Doomsday Clock, Still a Total Buzz Kill, Predicts Disaster

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The Doomsday Clock, a very appropriately named metaphorical timepiece that predicts the possibility of nuclear apocalypse, says that the world is a figurative minute closer to radioactive catastrophe than it was in 2010, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The clock, run by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, was started in 1947 and symbolically set at seven minutes to midnight -- basically to make people realize that nuclear power ain't fuckin' around.

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UC Davis Chancellor Announces Pepper Spray Review; Japan Earthquake; Violent Protests in Egypt

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After footage of a police officer dousing students with pepper spray went viral, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi announced she is forming a "task force" to look into the incident. She told CNN, "We really want to look into this very carefully and take action ... make sure that it will never happen again on our campus." She added that the task force would be "made of faculty, students and staff," and they "will review the events and provide a report within 90 days." [CNN]

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Earthquake Video From Apartment in Van, Turkey

The above cameraphone video (via @stevesilberman) was taken from inside an apartment during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Van, Turkey. It's titled, "VAN DEPREM SON DAKİKA," which, according to Google Translate, means "Van earthquake last minute." If anyone speaks Turkish and has a better translation, please tell us.

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What It Was Like Inside the Washington Monument During Last Month's Earthquake

This video recently released by the National Park Service shows what it was like inside the Washington Monument during the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Virginia, sending vibrations up the Northeast coast, last month. It is unexpectedly scary!


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Barack Obama Declares Major Disaster in New York State, Providing Federal Aid for Recovery Efforts

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Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in New York state following Hurricane Irene, a move that allows residents of Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster Counties to receive federal recovery funds for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover property losses, and other recovery efforts. Yesterday Governor Cuomo had written to the president asking him to speed up the availability of funds, to bring assistance to the state without an lengthy review period. Irene is expected to be one of the 10 costliest disasters in U.S. history, with estimated damage totaling "anywhere between $7 billion and $10 billion."


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New York Had One Hurricane Fatality; Overall, Irene Took 24 Lives

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New York City may have had one fatality as a result of Hurricane Irene, a storm that's mostly been viewed as underwhelming. A 68-year-old Bronx man named José Sierra was found floating yesterday in the Sunset Marina in Broad Channel, Queens the marina in City Island. Cops believe he kept a boat there and arrived at the marina yesterday morning at 8 a.m. -- the height of the storm. His body was spotted in the water at 4:40 p.m. He is believed to be NYC's only Irene victim.

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Thirty Minutes After Deadline, Calm Prevails At Hurricane Shelter For Williamsburg Residents

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Rosie Gray
Aviation High School in Long Island City, an evacuation center.
At a Hurricane Irene evacuation center in Long Island City for residents of Zone A areas in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the controlled and efficient mood stood in stark contrast to the chaotic scene Runnin' Scared found yesterday at a high school in Ozone Park meant to house evacuees from the Rockaways.

We managed to get ahold of a car this afternoon and drove up from our home base in East Williamsburg to Aviation High School off of Queens Boulevard. As far as emergency housing goes, it seemed pretty nice.

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2.9 Magnitude Earthquake Recorded in Upstate New York

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The office of Governor Cuomo has released a statement saying that a 2.9 Magnitude Earthquake has been recorded outside of Albany. The release states, "We have reports of a 2.9 magnitude earthquake just west-southwest of Altamont, New York. Although this was a mild earthquake, out of an abundance of caution, I have ordered immediate inspection of nearby infrastructure, including a NYPA inspection of the Blenheim-Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County." So that's two earthquakes and one potential hurricane this week. New Yorkers, remember to get your natural disaster card punched to earn a free volcanic eruption. [@nickgreene]

In the Rockaways, a Nonchalant Response to the City's Evacuation Order

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Rosie Gray
The sign outside John Adams High in Ozone Park.
As we reported earlier, Mayor Bloomberg announced a mandatory evacuation of all low-lying areas in Zone A this afternoon in a press conference. All residents of Zone A, which includes Coney Island, parts of Staten Island, Battery Park City, parts of the Bronx, and the Rockaways (which are actually Zone B) are required to get packed and get out by 5 p.m. Saturday, before Hurricane Irene gets here. People have to either go to someone else's house or to a designated evacuation center after undergoing an "initial intake process" (the flawed "reception center" system we referred to earlier).

Once we heard the news, we got on a train to Queens to find out the extent to which residents would obey the mandate. We discovered a startling contrast in mood between an evacuation center in Ozone Park, which was supposed to accommodate refugees from the Rockaways, and the Rockaways themselves, where the general vibe was one of total indifference to the impending storm.

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Mike Bloomberg Says 'Stay Indoors' Sunday; Mandatory Evacuation Issued for Zone A in New York City

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In a press conference happening now, Mike Bloomberg is addressing the city regarding Hurricane Irene. He says it's basically coming right for us -- great -- and "you have to start your preparations to leave right now." Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for all of Zone A (check your zone here) and also Zone B in the Rockaways. This, which impacts some quarter of a million people, is the first mandatory evacuation in New York City history. Also notable: the MTA, as reported, will begin to shut down at noon tomorrow. Since it takes hours to restart the system after a shutdown, "there will likely be no mass transit until midday Monday."

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