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Five Earthquakes Reported in Irving Tuesday
by Ben Russell

Five earthquakes shook Irving Tuesday according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The first earthquake shook Irving on Tuesday morning. The USGS reported a magnitude 2.4 earthquake just after 8 a.m.

The epicenter is near the old Texas Stadium site off state Highway 183, near Loop 12 and state Highway 114.

The second quake was 2.6 in magnitude and struck at 1:37 p.m. near The University of Dallas campus west of Loop 12 and north of John W. Carpenter Freeway.

The third was a 3.0 magnitude earthquake at 2:25 p.m. The USGS reports the epicenter was in the Trinity River basin just west of Loop 12.

A fourth was reported at 2:43 p.m., it registered a 2.2 magnitude according to the USGS and was centered north of John W. Carpenter Freeway and west of Loop 12, again near the area where Texas Stadium used to stand.

The fifth 2.5 magnitude quake was reported at 2:50 p.m. Tuesday in the 10400 block of Wildwood Drive north of where State highway 114 and Loop 12 and the old Texas Stadium site.

Three dozen earthquakes have been recorded around that same area since October; no injuries or significant damage have been reported in any of the earthquakes.

At a public town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the Irving Arts Center to hear residents' concerns about the earthquakes, Irving city leaders announced they would withhold judgment or comment on a cause until more information is available.

"This is a Texas issue. And I know that all of us want to get down and find out what is causing this activity and what we can do to stop it, if anything," said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

The meeting had an overflow crowd in the 250-person capacity theater.

Several city residents spoke about their concerns, most notably the fear that the many processes involved in natural gas drilling have contributed the the earthquake swarm.

A handout provided by the City of Irving highlighted several rebuttals to those concerns, including a statement that there has been no fracking in the city since 2010, that there has never been any waste water injection done within the city limits and that, by city ordinance, any waste water produced from drilling in Irving was trucked out of the city.

That information did not satisfy many of the residents who spoke, with some suggesting that natural gas production on the nearby grounds of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport could play a role, and that the earthquakes do not respect municipal boundaries.

‘People Starving’ in Eastern Ukraine as Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds
by Lucy Draper

Vulnerable people living in east Ukraine are in serious danger of starving if normal government services aren’t restored by the government in Kiev. In November 2014 the decision was made to stop social benefits being sent to east meaning, among other things, that elderly Ukranians in the region are no longer receiving their pensions.

Krasimir Yankov, Amnesty International’s Ukrainian researcher described the situation in the east as “dire”, saying: “[Kiev] have cut off these regions from the Ukrainian financial situation. People can’t get money from the bank, ATMs don’t work, they can’t make electronic transactions. We saw huge queues outside the post offices as now people have to go there to access their money.”

Yankov, who made several visits to the eastern territories in December 2014, estimated that “Local authorities have told us that 60% in Luhansk are entirely dependent on humanitarian aid. Things might be OK in the bigger cities but in small villages and towns it’s not.”

He said that there had already been reports of hunger-related deaths by the Kharkiv Human Rights Defence group, although these have not been verified, However, he did say: “Bearing in mind that it's the most vulnerable people affected - elderly, disabled and alone - it's not unimaginable for starvation to be taking place.”

However, Yankov pointed out that this latest blockade, imposed by the Kiev government, “is only the latest twist in this horrible chain of events and is not the main cause of the looming humanitarian catastrophe in eastern Ukraine. Both sides bear responsibility.”

Max Tucker, the editor of English-language newspaper the Kyiv Post, echoed Yankov’s sentiments, describing similar scenes in the East: “Pensioners have to go from rebel-held territory into Ukrainian-held territory to collect their pensions, so you see these large groups of them going across the lines to do that. Without this money they cannot buy food, and if they’re far away from the demarcation line it’s very difficult.” Tucker also warned that this problem is likely to get worse, as on Sunday Ukraine sealed off more roads to Donbas, the region which Russian-backed separatists have been slowly encroaching on since April 2014.

Tucker also indicated that it’s the smaller towns that are suffering the worst, especially due to the damage to infrastructure that shelling has caused. “The bigger towns are kind of kept going by the Russian aid and some aid from the Ukrainian side too, but this isn’t reaching the smaller towns and they’re really stuck.”

“There are reports that hundreds of heating pipes, lights and energy supplying units have been destroyed - although it’s hard to verify these. But there is definitely a fear - which the UN have spoken about too - of a humanitarian crisis,” he continued.

Last week, Denis Krivosheev, deputy director of Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said that Eastern Ukraine is heading for a “humanitarian catastrophe”. In an email to news agency Reuters, Krivosheev explained that pro-Kiev groups were contributing to the declining situation by attempting to stop aid and food reaching the residents of separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk. "Attempting to create unbearable conditions of life is a whole new ballgame,” he wrote. “Using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a war crime."

The fighting on both sides has been backed by a propaganda war that has been raging between Kiev and Moscow and which is leading to “this disconnect which is visible on both sides”, according to Yankov. “Young Ukrainians can access the internet and thus get information from there, but the decision to ban some Russian TV channels [in Ukraine] is effecting the elderly population. Both sides are transmitting a very biased picture.”

Tucker added that it’s the perception that each side has of each other which is problematic too: “Some of the attitude in Kiev is that the people in the East are so different to Ukraine - they think that they don’t have democratic aspirations.” Although this divide has always existed to some extent due to the Russian-leaning tendencies of those in Eastern Ukraine, Tucker says that the media and rhetoric exacerbates this. “The government didn’t reach out to these people [in the East], and they were just left to absorb Russian propaganda. You know: ‘Ukraine doesn’t care about you, but Russia does’. I think that’s been a problem.”

He went on to say that the attitude in Kiev and much of the rest of the Ukraine is that this increasing humanitarian crisis in the East is not their concern. “There is a perception of ‘You’re fighting against us so why should we provide you with food and aid and money when our own country, the rest of Ukraine, is suffering a huge economic crisis’. They’re facing energy shortage caused by the fact that Donetsk is not supplying coal to the rest of the Ukraine and therefore a lot of the powerplants are running short. People think: ‘We’re in a desperate situation, why should we supply you with aid if you’re fighting against us.’”

Risk of disease outbreak adds to flood woes, reports daily
The Malaysian Insider

As flood victims in Tanah Merah, in the East Coast state of Kelantan, struggle to piece together their lives now that the floodwater is receding, they face a new challenge – the risk of disease outbreak.

The victims are worried that there would be an outbreak of diseases due to the contaminated water and the rubbish and carcasses still piled up in many areas, The Star reported.

Although their food, water and power supplies are gradually being restored, the people are dealing with the stench of rotten food and garbage everywhere, from the town centre to the villages.

The English daily quoted MCA central committee member Koh Chin Han as saying that the local councils had been urged to look into the rubbish problem and prevent an outbreak of infectious diseases.

He also reminded the people to be careful with what they eat.

Koh, who is Malacca MCA secretary, was in Tanah Merah to help clean the SJK (C) Yuk Cheng, which was damaged in the floods.

Many of the desks, chairs and teaching materials at the school were destroyed, he said.

“We must make sure the school is able to start as scheduled next Monday,” he said.

Also present at the clean-up operation were several division leaders from Malacca MCA, grassroots leaders and members as well as volunteers from the party’s Crisis Relief Squad from Perlis, Kedah and Perak.

The Star reported that many flood victims have gone home to find their belongings destroyed.

Tan Kim Kui, 46, who ran a bookshop, had to toss out her books, magazines and other items that were damaged in the disaster.

She said even recycling companies could not take her spoiled books because their stores were already full.

“I’m just giving them away and yet, no one wants them,” she said.

One housewife known only as Rima, said she also had to throw out most of her belongings.

“My whole house was submerged. I had to throw away almost everything,” she told The Star. – January 5, 2015.
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