TIANJIN, August 13 -- At least 44 people were killed and more than 520 others were injured after two massive blasts rocked north China's port city of Tianjin late Wednesday night.
PresidentXi Jinpinghas urged all-out efforts to save the injured and minimize casualties.
The first explosion occurred around 11:30 pm Wednesday at a warehouse in the Binhai New Area. Only seconds later, a second blast wreaked more havoc, as fireballs shot into the sky, sent doors and windows flying in neighboring areas, and set cars and houses on fire.
"I was sleeping under my truck when the first blast occurred. It literally threw me out of the trunk. The second blast was bigger, flames came and now my truck is all ashes," said Hu Xiaoliang, a truck driver.
His truck, loaded with charcoal, was parked just outside the door of Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Co. Ltd., the company that owns the warehouses. A Xinhua reporter saw thick smoke rising from the site of the blast and minor explosions could be heard. A pungent smell permeated the surrounding area. In the Binhai New Area, many companies told employees not to come to work. People who live in the nearby community could be seen wearing masks. At least three firefighters died and more are feared missing, according to the Tianjin fire brigade. Rescuers are searching for people trapped inside the blast site.
Lu Yun, head of Taida Hospital, which admitted about 150 injured people, told Xinhua that most of the injuries were from broken glass or stones. Some of the injuries are serious. Rail links connecting downtown Tianjin to the Binhai New Area were suspended after shockwaves from the blast damaged the Donghai Road Terminal.
The office building of Chinese supercomputer Tianhe-1, one of the world's fastest supercomputers, suffered damage. Sources at Tianhe-1 told Xinhua the computer is not damaged, but they have shut down some of its operations as a precaution. Tianhe-1 provides data services to more than 300 organizations across China, including several universities and banks.
Volunteers have arrived at hospitals for blood donation, and taxi drivers and private car owners offered help to transport the wounded to hospitals. Several hotels have provided free accommodation to residents displaced by the blast.
Tianjin, about half an hour from Beijing by train, is home to 14.72 million people.
NEW YORK, August 6 -- Conspiracy theorists allege that the world’s most rich and powerful people have secret meetings at places like Bilderberg or Bohemian Grove, or that one can find rooms on Wall Street or in DC where world-changing deals go down amidst a cloud of cigar smoke.
While there is still debate as to the true extent of the above claims, even the most skeptical of us can agree that the most powerful executives between Wall Street and the biggest corporations in America are intimately connected. Government officials are also in that web, but that’s a project for another day.
The above visualization looks at the directors of 30 of America’s largest publicly traded corporations on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Of this group, there are a grand total of three companies that do not share board members with other companies in the index.
All other companies have board members like Ronald Williams or Kenneth Chenault, who connect the dots. Williams used to run Aetna, but now sits on the boards of Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, and American Express. Chenault is the CEO and chairman of American Express, but also sits on the boards of IBM and Procter & Gamble.
Looking at the company-level, one can easily see a corporation such as Exxon Mobil having two connections with American Express, or single connections to JP Morgan, Walmart, Merck, Caterpillar, and Traveler’s Insurance.
KUALA LUMPUR, August 5 -- US Secretary of State John Kerry voiced concern to China on Wednesday over its land reclamation in the South China Sea and the "militarisation" of its disputed waters.
Mr Kerry raised the issues during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a regional diplomatic gathering in Malaysia that has been dominated by tensions over China's moves to shore up its territorial claims.
"Secretary Kerry reiterated his concern about rising tensions over disputed claims in the South China Sea and China's large-scale reclamation, construction, and militarisation of features there," a senior State Department official told reporters. "He encouraged China, along with the other claimants, to halt problematic actions in order to create space for diplomacy."
China has sparked alarm in the region by expanding tiny reefs in the flashpoint sea and constructing military posts on them.The United States and Southeast Asian countries have called for a halt to such activities, but China has refused.A day earlier, Southeast Asian foreign ministers warned after they met in Kuala Lumpur that China's moves were raising regional tensions, with the Philippines slamming Beijing's "unilateral and aggressive activities".
The annual gathering is hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and includes countries from across Asia, the United States, Russia and elsewhere. It continues until Thursday. Beijing claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei -- all Asean members -- also have various claims, as does Taiwan, many of which overlap.
China's neighbours have increasingly chafed at what is seen as mounting violations by Beijing of a regional pledge not to take actions that could stoke conflict. Before their meeting, Mr Kerry had said he and Mr Wang were also to discuss a range of bilateral issues including plans for a September US visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and China's "great cooperation" on the recent Iran nuclear deal.
A US diplomat also said Mr Kerry would meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later Wednesday to "discuss a range of issues of mutual concern". They last met in Doha on Monday alongside Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, where the ongoing civil war in Syria topped the agenda. After that meeting, Mr Lavrov hit out at an announcement by Washington that it was willing to take extra measures to defend US-allied fighters in Syria, describing the plan as "counterproductive".
Mr Kerry, in a meeting Wednesday with Asean foreign ministers, said Washington shared their desire "to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea". He stressed the need to maintain the security of sea lanes and fishing grounds and to settled disputes peacefully.
Beijing has insisted it will not discuss the South China Sea during formal meetings at the forum, saying disagreements must be handled on a bilateral basis between rival claimants. Diplomats and analysts say this stance is aimed at preventing ASEAN from presenting a more united front.
A Washington-based think-tank said this week Beijing could be preparing to build a second airstrip on an artificial island. China is already building a 3,000-metre runway on Fiery Cross reef, which could ultimately be used for combat operations, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
ROTTERDAM, August 3 -- At least 20 people have been injured in Alphen aan den Rijn when two cranes and a large part of a prefabricated bridge fell on four buildings.
The accident happened at the Juliana bridge, which is undergoing extensive renovation, broadcaster Nos said. The piece of bridge and the cranes hit a shop selling second hand goods and a shop selling artists supplies as well as other properties. It is not clear how many people were in the shops when the crane toppled.
A special search and rescue team has been brought in to look for people under the debris. They were most recently involved in finding earthquake victims in Nepal, the Nos said. Red Cross workers are also on hand to help. The cranes were mounted on a floating deck and were carrying the bridge part to the location. It is unclear why the fell but an eyewitness said the pontoon wobbled before capsizing.
Accident investigators are also at the scene to begin their investigation.
NAYPYITAW, August 3 -- Rescue workers in Myanmar are racing to help tens of thousands of people facing severe floods, as the death toll climbed to at least 46, officials have said.
The country's Relief and Resettlement Director Daw Phyu said that at least 217,000 people have been affected in the country, after monsoon rains triggered flash floods and landslides, destroying thousands of houses, farmland, bridges and roads. He also said that four people remain missing since the floods began.
Authorities have declared the four worst-hit areas in central and western Myanmar "national disaster-affected regions". In the northern Sagaing region, residents said the flood waters caught them off guard as they swept into villages, engulfing homes and fields.
"There was no warning ... we thought it was normal [seasonal flooding]," Aye Myat Su, 30, told the AFP news agency from a monastery being used as a temporary shelter in the regional capital of Kalay.
"But within a few hours, the whole house was under water. My husband had to get onto the roof as there was no way out."
Landslides in Chin State - south of Sagaing - have destroyed 700 homes in the state capital Haka, while more than 5,000 people in another district are in relief camps, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Monday.
President Thein Sein has promised the government will do its "utmost" to provide relief, but said parts of Chin had been "cut off from surrounding areas", the report added. Myanmar's health ministry says it is distributing medical supplies across the country including chlorine tablets, although it was unclear how many of the afflicted zones could be reached, with boats and helicopters in short supply.
Rains have also battered Rakhine State, which hosts about 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, who live in exposed makeshift coastal camps following deadly 2012 unrest between the minority group and Buddhists.
Hundreds have also perished in recent days in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam following floods and landslides triggered by heavy seasonal rains. The flooding has claimed the lives of at least 100 people in India, officials there said on Sunday. Another 109 have died in Pakistan over the past two weeks, according to authorities there.
Meanwhile in Vietnam rescuers were battling toxic mudslides from flood-hit coal mines in the northern province of Quang Ninh, home to the UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay tourist site. Seventeen people have been killed in recent flooding in Vietnam, including two families who were swallowed up by the toxic mud.
One of the top authors of The Peet Journal is Pete McGea. As a native born Scotsman, Pete