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Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005 and 9 in 2007, as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is now the least-populous municipality in Pennsylvania, with four fewer residents than the borough of S.N.P.J. It is not known for certain how the fire that made Centralia essentially unlivable was ignited. One theory asserts that in May 1962, Centralia Borough Council hired five members of the volunteer fire company to clean up the town landfill, located in an abandoned strip mine pit next to the Odd Fellows Cemetery. This had been done prior to Memorial Day in previous years, when the landfill was in a different location. The firefighters, as they had in the past, set the dump on fire, and let it burn for a time. Unlike in previous years, however, the fire was not extinguished. Other evidence supports this theory, as stated in Joan Quigley's 2007 missive, such as the fact that one of two trash haulers (Curly Stasulevich or Sam Devine) dumped hot ash and/or coal discard from coal burners into the open trash pit. The borough, by law, was responsible for installing a fire-resistant clay barrier between each layer but had fallen behind. This action allowed the hot coals to penetrate the vein of coal underneath the pit and subsequent subterranean fire. Quigley cites "interviews with volunteer firemen, the former fire chief, borough officials, and several eyewitnesses, as well as contemporaneous borough council minutes" as her sources for this explanation of the fire. Very few homes remain standing in Centralia; most of the abandoned buildings have been demolished by humans or nature. At a casual glance the area now appears to be a field with many paved streets running through it. Some areas are being filled with new-growth forest. Most of Centralia's roads and sidewalks are overgrown with brush, although some areas appear to be mowed.[6] The remaining church in the borough, St. Mary's, holds weekly services on Sunday and is unaffected by the fire. The town's four cemeteries are maintained in good condition and now have a far greater population than the town, including one on the hilltop that has smoke rising around and out of it. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The XM307 Advanced Crew Served Weapon (ACSW) is a developmental 25 mm belt-fed Grenade Machine Gun with smart shell capability. It is the result of the OCSW or Objective Crew Served Weapon project. It is lightweight and designed to be two-man portable, as well as vehicle mounted. The XM307 can kill or suppress enemy soldiers out to 2,000 metres (2,187 yd), and destroy lightly armored vehicles, watercraft, and helicopters at 1,000 metres (1,094 yd). The primary advantage of the XM307 is its attenuated recoil system. The weapon controls recoil to a degree that a large tripod and heavy sandbags are not required to effectively employ this weapon. Because of this reduced recoil impulse and light weight, other mounting options are also possible such as small unmanned vehicles and aircraft. The XM307's airburst rounds make it much easier to bypass walls protecting enemies that could cause collateral damage if fired upon directly. Operators do not have to shoot through the wall, just through an opening or over the top to kill the people behind the cover, leaving the structure of the building intact. An additional advantage of the XM307 is that it can be converted into the XM312, a .50 cal version for infantry and light anti-armor support in under two minutes (1min 47sec). [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore the condition is classified as a medical emergency. The most common symptoms of meningitis are headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light (photophobia) or loud noises (phonophobia). Sometimes, especially in small children, only nonspecific symptoms may be present, such as irritability and drowsiness. If a rash is present, it may indicate a particular cause of meningitis; for instance, meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria may be accompanied by a characteristic rash. A lumbar puncture may be used to diagnose or exclude meningitis. This involves inserting a needle into the spinal canal to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that envelops the brain and spinal cord. The CSF is then examined in a medical laboratory. The usual treatment for meningitis is the prompt application of antibiotics and sometimes antiviral drugs. In some situations, corticosteroid drugs can also be used to prevent complications from overactive inflammation. Meningitis can lead to serious long-term consequences such as deafness, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and cognitive deficits, especially if not treated quickly. Some forms of meningitis (such as those associated with meningococci, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococci or mumps virus infections) may be prevented by immunization. Meningitis can be diagnosed after death has occurred. The findings from a post mortem are usually a widespread inflammation of the pia mater and arachnoid layers of the meninges covering the brain and spinal cord. Neutrophil granulocytes tend to have migrated to the cerebrospinal fluid and the base of the brain, along with cranial nerves and the spinal cord, may be surrounded with pus—as may the meningeal vessels. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, and airplanes. Several hundred were fired in combat during the 1980s. In 1982, during the Falklands War, Exocets became noted worldwide when Argentine Navy Exocet-equipped Super Etendard warplanes sank the British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield on 4 May 1982, and the 15,000 ton merchant ship Atlantic Conveyor, were struck by two Exocet anti-ship missiles, on 25 May. An MM38 ship-to-ship Exocet transferred from the Argentinean Navy destroyer ARA Guerrico to a land-based truck damaged HMS Glamorgan on June 12. Iraq fired an estimated 200 air-launched Exocets against Iranian shipping during the Iran–Iraq War with varying levels of success. Tankers and other civilian shipping were often hit. On May 17, 1987, the pilot of an Iraqi Mirage F-1 allegedly mistook the U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate USS Stark for an Iranian tanker and fired two Exocets at the warship. The first penetrated the port-side hull. The second entered at almost the same point, and left a 3-by-4-metre (9.8 ft × 13 ft) gash then exploded in crew quarters. Thirty-seven sailors were killed and twenty-one were injured. Stark was heavily damaged, but saved by the crew and sent back for repairs. The errant pilot was reportedly executed for his error, and his explanations for the attack are not available. Later, Iraqi officials denied that the pilot had been executed and stated that he was still alive. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



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