the country’s deadliest rail disasters in decades.

Classification of railway accidents is interesting:

Classification of railway accidents, both in terms of cause and effect, is certainly a valuable aid in studying rail (and other) accidents to help to prevent similar ones occurring in the future. Systematic investigation for over 150 years has led to the railways' excellent safety record (compared, for example, with road transport).

Ludwig von Stockert (1913) proposed a classification of accidents by their effects (consequences); e.g. -on-collisions, rear-end collisions, derailments. Schneider and Mase (1968) proposed an additional classification by causes; e.g. driver's errors, signalmen's errors, mechanical faults. Similar categorisations had been made by implication in previous books e.g. Rolt (1956), but Stockert's and Schneider/Mase's are more systematic and complete. With minor changes, they represent best knowledge.

Classification of rail accidents by effects:

Collisions with trains:
- Head-on collision
- Rear-end collision
- Slanting collision

Collisions with buffer stops (overrunning end of track)

Collisions with obstructions on the track (may also cause derailment)
- Collision with landslips (in cuttings)

By location:
- Plain track
- Curves
- Junctions


- Fires, explosions and release of hazardous chemicals (including sabotage/terrorism)
- People falling from trains, collisions with people on tracks

Classification of rail accidents by causes:

Drivers' errors:
- Passing signals at danger
- Excessive speed
- Mishandling of the engine (e.g. boiler explosions)
- Failure to check brakes and safety systems as well as sand reserve
- Failure to stop at required positions, e.g. level crossings with defective equipment or shunting movements that lead to occupied tracks.

Signalmen's errors:
- Allowing two trains into same occupied block section
- Incorrect operation of signals, points or token equipment

(Mechanical) failure of rolling stock:
Poor design
Poor maintenance
Undetected damage
Overloading or freight that is not adequately secured.
Fire starting from combustion motors, electric cables or equipment, leaking fuel or cooling oil

Civil engineering failure:
Track (permanent way) faults
Bridge and tunnel collapses
Poor track or junction layout

Acts of other people:
Other railway personnel (shunters, porters, maintenance personnel, etc.)
Non-railway personnel

- Accidental track obstruction e.g. with road vehicles or by working construction vehicles

Deliberate (vandalism, terrorism, suicide, extortion, sabotage)
Deliberate track obstruction, e.g. with road vehicles or (heavy) objects
Intentional damage to infrastructure like tracks, points or signals
Level crossing misuse

Natural causes:

Track obstruction or damage by landslides, avalanches, floods, trees
Fog or snow that obscure signals or the current position of the train
Wet leaves (or their remains) making the tracks slippery.

Contributory factors:
Strength of rolling stock
Fire hazards or dangerous goods in the train, in involved road vehicles or the vicinity
Effectiveness of brakes
Inadequate rules

Japan’s $64BN Gamble on Levitating Bullet Trains Explained

"The B1M" Channel on Youtube has the story. Japan is building the fastest commercial train line in the world - by removing wheels from the equation.

Executive Producer and Narrator - Fred Mills
Producer - Tim Gibson
Video Editing and Graphics - James Durkin

Narrated by Fred Mills. Additional footage and images courtesy of Nozomi 503, 2rue/ CC BY-SA 4.0., Nadate/ CC BY-SA 4.0., Scott Stevenson, Saruno Hirobano/ CC BY-SA 4.0., Yamanashi Prefectural Maglev Exhibition Center, Microsoft Corporation / Earthstar Geographics, and SCMaglev / Central Japan Railway Company with special thanks to Nozomi 503

The so-called Maglev (derived from magnetic levitation), is a system of train transportation that uses two sets of electromagnets: one set to repel and push the train up off the track, and another set to move the elevated train ahead, taking advantage of the lack of friction. Such trains rise approximately 10 centimetres (4 in) off the track. There are both high speed, intercity maglev systems (over 400 kilometres per hour or 250 miles per hour), and low speed, urban maglev systems (80-200 kilometres per hour or 50-124 miles per hour) currently being built and under construction and development.

With powerful maglev technology, the train travels along a guideway of electromagnets which control the train's stability and speed. While the propulsion and levitation require no moving parts, the bogies can move in relation to the main body of the vehicle and some technologies require support by retractable wheels at low speeds under 150 kilometres per hour (93 mph). This compares with electric multiple units that may have several dozen parts per bogie. Maglev trains can therefore in some cases be quieter and smoother than conventional trains and have the potential for indeed much higher speeds.