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The Lost Worlds' website YearEnder Accolade for 2005 goes to US President George W. Bush, since in December this year he was at least good enough to admit in public that the intelligence information on which his administration based its decision to go to war in Iraq was somewhat inadequate. Not that this war on which the USA has so far spent more than US$300 billion is going to end anytime soon. And for what? To introduce Iraqis to a new government and a democratic ballot box that they seem to neither want, nor understand? So Saddam Hussein can threaten to boycott his trial? So this year's Lost World's accolade is faint praise enough.
We find that the USA has other serious problems, such as fiction in its newspapers, and it now looks like it is seriously on the decline as a believable world power. This website has been hearing for years now about the “Happy Holidays” Christmas turnaround in the US, where public figures, retailers, media outlets, and the public, will do almost anything, say almost anything, except agree that Christmas, and its holiday period, have anything to do with the birth of Jesus and a celebration of the messages he later gave the world.
With this, and certainly no Muslim ever ordered it, certainly not Osama bin-Laden (who mysteriously still cannot be found), the USA has lost its way. Why would so-called adults in the USA, where so many people are at least nominally Christian, behave like this? Let's not ask here, “What would Jesus do?” Let us ask: will the world's Muslims see this as weirdness, as insanity, as downright cultural cowardice, as spiritual abdication? Or will they merely ask: why?
This website wonders if this is not worse than just a bizarre repudiation of religious heritage? It may mean that, culturally, up to 250 million people in the US have lost touch with the meanings and joys of childhood; which in the broad would mean, they have basically lost touch with their own and with the world's reality. Are we in the rest of the world supposed to believe that the America which wishes to export democracy to the more unwise of the rest of the world, can no longer tolerate the use of the word “Christmas” in public? Can no longer tolerate its own heritage religious or secular, its own past, and its own understandings? Can no longer tolerate even its own invention of the modern fantasy of Santa Claus? But that while it can no longer live with itself, the USA still finds 9/11 “unbelievable”?
We deeply regret to say, more so after the disgracefully poor public response to the flooding of New Orleans via Hurricane Katrina, that we feel, of all the useless tin cans in the world, the USA has now become the biggest, emptiest, noisiest, thinnest-skinned and unable-to-carry-weight tin can in history, perhaps more so than the USSR used to be. The world doesn't need great powers anymore; it needs governments and peoples with their hearts in the right places.
(Note: We find that by 16 March 2008 in a major Australian newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald, 15-16 March 2008, noted Louisiana journalist and short/crime story writer James Lee Burke is quoted as saying, "Hurricane Katrina will remain probably the worst scandal in America's history." As an Australian, scarcely involved, we fully agree - Ed)
And we find, finally, that we feel this because close to the first anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, a Catholic priest from New South Wales, Australia, who is working in Aceh caring for orphans, reported the following on Australian national TV... from a place where an unexpected flood killed up to 250,000 people in a day. (New Orleans experienced an expected storm!) This priest is asked by Acehenese teenagers if he is American? He says no, he's Australian. They say, “Good”. Why good? Because the Americans make big promises, big noises, and do nothing, deliver nothing. The Australians are at least doing something – and are refusing to prosyletise their religion. They are simply getting on with actually helping people, living with the task day-to-day - except when they return home for Christmas holidays.
So this website thinks that the children of Aceh. Indonesia, who now have far fewer parents due to a tsunami, think that the Emperor of the USA is by now deluded, wearing no clothes as he appears in public on the world stage. We imagine that the children of New Orleans feel much the same. Might this mean, that internationally as well as domestically, the USA can no longer convince even children that it is still worthwhile? Rattling as its legal system has been with fraud cases, how hollow now rings this giant tin-can called the USA?
Mysteriously, somehow, the USA has lost its capacity for can-do. Now it can't even celebrate Christmas for what Christmas is. But whatever, "Happy Holidays". No! We can't even properly say this! The origin of the word “holiday” is in a contraction of the words, “holy day”. So the USA is also losing touch with language itself. It seems dangerous.
Dan Byrnes, Editor, Lost Worlds The Website, 31 January 2005
16 December 2005: 700,000 years ago: Timing of man's odyssey revised PARIS: Early man colonised northern Europe around 700,000 years ago, about 200,000 years sooner than previously thought, British archaeologists believe. The finding will rewrite the odyssey of Homo erectus, the ancestor of modern man, who ventured out of Africa and spread northwards into Eurasia. The established timeline has these humans colonising the southern Caucasus about 1.8 million years ago, then venturing westward along the Mediterranean, reaching Spain and Italy around 800,000 years ago. But, until now, it was thought that bitter cold from a lingering Ice Age thwarted these Stone Age pioneers from moving northwards for hundreds of thousands of years. The earliest evidence of human settlement north of the Alps and the Pyrenees dates from about half a million years ago, thanks to findings at Mauer in Germany and Boxgrove in southern England. That assumption has now been overturned by remarkable finds excavated from eroding coastal cliffs in Suffolk, in eastern England. Around 700,000 years ago, Britain was connected to continental Europe by a “and bridge" that extended the length of what is today the English Channel. Suffolk and the neighbouring county of Norfolk were low-lying areas through which sluggish rivers meandered. depositing a thick layer of mud and sand. The North Sea basin eventually subsided and the shallow coast of East Anglia emerged, exposing a sedimentary layer. called the Cromer Forest-bed Formation. Victorian geologists were the first to spot it, identifying a trove of fossils of extinct mammals, molluscs, beetles, fruits and seeds. Nearly a century and a half later, a team led by Anthony Stuart and Simon Parfitt of University College have taken the discoveries a giant step further. In a paper published yesterday in the British science journal Nature, they report the finding of 32 flint artefacts, retrieved from a layer at Pakefield, Suffolk. The artefacts are sharpedged flakes, some more than 20mm long, that were chipped away from larger pieces of black flint as the humans made tools, they believe. Working in arduous conditions at low tide, the researchers also found an array of plant and insect fossils, including species that could not have survived deep cold. From these species, the scientists calculate that in July, the warmest month, temperatures would have been between 18C and 23C, while in January and February, the coldest months, the mean temperature would have been between -6C and 4C. The fossils suggest that the landscape at the time comprised a meandering river, marshland and grassland that would have provided plenty of food for bisons, lions, wolves and mammoths, among others. The floodplain would have provided a resource-rich environment for early humans, with a range of plant and animal resources," the paper says. As an additional attraction, in an area where good-quality flint was scarce. was the flint-rich river gravels. which provided the raw material for tool manufacture. In a commentary, also published in Nature, Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands, said "Parfitt and his colleagues have struck Stone Age gold". "Along with hippos, rhinos and elephants, early humans were evidently roaming the banks of these rivers. They did so during a warm interglacial period, and much earlier than hitherto thought for this part of Europe." (Reported AFP via The Australian newspaper, 16 December 2005.)
As Iraqis go the polls, in US,President George Bush admits in public that prior to the outbreak of war with Iraq, much of US intelligence information used was wrong, inadequate, and takes full responsibility. (TV world news in Australia 15 December 2005)
Don't blame Islam for terror, warns Turkish Prime Minister on visit to Australia: “One of the world's moderate Muslim national leaders says blaming Islam for terrorism will only further entrench a clash of culture and a war against the West. PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the moderation of Turkey has become an invaluable asset in defusing conflict. He spoke as a conference in Spain met to discuss a UN-sponsored Alliance of Civilisations, an initiative proposed by Spain and Turkey, meets to discuss “dialogue between cultures”. Summing up different outlooks, Erdogan said behind the rise of terrorism are a clash of civilizations, and “the appearance of a specific cultural-religious differentiation”, while in various Muslim societies, the deepening differences due to development have propelled a strong perception of injustice and so, reaction. Erdogan seeks an atmosphere of dialogue and reconciliation. (The Australian, 8 December 2005)
Jemaah Islamiah is “virtually finished” as a strong terrorist network”,according to the Defence Minister of Indonesia.It now has only 250-200 members., but could still mount smaller-scale attacks. Meantime, concern still exists that a radical Islamist group surviving from the 1950s, when Indonesia found independence, Darul Islam, might pose new risks. Meantime also, the death of senior Jemaah Islamiah radicals Azahari bin Husin (and escape of his accomplice Noordin Mohammed Top) already mean that Muslims in Indonesia now feel more comfortable (or less intimidated) with speaking out against violent perversions of Islam. It also seems now that about 100 radicals from Indonesia are now holed up in The Philippines, awaiting future action of some kind. (The Australian, 8 December 2005)
Saga of Hobbits continues: Hobbits may be earliest Australians? As this website often mention, the origins of Australia's Aboriginal people remains a mystery. And in 2004, from the Indonesian island of Flores just near the North-West coast of Western Australia, came news from a team largely of Australian archaeologists that a new species of humanity, homo floriensis (little people, Hobbits) has been discovered. They became extinct about 11,000 years ago. The saga of, or, about, the Hobbits now continues as archaeologist Mike Morwood from University of New England now suggests that one-metre tall Hobbits, who were wiped out by difficulties with volcanoes, may have lived also in Australia. Speaking at a public lecture in Perth, Morwood has suggested that Hobbits arrived in Australia more than 60,000 years ago, pre-dating arrival of a first wave of Aboriginals. And when they larger Aboriginals arrived, they pushed out or competed-out the Hobbits? Scepticism has arrived on this from no less than members of Morwood's own work-team. Given the climate, how would artefacts be found of Hobbit-life in northern Australia? How would they have survived? (The Australian, 8 December 2005)
Various headlines for 7-8 December provoke bemusement: “Go to hell!” a defiant Saddam Hussein tells his trial judges, the whole court, in Iraq. Hussein is pounding tables, speaking loudly, waving fingers, criticising Israel and the US and threatening to boycott his trial. (This website wonders how a prisoner can be allowed to boycott their trial? This can happen?) Fresh appeals are being made by the non-Iraqi relatives of hostages taken in Iraq. On 7 December the No. 2 figure of Al-Qa'ida, Ayman al-Zawahri, delivered a new Internet-video production marking another anniversary of 9/11, telling the world that “Sheikh” Osama bin-Laden is alive and well and continuing to wage holy war against the West. This, with thanks to God, al-Zawahri feels, will bring joy to to many right-thinking Muslims and mujaheddin hoping to defend “the violated Muslim lands”. Meantime, lately released is a new book, by CNN security expert Peter Bergen, The Osama ib Laden I know: An Oral Historyy. Bin-Laden will continue his struggle, hates and condemns Saddam Hussein, and has vowed never to be taken alive.
1827: Beethoven died of lead poisoning, but it is not known how or why: For some time before he died aged 56 in 1827, up to 30 years, genius composer Ludwig van Beethoven suffered digestion problems, chronic abdominal pain, irritability and depression. He also had foul body odour and bad breath. Aware of problems, Beethoven left instructions that his body be examined after his death so that others might be saved from such distress. He had up to 60 times more lead in his system than is regarded as average today. A few locks of his hair were taken, some of them ending up in possession of William Meredith, head of the Beethoven Centre at San Jose State University. Some skull-bone fragments from his body ended up in a tin box owned by an old woman in France, the mother of US-Californian entrepreneur Paul Kaufman. Kaufman's mother died in 1990 in France, he returned to her house to clear it out, and found a key that opened a tin box in a bank safety deposit box – home of the skull fragments. Meredith in 1999 approached Kaufman with an idea that both the hair and bone fragments be examined, and this was done a few years later. The hair and bone matched as samples, but how Beethoven had so much lead poisoning is still a mystery. (The Australian, 8 December 2005)
14 November 2005: "A suicide bomber is the
ultimate smart bomb": According to part one of a two-part
documentary by a former US CIA agent, screened on ABC TV Australia
on 14 November 2005, the modern cult of the suicide bomber began
after the invasion of Iran by Iraq, in the time of Ayatollah
Khomeini. The Ayatollah dredged up a "traditional" ideal of
martyrdom stemming from incidents about 1400 years ago, after the
original split of Islam into Shia and Sunni adherents. An Iranian
teenager-soldier became the first suicide bomber and hero when he
blew up an advancing Iraqi tank. From Iran, the ideal was shortly
exported in the early 1980s to Lebanon during a civil war and a
time of incursions by Israel, to be used particularly against US
interests. One of the worse incidents was on 18 April 1983, when a
massive car bomb killed 63 people at the US embassy, one of the
first modern attacks against US interests in the region. There were
other explosions deployed against US interests in Lebanon in 1983.
The cult of the suicide bomber was adopted in Lebanon particularly
by Hezbollah (Army of God, Shia of Lebanon), in terms of its
religious ideology, defense of Islam.
But another, more secular group or party in Lebanon, SSNP, also adopted the cult of the suicide bomber, where the sacrifice was conducted against the invader, but without belief in an afterlife, and in terms of defence of one's country. And so the ideology of the suicide bomber split into two wings, one religious, one more secular, both equally deadly. "A suicide bomber is the ultimate smart bomb" as the author of this documentary said.
Pakistan earthquake: The UN has urged NATO countries to stage “a huge and immediate airlift” to deliver life-saving supplies to Pakistani earthquake victims. What is required resembles the effort made in 1949 with the Berlin Airlift. As winter approaches, tens of thousands of quake victims are still trapped in affected zones, often remote areas, and there are risks of a second great wave of death unless international aid improves in volume and speed of delivery. The consequences of the earthquake are taken to be more severe than those of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. The official earthquake death toll is now taken to 49,739. if not up to 80,000. Particularly needed are tents and blankets, and deep snow is expected to fall by early November. (Reported 22-23 October 2005)
Outrage over burned bodies of Taliban fighters. Cremation of deceased persons is banned under Islam. In Kabul, Afghan Muslim clerics are expressing outrage at Australian TV news footage which apparently shows US soldiers burning the bodies of two Taliban fighters to taunt their comrades. Material has been broadcast on SBS TV's Dateline program. President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has condemned the alleged desecration. (Weekend Australian, 22-23 October 2005)
Baghdad, A lawyer for one of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants has been killed, a day after his client sat in the dock next to the former dictator on the opening day of their trial for crimes against humanity. (Weekend Australian, 22-23 October 2005)
Headline says it all?: Syria planned Hariri killing. (Weekend Australian, 22-23 October 2005) Sydney Morning Herald reports that former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Harari, may have been disposed of by a brother-in-law of the president of Syria, or by “high-ranking Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officers”.
Danish Muslims upset over cartoonists' takes on Prophet Muhammad: In Denmark a broadsheet journal in a fit of free speech asked their nation's leading cartoonists to submit images of The Prophet. Twelve cartoonists co-operated and all their efforts were published in a Culture section headed Muhammad's Face. Some takes were light-hearted, some were hostile. The journal has said that it is concerned that growing numbers of artists and writers are engaging in self-censorship re making remarks about Islam, out of fear of Islamic extremism. A comedian has said he will not feel safe if asked to joke about The Koran on TV. For Muslims, it is sacreligious to render images of The Prophet. Predictably, “thousands of Muslims” took to the streets of Copenhagen, though peacefully, to protest the cartoonist-outrages; about 4000 of Denmark's 150,000 Muslims. One Muslim view was that, “This type of democracy is worthless to Muslims... the article has insulted every Muslim in the world.” (This website imagines that in Australia, many artists, comedians, newspaper columnists, writers, commentators, and members of the chattering classes generally, are engaging in the same kind of self-censorship noted in Denmark. Multiculturalism Rules, Ok! But who wins what?) (Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 22-23 October, 2005, page 21)
18-19 October 2005: Iraq: Saddam Hussein begins to go on trial.
Creationism is again rearing its head in Australia, though now mutated a little into the viewpoint known as ID – Intelligent Design – intended to be taught in high-school Science classes. Letter-writers to major newspapers are predictably slugging it out, using power-words such as “atheism” and “complexity of life” and “fundamentalist religion”, and wondering if gaps in knowledge should be filled by faith or by informed doubt? One person wants to know how the designer, Him, Her or Itself, was designed and created? (Lost Worlds website has been wondering about this since around 1963 when we started thinking, and confesses to not knowing, doh, partly as we are still not sure where to begin.) (Weekend Australian, 22-23 October 2005)
4 October 2005: Pakistan: The arrest has been made of the chief spokesman of the Taliban, Abdul Latif Hakimi, in a rare move against a Taliban leader living in Pakistan. (Reported 6 October 2005 from New York Times)
6 October 2005: Five Islamic radicals connected to the 2002 Bali bombings and jailed for possessing explosives are among the suspects Indonesian police are hunting over the 1 October suicide bombing attacks. The five have already served two years in jail; all five knew one of the planners of the 2002 attacks, Imam Sumudra. Two of the five knew Rois, who was recently sentenced to death for a role in the 2004 bombing of Australia's embassy in Jakarta. The five evidently live at Banten, about 50km west of Jakarta. But the top suspects for the 1 October 2005 attacks are the top bombmakers for Jemaah Islamiah, Noordin Mohammed Top and Azahari Husin, who were responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings plus the Marriott Hotel blast. Meanwhile, the Australian government seems to conclude that there is no point in asking Indonesia to take steps to ban Jemaah Islamiah outright, as part of any effort to stem terrorism, due to the nature of the organisation. In other reports, Australian tourists have become fearful and aggressive in some parts of Indonesia. At restaurants in Seminyak, and at Kuta Beach and Oberoi, Australians have demanded that the bags of Indonesian diners be searched. (For varied information on these topics, see: www.baliassist.gov.au/) (Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 6 October 2005)
5 October 2005: Intelligence reports from officials investigating the latest Bali suicide bombings now have a lead that the bombers may have been “clean skins” schooled at the Abu Sayyaf Group training grounds on The Philippines island of Mindanao. It is possible that the Jemaah Islamiah network has resorted to using The Philippines for such purposes as Indonesian locales such as Maluku and Sulawesi are now less secure. As well, a new report has been issued by US terrorism expert, Dr. Zachary Abuza, about links between Indonesian terror groups such as Jemaah Islamiah and Laskar Jundullah, and groups in The Philippines such as ASG and the Moro Island Islamic Liberation Front. Meantime, Islamic bodies in Australia are reporting a “dramatic rise” in racists incidents which are bothering Muslims in Australia. (Reported in The Australian, 5 October 2005, front page)
4 October 2005: The Muslim world may face new troubles as “insurgents” trained in tactics in Iraq return to their homes to creative havoc, says Iraq's Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr. “Papers found on the body of Abdullah Azzam, the senior Al-Qai'da figure killed in US raid in Baghdad last week, suggested the organisation aimed to extend its campaign of suicide bombings, assassinations and beheadings beyond Iraq”, Mr. Jabr said. And lately, Human Rights Watch, which does not exactly approve of the USA in Iraq, has also been condemning groups including the Iraqi wing of Al-Qai'da, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq. (Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2005)
4 October 2005: In what seems like an extra-bizarre twist to situations in Iraq, the FBI in USA now has an opinion that some of the vehicles used in car bombings in Iraq have “probably” been stolen earlier in the US, smuggled out by terrorists and insurgents, and found to be less conspicuous in Iraq itself than other available vehicles in the period before use.
4 October 2005: “The number of Australian Catholic priests needs to increase more than 20-fold by re-opening the priesthood to married men and possibly, women, a body representing the nation's clergy says.” (National Council of Priests.) The Vatican's official opinion is that in Oceania, which includes Australia, there shall be one priest for each 1746 Catholics. The actual ratio is about one priest for each 4500 Catholics. (Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2005)
1 October 2005: Bali, Indonesia: Following the earlier Bali Bombing, another bomb atrocity follows in Bali, this time in the Jimbaran Beach area, killing about 30 people, including at least one Australia and injuring many. This October Bali bombing is thought to be a much smaller blast than the earlier one. It has been established by late on 2 October Australian time, by Indonesian authorities, that suicide bombers committed the atrocity, which seems designed to help destroy the Balinese tourism industry as well as rock the Indonesian government. Within a few day arise assessments of the risks of further terror strikes to come. Later investigation finds that the bombs used represent a change in tactics as they were sticks of TNT, detonated with 9-volt batteries, loaded for maximum personnel damage with bolts and ball-bearings.
Italy has ordered the arrests of a former US diplomat in Rome and two other people in connection with a case in which CIA operatives allegedly kidnapped a radical Muslim cleric from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where he has said he was tortured. (Reported from Los Angeles Times, 1 October 2005)
2005: The US Army: "The US Army is the largest day-care service in the world - that's not a joke. I mean, 40 per cent of the personnel are married to one another. It's terrific for a woman who can't otherwise secure the health and education of her children. It's a social welfare project run by the government. It's not really an invincible combat force." (US author/editor Lewis Lapham, quoted in Spectrum section, Sydney Morning Herald, 14-15 May 2005)
April 2005: Re-discovery of "Lost Religion": Prof. Majella Franzmann (History of Religion) at University of New England has discovered evidence for a lost religion in south-east China, Fujian province. Her basic research brief was to inspect Chinese evidence on Christian and Manichean beliefs; such beliefs died out in the West in the Tenth Century and were thought to have died out in China by the 14th-16th Century. What was found was a family home holding evidence of a living "Mani cult", statues complete. This household shrine was in a village near Huabiao Hill, Fujian Province, (near a museum in Jinjiang, where a local scholar had a photograph of a local household shrine), in an area devoted to Manicheanism by the 14th Century. A statue (Mani idol) was found belonging to a woman whose lineage is now being traced in detail to see if a "direct line" of belief has existed. The discovery is reported in recently-published paper in the journal, Rivista di storia e letteratura (Review of Religious History and Literature). Manicheanism, inhabited with some Gnostic strains of thought, was once a popular religion, rivalling the spread of Christianity by the 4th Century. (Reported in The Armidale Express, 27 July 2005)
“The bombing of Hat Yai airport last weekend was the latest in a succession of attacks causing regional security experts to ask if southern Thailand's insurgency is evolving into something even nastier. Specifically, has a revived and Islamised separatist movement among the ethnic Malays who predominate in the three southernmost provinces, under pressure from a heavy-fisted government, adopted a terrorist strategy of striking at civilian targets.” (Reported Weekend Australian 9-10 April 2005)
“The image of Jane Fonda sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal. The largest lapse of judgement that I can even imagine.” Jane Fonda, on the release of her autobiography. (Reported by 9 April, 2005)
Publicity in Australia for book by Geraldine Doogue and Peter Kirkwood, Tomorrow's Islam. ABC Books, April 2005. (Are democracy and Islam mutually exclusive, “as proven by history”?
March 2005: Matters amazing for US propaganda - This website is suddenly emailed on the notion that the entire media story on the US' capture of Saddam Hussein from a “spider hole” was fabricated, a false story. All sorts of opinions are getting about. Follows the fruit of just a little sudden netsurfing on these possibilities. - Ed * *..* A former US Marine who helped *capture* *Saddam* *Hussein* says the "*Spider* *Hole*" was a fabrication of the military. Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, *...* www.tribemagazine.com/board/ showthread.php?s=&threadid=8814 *.* people made up the term "*spider*-*hole*". Secondly, I'm glad we caught *Saddam*. *...* While the temptation is to respond to *Hussein**'s* *capture* with "Now that *...* www.thetalentshow.org/archives/000655.html - 21k - Cached - Similar pages *Capture* Created And Fabricated For Public Consumption *...* It almost seems like *Saddam* *Hussein* was captured in the first hours of the *...* then put into his "*spider* *hole*", to be "discovered" for our troops. *...* www.prisonplanet.com/Capture_Created_ And_Fabricated_For_Public_Consumption.html - 14k - Cached - Similar pages Scrutiny Hooligans: The Real *Capture* of *Saddam* *Hussein* *...* ousted Iraqi President *Saddam* *Hussein* said the public version of his *capture* was fabricated. *...* No *Spider* *Hole*. No disoriented, abandoned leader. *...* scrutinyhooligans.blogspot.com/ 2005/03/real-*capture*-of-*saddam*-*hussein*.html - 48k - Cached - Similar pages Was *Saddam* *Hussein* captured by the Kurds and held for US forces? *...* Date Trees and Flies in the Ointment: The US ''*Capture*'' of *Saddam* *Hussein* *...* missing details about how *Saddam* *Hussein* came to be in his "*spider* *hole*". *...* www.oldamericancentury.org/*saddam*_*capture*.htm - 94k - Cached - Similar pages – (Noted on this website, 17 March 2005)
Secrets of Chinese Engineers?: Ancient Chinese craftsmen used a secret ingredient with mortar - sticky rice - to help keep their structures intact. This is the finding of archaeological research in China/s north-western province of Shaanxi, in an old provincial capital, Xi¨án. Workers have found plaster remnants on ancient bricks were hard to move. A chemical test showed that the mortar reacted the same as sticky rice. Question: Does this explain any questions about the building of the Great Wall of China? (Item, 1 March 2005)
Falun Gong test case in Australia: ´A Bankstown [Sydney] woman who was allegedly tortured for eight months in a Chinese detention centre five years ago would be a test case for the Australian court system, the president of Falun Gong group said yesterday. Zhang Cuiying, 42, at artist, has begun a civil action in the New South Wales Supreme Court against the former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and his Falun Gong control office. (Reported Sydney Morning Herald on 1 March 2005)
Sydney Morning Herald (8-2-2005) reports that a British counter-terrorism official thinks that "Al-Qaeda has split like a piece of mercury into different groups indifferent countries." Evidently this same official is part of a group of like officials trying to find ways to stave off the next generation of terrorists.
Advertising execs agree on Al-Jazeera: Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera was voted the world's fifth top brand in a survey of 2000 advertising executives, brand managers and academics by online magazine "Brandchannel", Reuters has reported. Its popularity is due to its broadcasting of "another viewpoint". New York Times has reported that the Qatar government is planning to privatise the network, partly as US officials have been critical of Al-Jazeera's coverage of the war in Iraq and other Middle Eastern issues. (Ah yes, USA, land of the brave, home of the free, defenders of free speech too - Ed!) (Weekend Australian, 5-6 February, 2005)
Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, in an impassioned plea to wealthy nations has demanded more freedom for the millions of "poverty slaves" living in the developing world. He said, "Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural - - it is man-made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings." (Weekend Australian, 5-6 February, 2005)
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Kim Beazley, has warned the US against becoming embroiled in a civil war in Iraq. (Reported 29 January 2005)
Free but still a terrorist suspect in Australia: This is the situation of Mamdouh Habib, who after more than three years of detention without charge has now returned home to Sydney, where he will be watched by ASIO, Federal police and NSW police. (Reported 29 January 2005) On 8-9 January 2005, Habib's lawyer Stephen Hooper quoted in Sydney Morning Herald, said on allegations that Habib was tortured in Egypt, “The types of abuse that Mamdouh Habib has suffered are medieval and they would horrify any person.”
23 January 2005: Midday radio news, Disappointment is reported world wide as very few Iraqis residing outside Iran have registered to vote in upcoming elections in Iraq. Some in Australia reportedly fear their details as they live outside Iraq will be used against them. The Australian newspaper on 14 January reported that "Iraq poll will not be perfect, US admits, as killings continue". US however has no plan to postpone the upcoming vote for a new Iraqi government.
US vice-pres Dick Cheney labels Iran a threat to world peace and warns that Israel "might well decide to act first" to eliminate any nuclear threat from Tehran. (Reported Sydney Morning Herald on 22-23 January 2005) The Australian's Roy Eccleston reports: “Declaring the US to be the great liberator, George W. Bush has vowed to confront the world's dictators by force if necessary to ensure the “untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corner of our world”.
Reported 22 January 2005: High-tech tips on the web for aspiring female martyrs: If you're female, and Muslim, and want to die soon, and well, go now to a website called Al Khansa for advice. It's a fun ezine run by Al-Qa'ida, named for a C7th Arabic poet, Tumadir bint Amr, who became "a historic symbol" of a woman warrior, and of the mothers of martyrs, though Lost Worlds is not sure of the connection with today's situations. However, it seems aspiring female martyrs must know the Koran by heart, no easy thing, and also have basic first-aid training (But why? Oh, be still, my beating heart!). Articles include information on dietary advice before the event, and tips on "how to dominate the passions" before serenely blowing oneself up. All this must be true, as it has been reported in The Washington Times and the Weekend Australian as well. Who found out this morbid-humour website? It was Italy's secret service, who blew its cover wide open by advertising its existence in its monthly review, called Gnosis. ("Gnosis", by the way, means "knowledge".) So now you know - netsurfing can now be regarded as equivalent to spy work - well, if you can read Arabic, that is. The annoying question is: can the Italian secret service tell us the URL, or not? Or do we have to go Google for it? You decide! (Lost Worlds by the way has long been deeply impressed by one of the more infamous sayings produced by the world's post-Hitler “Intelligence Community” - "if you seriously want to hide something, put it on display in public". -Ed)
Reported 22 January 2005: More out of the closet on playwright William Shakespeare: "In the 19th Century he was a sturdy English patriot and a gentleman... now he suddenly becomes syphilitic and gay." Shakespeare expert Prof. Anthony Miller, acidly noting latest conjectures surrounding The Bard. (It's all rather like the French poet Verlaine once complained: “Everything changes except the avant-garde.” - Ed)
Reported 22 January 2005: Ali G speaks out on cannibalism: "He doesn't speak for Kazakhstan. He doesn't even look like a Kazakh." A Kazakh diplomat pointing out that British comedian Sacha Baren Cohen (who is Jewish), creator of fast-talking comic hit-figure Ali G, was playing a character, "Borat of Kazakhstan", when Ali G caused a riot at a US rodeo by urging President Bush to drink the blood of Iraqis.(Yes folks, these days we truly live in times that are completely beyond satire! Only in America! -Ed)
Reported 22 January 2005. Archaeologists in Rome have announced the finding of a large mosaic in the palace of Emperor Nero, which his successors deliberately buried under debris at end of his reign, the same as the people who drained a nearby artificial lake and built the Coliseum. The palace site has been hailed as "a new Pompeii". It was first discovered in the C15th but no systematic examination was made till 1998. The mosaic measures 2m x 3m.
Reported 22 January 2005: A British Museum report says thatAncient Babylon has been "irreparably damaged" by Coalition forces who have contaminated its soil with gravel and oil and destroyed archaeological evidence. Author of the report is John Curtis, reported in New Scientist, who said the Coalition effort has been "tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt, or around Stonehenge in Britain". Since 2003, US troops at one site have crushed a 2600-year-old brick pavement under heavy vehicles, and bricks bearing the stamp of King Nebuchadnezzar II have been scattered at the same site.
16 January 2005- 14 November 2004: Iran says it will suspend its entire uranium enrichment program in exchange for incentives offered by European nations on trade and peaceful nuclear technology. On 17 November 2004, US Sec. of State, Colin Powell, claims Iran is trying to modify missiles to carry nuclear warheads. Tehran says such claims are "baseless". On 21 November, US president George Bush in Chile at a summit meeting accuses Iran of speeding production of a key ingredient in nuclear weapons fuel. On 16 January 2005, Iran grants UN inspectors access to a site that US alleges has been used for testing parts of nuclear weapons. US requests a further inspection. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says the US is conducting secret reconnaissance missions in Iran. (Reported Sydney Morning Herald on 22-23 January 2005)
Reported in world press, 15 January 2005: In UK, Prince Charles is reportedly "incandescent with rage" that his son, Prince Harry, has worn a WWII Afrika Corps German uniform, also sporting a swastika armband, to a fancy dress party. Harry and his brother William have both been ordered by their father to visit Auschwitz in order to get a few things straighter. Harry's indiscretion of wearing such garb has caused outrage, hoots of protest and derision, and other reactions worldwide in the media. Harry's swift-but-mild apology has so far not cooled heated reactions to his prank. The odd thing is that no one advised Harry to not wear such a costume to a party. (Here's a horrifying thought! What if everyone at the party was as stupid as Harry? - Ed) Harry's swastika armband was apparently homemade.
13 January 2005: "Two years after George W. Bush warned that Saddam Hussein faced war because he refused to disarm, the White House admits the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had not found any stockpiles of WMD. (Reported in The Australian, 14 January 2005)
While Americans worry that Islamic radials are too easily tolerated, some want a curb on abuse – re The Gonzalez hearings. New internal memos from the FBI provide more accusations that US has abused prisoners in the “war on terror” in ways “systematic and sanctioned”. The FBI memos have been obtained by American Civil Liberties Union. (Reported Weekend Australian, 8-9 January 2005)
Britain: Plans in London to broadcast a musical that features a nappy-wearing Jesus who admits he is “a bit gay: have drawn a record 5500 complaints to the BBC. The reference is to a segment of the proposed show, Jerry Springer: The Opera, Springer being the King of Bad Taste TV in the US. (Reported 8 January 2005)
About 500BC: Mysteries of the Amazon Basin. Thriving communities of prehistoric people where the rivers Negro and Solomues meet to form the Amazon River? It's been thought for a century that no kind of civilization existed in the area, but this is now being challenged. It seems the earth of the area known as terra preta do indio (Portuguese) supported pre-Columbian people quite well about 2500 years ago, according to a Brazilian archaeologist, Eduardo Neves. There is evidence of giant plazas, bridges, roads, defensive ditches, and large, sedentary populations. There is a “secret, modified soil” that farmers in the area still prize highly, which can be found at up to 60 sites. This “modified soil” is scattered across millions of hectares in rainforest, and is often packed with potsherds and other evidence of human habitation, not just tribal societies but “complex chiefdoms”. Another researcher involved with the area for ten years now is James Petersen, archaeologist from University of Vermont. (Reported from Boston Globe, 8 January 2005)
By 3 January 2005, TV evening news in Australia reports 144,000 dead by now with figures still expected to climb. There has been a further earthquake of 6.2 Richter scale severity near the Andaman Islands.
By noon 1 January 2005, Bloomberg news service citing a UN official suggested that the toll had risen to 150,000. By 20 January the toll is more than 226 thousand dead. By 25 January, an estimated 280,000. By 31 January, 286,000.
By 31 December 2004, the tsunami death toll is thought to reach 125,000 dead.
Tsunami: how fragile is the situation of humanity: Lost Worlds website begins the year 2005 with grief, on 29 December 2004.
The geological process producing the dreaded tsunamis which have terrorised the northern coastlines of most of the Indian Ocean is known as subduction; when one tectonic plate moves, or is forced to move, below another. But this event meant the edge of one plate in friction - the Australian plate - suddenly flexed and rose.
On Boxing Day, friction between two plates, as one plate rose about 10-30 metres, not fell, resulted in an earthquake estimated at 8.9 on the Richter Scale, updated to 9.0.
It was a shockingly fierce earthquake. (Tsunamis travel at about 800km per hour in water, which itself is near-unimaginable. Tsunami in Japanese means: “harbour wave”, that is, an exceptional wave likely to destroy human constructions.)
This occurred at a point undersea, about 19km deep, 320km west of Sumatra.
In this case, the Australian plate has been pushed up and over the Pacific plate (to the east of Australia), causing friction at an Australian plate junction, west off Sumatra, between the Australian plate and the Eurasian plate(s).
That is, near Sumatra, the Australian plate was forced down and under the Eurasian plate - a flexing occurred and the upper plate in the situation rose and "popped back"; a chunk involved about 1000km long, 150km wide slipped down, then flexed back up about two metres.
This was enough to trigger an horrific tsunami which as it happened was photographed by weather satellites so that - time-lapsed photography - its progress in the Indian Ocean looks like ripples from a stone thrown into a small pond.
Ripples? Check out the photos below!
Here, the Australian (or Australian-PNG) plate is moving north. The Pacific plate is moving north-west - they are colliding at a speed of 7cm (northish) per year.
Laser beams mystify pilots In US: Pilots of six commercial airliners flying into US airports have noticed "mysterious laser beams" while they are landing, CNN has reported. This news comes about a month after the FBI has warned that terrorists might use laser beams to bring down aircraft. (All this seems very odd indeed - Ed) (Reported 31 December 2004
US president George Bush has surprised many by choosing to respond to one of Osama bin-Laden's latest tapes which comes with taunts for the superpower. bin-Laden has called for Iraqis to boycott upcoming democratic elections in January 2005. Bush has generally avoided any "long-distance debate" with the radical leader since 9/11. But now, Bush has said, bin-Laden's "vision of the world is one in which there is no freedom of expression, freedom of religion and/or freedom of conscience..." (Reported 31 December 2004)
"Not only has the US pledged to the victims of the tsunami about the same amount of money it spends daily on its occupation of Iraq, it is less than the US$40 million it is spending on George Bush's forthcoming inauguration party. Got to love those priorities." (Letter to Editor from Margaret Morgan, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 2004)
The US Congress gave US$7 billion in aid to Florida after Hurricane Jeanne left six in the US dead and tens of thousands homeless. Congress also gave US$3.1 billion in aid after Hurricane Charley hit the pivotal electoral state of Florida. In total, more than US$4 billion was given in aid to US voters after four hurricanes hit their state during an election year. With estimates approaching 100,000 dead and countless millions homeless, the world can collectively raise only $100 million-plus in aid. "(Letter to Editor from Francis O'Brien, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 2004) (Though by sunset on 31 December, Koffi Annan is on TV saying half a billion has so far been pledged for aid, world-wide - Ed.)
Below is gathered from: http://www.ipu.edu/~mccafr/sumatra04/. -Ed
12-26-2004: The magnitude 9.0 December 26, 2004, earthquake near Sumatra is the largest earthquake to occur since the 1964 Alaska quake and the fourth largest in this century. It apparently ruptured the section of the Sumatra subduction zone from central Sumatra northward for about 1000 kilometers. The rupture area is outlined by aftershocks; Initiation point of magnitude 9 earthquake (star) and aftershocks (from USGS website).
The Sumatra subduction zone is where the Indian plate dives beneath the Asian plate along a fault that dips about 20o [degrees] into the Earth.
Because of the low dip angle, earthquakes can rupture along a very large surface area of the fault, producing such large magnitudes.
In fact, the 10 largest earthquakes since 1900 have occurred at subduction zones.
(While in some very odd weather news, snow has lately fallen in United Arab Emirates for perhaps the first time ever (?). The desert country has had a cold spell, and the Al-Jees mountain range has had heavy overnight snow with temperatures dropping to about minus 5C.)
(See - http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/10maps_world.html). The huge and destructive tsunami was the direct result of the earthquake disturbing the seafloor and displacing an enormous volume of water.
The disturbance spreads from the epicenter like ripples in a pond but, unlike circular ripples, is stronger in some directions than others due to the nature of the faulting. An animation of the theoretical spread of the tsunami waves (from the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology) can be viewed at http://staff.aist.go.jp/kenji.satake/animation.gif.
Below is from - http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=362264
30 December, 2004 -
Tidal Wave Began Beneath Indian OceanTidal Wave - Chain Reaction That Struck Asia Began Deep Beneath Indian Ocean
"Tidal waves washed through houses at Maddampegama, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka". Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004.
One of the odder stories from Sri Lanka is about animal instinct. Wildlife officials in Sri Lanka say no dead animals have been found due to the tsunamis, while about 23,000 people by 31 December are thought to have died. No dead animals, not elephants, not even hares or rabbits, have been found.
Massive waves triggered by earthquakes crashed into villages along a wide stretch of Sri Lankan coast on Sunday, killing more than 2,100 people and displacing a million others...
The Associated Press LONDON, 27 December, 2004 — The chain reaction that sent enormous, deadly tidal waves crashing into the coasts of Asia and Africa on Sunday started more than six miles beneath the ocean floor off the [western] tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Geologic plates pressing against each other slipped violently, creating a bulge on the sea bottom that could be as high as 10 yards and hundreds of miles long, one scientist said. "It's just like moving an enormous paddle at the bottom of the sea," said David Booth, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey. "A big column of water has moved, we're talking about billions of tons. This is an enormous disturbance." Moving at about 500 mph, the waves took more than two hours to reach Sri Lanka, where the human toll has been horrific, and longer to spread to India and the east coast of Africa.
Asia Tsunami Death Toll May Pass 100,000: Charting a Tsunami's Path And because such tidal waves rarely occur in the Indian Ocean, there is no system in place to warn coastal communities they are about to be hit, such as exists in the Pacific, Booth said. "With 20-20 vision of hindsight, that'll be reconsidered," he said. An Australian scientist had suggested in September (2004) that an Indian Ocean warning system be set up, but it takes a year to create such a system.
Also, those living along the Indian Ocean's shores were less likely than Pacific coastal dwellers to know the warning signs of an impending tidal wave - water receding unusually fast and far from the shore, Booth said. Thousands were killed in countries from Indonesia to Somalia. The underwater quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey put at magnitude 9.0, was the biggest since 1964, when a 9.2-magnitude temblor struck Alaska, also touching off tsunami waves. There were at least a half-dozen powerful aftershocks, one of magnitude 7.3.
Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute, likened the quake's power to detonating a million atomic bombs the size of those dropped on Japan during World War II, and said the shaking was so powerful it even disturbed the Earth's rotation. "All the planet is vibrating" from the quake, he told Italian state radio. Other scientists said it was too early to say whether the earth's rotation was affected by the quake.
The earthquake occurred at a spot where the Indian Ocean plate is gradually being forced underneath Sumatra, which is part of the Eurasian plate, at about the speed at which a human fingernail grows, Booth explained. "This slipping doesn't occur smoothly," he said. Rocks along the edge stick against one another and pent-up energy builds over hundreds of years. It's "almost like stretching an elastic band, and then when the strength of the rock isn't sufficient to withstand the stress, then all along the fault line the rocks will move," he said.
Indonesia is well-known as a major quake center, sitting along a series of fault lines dubbed the "Ring of Fire." But scientists are unable to predict where and when quakes will strike with any precision. The force of Sunday's earthquake shook unusually far afield, causing buildings to sway hundreds of miles from the epi-center, from Singapore to the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, and in Bangladesh.
The quake probably occurred about 6.2 miles beneath the ocean floor, causing the huge, step-like protrusion on the sea bed and the resulting tsunamis.
As the waves moved across deep areas of the ocean in the early morning, they may have been almost undetectable on the surface, with swells of about a yard or less. But when they approached land the huge volumes of water were forced to the surface and the waves grew higher, swamping coastal communities and causing massive casualties.
Credits: Please note: The awesome pictures seen on this page arrived to Lost Worlds out-of-the-blue on 30-12-2004 from a person in Virginia, USA FW. It is not yet known in which area the pictures were taken. The photos were taken by "an Indian person doing a Masters degree", using a telephoto lens, who sent them to persons in Virginia. Lost Worlds would be happy to hear from the photographer -Ed
But now, please think donations...
To make donations, consider PLAN at: www.plan.org.au or phone: 1800 038 100.
Consider also: Australian Red Cross on 1800 811 700 at: www.redcross.org.au/ or simply post a cheque to red Cross at PO Box 9949 in all Australian capital cities.
Consider also: Australian Foundation for Asia Pacific on 1800 007 308 at: www.afap.org/.
Consider also: CARE Australia, phone 1800 020 046 at: www.careaustralia.org.au/.
Consider also: Oxfam on 1800 034 034 at: www.oxfam.org.au/.
Consider also: Doctors Without Frontiers (Medecins Sans Frontiers at: www.msf.org.au/.
Consider also: UNICEF on 1300 884 233 or 1300 732 240 at: www. unicef.org.au/.
Consider also: World Vision on 13 32 40 at www.worldvision.com.au/.
Consider also: Baptist World Aid Australia on 1300 789 991 at: www.shareanopportunity.org/.
Consider also: Caritas Australia on 1800 024 413 at: www.caritas.org.au/.
Consider also: Save The Children on 1800 760 011 at: www.savethechildren.org.au/.
Opinions meanwhile seem divided on whether another earthquake might be expected. Perhaps, as a Japanese seismologist has said, the Boxing Day event released and resettled pressures in such ways to reduce the risk of another event occurring? Regarding the tectonic plate on which Australia sits, moving north about 7cm per year, the Boxing Day event (also termed, "the Sumatra event") was preceded by an early Christmas Eve quake (8.1 on the Richter Scale), located north of Macquarie Island (south of Tasmania), which caused little comment as no damage to people was reported; it was merely an oceanic event.
However, within 48 hours, the Boxing Day quake has been followed by about 30-31 more tremors, which "continued to shake Indian Ocean islands" on 28 December, quakes ranging about 5.5-7.3 on the Richter scale.
Such lesser tremors might continue for weeks. The pattern of the aftershocks seems to be moving north from Sumatra's western coasts, heading toward the Nicobar Islands. This quake is already assessed as the world's worst in 40 years.
It becomes hard to imagine the geophysical forces involved with such a slippage. It is already said that some of the smaller islands off the south-west coast of Sumatra may have been moved south-west about 20 metres; while the north-western tip of Sumatra may have been shifted south-west about 36 metres. Truly, island-shaking events! (Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 2004)
And at various locations? In Southern Thailand, six tsunami rolled towards the Hat Rai beach near Krabi. At the aid co-ordination centre for North Sumatra, the staff can by 30 December use only four computers and one fax machine. In many places in South East Asia, jetties and gone and boats of various sizes cannot easily land food and supplies. Many millions of people are in dire need and at risk of starvation and disease.
The Boxing Day quake might even have "wobbled the world on its axis" a little, even changing its rotation speed a little, geophysicists have speculated. US Geological Survey has spoken of "a sudden shift of mass" on the earth's crust.
In parts of northern Sumatra, nearest the earthquake's epicentre, some stretches of land seem to have disappeared entirely, while others have been raised several metres.
Tsunamis are regarded as a once-in-a-century event in the regions affected by this Sumatra event, one reason why an early-morning system has never been installed, despite suggestions in the past, including from Australia, that a warning system be created.
One of the sadder quotes arising on 29 December 2004 was this - "We tried to do what we could. We don't have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world." Charles McCreery, director of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's centre in Honolulu, Hawaii.
(Reported Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 2004. By 5pm eastern Australian time this day, US TV PBS reports the tsunami death toll currently has passed 52,000, one-third of them, children. About 41 of the Maldive Islands have been severely affected, according to TV news. By 30 December the estimates of the death toll are climbing around 80,000-100,000 with more deaths expected from disease outbreaks.)
Incidentally, the terminology being used to refer to this Sumatran event is relatively new to the world. Lost Worlds glances at a 1962 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica and finds no specific entry under "T" for either tsunami or tectonic plates. (Lost Worlds suggests that anyone interested should google-search on such topics. See a reading list given below on questions of tectonic plates &c)
By 29 December, as people in Lost Worlds' home town are talking (there is a Sri Lankan-Australian couple we are concerned about), and from TV, we note that so far, we have heard little or nothing from Burma. No news from Madagascar or Mauritius. Nothing from the southern portions, south of Kenya, of the south-eastern African coast. (What of Durban, a major port? Although Perth, Australia, got little ripple from the event.) The rim of the Indian Ocean has by no means been fully-reported yet. It looks as though, by New Year's Eve, increased risks of disease outbreaks will be further-ruining the affected areas. Lost Worlds foresees a sombre New Year's Eve for the entire world...
It also seems to Lost Worlds that in any world where Oriental "face-saving" means anything at all, to anyone, for any reason at all, the Burmese government may never recover - ever - from the shame of so far saying so little about this global tragedy, to its own people in recent days, or to anyone else in the the world. This now seems to be a government which cares for nothing about human welfare, at all. Where can such a government now go in an increasingly shrinking global village? Who will speak of it or to it and give it respect at the same time? (-Ed)
In Sri Lanka...
In Sri Lanka, a train named Samudradevi, (Queen of the Sea, ironically), left Colombo with about 1700 people aboard for its regular run south to Galle on the west coast, on the southern tip of the island. About two hours into its run, with of course, no warning, the train was hit with walls of water.
Carriages were thrown instantly off their rails and filled with water. No one survived. This disaster already qualifies as the world's worst rail accident, surpassing the earlier disaster record set in 1981 when about 800 people were killed when a cyclone blew a train off a bridge into the Bagmati River in Bihar, India.
(It has taken until 30 December for the world's media to make one practical discovery about the aftermath of any tsunami - a tsunami wrecks all the boats on the coasts it punishes. The result is the local people cannot move up and down their coast, go fishing for food supplies, find any water or supplies which had been stored on a boat - or communicate. The loss of boats is an extra, disastrous rent in the fabric of coastal lifestyles, as much a part of the aftermath of a tsunami as the risk of disease due to polluted water, and other health risks and longer-term problems due to soil salination. - Ed)
Creationism again: Fresh waves of dispute are crossing the USA, particularly from Ohio, as Creationists, scientists and educationists argue the toss about what should be taught to school students, and how, and why. The latest disputes seem to dwell on a very old Christian proposition about the origin of the world/universe, "the argument from design". That the world and the universe are so-well-designed, there must have been a thinker/designer behind the product in which we live - ie, to wit, namely, and viz., God. Except that as this round of the argument proceeds in a USA increasingly dominated by the Christian right in politics and affairs, the proposition is more like "an intelligent design" - a proposition which seems rather agnostic about the producer of the design than we have seen in the past in the US. Lost Worlds wonders what on the earth (or in heaven) the Moslem mullahs in various parts of the world are going to make of all this dispute in education - which means, of course, a dispute for the future of humanity! Is the global village being rent by arguments about where we all live? And who made it? It seems so! Are our current problems with tsunami due to God, or an argument between tectonic plates? Somewhat cynically, Lost Worlds suggests just now that we don't ask the world insurance industry for a decision on these theological questions. They will be busy enough with avoiding ongoing issues about "acts of god" for the time being - Ed. (Reported 29 December 2004 in world press)
Particularly hard hit by tsunami were the west coasts of Sumatra (Ache province).
From the air, the city of Meulaboh (popn: 40,000), only 60km from the epicentre of the quake, on the Sumatran west coast, looks completely ruined. Suffering there is "unimaginable". It's tsunami waves were eight-ten metres high. Some piles of debris are two metres high.
Also appalling is the situation of the Maldives Islands, which now has its very survival at stake.
The Maldives chief government spokesman has said, "Our nation is in peril here. Life as we know it in this country is in some parts gone."
The Nicobar Islands will remain in deep trouble, also the Andamans, north-west of the epi-centre. One in five people of the Nicobars (popn: 50,000) are dead, injured or missing. The island of Car Nicobar is worst hit, where about 6000 of its 20,000 population are gone. And on the Nicobars live people of about six "stone age" tribes who distrust outsiders. Contact with some of them was made only in 1997.
On Sentinel Island are a 100-strong "stone age" tribe of about 100, who originated in Africa, the "Sentinalese", "the world's last truly Stone Age tribe". For more on these remarkable Andamanese people and their background, see: [broken link?] http://www.andaman.org/book/faq/textfaq.htm#negrito
Whereas, on the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island are a group of Mongoloids known as the Shompens, whose fate is still unknown. Much of the geography of the Nicobar Islands has been dramatically changed, and many jetties have been destroyed.
By 30 December 2004, estimates of the death toll reach to 80,000. Still missing by 30 December 2004 are about 5000 Australians; about 8000 (up to 9000) Australians were in the region, only 3000 are accounted for by late 2004.
About 5 million people are already estimated (30 December) to be homeless following the disaster. Incidentally, regarding the explosion of Krakatoa in Indonesia, two books Lost Worlds has lately seen both estimated the death toll at 36,000; of course, when the affected regions were much less densely-populated than today.
Pity also the coastal people of Somalia, Africa - their country has a civil war and no government to help them!
Follows information on sets of academic work on Earthquake monitoring... re earthquakes in the Indonesian region and on subduction zone earthquakes throughout the world. (RPI Publications related to Sumatra... many available as PDF files.) Re RPI... RPI has been conducting research on Sumatra and the subduction zone since 1989. Global Positioning System monitoring Participants include: RPI: Rob McCaffrey, Colleen Stevens, Peter Zwick Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Yehuda Bock, Jeff Genrich, Linette Prawirodirdjo BAKOSURTANAL (Indonesian Mapping Agency): Jakub Rais, Cecep Subarya, Toto Puntodewo. These people since 1989 have been monitoring crustal motion throughout Indonesia with Scripps Inst. of Oceanography and BAKOSURTANAL using the Global Positioning System. Southeast Asia GPS vectors showing how sections of Indonesia are moving relative to Asia. Starting in 1989, a more dense network of GPS monitoring sites in Northern Sumatra was established.
These show that the subduction zone was steadily squeezing the island of Sumatra, loading the system for the next earthquake. Sumatra Observed GPS vectors (in blue) showing how sections of Indonesia are moving relative to Asia (orange vectors are predicted results of our simulations). The orange shaded areas are the rupture areas of the 1833 magnitude 8.7 earthquake and the 1861 magnitude 8.4 quake.
The 12/26 magnitude 9.0 quake apparently ruptured from the north edge of the 1861 event all the way north to the northern end of the subduction zone. (See at: http://www.ipu.edu/~mccafr/sumatra04/ - Ed)
McCaffrey, R., Slip vectors and stretching of the Sumatran fore arc, Geology 19, 881-884, 1991.
McCaffrey, R., and C. Goldfinger, Forearc deformation and great subduction earthquakes: Implications for Cascadia offshore earthquake potential, Science 267, 856-859, 1995.
McCaffrey, R., Slip partitioning at convergent plate boundaries of SE Asia, in Tectonic Evolution of SE Asia Symposium, Geol. Soc. Special Publication No. 106, 3-18, 1996.
R. M. Fauzi, R. McCaffrey, D. Wark, P.Y. Prih Haryadi, and Sunarjo, Lateral variation in slab orientation beneath Toba caldera, northern Sumatra, Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 443-446, 1996.
McCaffrey, R., Influences of recurrence times and fault zone temperatures on the age-rate dependence of subduction zone seismicity, Journal of Geophysical Research, 102, 22839-22854, 1997.
McCaffrey, R., Statistical significance of the seismic coupling coefficient, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 87, 1069-1073, 1997.
Prawirodirdjo, L., Y. Bock, R. McCaffrey, J. Genrich, E. Calais, C. Stevens, S. S. O. Puntodewo, C. Subarya, and J. Rais, Geodetic observations of interseismic strain segmentation at the Sumatra subduction zone, Geophysical Research Letters, 2601-2604, 1997.
McCaffrey, R., P. Zwick, Y. Bock, L. Prawirodirdjo, J. Genrich, C. W. Stevens, S. S. O. Puntodewo, and C. Subarya, Strain partitioning during oblique plate convergence in northern Sumatra: Geodetic and seismologic constraints and numerical modeling, Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 28,363-28,376, 2000.
Genrich, J.F., Y. Bock, R. McCaffrey, L. Prawirodirdjo, C.W. Stevens, S.S.O. Puntodewo, C. Subarya, and S. Wdowinski, Distribution of slip at the northern Sumatra fault System, Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 28,327-28,341, 2000.
Masturyono, R. McCaffrey, D. A. Wark, S. W. Roecker, Fauzi, G. Ibrahim, and Sukhyar, Distribution of magma beneath Toba Caldera, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Constrained by 3-dimensional P-wave velocities, seismicity, and gravity data, Geochemistry, Geophysics & Geosystems, vol. 2, 2001. (html or PDF)
McCaffrey, R., Crustal block rotations and plate coupling, in Plate Boundary Zones, S. Stein and J. Freymueller, editors, AGU Geodynamics Series 30, 101-122, 2002.
Bock, Y., L. Prawirodirdjo, J. F. Genrich, C. W. Stevens, R. McCaffrey, C. Subarya, S. S. O. Puntodewo, and E. Calais, Microplate Tectonics of Indonesia from Global Positioning System Measurements, 1989-1994, Journal of Geophysical Research, 108, 2367, doi:10.1029/2001JB000324, 2003.
NB: • The Richter scale, known for decades as the measure of earthquakes, is now seen as out of date and the term is no longer used by scientists among themselves. Now, seismologists prefer the moment magnitude scale developed by Dr Hiroo Kanamori of Caltech. This is derived from the energy released during the ground movements that generate the earthquake.
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