Russian Poison From The Sky

This time, it’s the Russian’s turn to randomly drop a spacecraft to Earth from orbit, only this one is loaded up with ten tons of highly toxic chemicals. When you duck, don’t forget your umbrella.

Toxic Russian Mars Probe Heads Back to Earth

It’s hard to believe that only last week we were getting excited for Russia’s first interplanetary mission in 15 years to launch. By now, we should be happy in the knowledge that the ambitious — and awesome — mission is powering through space, toward the Martian moon Phobos.

The reality is that we are now discussing uncontrolled reentry scenarios.

As if that wasn’t enough bad news, we are looking at an uncontrolled toxic reentry scenario. Phobos-Grunt — correctly written “Fobos-Grunt,” meaning “Phobos-Soil” or “Phobos-Ground” — is fully-laden with unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide; that’s ten tons of fuel and oxidizer. The probe itself weighs-in at only three tons.

The majority of the fuel will likely vaporize during reentry, but everyone will be hoping for a splash-down in an ocean (which covers two-thirds of Earth, fortunately), as the wreckage will still be hazardous. There’s also a small quantity of radioactive cobalt-57 in one of the science missions housed in the probe — a fact that will most likely cause a media frenzy.

It is for these reasons that the Russian media is dubbing Phobos-Grunt “Most toxic falling satellite ever.”

See also:
Russia’s Phobos-Grunt Spacecraft Goes AWOL
Russian Mars Probe Will Likely Come Crashing Back to Earth
Toxic Russian Mars Probe Likely Heading Back to Earth
Mood grim over Mars probe faultRussia Running Out Of Time, As Mars Mission Seems Destined To Fail
Report: Russians Believe Martian Moon Probe is ‘Lost’
Source: Russian Space Probe Unlikely to be Saved
Phobos-Grunt Mars probe remains silent in Earth orbit
Now Russians can’t even contact their busted Mars probe
Contact with Russian Mars probe ‘unlikely’ – expert
Failed Russian space mission shows difficulty of exploring Mars
Salvaging Science from Stricken Mars Moon Probe: A Scientist’s View
Phobos-Grunt mission
Fobos-Grunt

Man, the Russians just can’t catch a break. This is their fourth launch failure just this year and now they’re 0 for 18 at Mars missions.

/and we trust the Russians with our U.S. astronauts, it makes me nervous

Advertisements

It Came From Central Asia

How it got here or why it’s suddenly all over the news this week, well, your guess is as good as mine. But apparently, whatever you do, if you see one, don’t touch it and run for your lives!

Giant Weed Can Cause Blisters, Even Blindness

Call it the import that nobody wants.

Experts are urging residents of several states to beware of the “giant hogweed,” a tall plant native to Central Asia with umbrella-size flowers containing toxic sap that can cause burns, blisters and, in some cases, even blindness.

“Avoid it at all cost,” Jodi Holt, a professor of plant physiology at University of California, Riverside, told ABC News.

“The sap causes something called phytophotodermatitis when it touches humans,” causing scars and potentially blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes, Holt said. Some cases of blindness occurred after children used the hollow stalks as telescopes.

Heracleum Mantegazzianum, as hogweed is botanically known, is already a concern in the Northeast and spreading fast. Patches of giant hogweed have also been sighted in the Pacific Northwest.

See also:
Summer Plant from Hell: Giant Hogweed Can Burn, Scar and Blind You
Look out for Giant Hogweed
Giant worries over hogweed
Avoid Giant Hogweed: Noxious plant can cause blindness
Blistering, blinding weed creeps toward a city near you
Beware giant hogweed and its burning, blinding sap
Hogweed poses serious threat to New York citizens
Giant Hogweed Invades NY! This Weed Can Burn You, But Probably Won’t Eat You
What’s going on here? DEC to address hogweed problem in Springwater
Giant hogweed gone wild along Thames
Giant hogweed: 8 facts you must know about the toxic plant

I must confess, up until this week’s out of nowhere media blitz, despite years of extensive Boy Scout training, I’d never even heard of this marauding botanical menace.

/except as an early Genesis song

Rust Ever Seeps

Damn, that’s a [expletive deleted]load of sludge. Three days later and it’s still spreading?

Explainer: Hungary’s toxic sludge torrent

A tide of toxic red mud burst through the walls of a giant storage reservoir at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar alumina refinery on the outskirts of Akja, a small town in the county of Veszprem, Hungary on Monday, October 4.

So far, four people are known to have been killed by the torrent, six people are missing and more than 120 people have been injured by the sludge which inundated the villages of Kolontar, Devecser and Somlovasarhely, around 150 kilometers southwest of the capital, Budapest.

According to Zoltan Illes, Hungary’s Environmental Affairs State Secretary, around one million cubic meters of sludge has leaked from the reservoir covering over 40 square kilometers of land.

Illes described the flood as Hungary’s worst chemical accident and an “ecological catastrophe.”

. . .

According to MAL Magyar Aluminum — owners of the Ajkai refinery — the majority (around 45 percent) of the sludge in the spill contains iron oxide (hence its rusty red color). It also contains aluminum oxide, silicon dioxide, calcium dioxide, titanium oxide and oxygen-bonded sodium oxide.

People coming into contact with the sludge have suffered burns because the sludge has a high pH (alkali) content and can, if breathed in as dust, cause damage to the lungs.

See also:
Hungary’s toxic sludge reminiscent of 2000 Romania disaster – but much worse
Hungary Continues to Battle Its Toxic Flood
Hungary’s Toxic Red Sludge Reaches Danube River
Toxic Sludge From Hungary Spill Hits Danube
In pictures: Hungary’s toxic disaster
Hungarian waste pond was on list of risky sites
Sludge flood like Hungary’s unlikely in US
Officials worry sludge will be harder to dilute
Will Hungary’s toxic red sludge spill extend beyond Danube?
MAL Magyar Alumínium

Gee, you’d think they wouldn’t collect all that toxic waste in one place. The massive reservoir is obviously a relic from the days of the Soviet Union and everybody knows the Soviets were big on protecting the environment and never cut corners.

/poor Hungarians, sucks to be them right now, but this disaster was decades in the making, they should have done something about the obvious potential problem a long time ago

Enemy Of The Economy

Elizabeth Warren has never held a private sector job, never worked in the financial industry, and she hates banks, with a passion. So, what’s Obama’s brilliant idea? Let’s put her in charge of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection bureaucracy! There’s only one problem, that position requires Senate confirmation and Warren is so toxic that even top Democrats know that there’s no way she would ever be confirmed. So, does that stop Obama, have Constitutional requirements ever stopped Obama? Hell no! Obama just ignored the Senate confirmation requirement and appointed her as his newest “czarina”.

Obama names Warren to new post

President Obama on Friday formally tapped Harvard Law Prof. Elizabeth Warren as a “special adviser” tasked with setting up a new consumer watchdog agency, sidestepping a thorny Senate confirmation battle and drawing the ire of Republicans.

Ms. Warren, who had been serving as head of the investigative board that oversees the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, is a hero to many progressives but is viewed coolly by financial firms turned off by her harsh rhetoric surrounding their role in the recession.

That’s likely one of the reasons Mr. Obama opted not to name Ms. Warren director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as that position would require Senate confirmation — something that even Democrats, including Sen. Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, have said may not be possible. Instead, she will take the lead in establishing the new regulator, serving as a special adviser to Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner and a special assistant to Mr. Obama.

See also:
Warren takes post; liberals cheer
Hurdles for Warren in Agency Launch
Warren is named bureau adviser
Obama taps Elizabeth Warren to launch Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Barack Obama taps Elizabeth Warren for consumer watchdog job
What has Wall Street got against Elizabeth Warren?
Obama names consumer advocate Warren to new post
Obama makes it offical: taps Elizabeth Warren as financial consumer czar
Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren

Oh boy, just what this economy needs, a brand new gigantic government bureaucracy, created by someone with zero private sector experience, that will generate reams of onerous new government regulations. Is it any wonder why the United States has such an unfriendly business climate?

/somewhere in Germany, the Board of Deutsche Bank is smiling