Tag: Disaster

Holy Sh%$

Driiven by the Covid-19 pandemic, Initial unemployment claims hit 3.3 million, more than 5 times the previous record, last week.

By way of perspective, this is 2% of the whole workforce, so this number of initial claims constitutes about a 50% increase in the unemployment rate ……… In just week.

Unemployment rates could be over 10% by the end of April.

This could end up an economic collapse of biblical proportions, real wrath of God type stuff, Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!*

A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

“The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures.

The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

As an aside, even accounting for the aging of the workforce, workforce participation is still lower than it was before the 2008 recession, meaning that the labor market had still not recovered from the prior recession.

And now our economy is collapsing faster than an Eastern European nations experiencing American directed shock therapy after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

*Yes, this was a cheap attempt to invoke Ghostbusters.
And I get to do All About Eve as well. Win.

Hoo Boy!

Jobless claims just rose by ⅓ over last week.

When you consider that the full impact of COVID-19 wasn’t seen last week, this is alarming, particularly since last week was only the leading edge of the disruption from the pandemic:

The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits surged by 70,000 in mid-March to a 2- 1/2-year high as the coronavirus shut down large sections of the economy. And the worst is still yet to come with the crisis triggering waves of layoffs.

Initial jobless claims climbed to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 from 211,000 in the seven days ended March 14, the government said Thursday. That’s one of the biggest one-week increases ever and puts jobless claims at the highest level since September 2017.

This is almost 200,000 *initial* claims in CA over the past 3 days.

Back to 1986, the maximum number of WEEKLY initial claims in California is 115,462. https://t.co/zY4Ib7og6V

— Aaron Sojourner (@aaronsojourner) March 19, 2020

The numbers from the first 3 days of California are even grimmer, and the online applications have been hindered by overloaded websites crashing at unemployment offices.

Given those numbers, it is not unreasonable to expect over a ¼ million applications in California, which scaled across the country, would have initial unemployment claims of around 2 million nationwide.

By comparison, the maximum number of initial unemployment claims since 1967 was 671,000 in September of 1982.

Next week promises to be a real record breaker.

By comparison, the highest level of unemployment claims during the great recession, was about

Well, This is a Bit Less Insane………

Both concepts are insane, that is the nature of nuclear weapons, but an “autonomous” launcher is a bit LESS insane than the second coming of Project Pluto: (aka “The Flying Crowbar”)

How the mainstream media reported an August 8 accident at a top-secret missile test facility in northern Russia should serve as a cautionary tale regarding the dangers of rushed judgments via institutional bias.

In the days following the initial report of the accident, the media exploded with speculation over both the nature of the device being tested at the Nenoksa State Central Marine Test Site and the Russian government’s muted response. Typical of the hysteria was the analysis of Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program for the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and editor of the blog “Arms Control Wonk.”

Lewis and his collaborators penned a breathless article for Foreign Policy that asked, “What Really Happened?” According to Lewis, the answer was clear: “The reference to radiation was striking—tests of missile engines don’t involve radiation. Well, with one exception: Last year, Russia announced it had tested a cruise missile powered by a nuclear reactor. It calls this missile the 9M730 Burevestnik. NATO calls it the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.”

………

They’re all wrong. Here’s the real story of what actually happened at Nenoksa.

Liquid-fuel ballistic missiles are tricky things. Most Russian liquid-fueled missiles make use of hypergolic fuels, consisting of a fuel (in most cases asymmetrical dimethylhydrazine, or heptyl) and an oxidizer (nitrogen tetroxide), which, when combined, spontaneously combust. For this to happen efficiently, the fuel and oxidizer need to be maintained at “room temperature,” generally accepted as around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For missiles stored in launch silos, or in launch canisters aboard submarines, temperature control is regulated by systems powered by the host—either a generator, if in a silo, or the submarine’s own power supply, if in a canister.

Likewise, the various valves, switches, and other components critical to the successful operation of a liquid-fuel ballistic missile, including onboard electronics and guidance and control systems, must be maintained in an equilibrium, or steady state, until launch. The electrical power required to accomplish this is not considerable, but it must be constant. Loss of power will disrupt the equilibrium of the missile system, detrimentally impacting its transient response at time of launch and leading to failure.

Russia has long been pursuing so-called “autonomous” weapons that can be decoupled from conventional means of delivery—a missile silo or a submarine—and instead installed in canisters that protect them from the environment. They would then be deployed on the floor of the ocean, lying in wait until remotely activated. One of the major obstacles confronting the Russians is the need for system equilibrium, including the onboard communications equipment, prior to activation. The power supply for any system must be constant, reliable, and capable of operating for extended periods of time without the prospect of fuel replenishment.

The solution for this power supply problem is found in so-called “nuclear batteries,” or radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG). An RTG generates electricity using thermocouples that convert the heat released by the decay of radioactive material. RTGs have long been used in support of operations in space. The Russians have long used them to provide power to remote unmanned facilities in the arctic and in mountainous terrain. Cesium-137, a byproduct of the fission of U-235, is considered an ideal radioisotope for military application RTGs.

On August 8, a joint team from the Ministry of Defense and the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, subordinated to the State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), conducted a test of a liquid-fueled rocket engine, in which electric power from Cesium-137 “nuclear batteries” maintained its equilibrium state. The test was conducted at the Nenoksa State Central Marine Test Site (GTsMP), a secret Russian naval facility known as Military Unit 09703. It took place in the waters of the White Sea, off the coast of the Nenoksa facility, onboard a pair of pontoon platforms.

The test had been in the making for approximately a year. What exactly was being tested and why remain a secret, but the evaluation went on for approximately an hour. It did not involve the actual firing of the engine, but rather the non-destructive testing of the RTG power supply to the engine.

………

When the actual testing finished, something went very wrong. According to a sailor from the nearby Severdvinsk naval base, the hypergolic fuels contained in the liquid engine (their presence suggests that temperature control was one of the functions being tested) somehow combined. This created an explosion that destroyed the liquid engine, sending an unknown amount of fuel and oxidizer into the water. At least one, and perhaps more, of the Cesium-137 RTGs burst open, contaminating equipment and personnel alike.

………

The Russian Meteorological Service (Roshydromet) operates what’s known as the Automatic Radiation Monitoring System (ASKRO) in the city of Severdvinsk. ASKRO detected two “surges” in radiation, one involving Gamma particles, the other Beta particles. This is a pattern consistent with the characteristics of Cesium-137, which releases Gamma rays as it decays, creating Barium-137m, which is a Beta generator. The initial detection was reported on the Roshydromet website, though it was subsequently taken offline.

This makes a lot more sense than a nuclear ramjet, if just because you could test it without the certainty of a radiological incident.

Also, this sort of weapon fits right into Russian, and Soviet, doctrine.

We Are in Another Game of Musical Chairs

There is significant evidence that it is Wall Street speculation that is driving the recent home price increases.

This means two things:

  • The home affordability crisis is driven by speculation, and not from inherent value.
  • There is a crash coming, and you do not want to be left holding the bag when this happens, because eventually, they WILL run out of useful idiots.

We’re in another Tulip craze.

In a recent column, I focused on five key factors which indicate that housing markets may be topping out. Yet one other important factor may be the main reason why housing prices have not already deflated.

Investors have always played an important role in housing markets. I have written extensively about the crazy bubble years of 2004-06. Rampant speculation was one of the primary causes of the buying mania and subsequent collapse. A May 2005 Fortune magazine article described how speculators were descending on city after city in search of making a killing in real estate.

The chart below, from a 2011 study put out by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, shows the percentage of homes purchased with a mortgage by investors in states where the bubble was most excessive. This chart breaks down investor mortgage borrowing by the number of first liens appearing on the credit report of these investors. Notice the substantial number of investors with three or more first liens:



The chart shows that in the bubble states, more than 40% of all new mortgage originations for purchases went to investors/speculators during the wildest years of 2006 and 2007. Another chart in this same study showed that nationwide, roughly 30% of all originations were for investors. If we include all-cash investor purchases, the percentage of homes purchased by speculators was even higher.

When home prices leveled off in the second half of 2006, nervous speculators in the hottest major metros began to sell in large numbers. This precipitated the price collapse which soon followed. By 2009, the foreclosure debacle was in full swing. For the next four years, investors focused on buying inexpensive repossessed properties. Most of these foreclosure sales were all-cash deals.

Contrary to a widely-held assumption, many of these investor-purchased homes were not bought by flippers. They were turned into rental units for a new type of renter — former homeowners whose house had been foreclosed.

………

Unlike the speculative housing bubble of 2004-07, the investment surge over the past six years has been largely driven by a purchase-and-rent strategy. This made a lot of sense. Rents have risen steadily as most home prices continued to climb. A report from CoreLogic stated that rents grew nationwide by an average of 3.2% in January 2019 from a year earlier. Another benefit was that the tenant retention rate of 70% was much higher than the 50%-53% retention rate for multi-family apartments, according to a recent Freddie Mac report.

………

Is there credible evidence that investor purchases of single-family homes have increased in recent years? Absolutely. Attom Data has provided previously unpublished data breaking down home purchases by owner-occupants and absentee owners, i.e., investors:



You can see in the table above that the percentage of homes purchased by absentee owners rises consistently from 2016 through the first half of 2019. According to these numbers, more than one-third of all home purchases in 2019 have been made by investors. Yet even with this increase in investor purchasing, the volume of home purchases in most major metros has been declining. That is a major red flag.

Indeed, had it not been for the aggressive buying by investors in the past two-and-a-half years, home prices would have already slumped in these metros. If you do not find this suggestion plausible, remember that it was the pullback by speculators/investors in 2006 and their dumping properties onto the market that started the housing collapse.

Look out below.

Something Bad Happened Near Severodvinsk


In Russian

There was some sort of event, involving a significant release of radiation, at the Nenoksa naval base:

On the morning of Thursday, August 8, something exploded at the Nenoksa Naval Base in Russia, not far from the city of Severodvinsk. This article is a good summary of what we knew by Friday. Since then, the Russian government has said that a radioactive source was involved in the explosion, along with liquid rocket fuel. Reports have gone back and forth on whether radiation detectors in Severodvinsk detected anything. Five more people have been reported dead. Sarov/VNIIEF, one of the Russian nuclear weapons laboratories, has released a statement, which some folks are rushing to translate.

The translation that I have seen of this video shows it not to be particularly informative, but it does reveal that there was an incident, and there were fatalities.

The New York Times coverage is similarly anodyne, though it does reveal a spike in radiation, albeit one that stays below recommended limits, at a nearby town.

The indications are that this is not a nuclear warhead, both Russian and US nuclear warheads have been designed to survive things like a rocket motor explosion, so it would imply that it was a test of some sort of nuclear propulsion system, along the lines of the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile announced by Putin last year.

We Are Doomed

Welcome to your gerontocracy. pic.twitter.com/yTjdkfDHxQ

— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) August 5, 2019

Un-F%$#ing-Believable

Both of the Septuagenarian front runners for the major Presidential nominations got the locations of this weekends mass shootings wrong:

President Donald Trump and Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden both got confused in regards to the locations of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend, mentioning inaccurate cities when discussing the violence.

During a Monday address from the White House, Trump, 73, shared condolences for the victims “in Toledo,” apparently mixing up the Ohio city with Dayton, where nine people were killed and dozens more were wounded on Sunday morning.

“May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” the president said toward the end of his speech. “May God protect them.”

Biden, 76, who previously served as vice president under former President Barack Obama and is currently leading in the Democratic presidential primary polls, made a similar gaffe on Sunday evening while addressing attendants of a fundraiser in California. He referred to the mass shooting as “the tragic events in Houston today and also in Michigan the day before.” Although the politician later corrected his mistake, he seemed to be confusing Houston, which is also in Texas, with El Paso and mixing up Ohio with its fellow midwestern state of Michigan.

It really is remarkable how dysfunctional and corrupt the two parties are.

Gee, That Was Quick

A few hours after I noted the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, we had yet another in Dayton, Ohio, and the victims included the gunman’s own sister:

Ned Peppers would not close for another hour, and the crowd inside the bar and on the outdoor patio early Sunday morning was lively. The line to get inside stretched around the block, and the revelers were black and white, men and women, spanning at least two generations. One was the mother of a newborn, another was a nutrition trainer. Within seconds, both would be dead, along with seven others.

Among the victims killed in the barrage of gunfire outside Ned Peppers, a popular spot in Dayton, Ohio, was the gunman’s sister, a 22-year-old college student described as “bubbly” and “outgoing.” Investigators had not determined on Sunday evening whether the gunman, armed with a military-style rifle and clad in protective armor, had specifically targeted his sister or anyone else in the crowd.

………

The massacre outside Ned Peppers came only about 13 hours after a gunman stormed into a Walmart store in El Paso and opened fire, killing 20 people and wounding at least 26 others as he stalked the aisles. The store is near the bicultural city’s border with Mexico, in an area heavily trafficked on weekends by El Paso residents and Mexican citizens alike.

There is something profoundly broken in the United States, but we already knew that.

I have no clue how to fix it, but we are destroying ourselves.

Another Day, Another White Supremacist Mass Shooting

Confirmed Photo of the shooter as he entered the Cielo Vista Walmart store. #EPShooting https://t.co/wfXkVy7a3y pic.twitter.com/TWVZwQXIyl

— KTSM 9 News (@KTSMtv) August 3, 2019

Roll Tape!

A white supremacist just killed 21 people and wounded at least 20 more at an El Paso Walmart:

A mass shooting at a Walmart in the Texas border city of El Paso that has left 20 people dead and 26 injured is being investigated as a possible hate crime, Texas officials said.

A 21-year-old white man is in custody after the mass shooting, one of the deadliest incidents in Texas history, El Paso’s police chief said. Local news outlets reported the name of the suspected shooter, but his name has not yet been officially released by law enforcement. A local TV station published what it said was a picture of the suspect from CCTV footage.

There was “little to minimum force” used when law enforcement took the suspect into custody, El Paso police spokesman Robert Gomez said at an earlier press conference. “No law enforcement personnel fired their weapon.”

“It happened without incident so I can assume that the person dropped his weapons,” Gomez added.

Law enforcement officials are investigating “a manifesto from this individual” that suggests the incident may be a hate crime, police chief Greg Allen said. He added that law enforcement still needed to “validate for certain” that the document under investigation was from the arrested suspect.

………

Investigators are “reasonably confident” that the Walmart shooting suspect posted the document on 8chan, an extremist online message board that often features racist content, senior law enforcement officials told NBC News.

If the manifesto is authentic, it would make it the third mass shooting announced in advance on 8chan in less than five months.

………

The 8chan document under investigation by Texas law enforcement described a gun attack that was intended to be “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

God bless America, huh?

Adding to the List of They Who Must Not Be Named

When a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, on Sunday evening, killing at least three people, including a 6-year-old boy, and wounding 12 others, Dilbert creator Scott Adams apparently saw a juicy marketing opportunity for his blockchain app.

Adams is best known for creating Dilbert, a comic strip satirizing soulless corporate culture and the grueling punishment dished out on its eponymous engineer by idiot co-workers and clueless management. But he also moonlights. In addition to punditry on topics ranging from fifth-dimensional chess analyses proclaiming Donald Trump a genius Pavlovian manipulator to tortured theological treatises, to questioning the specifics of the Holocaust’s atrocities, Adams is the co-founder of app company WhenHub. WhenHub is similar to Cameo, the app that allows everyday people to pay celebrities to create customized videos, except instead of pre-recorded messages from movie stars and rappers, it offers live chats with a range of subject-matter experts.

………

Adams seems to have concluded the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting was an ideal time to direct-market this app to witnesses—who, as he made quite clear on Twitter, he believed could cash in on their traumatic experience by selling interviews to news organizations via WhenHub.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the gunman opened fire sometime around 5:30 p.m. PT on Sunday when the festival was nearing its conclusion. Less than three hours later, at 8:21 p.m. PT, about 13 minutes after President Trump advised locals to exercise caution because reports indicated the shooter was still at large, Adams began pitching the survivors on signing up for, and charging for, interviews with media outlets via WhenHub.

“If you were a witness to the #GilroyGarlicFestivalshooting please sign on to Interface by WhenHub (free app) and you can set your price to take calls. Use keyword Gilroy,” Adams tweeted.

Roughly 23 minutes later, Adams had some advice for critics who correctly identified this as shameless opportunism aiming to capitalize off an atrocity: Grow up and stop it with the “fake outrage.”

………

Adams did not immediately respond to our request for comment, although he did respond to the controversy in a livestream Monday morning on Periscope, where he continued to stand by his promotion efforts and blamed the controversy on socialism.

#BoycottDilbert is trending on Twitter, with good reason.

He hasn’t had an original idea for his comic strip since before the end of the last century.

Don’t read his comics, don’t buy his merch, and if you want to complain to your local paper about this, that would be nice too.

Scott Adams should have been drowned at birth.

We are Unbelievably Screwed

Permafrost in Canada is melting at a rate faster than the most alarmist models predicted:

Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.

A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“

………

The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.

Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.

The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.

………

Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

 We are in for a world of hurt.

But Markets………

It turns out that the massive Southern California Gas leak in 2015 and 2016 was the direct consequence of its negligence and deception.

For some people, this could be seen as an argument for much more aggressive regulation of privately owned utilities, though I see it as an even stronger argument for public ownership of utilities:

For 111 days in 2015 and 2016, more than 100,000 metric tons of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and other harmful chemicals leaked into the atmosphere from the blowout of well SS-25 at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility in Los Angeles. The blowout forced the evacuation of more than 8,300 households. Residents exposed to the gas reported nosebleeds, dizziness, and respiratory problems. More than three years later, many report severe health effects.

In May 2019, an independent report commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission put the blame for this disaster squarely on SoCalGas. In other words, SoCalGas, the largest natural gas provider in the nation, brought us the largest methane leak disaster in United States history.

………

SoCalGas’s disregard for safety was not an aberration. The independent report identifies more than 60 leaks at Aliso Canyon going back to the 1970s that SoCalGas chose not to investigate. Forty percent of the wells at Aliso Canyon reviewed in the report had past failures in the casing that enclose the wells and prevent leaks, with an average of two failures per well. According to the report, SoCalGas knew of these leaks and failures but neglected to conduct detailed inspections or evaluate for disaster potential.

………

In addition to finding negligence, the report also found incompetence. According to the report, SoCalGas should have been able to plug the blowout at SS-25 much sooner. SoCalGas, however, did not conduct the correct modeling in its attempts to plug the leak. Instead, SoCalGas used the exact same strategy in its six unsuccessful attempts. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein is appropriate here: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If SoCalGas had competently conducted the correct modeling from the outset, the report finds that SoCalGas could have plugged SS-25 as early as November 13, 2015 — 90 days before SoCalGas actually plugged the well.

It’s really time for California, and the rest of the nation, to make public ownership of utilities less difficult.

PGE: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

The investigation is complete, and Cal Fire has determined that PGE, and its poorly maintained infrastructure, are responsibe for the disastrous Camp fire:

Investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have concluded that Pacific Gas & Electric equipment caused the devastating Camp fire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and killed 85 people, most of them elderly, last year.

The conclusion of the Cal Fire probe marks a milestone in the recovery from the worst wildfire in modern California history.

“Cal Fire has determined that the Camp fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric located in the Pulga area,” the agency said in a news release Wednesday.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in part because of losses from the Nov. 8 fire, which scorched more than 153,000 acres and has put new pressure on utilities to improve the safety of their power distribution systems.

Scores of lawsuits have been filed against the state’s biggest utility on behalf of people who lost their homes, loved ones and pets. They accuse the utility of failing to properly maintain its equipment.

Why there are no criminal indictments against PGE executives, when it is clear that their neglect of their infrastructure was a deliberate business strategy, and it is equally clear that fires were the results, and that it was foreseeable that people would die as a result, and people DID die as a result.

This appears to me to be a reckless disregard for human life, and that appears to make it some sort of felony to me.

These guys need to be in the dock.

The Saddest Thing that I Have Heard in a Long Time

At the Stem Highlands Range charter school in suburban Denver, CO, there was another shooting.

It barely qualifies as news these days, there seems to be a school shooting every week or so.

On the other hand, this comment by an 8th grader, Gianni, is positively heart breaking:

Her son, 8th-grader Gianni, chimed in. He talked about the gunshots he heard, about how everyone fell quiet, about how he “just sat there and prayed.”

Gianni said he wasn’t surprised by what happened. He was remarkably composed for a kid just hours removed from such a harrowing scene.

I always knew. I live close to Columbine. I always knew this would happen,” he told me. “It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

(emphasis mine)

F%$# the NRA.  F%$# Wayne LaPierre, F%$# the political cowards who dance to his tune.

Bad Day at the Office

A Sukhoi Superjet-100 just crash landed and caught fire at a Moscow airport.

Death toll exceeds 40:

Seventy three passengers and five crew members were on board the plane when it made the emergency landing on Sunday afternoon at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Elena Markovskaya told the journalist, saying that “41 people” have died.

At least six of the 37 people rescued were rushed to a hospital. Three are now in intensive care after suffering burns and smoke inhalation injuries, health minister Veronika Skvortsova said, in a brief press statement.

The Aeroflot flight SU 1492, en route from Moscow to the Russian northern city of Murmansk, had to turn back to Sheremetyevo after reporting an emergency on board less than half an hour after takeoff.

Leaked CCTV footage appears to show the Sukhoi Superjet-100 aircraft attempting to land. The plane is seen bouncing off the runway and hitting it with full force, as the engines burst into flames.

Notwithstanding the rather spectacular video, I will wait for the investigation to drawing any conclusions.

This is Heartbreaking


The spire falls at about 15s

There has been a at a massive fire at the Notre Dame de Paris :

A fire that devastated Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris was brought under control by firefighters in the early hours of Tuesday morning, though officials warned there were still residual fires to put out.
Thousands of Parisians watched in horror from behind police cordons as a ferocious blaze devastated Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday night, destroying its spire and a large part of the roof.

An investigation has been opened by the prosecutor’s office, but police said it began accidentally and may be linked to building work at the cathedral. The 850-year-old gothic masterpiece had been undergoing restoration work.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, attended the scene and later gave a speech in which he vowed that the cathedral would be rebuilt, as fire crews said the landmark’s rectangular bell towers and structure of the building had been saved.

I’m not sure how much has been lost, but given that the structure, the part that isn’t wood, is limestone and old mortar, which is very susceptible to fire damage.

I’m not sure what has been lost, but I’m pretty sure that when a final inventory is made there will be some very sad architects, artists, and historians.

In bizarrely related news, there has been a (relatively minor) fire at the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Unlike the Notre Dame fire, the source of this one is currently suspicious, having occurred during a 15 minute change-over of local security:

A fire broke out in al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam, on Monday. The blaze didn’t cause significant damage, but it did endanger a part of the worship site that’s over 2,000 years old.

​The fire broke out in the guard room outside the al-Marwani Prayer Room Monday evening, according to a statement by the mosque’s Islamic Waqf (Endowments) Department. According to The New Arab, a guard reported a short gap in guard rotations between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m. local time.

Weird.