Daily Archives: January 17, 2012

Israeli commander: “Don’t fire on Jews, no matter what happens”

UPI | Jan. 16, 2012

JERUSALEM, West Bank, Jan. 16 (UPI) — An Israeli commander in the occupied West Bank ordered his soldiers not to fire on Jews “no matter what happens,” Ynetnews reported Monday.

The order from the commander in Golani’s 13th Battalion came Thursday, a day after security forces and the Civil Administration evacuated the Mitzpe Avihai outpost, Ynetnews said.

“We’re in for a rocky Saturday, so stay alert,” the unidentified commander told the Golani troops. “In any case, no matter what happens, let the world burn down for all I care, nobody opens fire at Jews! We don’t want a civil war.”

After a raid on Ephraim Brigade base last month in which an officer was slightly injured, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer had expressed support for shooting at anyone who endangers Israeli soldiers, regardless of religion or citizenship.

An army representative said the commander’s briefing “was held in accordance with a reasonable threat evaluation and in keeping with fire protocol.”

Ynetnews said the commander also apparently told troops to keep gates at the base closed in case Jewish citizens attempt to break in.

Soldiers can use shock and gas grenades and forcefully detain rioters until they’re turned over to police, the army said.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian intelligence officer said Israeli settlers set fire to his car Monday in the West Bank, near Ramallah, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Mohammad Ghannam, the brother of Ramallah’s governor, said the car was parked in front of his house.

Last week, a senior Palestinian Authority security official said, an officer in the northern West Bank was injured when settlers fired on a vehicle and threw stones at cars.

The security commander for the Tulkarem district said a member of his entourage was taken to a hospital.

Icebreaker and fuel delivery reach Nome after going through 500 miles of Alaskan ice

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy and the Russian-flag bearing tanker Renda sit off the coast of Nome, Alaska after reaching the frozen Alaskan port with emergency fuel supplies in this Jan. 14 photo. The mission is the first mid-winter marine delivery to western Alaska and comes as oil and gas development and climate change increase commercial traffic along trade routes in the Arctic. Charly Hengen / U.S. Coast Guard via Reuters

Without the delivery, Nome would run out of fuel by March or April

msnbc.com | Jan 16, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Crews have laid a hose along a half mile stretch of Bering Sea ice and were hoping Monday to soon begin transferring 1.3 million gallons of fuel from a Russian fuel tanker to the iced-in western Alaska city of Nome.

The offloading could begin before sundown Monday, said Stacey Smith of Vitus Marine, the fuel supplier that arranged to have the Russian tanker Renda and its crew deliver the gasoline and diesel fuel.

Crews on Monday hooked the arctic-rated hose to a shore-side pipeline leading to storage tanks in town and were safety-testing the hose with pressurized air, Smith said.

State officials said the transfer must start during daylight, but can continue in darkness. Nome has just five hours of daylight this time of year.

The transfer could be finished within 36 hours if everything goes smoothly, but it could take as long as five days.


Russian tanker struggles to reach ice-bound Alaska port

The Renda is moored roughly a half-mile from Nome’s harbor after a Coast Guard icebreaker cleared a path for it through hundreds of miles of a slow journey stalled by thick ice and strong ocean currents.

Smith said the effort is a third of the way into completion with the arrival of the Renda to Nome. Pumping the fuel from the tanker will be the second part. The third part will be the exiting through ice by the two ships.

“It’s just been an absolutely grand collaboration by all parties involved,” she said of the work accomplished so far.

STORY: Ultra-harsh winter prompts fuel shortages in Alaska

The city of 3,500 didn’t get its last pre-winter barge fuel delivery because of a massive November storm.

Without the Renda’s delivery, Nome would run out of fuel by March or April, long before the next barge delivery is possible after one of the most severe Alaska winters in decades.

The 370-foot tanker began its journey from Russia in mid-December, picking up diesel fuel in South Korea before heading to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where it took on unleaded gasoline. It arrived late last week off Nome on Alaska’s west coast more than 500 miles from Anchorage.

In total, the tanker traveled an estimated 5,000 miles, said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of District Seventeen with the Coast Guard.

Once the hose was laid, personnel would walk its entire length every 30 minutes to check for leaks, said Jason Evans, board chairman of the Sitnasuak Native Corp., which owns the local fuel company, Bonanza Fuel and has been working closely with Vitus Marine.

“We hope to be pumping fuel this afternoon,” he said Monday.

Each segment of hose has its own spill containment area, and extra absorbent boom will be on hand in case of a spill.

The Coast Guard is monitoring the effort, working with state, federal, local and tribal representatives, said Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow. The fuel participants had to submit a plan to state environmental regulators on how they intended to get the fuel off the Renda, he said.

“We want to make sure the fuel transfer from the Renda to the onshore storage facility is conducted in as safe a manner as possible,” he said.

The tanker got into position Saturday night, and ice disturbed by its journey had to freeze again so workers could create some sort of roadway to lay the hose.

Ultra-harsh Alaska winter prompts fuel shortages

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy cuts through ice for Russian-flagged tanker Renda (not pictured) on their way to the Alaskan port of Nome in this aerial picture taken January 13, 2012 and acquired by Reuters January 14, 2012. The Russian tanker escorted by the U.S. Coast Guard reached the frozen Alaskan port of Nome with emergency fuel supplies on Friday after a 10-day voyage through ice-choked seas, the Russian company that owns the vessel said. Picture taken January 13, 2012.

USA Today | Jan 16, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Living in Alaska’s outer reaches is challenging enough, given the isolation and weather extremes, but at least three remote communities also have experienced weather-related late deliveries of fuel so crucial to their survival during an especially bitter winter.

The iced-in town of Nome and the northwest Inupiat Eskimo villages of Noatak and Kobuk faced fuel shortages that illustrate the vulnerability of relying solely on deliveries by sea or air, potentially subjecting communities to the mercy of the elements. The villages, which just received their fuel, are especially vulnerable, unable to afford more additional storage tanks for gasoline and heating oil, which can run as high as $10 a gallon.

Compounding a problem with no easy answers, temperatures dipping as low as minus 60 over the past few weeks means air deliveries are delayed at the same time people are consuming more fuel more quickly. Some people in both villages also use wood-burning stoves for supplemental heat, but diesel is the critical commodity.

“It’s been pretty tough,” Noatak resident Robbie Kirk said of life in the community of 500, which finally received a fuel delivery on Tuesday, three days after the village store ran out of heating oil. “We usually have a nice reserve of fuel. Now we’re just playing catch-up.”

Nome missed its pre-winter delivery of fuel by barge when a huge storm swept western Alaska. In a high-profile journey, a Coast Guard icebreaker has cut a path in thick sea ice for a Russian tanker delivering 1.3 million gallons of fuel to the community of 3,500.

Without a fuel delivery, Nome would likely run out of certain petroleum products before the end of winter and a barge delivery becomes possible in late spring.

Until recently, the situation was much more dire for the smaller communities of Noatak and Kobuk, located farther north above the Arctic Circle, where relentless extreme cold prevented fuel deliveries by plane until this week, residents say.

Before the new supply of fuel arrived in Noatak, the village store borrowed some heating oil from the village water and sewer plant, said store manager Connie Walton. But filling the store’s two 23,000-gallon tanks has diverted any potential crisis.

“We’re good for another month and a half,” Walton said.

Residents in Kobuk also were highly relieved by an air shipment of heating oil that arrived Wednesday in the village of 150 people about 175 miles to the east. It’s been too cold for people to use their snowmobiles much, so gasoline isn’t as much of a concern, said City Clerk Sophia Ward. Running low on the diesel used to warm homes was another matter.

“I’m glad that it came in today,” Ward said Wednesday. “It’ll keep our elders warm.”

In Noatak, residents once had fuel shipped by barge on the Noatak River, but that has long been impossible since the river shifted and became shallow there.

Two years ago, residents began tapping into another source of fuel, thanks to the Red Dog zinc mine 40 miles to the northeast. The mine in 2009 began a program to sell gasoline and diesel to Noatak and another close neighbor, the village of Kivalina. The fuel is sold at cost, said mine spokesman Wayne Hall.

“This is strictly for what we can do to help out our closest community members,” he said. “Energy and heating costs are one of the biggest costs to families in this region.”

The program lets individuals buy fuel on Saturdays every three weeks at a staging area about 23 miles from the village. This winter, they can buy gas in 55-gallon drums calculated at $4.89 a gallon. Villagers also bring their own drums to fill with diesel fuel at $4.35 a gallon.

The latest Red Dog fuel day for Noatak took place on the day the village store ran out of diesel. So villagers formed a convoy of about 30 snowmobiles and freight sleds, and headed out in weather marked by temperatures of 47 below and, for the first 10 miles, dense fog, said Kirk, who regularly takes advantage of the sales.

“It basically cuts my heating fuel in half,” he said. “It’s pretty critical for me.”

The state also helps lower the soaring cost of electricity in Alaska’s rural areas, spending almost $32 million in fiscal year 2011 through its Power Cost Equalization program, which subsidizes residential electric rates and the power bills of community buildings. Power in most villages is diesel-generated.

Running low on fuel is an occasional challenge faced by rural communities in Alaska, and sometimes the weather plays a significant role in air deliveries, said Rob Everts, owner of Everts Air Cargo, whose planes deliver fuel to both Noatak and Kobuk. But there can be other factors as well, such as waiting until the last minute to place orders, he said, stressing that he was speaking generally and not pointing fingers at any particular community.

“Weather is not always bad,” he said. “It’s about planning in some cases, anticipating what’s coming in the dead of winter.”

Wikipedia to go dark Wednesday in protest against ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’

USA TODAY | Jan 16, 2012

By Yamiche Alcindor

Joining the protest against two proposed federal Internet regulation bills, Wikipedia’s English-language site will be blacked out for all of Wednesday, co-founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twittertoday.

Beginning at midnight ET on Jan. 18, visitors will see a protest message for 24 hours, Wales tweeted. The move will affect 30 million to 40 million users, he said, correcting an initial figure of 100 million.

“This is going to be wow,” read one of his tweets.

Wikipedia and several other sites are calling on lawmakers to block the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). They are concerned the laws will “hold website owners liable for links to sources of illegal music and movie downloading, with a detrimental effect on free speech online,” The Financial Times reports.


Wikipedia, Reddit plan blackout in SOPA protest

How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation

Reddit and the Cheezburger network, which includes such sites as The Daily What and Fail Blog, also plan to shut down to protest SOPA, The Washington Post  reports. The document service Scribd already made a billion pages vanish in protest, the Post says.

Craigslist posted a message to all its users explaining it and other websites’ opposition to the bills.

Meanwhile, Wales tweeted this: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa”

On Saturday, the White House urged that SOPA be vetoed and spelled out what it would support in anti-piracy legislation. The House leaders then said they would shelve the SOPA bill until a “consensus” could be reached, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday he hoped to “move forward” with a PIPA amendment when lawmakers return from recess, The Hill says.

ProPublica has compiled a database showing how members of Congress are lining up on the two bills.