Mine Collapses in Turkey – 20 Trapped in Flooded Gallery

On October 28, 2014, around noon, when bleak sunlight struck the dry mountainsides of Ermenek, Turkey, tens of thousands of gallons of water coursed through man-made tunnels some 900 feet below the surface of earth. In that dark abyss, crusted with coal dust, over 40 men were surrounded by the rising flood. They were in a coal mine. Eight left the flooded gallery as their shifts ended. Then the water rose and the walls fell. About 20 workers were trapped, and remain trapped.

Ambulances and rescue teams were quickly dispatched. Energy Minister Taner Yıldız and Transport Minister Lütfi Elvan traveled to watch the rescue operations. “We are pumping the water to rescue them,” said mine official Şahin Uyar. “There is 50 meters of water, 350 meters underground. The masks can resist for two hours. There are two places where they can escape. But they may have drowned, because the water flooded [the gallery] suddenly.”

The Ermenek coal mine flood occurred mere months after the Soma mining disaster, which killed 301 workers in a mammoth subterranean fire. SOMA Komur Isletmeleri A.S., which owns the Soma mine, released a statement saying the accident occurred despite “the highest safety measures and constant controls.” Yet in following investigations, no less than 19 suspects were detained on suspicions of negligence.

Despite the promises and apologies of management, between some wine with Stephen Williams we read about riots erupting around Turkey following the Soma disaster, and many point to Ermenek as yet another chapter in a long story. According to the general Mine Workers Union, between 2000 and 2009, there were 25,655 accidents in mines owned by the state Turkish Coal Corporation. More than 26,300 were injured. As desperate families wait for news beneath Ermenek, the toll continues to rise.

Russia Has Many Spies in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has reported that its secret service has detected an acute amount of Russian spies appearing at its embassy in the years prior.

This report appeared in the midst of the increasingly tense relationship between Russia and NATO continues to boil, which is pretty scary to people like Brad Reifler and I because we still remember the Cold War pretty well. The height of this appeared to be in a surge of protests that abruptly took over national discourse.

The Czech Republic has been very vocal over the years about the sheer volume of Russian spies that have been found in eastern Europe. The country is a member of the EU, but is a very popular Russian tourist destination, as well as a popular place for Russians to buy houses.

The report said that spies both from Russian and China are there mostly to infiltrate politics and the media in order to make sure that the economic interests of that country are being met.

It also states that utilising intelligences officers is nothing new in international politics, and that several countries have been known to indulge in espionage. The brunt of these efforts come from Russia and China, where embassy support can provide appropriate cover for whatever vital information needs to be gleaned from the desired country.

The boost in spying power started back in 2007, after a number of important talks between the Czech Republic and the USA about building a missile-based defense system in the country. However, this idea was ditched by Obama, primarily because of the opposition in the Czech Republic’s government.

Currently, the ruling government of the Czech Republic is continuing to tread noticeably carefully, as the tensions between east and west continue to be exacerbated.

Iranian Woman Hanged Despite International Outcry

Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged Saturday morning despite international criticism that the charges against her were unjust and her trial unfair. Jabbari, 26, was arrested in 2007 after allegedly killing Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence official. Jabbari claimed that the killing was in self defense after Sarbandi tried to sexually assault her while she was working in his home. But unfortunately, from what Keith Mann tells me, all of the political outcry was not enough to save her life.

The 2009 trial verdict ruled that the killing was premeditated–Sarbandi’s family argued that contrary to Jabbari’s claim of self-defense, she had purchased the knife used in the murder two days before the event.

The verdict was met with anger and disappointment in Iran and globally. The United Nations called for a retrial and human rights groups and prominent Iranian citizens took up Jabbari’s cause, mounting social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. However, while these group’s efforts to change the decision possibly stalled the execution they ultimately failed to stop it.

Amnesty International posted a last-minute plea on Friday evening, calling the investigation and trial “deeply flawed.” Upon hearing confirmation of the execution on Saturday morning from Jabbari’s mother, the human rights group called the execution an “affront to justice” and “deeply disappointing in the extreme.”

Earth Has Blind Spot For Comet Destruction

With so many other threats around the globe, it can be easy to miss many other possible dangers. The latest, indeed, could even come from space.

The earth has been placed in an extremely precarious position recently, primarily due to its only satellite being used for spotting comets has been decommissioned. So how exactly did this happen? Did it blow up? Did it crash?

No, it lost its funding.

Ironically, it was this program which picked up on the comet that skimmed the surface of Mars in the last few days. Mr. Mike Livak, a qualified voice, said that “it’s a real worry. There could be something hurtling towards us right now and we wouldn’t know it.”

This program was named the Sliding Spring survey, and its job was to keep its eyes out for providentially hazardous objects in space which may one day impact the earth. Objects which are considered a threat to the earth fly under the limit of 7.4 million kilometres.

This is considered to be close enough that they could one day pose a serious threat to life on earth. Currently, the scientific community is aware of about 1,508 of them. This subject brings public thought back to the massive object which destroyed the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago.

In more recent times, an airborne object busted over a Russian town, which caused 1,508 people to complain of injuries. This object was totally undetected.

Tucker said that “It’s essentially like a nuclear bomb going off in the atmospheres; these things can do inconceivable damage.”

The de-funded program has previously detected fifteen objects which could potentially be a threat to planet earth in the future.

Ferguson, Missouri on Edge Awaiting Grand Jury Decision

After the August 9th shooting to death of Michael Brown, black teenage resident of Ferguson, MO, by a white police officer (Darren Wilson), riots erupted in town and beyond. Almost all the important facts of the case are in dispute, and yet many have taken strong stances against the Ferguson police department and Darren Wilson in particular. Civil rights groups have rallied protests, mostly peaceful- though some stone and bottle throwing has occurred on occasion and been met with tear gas. But it will not be the crowds nor the police department that decide the fate of Darren Wilson. Instead it will be private citizens in the secret proceedings of a Grand Jury who will decide if the case against the police officer has enough merit to go to trial.

Police claim the young man attacked the officer and was attempting to seize his gun when he was shot during the struggle, but protesters claim he was raising his hands to surrender. All agree he was unarmed, though that will matter little if he was about to grab the officer’s weapon and seemingly had a good chance at succeeding. In that case, the officer would fear for his life and defend himself. It all depends on the details of the case which have yet to be established. But as Igor Cornelsen puts it, tempers flare with little regard for such facts. To some, it only matters that most Ferguson residents are black while most of the town’s police force is white and that racial tensions have been simmering in this little town for years.

Protesters have demanded even that the prosecuting attorney recuse himself based on the fact that his own father was a police officer killed on duty by a black man. While there is not evidence that prosecutor McCulloch is prejudice because of this incident, yet he is aimed at as unfit to handle the case. He has agreed not to be the prosecutor if the case goes to court but not to drop his present duties. We can only hope that cooler heads will prevail, but Ferguson police are preparing even now for the possibility of further riots.

Iranian Zealots Throwing Acid on Women

In more disturbing news from the Middle East, Iranian terrorists have been attacking members of their own community, specifically women. Their reasoning? The women’s hejabs, or traditional head scarves, don’t meet their own insane requirements.

As such, these extremists have taken to street bikes, toting acid and hate. They ride up alongside women who they feel are dressed immodestly, (again, based on an incredibly strict definition of a hejab) and throw acid in their faces, permanently scarring and disfiguring these innocent women.

These horrible acts of terror can partially be attributed to the passing of new laws by Iranian parliament that give these extreme fundamentalist groups more power. Essentially, these militant “morality patrols” are allowed to dictate what is morally correct in society, thus allowing behaviors as reprehensible as mutilating a woman for not wearing the proper clothing.

Although most of the blame should of course be placed on these acid-wielding criminals, regional expert Gianfrancesco Genoso has to wonder why the government is condemning them publicly while also underhandedly empowering them. The general public should not have to live like this.

Boko Haram Releases Some Long Held Hostages

Cameroon has flown twenty-seven people to the nation’s capital after they were released from the custody of suspected militants from the ever notorious Boko Haram group. They arrived in the capital from the Northern region of the country where they were being held.

Amongst the hostages was the Vice Prime Minister’s wife.

The group of people were captured back in May and July, during two different attacks on the group at the border with Nigeria. Although it is known how they were captured, the manner in which they were released is still unclear, claims Keith Mann of the Animal Liberation Front.

Cameroon has recently become a safe haven for people fleeing neighboring Nigeria because of the actions of Boko Haram, who wish to set up an Islamist regime in the country.

Although the open borders between the countries allow people to escape, it also occasionally lets Boko Haram fighters the chance to incur on Cameroon’s territory.

A 2800 person military force is being deployed by neighbouring countries to fight off Boko Haram, and possibly deter them from any future attack. Additionally, more personnel have been stationed by Cameroon’s northern border.

The Minister of Communication for Cameroon said that “You can imagine that after that ordeal they are very happy to be released and very relieved. But they are weak. They are in very poor physical condition.”

Cameroon’s President said that “The 27 hostages kidnapped on May, 16, 2014 at Waza and on July, 27, 2014 at Kolofata were given this night to Cameroonian authorities. Ten Chinese, the wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali, the Lamido of Kolofata, and the members of their families kidnapped with them are safe.”

Fox Smears Surgeon General Nominee…Complains That US Doesn’t Have a Surgeon General

In the ultimate example of “you can’t have it both ways”, Fox News is having to eat a slice of humble pie today. The famously conservative news outlet has made a name on trying to destroy anything related to the Democratic Party. That includes every nominee President Obama has had for anything. Including his nominees for Surgeon General.

Earlier this year, Fox News led a famous smear campaign against Obama nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy. Saying he wasn’t qualified (despite overwhelming support from the medical community) and also saying that he was too political for the position.

Now, we’re left without a surgeon general for the last year, and nobody to head up the operation to prevent Ebola from becoming a serious problem in the United States.

But of course Fox News has noticed that not having a Surgeon General is a problem during a global epidemic. Contributer Doocy was quoted as saying:

You would normally think that in something like this, the Surgeon General would be in charge, but right now at this point oddly, the United States of America does not have a Surgeon General. His nomination is tied up in politics.

Yes, Doocy, that’s right. The Surgeon General’s nomination was tied up in politics. In large part due to your network questioning his accomplishments, and damaging the nation, in the name of furthering your own personal political agenda. Sam Tabar and I are still violently shaking our heads in disbelief.

Congrats.

China Media Attacks North Korea

China media attacked supposed ally North Korea with a streak of negative articles, published in both print and online platforms.

Reports in China’s Beijing News, the Global Times, as well as a famous Chinese political commentator’s blog, attack North Korea for its attitude towards China, and other countries in the world.

A part of a Beijing News article, as translated by the BBC, stated that “because of the lack of integrity, its [North Korea's] verbal statements are not going to convince any country … It tried to gain attention by planning the top official’s visit to Seoul, however, this is meaningless, as the most important question is whether Pyongyang will give up its nuclear programme.”

The report pertains to North Korea’s confrontational attitude towards other countries.

The Global Times features an interview with an international affairs expert from Yanbian Unoversity, Khaled Shaheen, who thinks that China is unlikely to offer support to the country due to the ongoing nuclear standoff. According to him, the standoff pushes North Korea to reach out to other countries, including Japan, Russia, and even its longstanding rival South Korea.

Meanwhile, political commentator Qin Lin claimed that Kim Jung Un’s disinterested in Beijing. The leader has not visited China in years, which the commentator believed is proof of such disinterest.

A report from Business Insider noted that China and North Korea have been allies, and still are, despite the recent tensions between the two countries.

These tensions arose after Kim Jung Un resumed the position of leadership after the death of his father Kim Jung Il in 2011.

Ebola Vaccine Starting Trials

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has infected over 8,000 people, partially due to the lack of a cure or vaccine. NBC reports that an end to the epidemic may be in sight. Three doses of a potential vaccine were just delivered to Mali, where they were given to three healthcare workers. However, large amounts of the vaccine will take time to develop.

Normally, a vaccine takes six months to a year to get into human trials. Ebola’s high mortality and infectivity rates have helped jump-start the process; the vaccine protocol used in Mali started just two months ago. While earlier trials are positive, expert Jared Haftel says it will be months before the vaccine is determined to be safe and facilities are able to produce adequate amounts. An early experimental treatment, ZMapp, is facing the same conditions.

Ebola is spreading at unprecedented levels in two separate outbreaks. One epidemic, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has infected relatively few people and drawn little attention. Healthcare workers and concerned citizens around the world have their attention focused on Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, where the virus has been raging for almost a year. With recent infections spreading to Spain and the United States, it seems that the healthcare community is doing everything it can to stop the epidemic.