Category Archives: World News

Trapped Bridge Collapse Victims

This is insane and heartbreaking:

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said cars are still trapped beneath the water under crumpled concrete and that some bodies are in there.

During rescue operations Wednesday night, divers saw victims in submerged cars as darkness postponed the work.

Dolan said this morning at a news conference that several rescue workers had to make the difficult decision of leaving them there because it was unsafe to attempt a rescue.

He said several of the trapped motorists asked his officers and fire fighters to say goodbye to their loved ones.

“The recovery involving those vehicles and the people who may be in those vehicles is going to take a long time,” Dolan said. “We’re dealing with the Mississippi River. We’re dealing with currents, and we’re going to have to do it slowly and safely.” (from the Star Tribune, emphasis mine)

Update: CNN included this bit:

“There’s an individual case where an individual was severely injured and was talking to a medical personnel and was able to say his goodbyes to his family [before] he passed on,” Dolan told a news conference.

I hope that means there weren’t any victims left alive in submerged cars that rescuers had to give up on due to the darkness. That’s what the Star Trib report makes it sound like, and that’s just horrifying. The CNN report is still heartbreaking, but sounds like a situation where nothing could be done.

I-35W Bridge Collapse Aftermath: What Can We Do?

It’s the next morning and the dead/injured toll has risen (9 dead, 60 injured, 20 missing). I’m feeling a similar kind of shock I felt after 9/11 (though not nearly as extreme), where I can’t tear myself away from the coverage. I know there’s not much new to report, but I keep wanting to check in, to search for more photos, more video, more snippets of something.

I’m also feeling an incredible voyeuristic/rubbernecking thing where I want to go down there and see it for myself. I think a lot of people feel the same way. I keep trying to think of something productive I could do–donate blood, donate money, pray. None of it seems solid or real enough to matter (though I know it does).

  • I want to find out if there’s one of those impromptu memorials where people put up photos and flowers and light candles.
  • I want to know if I can go down near the scene without causing more problems.
  • It’s ridiculously early for this, but I think there should be some kind of permanent memorial, a statue or a sculpture or something, there on the shore of the Mississippi.
  • I want to go to a memorial/benefit concert or just do something.
  • I want to find a way to funnel this voyeuristic feeling and impulse to go down to the scene into something productive. You just know loads of folks like me are thinking the same thing and the Stone Arch Bridge is going to be packed, I’d bet even into the weekend. I wish there was a way all those people could do contribute to something productive and uplifting.

I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis Collapses into Mississippi River

Wow. Breaking news as the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour, sending as many as 20 cars into the Mississippi River below. From the pictures it looks like the entire length of the bridge fell, not just one section, with parts of the destroyed bridge submerged and parts above the water.

A few concerned relatives called to make sure we were OK, and we’re fine. We hadn’t even heard about it until we got the call. It’s actually pretty rare that we take I-35W, even more rare that we’d take that bridge. Though ironically, Lexi and I took that bridge on Tuesday and were in the area near the river on Monday (see a pic with a vague view of the bridge).


Continue reading I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis Collapses into Mississippi River

Gas Prices Drop, Energy Prices Rise

I paid $2.10 per gallon for gas today, a 30% drop from what I paid two months ago when it was $2.99 per gallon. The media has finally realized that gas prices are dropping, though in my area at least they’re falling far below pre-Katrina levels. I’m not complaining, but this seems pretty bizarre.

Especially considering that oil company profit margins were up 62% in the third quarter. Oil company incomes for 2005 are up 30 to 50 percent over 2004. Apparently I’m not the only one scratching my head. The Senate is also investigating high oil company profits following the recent spike in gas prices.

Of course Congress doesn’t have to look far for the blame—the energy bill passed in August gave $4 billion in tax breaks to the oil industry, equivalent to 40% of Exxon-Mobil’s net earnings last quarter, which were already up 75% over the same period last year.

So was the Katrina price-spike for real? I’d like to believe quick responses in the wake of disaster brought the prices back down, but I’m not so sure.

Continue reading Gas Prices Drop, Energy Prices Rise

Overwhelmed by Katrina

Nobody really cares what someone a few thousand miles away has to say, but Hurricane Katrina just overwhelms me. Initially I paid little attention to the news reports. It sounded like another hurricane. Sucks to live in the path of a tropical storm. Made me appreciate the midwest.

Then on Wednesday I started to hear stories about levies breaking and dire situations. On Thursday I finally tuned in for real and it just blew me away. Everything about it just breaks my heart. And pisses me off. And then breaks my heart again.

Continue reading Overwhelmed by Katrina

Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

I’m shocked watching the news about everything that’s happening in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It saddens me that there could be so much devastation and so many people killed. But it maddens me to see that the response hasn’t been enough, that it’s too little, too late.

Sheesh, this is America.

Why is it so hard to mobilize a relief effort? We put a man on the moon 40 years ago, but we can’t stop the chaos after a hurricane.

Continue reading Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

Peter Jennings Died

The ABC newscaster of the past 20 years died today. Peter Jennings has been the primary news journalist for my lifetime and he died from lung cancer today. He’s been away from the news for a good four months battling cancer and it’s a shock to hear that he’s gone.

As early as I can remember my family watched ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings (which is what it’s still called today), and I remember seeing him give the world news. Everything from Israel and Palestine conflict, to the first Iraq War to 9/11.

Cool NPR Stories

Twice now today I’ve pulled into a parking spot while running errands and let the car run while listening to the radio. NPR had two good interviews today, the first with Geek Squad techie guru Robert Stephens. Basically he’s fielding stupid computer question calls, which was just fun to hear. Next up was the failed presidential bid of General Wesley Clark.

Clark was especially interesting to hear, given his military background and anti-Iraq war stance. It was also intriguing to hear his thoughts about getting into the presidential bid. The funniest moment was when he talked about making the decision to run. His wife went for a walk and told him he better make up his mind by the time she got back. He sat down and read his favorite Psalms and then prayed. And he got nothing. The way he build it up was great (I’m not doing it any justice).

Red Lake School Shooting

The school shooting in Red Lake, Minn. yesterday that left 10 dead and 12 wounded is just plain depressing. It’s sad that nearly six years after Columbine these things continue to happen.

What’s most distressing is the description of the shooter from a student. She describes what seem like obvious cries for help that seem to have gone ignored:

[Jeff] Weise was into goth culture, [17-year-old Sondra Hegstrom] said, wore “a big old black trench coat,” drew pictures of skeletons, listened to heavy metal music and “talked about death all the time.”

A couple of his friends had said he was suicidal, she said, and Hegstrom quoted his friends as saying they were watching a movie once when he said, “That would be cool if I shot up the school.”

“They didn’t think anything of it,” Hegstrom said, but “he got terrorized a lot.” He was called names and people thought he was weird. “I’m still trembling,” she said late last night. “I just can’t believe this stuff is happening.”

Who knows how much of that is true. Goth culture, video games and Marilyn Manson were quickly blamed after Columbine, but I don’t think those charges stuck. What does seem to be consistent is teens being “terrorized,” to use Hegstrom’s words. It’s sad that a teen in that position would turn to a bloody rampage to solve their problems. When something like that happens it’s clear society as a whole is dropping the ball on so many fronts.