Tag Archives: environment

Fake Stories of Snake Swallowing Humans


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Photograph shows a python purported to have eaten a drunken man in India. (Source - snopes.com)
Photograph shows a python purported to have eaten a drunken man in India. (Source: snopes.com)

The above image of a snake makes regular rounds of the Internet every few months or so. Each time the incident was purported to have occurred in a different geographic locale.

Today, once again, I came across the same photograph of a distended snake with the caption: “ANACONDA EATS WOMAN ALIVE!”

In August 2012, someone using this photograph, claimed a serpent ate a man in Qujing, China.

In January 2013, the snake swallowed another person in Jakarta, Indonesia,

In February 2013, it gobbled a man whole in Panama.

In June 2013, it devoured a woman near Durban North, South Africa.

In October 2013, the snake gulped down a 4-year-old child in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.

In November 2013, the python made its way to Attapady, Kerala, India to swallow a drunkard lying beside the liquor shop.

Now, you be the judge.

The Python

Python reticulatus (Photo credit:  Mariluna)
Python reticulatus (Photo credit: Mariluna)

The Python reticulatus also known as the (Asiatic) reticulated python, is a species found in Southeast Asia. The specific name, reticulatus, is Latin meaning “net-like”, or reticulated, and is a reference to the complex color pattern. They are the world’s longest snakes and longest reptile, but are not the most heavily built. Adult pythons can grow to 22.8 feet (6.95 metres) in length, and grow to an average length of 10–20 feet (3–6 metres). They are nonvenomous constrictors and not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, reports of attacks are rare. It is not found in countries such as South Africa.

The Boa constrictor

Boa constrictor (Photo credit: Pavel Ševela / Wikimedia Commons)
Boa constrictor (Photo credit: Pavel Ševela / Wikimedia Commons)

The Boa constrictor is a species of large, heavy-bodied snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in North, Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. It has varied colour and pattern and are distinctive. Ten subspecies are currently recognized.

The Anaconda

Green Anaconda (Cobra Sucuri) (Photo credit: Wagner Meier / en.wikipedia.org)
Green Anaconda (Cobra Sucuri) (Photo credit: Wagner Meier / en.wikipedia.org)

The anaconda is a large snake found in tropical South America. Although the name applies to a group of snakes, it is often used to refer only to one species in particular, the common or green anaconda, Eunectes murinus. It is one of the largest snakes in the world.

Although the name refers to a snake found only in South America, the name commonly used in Brazil is sucuri, sucuriju or sucuriuba.

Peter Martyr d’Anghiera suggested the South American names anacauchoa and anacaona. Henry Walter Bates questioned the idea of the origin of the South American names. Bates in his travels in South America, failed to find any similar name in use.

Some researchers believe the word anaconda is derived from the name of a snake from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1684 Andreas Cleyer described its habit. Cleyer described a gigantic snake that crushed large animals by coiling and crushing their bones.

Henry Yule in his Hobson-Jobson noted the word anaconda became more popular due to a piece of fiction by a certain R. Edwin published in 1768 in the Scots Magazine. Edwin described an anaconda crushing and killing a tyger when in fact tigers never occurred in Sri Lanka. Yule and Frank Wall noted that the snake was in fact a python. They suggested a word of Tamil origin anai-kondra (Tamil: ஆனை கொன்றா) meaning elephant killer.

A more-likely Sinhalese origin was suggested by Donald Ferguson. He said the word Henakandaya (Sinhalese: හෙනකන්දය; hena = lightning or large, kanda = stem or trunk) was used in Sri Lanka for the small whip snake (Ahaetulla pulverulenta).

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Fatu Kekula: the Brave Ebola Lifesaver


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The rampant spreading of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, has created a chaos in that country. As on October 18, 2014, out of the 4,665 patients diagnosed for Ebola in Liberia, 2,705 died. In the past week alone Monrovia reported 305 new EVD cases. Out of the 15 counties in Liberia 14 have reported cases of Ebola. Only Grand Gedeh county has yet to report an EVD case.

Even before the outbreak of the Ebola virus, Liberia faced a health crisis. It had only 50 physicians in the entire country – one for every 70,000 citizens. In September 2014, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that some hospitals in Liberia had been abandoned, and the hospitals which were still functioning lacked basic facilities. They did not have running water, rubber gloves, and sanitizing supplies.

At the end of August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that Liberia fell short of 1,550 beds to treat EVD patients. In September, a new 150-bed treatment clinic opened in the capital, Monrovia. At the time of the opening ceremony six ambulances were already waiting with potential Ebola patients. More patients were waiting by the clinic after making their way on foot with the help of relatives.

The treatment of EVD in other parts of the country is more pathetic. To add to the woes, on October 12, 2014, Liberian nurses threatened a strike over wages.

Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse (Source: edition.cnn.com)
Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse (Source: edition.cnn.com)

Amidst this chaos comes the story of Fatu Kekula, a brave 22-year-old Liberian nursing student.  She took care of four relatives affected by the Ebola virus by herself. She managed to save three out of the four patients, she cared for. That is a whopping 25% death rate, far better than the estimated average Ebola death rate of 58% in Liberia. Now, her unique methods for survival are being taught all over West Africa.

In July 2014, Fatu’s father, Moses Kekula, experienced high blood pressure. She took him to the local hospital in Kakata. After admitting Moses, the crowded hospital provided a bed that had become free. At that time, none of Fatu’s family members knew that the previous occupant of the bed had died from EVD. Soon after, Moses showed symptoms of EVD. He developed a fever. He started vomiting and had diarrhoea. A few days later the authorities shut down the hospital because nurses started dying of EVD.

Fatu then took her father to Monrovia. Three hospitals turned him away because they were already filled over capacity. So, Fatu took her father back to Kakata and got him admitted in another hospital. There they said he had typhoid fever and did little for him. Frustrated, Fatu returned home with her father.

At home Moses infected three other family members: his wife Victoria (57), elder daughter Vivian (28), and nephew Alfred Winnie (14). Fatu was the only unaffected family member.

Fatu contacted their family doctor. But he refused to come to their home, fearing the possibility of getting infected. Taking the next best option, Fatu requested the doctor to for directions. She got the medicines and fluids prescribed by the doctor from a local clinic. Her training at the nursing school helped her create her own intravenous lines.

Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse  saved her father's life in this makeshift isolation ward in a spare unfinished room at home. - MCT
Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse saved her father’s life in this makeshift isolation ward in a spare unfinished room at home. – MCT

Fatu then began to take care of her father, mother, sister, and cousin, all by herself. She put her three patients – father, mother and cousin in makeshift isolation ward in a spare unfinished room at home.

Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse. She took all the precautions for avoiding contact by using layers of trash bags on her feet and hair. She wore rubber boots, four pairs of gloves, and a face mask. (Source: edition.cnn.com)
Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse. She took all the precautions for avoiding contact by using layers of trash bags on her feet and hair. She wore rubber boots, four pairs of gloves, and a face mask. (Source: edition.cnn.com)

She did not have personal protection equipment such as those white space suits and goggles used in Ebola treatment units. She invented her own protective gear. She came up with the trash bag method. She took all the precautions for avoiding contact by using layers of trash bags on her feet and hair. She wore rubber boots, four pairs of gloves, and a face mask.

She fed her patients, gave them medicines, and cleaned them, all by herself day in and day out. It is a miracle that Fatu herself was not infected in the two weeks she was taking care of her family though she was in close contact with them.

On August 17, 2014, space became available at John F. Kennedy Medical Center, the national medical center of Liberia, located in the Sinkor district of Monrovia. Fatu’s father, mother, and sister recovered, but her cousin Alfred Winnie succumbed to the disease at the hospital the following day.

Fatu Kekula’s father is trying to find a scholarship for her that so she can finish her final year of nursing school. He has no doubt his daughter will go on to save more lives in the future.

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Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Coat of arms of Liberia

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On December 6, 2013, a 2-year-old boy died in the village of Meliandou, Guéckédou Prefecture, Guinea. Researchers believe the boy’s death was the index case of the current Ebola virus disease epidemic.

Hammer-headed bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus), also known as the big-lipped bat, is a megabat widely distributed in equatorial Africa. (Credit - Shyamal - Wikipedia)
Hammer-headed bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus), also known as the big-lipped bat, is a megabat widely distributed in equatorial Africa. (Credit – Shyamal – Wikipedia)

Bushmeat refers to meat from non-domesticated mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds hunted for food in tropical forests. The dead boy’s family were hunters of bats for bushmeat. They hunted the Ebola-harbouring species Hypsignathus monstrous and Epomops franqueti. This may have been the original source of the infection. The dead boy’s mother, sister, and grandmother fell ill with similar symptoms and died. People infected by those victims spread the disease to other villages.

Now, Ebola represents a major public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa. But in early 2014, West Africa did not report any no cases of Ebola. The early cases of Ebola were diagnosed as other diseases more common to the area. Thus, the disease had several months to spread before it was recognized as Ebola.

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014,  Reuters reported an outbreak of an undetermined viral haemorrhagic fever in the West African nation of Guinea. According to Guinea’s local health officials, the first case of the fever was reported in February 2014 that sickened at least 35 people and killed 23.

Dr. Sakoba Keita, the doctor in charge of the prevention of epidemics in Guinea’s Health Ministry said:

“Symptoms appear as diarrhoea and vomiting, with a very high fever. Some cases showed relatively heavy bleeding… We thought it was Lassa fever or another form of cholera, but this disease seems to strike like lightning. We are looking at all possibilities, including Ebola, because bushmeat is consumed in that region and Guinea is in the Ebola belt.”

Keita also said that most of the victims had been in contact with the deceased or had handled the dead bodies. He said those infected had been isolated, and they had sent samples to Senegal and France for further tests.

By March 24, 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders had set up an isolation facility in Guéckédou.

By late May 2014, the outbreak had spread to Guinea’s capital, Conakry, a city of about two million inhabitants. On May 28, 2014, the total number of cases reported had reached 281 with 186 deaths.

In late March 2014, Liberia, reported the spread of Ebola in Lofa and Nimba counties. In mid-April 2014, the Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare recorded possible cases of Ebola in Margibi and Montserrado counties. In mid-June 2014, Liberia’s capital Monrovia reported the first cases of Ebola. On July 27, 2014, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, announced that Liberia would close its borders with neighbouring countries. In August, he declared a national state of emergency, with the “suspensions of certain rights and privileges”.

Liberia faced a health crisis even before the outbreak of the Ebola virus. It had only 50 physicians in the entire country — one for every 70,000 Liberians. In September 2014, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that some hospitals in Liberia had been abandoned. The report also said the hospitals which were still functioning lacked basic facilities such as running water, rubber gloves, and sanitizing supplies.

At the end of August, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that Liberia’s capacity to treat Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases fell short of 1,550 beds. In September, a new 150-bed treatment clinic was opened in Monrovia. At the time of the opening ceremony six ambulances were already waiting with potential Ebola patients. More patients were waiting by the clinic after making their way on foot with the help of relatives.

2014 ebola virus epidemic in West Africa (Author: Mikael Häggström)
2014 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa (Author: Mikael Häggström)

As on October 19, 2014, out of the 4,665 patients diagnosed for Ebola in Liberia, 2,705 had died. In the past week alone Monrovia reported 305 new EVD cases. Out of the 15 counties in Liberia 14 have reported cases of Ebola. Only Grand Gedeh has yet to report an EVD case.

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Do Not Cut Trees, Relocate Them!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Due to the rapid increase in world population, infrastructure projects such as housing, offices, highways, etc., have become a necessity. Often one can hear someone saying, “Cut those trees!”

Felling trees is like cutting off the breasts of a nursing mother.

The solution?

Relocating a full grown tree in minutes (Source: pcbheaven.com)
Relocating a full grown tree in minutes (Source: pcbheaven.com)

Don’t cut the trees, instead move them, even full-grown trees, to a new site. Replant those trees in parks, home gardens, schools, universities, wherever there is space for a tree to grow.

World governments spend billions of dollars to send satellites to arid Mars and beyond. Do you think these space explorations are of use to ordinary people like us who hunger for clean air to breathe? Why won’t the powers that be, invest on essential equipment to move plants?

There are equipment such as a truck mounted tree spade that digs out the root ball and tree. Then, the tree is lifted and tilted on to the back of the truck for safe transportation to its new site.

More trees will help all creatures on earth, now and in the future, by purifying the foul air we breathe now!

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In Real Life and on Facebook!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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FB I want my friends back
Note: This was originally posted in Tamil on Facebook by an anonymous person! On reading the original I beat my breast and said: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Lord, I too have erred! I am no exception.”

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This is what most people post on Facebook!

After bribing the traffic police:

Let us do away with bribe

The once erratic drivers and riders after marrying and begetting children:

Obey road rules!

After bargaining with their labourers:

Down with capitalism!

After drinking Pepsi and devouring KFC chicken:

For economic growth of our country drink king coconuts.
Save our country from foreign entrepreneurs!

The guy who rides his bike to go to the next street:

Save the environment. Avoid pollution!

Romeos who ogle women on the street:

Respect Women. They are like your mothers and sisters!

The person jealous of his neighbour who earns 10 rupees more:

Unite. We are all brothers!

One who takes two steps back when an old destitute stretches her hand towards him:

Help the poor and the needy. Let us eradicate poverty!

The guys who show a quick face for namesake at the funeral of his neighbour:

My heart bleeds for those dying in Palestine, Israel, Africa and Timbuktu…

Fellows who don’t even speak a few words with his mother:

Writes pages of poetry about love for one’s mother!

Some men

Though stingy, project themselves as philanthropists on Facebook!

And some women

Flirt in life, but manifest as a virtuous person on Facebook!

How about you?

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Dr. Cyril Broderick and the Ebola Virus


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Scientists allege deadly diseases such as Ebola and AIDS are bio weapons being tested on Africans. Other reports have linked the Ebola virus outbreak to an attempt to reduce Africa’s population. Liberia happens to be the continents’s fastest growing population.

Ebola virus (Source: liberianobvserver.com)
Ebola virus (Source: liberianobvserver.com)

The Liberian Daily Observer, a newspaper based in Monrovia, published an article on September 9, 2014 titled “Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?

This controversial article was authored by Dr. Cyril E. Broderick, a Liberian-born former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture plant pathology and Forestry. He was also the former Observer Farmer in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, Firestone spotted him and offered him the position of Director of Research. Dr. Cyril Broderick was for many years an Associate Professor at the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences of the University of Delaware.

Dr. Cyril E. Broderick (Source - desu.edu)
Dr. Cyril E. Broderick (Source – desu.edu)

Dr. Cyril E. Broderick points an accusing finger at the United States for the outbreak of Ebola. The sprawling haemorrhagic virus has killed close to 3,000 and infected close to 6,000 in West Africa since March this year. The countries seriously affected are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, DR Congo and Senegal.

He says Ebola, a genetically modified organism (GMO), is a biological weapon of mass destruction, just like AIDS. Ebola, he says, was created in collaboration with Western transnational pharmaceutical firms, secret military bio-warfare bases of the US Department of Defence (DoD), as well as some Universities. He accuses the United States for testing the virus using Africans as guinea pigs for secret human trials.

He also imputed that the UN and the WHO have been tacitly complicit in the testing of Ebola and other viruses on human guinea pigs in Africa.

Professor Broderick said that he decided to publish the article in response to various Internet reports that implied that the African people are gullible and ignorant.

Here is Broderick’s full unedited article.

Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?

By Dr. Cyril Broderick, Professor of Plant Pathology

Dear World Citizens:

I have read a number of articles from your Internet outreach as well as articles from other sources about the casualties in Liberia and other West African countries about the human devastation caused by the Ebola virus. About a week ago, I read an article published in the Internet news summary publication of the Friends of Liberia that said that there was an agreement that the initiation of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was due to the contact of a two-year old child with bats that had flown in from the Congo. That report made me disconcerted with the reporting about Ebola, and it stimulated a response to the “Friends of Liberia,” saying that African people are not ignorant and gullible, as is being implicated. A response from Dr. Verlon Stone said that the article was not theirs, and that “Friends of Liberia” was simply providing a service. He then asked if he could publish my letter in their Internet forum. I gave my permission, but I have not seen it published. Because of the widespread loss of life, fear, physiological trauma, and despair among Liberians and other West African citizens, it is incumbent that I make a contribution to the resolution of this devastating situation, which may continue to recur, if it is not properly and adequately confronted. I will address the situation in five (5) points:

1. EBOLA IS A GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM (GMO)

Horowitz (1998) was deliberate and unambiguous when he explained the threat of new diseases in his text, Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola – Nature, Accident or Intentional. In his interview with Dr. Robert Strecker in Chapter 7, the discussion, in the early 1970s, made it obvious that the war was between countries that hosted the KGB and the CIA, and the ‘manufacture’ of ‘AIDS-Like Viruses’ was clearly directed at the other. In passing during the Interview, mention was made of Fort Detrick, “the Ebola Building,” and ‘a lot of problems with strange illnesses’ in “Frederick [Maryland].” By Chapter 12 in his text, he had confirmed the existence of an American Military-Medical-Industry that conducts biological weapons tests under the guise of administering vaccinations to control diseases and improve the health of “black Africans overseas.” The book is an excellent text, and all leaders plus anyone who has interest in science, health, people, and intrigue should study it. I am amazed that African leaders are making no acknowledgements or reference to these documents.

2. EBOLA HAS A TERRIBLE HISTORY, AND TESTING HAS BEEN SECRETLY TAKING PLACE IN AFRICA

I am now reading The Hot Zone, a novel, by Richard Preston (copyrighted 1989 and 1994); it is heart-rending. The prolific and prominent writer, Steven King, is quoted as saying that the book is “One of the most horrifying things I have ever read. What a remarkable piece of work.” As a New York Times bestseller, The Hot Zone is presented as “A terrifying true story.” Terrifying, yes, because the pathological description of what was found in animals killed by the Ebola virus is what the virus has been doing to citizens of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in its most recent outbreak: Ebola virus destroys peoples’ internal organs and the body deteriorates rapidly after death. It softens and the tissues turn into jelly, even if it is refrigerated to keep it cold. Spontaneous liquefaction is what happens to the body of people killed by the Ebola virus! The author noted in Point 1, Dr. Horowitz, chides The Hot Zone for writing to be politically correct; I understand because his book makes every effort to be very factual. The 1976 Ebola incident in Zaire, during President Mobutu Sese Seko, was the introduction of the GMO Ebola to Africa.

3. SITES AROUND AFRICA, AND IN WEST AFRICA, HAVE OVER THE YEARS BEEN SET UP FOR TESTING EMERGING DISEASES, ESPECIALLY EBOLA

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN Agencies have been implicated in selecting and enticing African countries to participate in the testing events, promoting vaccinations, but pursuing various testing regiments. The August 2, 2014 article, West Africa: What are US Biological Warfare Researchers Doing in the Ebola Zone? by Jon Rappoport of Global Research pinpoints the problem that is facing African governments.

Obvious in this and other reports are, among others:

(a) The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), a well-known centre for bio-war research, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland;

(b) Tulane University, in New Orleans, USA, winner of research grants, including a grant of more than $7 million the National Institute of Health (NIH) to fund research with the Lassa viral hemorrhagic fever;

(c) the US Center for Disease Control (CDC);

(d) Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French name, Medicins Sans Frontiers);

(e) Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company;

(f) The UK’s GlaxoSmithKline; and

(g) the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

Reports narrate stories of the US Department of Defense (DoD) funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus. Hence, the DoD is listed as a collaborator in a “First in Human” Ebola clinical trial (NCT02041715, which started in January 2014 shortly before an Ebola epidemic was declared in West Africa in March. Disturbingly, many reports also conclude that the US government has a viral fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Kenema, a town at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The only relevant positive and ethical olive-branch seen in all of my reading is that Theguardian.com reported, “The US government funding of Ebola trials on healthy humans comes amid warnings by top scientists in Harvard and Yale that such virus experiments risk triggering a worldwide pandemic.” That threat still persists.

4. THE NEED FOR LEGAL ACTION TO OBTAIN REDRESS FOR DAMAGES INCURRED DUE TO THE PERPETUATION OF INJUSTICE IN THE DEATH, INJURY AND TRAUMA IMPOSED ON LIBERIANS AND OTHER AFRICANS BY THE EBOLA AND OTHER DISEASE AGENTS.

The U. S., Canada, France, and the U. K. are all implicated in the detestable and devilish deeds that these Ebola tests are. There is the need to pursue criminal and civil redress for damages, and African countries and people should secure legal representation to seek damages from these countries, some corporations, and the United Nations. Evidence seems abundant against Tulane University, and suits should start there. Yoichi Shimatsu’s article, The Ebola Breakout Coincided with UN Vaccine Campaigns, as published on August 18, 2014, in the Liberty Beacon.

5. AFRICAN LEADERS AND AFRICAN COUNTRIES NEED TO TAKE THE LEAD IN DEFENDING BABIES, CHILDREN, AFRICAN WOMEN, AFRICAN MEN, AND THE ELDERLY. THESE CITIZENS DO NOT DESERVE TO BE USED AS GUINEA PIGS!

Africa must not relegate the Continent to become the locality for disposal and the deposition of hazardous chemicals, dangerous drugs, and chemical or biological agents of emerging diseases. There is urgent need for affirmative action in protecting the less affluent of poorer countries, especially African citizens, whose countries are not as scientifically and industrially endowed as the United States and most Western countries, sources of most viral or bacterial GMOs that are strategically designed as biological weapons. It is most disturbing that the U. S. Government has been operating a viral hemorrhagic fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Sierra Leone. Are there others? Wherever they exist, it is time to terminate them. If any other sites exist, it is advisable to follow the delayed but essential step: Sierra Leone closed the US bioweapons lab and stopped Tulane University for further testing.

The world must be alarmed. All Africans, Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners, Asians, and people from every conclave on Earth should be astonished. African people, notably citizens more particularly of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are victimized and are dying every day. Listen to the people who distrust the hospitals, who cannot shake hands, hug their relatives and friends. Innocent people are dying, and they need our help. The countries are poor and cannot afford the whole lot of personal protection equipment (PPE) that the situation requires. The threat is real, and it is larger than a few African countries. The challenge is global, and we request assistance from everywhere, including China, Japan, Australia, India, Germany, Italy, and even kind-hearted people in the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else whose desire is to help. The situation is bleaker than we on the outside can imagine, and we must provide assistance however we can. To ensure a future that has less of this kind of drama, it is important that we now demand that our leaders and governments be honest, transparent, fair, and productively engaged. They must answer to the people. Please stand up to stop Ebola testing and the spread of this dastardly disease.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cyril E. Broderick, Sr.

Source: liberianobserver.com

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Dhanushkodi – Fifty Years After the Cyclone of 1964


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A cyclonic storm now referred to as the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone or the Dhanushkodi cyclone started with the depression that formed in the South Andaman Sea on December 17, 1964. On December 19, it intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. From December 21, it moved westwards, 400 km to 550 km per day. On December 22, it crossed Vavunia in Sri Lanka with a wind speed of 280 km per hour.

On December 22-23 night, the cyclone moved into Palk Strait and made landfall in Dhanushkodi, at the southern tip of Rameswaram island, on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India. The devastating tidal waves that were 7 metres high submerged all houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi town  with heavy casualties.

On December 22, 1964, the tidal wave smashed into the Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger train and washed it into the sea while it was crossing the viaduct during the cyclonic storm.

 The railway track in Dhanushkodi destroyed by the cyclone of December 22, 1964
The railway track in Dhanushkodi destroyed by the cyclone of December 22 – 25, 1964.

More than 100 passengers drowned in the sea. The death toll was estimated to be anywhere between 115 and 200. The variation is due to the many ticketless travellers. The railway line running from Pamban Station to Dhanushkodi Pier was washed away.

The 1¼ mile-long Pamban Rail Bridge over the Pamban Channel, that links the Indian mainland with the island of Rameswaram was also badly damaged; 126 of its 145 girders collapsed. However, the lift span was barely damaged.

The Pamban bridge after restoration (Source: the hindu.com)
The Pamban bridge after restoration (Source: the hindu.com)

Most of the girders were salvaged from the sea and the Pamban viaduct was working once again in a span of just three months time.

The metre gauge branch line from Pamban Junction to Dhanushkodi was abandoned after the cyclone destroyed it.

Prior to the cyclone, Dhanushkodi was once a flourishing town. Then, the Railway line to Dhanushkodi, destroyed in the 1964 cyclone, went directly from Mandapam station to Dhanushkodi without touching Rameswaram. In those days Dhanushkodi had a railway station, a small railway hospital, primary schools, a post office, customs and port offices. There were hotels, dharmashalas (religious rest houses), and many textile shops that catered to the Hindu pilgrims and travellers to Sri Lanka.

A map showing the ferry route from Dhanushkod, Indiai to Talaimannar , Sri Lanka (Source:-Wikimedia Commons)
A map showing the ferry route from Dhanushkod, Indiai to Talaimannar , Sri Lanka (Source:-Wikimedia Commons)

Dhanushkodi is about 18 miles (29 km) West of Talaimannar, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). There was a steamer ferry service which operated daily from the pier on the south-east of the Dhanushkodi town to the pier at Talaimannar. The ferry transported travellers and goods, across the Palk Strait.

In the 1950s and 1960s, I used to travel to Ceylon by the Dhanushkodi-Talimannar steamer ferry.

The Indo-Ceylon Express, also known as the Boat Mail train, plied from 1915 to 1964 on a metre gauge track between Egmore Station in Chennai (then known as Madras) and Dhanushkodi. It took almost 19 hours to complete the journey of 420 miles (675 Km).

Ferry service from Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar in the 1950s.
Ferry service from Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar in the 1950s.

After the Boat Mail train reached Dhanushkodi Pier at 15:05 hours in the afternoon, the passengers after alighting from the train had to pass through the customs before boarding the ferry which used to leave the Indian shore soon after 16:00 hours. Depending on the weather, it took between 2 and 3½ hours to cross the very shallow Palk Bay and reach the Talaimannar Pier in Sri Lanka. The voyage used to be bumpy and nauseating when the sea was rough.

The name of the train changed from Indo-Ceylon Express to Rameswaram Express after the 1964 cyclone. Now, it is a 12-hour journey from Chennai to Rameswaram on a broad-gauge track.

On June 12, 2014, my wife and I along with relatives left Chennai on Rameswaram Express to attend a wedding at Pamban town. We reached Rameswaram the following day around 5:30 am and lodged in a hotel. We hired a van and left the hotel around 11:00 am to see Dhanushkodi.

After travelling for 20 minutes, we reached Dhanushkodi. Even 50 years after the cyclone of 1964, Dhanushkodi remains a dilapidated strip of land.

The driver stopped the van at a spot on the Indian Ocean side where many other vans carrying tourists were parked.

The driver said he cannot go farther as local regulations, meaning rules set by the local cartel of van drivers, forbids it. But the members of that association ply a number of their own vans to ferry the travellers to the end of Dhanushkodi and charge ₹100/- per person. At the end of the journey we paid ₹2,200/-.

After 35 minutes of a bumpy ride by van, on shallow waters and muddy tracts, we reached the tip of Dhanushkodi where Adam’s Bridge, a chain of sand shoals between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar begins. The distance from the tip of Dhanushkodi in India and Talimannar in Sri Lanka is about 18 miles (29 km). The Dhanushkodi fishermen say that some sand dunes are just 50 yards in length. Surprisingly, the smallest land border in the world, is a shoal in Palk Bay between India and Sri Lanka – just 45 metres in length.

An eerie stillness prevailed around us except for the chatter of the few tourists subdued by the sound of waves. There were a few marine birds pecking on the soggy earth searching for food and many sea eagles circling in the air ready to swoop on any prey they could spot in the shallow waters or on the muddy land.

We saw many Hindu pilgrims bathing in the Palk Bay. The Hindus believe that pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi (Benares / Varanasi) in North India would not be complete without having the ritual bath at the tip of Dhanushkodi, considered a sacred confluence of the Palk Bay and the Indian Ocean, before completing their pilgrimage to Rameswaram.

St. Antony's Church at Dhanuskodi devastated by the cyclone of 1964 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
St. Antony’s Church at Dhanushkodi devastated by the cyclone of 1964 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

It was heartrending to see only thatched huts and no buildings with standing walls. The only walls we saw were the dilapidated walls of St. Anthony’s church and of a school devastated during the cyclone of 1964.

Trinkets and ornaments made from seashells (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Trinkets and ornaments made from seashells (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The main trade other than fishing was the sale of conch shells, and trinkets and ornaments made of shells sold at exorbitant prices to tourists and pilgrims.

Eventually, we left Dhanushkodi around 2:30 pm with a heavy heart after having seen the ravages wrought by the 1964 cyclone.

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India and Day 26 – Part 3: The Devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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December 26, 2004 – Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

On Sunday, December 26, 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake, known as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake occurred at 00:58:53 UTC in the Indian Ocean with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, between Simeulue in the Aceh province of Indonesia and mainland Indonesia. The earthquake with a magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3, is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph.

The duration of faulting, between 8.3 and 10 minutes, was the longest ever observed. The behemothic quake caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) and triggered other minor earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

The tsunami was then known by various other names such as: “The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,” “South Asian tsunami,” and “Indonesian tsunami.” Since the tsunami occurred on December 26, it was also known as the “Christmas tsunami” and the “Boxing Day tsunami.”

December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Source: all-that-is-interesting.com)
December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. (Source: all-that-is-interesting.com)

The earthquake triggered a tsunami, considered to be one of the deadliest in history, which inundated coastal communities with waves up to 100 feet (30 meters) high and killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

Costlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source: academic.evergree.edu)
Coastlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source: academic.evergree.edu)

The huge waves racing at the speed of a jet aircraft took fifteen minutes to seven hours to reach the various coastlines. The waves hit the northern regions of the Indonesian island of Sumatra immediately. Thailand was struck about two hours later, despite being closer to the epicentre because the tsunami waves travelled more slowly in the shallow Andaman Sea off its western coast. About an hour and a half to two hours after the quake, Sri Lanka and the east coast of India were hit. The waves then reached the Maldives.

Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean had a devastating effect on India. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs about 18,000 are estimated dead.

The following table compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a total of 227,898 people died. According to this table, in mainland India and in its territories, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 12,405 people died in the tsunami, around 5,640 are missing and 647,599 people have been displaced.

Figures compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Country where
deaths occurred
Confirmed Estimated Injured Missing Displaced
Indonesia 130,736 167,799 n/a 37,063 500,000+
Sri Lanka 35,322 35,322 21,411 n/a 516,150
India 12,405 18,045 n/a 5,640 647,599
Thailand 5,395 8,212 8,457 2,817 7,000
Somalia 78 289 n/a n/a 5,000
Myanmar (Burma) 61 400–600 45 200 3,200
Maldives 82 108 n/a 26 15,000+
Malaysia 68 75 299 6 5,000+
Tanzania 10 13 n/a n/a n/a
Seychelles 3 3 57 n/a 200[70]
Bangladesh 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
South Africa 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Yemen 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Kenya 1 1 2 n/a n/a
Madagascar n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,000+
Total ~184,167 ~230,273 ~125,000 ~45,752 ~1.69 million

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The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean were devastated by the tsunami, and by the initial quake and several aftershocks that occurred during the following days. The Great Nicobar and Car Nicobar islands were the worst hit among all the islands due to their proximity to the epicentre of the quake and because of the relatively flat terrain.

One-fifth of the population in Nicobar Islands was reported dead, missing or wounded. Chowra Island lost two-thirds of its population of 1,500. Communication was cut off when many islands submerged. The Trinket Island was bifurcated.

Fishing communities were destroyed and very little is known about the effects of the tsunami on the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The official death toll in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was 1,310, with about 5,600 missing from the islands. But the unofficial death toll, including those missing and presumed dead, was estimated to be around 7,000.

Map showing Tsunami Affected Area in India.
Map showing Tsunami Affected Areas in India.

The tsunami hit the southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. It inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast. Around 8,000 deaths were reported from Tamilnadu, and around 200 deaths from Kerala. The district of Nagapattinam was the worst hit in Tamil Nadu, with nearly 5,500 deaths.

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)
The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)

Surprisingly, Bangladesh, which lies at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, had only two confirmed deaths, despite being a low-lying country and located relatively near the epicenter. Also, distance alone does not guarantee a safety since Somalia located in the Horn of Africa on the eastern coast was hit harder than Bangladesh even though it is much farther away.

Coasts, with a landmass between them and the location of origin of a tsunami, are usually deemed safe, but tsunami waves can sometimes steer around such landmasses. Being a relatively small island, the western coast of Sri Lanka suffered substantial damages from the impact of the tsunami; likewise, the Indian state of Kerala too was hit by the tsunami, despite being on the western coast of India.

The government of India announced a financial package of about US$200 million to Andaman and Nicobar islands after the tsunami, but the unbearable living conditions due to rise in sea level, constant aftershocks and fear of another similar tsunami, propelled thousands of settlers on the islands to relocate to the Indian mainland.

According to the World Bank, reconstruction was expected to cost more than US$1.2 billion in India alone.

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 Previous ~ India and Day 26 – Part 2: Turmoil in Gujarat

Next → India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 1

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Wooden Cars


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Morgan Aero 8 (Source: Brian Snelson/flickr)

Morgan Aero 8 (Source: Brian Snelson/flickr)

I came across the following on BBC TopGear’s front page:

Morgan

Morgan

An antidote for anyone who despairs at the loss of innocence. How sweet it is to think that there’s a shed in the Malvern hills in which a dedicated bunch of artisans is hard at work hand-building sports cars with wooden chassis. What’s more, with the Aero 8 and forthcoming hybrid LifeCar, it looks like they’re here to stay.

This aroused my curiosity about wooden cars.

The Morgan Motor Company, is a family owned British motor car manufacturing firm founded in 1909 by Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan that specializes in hand-assembled cars. The company, based in the Malvern hills, an area of Malvern, Worcestershire, England to the north and east of Great Malvern employs around 163 people. In 2007, Morgan produced 640 hand-assembled cars.

In their FAQs page to the question “Is it still made with a Wooden chassis?” they answer:

“The Morgan car has always been built around an ash-frame , and a steel chassis. The new Aero 8 also has an ash frame. This gives unique strength, flexibility and surprisingly, research showed that the frame made the car safer on impact tests.”

A year ago, in May 2013, I came across a news item in the media about Istvan Puskas, a 51-year-old Hungarian farmer. He lives in Tiszaörs, a village in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county, in the Northern Great Plain region of central Hungary.

Istvan Puskas
Istvan Puskas

Farmer Istvan Puskas, is also skilled in woodcraft. He loves to create unique articles with wood that would interest people.

A year earlier, in 2012, he created a unique motorcycle entirely of wood. a one-of-a-kind chopper made almost exclusively out of wood.

In 2013, Puskas created a unique wooden vehicle powered by a Polish-made Fiat 126 engine. The vehicle resembles a tractor.

Though a steering wheel salvaged from an old Mercedes-Benz came in handy, he made the frame, wheels, axles, suspension and gearbox out of wood. He used an old beer barrel for the fuel tank. His object was to use as much wood as possible.

It took him four months to finish building his vehicle.

Even though the current Hungarian laws make it impossible for Istvan Puskas to officially register and drive his unique wooden vehicle on the road, the local policemen impressed with his efforts allow him to drive it on the local lanes in his village. So far, touch wood, he has not run into any accidents.

Since Istvan had no garage to park his wooden vehicle, he had plans to put his creation on the market, as a collector’s item, or as a vehicle for someone who prefers to drive slow. He said that he intends to use the proceeds to fund his next project – a three-wheeled vehicle.

Recently, I came across the following video on YouTube of an amazing, beautiful custom-built 2009 wooden car Uploaded on October 13, 2010 by mrantisocialguy.

This custom hand-built wooden car mounted on a 1986 Toyota truck frame is powered by a Chrysler 318 engine. Driven by an automatic transmission it had 1,800 miles registered on its speedometer at the time of shooting this video.

The following video titled “wooden car Amazing Invention – HD” uploaded by Mohammed Rashed Ul Haq on Jan 13, 2011 is a four-minute long documentary on the manufacture of a wooden car.

Today, I read an article in the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai edition, titled “Wooden car awaits licence“.

Appar Lakshmanan, a hereditary master wood craftsman belonging to the Viswakarma community, has built a wooden car, which is probably the first eco-friendly vehicle made in the state of Tamilnadu, India.

Like Istvan Puskas in Hungary, Appar Lakshmanan too finds it difficult to meet the high criteria set by the Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Chennai.

Appar Lakshmanan drives the car he made almost entirely with wood (Source: DC)
Appar Lakshmanan drives the car he made almost entirely with wood (Source: DC)

The writer of the article J.V. Siva Prasanna Kumar quotes Appar Lakshmanan as saying:

“If its strength of materials and ability to withstand combustion in the event of an accident or collision, then test my car and see the results… The officials seem to raise several questions, including how the wooden frames were fixed together. My father used bamboo pegs as rivets and they stood the test of time. Would anyone believe that?”

Appar Lakshmanan says the wood he used to make the car was not inflammable. Nevertheless, his efforts to convince the RTO authorities and obtain a licence did not yield the desired results. The one among his woes is that he could not get an engine or chassis number for his wooden car. A real paradox indeed!

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The Refracted-Light Lamp of Alfredo Moser Brightens Millions of Homes


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 Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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“Alfredo Moser has changed the lives of a tremendous number of people, I think forever. Whether or not he gets the Nobel Prize, we want him to know that there are a great number of people who admire what he is doing.” – Illac Angelo Diaz, MyShelter Foundation, Philippines.

 

Alfredo Moser
Alfredo Moser

The creative mind of Alfredo Moser, a  Brazilian mechanic, came up with a cheap way to illuminate his house during the day without using electricity. His “Lamp Moser” is just a plastic bottle filled with water and a little amount of bleach, added to prevent the growth of algae.

Alfredo Moser lives in Uberaba, a city in the west of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. In 2002, there were frequent power outages in his home city. While talking to the media Moser said: “The only places that had energy were the factories, not people’s houses.”

During the power outages, Moser and his friends were discussing a hypothetical situation of a small plane coming down and the survivors had no matches to light a fire to signal the rescuers. Moser’s boss suggested filling a discarded plastic bottle with water and using it as a lens to focus the sun’s rays on dry grass to start a fire.

This simple idea germinated in Moser’s mind and motivated him to develop the “Lamp Moser” – a cheap source of indoor lighting during the day. The lamp has an intensity around 60 watts.

Moser installed the bottle lamps in his house and in the houses of his neighbours and also in the local supermarket.

Though he does earn a few dollars installing his creation, it has not made him wealthy, but has given him a great sense of pride. He still lives in his simple house and drives his old 1974 car.

In the Philippines, where electricity is relatively expensive, a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Alfred Moser’s idea of the refracted-light bottle lamps have been installed in more than 200,000 homes and benefitted more than a million people.

Illac Angelo Diaz
Illac Angelo Diaz

Illac Angelo Diaz is the executive director of the MyShelter Foundation in the Philippines that specializes in the use of sustainable or recycled materials such as bamboo, tyre, paper, and discarded plastic bottles as alternative construction materials. They built walls with plastic bottles filled with mud and windows with bottles filled with water.

Diaz came to know about Alfredo Moser and admired the simple principle embodied in the refracted light lamps that provide indoor lighting during the daytime.

In June 2011, MyShelter started making the refracted-light bottle lamps, following the Moser method. Diaz says that one can find Moser lamps, even on remote island communities in the Philippines. He adds that the light provided by the refracted-light bottle lamps help people in poor areas to grow food on small hydroponic farms.

The Foundation now trains people to fabricate and install the refracted-light bottle lamps to earn a small income.

The idea has also caught on in about 15 other countries, from India and Bangladesh, to Tanzania, Argentina and Fiji.

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