Archive for the 'cnn' Category

What If You Call The Emergency Services and They Don’t Respond?

January 26, 2007

You might remember that just a few days ago here on I covered a series of spoof or non-emergency calls to 911 (999) emergency services. It is always bad when people abuse the services that are set up for when we need help the most but it is even worse when the emergency services don’t believe you or choose not to act when the emergency is actually serious and very real!

Well it happened. According to CNN last night at around 1:45AM the fire department was called about a BBQ restaurant that was burning down. The dispatcher was sure that it couldn’t possibly be a fire and quizzed the caller and finally decided that the call was not in regards to an emergency and the BBQ joint was just smoking ribs. 45 minutes later they got a call from another passer-by that the restaurant was on fire and this time after a quiz about how big the fire was and what colour the smoke was the dispatcher sent the fire department to tackle the now growing blaze. This was of course too late, the place is a total loss.

This is a serious problem as I saw in the interviews I watched on CNN. The Fire Department Asst. Chief Evans was less than happy to accept total responsibility that the dispatcher did in fact act too late and even said “there was PROBABLY a fire when the first caller rang in to the emergency services.” It seems to me that there are several at fault here. The dispatcher could have had his head screwed on properly and used his common sense At 1:45 in the morning they are not likely to be doing heavy duty cooking. The caller could have been a little bit more communicative and asked the dispatcher to send a police car out to assess the situation and they would have of course called out the fire department.

I offer similar advice to last week. Be smart when you call the emergency services. Be smart enough that if you think there is a fire or other emergency that you push the dispatcher if they don’t believe you. On the few occasions I have had need to call the emergency services I have never had them tell me that they don’t believe me. According to CNN the Fire Dept. was just up the road, If I was that close to the fire and knew the area, I would have gone and knocked on the door of the fire station. They are all at fault here but the dispatcher who didn’t send the resources out, should be fired.


An Event of the Highest International Urgency

January 19, 2007

The recent destruction of a Chinese weather satellite should be a cause of serious concern to those of us in the West. It has the potential to destabilise the balance of power that exists between the East and the West. Hours following the event, America’s media had already decided that it was China that had destroyed its own satellite. The BBC continues to maintain and stress that it is unconfirmed that China is responsible as they have made no comment. CNN has reported that the missile appears to have been “launched from or near the Xichang Space Center.”

Not only did this action cause the governments of the US, UK and other NATO members to launch full scale diplomatic protests, CNN reported that “this is viewed as an action taken by China to directly affect the United States”. President Kennedy said something very similar to the citizens in a broadcasted address to the American people during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962, as follows:

“…It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” – President John F. Kennedy

The political climate that is developing between the governments of the United States and China at the moment has similarities to the one that existed during the cold war of the 1960s. The unexpected development of surface to space weapons by the Chinese government that could destroy the US and other countries’ surveillance and GPS satellites is an obvious escalation in what has so far been a very quiet cold war between the United States and China. The role of Russia, then the USSR, in the sixties has been assumed by China. A significant mitigating factor that was not present in the 60s is the strong economic relationship now tying western countries to China.

We all remember the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars project championed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s which called for weapons to be placed in orbit. These weapons would have been capable of destroying nuclear missiles launched from Russia directed at the United States. It was said at the time that once this technology was developed it should be shared with the USSR. In a 1985 issue of Peace Magazine, Andrew Pakula proposed that “Possibly the Soviets, faced with the reality or the perception of being at a disadvantage, of losing the deterrent power of their arsenals, might feel compelled to take the dangerous course of destroying the ‘Star Wars’ equipment.

Continuing to compare the cold war of the sixties with that of today, has China taken on the role of the former Soviet Union? It appears that China has destroyed its own satellite. This action was not an experiment “just to see if they could do it” but an announcement to the rest of the world that they have the power to disable some of the most important tools in modern warfare, specifically our strategic orbiting satellite systems. Apparently, the West has been caught off guard by this event.

The question has to be posed: If China did not launch this missile then who did and if it was some other country why have seen no reaction from China?

In the film, “The Sum of All Fears”, a secret organization detonates a nuclear device in the American city of Baltimore. The United States, believes that the Russian government is responsible for the attack. After intense negotiations fail, the United States and Russia attack each other but refrain from using nuclear weapons. Subsequently, we learn that the secret organization wanted to get the US and Russia to fight each other rather than for it to engage them individually.

How close to reality could this film be? Could it be possible that someone might really try to instigate a conflict between such powerful nations as the US and China. There is, of course, no evidence to suggest any validity to these speculations. There is, however, cause for concern that the United States and its allies measure their response accurately and appropriately. The last thing that we need is another war or skirmish especially with a military might of the size and power of that of China.

Those involved need to take a deep breath and figure out who, if not China, might have fired that missile.  In the words of Dean Acheson, a close advisor to President Kennedy, “Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before we reach the next step…  In the future, will our children be able to look back on the decisions of our leaders today and believe that they showed wisdom, prudence and discretion?


James Kim Found Dead. Questions.

December 7, 2006

UPDATE: reader Dave commented with a link that better described how the family lost their way on the day that the Kims got stuck in the show. The San Fransisco Chronicle has the story. Rescuers were amazed at James Kim’s resolve to save his family, on terrain that they were having difficulty with, they tried in vain to get ahead of him. It is unfortunate that if Kim had followed the road he was on further than he did he would have come to a lodge, although abandoned for the winter, Rescuers checked it more than once during the investigation. An autopsy of James Kim will be performed to determine the cause of death, those details have not been released as of yet.

I would like to extend my condolences to the family of former CNET worker, James Kim. James was lost in the wilderness of Oregon after he went looking for help when his family’s car got stuck in the snow on a road later to be determined to be closed on the journey home to San Francisco, California. The police praised the Kim family for being “true champions” during the investigation.

I was listening to TWiT #79 yesterday and right at the end Leo Laporte mentioned his former co-worker, James Kim, had gone missing during the Thanksgiving Holiday and was still lost. Apparently, James had worked with Leo and especially closely with Patrick Norton when they used to produce “Screen Savers.” It was a short while after I had listened to TWiT when I came across the headline with the news on CNN.

I am confused as to why James and his family took a road that remains unplowed in the winter. Surely, you would know the road was a no-goer before you got too far down it and away from the civilization. For some reason the family did not go back to the main road and became stuck in the snow. It seems after days of waiting James Kim went out into the Oregon wilderness in search of help. The situation seemed to worsen when the emergency services became involved.

According to CNN, emergency packages were dropped in the hopes that Kim would find one I don’t understand if they were dropping packages why they were not including mobile satellite phones, long range radios or something more useful to him than a note from his family with his life at total risk in the elements. I understand that they should include that as a moral boost for him should he find it, but it seemed like not enough was being done right by the emergency services when I read over the reports from CNN.

There’s a couple of things that don’t make sense and I have thought about them since I read the news piece. Did the car travel a great distance onto the twisty mountain road? If it did, how did it become stuck and why wasn’t it possible to get the car unstuck? If the snow started to be more intense as they traveled up a road that was quite obviously not in use (not plowed) shouldn’t they have turned back before it was too late? If I was traveling in weather so obviously hostile, I would not make the decision to travel up a snowed down, abandoned mountain road. The only way I can accept that they were unaware of the status of the road is if it were too dark.

The family told CNN that they burned the tires of the car to survive once the petrol was all used…The car must have been seriously mired in the snow to justify burning the tires, but if the tires were accessible to remove and burn, in what way was the car stuck in the snow? Why was it considered a viable course of action to destroy any chances of moving the car by burning the tires? What kind of accelerant did the family have at their disposal to start the tires on fire?

From my understanding Kim waited in the car with him family for 9 days before attempting to go for help. 9 days is an eternity when stuck in the snow. I am not too clear on this part of the story and will update here as I learn more.

There is something amiss with this case. I can’t quite figure out some of the choices that were made, both by the Kim family and the rescuers.