News & Current Affairs

December 30, 2008

Private firms to haul ISS cargo

Private firms to haul ISS cargo

Dragon capsule (SpaceX)

The Dragon capsule is designed to carry cargo or crew

Cut off in the seclusion of space, crew members living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) depend on regular deliveries of air, water, food and fuel for their survival.

But when the ageing space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010, the US space agency (Nasa) will lose a principal means of ferrying crew and cargo to the ISS.

The shuttle’s replacement – Ares-Orion – will not enter service until 2015 at the earliest.

And in April, Nasa told legislators it would stop asking for Congressional permission to buy cargo space on Russian Progress re-supply vehicles after 2011.

I don’t think the market can support more than two companies. And it’s going to be hard for it even to support two
Antonio Elias, executive VP, Orbital

That leaves the US dependent on European and Japanese spacecraft for delivering supplies to the space station.

But Nasa has also been pursuing a commercial approach.

Three years ago, the space agency took the unprecedented step of fostering the development of private spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo to the ISS.

It offered $500m (£340m) in “seed money” to help stimulate a competitive market for supply flights to the space station.

This month, Nasa awarded two companies – SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation – with lucrative contracts to provide cargo delivery flights to the ISS up to 2016.

Nasa’s administrator Michael Griffin said he hoped the commercial ventures would succeed. But he told BBC News recently: “It’s not commercial if Nasa is sitting around telling them what to do and how to do it. I don’t think they need that.”

Elon Musk, the South Africa-born entrepreneur who co-founded SpaceX, says: “Even when [Ares-Orion] does come online, it’s sort of overkill to use it for servicing the space station. It would be incredibly expensive. So Nasa looked to the private sector to solve its problem.”

Mr Musk made a fortune from the sale of his internet payment service PayPal to eBay and has invested at least $100m (£68m) of his own money in SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California.

The company’s cargo re-supply plans are based around a rocket called Falcon 9. The standard version of the Falcon 9 is arguably a medium-lift launcher, says Mr Musk, designed to place 9,900kg into low-Earth orbit (LEO).

Assembly of the first Falcon 9 at SpaceX’s new launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida, should be complete by 31 December 2008.

“To external appearances, it looks like something from the Apollo programme, or Gemini, or Soyuz. But the materials are much more advanced, it’s designed to be reusable – which is an important characteristic,” Mr Musk told BBC News.

Inflatable hotel

Falcon 9 is the intended launch vehicle for a capsule, called Dragon, measuring some three and a half metres (12ft) in diameter. Dragon is designed to carry more than 2,500kg of cargo, or a crew of up to seven, into LEO.

DRAGON CAPSULE
Infographic (BBC/SpaceX)
Pressurised capacity of 2,500kg or 14 cubic metres
Crewed version will carry up to seven astronauts
Highly heat resistant material protects craft on re-entry
Designed for water landing with parachute

It is capable of carrying both pressurised items – those that need to be kept at Earth pressure and are to be used inside the space station – and unpressurised cargo – to be used outside the ISS, such as control moment gyros.

“The Falcon 9-Dragon system is intended to replace the function of the space shuttle when that retires in 2010,” says Elon Musk.

Falcon 9 will place Dragon in an initial parking orbit. From there it will manoeuvre towards the ISS. Dragon will make a slow approach and, once in range, will be grabbed by the space station’s robotic arm and berthed.

During the high speed return to Earth, Dragon will be protected by a heat shield made of phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). This highly heat-resistant material is barely scathed at heat fluxes that would vapourise steel.

The capsule will parachute down to the sea for recovery.

Safety is of paramount consideration: the manned version will have an escape tower to rescue the crew if something goes wrong – a feature absent from the space shuttle.”

“Hopefully we’ll do the first demonstration flight next year of the Falcon 9-Dragon system, then particular demonstrations in 2010 and start doing operation missions possibly by the end of 2010,” Mr Musk told BBC News.

PICA heatshield (SpaceX)

A heatshield made of PICA protects Dragon during re-entry

First of all, Dragon will carry astronauts from Nasa and from other space agencies to the ISS. But Mr Musk hopes also to transport space tourists to private orbiting stations.

One company, Bigelow Aerospace, is planning to assemble an orbiting “space hotel” based on a series of inflatable modules.

“We have also thought of perhaps carrying private space adventurers on a loop around the Moon,” says Mr Musk, adding that this would probably cost on the order of $40m-$50m per person.

“I think there is a wide range of applications. Perhaps the Falcon 9-Dragon system will ultimately evolve into something that will take people to Mars.”

‘Big empty can’

The other winning bid in Nasa’s cargo re-supply contract was made by Orbital Sciences Corporation, based in Dulles, Virginia.

Orbital’s vehicle consists of a medium-lift rocket called Taurus 2 which will be used to launch the Cygnus capsule. Unlike Dragon, Cygnus will only carry cargo – not astronauts.

CYGNUS CAPSULE
Cygnus (Orbital Sciences Corporation)
Pressurised capacity of 2,000kg, or 18.7 cubic metres
Service module contains propulsion, power and avionics
Accommodates pressurised, unpressurised and cargo return modules
Space station robotic arm used to berth capsule

Launching from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the medium-lift rocket will be able to ferry 5,500kg into LEO. Orbital is due to carry out a demonstration flight in the fourth quarter of 2010.”We took a bunch of existing parts but combined them in a way that is very, very efficient,” says Dr Antonio Elias, Orbital’s executive vide-president, who is overseeing the development of the new system.

Cygnus is based around a common service module, containing the vehicle’s propulsion, power systems and avionics. To this common module is added one of three types of specialised cargo modules – each designed for different mission scenarios.

One of these specialised modules will carry pressurised cargo, another will transfer unpressurised cargo, and a third type of module will return cargo items from the space station to Earth.

“The one that will be used the most, I believe, is the pressurised cargo module,” Orbital’s executive vice president told BBC News.

Dr Elias describes this module as a “big empty can”. It is “volumetrically efficient and light” because, says Dr Elias, “all it has to do is bring cargo up”.

The task is significantly bigger than anything either company has ever done
John Pike, GlobalSecurity.org

“It gets attached to the station, the hatch opens and crew empty the pressurised ‘can’ of its contents. They fill it up with trash, close the hatch. The service module backs it out of position and de-orbits it over the Pacific Ocean. Both can and service module then perish in a fiery ball of plasma,” Dr Elias told BBC News.

The unpressurised module is less efficient because some complex, heavy mechanisms are required to attach cargo: “The boxes you carry have to be very far apart because the (ISS robotic arm) has to come around and handle them. You have to give it lots of clearance,” says Dr Elias.

The efficiency of the cargo return module, he says, is relatively low because of the shielding, parachutes and other paraphernalia required. He expected only a fraction of re-supply flights would require the use of this module.

Orbital says this approach of using specialised modules keeps development costs low.

Rocket origin

Dr Elias was chief designer of Orbital’s Pegasus rocket, the first privately developed launch vehicle, which made its maiden flight in 1990.

A few years ago, he says, Orbital came up with an idea to re-supply the space station using Pegasus. But, at the time, the benefits were not clear to either Orbital or Nasa.

In fact, the origins of Orbital’s Taurus 2-Cygnus system can be traced to the demise of the Delta 2 rocket.

For two decades, the Delta 2 had been the US fleet’s most reliable medium-lift launcher for military, scientific and commercial payloads. It is still a perfectly good rocket, but Nasa plans to make its final Delta 2 launch at the end of the decade, shifting more of its medium-lift launch traffic to the Atlas 5 or Delta 4 heavy launch vehicles.

SpaceX HQ (SpaceX)

The SpaceX HQ occupies 50,000 sq m in Hawthorne, California

The US Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs), though significantly bigger, are expected to be comparable in cost in the long run – if not cheaper – than the Delta 2.

“We became concerned that the US government satellites we were bidding for, winning and building in this class would disappear for lack of a launch vehicle,” Dr Elias explains.

“We were concerned this would favour the larger spacecraft launches on [EELVs] and that the market would go to the big companies, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.”

Orbital began designing a successor to the Delta 2 with its own money. Although the company was on solid financial ground, finding a market to justify the expense was not easy. But a new opportunity was about to present itself.

Market forces

In August 2006, Nasa selected two companies – SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler – to develop and demonstrate orbital re-supply vehicles under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) programme, setting the firms aggressive timelines.

The space agency dropped Rocketplane Kistler a year into the programme; the company reportedly failed to meet a development milestone to Nasa’s satisfaction.

“We decided to make an offering whereby Orbital would provide out of its own funds not only the additional money to develop Taurus 2, but also a space vehicle that would be suitable to provide those services,” said Dr Elias.

Cygnus (Orbital Sciences Corporation)

Cygnus will be grabbed by the space station’s robotic arm

Orbital filled the void left by the departure of Rocketplane Kistler, winning a Nasa contract under Phase II of COTS.

Each of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts awarded to SpaceX and Orbital in December is worth a potential $3.1bn (£2.1bn). But the market itself remains very small.

“I don’t think the market can support more than two companies. And it’s going to be hard for it even to support two,” Dr Elias told.

“However, as prudent businessmen, we did not embark on this venture believing we would grab 100% of the demand. So we are willing to be profitable in a situation where we only have half of it.”

Artist's impression of Taurus 2 rocket (Orbital)

Orbital’s Taurus 2 rocket uses tried and tested technology

Observers point out that Nasa is betting on vehicles which do not yet exist, an approach which presents a major risk for the space agency.Not only is it relying on two companies to keep supplies coming to the ISS, Nasa hopes the rocket and cargo vehicles can be developed in months – not the years it has usually taken other agency programmes.

“The task is significantly bigger than anything either company has ever done,” John Pike, a space policy analyst for GlobalSecurity.org, told the LA Times.

“All of these things strike me as significant challenges for even the biggest aerospace companies.”

But Nasa is not putting all its eggs in one basket. It can still barter for cargo space aboard the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and Japan’s H-2 Transfer Vehicle, or HTV, which is due to enter service in 2009.

Europe also plans to modify the ATV so that it can bring cargo back from the space station, a capability Nasa is eager to have.

Announcing the award of the CRS contract, Bill Gerstenmaier, Nasa’s chief of space operations, said: “This is a pretty monumental thing for us, this is a contract that we really need to keep space station flying and to service space station.”

He added: “I think it’s exciting we’re doing this from the commercial side. We’ve got some good proposals and we’ve chosen the two winners.”

Elon Musk (Getty)
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September 14, 2008

Alitalia crisis meetings restart

Alitalia crisis meetings restart

Alitalia plane

Time is running out to save Alitalia

Emergency talks to prevent the collapse of Alitalia have restarted in Rome after the airline warned it may have to start canceling flights from Monday.

With the airline saying it is running out of money to buy aviation fuel, the government needs to persuade unions to back a deal that involves job cuts.

The only offer on the table is from Italian consortium CAI, which only wants Alitalia’s profitable operations.

Unions have so far rejected this deal as it would mean major job losses.

Yet with the only alternative now increasingly looking like Alitalia’s total collapse and the loss of all 20,000 jobs, the unions now appear more willing to back down.

‘Cautiously optimistic’

We are trying to get a solution to this saga and there are still many obstacles, but the climate is different and there is the awareness that there is no alternative to the deal,” said Giuseppe Caronia, head of the UILT union.

“I am moderately and cautiously optimistic.”

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to do all he can to save Alitalia.

Securing the airline’s future was one of his main election pledges before he returned to power in May.

Failed French takeover

Back in April, plans for Alitalia to be bought by Air France-KLM collapsed due to union opposition to planned job cuts.

Italy’s civil aviation authority said on Saturday that Alitalia’s operating licence was at risk due to the airline’s admission that it was running out of funds to buy fuel.

Alitalia is currently being run by administrators after seeking bankruptcy protection on 29 August.

The Italian government owns a 49.9% stake in Alitalia, but it cannot simply pump public funds into the airline as there are strict European Union rules preventing state support for airlines.

Bush warns on hurricane recovery

Bush warns on hurricane recovery

US President George W Bush has warned Texas will take a long time to recover from Hurricane Ike, as a huge search and relief operation gathers pace.

Mr Bush will travel to the state on Tuesday to inspect the relief effort.

Rescuers are trying to get to thousands of people who ignored orders to flee the storm, which cut power to millions and mauled America’s oil hub.

“This is a tough storm and it’s one that is going to require time for people to recover,” Mr Bush said.

Ike has been blamed for four deaths so far, two in Texas and two in Louisiana.

What’s really frustrating is that we can’t get to them
Tommie Mafrei
Galveston police chief

Rescuers are using boats, lorries and helicopters to tackle roads waist-deep in water and blocked by felled trees.The storm made landfall in Galveston early on Saturday with 110mph (175km/h) winds.

It cut a 500-mile (800-km) swathe of destruction across a span of the Gulf of Mexico coast before weakening to a tropical depression on Sunday morning over Arkansas.

Ike severely hit oil and gas production in the region and wreaked at least $8bn (£4.5bn) in onshore damage.

Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison warned that oil refineries disabled by the hurricane could remain idled for a further eight or nine days – and that Americans should brace for possible fuel shortages.

Some coastal residents waded through chest-deep water with their belongings and children in their arms to get to safety on Saturday, but thousands of others ignored evacuation orders.

Mr Bush said the federal government would be delivering 1.5m liters of water and 1m meals daily for the displaced.

Distress calls

Police, paramedics, rescue dogs and structural engineers fanned out at daybreak on Sunday across the coastal city of Galveston, which took the brunt of the storm, hampered by floodwater’s and widespread wreckage.

Galveston police officer Tommie Mafrei said: “What’s really frustrating is that we can’t get to [the stranded]… They are naive about it, thinking it’s not going to be that bad.”

State Governor Rick Perry’s office said 940 people had been rescued by nightfall on Saturday, but that thousands had made distress calls the night before.

Hurricane Ike caused widespread destruction in Galveston, Texas

Officials said another 600 people were rescued in neighboring Louisiana, where flooding ruined tens of thousands of homes and left nearly 200,000 householders without electricity.

More than three million people had no power in Texas at the height of the storm, and the authorities said it could be weeks before supplies were fully restored.

Ike sent fuel prices higher at the pumps and, analysts say, has triggered the biggest disruption to US energy supplies in at least three years.

Production was shut down at 14 oil refineries and 28 natural gas processing plants in the storm’s path.

The hurricane also battered Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US and the nation’s oil hub. Police there had used bullhorns to order people back into their homes.

The BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani weathered the storm in Houston and described how ferocious winds ripped the glass from many of the city’s skyscrapers.

But officials were encouraged by the fact flooding brought by the storm surge turned out to be much less serious than forecast.

Among those killed by Ike were a woman in Pinehurst, Texas, and a teenage boy in Louisiana’s Bayou Dularge, AP news agency reported.

Last week, Ike caused devastation in Cuba and Haiti, where hundreds of people have died in several tropical storms over the last month.


Are you in the areas affected? Are preparing to evacuate or are you staying in your home? Send us your comments and experiences

September 13, 2008

Alitalia ‘running out of fuel’

Alitalia ‘running out of fuel’

Alitalia plane

Negotiations with unions will be critical to saving the airline

Italy’s troubled national airline, Alitalia, cannot guarantee flights beyond Sunday because of a lack of funds to buy fuel, a top official says.

“Until the end of tomorrow, flights are guaranteed. From Monday, they are not,” Augusto Fantozzi, Alitalia’s bankruptcy administrator, told unions.

Mr Fantozzi was speaking as he called the unions to emergency talks a day after the latest session broke down.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi blamed “political” motives for the failure.

He said he would do all he could to save Alitalia from collapse.

“The executive is always ready… to give all the possible support to get to the only solution possible to avoid the airline going bust,” he told the Italian news agency Ansa.

Italian investment consortium CAI, which was poised to take over the company’s profit-making parts, walked away from talks with the unions on Friday, accusing them of intransigence.

CIA chief executive Rocco Sabelli said on Saturday it was not ready to make any further concessions.

August 30, 2008

Alitalia seeks bankruptcy measure

Alitalia seeks bankruptcy measure

Alitalia plane

Negotiations with unions will be critical to saving the airline

Troubled Italian airline Alitalia has applied for bankruptcy protection as it tries to agree a deal to ensure its long-term survival.

The carrier has sought court protection from its creditors, effectively declaring itself insolvent.

An administrator will be appointed to handle the process, with flights continuing while the firm plans a radical overhaul of its operations.

Losing 2m euros (£1.6m) a day, Alitalia has survived on a 300m-euro state loan.

Plans are being drawn up to split the carrier into two and to sell a stake in a new entity to a foreign airline.

Split in two

Guaranteeing the airline’s future will depend on securing fresh investment and persuading its unions to accept large job cuts.

Both Air France KLM and Lufthansa have expressed interest in investing in any new entity which emerges from the current business.

No one can buy Alitalia in the state it’s in… the business is toast
Roberto Colaninno

Earlier on Friday, Corrado Passera, head of the airline’s financial advisers Intesa Sanpaolo, confirmed that Alitalia’s board was drawing up a request to seek bankruptcy protection.

The move will give the firm breathing space to reach agreement on how the business can proceed.

The government adopted new measures on Thursday aimed at speeding up bankruptcy proceedings, widely interpreted as a signal that Alitalia was set for such a course of action.

Future plans for the carrier would see it divided in half, with its loss-making operations remaining under bankruptcy protection and potentially being liquidated.

Profitable short-haul routes would be separated into a new business, controlled by a consortium of Italian investors including budget airline Air One which would effectively be merged with Alitalia.

Italian media have speculated that the new firm will employ 7,000 fewer staff than Alitalia’s current 19,000 strong workforce and operate flights to about 50 fewer destinations.

Italian ownership

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made Alitalia’s continued ownership by Italian interests a precondition of any rescue deal.

However, experts have said the airline – of which the government owns 49% – can only survive in the future as part of some European alliance.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi wants to keep the airline in Italian hands

Previous attempts to sell the business to a foreign airline have foundered over union concerns about job losses and unease over the severity of the airline’s financial problems.

The airline’s perilous position was put into perspective by Roberto Colaninno, appointed to take charge of the new entity that emerges from the restructuring.

“No one can buy Alitalia in the state it’s in,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.

“With all respect, I am not Merlin the magician. The business is toast. It doesn’t exist any more. There’s nothing left.”

Alitalia has been crippled in recent years by strategic indecision, poor industrial relations and soaring fuel costs.

Its shares were suspended earlier this summer while the firm has delayed the release of its 2007 accounts.

August 28, 2008

Zoom heads towards administration

Zoom heads towards administration

The grounded plane at Glasgow Airport

The grounded plane was due to leave Glasgow Airport on Thursday morning

Transatlantic budget carrier Zoom Airlines has admitted it is applying to go into administration.

The announcement came after one of its planes was detained at Glasgow Airport on Thursday for non-payment of air traffic control charges.

UK-Canadian Zoom blamed its problems on the “horrendous” price of aviation fuel and the wider economic slowdown.

People due to travel on Zoom have been told to check their flight’s status.

‘Support and advice’

Zoom’s admission of financial difficulties came after BAA, the owner of Gatwick Airport, said it had been instructed by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority to detain a Zoom plane that was due to fly to the Canadian cities of Halifax and Ottawa.

BAA said another Zoom flight from Glasgow to Vancouver had also been delayed.

“BAA is working with Zoom Airlines to provide support and advice for passengers,” said the airport company.

Meanwhile, a Zoom plane was grounded overnight in Calgary, Canada, a move also said to be in connection to overdue charges.

“Zoom Airlines Ltd based at Gatwick and Zoom Airlines Inc based in Ottawa, Canada, have sought creditor protection by filing legal notices of intention to appoint an administrator in both the UK and Canada,” said Zoom executive chairman Hugh Boyle.

He added that while Zoom sincerely apologised for those passengers affected by the grounded aircraft, its “flights will continue to operate”.

Zoom operates services from Glasgow, Gatwick, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast International airports a well as from European airports to a number of North American destinations.


Are you due to travel on Zoom? Have you been affected by any issues raised in this story?

Send your comments

August 26, 2008

Green tech in ‘Formula Zero’ race

Green tech in ‘Formula Zero’ race

Formula Zero karts

Delft University’s Greenchoice leads the newly established table

The world’s first international hydrogen-powered motorsport race was held in Rotterdam this weekend.

Dubbed the Formula Zero championship, the contest pitted teams from five countries against each other in a zero-emissions go-kart race.

Each team’s entry was powered by a commercial fuel cell that produces electricity from hydrogen.

A Dutch team won the endurance event, while a Spanish team clinched the award for fastest lap.

Peak power

Founded by Dutch motorsport enthusiasts Godert van Hardenbroek and Eelco Rietveld, Formula Zero is already recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the world’s motor sport governing body.

The championship consisted of several events, with teams from the UK, US, the Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium competing for the top honour: zeroth place.

The events included a sprint race, won by a Spanish team called EuplatecH2 with a lap time of 36 seconds. In the endurance event, the Greenchoice Forze team from Delft University took the zeroth place on the podium.

Formula Zero kart

Formula Zero looks set to green up motorsport

That puts the Delft team on top in the standings. In third place was Imperial College London’s team Imperial Racing Green, who proved to have the most reliable entry if not eventually the fastest.

“In 10 years if the motorsport industry as a whole hasn’t engaged in zero or low emission principles, it probably won’t be around,” said Greg Offer, who headed up the Imperial team. “Teams that embrace this new technology early on will succeed, and those that don’t will fall by the wayside.”

Racing excitement won’t suffer, though; Dr. Offer says that fuel-cell powered vehicles don’t represent a compromise in performance over traditional petrol-fueled engines.

“With a combustion engine, you have to reach three or four thousand rev[olutions per minute] to get your peak power,” he says. “With an electric vehicle, it’s all there from standing, and they’re more efficient.”

It is expected that the class will grow to Formula Three standard and then full-size racing class as interest in green motoring escalates. The next event will be held in the US in March. In 2009 the Formula Zero championship will comprise four races.

August 19, 2008

Florida braced for tropical storm

Florida braced for tropical storm

Map

The US state of Florida is braced for Tropical Storm Fay, which is thought to have claimed dozens of lives on its rampage through the Caribbean.

Forecasters warned Fay could reach hurricane force as it approached the Florida peninsula.

The storm’s center has already crossed Florida Key West with winds near 60mph (97km/h), flooding some roads.

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist warned that Fay threatened a “major disaster”, but he insisted the state was prepared.

With a state of emergency in place, Mr Crist said some 500 national guard members had been deployed, with another 8,500 on standby.

The US National Hurricane Center said the storm still had the potential to top sustained winds of 74 mph (119 km/h) by the time it hits the west coast of Florida early on Tuesday.

Across Florida at least 22 school districts, a number of colleges and a university have canceled classes.

HOW HURRICANES FORM
NOAA satellite image showing tropical storm Fay over Cuba (17 August 2008)
Sea surface temperatures above 26.5C (79.7F)
A pre-existing weather disturbance
Moisture in the atmosphere
Favourable conditions, such as light winds or weak wind shear

Residents of Miami have been stocking up on bottled water, fuel and other vital supplies.

The main highway linking the Keys to the mainland was choked with traffic on Sunday as thousands of tourists evacuated.

But not everyone was hunkering down – hundreds of surfers flocked to Miami beaches to take advantage of the huge swells created by the storm.

In Cuba, Fay caused some flooding and damaged a number of homes, although no deaths were reported.

But a number of lives were lost in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The worst incident was in Haiti, where a truck carrying up to 80 passengers plunged into a swollen river.

Officials there said more than half the passengers were missing, with many feared drowned.

Fay is the sixth tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

Two of the tropical storms so far, Bertha and Dolly, have reached hurricane strength.


Has Tropical Storm Fay affected you? Are you in Florida preparing for the storm to hit? Send us your comments

August 17, 2008

Florida emergency for storm Fay

Florida emergency for storm Fay

map

The US state of Florida has declared a state of emergency ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Fay, which has swept through the island of Hispaniola.

At least four people were killed in flooding in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share Hispaniola, officials said.

Some 2,000 people had to leave their homes in the Dominican Republic and hundreds of properties were damaged.

Fay could become a hurricane as it moves towards Cuba then on to Florida.

At 0300 GMT on Sunday, Fay had maximum sustained winds of 74mph (118km/h), and was located some 280km (175 miles) south-east of Camaguey, Cuba, the Florida-based National Hurricane Center said.

It said the storm was moving west at 14mph (22km/h).

Cuban officials have ordered evacuations from low-lying areas in several provinces, where Fay is expected to come ashore on Sunday or Monday.

A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Fay is expected to reach Florida after it crosses Cuba.

HOW HURRICANES FORM
Graphic. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Sea surface temperatures above 26.5C (79.7F)
A pre-existing weather disturbance
Moisture in the atmosphere
Favourable conditions, such as light winds or weak wind shear

US weather forecasters said Fay was not expected to strengthen, but that torrential rainfall of 30.5cm could be expected.

Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency, saying Fay threatened a “major disaster”.

Residents of Miami have been stocking up on bottled water, fuel and emergency items.

Fay is the sixth tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

Two of the tropical storms so far, Bertha and Dolly, have reached hurricane strength – with winds of at least 119km/h.

August 7, 2008

Fyyaz Somro دروازا ڪنجوس جي مـُٺ وانگر بند ٿي رهيا آهن

Filed under: Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 12:28 pm

Notes from Canada

دروازا ڪنجوس جي مـُٺ وانگر بند ٿي رهيا آهن

فياض سومرو


ملڪ جي هلندڙ سياسي صورتحال ۽ گاڏڙ حڪومت جي باري ۾ رننگ ڪامينٽري ته هر ڪنهن جي پنهنجي آهي ۽ ان باري ۾ هر ڪنهن جو تجزيو نه ته مڪمل طور تي صحيح هوندو ۽ نه ئي مڪمل طور تي غلط. تنهنڪري ان چڪر ۾ پوڻ بدران پاڻ هن ڪالم جي اڳياڙي هن لطيفي سان ڪيون ٿا .”هڪ وزير باتدبير پنهنجي ڊرائيور کي چيو ته اڄ مان پاڻ ڪار هلائي آفيس ويندس. ڊرائيور وزير کي چيو ته سائين اجايو رستو ڀـُلائيندا. هيءَ ڪار آهي ڪا سنڌ سرڪار ناهي جو مولا جي آسري تي پنهنجو پاڻ ئي هلندي رهي.

دوستو زندگي به عجيب شئي آهي. اها هر موڙ تي انسان لاءِ نئين کان نئون سوال ڇڏي اڳيان نڪري وڃي ٿي. انسان آهي جو انهن سوالن جي ڳولا ۾ مٿو اڇو ڪريو ڇڏي پر پوءِ به جواب نٿو مليس. جيڪڏهن ڪنهن سوال جو جواب مـِلي به وڃيس ٿو ته وري زندگي اهڙي ته استاد آهي جو سوال ئي مـَٽايو ڇڏي ٿي ۽ پوءِ نئين سوال ۽ نئين رنگ روپ سان ٺمڪو هڻي اڳيان نڪري وڃي ٿي ۽ انسان وائڙو ئي رهجي وڃي ٿو. ڇو جو رڳو هڪ نقطي جي هيٺ مٿي ٿي وڃڻ سان ”خدا“ مان ”جدا“ ٿي پوي ٿو.

هونئن به ننڍيون ننڍيون رنجشون ٽانڊي ۾ آهوٽي وجهڻ وارو (آهوٽي(To add fuel ڪم ڪنديون آهن. جيڪي اڳتي هلي وڏن سانحن کي جنم ڏينديون آهن. نه ته ڀلا ڏسجي ته هن وقت تائين سائين آصف زرداري ۽ سائين امين فهيم جي وچم جيڪي اختلاف آهن، اهي هروڀرو ايڏا وڏا نظرياتي اختلاف ناهن جو اهي ٻئي صاحب هڪ ٻئي سان اختلافن سبب پارٽيءَ کي نقصان پهچائين يا انهن ٻنهي جي اختلافن سبب پارٽيءَ کي ڪو نقصان پهچي. باقي سائين امين فهيم تي صدر مشرف سان لاڳاپن جو الزام اجايو لڳي ٿو. ڇالاءِ جو جڏهن رحمان ملڪ ۽ سلمان تاثير جا صدر مشرف سان لاڳاپا آهن ۽ اهي اهم حڪومتي عهدن تي ويٺا آهن ۽ انهن تي ڪنهن کي به ڪو اعتراض ناهي ته پوءِ ان معاملي تي رڳو سائين امين فهيم جي خلاف ڀنڊي ٻارڻ مان، مٿي هوا- هيٺ پاڻي، مهاراڻي گهڻي سياڻيءَ واري ڳالهه لڳي ٿي. چون ٿا ته سياست جي سيني ۾ دل ڪو نه آهي. تنهنڪري انهن رنجشن جي باري ۾ اهو ئي چئي سگهجي ٿو ته مولا خير ڪري.

چوڻ جو مقصد هي ته پهرين امان ۽ پوءِ بابا به گذاري ويو ۽ مان هن سفر ۾ اڪيلو ئي رهجي ويس. بابا مرحوم جو ڪنهن به فرقي سان ڪو تعلق نه هو. بابا مرحوم نه شيعو هو نه سني. اهو رڳو هڪ صوفي منش انسان هو. باقي ماءُ ته ماءُ ئي ٿيندي آهي. ننڍي هوندي مـُدي جو بخار ٿي پيو هو. هڪ ڏيهاڙي 102 يا الائي 104 جي تَپَ ۾ ورتو پيو هوس جو امان مون لاءِ دعا ڪئي هئي ته هن کي ڪڏهن به ڪوسو واءُ نه لڳي. اها ڪا اگهامڻ جي گهڙي هئي سو امان جي دعا به اگهامي ويئي. پوءِ مونکي پَرَ لڳا يا منهنجون ڦرڻيون ڦريون جو وڃي ڪئناڊا کان نڪتس. ڪئناڊا ۾ گرم هوا لڳڻ ته پري جي ڳالهه جيڪڏهن سياري ۾ ماڻهو غلطي مان به ٻه چار منٽ به ٻاهر بيهي ته پوءِ ڄميل برف جو معصوم شاهه جو منارو بڻجي وڃي ٿو. هينئر توڻي جو اتي اونهاري جي موسم آهي، پر پوءِ به پاڻ وانگر ايتري گرمي ناهي، جو ڀـُل مان جيڪڏهن هوا جو جهوڪو به لڳي ته به محسوس ائين ٿيندو آهي، ڄڻڪ گرم هوا جي ٿڦڙ لڳي هجي. ڪئناڊا جي گرمي اتان جي گورين وانگر ڪافي سلڇڻي آهي. نه ته اها اُتان جي غريب کان غريب مرد کي اهو احساس ڏياري ٿي ته اهو ڪو غريب آهي. ڇو جو جيڏانهن به نظر ڪر ته پوءِ واٽون ويهه ٿيون جي بجاءِ نظرون چار ٿي وڃن ٿيون. مٿان وري ٿوري کان ٿورو لباس پائڻ کي اهي پنهنجو پيدائشي حق سمجهن ٿيون ۽ سندن ان حق جي حفاظت لاءِ وري اتان جي حڪومت ۽ عدالت سڳوري به ساڻن گڏ آهي.

منهنجو نانو مرحوم مخدوم رحمت الله ڀٽي، جنهن جو ذڪر سائين جي ايم سيد پنهنجي هڪ ڪتاب ۾ به ڪيو آهي، سو چوندو هو ته جنهن دؤر ۾ ماڻهن کي حق حاصل ڪرڻ لاءِ جهاد ڪرڻو پوي، ان کي جبر جو دؤر چئبو آهي. جيڪڏهن حقن جي لاءِ رڳو دعا جو سهارو رهجي وڃي ته پوءِ ان دؤر کي ظلم جو دؤر چئبو آهي. اهڙو زمانو جنهن ۾ ڪجهه ماڻهن کي ته حق ئي نه ملن ۽ ڪجهه کي وري ٻين کان وڌيڪ ملن ته پوءِ ان کي افراتفريءَ جو زمانو چئبو آهي. ان کانسواءِ اهو به ته جتي هر ماڻهو ۽ هر جنس ساڳي ئي اگهه تي وڪامڻ لڳي ان زماني کي انڌير نگريءَ جو زمانو چئبو آهي.

مختصر اهو ته منهنجي زال به ڪڏهن ڪڏهن ڏاڍيون سمجهه ڀريون ڳالهيون ڪندي آهي. اڄ پئي چيائين ته شڪر ٿيو جو پاڻ ڪئناڊا ڏانهن نڪري وياسين نه ته هتي هن ملڪ جا دروازا ته هر ايندڙ ڏينهن ڪنجوس جي مـُٺ وانگر ماڻهن لاءِ بند ٿي رهيا آهن ۽ حالت وڃي اها ٿي آهي جو جيئڻ به جنجال ٿي پيو آهي. هن دوڪان جو اهو ئي حال رهيو ته نيٺ هي دوڪان گهڻا ڏينهن هلندو.

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