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Five tiny songbirds fitted with
tracking devices appear to have fled their nests in Tennessee just a day before
tornadoes struck in April. The golden-winged warblers had arrived at their nesting
site only a few days earlier after a 3,000 mile journey from Colombia.
Scientists believe they flew 400
miles south to escape the storms which killed 35 people, then
returned after a few days. They think the warblers may have been alerted by a
very deep rumble in the air, inaudible to the human ear.
In 2004, there were stories of
animals escaping the Boxing Day tsunami. Witnesses spoke of flamingos deserting
low-lying breeding areas, elephants screaming and running to higher ground, and
dogs and zoo animals refusing to go outside their shelters.
While more than 200,000 people
died, there were relatively few animal casualties. At Patanangala beach in Sri
Lanka’s Yala National Park, home to a wide variety of animals, 60 people were
washed away, but the only animals lost were two water buffaloes. There is
speculation that perhaps animals are able to detect vibrations in the earth
that pass us by.
Tuesday’s murderous assault on a
school at Peshawar in Pakistan by Muslim fanatics that cost the lives of 132
children and 9 staff has caused revulsion across the world, but between
2009 and 2013, there were nearly 10,000 attacks on schools in 70 countries.
Diya Nijhowne, director of the
Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, says murders and
abductions of pupils and staff and the destruction of school buildings are seen
by terrorists and criminal gangs as very effective ways of intimidating and
undermining communities, and preventing them from becoming more prosperous.
Muslim fanatics, such as Boko Haram
in Nigeria, are often particularly resentful if girls are educated. The group
kidnapped hundreds of female pupils in April. While in Pakistan, girls often
have to be taught in secret by teachers who are risking their lives, to avoid
the murderous attentions of the Taliban.
The deadliest ever terrorist attack
on a school happened at Beslan in southern Russia in 2004, when Chechen
terrorists massacred 334 people, including 186 children. For the full story, see A Disastrous History of the World.
100 years ago today…..German warships shelled a number of towns on England’s
Yorkshire coast. The First World War had come home to Britain in an unforeseen
way. Many had expected the first threat to civilians to come from air raids.
The first shells hit the important
shipbuilding centre of Hartlepool at about a quarter past eight in the morning.
Nine soldiers manning a battery and 7 sailors were killed, but most of the 100+
casualties were civilians – men, women and children.
The ships then moved on to
Scarborough (pictured) where a church was hit during a Holy Communion service, while a
shop that was damaged quickly put up one of those defiant signs saying ‘Business
as usual’, which would become so familiar in both world wars. Whitby was hit
too. The Times commented that there
was ‘an entire absence of panic’, though many people fled to the
The attacks had one or two
consequences the Germans may not have foreseen, with 22,000 Hartlepool men
volunteering for the armed services and the town regularly winning prizes for
the amount of money it raised for the war effort. For more on this story, see A Disastrous History of Britain.
Pakistan has recorded its highest
number of new polio cases for 15 years, and is now one of only three countries
in the world where the disease remains endemic. Health officials say the main
reason is the killing of health workers carrying out immunisation programmes by
The extremists say the health
workers are spies and that the immunisations are a Western plot to sterilise
Muslims. They claim the US used a fake vaccination programme to track down and
kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
The latest murder happened in the north-eastern
city of Faisalabad where a 40 year old man was shot down by attackers on a
motorcycle. Deaths among immunisation workers or police guarding them now
number more than 60 over the last two years.
result is that the World Health Organization has imposed travel restrictions, so
that all Pakistanis must now carry proof of vaccination before going abroad.
(See also by blogs of 24 February and 3 March.)
33 year old Franco Nieto has just become the 15th person to
die in football-related violence in Argentina this year. He was the captain of a regional club Tiro Federal, who had been
playing Chacarita Juniors in the town of Aimogasta in the north-west of the country.
The match had been stopped 15 minutes
from time after the referee sent off eight players for fighting. It is
reported that afterwards Mr Nieto was going to his car with his wife and baby daughter, when he was attacked by three people, one of whom hit him on the head with a stone.
Police say three people have been arrested. Much football hooliganism in Argentina is
blamed on so-called Barras Bravas, gangs who control the terraces and the
streets around the stadiums.
The deadliest sporting riot in history came in Constantinople in 532
when rivalry between supporters of two chariot racing teams morphed into a
full-scale rebellion in which perhaps 30,000 people were killed. (see also my
blogs of 30 March, 2009; 2 January, 2010; 2 February and 11 May, 2012.)
On the 30th
anniversary of the Bhopal explosion, hundreds of protesters have gathered
outside the Indian factory which was the scene of the world’s deadliest
industrial disaster. They burned effigies of the plant’s owners, held up
banners, and shouted ‘We want justice!’
In the early hours of
the morning, 30 years ago today, about 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked
from a pesticide factory owned by U.S. multinational Union Carbide and was
carried by the wind into the surrounding slums.
government’s official total of deaths is 5,295, but activists say the
true figure is about 25,000 and that many people still suffer from cancer,
blindness, respiratory problems and immune and neurological disorders, and that
they have received inadequate compensation. They also complain that toxic waste
around the plant is still contaminating water supplies for 50,000 people.
Carbide’s present owners, Dow Chemical has denied liability, saying it bought
Union Carbide a decade after the firm settled its liabilities to the Indian
government by paying $470 million. (see also my blogs of March 17, 2010 and Dec
3, 2012.) For more, see A Disastrous
History of the World.