Tag Archives: mission

Miracle survivor on mission to help close gaps in tsunami warning system

Miracle survivor on mission to help close gaps in tsunami warning systemArif Munandar had been pronounced dead before he woke up in a body bag four days after a monstrous wave swept his village in Indonesia’s northern Aceh province 15 years ago. When a 9.1-magnitude quake opened a faultline deep beneath the Indian Ocean, it triggered a tsunami as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet), killing more than 230,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries. Aceh province bore the brunt of the disaster.



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Iran's Rouhani welcomes Japan opt-out of U.S.-led naval mission in Gulf

Iran's Rouhani welcomes Japan opt-out of U.S.-led naval mission in GulfIranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday welcomed Japan’s decision not to join a U.S.-led naval mission in the Gulf and said he had discussions on ways of “breaking” U.S. sanctions on a trip to Tokyo. Friction between Tehran and Washington has increased since last year when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six nations and re-imposed sanctions on the country, crippling its economy. Washington proposed the naval mission after several attacks in May and June on international merchant vessels, including Saudi tankers, in Gulf waters which the United States blamed on Iran.



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Death toll from New Zealand eruption rises to 14 after authorities conduct harrowing mission to retrieve bodies from the island

Death toll from New Zealand eruption rises to 14 after authorities conduct harrowing mission to retrieve bodies from the islandNew Zealand police said that two people remain missing and are presumed dead after one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes erupted on Monday.



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‘Not our mission’: private fire crews protect the insured, not the public

‘Not our mission’: private fire crews protect the insured, not the publicAgencies hired to protect assets look like first responders but, if a fire puts them in danger, they can become a liabilityFirefighters work to defend homes from an approaching wildfire in Sonoma, California. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/ReutersThe engines, big and small, came from all over the country to fight the Kincade fire in the Sonoma county wine region of California. There were trucks from Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado – and from the wildfire protection unit of home insurer AIG.As fires have increasingly encroached on development in California’s wildlands in recent years, communities are grappling with a new paradigm of risk. If the fire creates an existential crisis for people living in high-risk areas, it also creates one for the companies that insure their homes.Insurers of houses, timber and agriculture have contracted with private firefighting agencies for decades. But now, thanks to longer, more devastating fire seasons, the business is booming.While some wealthy communities and individuals have contracted their own private firefighting services to defend mansions on hilltops from flying embers, the majority of these agencies work on behalf of insurance companies. And as fire risk extends to more homes in California’s flammable brushland and forest, these crews are becoming a fixture in middle class neighborhoods. It is something of a return to a pre-American civil war model of pay-for-play firefighting, before the government employed first responders.Firefighters protect a Pacific Palisades area home in Los Angeles from the flames of a wildfire. Photograph: Christian Monterrosa/Associated Press“Any policyholder that would like to have wildfire services, all they need to do is shop from more than a dozen insurers out there that have these services,” said David Torgerson, president of Wildfire Defense Systems, a private firefighting firm. “It’s not a special policy. It’s not something that’s exclusive. It’s something that the insurance industry has found brings value.”Insured losses for the 2018 California wildfire season topped $ 12bn. Insurance companies are looking for any way to reduce payouts in the future, whether by raising rates, dropping coverage, or putting new risk mitigation measures into place – including, in some cases, these kinds of private fire crews.The services they provide focus primarily on fire prevention mitigation – cutting back vegetation, creating clear defensible space around structures and providing consultations on other home hardening work. As in the Kincade fire, private crews also sometimes access mandatory evacuation zones during active wildfires to protect valuable assets while the embers are flying – a move that makes some government firefighters and local authorities uneasy.“Generally speaking, from our perspective, we have found that private fire crews are not first responders,” said Carroll Wills, communications director for California Professional Firefighters.Firefighters watch from a home in the Pacific Palisades area as a helicopter drops water on a wildfire. Photograph: Christian Monterrosa/Associated PressPrivate fire crews travel into evacuation zones in trucks equipped with water tanks and hoses and retardant, looking nearly identical to their government counterparts – though their sole task is to protect specific insured homes.Torgerson, president of Wildfire Defense Systems, noted that while his teams are capable of fighting fires, “that’s not our mission in this case”.“Our task with the insurance industry is more so to prepare the homes and secure them, prior to and after the fire, and contribute to the survivability,” he said.“Our [wildfire protection unit] teams are not private firefighters,” said Matt Gallagher, a spokesman for AIG – yet they station engines with full tanks in evacuation zones during wildfires that can turn dangerous within seconds.Lawmakers grew concerned that civilians would see these private engines and get a false sense of security about remaining in evacuation zones. Government firefighters voiced complaints about rolling onto a scene, believing the area to be fully evacuated, only to find private fire crews who had not alerted incident command.In the 2018 Woolsey fire, Kim Kardashian famously hired private firefighters to save her $ 50m Calabasas mansion – a crew that, said Wills, never told anyone of their plans. “That’s just incredibly dangerous,” Wills said. A helicopter drops water on a brush fire during the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California. Photograph: Ringo HW Chiu/Associated PressPrior to the 2018 fire season, California lawmakers passed a bill requiring private crews to alert public incident command and obtain permission before entering an evacuation zone. The law codified a best-practice guideline put in place in 2008. Torgerson, who founded his company that same year, said his company has always followed these directives, and will continue to do so now that the law is in effect.“We’ve responded to more than 650 wildfires since 2008, and more than 97% of the time, we’ve been granted access to the evacuation zones to conduct these insurance missions,” he said. “We’ve coordinated with hundreds of incident command teams.”Torgerson said he does not know why his crews were not permitted 3% of the time.“We’re fully qualified under state and federal certification and training processes,” he said. “We are the same resources that the federal government hires.”But their mission is fundamentally different. Government firefighters are tasked with saving life, first and foremost, so if the fires turn and the private crews require rescue, “they are a liability”, Wills said.“We understand that when people see these massive fires, there’s a tendency to say, ‘Well, more is better’,” Wills said. “From our perspective, more really isn’t better. The more that we need is more fully trained and battle-tested, front-line firefighters and emergency responders.”



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Not over yet: New US Syria mission after al-Baghdadi death

Not over yet: New US Syria mission after al-Baghdadi deathPivoting from the dramatic killing of the Islamic State’s leader, the Pentagon is increasing U.S. efforts to protect Syria’s oil fields from the extremist group as well as from Syria itself and the country’s Russian allies. It’s a new high-stakes mission even as American troops are withdrawn from other parts of the country. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the military’s oil field mission also will ensure income for Syrian Kurds who are counted on by Washington to continue guarding Islamic State prisoners and helping American forces combat remnants of the group — even as President Donald Trump continues to insist all U.S. troops will come home.



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Trump massively undermined Mike Pence's mission to stop Turkey's invasion of Syria, saying publicly that it's none of his business

Trump massively undermined Mike Pence's mission to stop Turkey's invasion of Syria, saying publicly that it's none of his businessPence is en route to Turkey to convince its president to stop his offensive on Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. His boss isn't helping.



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Russia detains shaman on mission to 'banish Putin'

Russia detains shaman on mission to 'banish Putin'Russian police on Thursday said they had detained a Siberian shaman trekking towards Moscow on a mission to expel “demon” President Vladimir Putin, picking up a crowd of supporters on the way. Police in the eastern Siberian region of Buryatia told Interfax they had detained Alexander Gabyshev, the shaman, on a highway near Lake Baikal and would put him on a flight back to his home region where he is “wanted for committing a crime”. Gabyshev’s eccentric bid to walk from his home city of Yakutsk to Moscow, a distance of over 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles), has seen a group of followers join him on the way.



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US military says service member dead in Iraq mission

US military says service member dead in Iraq missionThe US military said Saturday that an American service member died during an operation alongside Iraqi security personnel in Nineveh province. “One US service member died today during an Iraqi Security Force mission in… Iraq, while advising and accompanying the ISF during a planned operation,” US Central Command said in a statement. Iraq’s government in late 2017 declared victory against IS, which seized vast swathes of the country including the key northern city of Mosul in a lightning 2014 offensive.



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The Latest: Britain to join US-led ship security mission

The Latest: Britain to join US-led ship security missionBritain says it will work with the United States in a “new international maritime security mission” to protect merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The Ministry of Defense said Monday that Royal Navy vessels will work alongside the U.S. Navy to escort vessels through the busy strait, which has become a flashpoint for tensions between Iran and the West. The U.S. has been asking its allies to take part in a naval mission to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, though European nations have been reluctant.



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Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin recalls first moments on the moon on 50th anniversary of mission

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin recalls first moments on the moon on 50th anniversary of mission"To me, it was the dream we had all signed up to chase, what we had imagined, worked and trained for, the apex of national service to a country we unabashedly loved," Buzz Aldrin said.



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