Friday, February 4, 2011

Special report: Catastrophic drought in the Amazon

A widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the "lungs of the world" to produce more carbon dioxide than they absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming. Scientists have calculated that the 2010 drought was more intense than the "one-in-100-year" drought of 2005.

They are predicting it will result in some eight billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being expelled from the Amazon rainforest, which is more than the total annual carbon emissions of the United States. For the second time in less than a decade, the earth's greatest rainforest released more carbon dioxide than it absorbed because many of its trees dried out and died.

Scientists believe that the highly unusual nature of the two droughts, which occurred in the space of just five years, may be the result of higher sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, which could also be influenced by global warming caused by the release of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Anglo-Brazilian team of researchers has emphasised that there is as yet no proof that the two highly unusual droughts in the Amazon are the direct result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but the scientists have warned that the world is gambling with its future if it fails to curb fossil fuel emissions. Read More..

BREAKING NEWS: 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake MYANMAR-INDIA BORDER REGION 4th Feb 2011

An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter Scale shook most of North-East this evening, creating panic in the region.

The epicentre of the quake was located at the Indo-Myanmar border and it occurred at 7.24 p.m., Central Seismological Observatory here said.

People ran out of their homes as the quake shook the buildings for about 10 seconds.

The epicentre was located at 24.8 degree North Latitude and 94.6 degree East Longitude.

The quake occurred 30 km below the earth’s surface and was felt in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and parts of Mizoram and Nagaland.

No immediate report of any damage or casualty has been received. Source...

Tully Heads residents return home after Cyclone Yasi wreaked havoc

DEVASTATED locals in the coastal hamlet of Tully Heads are struggling to cope as they try to comprehend the destruction of Cyclone Yasi.

The sleepy seaside community was virtually annihilated by the category five cyclone which struck on Wednesday night.

Some residents of Tully Heads, almost obliterated by Yasi, only discovered the extent of their heartbreak today after getting into the community by four-wheel drive.

Those who could make it into town were in tears as they surveyed the damage.

Many broke down and cried unashamedly.

Others stood wide eyed, their jaws dropped.

It could have been a disaster movie, but it wasn't.

The storm surge washed entire homes away like they were sandcastles and reduced brick and concrete structures to rubble.

Fridges, yachts, ovens and pool tables have been washed 100m inland, while the remnants of homes litter the streets creating obstacle courses for vehicles. Read More...

New Orleans population nearly 30 per cent lower than before Hurricane Katrina

Over five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the aesthetic scars may be slowly healing but the impact clearly still remains - as it was revealed that the population of the city is nearly 30 per cent smaller than a decade ago.

The Louisiana city, which was the 24th biggest city in the U.S. two decades ago, is now languishing as the 53rd most populated.

According to the Census Bureau, just 343,829 people were living in the city as of April 1 last year.

In 2000, five years before the hurricane which claimed the lives of over 1,800 people, New Orleans was inhabited by a healthy 484,674.

African-American residents were hit particularly hard by the natural disaster, which impacted most heavily on predominantly black areas, such as the 9th Ward where there were several breaches in the levee holding back flood waters.

The city, which was once more than two-thirds black, now has 118,000 fewer black residents, shrinking the overall share to 60 per cent, according to figures published in the New York Times.

It is believed many who are yet to return to the city are still waiting for promised insurance or government money which would enable them to repair their damaged homes and make them habitable once again.

The number of children is down 56,193 - a staggering 44 per cent drop. Read more...

The indestructible insect: New mosquito that evades malaria control measures is 'impossible' to kill off

A new type of mosquito discovered in Africa could further complicate the fight to control malaria, according to scientists.

French researchers collecting mosquitoes from ponds near villages in Burkina Faso, West Africa, say they have identified a subtype of the Anopheles gambiae unlike any documented before.

The mosquito is highly susceptible to infection with the malaria parasite, likes to rest outside, not indoors, and can therefore evade most current control measures.

Dr Ken Vernick discovered the mosquito - nicknamed Goundry after one of the villages near where it was discovered - with colleagues at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris.

He said: 'They are very susceptible to the human malaria parasite, we know they belong to a species that has an exquisite preference for human blood, and we know they are abundant in the population.'

Dr Vernick said his team is not yet able to quantify how much malaria transmission this new mosquito subtype is responsible for, but they feared it might be a major factor. Read more...

2nd Pilot whale beaching in 2 Weeks - New Zealand

4th Feb. 2011 - Ten pilot whales died when about 82 of the mammals beached at the top of New Zealand's South Island on Friday, officials said, warning that the others could not be refloated immediately.

'It is an ordeal for them to be exposed stranded like that and be exposed in the sun,' Conservation Department spokeswoman Trish Grant said. 'Unfortunately some just do die.' 'We'd be optimistic that there are surviving whales tomorrow that we can refloat.' The stranding occurred at Farewell Spit on Golden Bay, about 150 kilometres west of the tourist city of Nelson.

Local residents initially reported about 30 whales were stranded and the number grew through the afternoon. About 100 department of conservation staff were working to keep the whales cool and hydrated in the afternoon sun, Grant said.

The next high tide is due around midnight but it would be too dangerous to refloat the whales then and staff have wait until the morning again to carry out the rescue attempt. Grant said: 'It's something that has occurred reasonably often in Golden Bay with pilot whales, and just even the shape of the bay could mean they kind of get a bit caught with the spit coming round, so it could just be navigational error.' Pilot whales up to six metres long are the most common species of whale seen in New Zealand waters. Source..

Note: Just 2 weeks ago 24 pilot whales died in New Zealand.

Battlefield: Egypt, and its getting worse by the day

World food prices at fresh high, says FAO

World food prices rose to a record high in January, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The FAO Food Price Index, which measures the wholesale price of basic foods within a basket, averaged 231 points last month, up by 3.4% from December.

It is the seventh monthly rise for the index.

"These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come," FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian said.

The index is now at its highest level since the FAO started the measure in 1990 and higher than June 2008 when the cost of food sparked violent protests in countries including Cameroon, Haiti and Egypt.

Read more

Is Global Inflation Far Higher Than Official Data?

The latest official inflation data show that consumer prices rose 1.5 percent in the U.S. last year, while they increased 2.4 percent in the euro zone for the year ended in January. Marc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report, says don’t believe those numbers.

Inflation totals 5 percent to 8 percent in the United States and slightly lower in Europe, he tells CNBC.

“I guarantee you … the annual (U.S.) cost of living increases are more than 5 percent, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (which computes the consumer price index) is lying,” Faber says.

“Inflation is much higher than what they publish. I would imagine for most households it’s between 5 and 8 percent in the United States, and in Western European countries maybe a little bit lower — 4 or 5 percent.”

Read more

Arizona to secede from the Union? - New bill in the works

Members of the state Legislature, including Arizona's de facto governor, Senate President Russell Pearce, have introduced a bill that essentially would have Arizona secede from the union without having to do so officially.

Really.

It's called SB1433, (See it here.) It creates a 12-member committee within the legislature that could "vote by simple majority to nullify in its entirety a specific federal law or regulation that is outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government…"

Committee members themselves would decide this, then pass along their recommendation to the full Legislature. If, in turn, a majority of state lawmakers go along with the committee then, according to the bill, "this state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order."

The nullification committee also would be permitted to review all existing federal laws to see if our legislative geniuses want to toss them out as well.

Read more

QE3 “May Get Discussed,” Says Fed’s Hoenig


QE3 may be coming to a central bank near you later this year, according to according to Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig, who said that the Federal Reserve may consider extending its quantitative easing program beyond June 30, 2010 – the current completion date scheduled for QE2 – if U.S. economic data does not meet policymakers expectations in the coming months.

Another round of asset purchases “may get discussed” if the economic data looks “disappointing,” Hoenig told Market News International in an interview on Tuesday, according to a report from Reuters.

Read more

Donald Trump: Things could get much worse

Billionaire developer and potential presidential candidate Donald Trump predicts the price of gold will continue to climb because Americans have no confidence in President Barack Obama. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, he also warned that trouble looms for the U.S. economy.

“If oil prices are allowed to inflate and keep inflating, if the dollar keeps going down in value, I think there’s a very distinct possibility that things could get worse.”

Read More