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Following a severe tornado earlier this year in Alabama that killed 23 people, scientists interviewed residents in the area to find out why the storm was so deadly and made an important finding: almost everyone had heard the warnings about the impending storm and had enough time to seek shelter, but some chose not to.
“From a national standpoint, a media standpoint, forecasters did a great job” predicting the March storm in eastern Alabama, Stephen Strader, an atmospheric scientist at Villanova University, said. “But why did we see 23 fatalities? Why didn’t they take shelter?”
These questions are a central part of new research that is being conducted in collaboration between physical scientists, like Strader, and social scientists to try to determine why people behave the way they do during a storm, including whether they choose to seek shelter or not.
The goal of the research is to provide more information to forecasters and policymakers to create better tornado warning systems. Strader said that as a physical scientist, his job is to look at all the physical factors of a storm, including “how wide was it, where did the tornado track, how many homes were damaged.”
He said social scientists, on the other hand, try to find out more information about people’s choices. “We want to understand the decision-making about tornado warnings. If a warning comes, what do you do?” he asked.
Kim Klockow, a scientist at the University of Oklahoma, is involved in the research as a social scientist and compares her field to medicine. “Everyone wants to know what treatment to pursue, but there needs to be a diagnosis first,” she said, adding that social science is like the diagnosing phase. In the aftermath of a storm, she said, “all we have is the death total, which doesn’t tell us much.”
When a death toll is low, like after a powerful tornado hit Kansas in May but left no fatalities, Klockow said people call it “a miracle.” However, she said even these situations are “frustrating, because we don’t know why” there were no fatalities.
The death rate from tornadoes in the United States had steadily decreased from 1920 to 1990, but since then has stalled, according to research Strader has done. The reasons for this are not well understood, Klockow said. Without more information, “it is hard to say why things are happening the way they are.” “What I’m advocating for is observation,” she said.
The new research focuses primarily on people who live in mobile homes, as those structures are particularly vulnerable to tornadoes. Roughly half of the fatalities from the March tornado in Alabama were residents of mobile homes.
Strader said it is not just that a mobile home is more vulnerable to storms, but that the people living in them are often more disadvantaged and have more complexities in terms of their decision-making. He said they might not have a vehicle or might not know where to go.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends people who live in mobile homes flee to a safer structure during a tornado, even if their mobile home is tied down, while those who live in traditional houses are advised to go to their basement, or if they do not have one, to an interior room.
Strader said there used to be a belief that people who lived in mobile homes were less educated about the weather. However, he said current research shows they know just as much about the weather as anyone else and are also aware that their mobile homes are not safe. However, sometimes they freeze or don’t know where to flee, he said. “There are a lot of issues we have to start dissecting,” he said.
Getting to safety
Strader suggested that the safest course of action would be for people in mobile homes to flee to safety at the first sign that a tornado could strike, when forecasters issue what is called a “tornado watch,” even before a tornado has formed and they announce a “tornado warning.”
He acknowledged, however, this could be a difficult choice for people to make. Strader said people have all kinds of belief systems and biases that could prevent them from seeking shelter, including a fatalistic attitude, thinking, “If I am going to die today, it will be today.’”
According to Klockow, people need to be motived with a little fear, which can drive them to action, but warned that too much fear can make people freeze.
“We can find people kneeling on the floor praying instead of trying to get to a shelter,” she said. Klockow said people tend not to blatantly disregard information about an incoming tornado, but said, “very often, people don’t feel that they need to do something about it.” (VOA)
The Taliban-led government, controlled today by the Haqqani Network, a loyal proxy of Pakistan, is in the news once again for having summarily killed several former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). These killings and disappearances have been documented in a report recently published (December 4) by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The international condemnation of the actions of the Taliban demonstrate that the West is still far from recognising a regime well known for its brutal ways. That the US, European Union and 20 other countries condemned the Taliban over allegations of summary killings of former police and intelligence officers is a sure sign of continued global antipathy towards the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The statement echoing the sentiments of the world came after HRW's documentation (November 30) of the killing or disappearance of at least 47 members of the ANSF including military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and paramilitary militia, who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces between August 15 and October 31. HRW said its research also showed that the Taliban have killed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former members of the ANSF in the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces. The main findings of the report come from the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces, but the cases reflect a broader pattern of abuses reported in Khost, Paktiya, Paktika, and other provinces.
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The recent statement is perhaps the strongest issued on the Taliban since August 15. Countries said they were "deeply concerned" by the allegations and underlined that the "alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban's announced amnesty" for former Afghan officials. They called on the Taliban "to effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former Government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks", and urged prompt and transparent investigations into the reported killings. The countries include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and Ukraine.
US officials had held talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar and expressed deep concern over human rights abuses and urged the Taliban to provide countrywide access to education at all levels for women and girls. Shortly afterwards, (December 2), the Taliban released a decree on women's rights which states that women should not be considered "property" and must not be forced into marriage. The decree, supposedly issued by Taliban supremo, Haibatullah Akhundzada states that "both (women and men) should be equal. No one can force women to marry by coercion of pressure". Can the world consider this a small step in the right direction? Actually, the answer is that it is small step taken under pressure and with no guarantee that it will be enforced.
Recall that the Taliban, keen to gain international recognition, had pledged in August this year that its rule would be different to its previous time in government in the 1990s, which included public stonings, limb amputations of alleged criminals and a ban on women's education. However, every single step taken by the ï¿½so-called' government in Afghanistan has been retrograde and continues to carry out violent punishments. The UN has also expressed concern about "credible allegations" that the Taliban has carried out reprisal killings since their victory. In its latest report, HRW said Taliban leaders had directed the surrendering by security forces personnel to register with authorities to be screened for ties to certain military or special forces units. Subsequently, personnel were to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety.However, the Taliban used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find, says HRW.
It also notes that the Taliban had announced the establishment of a Commission to investigate reports of human rights abuses, corruption, theft and other crimes but said the commission had not announced any investigations into any reported killings. In an undated audio recording, Taliban Deputy Chief and Afghan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is heard appealing to "our brothers to cooperate with the Commission and don't protect or support any individual of bad character on the basis of personal friendship". More likely this was just a publicity stunt meant to impress the international community, but the reality is far more sinister.
Targeted killings by the Taliban have been a regular feature even prior to the takeover of Afghanistan of 15 August. The BBC states (December 5) that in August, an Amnesty International report found that 300 Taliban fighters had travelled to an area near Dahani Qul village (DaykundiProvince) on 30 August 2021, where former government soldiers, some of whom had been staying with their families. Amnesty says the Taliban executed 13 ethnic Hazaras, 11 of whom were former soldiers who had already surrendered, two more died in the crossfire and a further two civilians were killed during the fighting that ensued, including a 17-year-old girl.
Taliban had taken systematic measures to root out opposition in the weeks before they overran Kabul.Unsplash
Also read: Taliban ban women from appearing
Prior to August 15, after penetrating the weak Ashraf Ghani government, the Taliban had taken systematic measures to root out opposition in the weeks before they overran Kabul. Revenge killings, including targeting of government officials, were already on the rise in major cities and along key highways. This was evident in July 2021, when Taliban forces escalated operations around Kandahar city and carried out summary executions of surrendered and captured members of the security forces. Similar patterns have emerged in many other provinces, including since August 15. The HRW report aptly concludes that the Taliban's unsupported claims that they will act to prevent abuses and hold abusers to account appears, so far, to be nothing more than a "public relations stunt".
Russia has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan could become the place for civil war if the Taliban were unable to properly govern. However, the challenge of governing Afghanistan is also linked to the availability of funds. The Taliban alleges that the freezing of Afghan central bank assets amounting to US$ 9.5 billion has obstructed the proper functioning of government. While this may be a fact, it does not mean that the Taliban is anywhere near to having a functional system of administration.
As of now, it has a Cabinet with many UN proscribed individuals and a loose administration the roots of which are really an extension of the Quetta Shura. The most important thing to note is that with a gory past behind them, the Taliban will find it difficult to change their colours. The truth is they do not want to change, and even if they decide to do so, Pakistan will not allow it. That is the reality of the new Taliban today.(IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Taliban, Afghanistan)
Afghans lodged more than 17,000 asylum applications in the EU in September, up from 10,000 in August and nearly twice as many as Syrians. This made Afghanistan by far the main country of origin, which Syria had been for seven years until July, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) said.
Total applications in the EU exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.
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EASO said about 71,200 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU in September 2021, up by a quarter from August and the most since November 2016.
For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, applications exceeded the last pre-pandemic levels in early 2020.
The rising trend in Afghan applications not only continued, but accelerated.
Applications by Afghans increased by a considerable 72 per cent, from about 10,000 in August to 17,300 in September. This increase partly reflected the evacuations that followed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August.
Afghans were by far the largest group of applicants in the EU in September, with almost twice as many applications as by Syrians (9,100), who had been the largest group every month for seven years up to July 2021. While Afghans lodged the most applications since September 2016, their number was still less than half of the all-time high in November 2015.
the third largest group of applicants in SeptemberUnsplash
Also read: Afghan leaders meet in Geneva to start peace
Turkish nationals (3,000) were the third largest group of applicants in September, continuing to apply at the highest level on record.
Several other main nationalities recorded substantially more applications in September: Bangladeshis (2,800, a new high), Pakistanis (2,700), Albanians (2,100), Venezuelans (1,800), and Georgians and Tunisians (1,700 each). (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Afghan, Syria, Bangladesh, Pakistan)
“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo DaVinci
International Civil Aviation Day is observed on December 7th to recognize the flying industry’s impact on modern society. In 1994, as part of ICAO’s (International Civil Aviation Organization) 50th-anniversary celebrations, the first International Civil Aviation Day was observed, and in 1996, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 7th as International Civil Aviation Day.
Aviation has revolutionized tourism and business forever, not to mention the cultural linkages that have been made possible. The purpose of this day is to emphasize the significance of civil aviation in social and economic development, as well as to highlight the unique role played by the International Civil Aviation Organization in assisting nations in cooperating and bringing a truly global transit network to reality. With the adoption of Agenda 2030 by the United Nations, a vow to reduce pollution with the eventual aim of a new era in global sustainable development, the role of aviation remains just as essential.
International Civil Aviation Day is observed on December 7th to recognise the flying industry’s impact on modern society. | Photo by Cédric Dhaenens on Unsplash
The theme of International Civil Aviation Day is changed every five years. For the whole four-year gap, one theme is continued. From 2020 until 2023, “Advancing Innovation For Global Aviation Development” is the theme. This theme will place a greater emphasis on innovation in all aspects of air transportation, with the organization supporting ideas through a more proactive and dynamic assistance strategy.
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
The International Civil Aviation Organization conducts a variety of activities and events throughout the day, including seminars, training sessions, and news announcements on international civil aviation topics. Governments, organizations, businesses, and even individuals support the ICAO.
Telling an aviation worker how much you appreciate them is one of the most obvious and heartfelt ways to express your gratitude. | Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash
HOW TO OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION DAY?
- Thank a civil aviation worker: Telling an aviation worker how much you appreciate them is one of the most obvious and heartfelt ways to express your gratitude. Give an aviation worker a thank you and a pat on the back this December 7th, or you can show your appreciation for them by uploading posters on various social media handles.
- Get involved: There are various ways to become engaged with the ICAO if you’re enthusiastic about helping countries flourish socially and economically with the help of aviation. Organize meetings, events, and gatherings to discuss how we can work together to ensure no country is left behind.
(Keywords: civil aviation worker, United Nations, International Civil Aviation Organization, flying, International Civil Aviation Day)