Monday, January 31, 2011

Water flowing into the Arctic Ocean is 'warmest it's been for more than 2,000 years'



-Scientists fear temperature rise could lead to an Ice-free Artic, endangering polar bears.

Water flowing from the North Atlantic into the Arctic is at its warmest level for more than 2,000 years.

The sea in the Gulf Stream between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard reached an average of 6C (42F) in recent summers, warmer than at natural peaks during Roman or Medieval times.

Scientists fear the temperature spikes could lead to an ice-free Arctic in years to come and could endanger polar bears, who need the ice in order to survive.

Such changes could also lead to rising sea levels around the world and ‘drastic changes’ to the environment, researchers have concluded.

The latest findings were presented by scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder who examined tiny plankton-like organisms on the seabed of the Fram strait, which is is the main carrier of ocean heat to the Arctic.

As data from the water only goes back 150 years, they had to drill into sediment on the ocean’s sea bed to find organisms dating back 2,000 years and then analysed their chemical composition to determine past water temperatures. Read more...

Volcano evacuation zone widens - JAPAN

MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) Officials in Takaharu, Miyazaki Prefecture, have told about 500 households to evacuate because the eruption of Mount Kirishima's Shinmoedake peak on the border with Kagoshima could trigger landslides and send boulders flying.

Takaharu issued the recommendation at around midnight Sunday after the Miyazaki Local Meteorological Observatory said the lava dome on the 1,421-meter peak was rising. The warning could affect as many as 1,100 residents.About 610 people had evacuated to four shelters as of Monday morning, the town said.

The Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory, however, said the degree of risk is not high enough to issue such a recommendation.

According to the Kagoshima observatory, satellite images of the volcano show that the lava dome, which was 100 meters in diameter Thursday, had grown to about 500 meters in diameter on Saturday.

At Shinmoedake peak, small eruptions have continued since it spewed ash and rocks in its first major eruption in 189 years last week, disrupting traffic and people's lives. Source...

Climate change: 2011 bodes more weather anomalies

The world is finally coming to terms with an inconvenient truth. Across the globe, leaders are waking up to the fact that global warming is a real threat. And its impact is palpable, often immediate—disasters and human suffering carried live on television or the Internet almost as they occur. Last month, as the United States prepared for Christmas, its East Coast was buried under the avalanche of gale-force blizzards. This record snowfall was a reprise of a wintry assault that devastated major cities in the mid-Atlantic region in February last year. In July last year, an intense heat wave spread from Maine to Pennsylvania. By the following month, the continuing drought shrank Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir in Nevada and Arizona, by a significant margin. Then in spring, torrential rains unleashed floods across southeast America even as summer heat waves ravaged much of the northern hemisphere. As 2011 approached, thousands in Queensland, Australia, suddenly found themselves marooned by floodwaters of Tropical Cyclone “Tasha,” which eventually swamped a vast land area equivalent to France and Germany combined. While diplomats and scientists pondered over an accord that could replace the Kyoto Protocol, 19 nations were experiencing unusually high temperatures, including 53.5 degrees Celsius in Pakistan, the hottest ever in Asia. In Pakistan, record monsoon rains destroyed infrastructure, left thousands dead and millions homeless. In Eastern Europe, Russia suffered its hottest year in 1,000 years of history. At least 10,000 people died from Moscow’s heat phenomenon. Wildfires erupted across the country, heavily damaging its wheat crop and forcing Moscow to impose an export ban that raised global wheat prices.

In Baguio City - Philippines, millions worth of fruits and vegetables were ruined by heavy frost of an unseasonably cold weather. More than a week of abnormally heavy rains left 33 dead last December. About 70,000 fled the flash floods and landslides in Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Albay. Read More..

The ROSWELSH Incident - Wales 1974

EVERY time Huw Lloyd ventures on to the peaks above his farmhouse, his thoughts return to a strange night almost 40 years ago - and a UFO mystery that has never been explained.

Huw, then 14, had been watching television with his two older sisters and a neighbour when their hillside home in North Wales was rocked by a "violent thud" that knocked him from his chair.

Within minutes four police officers were at his front door, asking if his father could drive them into the inhospitable Berwyn Mountains in a farm vehicle.

They said a plane had crashed.

Huw's father was out so the teenager, who had been driving Land Rovers around the family farm for years, volunteered to take them.

Within minutes he was at the wheel of his dad's Land Rover, driving the officers through the gloom.

Huw said: "Our neighbour, a retired RAF officer, sat in the -passenger seat and the policemen were in the back."

As the Land Rover nosed carefully along the track that wound through thick forests and bogs, the officers kept colleagues informed of their progress via their radios.

Meanwhile, Huw began to prepare himself for the grim scene that might lie ahead.

"I was expecting we'd find a blazing aircraft with bodies strewn among wreckage," he said.

The Land Rover was nearing the 2,723ft summit of the highest peak in the Berwyn mountain range - Cadair Berwyn - when they were "blinded" by the brightest light Huw, now 51, has ever seen.

"It must have been about 30 minutes after the explosion we'd heard while we were in the house. Suddenly the whole sky was lit up by the most incredible white light, brighter it seemed than even the sun. For close on 30 seconds the skies were filled with this light for as far as you could see."

The awed youngster quickly composed himself and pressed on, only for the 4x4 to get stuck in a bog.

The officers got out to free it but when they had done so and got back in, one of them said quietly: "Take us back down the mountain, please. We're done here."

The teenager was dumbfounded. Read more...

Moscow flu epidemic closes all schools: 90,000 diagnosed within one week, 93 H1N1 cases

Moscow and two other cities shut their schools for a week Saturday and urged children not to play in groups in a bid to stamp out the worst flu outbreak to hit central Russia in more than a decade.

The Moscow education department's order covered more than 1,500 public and private elementary schools.

Education officials said this meant that nearly 500,000 children would get an unscheduled week-long vacation in the first such shutdown to strike the Russian capital since 1998.

"Even today, some classes are already missing half their students," an official with Moscow's health control service told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

Source

Sweet potato culprit in death of 200 cows?

Authorities investigating the deaths of 200 cows in Wisconsin have come up with an unlikely culprit: the sweet potato.

The cows were found dead in a Stockton pasture two weeks ago. Locals were left scratching their heads about what caused the mass die-off. Investigators from the University of Wisconsin have determined that the animals were killed by a poison found in spoiled sweet potatoes that were part of the cattle's feed.

"It is likely that a mycotoxin from moldy sweet potato was a major factor in the disease and deaths of these steers," said Peter Vanderloo, associate director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

- Mycotoxins can appear in the food chain as a result of fungal infection of crops, either by being eaten directly by humans, or by being used as livestock feed. Mycotoxins greatly resist decomposition or being broken down in digestion, so they remain in the food chain in meat and dairy products. Even temperature treatments, such as cooking and freezing, do not destroy mycotoxins.

I have several questions regarding the explanation of this case, the farmer I assume is well aware of the risks involved with certain feeds considering he has been cattle farming for 20 years or more, Farmers earn their living from healthy and well maintained crops, cattle and land, it is their job and their life to know how to achieve this. Most famers would know what was wrong with their stock or crops before even calling in a vet.

Why did the farmer feed his cows sweet potato if it is so highly toxic when spoiled? Why would he risk it?

Why did the original report mention the Farmer had no clue what had killed his herd? Did he not notice Mycotoxins poisoning Symptoms?

Here is a simular case from 2003 -

FIGHERA, Rafael A. et al. Interstitial pneumonia in cattle fed moldy sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas). Pesq. Vet. Bras. [online]. 2003, vol.23, n.4, pp. 161-166. ISSN 0100-736X. doi: 10.1590/S0100-736X2003000400004.

Cases of respiratory disease were diagnosed in five out of 23 cattle (21.7%) after they were fed moldy damaged sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) on a small farm in the county of São Vicente do Sul, state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Of those five cattle, three died spontaneously and another one was euthanatized for necropsy while showing advanced respiratory clinical signs. The disease manifested itself approximately 24 hours after the ingestion of the sweet potatoes and lasted from 1 to 4 days. Clinical signs included dyspnea (labored breathing and abdominal respiration), tachypnea, extended neck with low carriage of the head and rhythmical flaring of the nostrils. Two cows were necropsied. Necropsy findings included distended pale and rubbery lungs which failed to collapse when the thorax was open, and marked pulmonary interstitial emphysema and edema. Lymphoid hyperplasia was observed in the hilar nodes and spleen. Histologically, the lesions were those of interstitial pneumonia. Alveolar septa were thickened by fibroblasts and inflammatory cells, and there was hypertrophy and hyperplasia of type II pneumocytes; the interlobular septa were distended by edema and emphysema. The culture of the moldy sweet potatoes yielded Fusarium solani and Fusarium oxysporum.

BREAKING NEWS - Magnitude 6.0 Hits TONGA 30th Jan 2011

Monday 31st Jan 2011 at 06:03 UTC a Magnitude 6.0 hit Tonga, at a debth of 68.6 KM (42.6 miles)

There is currently no immediate Tsunami warning and no further reports available from the Pacific Tsunami Warnign Centre, which monitors the region and issues bulletins in the event of a Tsunami being generated .

The quake follows a 5.8 Magnitude of 7 days ago which struck 65 km southeast of Neiafu, Tonha.

The region lies in the "Pacific Ring of Fire", a highly active earthquake and volcanic zone.

The Real China #2: 20 million so poor they must live in air-raid shelters

There, in the city's vast network of unused air defence bunkers, as many as a million people live in small, windowless rooms that rent for £30 to £50 a month, which is as much as many of the city's army of migrant labourers can afford.

In a Beijing suburb, beneath one of the thousands of faceless residential tower blocks that have carpeted the city's peripheries in a decade-long building frenzy, one of Beijing's "bomb shelter hoteliers", as they are known, agrees to shows us his wares.

Passing under a green sign proclaiming "Air Defence Basement", Mr Zhao leads us down two flights of stairs to the network of corridors and rooms that were designed to offer sanctuary in the event of war or disaster.

"We have two sizes of room," he says, stepping past heaps of clutter belonging to residents, most of whom work in the nearby cloth wholesale market. "The small ones [6ft by 9ft] are 300 yuan [£30] the big ones [15ft by 6ft] are 500 yuan."

Source

Iraq and Afghanistan Casuality Diagram: A Year of Colourful Sadness

In 2010, the United States and its allies continued to shift the military focus from Iraq and to Afghanistan. American troop levels in Iraq fell by half, from more than 100,000 troops in January to under 50,000. In Afghanistan, a surge of mainly United States troops brought numbers to roughly 140,000, from near 100,000 at the beginning of the year. As shown in the chart (based on data from the Pentagon, icasualties.org and American allies), in 2010 there were 696 fatalities in Afghanistan and 56 in Iraq.

Source

Egypt's Crisis Intensifies: Tribes Threaten to Attack Suez Canal if Mubarak Does Not Step Down


Bedouin tribesman have reportedly taken control of two towns in the Sinai Peninsula. These two towns are the closest to the Gaza Strip and right next to the border with Israel. There were reports yesterday that Bedouin tribes had besieged a police station in Suez and it appears that these riots have spread. This would effectively end the Mubarak dictatorship’s control of the region. There are no reports of the Egyptian military stepping in here.

The more disturbing news is a threat that has been made by the tribes if Mubarak does not step down. According to one report coming from Time Magazine, they are willing to attack the Suez Canal if Mubarak does not leave. The Suez Canal currently is where a third of the world’s oil and six percent of all products passes through. A seizure of the Canal could spike oil prices beyond the current $90 level, perhaps over $110. This could come to pass despite the fact that Egypt is not a major oil producer.

Source

Amazing on-the-ground scenes from Egypt's People's Revolution

Church Foreclosures Surge, Seen as 'Next Wave' in Crisis

Residential and commercial real-estate owners aren't the only ones losing their properties to foreclosure. The past few years have seen a rapid acceleration in the number of churches losing their sanctuaries because they can't pay the mortgage.

Just as homeowners borrowed too much or built too big during boom times, many churches did the same and now are struggling as their congregations shrink and collections fall owing to rising unemployment and a weak economy.

Since 2008, nearly 200 religious facilities have been foreclosed on by banks, up from eight during the previous two years and virtually none in the decade before that, according to real-estate services firm CoStar Group, Inc. Analysts and bankers say hundreds of additional churches face financial struggles so severe they could face foreclosure or bankruptcy in the near future.

Source