From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Global Environment 2019 APRIL-JUNE"
This file is attached to http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterEight/2014-2017.htm from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
This link will return you to Global Environment 2019 January-March or continue to Global Environment 2019 July-September
Global Environment 2019 APRIL-JUNE
2019 World Disaster and Environmental Issues
- Environmental Changes and Pollution and Extinction 2019:
- Ecology affected (Fish, Frogs, Trees, Deforestation, Rivers, Oceans and Coral reefs), Industrial waste products released (Mercury, Cyanide, Dioxins, Cadmium, Pesticides, Atrazine (weed killer), antibiotics, steroids, hormones, bacteria, sulfur dioxide, arsenic, irradiation [Cobalt 60], DDT, Ammonium perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) or C-8)
- Environmental Changes and the Global Warming Controversy 2019:
- "Greenhouse Effect", Ice Age Reversal, Climatic Changes, Ozone Layer.
- This file is to bring to light how many global wild fires, earthquakes, severe rainstorms and flooding, diseases, mudslides, volcano eruptions, structure collapses, cyclones, typhoons, chemical leaks, high winds, hurricanes, tornados and solar-lunar-planet-asteroids-comets movements that have occurred in the year 2018.
- And as will be seen in the changes being made from the Obama-era policies verses the Trump changes.
- Environmental Changes and Biotechnology, Genetically Designed Crops, etc., 2019:
- Environmental Changes and World-Wide Diseases 2018:
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs),
Mad Cow Disease, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile Virus, Tuberculosis, and other that might come along.
Please return to see the rest of 2019.
- APRIL 2019
- 4/1/2019 25 killed, hundreds injured by rainstorm in southern Nepal
KATHMANDU, Nepal – A rainstorm swept through southern Nepal on Sunday, leaving at least 25 people dead and hundreds more injured, officials said. Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli in a Twitter message said he received a report of 25 people killed and 400 injured. Rescue and helicopters with night vision capabilities were waiting for the weather to clear to help bring the injured from the villages. Government administrator Rajesh Poudel said the number of deaths would likely increase.
- 4/1/2019 Severe thunderstorm in Nepal leaves 25 dead, hundreds injured by Gopal Sharma
A boy holding a schoolbag walks on the debris of collapsed houses damaged by the
storm in Bara district, Nepal April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Over two dozen people were killed in a severe thunderstorm that swept through parts of southern Nepal late on Sunday and hundreds more were injured, police and officials said.
Nepal’s Prime Minster K.P. Sharma Oli in a tweet said 25 people had been killed, and around 400 were injured.
“Helicopters have been kept ready for immediate rescue and relief,” Oli said in his post. He offered condolences to the families of the victims.
Rajesh Paudel, the top bureaucrat of Bara district, where the storm hit, said the death toll may increase as rescuers were still trying to reach many of those affected.
Bara is located about 62 km (39 miles) south of Kathmandu, and borders India’s eastern state of Bihar.
Pre-monsoon thunderstorms are common in Nepal during the spring season, but are rarely of an intensity that causes high casualties.
Police officer Sanu Ram Bhattarai said rescue teams had been dispatched to the affected villages, but reaching the victims was difficult at night.
Television channels said the storm and accompanying heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and electric and telephone poles, crushing some people to death.
(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Susan Fenton)
- 4/2/2019 US measles cases surpass all of 2018 by John Bacon, USA TODAY
Almost 400 cases of the measles have been confirmed in 15 states this year as the disease nears record numbers since measles was declared eliminated almost two decades ago.
The number of U.S. measles cases through the first three months of this year has surpassed the count for all of 2018, health officials say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 387 measles cases have been confirmed from Jan. 1 to March 28, an increase of 73 cases last week.
The surge has thrown a spotlight on the anti-vaccination movement. Most people who contract measles have not been vaccinated, the CDC said, and measles are extremely contagious.
The record total for one year since 2000 is 667 in 2014. There were 372 cases last year.
Globally, measles is a major concern. The World Health Organization describes the disease as a prominent cause of death among young children, despite the availability of an effective vaccine.
[The CDC is still not reporting where it is really coming from as well as in the next article.]
- 4/2/2019 Guatemala: Second child dead in US custody had flu, infection
GUATEMALA CITY – An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died while in custody of the U.S. border patrol on Christmas Eve died of the flu and a bacterial infection, authorities in the Central American nation said Monday. Oscar Padilla, Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, Arizona, said that a report on the autopsy of Felipe Gomez Alonzo was delivered in recent days and had found he died from the infection and “complications from influenza B.” The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said the report has not been finalized.
- 4/5/2019 4/5/2019 Response to measles far from uniform - States’ legislative fixes often trail medical crises by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
The measles outbreaks in the USA this year – the 387 reported cases in 15 states is the second-largest figure in two decades – highlight the importance of fighting off the disease through immunization.
The urgency to address the issue has been far from uniform, however. Affected states are more likely to take legislative steps once they’ve encountered a crisis. That has left others in a reactive position as a disease once considered eradicated vies for a comeback.
“I think most of the momentum, unfortunately, is just in the states that have had problems," said Health Commissioner Mark Levine of Vermont, which has pending legislation that would disallow the religious exemption to vaccines after doing away with the philosophical dispensation in 2016. “There’s no problem framing the problem. But not everyone buys into that until they have the problem themselves."
Take the case of Washington, one of 17 states that allows personal-belief or philosophical exemptions from vaccinations, in addition to the medical one permitted by all states and the religious dispensation that’s in effect in all but California, Mississippi and West Virginia.
A severe measles outbreak linked to a traveler from Eastern Europe erupted in Clark County, on the southern edge of the state, north of Portland, Oregon, in early January, prompting Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency.
Of the 74 cases reported in Washington, 73 have been identified as stemming from Clark County, where the vaccination rate for kindergartners dwindled from 91.4% in 2005 to 76.5% – far below what’s required for herd immunity – last year. Sixty of those who contracted the illness were unvaccinated; the immunization status of most of the rest could not be verified.
Vaccinations in the county nearly quintupled for minors and multiplied exponentially for adults in the weeks after the outbreak, but by then, the highly contagious and potentially fatal disease had taken a devastating health toll.
The outbreak has cost state and local health departments more than $1.6 million, which could have paid for immunizing 40,000 people with a vaccine that costs $20 a shot and requires two doses for 97% effectiveness.
“Prevention works, and it saves community resources," said Michele Roberts, director of Washington’s Office of Immunization and Child Profile.
Two legislators from Clark County introduced bills that would have eliminated personal-belief exemptions for school-age children, one applying to all vaccines and the other one only to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization.
The first one was defeated, but the latter one, House Bill 1638, made it out of that chamber and is in the state Senate.
In an address March 5 to a congressional committee, Washington Secretary of Health John Weisman said, “Public health systems at every level are struggling due to chronic underfunding, increasing population size and the emergence of new threats. We find ourselves constantly reacting to crises, rather than working to prevent them."
‘A moral law’
That was the case with California, too.
In 2015, after experiencing a measles outbreak linked to Disneyland that sickened nearly 160 people, California removed the personal and religious exemptions. The state legislature is considering whether to tighten rules around medical exemptions after the number of children entering kindergarten with them tripled since the law passed in 2015.
According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, other states pondering getting rid of the personal exemption include Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon. Four of those seven – Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Oregon – have had measles cases this year. On the other hand, several states are debating bills to expand or protect exemptions, illustrating the issue’s complexity and the strong feelings on both sides of it.
Hundreds of Washingtonians protested HB 1638 in front of the state Capitol in February, and public health practitioners such as Levine fear their voices are getting drowned out by a cacophony of misinformed – or ill-intentioned – vaccine opponents using social media and even bots to spread their message.
The long-debunked myth that vaccines are linked to autism continues to be disseminated, as does the notion that they’re dangerous even when studies prove otherwise and agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vouch for their safety.
Adverse reactions do occur, experts say, but they’re rare and usually mild, like a rash or fever.
Still, organizations such as the National Vaccine Information Center can give the impression that parents risk kids’ lives by getting them.
President Barbara Loe Fisher said the NVIC, which she co-founded in 1982 under the name Dissatisfied
Parents Together, merely advocates informed consent and does not make recommendations related to immunizations.
Asked about the government’s duty to protect its citizens through public health policy, Fisher said, “Are you saying that a public health law that requires a certain minority of individuals to risk their lives, sacrifice their lives, for the rest is a moral law when they’re not given the choice of whether or not they’re going to participate in that sacrifice? That’s not a moral public health law.
By the numbers
The precise number of deaths linked to immunizations in the USA is hard to pin down, but the CDC said life-threatening allergic reactions to a vaccine occur about once every million doses.
There have been 1,295 claims filed for death since the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established in 1986 as a no-fault option to litigation. About 54% of those claims were for the DTP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), which was replaced in the 1990s by the safer DTaP.
That leaves 599 death claims for other vaccines, 55% of which were dismissed, leaving about 270 of the death claims to have possibly been the result of vaccines. That comes out to about nine a year since 1986, considerably lower than the number of annual deaths due to peanut allergy (75 to 125) or stings by bees, wasps or hornets (89 in 2017).
Fisher said that more than $4 billion has been paid out by the compensation program. According to CDC figures, 3.4 billion doses of covered vaccines were distributed in the USA from 2006 to 2017, and 4,250 compensated claims were adjudicated. That comes out to 1.25 paid claims for every million doses.
Nevertheless, Fisher said the antivaccine movement will continue to grow, and she sees it as part of a fight for civil liberties.
“Today, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again," she said, “and that’s the reason this issue is not going to go away no matter what kind of laws and no matter what kind of censorship is applied."
Nate Smith, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, is among the NVIC’s many critics, calling it “an antivaccination group.” Part of what makes such organizations dangerous, he said, is that they can appear to provide legitimate information.
“Sometimes, they present things in ways that are very reasonable, but then other times, they make statements that are patently false," Smith said.
Smith acknowledged vaccines are not 100% safe or effective. They come with minor risks, he said, which are minimized by administering the shots in settings where a reaction can be managed quickly, such as a medical facility.
Inoculation beats the alternative.
Before the measles vaccine program was introduced in 1963, 3 million to 4 million Americans contracted the illness every year, and about 400 to 500 died. The MMR vaccine reduced the disease’s rate by 99%, and measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
“I think most of the momentum, unfortunately, is just in the states that have had problems." Mark Levine Vermont health commissioner.
- 4/5/2019 Firefighters start to contain South Korean wildfires; thousands evacuated
Flames are seen during a wildfire in Donghae, South Korea, April 5, 2019. Yonhap via REUTERS
SEOUL (Reuters) – Thousands of firefighters and soldiers are starting to contain wildfires in South Korea on Friday which have killed one person and forced more than 4,000 people to flee their homes, the South Korean government said.
The fires broke out in eastern Gangwon Province on Thursday evening and spread to the cities of Sokcho and Gangneung, burning about 525 hectares (1,297 acres) and some 198 homes, warehouses and other buildings by early Friday, the government said.
About 2,263 citizens were evacuated to gymnasiums and schools by early Friday, down from about 4,230 citizens earlier. 52 schools were closed.
The fire in the Sokcho region has been contained, the government said, while about 50 percent of the fire in the Gangneung region was contained.
President Moon Jae-in has ordered the use of all available resources to extinguish the forest fires, the presidential office said.
Some 872 fire trucks and 3,251 firefighters from all over the country are currently working to contain the wildfire, the National Fire Agency said.
The Ministry of Defense said some 16,500 soldiers, 32 military helicopters and 26 military firetrucks have been deployed as well, and plans to provide meals for 6,800 people.
Some 4 billion won ($3.52 million) in special subsidies will be issued for containing the fires and cleaning up debris, along with 250 million won in disaster relief funds for temporary accommodation and daily necessities for evacuees, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.
($1 = 1,136.0000 won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates and Michael Perry)
- 4/5/2019 France to send aid to flood-hit Iran regions
FILE PHOTO: People are seen on a boat after a flooding in Golestan province,
Iran, March 24, 2019. Tasnim News Agency/via REUTERS
PARIS (Reuters) – France will airlift 12 tonnes of humanitarian aid,
including 114 pumps, to flood-hit regions in Iran, the French foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Exceptionally heavy rains since March 19 have flooded some 1,900 cities and villages, killing 62 people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to Iranian agriculture, leaving aid agencies struggling to cope.
France said the first shipments would start in coming days, adding that Iranian authorities had asked for assistance.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by John Irish)
- 4/6/2019 In astrophysics milestone, first photo of black hole expected by Will Dunham
FILE PHOTO: A supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun is seen
in an undated NASA artist's concept illustration. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists are expected to unveil on Wednesday the first-ever photograph of a black hole, a breakthrough in astrophysics providing insight into celestial monsters with gravitational fields so intense no matter or light can escape.
The U.S. National Science Foundation has scheduled a news conference in Washington to announce a “groundbreaking result from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project,” an international partnership formed in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole.
Simultaneous news conferences are scheduled in Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.
A black hole’s event horizon, one of the most violent places in the universe, is the point of no return beyond which anything – stars, planets, gas, dust, all forms of electromagnetic radiation including light – gets sucked in irretrievably.
While scientists involved in the research declined to disclose the findings ahead of the formal announcement, they are clear about their goals.
“It’s a visionary project to take the first photograph of a black hole. We are a collaboration of over 200 people internationally,” astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, director of the Event Horizon Telescope at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian, said at a March event in Texas.
The news conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) on Wednesday.
The research will put to the test a scientific pillar – physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, according to University of Arizona astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis, project scientist for the Event Horizon Telescope. That theory, put forward in 1915, was intended to explain the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces.
SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLES
The researchers targeted two supermassive black holes.
The first – called Sagittarius A* – is situated at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, possessing 4 million times the mass of our sun and located 26,000 light years from Earth. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
The second – called M87 – resides at the center of the neighboring Virgo A galaxy, boasting a mass 3.5 billion times that of the sun and located 54 million light-years away from Earth. Streaming away from M87 at nearly the speed of light is a humongous jet of subatomic particles.
Black holes, coming in a variety of sizes, are extraordinarily dense entities formed when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. Supermassive black holes are the largest kind, devouring matter and radiation and perhaps merging with other black holes.
Psaltis described a black hole as “an extreme warp in spacetime,” a term referring to the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time joined into a single four-dimensional continuum.
Doeleman said the project’s researchers obtained the first data in April 2017 from a global network of telescopes. The telescopes that collected that initial data are located in the U.S. states of Arizona and Hawaii as well as Mexico, Chile, Spain and Antarctica. Since then, telescopes in France and Greenland have been added to the network.
The scientists also will be trying to detect for the first time the dynamics near the black hole as matter orbits at near light speeds before being swallowed into oblivion.
The fact that black holes do not allow light to escape makes viewing them difficult. The scientists will be looking for a ring of light – radiation and matter circling at tremendous speed at the edge of the event horizon – around a region of darkness representing the actual black hole. This is known as the black hole’s shadow or silhouette.
Einstein’s theory, if correct, should allow for an extremely accurate prediction of the size and shape of a black hole.
“The shape of the shadow will be almost a perfect circle in Einstein’s theory,” Psaltis said. “If we find it to be different than what the theory predicts, then we go back to square one and we say, ‘Clearly, something is not exactly right.'”
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)
- 4/6/2019 CDC investigating E. coli outbreak - More than 70 people infected in recent weeks across Kentucky, 4 other states by Mandy McLaren, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
The federal government has launched an investigation into an E. coli outbreak that has infected more than 70 people across five states in recent weeks — including 46 reported cases in Kentucky.
Though no deaths have been reported, the outbreak has hospitalized eight people since early March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Besides Kentucky, the affected states include Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.
The eight hospitalizations include six reported in Kentucky.
Officials have not yet determined whether a specific food item, grocery store or restaurant chain is the source of the infections.
The CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the states announced Friday they would coordinate an investigation in an attempt to identify the source.
The cases reported in Kentucky involve a number of children as well as adults, according to the
state health department. Many of those infected reside in Central Kentucky, the department has said.
Though the CDC is not recommending consumers avoid any particular food items at this time, it is advising members of the public to contact a health care provider if they have symptoms of an E. coli infection, which include severe stomach cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.
E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.
People usually get sick from E. coli an average of 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ.
Ways to prevent an E. coli infection, according to the CDC, include:
E. coli bacteria are seen. JANICE CARR, AP
- Washing your hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.
- Cooking meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145°F and let rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove. Cook ground beef and pork to at least 160°F. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.
- Not cross-contaminating food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils after they touch raw meat.
- Washing fruits and vegetables before eating, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
- Avoiding raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices.
- 4/7/2019 Flood-hit Iran getting no financial aid from abroad due to U.S. sanctions: statement
An aerial view showing trees in the middle of flood in Khuzestan province, Iran, April 5, 2019. Picture taken April 5, 2019.
Mehdi Pedramkhoo/Tasnim News Agency/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions have prevented the Iranian Red Crescent from obtaining any foreign financial aid to assist victims of flooding that has killed at least 70 people and inundated some 1,900 communities, the group said on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that Washington was ready to help via the Red Cross and Red Crescent, but accused Iran’s clerical establishment of “mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness.”
“No foreign cash help has been given to the Iranian Red Crescent society. With attention to the inhuman American sanctions, there is no way to send this cash assistance,” the Red Crescent said in a statement.
It said the group had received some non-financial help from abroad which had been distributed to flood victims.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last week that U.S. sanctions – reimposed after Washington quit a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers – were impeding aid efforts to flood-stricken towns and villages.
“Blocked equipment includes relief choppers: This isn’t just economic warfare; it’s economic TERRORISM,” he said on Twitter.
The flood disaster, arising from exceptionally heavy rainfall since March 19, has left aid agencies struggling to cope and seen 86,000 people moved to emergency shelters.
The government has told citizens, and especially flood-affected farmers, that all losses will be compensated.
Iran’s state budget is already stretched under U.S. sanctions on energy and banking sectors that have halved its oil exports and restricted access to some revenues abroad.
Iran acted on Saturday to evacuate more towns and villages threatened by floods after continued rain in the southwest.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
- 4/7/2019 Factbox: Cyclone Idai’s death toll rises to 847, hundreds of thousands displaced
FILE PHOTO: Survivors of cyclone Idai arrive at Coppa business centre to receive aid
in Chipinge, Zimbabwe, March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo
BEIRA, Mozambique (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people are in need of food, water and shelter after Cyclone Idai battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
As of Sunday, at least 847 people had been reported killed by the storm, the flooding it caused and heavy rains before it hit. Following is an outline of the disaster, according to government and United Nations officials.
Cyclone Idai landed on the night of March 14 near the port city of Beira, bringing heavy winds and rains. Two major rivers, the Buzi and the Pungue, burst their banks, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the water.
People killed: 602
People injured: 1,641
Houses damaged or destroyed: 239,682
Crops damaged: 715,378 hectares
People affected: 1.85 million
Confirmed cholera cases: 2,424
Confirmed cholera deaths: 5
On March 16 the storm hit eastern Zimbabwe, where it flattened homes and flooded communities in the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.
People killed: 185, according to government. The U.N. migration agency puts the death toll at 259.
People injured: 200
People displaced: 16,000 households
People affected: 250,000
Before it arrived, the storm brought heavy rains and flooding to the lower Shire River districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in Malawi’s south. The rains continued after the storm hit, compounding the misery of tens of thousands of people.
People killed: 60
People injured: 672
People displaced: 19,328 households
People affected: 868,895
(Reporting by Emma Rumney and Stephen Eisenhammer in Beira, Tom Miles in Geneva, MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare and Frank Phiri in Blantyre; Writing by Alexandra Zavis, Alexander Winning and Joe Bavier; Editing by Angus MacSwan and David Goodman)
- 4/8/2019 Tanzania to ban single-use plastics by July: environment minister
FILE PHOTO: Plastic straws are on display in a shop in Nice, France, November 22, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo
DODOMA (Reuters) – Tanzania plans to ban the production, importation, sale and use of all single-use plastic bags by July, to help tackle pollution from non-biodegradable waste.
The East African nation is the latest country to make a formal commitment to phase out single-use non-biodegradable plastics, which have been identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.
Of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic the world has produced, only 9 percent has been recycled, according to U.N. estimates.
Tanzania will join more than 60 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single-use plastic bags, including China, France, Kenya, Rwanda and Italy.
In August 2017, neighboring Kenya introduced one of the world’s toughest bans on plastic bags mandating four years in prison or a fine of $40,000 for even using one.
“The regulations are ready for publication … it is possible that July 1 will mark the end of the use of plastics in the country,” Tanzania’s Environment Minister January Makamba told Parliament on Monday.
Makamba said a formal announcement on the ban of single-use plastic bags in Tanzania would likely be made later this month.
(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by George Obulutsa and Hugh Lawson)
- 4/8/2019 AI must be accountable, EU says as it sets ethical guidelines by Foo Yun Chee
FILE PHOTO: An activist from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of non-governmental
organisations opposing lethal autonomous weapons or so-called 'killer robots', protests at
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, March, 21, 2019. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Companies working with artificial intelligence need to install accountability mechanisms to prevent its being misused, the European Commission said on Monday, under new ethical guidelines for a technology open to abuse.
AI projects should be transparent, have human oversight and secure and reliable algorithms, and they must be subject to privacy and data protection rules, the commission said, among other recommendations.
The European Union initiative taps in to a global debate about when or whether companies should put ethical concerns before business interests, and how tough a line regulators can afford to take on new projects without risking killing off innovation.
“The ethical dimension of AI is not a luxury feature or an add-on. It is only with trust that our society can fully benefit from technologies,” the Commission digital chief, Andrus Ansip, said in a statement.
AI can help detect fraud and cybersecurity threats, improve healthcare and financial risk management and cope with climate change. But it can also be used to support unscrupulous business practices and authoritarian governments.
The EU executive last year enlisted the help of 52 experts from academia, industry bodies and companies including Google, SAP, Santander and Bayer to help it draft the principles.
Companies and organizations can sign up to a pilot phase in June, after which the experts will review the results and the Commission decide on the next steps.
IBM Europe Chairman Martin Jetter, who was part of the group of experts, said guidelines “set a global standard for efforts to advance AI that is ethical and responsible.”
The guidelines should not hold Europe back, said Achim Berg, president of BITKOM, Germany’s Federal Association of Information Technology, Telecommunications, and New Media.
“We must ensure in Germany and Europe that we do not only discuss AI but also make AI,” he said.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan in London; editing by John Stonestreet, Larry King)
- 4/8/2019 Judge lifts N.Y. county ban on unvaccinated children by OAN Newsroom
A ban preventing unvaccinated children from going to public places in one New York county has been overturned.
On Friday, a judge ruled that children in Rockland County who had not received their measles, mumps and rubella vaccine could go out in public again. This was part of a countywide effort to tackle a measles outbreak that has spread to at least 150 people.
Rockland County had planned on banning any unvaccinated person under 18 from going to public spaces for a month or until they received a vaccine. Parents could have also been prosecuted for not vaccinating their children.
FILE – In this March 27, 2019 file photo, signs advertising free measles vaccines and information about measles
are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department, in Pomona, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
“We owe this to the residents of this great county, so we never ever have to go through this again,” said Rockland County executive Ed Day. “We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and that of children too young to be vaccinated.”
New York is one of several states that allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for personal or religious reasons, but lawmakers recently proposed a bill to close this loophole.
WELL THE CDC STILL WILL NOT ADMIT THAT THE MEASLE OUTBREAK IS FROM EXCESSIVE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE BRINGING IT INTO THE U.S.
NOTICE THE STATES NOT ON THE SOUTHERN BORDER AND SPECIFICALLY NEW MEXICO HAS A WALL TO KEEP THEM OUT ARE DISEASE FREE
WHERE ARE THE SANCTUARY CITIES: California, Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa so I rest my case.
- 4/9/2019 Measles cases rocket toward record levels by John Bacon, USA TODAY
Sanctuary Cities in the U.S.A. and notice how close it matches up to measle outbreaks
The number of measles cases recorded across the U.S. rose by almost 100 last week as the annual total continued its march toward record levels, federal health officials reported Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states so far this year, the second-highest total since measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. almost two decades ago. The numbers are up sharply from even a week ago, when the total number of cases stood at 387 in 15 states. There were 372 cases last year. The highest total since 2000 was 667 in 2014.
The surge has been fueled in part by the anti-vaccination movement; most people who contract measles have not been vaccinated, the CDC said.
Most of the U.S. cases this year involve 17 “outbreaks” – defined as three or more localized cases – including some underway now in New York, New Jersey, Washington, California and Michigan, the CDC said.
The outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries, the CDC said.
- 4/9/2019 Measles cases swell by nearly 100 - Increase over just 1 week is a ‘kick in the butt’ by John Bacon, USA TODAY
The number of measles cases recorded across the USA rose by almost 100 last week as the annual total continued its march toward record levels, federal health officials reported Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states this year, the second-highest total since measles was declared eliminated in the USA almost two decades ago.
The numbers are up sharply from just a week ago, when the total number of cases stood at 387 in 15 states. There were 372 cases last year; the highest to- tal since 2000 was 667 in 2014.
The surge has been fueled in part by the anti-vaccination movement – most people who contract measles have not been vaccinated, the CDC said. If one person has the disease, up to 90% of the people close to that person will become infected if they are not immune, the CDC warned.
Ogbonnaya Omenka, an assistant professor at Butler University who has a doctorate in public health, said the increase is alarming but won’t necessarily continue. “The numbers serve as a kick in the butt that says, hey, we probably should start paying attention to vaccination again,” he told USA TODAY. “One of the most challenging aspects of public health is balancing between individual liberty, for people who don’t want the vaccine for whatever reason, and what is best for everyone.” Most of the cases this year involve 17 outbreaks – defined as three or more localized cases – including some now happening in New York, New Jersey, Washington, California and Michigan, the CDC said. The outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from countries including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, the CDC said.
Three outbreaks in New York state, New York City and New Jersey contributed to most of the cases. They occurred primarily among unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities, the CDC said. New York legislators have proposed a bill that would end religious and all other nonmedical exemptions to vaccinations for school-age children.
“The religious communities that I’ve spoken to in no way prevent people from getting vaccinated,” New York state Sen. David Carlucci said. “This (bill) would take any of that misconception out of the puzzle.”
Only California, Mississippi and West Virginia have such laws.
Common measles symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that can spread across the body. A very small number of those infected develop pneumonia, swelling of the brain or other serious symptoms. Measles also can cause pregnant women to deliver prematurely.
The World Health Organization described the disease as a prominent cause of death among children, despite the availability of a vaccine. More than 110,000 people, most of them children, died of measles worldwide in 2017.
The last measles death on record in the USA was in 2015.
Contributing: Rochel Leah Goldblatt, Robert Brum and Deena Yellin, Rockland/ Westchester Journal News.
- 4/10/2019 ‘Fake science’ blamed for outbreak - Measles emergency declared in Brooklyn by John Bacon, USA TODAY
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency Tuesday for parts of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section following a measles outbreak affecting the Orthodox Jewish community fueled by a growing movement against vaccinations.
Unvaccinated people living in designated ZIP codes who may have been exposed to measles will be required to receive the vaccine to protect others from the outbreak, the mayor said.
Measles is highly contagious, but the vaccination is considered 97% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is to recognize that this is something that has become even more urgent.”
Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said the outbreak was being “driven by a small group of anti-vaxxers” in the targeted neighborhoods.
“They have been spreading dangerous misinformation based on fake science,” he said.
The outbreak began in October, but many of these new cases were confirmed in the past two months. The vast majority of cases are children under 18 – and most of these measles cases were unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated people, health officials said.
Members of the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will check the vaccination records of people who may have been in contact with infected patients. Those who have not received the vaccine or do not have evidence of immunity may be given a violation and could be fined $1,000, the mayor said.
Barbot is concerned about measles outbreaks spreading as people travel for Passover, which begins in less than two weeks.
“We’ve seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighborhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine,” Barbot said. Measles was introduced into the community by someone who picked up the disease in Israel, which is dealing with its own outbreak, health officials said.
The primary symptoms from the disease include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that can spread across the entire body. People who are immunocompromised can develop pneumonia, swelling of the brain or other serious symptoms. Measles can cause men to become sterile and pregnant women to deliver prematurely.
Ogbonnaya Omenka, an assistant professor at Butler University who has a doctorate in public health, says the New York outbreak shows that people shouldn’t believe they are safe without a vaccination because almost everyone else around them was vaccinated.
“Herd immunity can only carry a community so far,” he said.
The CDC said Monday that 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states in 2019, the second-highest total since measles was declared eliminated in the USA almost two decades ago.
“Herd immunity can only carry a community so far.” Ogbonnaya Omenka, Assistant professor at Butler University.
Steve Sierzega receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in Pomona, N.Y. SETH WENIG/AP
- 4/9/2019 Zimbabwe seeks $613 million aid from donors after drought, cyclone
FILE PHOTO: A man gestures next to his car after it was swept into debris left by Cyclone Idai
in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo
HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe appealed on Tuesday for $613 million in aid from local and foreign donors to cover food imports and help with a humanitarian crisis after a severe drought and a cyclone that battered the east of the country.
An El Nino-induced drought has wilted crops across Zimbabwe and left about a third of its 15 million people in need of food assistance, according to a U.N. agency.
The situation was worsened when Zimbabwe, along with Mozambique and Malawi, were last month battered by Cyclone Idai, leaving hundreds of thousands needing food, water and shelter.
An appeal document given to reporters by the ministry of information showed the government is seeking about $300 million in aid for food while the rest would fund emergency shelters, logistics and telecommunications among other needs.
Hundreds of people have died in Mozambique and Malawi and the death toll in Zimbabwe was now 344.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the cabinet had hiked the maize price paid to farmers by 86 percent to $232 a tonne and maintained a subsidy for millers in a bid to keep the price of the staple maize meal down.
In February, Zimbabwe scrapped a 1:1 peg between the U.S. dollar and the bond notes and electronic dollars it introduced to compensate for its hard currency shortage, merging the surrogate currencies into the RTGS dollar.
Mutsvangwa said farmers would be paid 726 RTGS dollars ($232), up from 390 RTGS dollars.
The RTGS dollar was trading at 3.12 to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday on the bank market and at 4.4 on the black market.
The government is the sole buyer and seller of maize in Zimbabwe through the state-owned Grain Marketing Board.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
- 4/10/2019 Vitamins, long life not linked, study finds by Brett Molina, USA TODAY
Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals can lower your risk of an early death, but they should come from food instead of supplements, a study published Tuesday suggests.
Researchers from Tufts University say they found no association between the use of dietary supplements and a lower risk of death.
The study analyzed data from a larger health and nutrition survey conducted between 1999 and 2010. More than 30,000 participants answered questions about supplement use.
Results showed people who got adequate amounts of vitamin K and magnesium lowered their risk of early death, and those who got enough vitamin A, vitamin K and zinc had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However, those benefits were only earned when those nutrients came from food.
“There are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements,” said Fang Fang Zhang, an author on the study.
The research appeared in the peerreviewed Annals of Internal Medicine.
- 4/10/2019 Evacuation order lifted for part of Fukushima plant host town
FILE PHOTO : Evacuees of Okuma town, who are dressed in protective suits, offer prayers for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake
and tsunami disaster at their town office during their temporary visit for the mourning event at the 20 km (12 miles) no-entry zone in
Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, March 11, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of the disasters that killed thousands and set
off a nuclear crisis. The characters on the sign post reads, "People of Okuma town". REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon/File Photo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Eight years after nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant forced evacuation of nearby communities, Japanese authorities on Wednesday gave the first clearance for residents to return to a neighborhood of one of the towns that hosted the stricken plant.
The little town of Okuma faces an uphill battle rebuilding. More than half of its 10,000 registered residents have decided against returning, according to a survey.
Only 3.5 percent of them had lived in the neighborhood where people have been allowed to return, but Okuma’s mayor insisted it was just the start.
“This is a major milestone for the town,” Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said in a written statement. “But this is not the goal, but a start toward the lifting of the evacuation order for the entire town.”
In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which straddles the municipalities of Okuma and Futaba on the Pacific coast.
More than 160,000 people were evacuated as a result of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century. Since then, the restricted area has gradually shrunk, leaving just 339 square km (131 square miles) still deemed too unsafe to live.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
- 4/11/2019 First photo of a black hole revealed by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
It’s our first glimpse of one of the weirdest spectacles in the universe: Astronomers on Wednesday released humanity’s first-ever image of a black hole.
The picture reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the “nearby” Virgo galaxy cluster. It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring.
“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole,” said Sheperd Doeleman, Event Project Horizon project director at Harvard University. “This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.”
Since the black hole is, well, black, what we’re seeing in the image is gas and dust circling the hole, just far enough away to be safe.
That hot disk of material that encircles the hole shines bright, according to NASA. Against a bright backdrop, such as this disk, a black hole appears to cast a shadow.
“For years, science fiction movies have imagined what black holes look like,” said Duncan Brown of Syracuse University. “The picture taken by the Event Horizon Telescope shows us what they really look like.”
Images came from the Event Horizon Telescope, a collection of eight telescopes around the world specifically designed to peer at black holes. The telescopes are in Chile, Hawaii, Arizona, Mexico, Spain and at the South Pole.
This black hole’s “event horizon” – the precipice, or point of no return, where light and matter begin to fall inexorably into the hole – is as big as our entire solar system.
The measurements are taken at a wavelength the human eye cannot see, so the astronomers added color to the image. They chose “exquisite gold because this light is so hot,” said Jessica Dempsey, a co-discoverer and deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii. “Making it these warm gold and oranges makes sense.”
This black hole is 55 million lightyears from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun.
The image also helps confirm Einstein’s general relativity theory. Einstein a century ago even predicted the symmetrical shape that scientists found.
“The Event Horizon Telescope allows us for the very first time to test the predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity around supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies,” according to project scientist Dimitrios Psaltis of the University of Arizona. “The predicted size and shape of the shadow theory match our observations remarkably well, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory.”
Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that “these remarkable new images of the M87
black hole prove that Einstein was right yet again.”
The telescope caught whatever light it was able to detect from near the black hole. By combining the data from the various telescopes placed around the world, the Event Horizon Telescope has as much magnifying power as a telescope the size of the entire Earth.
Contributing: The Associated Press
The Event Horizon Telescope shows a black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy
in the “nearby” Virgo galaxy cluster. EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION VIA AP
- 4/11/2019 Deadly new fungus poses global threat by Kaitlyn Kanzler and Lindy Washburn, North Jersey Record USA TODAY NETWORK
WOODLAND PARK, N.J. – At least 587 cases have been confirmed over the past few years of an emerging fungus infection, identified by U.S. health authorities as “a serious global health threat.”
Centered primarily in the New York City area, the Chicago area and New Jersey, Candida auris infections had spread to a dozen states by the end of February, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The fungus is resistant to some or all antifungal medicines, which makes it harder to treat, the CDC says. Found in hospitals and long-term-care facilities, it can quickly lead to death in patients who have weakened immune systems or other medical problems.
Of the 587 cases nationwide that the CDC confirmed citing February data, New York had 309. Illinois had 144 cases, the agency said. New Jersey health officials reported Tuesday that over the past four years the state has had 132 confirmed cases and an additional 22 that are considered probable.
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY
- 4/11/2019 New human species fossils found in Philippines by Doyle Rice,USA TODAY
A tiny, long-lost cousin of our own human species has been discovered, scientists announced Wednesday.
Several foot and hand bones, a partial leg bone and teeth of the long-extinct species were found in a cave in the Philippines.
These fossils “provide sufficient evidence of a new species” that lived on the island of Luzon about 50,000 to 67,000 years ago, according to a new study. That’s roughly the same time that some of our ancestors began to leave Africa. As a shout-out to where it was discovered, the authors named the new species Homo luzonensis.
The creatures may have been only about 3 feet tall, which is roughly the size of the fictional hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.
The species is an extinct offshoot of our species but is not a direct ancestor.
“Most extinct hominin species are not our direct ancestors, but instead are close relatives with evolutionary histories that took a slightly different path from ours,” according to the study.
(“Hominins” is a term for any species of early humans that are more closely related to humans than chimpanzees, including modern humans.)
The species lived in eastern Asia around the same time as our species and other members of the Homo branch, including Neanderthals, their little-understood Siberian cousins the Denisovans, and the diminutive “hobbits” of the island of Flores in Indonesia.
The “remarkable discovery ... will no doubt ignite plenty of scientific debate over the coming weeks, months and years,” said anthropologist Matthew Tocheri of Lakehead University in Ontario.
The discovery was announced in a paper in this week’s Nature, a peer-reviewed British journal.
- 4/11/2019 Israeli spacecraft crashes onto moon after technical failures by Ari Rabinovitch
An image taken by Israel spacecraft, Beresheet, upon its landing on the moon, obtained by
Reuters from Space IL on April 11, 2019. Courtesy Space IL/Handout via REUTERS
YEHUD, Israel (Reuters) – Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed onto the moon on Thursday after a series of technical failures during its final descent, shattering hopes of a historic controlled landing on the lunar surface.
The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and communications failures during the landing sequence, which lasted around 21 minutes, the support team said.
Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase ‘In the beginning’, had traveled through space for seven weeks in a series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the moon’s gravity last week.
The final maneuver on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, around 15 km (9 miles) from the surface at its closest. From there it was a short, nail-biting and ultimately disappointing conclusion.
“It seems that a failure in our inertial measurements unit caused a chain of events in the spacecraft avionics which cut off the engines and caused us to lose the mission,” said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a “soft” or controlled, landing on the lunar surface: the United States, the Soviet Union and China.
Beresheet would have been the first craft to land on the moon that was not the product of a government program. It was built by state-owned IAI and Israeli non-profit space venture SpaceIL with $100 million funded almost entirely by private donors.
Still, the spacecraft achieved some milestones.
“It is by far the smallest, the cheapest spacecraft ever to get to the moon,” said Doron. “It’s been an amazing journey, I hope we get a chance for another one.”
Shaped like a round table with four carbon-fiber legs, Beresheet stood about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall. It blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth’s orbit about 34 minutes after launch.
Its circuitous flight path was around 4 million miles (6.5 million km). A direct route from the Earth to the moon covers roughly 240,000 miles (386,000 km).
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by Kevin Liffey and Rosalba O’Brien)
- 4/12/2019 Elon Musk’s SpaceX sends world’s most powerful rocket on first commercial flight by Joey Roulette
Spectators watch from Jetty Park as booster rocket engines approach landing pads, after
a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, carrying the Arabsat 6A communications satellite, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center
in Cape Canaveral , Florida, U.S., April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Rimkus Jr.
(Reuters) – The most powerful operational rocket in the world, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, launched its first commercial mission on Thursday from Florida in a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts.
The 23-story-tall Heavy, which previously launched Musk’s cherry red Tesla roadster to space in a 2018 debut test flight, blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center carrying its first customer payload.
“T plus 33 seconds into flight, under the power of 5.1 million pounds of thrust, Falcon Heavy is headed to space,” SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said on a livestream.
Roughly three minutes after clearing the pad, Heavy’s two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronized landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, sparking boisterous cheers from SpaceX engineers in the company’s Hawthorne, California headquarters.
The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned nearly 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX’s seafaring drone ship 400 miles (645 km) off the Florida coast. In the 2018 test mission, Heavy’s core booster missed the vessel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
“The Falcons have landed” Musk wrote on Twitter, inaugurating the first successful recovery of all three rocket boosters, which will be refurbished and re-fly in another Falcon Heavy mission this summer to carry a swarm of military and science satellites for the Air Force.
Liftoff with Heavy’s new military-certified Falcon 9 engines was crucial in the race with Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin as Musk’s SpaceX, working to flight-prove its rocket fleet one mission at a time, aims to clinch a third of all U.S. National Security Space missions – coveted military contracts worth billions.
The U.S. Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch for $130 million a classified military satellite and in February added three more missions in a $297 million contract.
SpaceX and Boeing Co are vying to send humans to space from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, cleared its first unmanned test flight in March ahead of its crewed mission planned for July, while the first unmanned test for Boeing’s Starliner capsule is slated for August on ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.
Falcon Heavy carried a communications satellite for Saudi-based telecom firm Arabsat, which will beam internet and television services over Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Privately owned SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp, was founded in 2002 by Musk, who is also a co-founder of electric car maker Tesla Inc.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
- 4/12/2019 Ebola spread concentrated in Congo, not a wider emergency: WHO by Stephanie Nebehay and Kate Kelland
FILE PHOTO: Health workers carry a newly admitted confirmed Ebola patient into a treatment centre
in Butembo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) – An outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that has killed more than 700 people and is continuing to spread does not constitute an international emergency, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
Declaring the epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern” would have signaled that greater resources and international coordination are needed.
The WHO’s independent Emergency Committee, which analyzed the latest data, said the disease was entrenched in several epicenters in the northeast and was being transmitted in health care settings.
It had not spread across borders to Uganda, Rwanda or South Sudan, but neighboring countries should shore up their preparedness, the experts said.
“It was an almost unanimous vote that this would not constitute a PHEIC (public health emergency of international concern) because we are moderately optimistic that this outbreak can be brought into control – not immediately, but still within a foreseeable time,” panel chairman Professor Robert Steffen told a news conference.
Dozens of new cases reported this week have been mainly in the epicenters of Butembe, Katwe and Vuhovi, said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program.
“It’s quite a focused amplification of disease in a very specific geographic area,” Ryan said.
“But the disease there has risen because of lack of access to that community, we’ve fallen behind in starting vaccination rings,” he said, referring to attacks on health centers by armed groups in February that cut-off hotspot areas.
“Vaccine is proving to be a highly effective way of stopping this virus but if we can’t vaccinate people we cannot protect them,” he added, noting that nearly 100,000 people have been vaccinated.
Experts have declared four emergencies in the past decade: the H1N1 virus that caused an influenza pandemic (2009), a major Ebola outbreak in West Africa (2014), polio (2014) and Zika virus (2016).
Some experts expressed concern that the Emergency Committee was too narrowly interpreting WHO guidelines.
“This is a deeply concerning event, due to the pathogen itself, the total number of cases, the increase in cases just this week, and the difficulty of coordinating the response due to conflict – that needs to receive the appropriate level of attention,” health experts Rebecca Katz and Alexandra Phelan of Georgetown University in Washington D.C. said in a statement.
The Ebola outbreak – by far the biggest Congo has seen, and the world’s second largest in history – was declared by national authorities in August. It is concentrated in Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
It has already infected at least 1,206 people, of whom 764 have died – giving a death rate of 63 percent.
They include 20 new cases reported by the health ministry on Thursday, another one-day record after 18 on Wednesday. Two workers at the Butembo airport tested positive, it said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Kate Kelland Additional reporting by Aaron Ross in Dakar; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Frances Kerry)
- 4/14/2019 Iran says recent floods caused up to $2.5 billion in damage
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of flooding in Khuzestan province, Iran, April 5, 2019.
Picture taken April 5, 2019. Mehdi Pedramkhoo/Tasnim News Agency/via REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) – Floods caused by heavy rain across Iran in recent weeks have caused an estimated $2.5 billion in damage to roads, bridges, homes and agricultural land, state media cited ministers as telling lawmakers on Sunday.
The flooding, which began on March 19, has killed 76 people, forced more than 220,000 people into emergency shelters, and left aid agencies struggling to cope. The armed forces have been deployed to help those affected.
“The recent floods are unprecedented… 25 provinces and more than 4,400 villages have been affected,” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as saying in parliament by state news agency IRNA.
Fazli said the floods had caused around 350 trillion rials ($2.5 billion) worth of damage.
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami said 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) of road had been damaged and more than 700 bridges completely destroyed by landslides and flood water.
The government has said it will pay compensation to all those who have incurred losses, especially farmers but the Islamic Republic’s state budget is already stretched as U.S. sanctions on its energy and banking sectors have halved Iranian oil exports and restricted access to some revenues abroad.
Morteza Shahidzadeh, head of Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, said President Hassan Rouhani had asked permission from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to withdraw $2 billion from the fund for reconstruction in flood-hit areas.
Shahidzadeh said Khamenei has in principle agreed to the request.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said the massive floods have not affected production and development at any oilfields, nor impeded the flow of crude through pipelines to recipient markets.
Karim Zobeidi, an official at the National Iranian Oil Company, was cited as saying on Sunday that it was still too early to estimate the extent of the flood damage to Iran’s energy sector.
Mehr news agency also quoted Zobeidi as saying that some oil wells in western Iran had been closed as a precaution to guard against any flooding.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
- 4/15/2019 Madagascar’s measles kills 1,200 - Children’s malnutrition hastens spread of illness by Laetitia Bezain,
AMBALAVAO, Madagascar – Babies wail as a nurse tries to reassure mothers who have come to vaccinate their children against a measles outbreak that has killed more than 1,200 people in this island nation where many are desperately poor.
Madagascar faces its largest measles outbreak in history, with more than 115,000 cases counted, but resistance to vaccinating children is not the driving force behind the rise.
Measles cases are rising in the United States and elsewhere, in part because of misinformation that makes some parents balk at receiving a vaccine. New York City is trying to halt an outbreak by ordering mandatory vaccinations in one Brooklyn neighborhood.
In Madagascar, many parents want to protect their children but face immense challenges, including the lack of resources.
Only 58% of people on Madagascar’s main island have been vaccinated against measles, a major factor in the outbreak’s spread. With measles one of the most infectious diseases, immunization rates need to be 90% to 95% or higher to prevent outbreaks.
‘It kills babies’
On a recent day, the Iarintsena health center’s waiting room was full, with mothers sitting on the floor and others waiting outside in the overwhelming heat. Two volunteer nurses and a midwife tried to meet the demand.
Nifaliana Razaijafisoa had walked 9 miles with her 6-month-old baby in her arms.
“He has a fever,” she said. “I think it’s measles because there are these little pimples that have appeared on his face.”
The nurse quickly confirmed it.
“I’m so scared for him because in the village everyone says it kills babies,” Razaijafisoa said. The outbreak has killed mostly children under 15 since it began in September, according to the World Health Organization.
“The epidemic unfortunately continues to expand in size,” though at a slower pace than a month ago, said Dr. Dossou Vincent Sodjinou, a WHO epidemiologist in Madagascar. By mid-March, 117,075 cases had been reported by the health ministry, affecting all regions of the country.
Some cases of resistance to vaccinations exist because of the influence of religion or of traditional health practitioners but they are isolated ones, he said.
Malnutrition helps spread
This outbreak is complicated by the fact that nearly 50% of children in Madagascar are malnourished.
“Malnutrition is the bed of measles, Sodjinou said.
Razaijafisoa’s baby weighs just 11 pounds.
“This is the case for almost all children with measles who have come here,” said Lantonirina Rasolofoniaina, a volunteer at the health center.
Simply reaching a clinic for help can be a challenge. Many people in Madagascar cannot afford to see a doctor or buy medicine, and health centers often are understaffed or have poorly qualified workers.
As a result, information about health issues can be unreliable.
Some parents are not aware that vaccines are free, at least in public health centers.
Four of Erika Hantriniaina’s five children have had measles. She had wrongly believed that people could not be vaccinated after nine months of age.
“It’s my 6-year-old daughter who had measles first. She had a lot of fever,” she said. “I called the doctor but it was Friday. He had already gone to town. I went to see another doctor who told me that my daughter had an allergy. ... This misdiagnosis was almost fatal.”
The girl had diarrhea and vomiting and couldn’t eat, Hantriniaina said, adding that she narrowly survived.
Treatment hits symptoms
Measles, a highly infectious disease spread by coughing, sneezing, close contact or infected surfaces, has no specific treatment. The symptoms are treated instead.
“Vitamin A is given to children to increase their immunity. We try to reduce the fever. If there is a cough, we give antibiotics,” said Dr. Boniface Maronko, sent by WHO to Madagascar to supervise efforts to contain the outbreak. If the disease is not treated early enough, complications appear including diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia and convulsions.
Madagascar’s health ministry has sent free medication to regions most affected by the outbreak. Maronko reminded heads of health centers in the Ambalavao region not to make parents pay, saying he had seen some doctors asking for money. He told The Associated Press that he feared the medicines wouldn’t be enough.
The country’s capital, Antananarivo, a city of 1.3 million, has not been spared.
Lalatiana Ravonjisoa, a vegetable vendor in a poor district, grieves for her 5-month-old baby.
“I had five children. They all had measles. For the last, I did not go to see the doctor because I did not have money,” she said. “I gave my baby the leftover medications from his big brother to bring down the fever.”
For a few days she did not worry: “I felt like he was healed.” But one morning she noticed he had trouble breathing. Later she found his feet were cold.
“Look at my baby,” she told her mother.
“She hugged him for a long time and she did not say anything. Then she asked me to be strong. He was gone.”
Ravonjisoa said she blames herself, “but I did not imagine for one moment that he was going to die.” At the hospital, a doctor confirmed that her baby died of measles-related respiratory complications.
New campaign to vaccinate
Late last month, WHO started a third mass vaccination campaign in Madagascar with the overall goal of reaching 7.2 million children aged 6 months to 9 years.
“But immunization is not the only strategy for the response to this epidemic. We still need resources for care, monitoring and social mobilization,” said Sodjinou.
The problem for Madagascar is not whether to vaccinate children, but rather a lack of resources and information for parents. LAETITIA BEZAIN/AP
[Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa. Another example immigration spreads diseases, and is definitely being brought into the U.S. by that means.]
- 4/16/2019 555 measles cases spread to 20 states by John Bacon, USA TODAY
An additional 90 measles cases were reported across the nation last week, the biggest jump this year as the annual total continued its march toward record levels, federal health officials reported Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 555 cases have been confirmed in 20 states in 2019, the second- highest total in almost two decades.
The numbers are up sharply from a week ago, when the total number of cases stood at 465 in 19 states.
The highest total since 2000, when measles was declared eradicated in the U.S., was 667 in 2014. There were 372 cases last year.
Globally, the World Health Organization reported Monday that cases rose by 300% in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018 – after consecutive increases over the past two years.
The U.S. surge has been fueled in part by the anti-vaccination movement – the majority of people who contract measles have not been vaccinated, the CDC said.
Ogbonnaya Omenka, a public health expert and assistant professor at Butler University, said the fact that the last U.S. death to be recorded was in 2015 generated complacency toward vaccinations.
“The impacts of misinformation and lack of trust have not been fully appreciated,” Omenka said.
The states that have reported cases to the CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Most of the U.S. cases this year involve 17 outbreaks – defined as three or more localized cases – in New York, New Jersey, Washington, California and Michigan, the CDC said. The outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from countries including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines.
Common measles symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that can spread across the entire body. A “very small number of those infected” can develop pneumonia, swelling of the brain or other serious symptoms. Measles can cause pregnant women to deliver prematurely.
The WHO said that even in high-income countries, complications result in hospitalization in up to a quarter of cases and can lead to lifelong disability, from brain damage and blindness to hearing loss. The disease is a prominent cause of death among young children worldwide, and most of the 110,000 deaths in 2017 were children.
The WHO said in its statement that global data for the first three months of 2019 is provisional, but it cited a “clear trend.” Outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine are causing many deaths – mostly among young children, the agency said.
“Over recent months, spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States of America, as well as Israel, Thailand and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people,” the WHO said.
Measles virus. CYNTHIA GOLDSMITH/CDC
- 4/15/2019 Thousands of activists block London roads to demand action on climate change by Andrew R.C. Marshall and Andrew MacAskill
A performer sings to climate change activists demonstrating at Oxford Circus during an
Extinction Rebellion protest in London, Britain April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
LONDON (Reuters) – Thousands of environmental activists paralyzed parts of central London on Monday by blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge in a bid to force the government to do more to tackle climate change.
Under sunny skies, activists sang songs or held signs that read “There is no Planet B” and “Extinction is forever” at some of the capital’s most iconic locations. Roadblocks will continue night and day at each site and the demonstrators say the protests could last at least a week.
The protests are being led by the British climate group Extinction Rebellion and will involve demonstrations in 33 countries around the world over the coming days.
“I realized that signing petitions and writing letters was not going to be enough. Real action is needed,” said Diana McCann, 66, a retired wine trader from south London, holding a banner in the middle of a traffic-free road. “It’s like a world war. We have to go on to a war footing.”
Extinction Rebellion, which generated headlines with a semi-nude protest in the House of Commons earlier this month, has warned its members that some of them could be arrested for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience.
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.
At the Shell building near the River Thames, two protesters scaled up scaffolding writing ‘Shell Knows!’ in red paint on the front of the building and three protesters glued their hands to the revolving doors at the entrance.
Activists said they smashed the glass of a revolving door and caused more than 6,000 pounds ($7,900) worth of damage. At least one person was arrested by police for criminal damage.
At Oxford Circus, protesters unveiled a pink boat that says “TELL THE TRUTH” and on Waterloo Bridge demonstrators brought trees, hanging baskets and skate ramps.
The protest had a festive atmosphere, with many families in attendance, and a low police presence.
Extinction Rebellion wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday outlining their demands and asking for face-to-face talks, warning that they will escalate their disruptive actions over the coming weeks unless the government acts.
“Make no mistake, people are already dying,” the letter states. “In the majority world, indigenous communities are now on the brink of extinction. This crisis is only going to get worse … Prime minister, you cannot ignore this crisis any longer. We must act now.”
Organizers of the protests circulated legal advice to anyone planning to attend, requesting they refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and asking them to treat the public with respect.
London’s police have advised people traveling around London in the coming days to allow extra time for their journey in the event of road closures and general disruption.
The disruption follows similar action last November when thousands of protesters occupied five central London bridges. Police arrested 85 people that day.
Rowan McLaughlin, 47, a teacher, said this week’s protests were more important that the huge pro and anti-Brexit protests in London recently.
“In Europe, out of Europe, it makes no difference if we have no liveable habitat,” he said. “We’re just going to get bigger and more annoying until the government speaks to us.”
(Additional reporting by Helena Williams; Editing by Peter Graff/Guy Faulconbridge)
[THE IMAGE ABOVE REMINDS ME OF A MAD MAX MOVIE.]
- 4/16/2019 British police arrest 113 climate change activists after London roads blocked
Climate change activists block a road during the Extinction Rebellion protest
at Parliament Square in London, Britain April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
LONDON (Reuters) – British police have arrested 113 people after climate change activists blocked some of London’s most famous roads including Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Waterloo Bridge in an attempt force the government to do more to tackle climate change.
The protests, led by British climate group Extinction Rebellion, brought parts of central London to a standstill on Monday and some stayed overnight for a second day of protest on Tuesday.
Extinction Rebellion, which generated headlines with a semi-nude protest in the House of Commons earlier this month, is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
“There have been 113 arrests in total, the majority of which are for breach of Section 14 Notice of the Public Order Act 1986 and obstruction of the highway,” London police said.
Tents littered the roads at Oxford Circus with some activists huddled beneath a pink boat with the words “Tell the Truth” across its side. One placard read: “Rebel for Life.”
Police said five of those arrested had been detained after the Shell building near the River Thames was targeted.
Two protesters on Monday scaled up scaffolding writing ‘Shell Knows!’ in red paint on the front of the building and three protesters glued their hands to the revolving doors at the entrance.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Hannah Mckay; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)
- 4/16/2019 Heart 3D-printed using human cells by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
A team of Israeli scientists “printed” a heart with a patient’s own cells in a world first, researchers say.
Past researchers had been able to print simple tissues without blood vessels, the team said. The new development is the first time “anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University told The Jerusalem Post.
Dvir and his team reported the findings Monday in Advanced Science.
The heart, about the size of a rabbit’s, is too small for a human, but the process used to create it shows the potential for one day being able to 3Dprint patches and maybe full transplants, the team said. Because the heart is made from the patient’s own biological material, it reduces the chance the transplant would fail, according to the research paper.
The team used fatty tissues then separated and “reprogrammed” the cellular and a-cellular materials. Stem cells that become heart cells were then created.
The development is being touted as a “major breakthrough” in medicine and one that could help battle heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Patients will no longer have to wait for transplants or take medications to prevent their rejection,” Tel Aviv University said in a statement. “Instead, the needed organs will be printed, fully personalized for every patient.”
The research is still a long way off from clearing the way to transplant the 3D-printed hearts into humans, the team says.
It would take a whole day and billions, rather than millions, of cells to print a human heart, Dvir told Bloomberg.
But Dvir remains hopeful. “Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely,” he told The Times of Israel.
The Israeli team’s heart, about the size of a rabbit’s, features technology that has
the potential for use in humans. JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
- 4/16/2019 USA is the ultimate in extreme weather by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Tornadoes in the South, floods and snow in the Midwest, crazy heat in Alaska. What’s going on with the extreme weather this year?
Most of it is par for the course, experts say, because we live in the nation with the world’s wildest weather extremes: No other country on Earth has the USA’s ferocious weather stew of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, wildfires, blizzards, heat waves and cold snaps.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find another patch of land on Earth the size of the USA that boasts such a variety of such intensely extreme weather,” said meteorologist and author Robert Henson of Boulder, Colo.
In April, severe weather outbreaks such as the one that hit the South on Sunday are the norm rather than the exception. So far this April, 48 tornadoes have hit the U.S., according to preliminary data from the Storm Prediction Center. That’s still well below normal for mid-April. (On average, 115 tornadoes have hit by this time in April, said Patrick Marsh, the storm center’s warning coordination meteorologist.) Tornadoes, such as the ones that slammed Texas on Wednesday, are nearly a uniquely American phenomenon. Each year, “the U.S. experiences about 80% to 90% of all of the tornadoes that occur across the world,” says Randy Cerveny, a professor of geography at Arizona State University.
While climate change does have a documented effect on many extreme weather events, it has no clear connection to severe thunderstorms nor the tornadoes they produce. In fact, a 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences found that of all weather phenomena, severe storms have the least connection to human-caused climate change.
That’s not the case for other types of extreme weather, however: That report found there were clear links between climate change and heat waves, droughts, heavy rain and snowstorms. Though it has made few headlines, some of the USA’s weirdest weather this year has been the extreme heat in Alaska this spring. Alaska had its warmest March since records began 95 years ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Alaska statewide March temperature was 26.7 degrees, a mind-boggling 15.9 degrees higher than the long-term average. Most monthly temperature records are broken by a few degrees, or even tenths of degrees.
No other country has America’s ferocious stew of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, fires, blizzards and heat waves.
- 4/16/2019 Ebola is real, Congo president tells skeptical population
FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing Ebola protection gear, walks before entering the Biosecure Emergency
Care Unit (CUBE) at the ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action) Ebola treatment centre in Beni, in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, March 30, 2019. Picture taken March 30, 2019.REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Tuesday implored people in areas hit by the nation’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak to accept the disease is real and trust health workers.
Mistrust of first responders and widespread misinformation propagated by some community leaders has led many in affected areas of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to refuse vaccinations. Instead, they turn to traditional healers, whose clinics have contributed to the hemorrhagic fever’s spread.
“It is not an imaginary disease,” Tshisekedi said after arriving in the city of Beni on his first tour of eastern Congo since being inaugurated in January.
“If we follow the instructions, in two or three months Ebola will be finished,” he optimistically told a crowd after having his temperature taken and washing his hands, as required of all incoming passengers to Beni airport.
Congo has suffered 10 outbreaks of Ebola, which causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, since the virus was discovered there in 1976. The current one has seen 1,264 confirmed and probable cases and 814 deaths since it was declared last August.
It is surpassed only by the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa, in which more than 28,000 cases were reported and more than 11,000 people died.
Following a series of attacks on treatment centers by unidentified assailants in February and March, the current outbreak is now spreading at its fastest rate yet.
More than 100 cases were confirmed last week.
Tshisekedi, who won a disputed election last December to succeed Joseph Kabila, also called on Tuesday for the disarmament of dozens of militia that operate in the east and whose presence has complicated the Ebola response.
“The time of armed groups is over,” he said. “The new government is reaching out to these children of the country to surrender arms through disarmament programmes.”
(Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Aaron Ross and Andrew Cawthorne)
- 4/17/2019 Climate-change protesters vow to disrupt London underground by Hannah McKay and Costas Pitas
Climate change activists block Parliament Square during the Extinction Rebellion
protest in London, Britain April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
LONDON (Reuters) – Environmental activists vowed to disrupt London underground train services in a third day of action on Wednesday in a bid to force the British government to take more radical measures to avert what they cast as an imminent global climate cataclysm.
Climate group Extinction Rebellion has ratcheted up its protests in recent weeks, blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament.
A total of 290 people were arrested on Monday and Tuesday after the activists blocked some of the capital’s most iconic locations, many camping in tents on London’s streets.
The group advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.
“XR will non-violently disrupt tube services to highlight the emergency of ecological collapse,” the group said on its website. “As with a labor strike, economic disruption is key in forcing the government to come to the table and negotiate our demands.”
It was unclear how the group would disrupt the London underground network, known as the Tube, which handles up to 5 million passenger journeys a day.
Mayor Sadiq Khan urged protesters to avoid targeting the city’s public transit system.
“It is absolutely crucial to get more people using public transport, as well as walking and cycling, if we are to tackle this climate emergency,” Khan said.
Police said they expected the demonstrations to continue in the next few weeks and promised to take action if necessary.
“We need to ensure we are striking the right balance between allowing the right to a peaceful protest, while ensuring disruption to communities is kept to a minimum,” Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove said on Tuesday.
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.
It says the world is in the midst of a mass extinction and facing an emergency that can shape the fate of humanity. It says conventional approaches have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change.
In 2017, total United Kingdom greenhouse gas emissions were 43 percent lower than in 1990 and 2.6 percent lower than 2016, according to government statistics. Scientists say the burning of fossil fuels is causing more floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels.
(Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden)
- 4/18/2019 Schools evacuated, subway services halted as quake rocks Taiwan by Yimou Lee
A major road in the centre of Taipei is seen damaged after an earthquake in Taipei, Taiwan April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
TAIPEI (Reuters) – A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan’s coastal city of Hualien on Thursday, shaking buildings and temporarily halting subway services in the capital Taipei, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties.
Television footage showed school children being evacuated from buildings after the largest quake to hit the heavily industrialized island this year, a weather bureau official said.
A hundred people were evacuated from a building in Taipei City, while two people were hit by falling rocks in the tourist city of Hualien, the government said.
While small-scale power cuts were reported in some districts in Taipei, the Central News Agency said, oil refinery plants and services were operating as normal, according to the government.
It set up a disaster reaction center after the quake which hit at a depth of 18 km (11 miles), according to the weather bureau. Aftershocks of more than a 5 magnitude were possible in the coming days, the bureau said.
President Tsai Ing-wen said high-speed rail service in northern Taiwan, between Taipei and the neighboring city of Taoyuan, had been temporarily suspended.
On her official Facebook page, Tsai said she asked officials “to gather information from everywhere to check whether there’s any damage, and if so, to react as soon as possible.”
The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 6.4, adding that it struck at a depth of 15 km (9 miles) from Hualien.
In February last year, a devastating 6.4-magnitude quake rocked Hualien, toppling buildings, ripping large fissures in roads and unleashing panic among the roughly 100,000 residents.
Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers its own, lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is prone to earthquakes.
More than 100 people were killed in an earthquake in the island’s south in 2016, and a quake of 7.6 magnitude killed more than 2,000 people in 1999.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Darren Schuettler)
- 4/18/2019 Yale study revives cellular activity in pig brains hours after death by Steve Gorman
A pig is seen in an enclosure at pig a farm in Alling, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
(Reuters) – Yale University scientists have succeeded in restoring basic cellular activity in pigs’ brains hours after their deaths in a finding that may one day lead to advances in treating human stroke and brain injuries, researchers reported on Wednesday.
The scientists emphasized that their work did not even come close to reawakening consciousness in the disembodied pig brains. In fact the experiment was specifically designed to avoid such an outcome, however improbable.
Still, the study raises a host of bioethical issues, including questions about the very definition of brain death and potential consequences for protocols related to organ donation.
The research grew out of efforts to enhance the study of brain development, disorders and evolution. The main practical application is the prospect of allowing scientists to analyze whole brain specimens of large mammals in three dimensions, rather than through studies confined to small tissue samples, Yale said.
The study, backed by the National Institutes of Health, offers no immediate clinical breakthrough for humans, according to the authors.
Results of the experiment, to be published on Thursday in the journal Nature, run contrary to long-accepted principles of brain death, which hold that vital cellular activity ceases irreversibly seconds or minutes after oxygen and blood flow are cut off.
The limited rejuvenation of circulatory function and cellular metabolism in pig brains, which were harvested from animals slaughtered at a meat-packing plant, was achieved four hours after death by infusing the brains with a special chemical solution designed to preserve the tissue.
“The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously underappreciated capacity for restoration of circulation and certain molecular and cellular activities multiple hours after circulatory arrest,” lead researcher Nenad Sestan said in a Yale press release issued ahead of the study.
It was in the lab run by Sestan, a Yale professor of neuroscience, comparative medicine, genetics and psychiatry, that researchers developed the so-called BrainEx system used to pump artificial nutrients into the pig brains’ vascular network.
‘NOT A LIVING BRAIN’
Scientists stressed, however, that the treated brains still lacked any detectable signs of organized electrical activity associated with perception, awareness or consciousness.
“Clinically defined, this is not a living brain, but it is a cellularly active brain,” study co-author Zvonimir Vrselja, associate researcher in neuroscience.
The BrainEx preservative included substances to block nerve signals. Researchers also were ready to halt any electrical activity that might have emerged through anesthetics and temperature reduction, according to Yale.
While the study offers no immediate therapeutic benefits for humans, it creates a new research platform that may ultimately help doctors find ways to revive brain function in stroke patients or to test new treatments for restoring brain cells damaged by injury, the authors said.
In the meantime, the research could spark new quandaries surrounding the determination of death itself, widely defined by one measure as the irreversible loss of all brain function. The blurring of that line has implications in turn for deciding when doctors are ethically bound to go from preserving a patient’s life to preserving their organs.
“For most of human history, death was very simple,” Christof Koch, president and chief scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, said in a Nature article accompanying publication of the Yale study.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Sandra Maler)
- 4/18/2019 Doctors cure ‘bubble boy’ disease with gene therapy by OAN Newsroom
The tag “bubble boy” was first used to describe Texas youngster David Vetter, who was born without a functioning immune system. Vetter was abnormally susceptible to infection and lived most of his life inside a bubble.
“It results from defects in a gene called IL2RG that is essential for normal immune function of lymphocytes,” explained Dr. Ewelina Mamcarz, pediatric hematologist and oncologist at St. Jude’s Children Hospital.
According to doctors, a simple infection like the common cold could be fatal.
In this April 2019 photo provided by the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. Ewelina Mamcarz poses for a portrait
at the hospital in Memphis. A study released on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 details how scientists turned HIV
into a savior, altering it so it couldn’t cause disease and then using it to deliver a gene eight babies with
“bubble boy disease” lacked. “This therapy has cured the patients,” though it will take more time to see if it’s a permanent fix,
said Mamcarz, one of the study leaders. (Peter Barta/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital via AP)
Vetter died from a failed bone marrow transplant when he was 12-years-old. At the time of his death in 1984, the transplant was his only chance of survival outside the plastic cocoon.
35-years-later a medical breakthrough at St. Jude’s Children Hospital is giving “bubble boys” all around the world the chance to lead a less-restricted life. That is assuming they survive the first year.
“If left untreated, they develop life threatening infections, very serious infections and most of them die within the first year of life,” said Dr. Mamcarz. “So, it’s very important that this disease is treated as soon as the babies are diagnosed.”
A study released on Wednesday details the success of a trial using gene therapy, which was developed in Memphis, Tennessee by the late Dr. Brian Sorrentino. In an interview recorded before his death in 2018, Sorrentino explained the revolutionary process.
“We’re replacing the defective gene that causes this disease X-SKID, and the way we do that is we take bone marrow cells in the operating room out and we insert a normal copy of this gene using a device called a vector which is a disabled virus,” he explained.
The cells are returned intravenously, but before that happens a drug is administered to the patient to destroy some of their bone marrow to make room for the new cells to grow. The eight infants from the trial all developed healthy immune systems within months.
Doctors are hoping to use the treatment for other disorders like “sickle cell.”
This April 2019 photo provided by the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital shows 2-year-old Gael Jesus Pino Alva at the hospital in
Memphis. Gael was one of eight babies with “bubble boy disease” who have had it corrected by gene therapy that ironically was made from
one of the immune system’s worst enemies _ HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. (Peter Barta/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital via AP)
- 4/18/2019 NYC extends vaccine requirement amid measles outbreak by OAN Newsroom
New York City is extending its public health emergency due to an ongoing measles outbreak.
The city’s board of health voted unanimously on Wednesday to keep the mandate in place. It requires residents six-months or older to get the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine or face a $1,000 fine.
Since the mandate went into affect last week, more than 500 children between the ages of one and five were made up to date on their shots. However, an estimated 3,000 kids are still unvaccinated.
The order will remain in place until officials declare the outbreak is over.
FILE- In this March 27, 2019, file photo, measles, mumps and rubella vaccines sit in a cooler at the Rockland County Health
Department in Pomona, N.Y. In social media’s battle against misinformation, bogus claims about the dangers of vaccines are the next
target. With measles outbreaks wreaking havoc around the world, Facebook, Pinterest and others are trying to put the genie back in the
bottle, even as they are hesitant, even unwilling to acknowledge outright responsibility for spreading falsehoods. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
- 4/19/2019 Climate change protesters block access to French multinationals
Environmental activists block the entrance of the French bank Societe Generale headquarters during a "civil disobedience action" to
urge world leaders to act against climate change, in La Defense near Paris, France, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
PARIS (Reuters) – Climate activists blocked hundreds of employees from entering the headquarters of French bank Societe Generale, state-run utility EDF and oil giant Total on Friday, environmental group Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace said it was protesting against the companies links to the oil and gas industry, which the group says is a driving force in global warming.
They plastered giant posters of President Emmanuel Macron carrying the slogan “Macron, President of Polluters” and a banner reading “Scene of Climate Crime” on the glass facade of Societe Generale, Reuters TV images showed.
Police pepper-sprayed one group blocking the bank’s main entrance in a sit-down protest.
Some protesters taped themselves together while others cuffed themselves with plastic ties to metal poles to make it harder for police to dislodge them.
Employees in business suits milled around outside their offices. “I just want to get inside and on with my work,” one frustrated bank employee said.
A Societe Generale spokesman declined to comment. An EDF spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.
The protest came as Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol, and the chairman of the Libya National Oil Corporation were due to attend an annual oil summit in Paris.
Greenpeace and action group Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) have previously criticized Societe Generale for their financial role in oil and gas projects, in particular the Rio Grande LNG gas project in the United States.
Friday’s protest echoed a series by the Extinction Rebellion group of climate-change campaigners in London this week that have caused transport snarl-ups in the British capital.
Teenage protesters staged an emotional protest, weeping and singing, at political inaction on climate change near London’s Heathrow Airport on Friday.
(Reporting by Antony Paone and Inti Landauro; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
- 4/19/2019 Weeping teenage climate activists in peaceful protest near London’s Heathrow
Climate change activists attend an Extinction Rebellion protest outside Heathrow Airport in London, Britain April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
LONDON (Reuters) – Teenage protesters staged an emotional protest at political inaction on climate change near London’s Heathrow Airport on Friday, a further day of actions that have caused transport snarl-ups in the British capital.
The Extinction Rebellion group of climate-change campaigners stood weeping and singing in a peaceful roadside protest less than a mile from Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3. Around a dozen teenagers, some as young as 13, held a banner which read “Are we the last generation?”
Extinction Rebellion has blocked several locations in central London in recent days after it staged a semi-nude protest in parliament earlier this month.
The group of young people stood singing protest songs near a road busy with Easter holiday traffic. Police officers, who far outnumbered them, approached to warn them of potential arrest for trespassing.
More than 500 people have been arrested this week and 10 charged so far, police said on Thursday.
“I fear for my future” Oscar Idle, 17, told Reuters. “That fear gives me courage to act.”
“I want to live in a society which is not catastrophic where there is not going to be food shortages, wild fires and hurricanes where people can live,” he said.
(Reporting by Emily Roe, Will Russell and Simon Dawson; Writing by Elisabeth O’Leary; Editing by Mark Potter)
- 4/23/2019 FDA dispatch backs vaccine for measles by Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY
As the number of measles cases spirals upward – spread mostly by those who refuse to vaccinate – the FDA took the unusual step Monday of reminding the public that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is safe and effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that there were an additional 71 cases last week, bringing the total to 626 cases in 22 states since Jan. 1, the nation’s second- highest total since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said it “deeply concerns us” that measles has again emerged as a threat. It is an “urgent public health priority” to monitor measles, mumps and rubella and raise awareness of the importance of immunization, he said.
“We cannot state strongly enough: The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health,” Marks said.
- 4/25/2019 LA remains worst US city for smog by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
California’s reign as the U.S. state with the worst air pollution continues as Los Angeles is again the nation’s smoggiest metro area, according to a report released Wednesday.
LA isn’t alone when it comes to smog-choked cities in California: Seven of the nation’s top 10 smoggiest cities are in the Golden State, including other sprawling cities such as San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.
Los Angeles has had the worst smog for 19 years of the 20-year history of the report.
The bad news came from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, which covers the years 2015-2017.
Smog forms on warm, sunny days and is made worse by chemicals that exit vehicle tailpipes and power plant and industrial smokestacks. Warmer temperatures make ozone more likely to form.
The report covers the two main types of air pollution that plague the USA: smog (also known as ground-level ozone) and soot (technically known as “particulate matter”).
The news isn’t any good in California when it comes to soot either: Fresno has the nation’s highest levels of that form of air pollution, and six of the nation’s 10 “sootiest” cities are again in California.
Soot pollution is deadlier and more of a health hazard than smog, causing more premature deaths and lung cancer, the lung association said.
“California’s air quality is worsening despite having the strongest environmental regulations in the nation,” said John Balmes of the University of California- San Francisco on Tuesday.
California’s soaring population and topography allow air pollution to overcome the state’s strict environmental laws, the lung association said. The boom in people brings an increase in cars and trucks on the roads, and many of those people live in valleys and basins, where pollution tends to settle.
Nearly year-round sunny skies don’t help: Those picture-perfect days are a major factor in high levels of ozone pollution.
The state would be much worse off without its strict laws on tailpipe pollution and eliminating coal-fired power plants.
The bad news about air pollution spread nationwide in the report: Smog and soot-choked air is worsening amid heat waves and bigger wildfires as environmental protections are rolled back.
Many cities increased the number of days when soot soared to recordbreaking levels, the report says, and “more cities suffered from higher numbers of days when smog reached unhealthy levels.”
About 141million Americans live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, the report says, placing them at risk for premature death, lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.
Only six metro areas recorded no days when smog or short-term soot pollution reached unhealthy levels, according to the report: Bangor, Maine; Burlington, Vermont; Honolulu; Lincoln, Nebraska; Wilmington, North Carolina; and the Melbourne, Florida, metro area.
Heavy smog obscures the view of the skyline from the Griffith Observatory observation
deck over Los Angeles. MARK RALSTON AFP/GETTY IMAGES
- 4/25/2019 US measles cases reach highest mark in 25 years
NEW YORK – U.S. measles cases in 2019 have climbed to their highest level in 25 years in a resurgence largely attributed to misinformation that is turning parents against vaccines. New York City health officials on Wednesday reported 61 new cases since late last week, pushing this year’s nationwide tally past the 667 cases reported in 2014. That would make 2019 the worst year for measles since 1994. Roughly threequarters of this year’s illnesseshave been in New York state, mainly in two ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.
- 4/30/2019 NASA prepares for asteroid apocalypse by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Today’s forecast: the end of the world.
Well, not really, but if a big enough asteroid was on a collision course with Earth, we’d really have something more than scattered showers to worry about.
NASA (not to mention the rest of us) would like to avoid such a catastrophe. The agency is conducting a drill this week to see how we’d prepare if a giant space rock was hurtling toward our home planet.
“Although large impacts are rare, it’s important to be prepared,” NASA said in a statement. “That’s why NASA, other U.S. agencies and international partners gather periodically to simulate impact scenarios and discuss the best course of action.”
The project will play out as a tabletop exercise through Friday at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Maryland, Space.com said. NASA experts prepared a fictional scenario in which an asteroid apparently will crash into Earth in 2027.
Space.com said, “They’ll talk through how to determine what regions face what risks and how to respond – all in the hopes that if they ever face a similar situation in real life, they’ll be ready for it.”
To avoid any unnecessary panic, the conference plainly states on its website that “although this scenario is realistic in many ways, it is completely fictional and does NOT describe an actual potential asteroid impact.”
Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer, said in a statement that “these exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know. This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other.”
The drill is part of the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan developed over two years and published by the White House in June 2018. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which leads the drill, is the federal entity in charge of coordinating efforts to protect Earth from hazardous asteroids. It’s responsible for finding, tracking and characterizing potentially hazardous objects and issuing warnings about possible impacts.
For more than 20 years, NASA and its international partners have scanned the skies for “near-Earth objects,” or asteroids and comets that orbit the sun and come within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit. NASA has participated in six impact exercises – three at Planetary Defense Conferences (2013, 2015, 2017) and three jointly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Deflecting an asteroid on a collision course with Earth would have to be done years before the predicted impact. The two most promising techniques NASA is investigating are the “kinetic impactor” (striking an asteroid with an object to slightly slow it down) and the “gravity tractor” (gravitationally tugging on an asteroid by placing a large mass near it).
Fortunately, no known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact over the next 100 years, NASA says.
A study in 2017 found the deadliest effects of an asteroid impact would be ferocious winds of up to 1,000 mph and intense shock waves.
- MAY 2019
- 5/3/2019 Tree rings link humans with droughts by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
The rings in ancient trees, scientists in a new study say, reveal the fingerprint of human-caused global warming on drought and rainfall patterns worldwide from as far back as 1900.
Tree ring data is an accurate record of past climates: The rings are thinner in years when it’s dry and may not grow at all in stressful conditions like drought. In fact, researchers can use tree ring data to “find” droughts as far back as 1400, centuries before reliable weather data was available.
According to NASA, “we now know that greenhouse gases caused by humans have been affecting global drought since the early 20th century.”
This is the first study to provide historical evidence connecting humangenerated emissions and drought at near-global scales between 1900 and 2005.
“It’s mind boggling,” said lead author Kate Marvel, a climate modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University.
The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.
- 5/3/2019 President Trump eases offshore drilling rules by OAN Newsroom
The Trump’s administration recently released its final plans to ease offshore drilling regulations. The move was announced Thursday, and will roll back many safety measures enacted by former President Barack Obama after the BP oil spill of 2010.
The repeal is seen as a win for the oil and gas industry, which has argued the strict Obama-era regulations were too burdensome and costly to follow.
FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2010, file photo, rhe Development Driller III is seen in the Gulf Of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana.
The Trump administration on Thursday, May 2, 2019, moved to ease safety regulations. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
“The Obama administration’s release of the 2016 well control rule had a detrimental impact on our offshore industry without any relevant improvements to safety and environmental protections,” stated Lori Leblanc, executive director for the Gulf Economic Survival Team. “Our offshore workers deserve a revised final well control rule that improves rather than undermines offshore safety.”
This comes after the Interior Department decided last month to delay offshore drilling expansion until after the 2020 elections. The new rule will take effect 60-days from Friday.
- 5/3/2019 Scientology cruise ship leaves St. Lucia after measles quarantine
A 440-foot ship owned and operated by the Church of Scientology, SMV Freewinds, is docked under
quarantine from a measles outbreak in port near Castries, St. Lucia, May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Micah George
(Reuters) – A cruise ship quarantined for a reported case of measles left the Caribbean island of St. Lucia late on Thursday after health officials provided 100 doses of vaccine to the ship, media reports said.
The Church of Scientology cruise ship was confined in port this week by island health officials after the highly contagious disease was detected on board.
CNN reported the ship had left St. Lucia, and online ship traffic data showed that the vessel was underway and headed for the island of Curacao.
One case of measles had been confirmed on the ship docked in port near the capital of Castries since Tuesday, Dr. Merlene Frederick-James, St. Lucia’s chief medical officer, said in a video statement.
“The confirmed case as well as other crew members are presently stable, but remain under surveillance by the ship’s doctor,” she said, noting the incubation period of measles is 10 to 12 days before symptoms appear.
The number of measles cases in the United States has reached a 25-year peak with more than 700 people diagnosed as of this week, part of an international resurgence in the disease. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2GJgoBt)
NBC News, citing a St. Lucia Coast Guard sergeant, reported the ship is named Freewinds, which is the name of a 440-foot vessel owned and operated by the Church of Scientology.
According to Reuters Eikon shipping data, a Panamanian-flagged cruise liner identified as SMV Freewinds had been docked in port near Castries on Thursday. It was now at sea and expected to arrive at Curacao on Saturday.
On its website, the Church of Scientology describes the Freewinds as a floating “religious retreat ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counseling in the Scientology religion.”
Church officials did not respond to requests for comment.
NBC News reported that nearly 300 passengers and crew were aboard the vessel, with one female crew member diagnosed with measles.
Public health officials blame declining vaccination rates in some communities driven by misinformation about inoculation that has left those populations vulnerable to rapid spread of infection among those with no immunity to the virus.
The vast majority of U.S. cases have occurred in children who have not received vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), officials said.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Lisa Shumaker and Darren Schuettler)
- 5/4/2019 Congo death toll tops 1,000 in ongoing Ebola outbreak
KINSHASA, Congo – More than 1,000 people have died from an Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo that started in August, the country’s health minister said Friday, as attacks on treatment centers and health workers undermine efforts to contain the disease.
Health Minister Oly Ilunga told The Associated Press that four deaths in the outbreak’s epicenter of Katwa helped push the death toll to 1,008. The outbreak that was declared in eastern Congo in August is already the second deadliest in history.
- 5/4/2019 Cyclone lashes India; 1.2M flee coast by Emily Schmall and Bikas Das, ASSOCIATED PRESS
KOLKATA, India – Cyclone Fani tore across India’s eastern coast on Friday, lashing beaches with rain and winds gusting up to 127 mph and affecting weather as far away as Mount Everest as it approached the former imperial capital of Kolkata.
The India Meteorological Department said the “extremely severe” cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the coastal state of Odisha around 8 a.m., with weather effected across the Asian subcontinent.
On India’s cyclone scale, Fani is the second-most severe, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. Because Fani spent 10 days gathering strength over the sea, it delivered a huge blow when it made landfall.
Dust storms were forecast in the desert state of Rajasthan bordering Pakistan, heat waves in the coastal state of Maharashtra on the Arabian Sea, heavy rain in the northeastern states bordering China and snowfall in the Himalayas.
Around 1.2 million people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters, according to India’s National Disaster Response Force. Indian officials put the Navy, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard on high alert. Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said the evacuation was unprecedented in India.
By Friday afternoon, Fani had weakened to a “very severe” storm as it hovered over coastal Odisha and was forecast to move north-northeast toward the Indian state of West Bengal by Friday night. In Bhubaneswar, a city in Odisha famous for an 11th-century Hindu temple, palm trees whipped back and forth like mops across skies made opaque by gusts of rain. Most of the area’s thatched-roof houses were destroyed, and there was no electricity.
The national highway to Puri, a popular tourist beach city with other significant Hindu antiquities, was littered with fallen trees and power poles, making it impassable. A special train ran Thursday to evacuate tourists.
The airport in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, closed from 3 p.m. Friday to Saturday morning, and rail lines were closed. At least 200 trains were canceled across India.
The storm hit in the middle of India’s six-week general election, with rain forecast in Kolkata forcing political parties to cancel campaign events.
The National Disaster Response Force dispatched 54 rescue and relief teams of doctors, engineers and deepsea divers to flood-prone areas along the coast and as far afield as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a group of islands that comprise a union territory about 850 miles east of mainland India in the Bay of Bengal.
Up to 4 inches of rain were expected in much of Sri Lanka, the island nation off the eastern tip of India.
More than 1,400 miles away on Mount Everest, some mountaineers and Sherpa guides were descending to lower camps as weather worsened at higher elevations. The government issued a warning that heavy snowfall was expected in the higher mountain areas with rain and storms lower down, and asked trekking agencies to take tourists to safety.
A resident sits on an electric rickshaw amid ruins from Cyclone Fani, which made
landfall Friday in eastern India. DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
- 5/4/2019 Cyclone hits Bangladesh after battering India, mass evacuations save lives by Jatindra Dash and Ruma Paul
Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern state of Odisha, India, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jatindra Dash
DHAKA/BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) – The strongest cyclone to hit India in five years killed at least 12 people in eastern Odisha state, before swinging north-eastwards into Bangladesh on Saturday where four more people died although more than a million had been moved to safety.
After it made landfall early on Friday, tropical cyclone Fani had lost some of its power and was downgraded to a ‘Deep Depression’ by the Indian Meteorological Department as the storm moved inland over Bangladesh.
“The fear of a major disaster is mostly over as it has weakened,” Shamsuddin Ahmed, director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told reporters.
A storm surge still breached embankments to submerge dozens of villages on Bangladesh’s low-lying coast, a disaster ministry official in Dhaka said.
About 1.2 million people living in the most vulnerable districts in Bangladesh had been moved to some 4,000 shelters.
The official said storm had damaged more than 500 houses. It destroyed several houses in the Noakhali district, where a two-year-old child and a 12-year-old girl were killed, and about 30 people were injured, local official Tanmoy Das told Reuters.
Bangladesh’s junior disaster minister Enamur Rahman told reporters that at least four people had been killed and 63 injured.
In India, authorities were assessing damage left behind by Fani, which had spent days building power over the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal before tearing into Odisha.
Indian media reported that at least 12 people had died across the state, with most deaths caused by falling trees, but a mass evacuation of 1.2 million people in the 24 hours before the tropical cyclone made landfall averted a greater loss of life.
The seaside temple town of Puri, which lay directly in the path of Fani, suffered extensive damage, as winds gusting up to 200 kph (124 mph) tore off tin roofs, snapped power lines, and uprooted trees on Friday.
“Destruction is unimaginable… Puri is devastated,” Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters, adding that 116 people were reported injured across the state.
Video footage taken from an Indian navy aircraft showed extensive inundation in areas around Puri, with wide swathes of land submerged in the aftermath of the storm.
At least six people died in Bhubaneswar, Odisha’s state capital, where fallen trees blocked roads and electricity supply was still to be fully restored.
Ashok Patnaik, director of Capital Hospital, one of the largest state-run hospitals in n Bhubaneswar, said four people were received dead on Friday and two on Saturday. “All are cyclone related,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in the midst of a general election, said in a tweet that he would visit Odisha on Monday.
Bhubaneswar airport suffered considerable damage, but would re-open on Saturday afternoon, India’s aviation ministry said.
Shelters were set up in schools and other safe buildings to accommodate the evacuees, who included scores of tourists.
Neighboring West Bengal state escaped substantial damage, but authorities moved nearly 45,000 people to safer locations.
The cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal can last from April to December.
In 1999, a super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people.
But since then, technology advances have helped weather forecasters track the cyclones more accurately, giving authorities more time to prepare, and a mass evacuation of nearly a million people saved thousands of lives in 2013.
(Reporting Jatindra Dash in BHUBANESWAR and Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Additional reporting by Subrata Nag Choudhury in KOLKATA; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
- 5/5/2019 Democratic candidates join Nevada in nuclear waste fight by Michelle L. Price, ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAS VEGAS – Nevada’s long crusade to block the creation of a national nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain has pitted it against a lawmakers of both parties across the country, but some presidential candidates are joining the early voting state’s cause.
Nevada’s senior senator, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, has legislation that would bar the federal government from moving nuclear waste into a state without first receiving permission from the governor and local officials. Last year, Nevada’s two senators were the measure’s only sponsors.
This year, they have company in Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The six senators’ move to establish opposition to the mothballed Yucca Mountain project is an appeal long made by presidential candidates hoping to win favor in Nevada, which holds a pivotal role as a swing state and the third state to vote in the Democratic presidential contest.
“Any candidate hoping to win the support of Nevadans must be against Yucca Mountain,” Cortez Masto said Friday in response to a question about the new co-sponsors.
The show of opposition to Yucca Mountain is “cyclical and obviously only on the Democratic side,” said Eric Herzik, the chair of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno.
- 5/5/2019 More sea lions being killed to aid salmon by Keith Ridler, ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOISE, Idaho – More California sea lions preying on imperiled salmon in the Columbia River below a hydroelectric project on the Oregon-Washington border are being killed under a revised policy, federal authorities said Friday.
The National Marine Fisheries Service made public reduced criteria for removing sea lions at Bonneville Dam about 145 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
The new guidelines that went into effect April 17 permit any California sea lion seen in the area on five occasions or seen eating a fish to be put on a list for lethal removal. The former criteria required both those marks to be met. Officials said 10 sea lions have been killed so far this year, most as a result of the policy change.
Robert Anderson, the agency’s marine mammal program manager, said the Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force decided to make the change after dissatisfaction with current efforts. A study found the change could increase the number of sea lions killed by 66%.
Officials are authorized to remove 92 California sea lions annually from the area, but have never come close to that number. Meanwhile, billions of dollars have been spent in Idaho, Oregon and Washington to save 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Salmon and steelhead congregate near the bottom of the dam to go up fish ladders, facing some delays in “getting through the pinch points, and sea lions have figured that out,” Anderson said.
The California sea lions at the dam are all males, with 200 to 300 showing up and numbers typically peaking in the spring. They’re bulking up on salmon, with some sea lions reaching 1,000 pounds, before swimming roughly 800 miles to breeding beaches at the Channel Islands off the California coast. Once there, they try to establish territories, not eating for a month while mating with females in their area of control and fighting off rival males.
“It’s kind of classic biology,” Anderson said. “Get as big as you can to try to be successful.”
An estimated 70,000 California sea lions are drawn to the breeding beaches. The overall population rebounded from about 30,000 in the late 1960s to an estimated 300,000 today, after the passage of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act.
California sea lions at Bonneville Dam were a rarity until they started showing up in the early 2000s. Authorities began the lethal removal list in 2008. Since then, about 400 sea lions have made the list, with 229 removed. Of those, 15 have been sent to zoos or aquariums, seven died during capture, and 207 have been euthanized.
A sea lion tosses a partially eaten salmon in the Columbia River near Bonneville Dam in North Bonneville, Wash. DON RYAN/AP
- 5/5/2019 Mastodon bones find a new home by Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star USA TODAY NETWORK
INDIANAPOLIS – The enormous mastodon bones found behind a Seymour farm have a new home: the Indiana State Museum.
Two limb bones and parts of a skull and tusk came from the prehistoric elephant- like creature named “Alfred,” the museum announced Thursday. Crews working on a sewer system project found the bones while they were digging in early April, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
The bones came to the Indianapolis museum Monday. According to what experts have found so far, the mastodon died between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago and was 9 to 9 1 /2 feet tall.
The Nehrt and Schepman families own the land where the bones were located, and Joe Schepman donated them to the museum. It will take a few months to a year to process them for research and preservation. The museum doesn’t know at this point whether the bones will be on display for the public, Director of Communication Hannah Kiefer said.
The Indiana State Museum houses an enormous collection of mastodons and mammoths from different locations, and it noted in a release that having the bones would add to knowledge of the Ice Age in the Hoosier state.
Mastodons began walking on Earth between 27 and 30 million years ago and weighed between 4 and 6 tons. They ate leaves, twigs, grass and tree bark and frequented swamps. Many of the creatures lived in Indiana, and people have discovered their bones in almost all of the state’s 92 counties.
According to what experts have found so far, the mastodon died between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago and was 9 to 9 1 /2 feet tall.
The collection of bones includes a portion of the mastodon’s skull, limb bones and part of a tusk. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY INDIANA STATE MUSEUM
The collection also includes a portion of the mastodon’s jaw and teeth.
- 5/5/2019 India cyclone kills at least 33, hundreds of thousands homeless by Jatindra Dash
FILE PHOTO - A damaged warehouse is pictured following Cyclone Fani in Puri district
in the eastern state of Odisha, India, May 4, 2019. REUTERS/R. Narendra
PURI, India (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless after a cyclone packing winds of about 200 km per hour slammed into eastern India, ripping out tin roofs and destroying power and telecom lines, officials said on Sunday.
At least 33 people were killed after cyclone Fani struck the state of Odisha on Friday but a million people emerged unscathed after they moved into storm shelter ahead of landfall.
The death toll could have been much greater if not for the massive evacuation in the days before the storm made landfall, officials said.
The seaside temple town of Puri, which lay directly in the path of Fani, suffered extensive damage as winds gusting up to 200 kph (124 mph) tore off tin roofs, snapped power lines, and uprooted trees on Friday.
“The cyclone has killed 21 people in Puri and about 300 people are injured,” Brajabandhu Dash, medical officer at Puri, told Reuters. Earlier, 12 deaths were reported from other parts of the state.
The depression over the Western Meghalaya and adjoining Bangladesh has weakened, and will become insignificant in the next 24 hours, India’s met department said on Twitter early on Sunday.
According to preliminary reports, Fani damaged power infrastructure worth more than 12 billion rupees ($173.7 million) and the authorities are trying to restore electricity supply for emergency services, another official said.
More than 60,000 people including officials and volunteers were involved in relief operations, said special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi, who monitored the evacuation.
The relief effort used sirens, loudspeakers and sent more than 20 million mobile messages to the targeted people, he said.
The cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal can last from April to December, and storms can be deadly. In 1999, a super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people.
Fani was the strongest summer cyclone in 43 years to hit Odisha, disrupting water supplies and transport links, the state’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik said in a statement.
“We are in the process of restoring physical infrastructure,” he told reporters.
RELIEF FOR VICTIMS
Relief agencies were trying to provide food and medicine to victims in other parts of the state, while hundreds of thousands were still not accessible due to roadblocks and disruption in the communication network, officials said.
The town of Puri was littered with tree branches, the debris of damaged houses and broken glass. Relief teams were trying to clear the roads.
“There was no wind at night (before landfall). We thought nothing will happen,” P. Chittmma, 45, told Reuters while laying on a bed at a government hospital, showing her fractured leg.
(Writing by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Dale Hudson)
- 5/6/2019 Sen. Schumer urges CDC to declare emergency as drug-resistant fungus continues to spread in N.Y. by OAN Newsroom
New York Senator Chuck Schumer is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to declare an emergency as a drug-resistant superbug continues to spread across the state.
Since March 31, 2019 the CDC has confirmed more than 600 cases of the Candida auris fungus across the U.S. Over half of those cases occurred in New York.
The fungus has been found in hospitals and nursing homes, and may be deadly for those with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, newborns and the chronically ill.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks with reporters after meeting with President Donald Trump
about infrastructure, at the White House, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“We’re here today to urge the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, to deliver a whole bunch of resources that can help New York and other states kill this bug and stop its spread,” stated Schumer.
The CDC has previously declared public health emergencies for the Zika virus, Ebola and H1N1.
- 5/7/2019 Meet T. rex’s tiny tyrant cousin - 16-year-old discovered fossil of little lizard by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Sure, we’ve all seen the monstrous T. rexes running amok in “Jurassic Park” and other movies.
It turns out they weren’t all huge behemoths: In a study published Monday, scientists announced the discovery of a new relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex, one that was much smaller than the gigantic, ferocious dinosaurs made famous in countless books and films.
The dinosaur, which roamed the Earth about 92 million years ago, stood roughly 3 feet tall and was about 9 feet in length, according to the study.
It weighed somewhere in the 45- to 90-pound range, certainly modest by dinosaur standards and a tiny fraction of the 9-ton adult T. rex.
The discovery itself has a fascinating backstory: The fossil was found more than 20 years ago by Sterling Nesbitt, who went on to become a Virginia Tech University paleontologist and the lead author of the new study. Nesbitt was 16 when he discovered the fossil during a high school dig trip in the Zuni Basin of western New Mexico.
That single find “put me onto a scientific journey that has framed my career,” he said. This includes several advanced degrees in paleontology.
The fossil was given the name Suskityrannus hazelae. The first word is derived from “Suski,” the Zuni Native American tribe word for “coyote,” and from the Latin word “tyrannus,” meaning king. The second word “hazelae” is named for Hazel Wolfe, whose support made possible many successful fossil expeditions in the Zuni Basin, according to Nesbitt. Though not the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, “Suskityrannus gives us a glimpse into the evolution of tyrannosaurs just before they take over the planet,” Nesbitt said.
At first, scientists didn’t know they had a cousin of the T. rex and thought it was something more in line with a velociraptor, small but vicious dinos that also became famous in “Jurassic Park.”
Smithsonian Institution paleobiologist Hans Sues, who wasn’t part of the study, said it’s an important find.
“Suskityrannus is the first really good record of the early tyrannosaurs in North America,” he said.
The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Sterling Nesbitt discovered the fossil remains of the dinosaur Suskityrannus hazelae when he was 16 on a high school trip. VIRGINIA TECH
Scientists and artists envision the age of dinosaurs, including the tyrannosaur’s diminutive relative, Suskityrannus hazelae. ANDREY ATUCHIN/VIRGINIA TECH
- 5/7/2019 Measles hits 25-year high: 764 by John Bacon, USA TODAY
The number of confirmed U.S. measles cases this year climbed to 764, more than double the number a year ago and the highest total in 25 years, federal health officials announced Monday.
Sixty additional cases were reported last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Most of those were in New York City and its suburbs.
Pennsylvania became the 23rd state where measles cases have been confirmed.
Ogbonnaya Omenka, an associate professor and public health specialist at Butler University, found some encouraging news in the report. He noted that the number of cases rose about the same in the past two weeks, less than previous gains. But authorities dare not get complacent, he said.
“This outbreak is an indication that the traditional methods of addressing measles outbreaks in the United States may not suffice any longer,” Omenka told USA TODAY. “Public health authorities need to quickly recognize this and adapt accordingly.”
New York has been a focal point for the disease. State health officials announced Monday that 253 cases have been confirmed outside New York City, most of them in suburban Rockland County. More than 400 cases have been reported in Brooklyn and Queens since October.
The city mandated vaccinations in some areas under threat of a $1,000 fine.
Measles was declared eliminated in 2000 but has made a comeback in part because of a movement
against vaccination in the USA.
*****The disease is brought into the country by travelers from Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, where there have been large measles outbreaks, the CDC said.*** [WARNING FALSE CDC STATEMENT IT IS FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION].
Authorities in Curacao said Monday that 318 people aboard a Church of Scientology ship docked on the Dutch Caribbean island will remain quarantined until officials determine how many are infected with measles, The Associated Press reported. The 440-foot Freewinds ship was previously quarantined in St. Lucia after a female crew member was diagnosed.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash.
Other states reporting cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee and Washington.
[Why does the CDC is still stating that the measle outbreak came from Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines as you can see in the above image that southern illegal immigration pushed into Arizona and California spread northward all the way to Washington state, and notice New Mexico has none because Trump built a wall there. Texas got it too because they wanted them, and then an influx into Florida, spread to Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa who are states hiring migrants for farm work, and then the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire wanted migrants and also ended up getting many of the MS-13 gangs who spread the measles in their area which is a pandemic to them now. Anyone who looks at that and ignores that deserves to be infected as God works in mysterious ways. What I laugh about is that the CDC is going to look foolish when the next round of new severe diseases comes around that will be coming and it will be the fault of the Democrats in Congress for not responding to Trumps request for a crisis at the border and created Sanctuary Cities.].
- 5/10/2019 New species of bat-winged dino found by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Another dinosaur species with batlike wings has been discovered, scientists announced in a new study published Wednesday. The 163-millionyear- old fossil, which is a complete skeleton, was found by a farmer in northeastern China in 2017.
According to the study, led by Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Min Wang, the discovery provides additional evidence that as birdlike dinosaurs evolved, they sported a variety of wings.
“The most exciting thing, for me, is that it shows that some dinosaurs evolved very different structures to become” capable of some form of flight, Wang told Smithsonian magazine.
This is the second fossil of a dinosaur with batlike wings to be discovered, the first was in 2015. That one was discovered about 50 miles away and belonged to a dinosaur that lived 3 million years after this one.
Both belong to the scansoriopterygids, a group of small dinosaurs that have only been found in China.
The creature was given the name Ambopteryx longibranchus, which is Latin for “both wings, long upper arm.”
- 5/11/2019 WHO warns Ebola could spread elsewhere if attacks don’t stop
DAKAR, Senegal – The World Health Organization warned Friday that it might not be possible to contain Ebola to the two affected provinces in eastern Congo if violent attacks on health teams continue. The statement comes amid escalating violence nine months after the outbreak began, crippling efforts to identify suspected cases and vaccinate those most at risk. Earlier this week, Mai-Mai militia fighters attacked the town of Butembo at the epicenter of the crisis. The update also noted that a burial team had been “violently attacked.”
- 5/12/2019 U.N. Secretary-General warns world ‘not on track’ to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 percent: TVNZ
FILE PHOTO: Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) during
their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019. Parker Song/Pool via REUTERS
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the world was “not on track” to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5%, TVNZ reported on Sunday, during his visit to New Zealand.
Speaking to the media in Auckland alongside New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Guterres warned about the dangers of not addressing climate change.
“Climate change is running faster than what we are … the last four years have been the hottest registered,” TVNZ quoted Guterres as saying.
Countries vowed under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to try to limit a rise in global warming even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
According to local media, Guterres also said he wished to show solidarity during Ramadan with those affected by the deadly Christchurch attacks on March 15.
“To pay tribute to their courage, to their resilience but also to pay tribute to extraordinary unity and to the message of solidarity that was given by the people and the government of New Zealand,” TVNZ reported.
Guterres arrived in New Zealand on Sunday and will later also travel to Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Fiji as part of a Pacific tour focused on climate change.
(Reporting by Will Ziebell; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
- 5/14/2019 CO2 levels are highest in human history by USA TODAY
Carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere hit a stunning new milestone over the weekend.
Data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii showed that carbon dioxide levels surpassed 415 parts per million on Friday.
“We don’t know a planet like this,” Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and writer at Grist, wrote on Twitter.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have skyrocketed far higher than any levels in the past 800,000 years, data from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California – San Diego show, and levels have not been this high for millions of years, Holthaus said.
“This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415 ppm CO2,” he tweeted. “Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.”
CO2 levels millions of years ago were higher than 2019 levels, but Earth’s temperatures were also much higher. In the 800,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels didn’t surpass 300 ppm.
- 5/14/2019 75 more measles cases reported in US by John Bacon, USA TODAY
The number of measles cases reported nationwide this year jumped by 75 last week, pushing the total to 839 in 23 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
This year’s total already marks the most U.S. cases since 1994. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.
The 75 cases represent a higher bump than the last two weeks, when about 60 additional cases were reported each week.
“This spike is concerning, especially because the downward trend in recent weeks demonstrated that it was possible to keep the infection rates from going up,” said Ogbonnaya Omenka, an associate professor and public health specialist at Butler University.
Most of the new cases were in New York City and its suburbs, where hundreds of cases have been reported this year. The area is home to Orthodox Jewish communities where many parents refuse to allow vaccinations for their children.
Authorities in New York have mandated vaccinations in some ZIP codes.
Outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring, the CDC said. The travelers then spread the disease to unvaccinated people in the U.S., the agency said.
The CDC urges vaccination, a position rejected by anti-vaxxers. Last week, Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland called vaccines “sorcery” in a social media post criticizing a vaccine expert. “Vaccines are dangerous,” Strickland said, comparing government involvement in vaccinations to communism.
In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Friday ending personal or philosophical measles vaccine exemptions for most parents whose kids will attend day care centers or schools. Dozens of parents protested outside the bill signing.
Primary symptoms of the disease include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that can spread across the entire body, the CDC said. In a smallnumber of cases, people can develop pneumonia, swelling of the brain or other serious symptoms. Measles can cause men to become sterile and pregnant women to deliver prematurely.
“Normally the acuteness or severity of an infectious disease determines the public’s approach to it,” Omenka said. “With this measles outbreak, it is a clear public health challenge convincing the public in the absence of severe outcomes.”
States reporting measles so far this year include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.
Globally, measles is a killer. Despite what health officials call a safe, costeffective vaccine, there were 110,000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under the age of five, in 2017.
Measles vaccination resulted in an 80% drop in measles deaths from 2000 to 2017 worldwide, the World Health Organization reports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges vaccination for the public against measles. STEPH CHAMBERS/AP
- 5/15/2019 Earthquake hits Papua New Guinea, tsunami alert issued
CANBERRA, Australia – A powerful earthquake stuck Papua New Guinea late Tuesday evening, triggering a tsunami alert for coastal areas up to 620 miles away. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude 7.5 and was located 28 miles northeast of Kokopo, a remote town of about 26,000. The USGS estimated that damage and injuries would be low because of the area’s sparse population. The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the tsunami threat had largely passed and no waves had been observed.
- 5/16/2019 Chew on this Neanderthal news - Teeth study challenges evolutionary timeline by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Our distant cousins just got a little more distant.
A new study suggests modern humans and our closest relatives, the Neanderthals, may have split 800,000 years ago, hundreds of thousands of years earlier than had been thought.
The truth is in the teeth: Anthropologist Aida Gomez-Robles of University College London analyzed 400,000- year-old teeth from a Neanderthal ancestor, which had been discovered in a cave in Spain.
She determined that the choppers weren’t at all similar to modern humans’ teeth, which they should have been if the two species had been together at that time. The “teeth are very different from those that we would expect to find in their last common ancestral species with modern humans,” Gomez-Robles said, “suggesting that they evolved separately over a long period of time (before that) to develop such stark differences.”
The most recent common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans must have lived well before then, probably hundreds of thousands of years earlier, according to New Scientist.
The study concludes that any divergence between Neanderthals and modern humans after 800,000 years ago would require “unusually and unlikely rapid dental evolution” in the teeth discovered in Spain. The findings differ from studies of ancient DNA and cranial features, which point to a 400,000-year divergence date.
Neanderthals were a species of ancient humans that went extinct about 40,000 years ago. Modern humans share a common ancestor with Neanderthals, the extinct species that were our closest prehistoric relatives.
How close? Neanderthals and modern humans share more than 99% of their DNA.
The details on when and how two species diverged remain a matter of intense debate within the anthropological community.
Smithsonian Institution paleoanthropologist Rick Potts is far from convinced that rates of dental evolution are as standard or predictable as the study suggests. “She’s bitten off an interesting topic here, but I just don’t see the argument that dental rates of evolution are absolutely known to the point where we can then say that for certain the Neanderthal-modern human divergence must have been earlier than 800,000 years ago,” Potts told Smithsonian magazine.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.
Neanderthals and modern humans share more than 99% of their DNA. PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A dental discovery raises questions about when Neanderthals split from “modern” man. XAVIER ROSSI/ GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES
[I am glad that someone finally shows that modern man or Adam of the Bible was created by God and breathed the breath of life or a soul in modern man and was not an off-shoot of the wretched species that was already running around on the earth before the glaciation of the earth was restored to normal.].
- 5/19/2019 In coal we trust: Australia’s voters back PM Morrison’s faith in fossil fuel by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: A reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle, Australia, June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison once brandished a lump of coal in parliament, crying, “This is coal – don’t be afraid!” His surprise win in what some dubbed the ‘climate election’ may have stunned the country, but voters should know what comes next in energy policy – big coal.
Battered by extended droughts, damaging floods, and more bushfires, Australian voters had been expected to hand a mandate to the Labor party to pursue its ambitious targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions cuts.
Instead, Saturday’s election left them on course to re-elect the Liberal-led center-right coalition headed by Morrison, a devout Pentecostal churchgoer who thanked fellow worshippers for his win at a Sydney church early on Sunday.
The same coalition government last year scrapped a bipartisan national energy plan and dumped then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull because he was viewed as anti-coal.
Power companies and big energy users, who last year rallied behind the national energy plan to end a decade of policy flip-flops, said on Sunday they wanted to work with the coalition anew to find ways to cut energy bills and boost power and gas supply.
“We just need this chaotic environment to stop and give us some real direction,” said Andrew Richards, chief executive of the Energy Users Association of Australia, which represents many of the country’s largest industrial energy users.
The country’s power producers – led by AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, owned by Hong Kong’s CLP Holdings – want the government to set long-term goals to give them the confidence to invest an estimated A$25 billion ($17 billion) needed for new power supply.
“Customers are looking to energy companies and the government to get bills down and secure our energy supplies,” said EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna.
“We have an opportunity now to reset our relationships and recommit to working toward a clear, stable and long-term energy policy,” she said in comments emailed to Reuters after Saturday’s election.
At Origin Energy, Chief Executive Officer Frank Calabria said in emailed comments he would be looking for appropriate policy that would allow the company to invest in a pumped hydro project and gas exploration in the Northern Territory.
Australia has endured years of divisive debate on energy policy, with attacks by the Liberal-led coalition on Labor’s “carbon tax” policy helping to bring down the government of then-leader Julia Gillard in 2013.
Despite top companies, from global miner BHP Group to Australia’s biggest independent gas producer Woodside Petroleum, calling for the country to put a price on carbon emissions, the Liberal-led coalition killed the carbon price mechanism in 2014.
Its own attempts to fashion a bipartisan national energy policy foundered amid fierce opposition from coal supporters and climate skeptics on its right-wing.
Its policy now is focused on driving down power prices and beefing up power supply. For the moment that includes underwriting one new coal-fired power plant and providing A$1.38 billion toward a A$4 billion energy storage expansion at state-owned hydropower scheme Snowy Hydro, designed to back up wind and solar power.
While the coalition stuck to an official target to cut carbon emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030, the United Nations warned last year Australia was unlikely to meet this goal.
The opposition Labor party campaigned on more aggressive targets, aiming to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach 50 percent renewable power by 2030. The re-elected Liberal-led coalition has no renewable energy target beyond 2020.
ADANI JOBS = VOTES FOR COALITION
In the election, stopping a coal mine in the northern state of Queensland proposed by Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises was the catchword for inner city voters in the south pressing for tough action on climate change.
Labor, torn between its traditional union base and its urban environmentally conscious supporters, made no commitments on the Adani mine. The move backfired in the mining heartland of Queensland, where voters with jobs in mind handed the Liberal-led coalition crucial seats in the election.
Adani’s mining chief Lucas Dow was not available on Sunday to comment on whether the election outcome might speed up approvals for the long-delayed mine.
“There is now a clear mandate for resources projects that have lawful approvals to proceed, such as the Adani coal mine,” the Minerals Council of Australia’s chief executive Tania Constable said in a statement on Sunday.
Energy users and the power industry, however, see the transition to cleaner energy as inevitable, with states pushing ambitious targets out of line with the national government.
At the same time, Australia, the world’s second-largest exporter of coal for power, faces falling demand for coal as its biggest customers – Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and India – are shifting toward cleaner energy, said Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
“I would expect the coalition to fight a rearguard action that will slow the transition, but they can’t stall it,” he said.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin and Kenneth Maxwell)
- 5/19/2019 Almost 25% of W. Antarctic ice ‘unstable’ by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
More unsettling news from the bottom of the world.
Almost one-quarter of the ice in the West Antarctic ice sheet is classified as “unstable,” according to a new study released last week.
It’s due to the huge volume of ice that’s melted from the ice sheet in the past 25 years.
Some areas are losing ice five times faster than they were in the early 1990s.
“In parts of Antarctica, the ice sheet has thinned by extraordinary amounts,” said study lead author Andy Shepherd, a polar scientist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
The ice has thinned by some 400 feet in some places, the study said. The ice sheet and its glaciers are melting from underneath as warming sea water – overheated due to man-made climate change – chews away at it from below.
This isn’t the floating sea ice around Antarctica, which melts and refreezes with the seasons. This is freshwater ice from the gigantic ice sheet that covers most of the continent.
- 5/21/2019 China calls out big state firms, others on pollution violations amid slowing economy fears
FILE PHOTO: A cooling tower (C) and chimneys are seen at a thermal power plant on a
polluted day in Beijing, China, November 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China has publicly accused dozens of firms, including some of its biggest state enterprises, of exceeding pollution limits and breaching monitoring standards, as concerns rise that the slowing economy is undermining a five-year war on pollution.
In lists published by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment over the past week, subsidiaries of state giants such as China Baowu Steel Group and the Aluminum Corporation of China were cited and fined for breaching emissions standards among other violations.
China has been stepping up its supervision capabilities and has plugged thousands of factories into a real-time emissions monitoring system, but enforcement remains one of its biggest challenges.
The ministry has continued to warn that China’s slowing economy had given some regions an excuse to “loosen their grip” on environmental protection
In the first quarter of this year, air quality in smog-prone northern regions fell compared to last year, and some regions also saw pollution readings in major lakes and rivers rise over the period.
A notice published last Friday said as many as 82 Chinese enterprises exceeded wastewater emissions standards in the fourth quarter of 2018, including 44 sewage treatment plants and six wastewater treatment facilities. A unit of the Aluminum Corporation of China in Shanxi province was named as one of five “serious offenders.”
It said the unit had exceeded emissions restrictions for a total of 92 days during the period. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.
As well as being fined, the companies cited were told to restrict operations until problems were resolved. The biggest fine was meted out to a wastewater treatment plant in Liaoning province, which was ordered to pay 7.2 million yuan ($1.04 million).
In a separate review of monitoring standards in the Yangtze river delta and the Fenwei plain regions, the ministry identified more than 300 firms for equipment quality violations and exceeding wastewater discharge restrictions. It found only 22 percent of equipment was of the required standard.
The list included a special steel producing unit of Baosteel, China’s biggest steelmaker. Baosteel did not respond to a request to comment.
(Reporting by David Stanway, Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
- 5/20/2019 WHO director in DRC: Ebola can be stopped if violence ends by OAN Newsroom
Health care workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have said the Ebola crisis plaguing the country can be resolved if violence in the region stops.
Over the weekend, the International Red Cross warned the Ebola virus could spread to urban areas outside of east DRC due to heightened instability in the region. This comes after the country’s Ministry of Health reported there have been over 1,000 deaths from the virus since 2018.
World Health Organization (WHO) officials said despite having sufficient supplies to stop the epidemic, ongoing violence against health workers have significantly hurt their efforts.
FILE – In this Tuesday April, 16, 2019 file photo, an Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center
in Beni, Eastern Congo. Internal documents by The Associated Press show the World Health Organization
spent nearly $192 million on travel last year, with staffers sometimes breaking the rules by flying in business class,
booking expensive last-minute tickets and traveling without the required approvals. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, file)
“The situation here in Congo is very different to that of West Africa, first of all. We have the tools to do the job, we have the surveillance, we have the vaccines, and we have a very strong team on the ground working with our ministry of health colleagues. What’s really, really set us back has been just the hugely intense bouts of violence and insecurity.” — Dr. Michael Ryan, Director of Health Emergencies – WHO
Many experts in the region predict the epidemic may grow larger than the one in 2013, which killed over 11,000 people.
- 5/21/2019 Study: Earth’s oceans could rise 6 feet by 2100 - Global warming could swamp coastal cities by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Miami? Underwater. Norfolk, Virginia? Swamped. New York City? Fuggedaboutit.
Top experts say that in a worst-case scenario, portions of these and other U.S. coastal cities could be lost to the sea by the end of the century as ocean levels rise because of global warming, a study released Monday said. In fact, on average, seas around the world could be as much as 6.5 feet higher by the end of the century if climate change continues unchecked.
A group of 22 top scientists came up with the estimate by using new techniques to measure how ice will melt in the world’s polar regions. The primary cause of the rising seas will be the melt of the gigantic ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.
While it’s a high-end estimate, “we should not rule out a sea-level rise of over 2 meters (6.5 feet) if we continue along a business-as-usual emissions trajectory,” said study lead author Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
That’s potentially twice the upper limit suggested by the United Nations’ climate science panel’s last major report, according to the magazine New Scientist.
Man-made climate change, or global warming, is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil, which release gases such as carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) and methane into the atmosphere. The extra CO2 causes temperatures of the atmosphere and oceans to rise to levels that can’t be explained by natural causes.
Low-lying coastal cities are most vulnerable to rising seas, Bamber said. They include cities in Florida and Louisiana, along with California cities such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area of San Francisco.
Worldwide, “such a rise in global sea level could result in a land loss of almost 700,000 square miles,” he said. That’s equivalent to an area more than three times as large as the state of California.
Other global cities that could be partially lost to the sea include London and Rio de Janiero.
Such a rise in water levels also would swamp “critical regions of food production, and potential displacement of up to 187 million people,” which is about 2.5% of the Earth’s population.
“A sea-level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound conse- quences for humanity,” Bamber said.
And yes, the seas have risen and fallen many times before. What’s new is the enormity of coastal development that will need to be protected, moved or abandoned.
Sea level has risen nearly 8 inches worldwide since 1880 but, unlike water in a bathtub, it doesn’t rise evenly.
In the past 100 years, it has climbed about a foot or more for some U.S. cities because of ocean currents and land subsidence – 11 inches in New York and Boston, 12 in Charleston, 16 in Atlantic City, 18 in Norfolk and 25 in Galveston, Texas, according to a recent USA TODAY analysis of tide gauge data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Scientists say global warming will be the primary cause of future sea-level rise. Their greatest uncertainty is how quickly the massive West Antarctic ice sheet will melt.
Sea level has risen nearly 8 inches worldwide since 1880.
A view of what New York City would look like under a worst-case scenario of rising seas caused by climate change. CLIMATE CENTRAL
- 5/23/2019 China ID’d as source of ozone-sapping gas by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Some alarming news from the stratosphere.
Chinese foam manufacturers are releasing an ozone-destroying chemical into the air that goes against an international agreement meant to fix the ozone layer, scientists announced in a study Wednesday.
The chemical is a chlorofluorocarbon known as trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), which the world agreed to phase out starting in 2010. In the past six years, emissions of CFC-11 have increased by about 7,000 tons each year, and the source is eastern China, the study says.
Up in the stratosphere, the ozone layer acts as a sunscreen, blocking potentially harmful ultraviolet energy from reaching our planet’s surface. Without it, humans and animals can experience increased rates of skin cancer and other ailments such as cataracts.
The naturally occurring ozone high in the atmosphere is the “good” ozone and is in contrast to the “bad” ozone near the surface, which is man-made pollution that can cause respiratory problems.
“It was unexpected when we saw that, starting around 2013, global emissions of one of the most important CFCs suddenly began to grow,” said study lead author Matt Rigby, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Bristol in England.
The study says two provinces in eastern China – Hebei and Shandong – appear to be major sources of the CFC-11 emissions. Researchers used air-monitoring equipment in Japan and South Korea to detect the Chinese emissions.
Scientists first discovered the thinning in Earth’s protective ozone layer in the 1970s and the infamous “ozone hole” over Antarctica in the mid-80s. They determined the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used in refrigerators and aerosol sprays, caused the problem.
In the late 1980s, 196 countries signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty that limited production of CFCs around the world. Businesses soon came up with safer alternatives for spray cans and refrigerators.
Any increase in emissions of CFCs will delay the time it takes for the ozone layer, and the Antarctic ozone hole, to recover.
- 5/23/2019 NASA chooses technology firm Maxar for lunar platform project by Joey Roulette
FILE PHOTO: Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex
in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
MELBOURNE, Fla. (Reuters) – NASA has picked space technology company Maxar Technologies Inc as the first contractor to help build its Gateway platform in lunar orbit, a crucial outpost for America’s mission to relay astronauts to the moon in 2024, the U.S. agency said on Thursday.
Shares of Westminster, Colorado-based Maxar jumped more than 20% following the announcement by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at a meeting sponsored by a Florida college.
The firm-fixed price award carries a maximum total value of $375 million, NASA said in a news release.
The Trump administration has made a return to the moon a high priority for the U.S. space program, saying the mission would establish a foundation for an eventual journey to put humans on Mars.
Vice President Mike Pence’s March 26 announcement that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to build a space platform in lunar orbit and put American astronauts on the moon’s south pole by 2024 “by any means necessary,” four years earlier than previously planned.
Maxar Technologies, formerly SSL, will develop power, propulsion and communications components for the lunar mobile command and service module, NASA said.
The power and propulsion element is a 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft, three times more powerful than current capabilities, NASA said.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Melbourne, Florida; Writing by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Richard Chang and Susan Thomas)
- 5/24/2019 First satellites for Musk’s Starlink internet venture launched into orbit by Joey Roulette
FILE PHOTO: A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft sits on launch pad 39A
prior to the uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center
in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – SpaceX, the private rocket company of high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched the first batch of 60 small satellites into low-Earth orbit on Thursday for Musk’s new Starlink internet service.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 10:30 p.m. local time (0230 GMT Friday), clearing a key hurdle for a business venture that Musk hopes will generate much-needed cash for his larger ambitions in space.
The launch came a week after two back-to-back countdowns for the mission were scrubbed – once due to high winds over the Cape and the next night in order to update satellite software and “triple-check” all systems.
The 60 satellites flown into space were released into orbit as planned about an hour after Thursday’s launch, and the Falcon 9’s main-stage reusable booster rocket flew back to Earth for a successful landing on a barge floating in the Atlantic.
SpaceX said it would probably take another day to learn whether all the satellites deployed were functioning properly. Each weighs about 500 pounds (227 kg), making them the heaviest payload carried aloft by SpaceX to date.
They represent the initial phase of a planned constellation capable of beaming signals for high-speed internet service from space to paying customers around the globe.
Musk has said he sees the new Starlink venture as an important new revenue stream for his California-based Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, whose launch service income he expects to top out at around $3 billion a year.
He told reporters last week that makes Starlink pivotal in helping pay for his larger goals of developing a new spacecraft to fly paying customers to the moon and for eventually trying to colonize Mars.
“We think this is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon,” said billionaire Musk, who is also chief executive officer of automaker Tesla Inc.
At least 12 launches carrying similar payloads are needed to achieve constant internet coverage of most of the world, Musk said. For now, Starlink is only authorized for U.S. operations.
Musk faces stiff competition. Airbus SE-backed OneWeb launched its own clutch of satellites in February, while LeoSat Enterprises and Canada’s Telesat are also working to build data networks.
In each network, the tiny satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a technological shift made possible by advances in laser technology and computer chips.
Musk said SpaceX would begin approaching customers later this year or next year. As many as 2,000 satellites will be launched per year, with the ultimate objective of placing up to 12,000 into orbit.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Paul Tait)
- 5/26/2019 Maine Gov. Signs a Bill to End Non-Medical Vaccine Exemptions by OAN Newsroom
A nation-wide Measles outbreak reaches Maine, making it the 25th state to be impacted by the disease.
In response, the State Governor Janet Mills signed a bill Friday, ending most non-medical exemptions for childhood vaccines.
In this photo taken Wednesday, May 15, 2019, a dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at the Neighborcare
Health clinics at Vashon Island High School in Vashon Island, Wash. School nurse Sarah Day has worked closely with the new Neighborcare
Health clinics, the single largest medical provider on the island. Together, they aggressively remind families when they’re due for
vaccines and counsel them on their concerns, whether rooted in scientific evidence or not. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Under the legislation, religious and philosophical beliefs will not be accepted as reasons to opt out of vaccinating a child as required by schools and day cares.
This comes after Maine’s Center for Disease Control reported its first case of measles in a vaccinated child.
The child has since fully recovered, however, the incident sparked action from state leaders.
The new law will allow doctors and pediatric primary care givers to determine if a child should receive a medical exemption for vaccines.
In effect, kids, nursery school employees, and health care facility workers without medical exemptions will be obligated to get vaccines.
The CDC says it will also begin reporting on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in an effort to increase transparency.
Maine has one of the highest rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions in the nation with opt-out rates reportedly rising.
Therefore, the law is expected to go into effect in 90 days, giving unvaccinated students until 2021 to get their required vaccines.
This come as health officials reported more than 800 confirmed measles cases in the country this year, making 2019 the largest outbreak since the disease was considered radicated in 2000.
Maine will now become the fourth state to eliminate religious exemptions for vaccine requirements, joining California, Mississippi, and West Virginia.
- 5/26/2019 President Trump Approves Disaster Declaration for Oklahoma by OAN Newsroom
The White House approves a disaster declaration for ten counties in Oklahoma.
President Trump approved the declaration Saturday, after at least 1,000 homes were impacted by flooding in the region earlier this week.
Flood waters from the Cimarron River wash away a home in the Twin Lakes community near
Cimarron City, Okla. on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)
The government will provide federal funding to the residents who have been impacted by the extreme weather.
However, the devastation may not be over for the Midwestern state.
Residents in Tulsa are being told to evacuate, because of the ‘intense stress’ being put on local levees.
The Arkansas River is also four-feet above flood stage and has already immersed several areas along the river.
Meanwhile, rain is forecast to continue for the remainder of the weekend.
- 5/27/2019 Tornado kills 2, leaves 29 hurt in Oklahoma town - Overnight storm destroys motel, ravages trailer park by
Tim Talley and Sue Ogrocki, ASSOCIATED PRESS
EL RENO, Okla. – A tornado leveled a motel and tore through a mobile home park near Oklahoma City overnight Saturday, killing two people and injuring at least 29 others before a second twister raked a suburb of Tulsa more than 100 miles away, authorities said Sunday.
The first tornado touched down in El Reno, about 25 miles west of Oklahoma City. It crossed an interstate and demolished the American Budget Value Inn before ripping through the Skyview Estates trailer park, flipping and leveling homes, Mayor Matt White said at a news conference.
“It’s a tragic scene out there,” White said, adding later that, “People have absolutely lost everything.” He said the city established a gofundme site, the City of El Reno Tornado Relief Fund, to raise money to help affected families. Several other businesses were also damaged, though not to the same extent as the motel.
The two people killed were in the mobile home park, White said. Everyone at the motel was accounted for, but searchers were still going through the mobile home park. Many of the people living there are Hispanic and don’t speak English, which has complicated the rescue efforts, he said.
The 29 people who were injured were taken to hospitals, where some were undergoing surgery, the mayor said. Some of the injuries were deemed critical, he said.
“The thing about El Reno is we are more than a community, we are a family. … We’re going to overcome this. It’s so devastating to see the loss out there,” he said.
April Sandefer, a spokeswoman for the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, said the hospital has treated 13 patients who were injured during the tornado. She declined to disclose the severity of the injuries or to say how many of the patients, if any, were admitted.
National Weather Service personnel were assessing the damage, but the agency gave the twister a preliminary
EF-2 rating, which would mean it had wind speeds of 111-135 mph.
The tornado was spawned by a powerful storm system that rolled through the state – the latest in a week of violent storms to hit the flood-weary Plains and Midwest that have been blamed for at least 11 deaths, including the two killed in El Reno.
The system triggered an apparent tornado that destroyed several buildings and downed trees and power lines early Saturday in the Tulsa suburb of Sapulpa, 110 miles northeast of El Reno.
The Sapulpa Police Department said on its Facebook page that it hadn’t heard of any deaths and that only a few minor injuries had been reported.
Residents wandered around after sun-up to survey the damage, carefully avoiding fallen utility poles that blocked some streets. Among the buildings that were destroyed was a historic railroad building built in the early 1900s that the Farmers Feed Store had been using for storage. A furniture store’s warehouse was also destroyed.
Workers climb through the remains of the American Budget Value Inn, in El Reno, Oklahoma,
on Sunday. BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN VIA AP
- 5/27/2019 Magnitude 8 earthquake strikes Amazon jungle in Peru
LIMA, Peru – A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck a remote part of the Amazon jungle in Peru early Sunday, collapsing buildings and knocking out power to some areas but causing only one reported death. The quake struck at 2:41 a.m. and was centered in a vast nature preserve 57 miles east of the small town of Yurimaguas. Helping limit damage was the earthquake’s depth, at 70 miles below the surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Earthquakes that are close to the surface generally cause more destruction.
- 5/28/2019 Oklahoma, Arkansas face ‘worst flood in our history’ -Rivers rising rapidly, forcing evacuations by John Bacon, USA TODAY
Oklahoma and Arkansas confronted their worst flooding ever Monday as a new wave of storms rolled through the region and threatened to further bloat the Arkansas River that already has reached record crests in some areas.
Tornadoes, high winds, hail and heavy rain were possible, forecasters said. The storms were the latest to rip through the region over the past two weeks, leaving at least nine dead and a trail of damage.
In Tulsa, the Oklahoma National Guard was patrolling the city’s stressed levee system.
“The levee system is still operating as designed,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said Monday. But he said that could change: “We are asking for everyone to prepare for the worst-case scenario ... the worst flood in our history.”
Bynum urged residents near the levees to “proactively relocate,” and the city has opened multiple shelters. He said authorities were reviewing how such flooding would impact the city’s infrastructure.
The river is forecast to reach a record crest Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service. Tulsa increased its releases of water from the Keystone Dam, adding to the flooding downstream in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the river already surpassed its historic crest Sunday.
Some residents were forced to evacuate. Fort Smith Mayor George McGill said the city is experiencing record flooding, and high-water rescues were underway.
McGill warned residents to be careful traveling around the city. But he said residents are known for their grit and expressed confidence the city would overcome and thrive.
“It’s a sight that we’ve never seen before, but just like we recovered from other record-breaking floods we will recover from this,” McGill said. “There is nothing you can do about Mother Nature.”
Scattered storms were forecast through Tuesday before the region sees a possible respite. But it might not last long.
“There are early indications this weather pattern could return next weekend and into the following week with more rounds of severe weather across the central U.S.,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.
Justin Sloggett looks over the destroyed warehouse of his parents’ furniture store Sunday in Sapulpa, Okla. MIKE SIMONS/AP
- 5/29/2019 Measles outbreak could trigger rare travel ban by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
As measles cases in the USA continue to rise beyond their highest level in a quarter-century, officials pondered a drastic step – forbidding those believed to be infected from flying.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 60 new individual instances of measles in Monday’s update, bringing this year’s tally to 940. It’s the largest total since 1994, falling just short of the 963 cases reported that year.
Efforts to fight off a disease that has spread to 26 states led state and local officials to consider requesting the imposition of a rarely used travel ban on infectious passengers, The Washington Post reported.
Eight people from five states were warned the federal government could put them on a Do Not Board list managed by the CDC, and they canceled their travel plans, the newspaper said.
Such tactics may strike some as heavy-handed, but they have been validated through decades of case law, said Mark Ustin, head of the health care compliance and lobbying practices at the New York law firm Farrell Fritz.
Ustin said the courts have long sided with the government’s authority to protect its citizens’ health, as is the case in mandating vaccines or taking other measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
“There are lots of areas where you could argue about the state’s police power versus a person’s right to bodily integrity or a person’s right to religious freedom, but when it comes to mandatory vaccinations, that’s one of the areas where the courts have been very clear that this is perfectly acceptable,” Ustin said.
Ustin said the the threat of a health travel ban would probably dissuade passengers from attempting to get on a plane.
- 5/29/2019 Storms pummel Ohio, Indiana - Tornadoes roar through ‘almost like a train’ by John Bacon, Sheila Vilvens and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
CELINA, Ohio – A two-week wave of severe weather continued its unrelenting assault on the nation’s midsection as a string of tornadoes unleashed their fury across Ohio and Indiana, ripping apart communities and reducing property to debris.
Celina firefighter Brian Davis confirmed Tuesday that an 81-year-old man died and seven people were injured when an EF3 tornado roared through just before midnight Monday. As many as 90 homes were damaged.
Kylie Post, whose home was spared, huddled with her son under a mattress in a bathtub. “We heard the tornado sirens, and then it got really quiet,” Post said. “Next, it sounded almost like a train was near us that lasted for only a few minutes.”
Severe weather threatened more than 100 million Americans from Texas to New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.
Late Monday, an area around Dayton, in Ohio’s Montgomery County, saw some of the worst damage.
Dayton Fire Chief Jeffrey Payne said no fatalities and a few minor injuries were reported. Considering the amount of property damage, that was “pretty miraculous,” he said.
Urban Search and Rescue teams from Columbus and Cincinnati helped first responders pick through rubble in search of survivors, Payne said.
In Indiana, scores of homes were damaged or destroyed by storms. The weather service confirmed that a tornado ripped through Pendleton, 35 miles northeast of Indianapolis, damaging more than 70 homes.
Bacon and Rice reported from McLean, Va. Contributing: Ian Richardson, Des Moines Register; Jennie Key and Cheryl Vari, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Kellie Hwang, The Indianapolis Star; The Associated Press
A tornado leveled a building on the Floyd County Fairgrounds in Iowa. More than 60,000 homes
and businesses in the state lost power. BRYON HOULGRAVE/AP
- 5/30/2019 Save coal, lose youth vote? Far-right German party faces climate policy revolt by Joseph Nasr
FILE PHOTO: Germany's anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Alexander Gauland gestures
during a news conference after EU election in Berlin, Germany May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo
BERLIN (Reuters) – A youth wing of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has called on the party to rethink its climate scepticism, which includes defending the coal industry, after a poor showing among young voters in last week’s European Parliament election.
The AfD came in fourth in Germany, winning 11%, compared with more than 20% for the Greens who came in second helped by strong support from young people in cities.
An analysis of the vote showed the AfD had attracted only 7% of voters aged 18-29 compared with 31% of that age group choosing the Greens.
The “Young AfD in Berlin” attributed this to the party’s scepticism about climate change.
“Election analysis: We call for a wide discussion in the AfD about the environment and climate policy,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “We love our country and this means it is important to save the environment for future generations.”
The AfD has positioned itself as the only party opposed to Germany’s push toward renewable energy and electric cars. Its European election campaign featured placards reading: “Save Diesel” and “The coal exit must be stopped.”
The 11% share of the vote was a blow for the AfD, which entered the Bundestag national parliament for the first time two years ago, the third largest party in the assembly after an election that gave it nearly 13% of the vote.
Party leaders said they had taken notice of the unhappiness among more youthful members, especially on climate policy.
“The AfD will extensively discuss the outcome of the European election,” Georg Pazderski, AfD lawmaker in the Berlin regional parliament, told Reuters. “All the aspects and points of view will be discussed.”
As the migrant crisis that propelled it into the lower house fades, the AfD has turned to alternative election themes: rising crime that it blames on an record influx of mainly Muslim migrants, and climate change.
But however much the party heeds its young members it will be hard for it to reverse its opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s aim to phase out coal.
The party’s climate scepticism is striking a chord with voters in two mining regions that are threatened by the plan and that hold elections in the autumn.
The AfD is polling almost neck-and-neck with Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in Brandenburg state and it is expected to come in second behind the CDU in Saxony.
In the European election, it secured its biggest share of the vote in districts in Brandenburg and Saxony whose economies depend on coal.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Seythal; Editing by Frances Kerry)
- 5/30/2019 Ark. Gov. Hutchinson increases funding amid historic flooding in the state by OAN Newsroom
“This is a flood of historic magnitude.” — Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas
The governor of Arkansas has warned his constituents about the dangers of rising flood waters.
“It surpasses all Arkansas flooding in our record history,” stated Governor Asa Hutchinson. “That should be enough to get everyone’s attention.”
According to the National Weather Service, the Arkansas River is in a major flooding stage with records either already set or about to be set in 2019 at a peak of more than 40 feet. The river is not expected to crest between this week and next.
Some homes in Jefferson County and near Fort Smith are almost completely under water. There has been at least one recorded death, while the water levels have risen higher than some of the levees here.
“The levee system that was built by the Army Corps of Engineers was not built for the level of flooding that we expect under the modeling that we’ve seen and so, there is a lot of unknowns in what we face as a state,” said Hutchinson.
This Tuesday, May 28, 2019, aerial photo shows flooded homes along the Arkansas River in Sand Spring, Okla. Communities
that have seen little rain are getting hit by historic flooding along the Arkansas River thanks to downpours upstream
that have prompted officials to open dams to protect some cities but inundate others with swells of water. (DroneBase via AP)
During a Wednesday news conference, the Arkansas governor announced he approved a quarter of a million dollars for the response effort on top of last week’s approved $100,000. He is also asking President Trump to approve an emergency declaration. The president tweeted his support for the Republican governor, and promised to send FEMA to help.
Trump tweet: “Just spoke to Governor @AsaHutchinson of the Great State of Arkansas to inform him that FEMA and the Federal Government will do whatever is necessary to help out with what has turned out to be Record Flooding. Asa and local officials are doing a great job!”
Meanwhile, dozen highways have been closed off by flooding in Arkansas. Amtrak has suspended service across the state of Missouri because of flooding, and is putting passengers on buses through at least June 2nd.
People in the Mississippi Delta region have filled numerous sandbags as flooding in the area continues into the fourth month. Some longtime residents say they have not seen anything like this since the early 1970s, and have even said it might be worse than the flood of the late 1920s. The affected area is reported to be bigger than Los Angeles and New York City if they were put side by side.
Cade Thompson from Texarkana, Texas helps fill sandbags Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at East Side
Baptist Church in Fort Smith. (Ben Goff/The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)
One farmer said he has been forced to find other things to do, including helping his church. The flooding is costing him money since his crops would usually be growing right now. Another farmer said this will be the first year he has not planted any crops.
“This year I had planned on planting corn, and I did not get a chance to do so because the water started rising back in February…we did not get an opportunity to…I got the land ready, but I didn’t get a chance to get it planted.” — Larry Walls, farmer — Mississippi Delta.
- JUNE 2019
- 6/1/2019 Quakes in Albania damage 100 homes, four injured by Florion Goga
Residents inspect a destroyed building after an earthquake stroked the area in Floq, Albania, June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Florion Goga
FLOQ, Albania (Reuters) – Six earthquakes in the space of two hours, the first with a magnitude of 5.3, shook south-eastern Albania on Saturday, injuring four people and causing damage to 100 houses, authorities and eyewitnesses said.
Four people were hurt from the collapse of the walls, roofs and plaster of their houses, and were taken to hospital in the region’s main town of Korce in eastern Albania, the Defence Ministry said.
“It was 06:30 when I went out to milk the cows when the earthquake struck. I woke up the children and the adults and we ran outside, all of us,” Petrit, 60, told Reuters in the village of Floq, the epicenter of the earthquakes.
The roof of Petrit’s house had collapsed over two rooms. Some 70 houses were damaged in Floq and the nearby village of Dvoran, the Defence Ministry said.
Half of the 100 damaged house were abandoned old structures, the Defence Ministry said. Soldiers were pitching military tents in Floq and firefighters were also there.
Fifty families in the mostly-damaged neighborhood of Floq had abandoned their houses for fear of other quakes, finding shelter either in the military tents or with relatives, the villagers said.
The first earthquake had its epicenter 15 km southeast of the town of Korce at a depth of 14 km and was followed by another seven minutes later at a depth of 18 km in an area bordering Greece and North Macedonia.
Lower intensity tremors continued in Korce and the southern area of Gjirokaster, on the border with northern Greece.
(Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Alexander Smith and Stephen Powell)
- 6/3/2019 Gray whales are dying at record pace by Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO – At least 70 dead or dying gray whales have been stranded on the West Coast this year.
The number is so high the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared it an “unusual mortality event” Friday and launched a scientific investigation into why so many of the giant mammals are dying as they swim toward their summer feeding grounds in Alaska.
Death rates this high have been seen only once before. In 2000, the year with the highest number of strandings on record, 131 gray whales were found on U.S. shores: 61 in California, two in Oregon, 23 in Washington state and 45 in Alaska.
In an average year, there are about 35 strandings in an entire season. Last year, there were 45 strandings overall.
If the strandings continue at their current pace, this could be the deadliest year for gray whales on record. The whales are halfway through their annual journey from the warm waters of Mexico to their Arctic feeding grounds, so more will probably die, the researchers said.
“For Washington state, we are on track to surpass pretty dramatically the deaths in 2000. We were at 23 in 2000, and we’re already at 26. In 2000, at this point in the year, we only had 14 deaths,” said John Calambokidis, a research biologist with the nonprofit Cascadia Research in Olympia, Washington, who studies whale populations on the West Coast.
The cause of death appears to be starvation, though that’s under investigation. Many of the stranded whales have been malnourished, said David Weller, a research wildlife biologist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California.
A 6,000-mile journey
Gray whales make one of the Earth’s most epic migrations each year. Filter feeders, they spend late spring through fall in the Arctic, eating and building up a thick layer of blubber. Their food of choice is small sea animals called amphipods. The whales scoop up sediment from the seafloor and filter out the tiny shrimp-like creatures.
In October, they begin their 6,000-mile annual journey south toward sheltered warm water lagoons in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and the Gulf of California, where the females give birth.
During their journey and their time in the south, they eat almost nothing, living off the fat they stored up. Because so many of the dead whales are found emaciated, one theory is that the whales didn’t get enough food last spring and summer. That could be because of very anomalous warm temperatures in the Northern Bering Sea last year, said Sue Moore, a biological oceanographer at the University of Washington in Seattle. The ice in the area is melting earlier, which produces less of the type of algae that the amphipods eat. That, in turn, could affect how many of them are there for the whales to eat, she said.
Gray whales are very flexible in the diet they can eat, so they are willing to forage for other food if their preferred amphipods aren’t available in sufficient numbers.
But “there are a lot of complicated factors in how the ecosystem is changing,” Moore said.
Though the indication is that the warming waters resulted in less food for the animals, researchers are investigating all options. That could include something in the environment or disease or something humans are doing, Moore said.
“We’re still in the beginning stages of the investigation,” she said. “It could take months to a year to finally identify the cause.”
Toll could be much higher
The number of dead whales is almost certainly much higher than the 70 that have washed ashore. Not all whales that wash ashore are found, and most whales, especially emaciated whales, sink when they die.
Those 70 could represent as few as 10% of the actual gray whales that have died, Calambokidis said. The population of gray whales overall has been quite healthy in recent years. In 2016, the count was about 27,000 individuals, Weller said. As many as 1,000 calves are born each year. This year, the number born is lower.
When pregnant females don’t have sufficient access to the Arctic feeding areas, “there seems to be a lag in calf production in that year or the year after,” Weller said.
This season, more of the giant mammals, which can reach 50 feet and 40 tons, are being injured by ships. The researchers said that might be because they venture into bays and harbors in search of food as they make their way north.
“All of that brings the animals into greater contact with shipping traffic and fishing activities,” Calambokidis said.
The public can play an important role in helping the effort to find out what’s harming the whales by immediately contacting officials if they see a dead or distressed whale.
“Don’t approach any animals in distress, as it can hurt the animals or you. And it’s also illegal,” said Deborah Fauquier, a veterinary medical officer with NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources.
For those who want to aid the research effort, NOAA established an Unusual Mortality Event contingency fund where money is collected to support the scientists’ work.
A Marine Mammal Center team does a necropsy on a gray whale stranded in California last month. CARA FIELD/MARINE MAMMAL CENTER
- 6/4/2019 Mounting climate change fears push U.S. investors to assess geographical risks by David Randall
School pupils protest to demand action, during the world march for climate change and the environment, called by the organization
Fridays for Future inside of Secretary of State for the Environment in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
NEW YORK (Reuters) – With an above-average percentage of its power generated from renewable sources and one of the largest battery storage operations in the United States, utility Sempra Energy seemed to check all the boxes for portfolio manager Todd Ahlsten, who manages more than $18 billion for Parnassus Investments based on each company’s environmental, social and governance attributes.
But he sold his shares in the San Diego-based company earlier this year because of his conviction that its location in California will put it in the crosshairs of increasingly severe weather patterns, no matter how environmentally responsible it may be.
“They were doing all the right things, but the risks were too high on the physical side so we exited the position,” Ahlsten said.
Ahlsten’s decision to factor in the geographical risks of climate change is becoming increasingly familiar in the fast-growing world of so-called ESG investing, which has long focused more on avoiding companies with poor environmental track records than assessing which face the greatest risk of physical damage or business disruptions from more volatile climate.
The bankruptcy of California utility company Pacific Gas and Electric in January following devastating wildfires caused in part by climate change is prompting investors to recognize what had been one of the biggest blind spots of environmentally driven investing: the reality that even companies that pledge to combat climate change could be negatively affected by it.
As a result, ESG investors are increasingly judging companies based on what sort of physical risks they will face as global temperatures continue to rise and storms become more severe.
Firms including Parnassus, Hermes Investment Management and Eaton Vance’s Calvert Research and Management are avoiding companies ranging from retailers with large footprints in Florida to utilities in Southern California to barge shipping companies that may have to deal with more frequent Midwestern floods.
PG&E faces liabilities that it estimates at over $30 billion in the aftermath of November’s Camp Fire, which killed more than 85 people and destroyed more than 14,600 homes, making it the most destructive wildfire in California history.
VOLATILE WEATHER PATTERNS
The risks of physical damage, liabilities or business disruptions from climate change do not currently factor into ESG-ratings by index-providers, which often shape the investable universe for fund managers or exchange-traded funds.
“The industry is turning more to try to understand and embed and measure the physical risks associated with climate change, but that’s still an evolving area,” said Tony Campos, head of ESG, Americas, at FTSE Russell.
More accurate analytics and modeling programs that help predict the specific impacts of different weather scenarios on individual companies are prompting more fund managers to take the impact of climate change into consideration, said Louise Dudley, portfolio manager of the Federated Hermes Global Equity fund in London.
“In terms of physical risk up, until now we’ve looked at the type of companies that are the most exposed. But now with more data we’re able to get more specific, more accurate insights and therefore more useful outputs,” she said.
Over the last year, Hermes has spent more time on modeling the likely outcomes for each company it evaluates based on global temperatures rising by 2, 4, or 6 degrees Celsius, she said. Global temperatures are on course to rise between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century, according to a 2018 estimate by the U.N. World Meteorological Organization.
Brian Ellis, portfolio manager of the Calvert Bond fund and the Calvert Green Bond fund, said his fund is increasingly focusing on the geographical footprint of companies, ranging from retailers to hotel operators to real estate investment trusts that may be concentrated in areas that could get hit by severe storms or high temperatures.
That focus on recognizing which companies may be more likely to bear the physical brunt of climate change is relatively new, he said, and is a step up from crediting companies that had been investing in renewable energy or decreasing their carbon emissions.
“I think people are recognizing more so that you can do all that but you can still have very large impacts to your infrastructure” due to more volatile weather patterns, Ellis said.
As a result, he is increasingly demanding more enticing potential returns to compensate for the risks of physical damage from climate change, he said.
(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Dan Grebler)
- 6/5/2019 Carbon dioxide back at record levels - Study says reading is highest in 3 million years by Doyle Rice,
Carbon dioxide – the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming – peaked again at record levels last month, according to a study.
Levels at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory averaged 414.8 parts per million in May, surging past yet another climate milestone. This level hasn’t been seen in human history and is higher than at any other point in 3 million years, according to a study in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.
The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere increases every year, and the rate of increase is accelerating, according to scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This is the highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of Hawaii’s largest volcano, and the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases in concentrations of CO2. The 2019 peak value was 3.5 parts per million higher than the 411.3 ppm peak reached in May 2018; this is the second highest annual jump on record.
Though 414 parts per million may not sound like a huge amount, scientists have known for decades that even trace amounts in the atmosphere can raise temperatures around the world.
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gas releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. That extra carbon has caused temperatures to rise to levels over the past century and a half that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists say.
In the past 20 years, the world’s temperature has risen about two-thirds of a degree Fahrenheit, NOAA said.
“Many proposals have been made to mitigate global warming, but without a rapid decrease of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, they are pretty much futile,” said Pieter Tans, senior scientist with NOAA’s global monitoring division.
Carbon dioxide is called a greenhouse gas for its ability to trap solar radiation in the atmosphere. It is invisible, odorless and colorless, yet is responsible for 63% of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases, according to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.
Levels of carbon dioxide go up and down each year, reaching their highest levels in May, then going back down in the fall as plants absorb the gas.
“Many proposals have been made to mitigate global warming, but without a rapid decrease of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, they are pretty much futile.” Pieter Tans, Senior scientist with NOAA’s global monitoring division.
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal releases carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere. BRANDEN CAMP/AP
- 6/6/2019 Kentucky’s Hep A death toll grows to 58 - Latest fatality comes as virus has now spread to 90% of 120 counties by Chris Kenning, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
Kentucky’s latest death from hepatitis A reported this week by the state health department raised the toll to 58 in the nation’s largest outbreak of the contagious liver virus.
The vaccine-preventable disease, spread mostly among drug users, has sickened 4,682 Kentuckians since the outbreak was declared in November 2017, the report said.
But compared with a high of 151 new infections a week at its peak last fall, only 14 new cases were recorded in the week ending May 25.
Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard has said prevention efforts, including vaccinating the at-risk, would continue because cases could still rebound.
Spread person-to-person, the virus has hospitalized 48% of its victims and has hit 90% of Kentucky’s 120 counties, with 10 counties reporting new cases in the week ending May 25.
Kentucky’s outbreak first hit in Louisville, where officials began to contain it by late spring 2018 after an aggressive response. But around the same time, it exploded across rural Kentucky, catching fire to the state’s vast rural drug abuse epidemic.
Some key former state health department officials and advocates criticized Kentucky’s response in its rural areas as sluggish, arguing health leaders failed to mount a more aggressive and costly response that could have meant fewer illnesses and expensive hospitalizations.
A Courier Journal investigation found that last spring, the state’s former infectious diseases chief, Dr. Robert Brawley, recommended $6 million for vaccines and $4 million for temporary workers to help thinly staffed local health departments deliver vaccines to hard-to-reach drug users.
He also called for a public health emergency declaration to help pave the way for federal assistance.
But Howard, citing limited funding and the local reserves that some health departments had, sent $2.2 million in state funds to local health departments and declined to seek an emergency declaration.
Kentucky’s deaths have since accounted for nearly one-third of 185 deaths nationally from similar outbreaks, which since 2016 have spread to 22 states infecting more than 19,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Michigan has had the second-highest numbers of deaths, with 28.
Brawley earlier this month said the public “should be outraged” about what he called a “slow-motion public health response.”
Howard and other state health officials have argued the state’s overall efforts to stem the outbreak were hobbled more by logistical challenges of reaching drug users than money. About 19% of those infected are not in risk grounds of drug users or the homeless. He has since deployed a roving team of nurses to administer vaccines in rural county jails to help counter the virus, and taken other measures, officials said recently.
In the recent report, only Christian, Hopkins, and Pulaski counties reported at least five new cases within the last month.
- 6/6/2019 Amazon’s Bezos says robotic hands will be ready for commercial use in next 10 years by Jeffrey Dastin
FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos unveils his space company Blue Origin's space exploration
lunar lander rocket called Blue Moon during an unveiling event in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Thursday he expects there will be commercial robots in the next 10 years that can grasp items as reliably as humans, a development that could lead to the automation of warehouse jobs around the world.
The remark, made on stage at Amazon’s “re:MARS” conference in Las Vegas, underscored how companies and university researchers are rapidly developing technology to perform human tasks, whether for elder care in the home or for the picking and stowing of goods in retail warehouses.
“I think grasping is going to be a solved problem in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s turned out to be an incredibly difficult problem, probably in part because we’re starting to solve it with machine vision, so (that means) machine vision did have to come first.”
Bezos did not discuss any Amazon deployments of the technology, which it has tested from the Boston-area startup Soft Robotics, for instance, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters previously https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-automation-exclusive/exclusive-amazon-rolls-out-machines-that-pack-orders-and-replace-jobs-idUSKCN1SJ0X1.
The company has said it views automation as a way to help workers.
Still, Amazon is known for its drive to mechanize as many parts of its business as possible, whether pricing goods or transporting items in its warehouses. It employs hundreds of thousands of people, many of whose primary task is grasping, scanning and placing customer orders.
A variety of companies other than Amazon have also rolled out robotic hands for limited warehouse pilots.
In the on-stage interview, Bezos also discussed Project Kuiper, Amazon’s recent bet to launch thousands of satellites to expand broadband internet access, which he said was “close to being a fundamental human need.”
“It’s also very good business for Amazon because it’s (a) very high capex undertaking; it’s multiple billions of dollars of capex,” he said. “Amazon is a large enough company now that we need to do things that if they work can actually move the needle.”
Asked whether people ever say “no” to Bezos, the world’s richest person and a famously scrupulous boss, he joked, “No! Certainly not twice. No, seriously, I do get told ‘no’ all the time. I seek it out.”
“People who are right a lot, they listen a lot. They also change their mind a lot,” he said earlier in the interview. “They wake up, and they re-analyze things all the time.”
(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Las Vegas; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
- 6/8/2019 Microsoft partners with city in AI push - Louisville to work with firm on the tech’s future by Ben Tobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
Louisville is partnering with Microsoft to explore the future of artificial intelligence, Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday.
According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, Louisville ranks eighth among metropolitan areas in risk of losing jobs to automation. The report states that 28.6% of Louisville’s jobs are at “high risk” of being automated.
A central purpose in this partnership is to make sure Louisville is well-equipped for the technological revolution, according to Grace Simrall, chief of Civic Innovation and Technology for Louisville Metro Government.
“Experts know that automation and AI are coming,” Simrall said. “They know that they will probably destroy tasks and potentially even jobs faster than we can replace them if we don’t do something about it.”
Fischer said this partnership “has the potential to be a real game-changer” as the city works with Microsoft to figure out what the future of work looks like.
“Technology is so interwoven into who we are and what we are today,” he said.
“The trick with AI is how do we harness its potential to improve our lives and position our workforce to be prepared for an AI world.”
Jennifer Byrne, chief technology officer of Microsoft US, said there will be more changes to society in the next 10 years than in the past 250 years.
“Technology is relevant now in a way that it has never been before,” Byrne said. “Technology is now in a place where it can actually solve the hardest human problems.”
Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, chief of Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development agency, said she believes this is a “first-of-its-kind partnership” between a city and a major Fortune 50 technology company.
Along with exploring artificial intelligence, Louisville will also focus on the Internet of Things and data sciences with Microsoft.
According to Wiederwohl, Microsoft came to the Brookings Institution with the idea of establishing a regional hub for artificial intelligence technology, specifically focusing on manufacturing and health care. Brookings, which worked with Louisville on the Metropolitan Policy Program, recommended the Derby City.
“The strength we have in our economy in (manufacturing and health care) really appealed to Microsoft,” Wiederwohl said. “And what we will be creating here in this regional hub will become a resource for the companies
we have in those two spaces, at least.”
This partnership marks the latest step in Louisville pushing forward with technological innovation. On Monday, Fischer announced LouTechWorks, an initiative to increase the number of technology jobs in the area through partnering with local education institutions.
Louisville has some history with Microsoft. Most notably, in 2017, Microsoft raised concerns over the city’s potentially improper use of Microsoft software. The Courier Journal has not yet obtained the findings of this audit.
Louisville government intends to establish a physical location for Microsoft in the city’s Innovation District or downtown, though that plan has not yet been announced.
Contact Ben Tobin at email@example.com and 502-582-4181 or follow on Twitter @TobinBen. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: subscribe.courier-journal.com.
“The strength we have in our economy in (manufacturing and health care) really appealed to Microsoft. And what we will be creating here in this regional hub will become a resource for the companies we have in those two spaces, at least.” Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, Chief of Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development agency.
Louisville is partnering with Microsoft to explore artificial intelligence, Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday. GETTY IMAGES
- 6/8/2019 Health officials: travelers exposed to measles at LAX around Memorial Day by OAN Newsroom
Health officials are warning about a possible measles exposure at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Travelers Warned Again of Measles Exposure at LAX After 3rd Confirmed Case at Airport
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warned on Friday, of a traveler who passed through the airport around Memorial Day, while infected with Measles.
They’re asking travelers who may have been exposed to the disease, to stay alert for symptoms including fever, cough, and a distinctive rash.
Close to a thousand cases of measles have been reported nationwide this year, which is the highest level on record in more than 20 years.
[There was enough immigration coming into California to spread measles and disease in LA is there already not just at LAX.].
- 6/10/2019 Plastic pollution sinking into ocean - Mist of fragments much greater than on surface by Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO – The problem of plastic pollution in the ocean is even worse than scientists feared.
Tiny, broken pieces of plastic – microplastic – aren’t just floating at the water’s surface but are pervasive thousands of feet below. There’s actually more microplastic at a depth of 1,000 feet than in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, research published last week found.
“We didn’t think there would be four times as much plastic floating at depth than at the surface,” said Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
He’s one of the authors of the study published in last week’s edition of Scientific Reports from the journal Nature that investigated how much plastic there is in the ocean’s depths.
Tons of plastic waste wash down rivers and out to sea each day, fouling the surface and endangering sea life.
When researchers looked deep below the surface, they found plastic pieces smaller than rice grains wherever they looked.
Public concern over plastic ocean trash has centered on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass halfway between California and Hawaii drawn together by ocean currents to create a gyre.
This vortex of waves concentrates the floating trash pieces in an area twice the size of Texas.
The patch isn’t composed of big floating rafts of trash but rather a pervasive, almost-mist of tiny bits of plastic floating in the water. Think of it more as a fog in the water than as a bleach bottle bobbing along.
It’s worse deep below the surface, scientists found.
Previous research found concentrations of microplastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch were about 12 particles per cubic meter of water.
“We topped out at 16,” Van Houtan said of his team’s underwater findings.
The deep-sea methods they used were highly innovative and confirmed a bleak picture of what the past decade’s research pointed toward, said Brendan Godley, a conservation scientist who studies plastic ocean pollution at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
“Scientists are now beginning to realize that microplastics are truly ubiquitous. They’ve been found from the seafloor to the mountain tops, in the air we breathe and in the salt we put on our meals,” he said.
“This research demonstrates the way in which we’ve gone from zero understanding of the problem 15 years ago to full-fledged appreciation that this pollutant is completely distributed around our entire planet,” said Peter Ross, a toxicologist who studies the impacts of microplastics on marine life at Canada’s Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia.
The researchers used drone microsubmarines to sample the water from the surface all the way down to the ocean floor – 3,200 feet. The sample area included one site near Monterey Bay on the California coast and one site 15 miles offshore.
The highest concentrations of microplastics were 600 to 2,000 feet down.
The team inspected the guts of pelagic red crabs and jellyfish-like filter feeders called larvaceans.
Both species play key roles in ocean food webs, from the surface to the seafloor. All contained plastic.
“Even if you don’t care about the crabs and the larvaceans, they’re the food of things you do care about – tuna, seabirds, whales and turtles all feed on them or feed on things that feed on them,” said Anela Choy, a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego and one of the paper’s authors.
Though the researchers sampled only two areas, Van Houtan said he believes they would find similar patterns elsewhere, given ocean currents and the mix of waters.
Laser spectroscopy allowed the scientists to analyze what kind of plastic each of the particles they found came from, which turned up some surprises.
The researchers found that very few particles were from discarded or lost commercial fishing gear.
Almost all were from terrestrial sources.
The one piece of good news Van Houtan found in what the team saw was that the single largest type of plastic the reseacrhers found floating in the water – about 40% – came from single-use plastics such as beverage and food containers.
“That’s something we as consumers can do something about,” Van Houtan said. “Single-use products are something that we can demand better alternatives for.”
Anela Choy collects deep-sea samples of water to test for plastic pollution. “Even if you don’t care about
the crabs and the larvaceans, they’re the food of things you do care about,” she said. SUSAN VON THUN
- 6/10/2019 In Southeast, month of rain falls in a day - Swollen bodies of water submerge neighborhoods by John Bacon, USA TODAY
Roads became rivers, high-water rescues were underway, and states of emergency were declared in parts of the Southeast on Sunday after more than a month of rain fell in a day – and more was on the way.
“The same storm system that linked up with tropical moisture and dumped more than a foot of rain in portions of the south-central United States is crawling eastward,” AccuWeather meteorologist Renee Duff said.
Flooding that brought havoc to Oklahoma, Arkansas and other states over the past two weeks swept east, threatening metro areas such as Atlanta; Nashville, Tennessee; Tallahassee, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; and Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina, AccuWeather said.
Thirty miles south of Atlanta, Amy Byars said her neighborhood on Lake Peachtree appeared to have been absorbed into the lake. “You could’ve ridden a boat through there,” Byars told WSB-TV. “There were ducks in their yards. We got to higher ground because I wasn’t going to risk my life.”
The rains that rolled into the region will linger at least until Monday. Some areas could get a foot of rain, double or even triple the normal rainfall for June, AccuWeather said.
Parts of central Georgia saw 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period that ended early Sunday, and up to 2 more inches is possible, the National Weather Service reported. “Flooding along rivers already out of their banks could become worse,” the weather service warned.
Athens, home to the University of Georgia, reported 1.59 inches of rain in one hour; nearly an inch of that fell in 20 minutes. Mayor Kelly Girtz said residents emailed him photos of yards that turned to ponds.
“It is always challenging when so much rain falls so quickly,” Girtz told USA TODAY. “Athens is like many towns with older areas supported by infrastructure built prior to contemporary standards, so the volume of water we have experienced has overwhelmed some neighborhoods.”
Illinois National Guard Sgt. Joey White climbs a temporary flood wall built on
Main Street in Grafton, Ill., on Saturday. DAVID CARSON/AP
- 6/10/2019 6 killed, 88,000 evacuated in storms, floods in China
Six people died and one is missing after heavy rains and flooding in southeastern China. The official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday that 88,000 people were evacuated in Jiangxi province in response to strong winds, hail and floods. More than 100 houses were destroyed.
- 6/10/2019 Indonesia warns of further eruptions after volcano spews ash
A volcanic ash cloud from Mount Sinabung hovers over Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia June 9, 2019,
in this still image taken from a social media video. Sinarisa Sitepu via REUTERS
KARO, Indonesia (Reuters) – Indonesian officials warned on Monday against the prospect of further eruptions from an active volcano on the island of Sumatra after it emitted a huge column of ash, causing panic among residents.
Mount Sinabung, which has seen a spike in activity since 2010, erupted for around nine minutes on Sunday, sending clouds of volcanic ash 7 km (4.4 miles) into the sky.
Although no casualties were reported, officials monitoring the volcano warned of possible fresh eruptions.
“After the eruption, from midnight until 6 a.m., there were a few aftershocks,” said Willy, a scientist at a Sinabung observatory post, who uses one name, like many Indonesians.
Authorities left unchanged the alert level for Sinabung, but urged residents to use face masks and keep indoors to guard against volcanic ashfall.
Mount Sinabung, which is 2,460 m (8,071 ft) high, is among Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, but had been inactive for four centuries before its 2010 eruption. Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.
(Reporting by Yudhistira; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
- 6/11/2019 Thousands stranded, five killed, as heavy rain lashes south China
Residential houses and cars are seen submerged in floodwaters following heavy rainfall in
Taihe county, Jian, Jiangxi province, China June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Thousands of people have been stranded and at least five killed amid torrential rain throughout central and southern China, with authorities bracing themselves for at least another four days of downpours, state media reported on Tuesday.
The official China Daily said floods had wiped out 10,800 hectares of crops and destroyed hundreds of houses in the Jiangxi province by Monday, with a total of 1.4 million people affected and direct economic losses amounting to 2.65 billion yuan ($382.41 million).
In the region of Guangxi in the southwest, 20,000 households had their power cut and roads, bridges and other infrastructure were severely damaged, the China Daily said.
Rainfall in Jiangxi reached as much as 688 millimeters (27 inches), according to a notice by China’s meteorological administration. It said rain in parts of Jiangxi and Hunan had hit record highs for June.
The administration said rainstorms were expected to spread to Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan and Taiwan by Thursday. It also warned authorities to be on their guard against severe thunderstorms and the possibility of small rivers bursting their banks in coming days.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait)
- 6/11/2019 Scientists predict record breaking dead zones in Gulf of Mexico by OAN Newsroom
Scientists are worried that dead zones in the waters off the Gulf of Mexico could reach near record breaking levels this year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday, this year’s dead zone is expected to cover an area about the size of Massachusetts or roughly 7,800 square miles.
Dead zones are areas of the ocean which have little to no oxygen, making it uninhabitable to most marine life in the area. While these zones occur year round, they happen more often during the summer when the ocean heats up.
What makes this year’s dead zone phenomenon different, however, is the historic amount of flooding along the Mississippi river. That’s because many farms located along the Mississippi use nutrient-rich fertilizers to grow their crops. When these farms flood, these chemicals get swept away by the river and are carried downstream into the Gulf of Mexico. The overabundance of nutrients in the fertilizer causes an excess of algae to grow, which, in turn, causes oxygen levels to diminish.
This aerial photo shows Durgens Creek just north of West Quincy, Ill., Friday, May 31, 2019.
About 200 Illinois National Guard members were previously deployed along the Illinois and
Mississippi rivers to assist with flood and levee monitoring. (Jake Shane/Quincy Herald-Whig via AP)
According to experts, this year’s dead zones are expected to occur in many popular fishing areas near the coast, which may hurt local economies.
“People who fish offshore primarily, it may drive the fish out of this area, so it may be harder to find the shrimp as well,” explained Dr. Larry McKinney, senior executive director at the Harte Research Institute. “So, that will effect the commercial and recreational fishing.”
The EPA along with several state agencies have been working in recent years to put a stop to the rise in dead zones. Experts have urged farmers along the major river to take steps to reduce pollution from their crops. This includes building embankments along the stream, using precision fertilizer and planting crops with longer roots, so they are less likely to be swept away.
Dead zones have been expanding worldwide since they were discovered in the 1970’s, and are expected to continue growing larger.
- 6/11/2019 PG&E shuts off power in Northern Calif. to avoid fire hazards by OAN Newsroom
More than 25,000 customers in Northern California lost power over the weekend after utilities company PG&E went dark in preparation for wildfires. The first wildfire of the season ignited Saturday, leading the natural gas corporation to take proactive measures by cutting off electricity in hopes of keeping fires from getting out of hand.
PG&E patrolled power lines spanning over 800 miles, and looked for anything that could potentially be a fire hazard. As they shut off power, the company set up a call list to warn people to take necessary precautions for a power outage.
FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, Pacific Gas & Electric vehicles are parked at the
PG&E Oakland Service Center in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
“We want customers to be prepared, make sure they have what they need, if they need medication that needs to be refrigerated, that they be prepared for that, or other types of things,” stated PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo ahead of the shut off. “Also make sure you keep in mind your elderly folks…your kids…your pets, and have any needs prepared for them as well.”
The decision to shut off power became a policy after the electric company was held responsible for the 2018 ‘Camp Fire,' which is now the deadliest wildfire in California history due to a malfunction from an almost 100-year-old tower. In early 2019, PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after lawsuits against the company held them liable for both the ‘Camp Fire’ and a separate wildfire from 2017.
- 6/12/2019 Measles outbreak leads to worries about travel - Summer camps, social outings draw attention by Elizabeth Lawrence, USA TODAY
Reported measles cases exceeded 1,000 in the first six months of 2019 – the highest number in 27 years, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The total in the U.S. has grown to 1,022, the CDC reported. That’s the highest since 1992, when there were 2,200 cases nationwide.
Cases have been reported in 28 states, and outbreaks are ongoing in seven communities, according to the CDC. Factors that may prompt outbreaks include a greater number of travelers who contract the disease abroad and more cases spreading in communities with groups of unvaccinated people.
The resurgence of measles has caused widespread concern and a surge of proposed laws. Officials in the New York City suburb of Rockland County barred minors not vaccinated for measles from public places for 30 days, and Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington.
Thomas Clark, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, said measles isn’t widespread. He said about 94% of kindergartners in the U.S. received the recommended two doses of the measles vaccine.
The CDC’s concerns about the spread of measles will focus more on summer camps and travel while schools are out for the summer, Clark said.
“We can’t rely on the summer months to stop and slow down the spread of measles,” Clark said. “We’re worried about summer camps and summer travel.”
Clark advised people traveling abroad to check out their vaccination status.
“I hope people continue to be confident in vaccination,” he said.
Ogbonnaya Omenka, an associate professor and public health specialist at Butler University, echoed Clark’s concerns about summer travel and noted the risk that comes with increased social interaction in public spaces.
“Travel has played a significant role in the current outbreak. The summer holiday comes with more local and international travel, which may result in exposure to measles,” Omenka wrote to USA TODAY.
“Also, social interactions are more likely during the summer, such as attendance at parks and recreation destinations, and neighborhood gatherings.”
Omenka spoke on the importance of understanding the social and behavioral factors affecting the outbreak. He said a consequence of media and public health officials focusing on “anti- vaxxers” could be a distrust of medical institutions.
“Concentrating on, or making scapegoats of, certain groups may result in unintended outcomes, such as increased distrust or anti-establishment sentiments and insularity,” Omenka wrote.
Registered nurse Starr Roden administers a vaccination to Jonathan Detweiler, 6, in Mount Vernon, Ohio, in May.
The resurgence of measles has caused widespread concern and a surge of proposed laws. PAUL VERNON/AP
- 6/12/2019 Britain to become first G7 country with net zero emissions target by Susanna Twidale and Matthew Green
FILE PHOTO: A commuter walks along Waterloo Bridge, which is being blocked by climate change activists, during
the Extinction Rebellion protest in London, Britain April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has announced it will enshrine a new commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 into law, marking a first among G7 nations facing increasingly severe impacts from the climate crisis.
With global carbon emissions at record highs despite decades of talks aimed at bringing them within safe limits, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May said the goal was ambitious but essential for protecting Earth’s future.
“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children,” she said in a statement.
“Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.”
Britain’s existing target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. The new target is in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement which calls on countries to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by mid-century to try to keep the global temperature rise as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
Temperatures have already risen about one degree Celsius since pre-industrial times. Scientists warn further increases risk triggering tipping points that could render swathes of the globe uninhabitable, devastate farming and drown coastal cities.
May, who is due to step down this summer after her political career became a casualty of the turmoil over Brexit, said legislation would be put before parliament on Wednesday to incorporate the new target into an existing climate change act.
Although May had staked her legacy on delivering an orderly exit from the European Union to respect the result of a 2016 referendum, the new target earned her praise from climate specialists heartened by any sign of greater ambition from a major economy.
“It’s momentous,” said David Reay, professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh. “Achieving net zero by 2050 will change all our lives. It will transform the ways we travel, the homes we live in and the food we eat.”
However, campaigners criticized the government’s continued reliance on international carbon credits to help meet the target – a move some see as a loophole that will allow polluters to stay in business.
“Fiddling the figures would put a huge dent in our ability to avoid catastrophic climate change,” environmental group Friends of the Earth said in a statement.
Britain’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, recommended last month that the country move to the new target, which implies sweeping changes in energy, transport and agriculture.
For example, new petrol and diesel cars might need to be phased out by at least 2035, the committee said. Households would also need to be weaned off natural gas heating and switch to low-carbon alternatives.
Although the new target has cast Britain as a relative climate leader, the government’s decisions to back projects such as a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport and fracking have raised questions about the depth of its commitment.
Extinction Rebellion, a climate movement that paralyzed parts of London with a civil disobedience campaign in April, said Britain was still not acting quickly enough.
“Were we to put our minds to it and do what is required to mobilize society to address the threat with the seriousness it deserves, the UK could embrace transformative change and decarbonise in years, not decades,” the group said.
Nevertheless, many businesses see big opportunities in any low-carbon transition, hoping progress at home will help innovative British companies grow rapidly in emerging markets hungry for climate-friendly goods and services.
“The message from business is clear: the UK will strengthen the competitiveness of its economy by being the first major economy to legislate an ambitious net zero target – as long as this is supported by a comprehensive policy package,” said Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, a sustainability initiative whose members include insurer Legal and General, retailer Tesco and media group Sky.
Britain hopes its decision will encourage other governments to follow suit before 2020, when countries are due to ratchet up their goals under the Paris Agreement. The government said a further assessment would happen within five years to discern the extent to which other countries are adopting the 2050 target.
“It has crucial importance in terms of the timing,” said Laurence Tubiana, a former French diplomat who was among the architects of the Paris Agreement, told Reuters. “It is a very important signal within the G7 countries that a country decided to do this at the highest level.”
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
- 6/13/2019 Mysterious mass found within moon by Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
Scientists have discovered a huge, mysterious mass hidden underneath the moon’s largest crater, but are still unsure what it is.
The mass in question, which is buried hundreds of miles underneath the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin, is roughly five times the size of Hawaii’s Big Island, according to a release published Monday by Baylor University.
In a study published this year, astronomers say the mass could contain metals from an asteroid that crashed into the moon and created the crater about 4 billion years ago.
“We did the math and showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the Moon’s mantle until the present day, rather than sinking to the Moon’s core,” said the study’s lead author, Peter B. James, assistant professor of planetary geophysics at Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, according to a release.
Another explanation for the mass could be the accumulation of dense oxides associated with a natural process called lunar magma ocean solidification.
- 6/13/2019 Ebola crosses Congo border; boy dies by Rodney Muhumuza and Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro, ASSOCIATED PRESS
KASINDI, Congo – A 5-year-old boy vomiting blood became the first crossborder victim in the current Ebola outbreak on Wednesday, while his 3-yearold brother and grandmother tested positive for the disease that has killed nearly 1,400 people in Congo.
The outbreak’s spread into Uganda prompted the World Health Organization to revisit whether the second-largest Ebola epidemic in history should be declared a global health emergency. A WHO expert committee was to meet Friday. Such declarations almost always boost attention and donor funding.
The boy’s mother had taken him and his brother from Uganda into Congo, where her father was ill. WHO said he died of Ebola, and officials believe those who mourned him became infected, too.
The family then crossed back into Uganda via an unguarded foot path, bypassing official border crossings where health workers have been screening travelers since the outbreak was declared in August.
Authorities in both countries now vow to step up border security.
Experts have long feared Ebola could spread to neighboring countries because of rebel attacks and community resistance that hampers containment work in eastern Congo, one of the world’s most turbulent regions. The virus can spread quickly via contact with bodily fluids of the infected and can be fatal in up to 90% of cases.
The 5-year-old’s mother and grandmother, along with several other children, were stopped at a border post before crossing into Uganda. A dozen of them already showed Ebola symptoms.
Congo’s health ministry had said those 12 were put in an isolation center, but in fact they were told to remain where they were staying until transport was found to an Ebola treatment unit, Dr. Dominique Kabongo, a local coordinator of response teams, told The Associated Press.
Instead, six family members quietly crossed into Uganda.
“Many people are evading (border) customs and using small footpaths, and it is difficult for us to follow the contacts,” Kabongo said.
On arrival in Uganda, where authorities had been alerted by Congolese colleagues, the boy received treatment while relatives were isolated and tested. The boy’s uncle is among seven suspected cases now identified in Uganda.
On the Congo side, five family members who did not cross into Uganda have tested positive for Ebola, the health ministry said.
Health teams in Uganda “are not panicking,” Henry Mwebesa, the national director of health services, told the AP. He cited the East African nation’s experience battling previous outbreaks of Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers.
This outbreak “is not going to go beyond” the boy’s family in Uganda, he added.
While officials vowed to close unauthorized crossings, an AP reporter in the border area where the family crossed saw surveillance teams patrolling the Ugandan side. Some footpaths, however, remained unguarded. Some people wade across the shallow Lubiriha River.
Health workers check people for symptoms of Ebola at a border crossing near Kasindi, Congo, on Wednesday.
- 6/13/2019 Family sent back to DR Congo after two die of Ebola in Uganda by Elias Biryabarema
A health worker checks the temperature of a woman as she crosses the Mpondwe border point separating Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo
as part of the ebola screening at the computerised Mpondwe Health Screening Facility in Mpondwe, Uganda June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Newton Nabwaya
KAMPALA (Reuters) – Authorities repatriated the relatives of two people who died of Ebola in Uganda back to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, including a 3-year-old boy confirmed to be suffering from the disease, the Ugandan health minister said.
The cases marked the first time the virus has crossed an international border since the current outbreak began in Congo last August. The epidemic has already killed 1,390 people in eastern Congo.
The family sent home on Thursday had crossed from Congo to Uganda earlier this week and sought treatment when a 5-year-old boy became unwell. He died of Ebola on Tuesday. His 50-year-old grandmother, who was accompanying them, died of the disease on Wednesday, the ministry said.
They were the first confirmed deaths in Uganda in the current Ebola outbreak.
The dead boy’s father, mother, 3-year-old brother and their 6-month-old baby, along with the family’s maid, were all repatriated, the minister’s statement said.
The 3-year-old has been confirmed to be infected with Ebola. His 23-year-old Ugandan father has displayed symptoms but tested negative, Ugandan authorities said.
“Uganda remains in Ebola response mode to follow up the 27 contacts (of the family),” the statement said.
Three other suspected Ebola cases not related to the family remain in isolation, the ministry said.
The viral disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids, causing hemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding.
Authorities in neighboring Uganda and South Sudan have been on high alert in case the disease spreads.
On Thursday, Uganda banned public gatherings in the Kasese district where the family crossed the border. Residents are also taking precautions, local journalist Ronald Kule told Reuters.
“They are a little alarmed now and they realize that the risk of catching Ebola is now real,” he said.
“Hand washing facilities have been put in place, with washing materials like JIK (bleach) and soap. There’s no shaking of hands, people just wave at each other.”
At the border, health workers checked lines of people and isolate one child with a raised temperature, a Reuters journalist said.
Uganda has already vaccinated many frontline health workers and is relatively well prepared to contain the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) sent 3,500 doses of a Merck experimental vaccine to Uganda this week, following 4,700 initial doses.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, said that he expected Uganda to approve the use of experimental therapeutic drug treatments, to be shipped “in coming days.”
Monitoring and vaccination had been stepped up, but there had been “no panic reaction” so far to the cases there.
The WHO has said it will reconvene an emergency committee on Friday to decide whether the outbreak is an international public health emergency and how to manage it.
Authorities have struggled to contain the disease partly because health workers have been attacked nearly 200 times this year in conflict-hit eastern Congo, the epicenter of the outbreak.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Omar Mohammed and Katharine Houreld; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
- 6/15/2019 UN: Ebola threat not global by Jamey Keaten and Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
GENEVA – The World Health Organization on Friday said the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo – which spilled into Uganda this week – is an “extraordinary event” of deep concern but does not yet merit being declared a global emergency.
The U.N. health agency convened its expert committee for the third time to assess the outbreak, which some experts said met the criteria to be designated an international emergency long ago.
This outbreak, the second-deadliest in history, has killed more than 1,400 people since it was declared in August.
At a press briefing following the meeting, Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the acting chair of the committee, announced that the outbreak is “a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” but that the situation does not yet meet the criteria for being declared a global one.
For such a declaration, an outbreak must constitute a risk to other countries and require a coordinated response. The declaration typically triggers more funding and political attention.
The outbreak is occurring close to the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Alexandra Phelan, a global health expert at Georgetown University, said the legal criteria for declaring Ebola a global emergency have long been met.
“Given that we are still seeing daily numbers of cases in the double digits and we do not have adequate surveillance, this indicates the outbreak is a persistent regional risk,” she said.
- 6/15/2019 Exclusive: U.N. chief calls on EU to raise 2030 climate goal to 55% by Alissa de Carbonnel
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the R20 Austrian World Summit in Vienna, Austria, May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the European Union to aim for a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, far more than the bloc’s current target for a 40% reduction.
In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, seen by Reuters, ahead of a summit of EU leaders, Guterres said the world’s largest economic bloc should lead by example to avert the worst effects of global warming and limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Next week’s gathering of the 28 EU heads of state is the last before a U.N. meeting on global climate talks in September.
“I am counting on you, once again, to demonstrate the leadership of the European Union,” Guterres said in the letter to Tusk dated May 23.
An announcement “aiming for a target of 55% reduction in emissions, would send a powerful message,” he said. He also asked leaders to phase out burning coal, ending approval of new coal-fired power plants beyond 2020.
Despite a French-led push by eight capitals for more ambitious action on climate, notably by striving to go carbon neutral by 2050, leaked draft summit conclusions make no mention of ramping up the bloc’s commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
With China and India seeking to take center stage at the U.N. meeting after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris pact, some EU diplomats fear the bloc may become increasingly sidelined on the global deal.
EU states such as Poland, which relies heavily on coal-fired power, and Germany, with its powerful automotive sector, balk at deeper emission cuts for industry, while the “yellow vest” protests have dented France’s climate drive.
However, growing climate concerns marked by protests across the continent helped propel Green parties to their strongest showing yet in the recent European Parliament elections.
The European Parliament and the EU’s climate chief Miguel Arias Canete have called for the bloc to aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, saying legislation passed since the Paris deal already puts it on track to overshoot its current target.
Climate campaigners, however, say action taken by the EU so far is as yet far from consistent with the transformative change scientists say is needed to avert the bleakest scenarios.
“This is not just about leadership, it’s about doing what’s necessary to ensure humanity’s survival and protect the natural world for future generations,” Sebastian Mang, an EU climate policy adviser at Greenpeace, told Reuters.
(Editing by Mike Harrison)
[You now know that we may see many of the European Nations will start have their own "yellow vest" demonstrations over the increased taxes from the above statements.]
- 6/16/2019 G20 agrees to tackle ocean plastic waste
Ministers and delegates, including Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko
and Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada, gather for a family photo session at G20 energy and environment ministers
meeting in Karuizawa, Japan June 15, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
KARUIZAWA, Japan (Reuters) – Group of 20 environment ministers agreed on Sunday to adopt a new implementation framework for actions to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste on a global scale, the Japanese government said after hosting the two-day ministerial meeting.
Environment and energy ministers of the Group of 20 major economies met this weekend in Karuizawa, northwest of Tokyo, ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, western Japan, on June 28-29.
One of the top issues was ocean plastic waste as images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic have sparked outrage, with many countries banning plastic bags outright.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants his country to lead the world in reducing marine plastic trash, including developing biodegradables and other innovations.
The new framework is aimed at facilitating further concrete action on marine waste, though on a voluntary basis, after the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany adopted the “G20 action plan on marine litter” in 2017.
Under the new framework, G20 members will promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans through various measures and international cooperation.
They will also share best practices, promote innovation and boost scientific monitoring and analytical methodologies.
“I’m glad that we, including emerging countries and developing countries, were able to form a broad international framework,” Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, told a news conference.
Japan plans to host the first meeting under the new framework this autumn when officials of environment ministers in the G20 countries are due to meet for the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Stephen Coates)
- 6/17/2019 Measles is now in 28 states.
Back on 5/7/2019 the number of confirmed U.S. measles cases this year climbed to 764, more than double the number a year ago and the highest total in 25 years, now it has spread to 28 states, 800 confirmed by 5/26/2019, by 6/12/2019 the total in the U.S. has grown to 1,022.
States reporting cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and Rhode Island.
So does the CDC believe that the measle outbreak came from Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines as you can see in the above image that southern illegal immigration pushed into Arizona and California spread northward all the way to Washington state, and notice New Mexico has none because Trump built a wall there. Texas got it too because they wanted them, and then an influx into Florida, spread to Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa who are states hiring migrants for farm work, and then the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire wanted migrants and also ended up getting many of the MS-13 gangs who spread the measles in their area which is a pandemic to them now. Anyone who looks at that and ignores that deserves to be infected as God works in mysterious ways. What I laugh about is that the CDC is going to look foolish when the next round of new severe diseases comes around that will be coming and it will be the fault of the Democrats in Congress for not responding to Trumps request for a crisis at the border and created Sanctuary Cities.
Notice that Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Maine now has measles. New Mexico which has 3 sanctuary cities and built a southern wall but with 3 states around them and it was just a matter of time.
So how is Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio, Distric of Columbia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Lousianna, Arkansas, Vermont, and Hawaii are not getting measles yet? That is easy, since they did not have the southern migration.
- 6/18/2019 At least 12 killed, 134 injured in China earthquake by OAN Newsroom
A strong earthquake in Southwest China has left at least a dozen people dead and 134 more wounded. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit Monday night in China’s Sichuan Province, causing damage to 10 nearby villages and towns.
Chinese officials said roads, power, and communication facilities also saw severe damage. As a result, more than 4,000 people were relocated.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescue workers carry out a person from a collapsed building
following a strong earthquake at Putao village of Shuanghe town in Changning County of Yibin City,
southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Zhuang Ge’er/Xinhua via AP)
“After the earthquakes, the city and counties quickly dispatched 15 vehicles and 61 medical specialists with first aid equipment to the quake-stricken areas in order to treat the wounded,” stated Li Tinggen, Secretary General for the Yibin government. “All health centers of villages and towns in the epicenters conducted medical treatment for injured ones immediately after preliminary safety check of their buildings.”
Back in 2008, nearly 90,000 people were killed in an earthquake in the same region. Search and rescue operations are currently underway.
- 6/18/2019 Strong quake strikes northwest Japan, triggers small tsunami, power cuts
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence after an earthquake, in Tokyo, Japan June 18, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo.
Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT.
NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY.
TOKYO (Reuters) – A strong and shallow earthquake struck Japan’s northwest coast around Niigata prefecture on Tuesday, triggering a small tsunami, shaking buildings and cutting power to around 9,000 buildings.
The magnitude 6.4 quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), lasted for as long as 20 seconds and damage included a landslide that struck a road, according to public broadcaster NHK. There were no initial reports of fatalities or fires.
Authorities lifted a 0.2-1.0 meter tsunami warning for the region after waves several centimeters high struck parts of the Niigata coast.
A tsunami of up to one meter could have caused some flooding and damage in low-lying coastal areas and river banks, though much of Japan’s coastline is guarded by sea walls.
“We will work closely with local authorities to provide any disaster measures including lifesaving and rescue operations and have instructed officials to provide information in a timely and accurate manner,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga – the top government spokesman – told a media briefing.
The quake struck at 10.22 p.m. local time (1322 GMT Thursday) at a depth of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles), the USGS said.
It measured 6.7 according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, and in some places was as high as a strong six on the agency’s seven-point “Shindo,” or Seismic Intensity Scale, which measures ground motion at specific points unlike magnitude which expresses the amount of energy released.
Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (Tepco) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant was not affected by the quake, which hit 85 km ( 53 miles) northeast of the site. All of its seven reactors were already shut down, NHK said.
A Tepco spokesman said an initial inspection showed no damage to the plant, and inspectors would carry out more detailed checks.
The quake also temporarily halted express bullet train services in the region, with some roads also closed, according to NHK.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly, Elaine Lies, Linda Sieg, Takaya Yamaguchi and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Catherine Evans and John Stonestreet)
- 6/19/2019 Scientists amazed as Canadian permafrost thaws 70 years early by Matthew Green
General view of a landscape of partially thawed Arctic permafrost near Mould Bay, Canada, in this handout
photo released June 18, 2019. The image was captured in 2016 by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks who were
amazed to find the permafrost thawing 70 years faster than models predicted. Louise Farquharson/Handout via REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) – Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.
A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilized the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.
“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters by telephone. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.”
With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on June 10 in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.
The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analyzing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned Cold War-era radar base more than 300 km from the nearest human settlement.
Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognizable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.
The vista had dissolved into an undulating sea of hummocks – waist-high depressions and ponds known as thermokarst. Vegetation, once sparse, had begun to flourish in the shelter provided from the constant wind.
Torn between professional excitement and foreboding, Romanovsky said the scene had reminded him of the aftermath of a bombardment.
“It’s a canary in the coalmine,” said Louise Farquharson, a post-doctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “It’s very likely that this phenomenon is affecting a much more extensive region and that’s what we’re going to look at next.”
Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.
Even if current commitments to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement are implemented, the world is still far from averting the risk that these kinds of feedback loops will trigger runaway warming, according to models used by the U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
With scientists warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilization in the northern hemisphere, campaigners said the new paper reinforced the imperative to cut emissions.
“Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown and it’s happening before our very eyes,” said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. “This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately.”
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
- 6/19/2019 President Trump set to rollback Obama-era environmental rules by OAN Newsroom
President Trump is promising to give power back to states, the coal industry, and miners as he attempts to un-do another Obama-era key policy.
The Environmental Protection Agency secured the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule Wednesday to limit the federal government’s hold on coal-fired power plants. The goal is to kill Obama-era regulations backing renewable energy sources, which — in turn — has severely hurt the coal industry. President Trump has previously noted Obama’s policy had compromising effects on the coal business and economy.
“I’m getting rid of some of these ridiculous rules and regulations, which are killing our companies, our states, and our jobs,” he stated. “Just today, we announced our new affordable clean energy proposal that will help our coal-fired power plants and save consumers — you, me, everybody — billions and billions of dollars.”
FILE – In this April 30, 2007, file photo, a shovel prepares to dump a load of coal into a 320-ton truck
at the Arch Coal Inc.-owned Black Thunder mine in Wright, Wyo. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
The coal mining industry has reportedly been hit hard recently. A substantial decline in its production has led to high energy costs and less jobs for miners. The roll-back sets out to give the industry a fighting chance.
Specifically, the rule opts out of enforcing states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 32-percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Instead, the rule gives states the authority to regulate their coal-fired power plants on a plant-by-plant basis. They will be able to decide how to control their plant’s release of greenhouse gas emissions, and allows older generators to keep on operating as they “adopt improved” and “more efficient” technology.
The EPA has noted the looser grip will encourage states “to allow utilities to make heat rate improvements in power plants.” The roll-back follows the administration’s message of providing “affordable, clean and reliable energy for all Americans.”
- 6/20/2019 Trump ditches Obama rule on coal-fired plants - Environmental groups plan court challenges by Ledyard King, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is keeping a signature campaign promise to boost the coal industry, but environmentalists say the energy plan his administration rolled out Wednesday would lead to premature deaths and hasten climate change.
The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, an amendment to the Clean Air Act, is expected to extend the lives of potentially scores of aging coal-fired power plants across the country whose carbon emissions are blamed for contributing to global warming.
It replaces the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s aggressive program to confront climate change that never took effect after the Supreme Court prevented its implementation in 2016.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler unveiled the ACE rule during a news conference attended by coal miners, congressional lawmakers and energy industry representatives.
Unlike Obama’s approach, which energy interests viewed as federal overreach, the Trump administration gives states and utilities flexibility to design a plan that proponents say will keep energy costs low while gradually reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Under ACE, states have three years to submit a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions to the EPA for review. The agency estimates that approximately 600 coal-fired electric generation units at 300 facilities nationwide will be covered by the rule, though officials could not say how many of them would stay running longer as a result.
The new rule, Wheeler said, “gives states the regulatory certainty they need to continue to reduce emissions and provide affordable and reliable energy to all Americans.”
But opponents argue it does little to confront the escalating dangers posed by climate change and will allow power plants to keep spewing air pollutants, such as soot, that lead to asthma and other lung-related diseases.
Environmental groups and some states already are vowing to sue to stop the plan’s implementation, just as opponents of Obama’s Clean Power Plan did successfully four years ago.
“Like so many other Trump regulatory rollbacks, these new (ACE) rules will hit the wall in the courts,” David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote recently. “NRDC, joining forces with state, environmental, and business allies, will challenge the Clean Power Plan repeal and the Dirty Power Plan replacement – and we expect to win.”
Even if it survives a court challenge, the Trump proposal is not expected to do much to help an industry buffeted by economic forces, energy analysts say. Low prices for natural gas, the rising popularity and efficiency of renewable energy such as wind, and customer preferences for clean energy are squeezing coal-fired power plants.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks Wednesday in Washington on the
plan to loosen regulations on coal plants. ALEX BRANDON/AP
- 6/20/2019 In Greta Thunberg’s footsteps: the climate kids fighting for their future by Aron Ranen and Martin Quin Pollard
FILE PHOTO: Climate change activist Zayne Cowie walks on the Brooklyn Bridge during a youth climate march in New York City, U.S., May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
NEW YORK/SHENYANG, China (Reuters) – A keen reader of graphic novels, nine-year-old Zayne Cowie has a bookshelf laden with tales of the struggles of imaginary superheroes. Now, a real-life role model has inspired him to join a battle for his own planet’s future.
Kept awake some nights by fears that rising seas will devastate his native Brooklyn, Cowie came across a news story about Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen who was walking out of class on Fridays to protest government inaction over climate change.
No longer feeling quite so powerless, Cowie persuaded his mother to help him stage a parallel protest outside New York’s City Hall in early December. He has since kept vigil there 26 times, embodying the kind of tenacity that turned Thunberg into the global face of a youth protest movement.
“She inspired me to take a stand — and not just sit in my room eating ice cream and feeling worried,” Cowie said of Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize since starting to protest outside Sweden’s parliament in August.
With hundreds of thousands of pupils and students now regularly joining much bigger Fridays for Future strikes in more than 120 countries, Reuters visited three young campaigners from very different backgrounds, united by acute concern over climate change, plastic pollution and the rapid extinction of species.
FACING DOWN FACTORY BOSSES
In the Chinese city of Shenyang, Wu Guanzhuo, 17, proved her mettle as an environmental activist before Thunberg became a household name.
One night in 2017, when she was 15, Wu let chickens through the gates of a printing equipment factory to distract guard dogs and their club-carrying handlers. She and several friends then collected samples of polluted river water that helped bring about a court case that forced the factory to close.
“I testified as a witness and then when I saw the bosses of the factory I felt really uncomfortable,” Wu said. “They were looking as if they were going to devour me.”
Though the school strike movement is muted in China, where protest is tightly controlled, Wu has tried to raise awareness in her city by handing out reusable bags and leaflets about plastic waste to locals. She hopes to follow Thunberg’s example and force leaders to listen.
“What I hope is that one day I can become the Chinese Greta,” Wu said. “The world will belong to the teenagers, so why don’t we stand up and make the politicians hear us?”
STRIKING IN AFRICA
Leah Namugerwa, 14, joined the environmental struggle after seeing news reports of landslides wiping out a Ugandan village. With the help of her father, Cephas Lukwago, she takes time out from boarding school on Fridays to join pupils marching in Kampala.
“My message to the adults is: let them know their responsibilities,” Namugerwa said. “I want the adults to realize that they also have a stake in the future.”
While Thunberg has dressed down politicians and business leaders from Davos to the British parliament, the young people following in her footsteps have also caught the attention of decision-makers.
In May, Namugerwa met with Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Uganda’s parliament, her father said. New York city council member Brad Lander tweeted Zayne Cowie to say he had backed a climate emergency bill partly in response to his protest.
But with the impact of the climate crisis degrading many of Earth’s ecosystems faster than scientists had predicted, Cowie, Wu and Namugerwa need more than just words.
“We have no power because we can’t vote, we don’t do any of the stuff that grown-ups do,” Cowie said. “Basically all we’re saying is ‘please help us, please don’t screw up our future.’”
(Additional reporting by Francis Mukasa in Kampala and Matthew Green in London; writing by Matthew Green; editing by John Stonestreet)
- 6/20/2019 Climate protesters interrupt speech by UK finance minister
Climate change activists interrupt a speech by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
to leaders of the country's financial services industry, in London, Britain June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Andy Bruce
LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change protesters briefly interrupted a high-profile speech by British Finance Minister Philip Hammond to leaders of the country’s financial services industry on Thursday.
Several women, wearing red evening dresses and sashes with the words ‘climate emergency’, prevented Hammond from speaking for a few minutes by using loudspeakers to shout slogans during a banquet in London’s landmark Mansion House building.
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said it organized the protest in the heart of the capital’s banking district, accusing the finance industry of funding climate change and the finance ministry of trying to water down government action.
“But we are in a #ClimateEmergency – business as usual is no longer an option. That’s why we interrupted the speech tonight,” Greenpeace said on Twitter.
Hammond responded to the protest as he resumed his speech – which focused on Brexit and banking regulation – shortly afterwards.
“The irony of course is that this is the government that has just led the world by committing to a zero-carbon economy,” he said to applause from the audience.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney)
- 6/20/2019 British parliament to hold Citizens’ Assembly on climate crisis by Matthew Green
FILE PHOTO: A person walks across Waterloo Bridge during the Extinction Rebellion
protest in London, Britain April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers will hold a Citizens’ Assembly to gather views on how to meet the country’s newly strengthened emissions targets, parliament announced on Thursday, in response to growing public unease over the climate crisis.
Although the assembly, to be held over several weekends this autumn, would have no independent powers, legislators said its deliberations would inform broader discussion over how Britain can deliver on a commitment to reach net zero carbon by 2050.
“Ending our contribution to climate change can be the defining decision of our generation in fulfilling our responsibility to the next,” Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said in a statement.
Britain has seen an upsurge in climate activism this year, with civil disobedience movement Extinction Rebellion occupying four sites in central London for 11 days in April, which forced parliament to declare a symbolic ‘climate emergency.’
In the latest protests, Extinction Rebellion volunteers disrupted an oil industry dinner hosted by the Natural History Museum in the capital’s upmarket South Kensington district on Thursday evening.
Protesters formed a circle under a 25-metre long skeleton of a blue whale, nicknamed Hope, which hangs from the museum’s ceiling, and paraded a giant pink dodo in the street outside, according to photographs shared on social media. The movement said about 200 protesters had taken part.
Meanwhile, at London’s landmark Mansion House building, several women wearing red evening dresses and white ‘climate emergency’ sashes briefly interrupted a high-profile speech by Finance Minister Philip Hammond at a black-tie banquet.
Environmental group Greenpeace said it had organized that protest, in the heart of the banking district, accusing the finance ministry of trying to water down climate action.
Industrialized countries have started to make increased use of Citizens’ Assemblies, to serve both as pressure valves on contentious issues and to mobilize support for decisions that legislatures driven by election cycles might struggle to pass.
Participants are often chosen to reflect the wider population in terms of demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity, class and sometimes political attitudes. They have been used in Ireland, Canada, Australia and the United States.
Britain became the first major economy to enshrine a net zero carbon target into law last week, a move that would imply profound and rapid transformation in sectors from energy and transport to food, farming and housing.
Although government decisions to support fracking, back a third runway at Heathrow and cut solar subsidies have raised questions about its commitment to a low-carbon world, some industries see big gains from energy transition.
“I hope the Citizens’ Assembly will demonstrate that, when all is considered, there is strong public support – even demand – for the Government to take the action necessary to deliver the benefits of net zero by 2050,” said Rachel Reeves, chair of parliament’s business, energy and industrial strategy committee.
Earlier on Thursday, Extinction Rebellion had said the announcement of the Citizens’ Assembly was a “first step” toward giving people a voice.
“However, we cannot pretend that this is a legitimate assembly with real or legislative power,” it said in a statement. “A half-arsed attempt at a Citizens’ Assembly will doom the process and the results.”
Although Extinction Rebellion has listed the convening of a Citizens Assembly among its main demands, the movement had envisaged a much more ambitious gathering invested with decision-making power, and members chosen by lot, like a jury.
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and James Dalgleish)
- 6/21/2019 Southeast Asian nations, among worst ocean polluters, aim to curb plastic debris by Patpicha Tanakasempipat
FILE PHOTO: A plastic bottle washed up by the sea is seen at the Ao Phrao Beach,
on the island of Ko Samet, Thailand June 10, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai zero-waste advocate Thanaboon Somboon never leaves his home without what he calls a full “weaponry” of reusable shopping bags, coffee tumblers and stainless steel straws for his daily battle against single-use plastic.
“I saw news of trash overflowing the world…sea animals dying from eating plastic…I felt I must do something,” says the 48-year-old entrepreneur, who leads an online community of more than 20,000 people seeking to practice a waste-free lifestyle.
But individual efforts alone can’t fully stop the 8 million tonnes of plastic that make their way to the ocean each year, and with four of the five worst ocean polluters in Southeast Asia, the region’s governments must take action, he says.
“Policymaking to address the issue must be treated with urgency as well,” said Thanaboon.
A summit for leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) being hosted by Thailand this weekend is expected to adopt the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region.
Thailand, the current chair of the group, has lauded the declaration as a “big step” for the region, whose coasts have seen whales and sea turtles wash up dead in recent years with large amounts of plastic rubbish in their stomachs.
ASEAN members Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are among the five countries throwing the most plastic waste into oceans, according to a 2015 report co-authored by environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy.
China is the worst offender.
“Every ASEAN country agrees that marine debris is a common problem that we must address urgently,” Wijarn Simachaya, permanent secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, told Reuters.
Unlike the European Union’s central bans and targets, Wijarn said the ASEAN declaration will outline broad ideas but it will be up to each country what it would take home to implement.
The declaration will come ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Japan, which assembles 20 major economies and will also aim to tackle marine plastic pollution.
WORDS ON PAPER?
Environmentalists welcomed ASEAN’s move to adopt the joint declaration, but there are worries that implementation will be a challenge, because the group has a code of non-interference that would leave necessary policymaking in the hands of individual member countries.
“This declaration will be a new milestone, but it will be just words on paper if there is no change in policies,” Tara Buakamsri, director of Greenpeace Thailand, told Reuters.
He said ASEAN countries should urgently all ban single-use plastic first for the declaration to be effective. “There is no other way,” Tara said.
Globally, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Of 300 million tonnes of plastic waste the world produces annually, 8 million end up in the oceans, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, it says.
According to Ocean Conservancy, 60 percent of the debris comes from China and the four ASEAN nations.
“It’s a good step as this is the first time ASEAN formally acknowledges the issue of marine debris,” said marine biologist Thon Thamrongnawasawat.
Each year, Thailand generates about 2 million tonnes of plastic waste, only about 25% of which gets recycled. The rest goes to incineration or landfill, where about 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes leaks into the ocean.
Environmentalists commend initiatives by some major retailers to cut back on plastic bags, but say most businesses will not take action unless there is a stricter push from policy initiatives.
CP All, which operates over 10,000 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country, said it has saved 464 million bags from circulation since December, donating more than 92 million baht saved from the process to public hospitals around the country.
Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate Central Group said last month it aimed to reduce plastic bags by 150 million this year by giving customers rewards incentives.
Governments should “act more drastically” by introducing immediate bans on single-use plastic so that more businesses follow suit, said Nattapong Nithi-Uthai, who leads volunteer network Trash Hero that cleans up the Gulf of Thailand in southern Pattani province.
He also said ASEAN should aim to significantly improve its waste management schemes, as well as hold producers of consumer goods accountable.
“There should be designated places for every single item to go. If things are piled up somewhere, they can leak into the ocean,” he said.
“Producers should also be made responsible for taking back the single-use plastic they produce … This might make them think twice about producing single-use packaging.”
(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat)
- 6/21/2019 Ambitious 2050 climate goal relegated to footnote at EU summit by Daphne Psaledakis and Alissa de Carbonnel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media at the
European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A push by most European Union nations for the world’s biggest economic bloc to go carbon-neutral by 2050 was dropped to a footnote at a summit on Thursday after fierce resistance from Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
France and Germany had led efforts for the 28-member EU to lead by example in setting an ambitious new climate goal ahead of U.N. climate talks in September that U.S. President Donald Trump has abandoned.
But unanimity was needed, and last-ditch persuasion efforts in what diplomats described as “impassioned” talks that dragged on for four hours failed to ease fears among the central and eastern European states, including Estonia, that it would hurt economies like theirs dependent on nuclear power and coal.
EU leaders called on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to increase climate funding and acknowledged vast differences in the continent’s energy mix, but Poland remained unmoved.
“We need concrete things on the table,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. “What additional money could be allotted to Poland so that we do not end up in an offside trap?”
In an unusual move that nevertheless sends a strong signal to businesses, 24 of the EU leaders chose instead to reflect support for the mid-century goal as a footnote in their final statement:
“For a large majority of member states, climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050.”
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
Since French President Emmanuel Macron in March launched the push for the EU to absorb as much as it emits by 2050, along with three other nations, support had snowballed, showing the growing political prominence of the fight against global warming.
Addressing the holdouts during the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed to months of climate protests by youths that helped propel Green parties to their strongest showing yet in May’s European Parliament elections.
Macron said after the summit that the growing support of EU countries for the 2050 target – from four in March to 24 on Thursday – showed the credibility of the EU’s engagement with the Paris accord.
“So when we debate, when we advance, we are able to grow the club, we are able to convince, we are able to progress,” Macron said.
Although EU diplomats said they still believed the bloc would eventually agree to the goal at a later date, Thursday’s summit was the last chance to do so before global climate talks in September at which U.N. negotiators hoped to secure higher pledges to do more to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the bloc to aim for a 55% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030, far more than the bloc’s existing goal.
The 2050 target was widely seen as paving the way for the EU to revise up the nearer-term target – although doing so has far less support as doubts remain over how to pay for the economic shift to low-carbon technology in big employment sectors such as transport, farming and building.
To achieve net-zero emissions, the bloc would have to invest an additional 175 billion to 290 billion euros ($198 billion-327 billion) per year in clean energy technology, according to an EU projection. [L8N23P361]
On the eve of the summit, Greenpeace activists projected the image of a bomb-shaped earth ready to explode on the facade of the building, warning “time was running out.”
“With people on the streets demanding action and warnings from scientists that the window to respond is closing fast, our governments had a chance to lead from the front,” Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang said.
“They blew it.”
($1 = 0.8857 euro)
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Jan Strupczewski, Sabine Siebold, Andreas Rinke and Jean-Baptiste Vey in Brussels; Jan Lopatka in Prague; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Matthew Lewis)
- 6/21/2019 Nuclear waste, rising seas and Trump: Marshall Islands struggles to stay above water by Tom Miles
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine speaks with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
GENEVA (Reuters) – The Marshall Islands is literally struggling to stay above water but its President Hilda Heine told Reuters she had saved her breath rather than try to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to hear its climate change message.
Heine met Trump at the White House last month, along with the presidents of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, both of which are also under threat from rising sea levels.
But they did not talk about climate change.
“We made a conscious decision to discuss those things that we think we could accomplish, rather than spend time talking about something that we know is not going to happen,” she said.
“We know that we’re not going to be able to change his mind in 30 minutes about climate change.”
The Marshall Islands, comprising 31 tropical atolls between Australia and Hawaii, risks being underwater in 10-20 years.
“If that’s not scary enough, I don’t know what is. For us, it’s of course an existential issue,” said Heine, who was in Geneva to open a diplomatic mission, address the International Labour Organization and press her country’s case for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The scene of massive U.S. nuclear tests in the 1950s, it is also at risk of disaster from radioactive debris the U.S. military left behind.
Her government has put a line item in its budget to cope with environmental costs, with about 5% of spending set aside to fund sea walls to save at least its two most populated areas.
On climate change, Heine said she had a simple message for the world: “Get real. Climate change is here. It’s not anything to just talk about and think, that is going to happen. It’s happening.”
The official statement from the White House meeting cited “the region’s most pressing issues, including responding to natural disasters,” but not climate change or rising sea levels.
The main topic was renewal of U.S. financial grants and the rollover of a Cold War-era defense and security agreement.
The Marshall Islands was occupied by Allied forces in 1944 and placed under U.S. administration in 1947. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 23 atomic and hydrogen bombs on Bikini and Enewetak atolls, debris from which was left buried under a shallow concrete dome on Enewetak.
“We’re told it’s seeping into the lagoon,” Heine said, adding that the government wanted help to assess the damage and impact on marine life and potential costs of making it safe.
Asked if it was potentially a nuclear disaster on top of a climate emergency, she said: “It could be.”
The Marshall Islands gained independence in 1986 and later tried in vain to sue nuclear powers in a David-and-Goliath case at the International Court of Justice.
It now has a “nuclear justice strategy” to cope with displacement and higher cancer rates, but cannot back a treaty banning nuclear weapons because of one provision that would force it to take care of its own clean-up, Heine said.
“The United States would be … off the hook.”
China is meanwhile “getting more foothold in the region” and trying to pressure countries there to stop recognizing Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade Chinese province. One tactic is to pressure ship operators not to register their vessels with the Marshall Islands, Heine said.
The country has announced plans to raise funds through the launch of a sovereign cryptocurrency in 2021, although the International Monetary Fund has raised concerns about the idea.
The government said earlier this month that the cryptocurrency would be compliant with the Financial Action Task Force, which sets global standards for fighting money laundering.
To be known as the SOV and still being developed, it will be legal tender and the islands’ official currency once launched, although Heine said that would not happen “until the issues are ironed out.”
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Catherine Evans)
- 6/22/2019 China needs nearly $440 billion to clean up rural environment: report
A woman rides a scooter past a steel plant in Anyang, Henan province,
China, February 18, 2019. Picture taken February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China will need to spend 3 trillion yuan ($440 billion) over three years to improve village sanitation and clean up its heavily polluted rural environment, the official People’s Daily reported on Saturday, citing government officials.
The funds would be required to meet state targets to build clean rural toilets, treat household waste, and construct village sewage treatment plants, said the Communist Party journal, citing An Xiaoning, an official with China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The state has allocated 7 billion yuan to promote China’s rural “toilet revolution” this year, and another 3 billion yuan to spend on improving the living environment of villagers in western and central China, An said.
China’s “war on pollution,” now in its sixth year, has up to now focused primarily on improving air quality in industrialized cities along the east coast.
It has made little inroads so far in improving the rural environment, where large amounts of land and water have been contaminated as a result of negligible waste treatment infrastructure, the overuse of fertilisers and pesticides, and the construction of substandard backyard industrial plants.
The agricultural ministry vowed last year to take action to tackle rural pollution, promising to improve village infrastructure and the “bad habits” of rural residents. However, it conceded that there was still a considerable funding gap.
China is desperate to bring more of its scarce farmland back into use to maximize agricultural production, especially as the country continues to urbanize. It plans to make around 90% of its contaminated farmland fit for crops by the end of 2020.
($1 = 6.8686 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)
- 6/25/2019 What is a Beyond Meat burger worth to hungry investors? by Noel Randewich
FILE PHOTO: Products from Beyond Meat Inc, the vegan burger maker, are shown for sale
at a market in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. consumers hankering for one of Beyond Meat Inc’s faux-meat burgers can pick one up at the grocery store for about $3 a patty.
That is a fraction of what they are going for on Wall Street, where investors looking to get a serving of the food producer’s sizzling stock appear to be laying down the equivalent of more than $50 a burger.
Nailing down just how much Beyond Meat is worth is one of the hottest topics on Wall Street following a nearly 500% surge in its stock since its initial public offering on May 2.
The company has attracted investors betting it will become the dominant player in the nascent market for plant-based hamburgers, sausages and other meat alternatives, even though the company has yet to turn a profit.
With ground beef retailing in grocery stores for the equivalent of $1 or less per 4-ounce (113 gram) burger patty, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beyond Meat’s early success in grocery store meat sections shows a market exists for premium-priced burger products made with or without animal.
At nearly $9 billion, Beyond Meat’s market capitalization rivals several mature food companies. Poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride checks in at $6 billion, for instance, while Campbell Soup Co sports a stock market value of $12 billion.
So far, the Wall Street establishment does not see that price tag as justified. The eight analysts covering the stock have price targets ranging from 11% to 46% below Beyond Meat’s current share price of around $144, following its recent rally.
Preferred valuation measures like the price to earnings ratio are not useful because Beyond Meat is losing money and is unlikely to record a profit for at least another year or so.
Meanwhile, the stock is trading at 38 times this year’s Wall Street revenue estimate, making it more expensive on that basis than all but a handful of U.S. stocks even as it faces competition from larger, profitable rivals including Nestle, the world’s largest packaged foods group.
(For a graphic on ‘Beyond Meat’s burger multiple’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2FvFK4S)
PATTIES PER SHARE?
Beyond Meat is increasing sales of its Beyond Sausage and other products, but the Beyond Burger remains its flagship offering.
The company sold 15.2 million pounds of food last year, equivalent to 61.0 million 4-ounce patties, the weight of the Beyond Burger sold in supermarkets. That puts the company’s current market capitalization at the equivalent of $143 per Beyond Burger patty sold last year.
Analysts on average expect Beyond Meat’s revenue to surge 152% this year to $221 million, according to Refinitiv.
Conservatively assuming no price increases, it would be on track to sell 153 million patties in 2019, making its current stock market value equivalent to $57 per 4-ounce patty sold in 2019.
A Beyond Meat spokesperson declined to give details on sales of specific products or the weight of its burgers sold through restaurants.
While investors do not typically value companies by comparing stock prices to unit sales, the high price they are paying – at least in terms of burger patties – to own a stake in Beyond Meat’s future signals a lofty valuation, even as competition grows.
Impossible Foods has started selling its Impossible Burgers through restaurants including Burger King, Red Robin and Applebee’s. Meat processor Tyson Foods this month launched its first vegetarian and mixed-protein products, including a beef and pea burger. Nestle and Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods Inc are launching their own competing patties and vegan “ground beef” in coming months.
“I would never bet against America’s love affair with burgers,” said Bob Goldin, a partner at food industry consulting company Pentallect. “Even if they chip off 1 or 2% of the market it’s big business. But competition is coming.”
(Reporting by Noel Randewich, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
[I presently do not eat red meat, so why would I want to eat fake red meat?]
- 6/26/2019 China finds armyworm in 19 provinces, situation remains severe
FILE PHOTO - A farmer shows a Fall Army Worm in a maize field at Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima province,
Thailand June 12, 2019. Picture taken on June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s agriculture ministry said on Wednesday it has now found fall armyworm in 19 provinces, across 5 million mu or about 333,000 hectares of crops.
The prevention and control of the pest remains “grim,” the ministry added.
Beijing has previously said the pest, which can infest and damage hundreds of hectares of crops overnight, is a severe threat to China’s food security.
(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
- 6/26/2019 Protesters gather at Britain’s parliament to urge climate action by Matthew Green
People carry placards as they attend a climate change demonstration in London, Britain, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
LONDON (Reuters) – At least 12,000 people converged on Britain’s parliament on Wednesday to lobby lawmakers to start driving the sweeping changes needed to meet the country’s new target to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, organizers said.
The protest was the latest sign of an upsurge in public concern over the climate crisis, spurred by reports of extreme weather from around the world and increasingly urgent warnings from scientists over the risk of climate breakdown.
“Normally governments are worried about public opposition if they move too far, too fast. But I think they’re misreading the mood, they could be going faster and further,” Caroline Lucas, Britain’s sole Green party member of parliament (MP), told Reuters at the event.
In the largest environmental lobby held at the British parliament, delegations from across the country met at least 200 MPs, according to organizers at The Climate Coalition and Greener UK, which combine more than 130 environmental groups.
Although Britain’s carbon emissions are now tiny relative to big polluters such as China and the United States, the public mood in the country could have wider significance for global climate diplomacy.
Britain is the favorite to host a major conference to drive forward the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions in late 2020 and negotiators are looking to the government to set an example for other countries to follow.
“If the UK can demonstrate that it’s a leader, then that’s going to encourage others,” said Clara Goldsmith, campaigns director at The Climate Coalition.
Britain this month became the first G7 country to adopt a legally-binding target to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, a move with far-reaching implications for energy, transport, food, agriculture and other sectors.
Nevertheless, campaigners say the government’s support for fracking and a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport raise questions about its commitment to a low-carbon future.
“The human race is trashing the planet and there seems to be some momentum to take action,” said Mike Watters, a retired town planner who traveled to parliament from the town of Milton Keynes. “We hope to influence our MP to see it that way.”
(Editing by Mark Potter)
- 6/27/2019 G20 members at odds over climate change for summit meeting: sources by Aaron Sheldrick
Ministers and delegates, including Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko
and Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada, gather for a family photo session at G20 energy and environment ministers
meeting in Karuizawa, Japan June 15, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
TOKYO (Reuters) – G20 negotiators are wrangling over the wording of a summit communique on combatting climate change, with the United States pushing to downgrade the language against European opposition, according to sources and drafts of the text.
The arguments are a reprise of tussles over global warming that have stymied talks in multilateral forums since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark agreement to limit the effects of climate change.
The latest draft, seen by Reuters, includes language supporting implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and saying the accord signed by 200 nations is “irreversible.”
An earlier draft, also seen by Reuters, did not include such language at the insistence of the United States, two sources familiar with the discussions over the communique told Reuters.
Further changes to the communique are likely before the final adoption of the text on Saturday by Group of 20 leaders in Osaka for this week’s summit, but the inclusion of stronger language came as French President Emmanuel Macron said France will not accept a text that does not mention the Paris agreement.
“If we don’t talk about the Paris Agreement and if we don’t get an agreement on it amongst the 20 members in the room, we are no longer capable of defending our climate change goals and France will not be part of this,” he said in Tokyo on Wednesday before heading to Osaka.
France was one of the main drivers behind the Paris accord and the French parliament is now debating an energy bill that targets net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“Negotiations on the topic of climate will be especially difficult this time,” a German government official said on Wednesday.
Nations in Paris agreed to limit the global average rise from pre-industrial temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Current policies, though, put the world on track for at least a 3C rise by the end of the century, according to a United Nations report in 2016.
Investors managing more than $34 trillion in assets, nearly half the world’s invested capital, piled pressure on G20 leaders on Wednesday, demanding urgent action from governments on climate change.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday also urged G20 countries to back more ambitious climate goals, among other international initiatives.
Summit host Japan has been criticized for backing the continued use of coal for power generation, one of the biggest sources of gas emissions that cause global warming.
G20 leaders will meet on Friday and Saturday.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Tom Hogue)
- 6/28/2019 Orbiting space station shares volcanic view by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
The volcano sat dormant for almost a century. Then at 4 a.m. last Saturday, it awoke.
In striking photos captured by satellites and astronauts on the International Space Station, smoke billows from the volcano on Raikoke, northeast of Japan.
The uninhabited island saw its first volcanic eruption since 1924.
The photos released this week by NASA show volcanic plumes that rarely rise from the stratovolcano, which is almost a half-mile wide and 650 feet deep.
Raikoke is a tiny island of not even 2 square miles in the Sea of Okhotsk and has been under Russia’s control since World War II.
The eruption consisted of at least nine explosions and lasted into the evening, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program.
The ash plumes containing large amounts of sulfur dioxide rose as high as 42,700 feet, or 8 miles.
Lightning was detected in the plumes as they drifted east and northeast, the report said.
By the next day, barely any ash remained visible to satellites, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.
“What a spectacular image,” said Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech.
Before the eruption in 1924, the Raikoke volcano hadn’t erupted since 1778, according to NASA.
The Raikoke volcano erupted in the Kuril Islands. JOSHUA STEVENS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
- 6/28/2019 Shanghai citizens out of sorts over new trash separation rules by David Stanway
A man and a cleaner throw trash at a separate waste collection in Shanghai, China May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Household trash has occupied the minds of Shanghai residents this week: specifically, are the contents of their bins “wet,” “dry,” “hazardous” or “recyclable”?
Residents of the city, one of the world’s biggest with about 23 million people, must arrange their trash according to those labels under a mandatory sorting scheme starting on July 1.
China is in the sixth year of a “war on pollution” designed not only to clean up its skies, soil and water but also upgrade its heavy industrial economy and “comprehensively utilize” its resources, including waste.
Improving recycling rates is crucial to China’s strategy, and cities are trying to figure out what to do with the heaps of trash clogging up rivers or buried in hazardous landfills.
Huang Rong, deputy secretary general of the Shanghai government, said on Friday more than 70% of residential districts should be compliant with the new trash sorting rules by next year.
“We are just starting out and we are getting ordinary people used to the new system, so we don’t want to make it too complicated,” he told reporters.
Citizens, however, are finding the new system complicated enough, with every item of waste now under careful scrutiny, from receipts and half-eaten crayfish to soggy cups of “bubble tea.” Residents are also unhappy about getting their hands dirty.
“It’s really a lot of trouble,” said a 68-year old resident called Shen. “Plastic bags have to be put in one bin and if they are dirty they must be cleaned out, and then your hands get filthy. It’s really unhygienic.”
Though Shanghai has hired 1,700 instructors and conducted 13,000 training sessions, confused residents on social media are demanding to know how to sort items like batteries, human hair, meat on a bone, or fruit seeds and skins. The government has set up an app to handle enquiries.
Shanghai aims to eventually burn or recycle all waste. By next year, dry waste incineration and wet waste treatment rates are expected to reach 27,800 tonnes a day, around 80% of the city’s total garbage. The city will also restrict the amount of single-use plastic cutlery that food service companies give out, starting on Monday.
China is building hundreds of “waste to energy” plants that use garbage to generate power. It is also establishing a “waste-free city” scheme and constructing high-tech “comprehensive utilization bases” across the country.
It also slashed imported waste volumes — once as much as 60 million tonnes a year — to encourage recyclers to tackle growing volumes of domestic trash instead.
China first proposed a trash sorting system in 2000, identifying Shanghai, Beijing and six others as pilot cities, but guidelines to implement the scheme nationwide were not issued until 2017.
Parliamentarians warned in March that China still needs more time to roll out the plan nationally, with the country still needing to build infrastructure, improve incentives and standardize fees.
The biggest challenge is likely to be in rural regions, which not only lack the infrastructure to deal with conventional trash, but also have to handle fertilizer, pesticide and feed waste, as well as the plastic mulch used in the countryside to boost yields.
Shanghai has already had some teething problems, with some districts reporting truck and land space shortages. Huang of the Shanghai government warned the new sorting measures were just the beginning, and would not instantly resolve Shanghai’s mounting garbage challenges.
“We need to step up the propaganda, and we need to step up the construction of infrastructure and guarantee that the separation of trash meets our requirements,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; editing by Christian Schmollinger)
- 6/28/2019 France roasts in record heatwave, two die in Spain by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo
People cool off in the sea in Marseille as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
PARIS/MADRID (Reuters) – France registered its highest temperature since records began on Friday as the death toll rose from a heatwave suffocating much of Europe.
The mercury hit 45.9 degrees Celsius (114.6 Fahrenheit) in Gallargues-le-Montueux, in the southern Provence region, weather forecaster Meteo France said, nearly two degrees above the previous high of 44.1 Celsius recorded in August 2003.
Twelve towns in southern France saw new all-time highs on Friday and three experienced temperatures above 45 degrees, it said.
The World Meteorological Organization said 2019 was on track to be among the world’s hottest years, and that 2015-2019 would then be the hottest five-year period on record.
It said the European heatwave was “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
Four administrative departments in France were placed on red alert, signaling temperatures of “dangerous intensity” that are more typical of Saudi Arabia.
The unusually high temperatures are forecast to last until early next week.
In Spain, where temperature peaked above 43 degrees for the second day running, wildfires raged across 60 sq km (23 sq miles) of land in the northeastern Tarragona province. Officials said firefighters battling the blazes on 20 fronts managed to avoid them from spreading.
In the central region, a fire broke out on the outskirts of Toledo, forcing the evacuation of two public buildings, a regional official told Reuters.
To the north in Valladolid, a man of 93 collapsed and died due to the heat, police said. And in a small town outside Cordoba, a 17-year-old died of heat-related effects after jumping into a swimming pool to cool off.
Since 1975, Spain has registered nine heatwaves in June, including five in the last decade, according to the Spanish meteorological office.
In France, one boy was seriously hurt when he was thrown back by a jet of water from a fire hydrant. Some 4,000 schools were either closed or running a limited service to help working parents unable to stay at home.
State-run rail operator SNCF offered free cancellations or exchanges on long-distance trips, social workers helped homeless people cope with the heat, and French families with elderly relatives who were ill or living alone were advised to call or visit them twice a day and take them to cool places.
The greater Paris region, Ile de France, has banned more than half of cars from its roads as the stifling heat worsened air pollution, the toughest restriction provided for — although all cars were to be allowed to leave the city as school holidays began.
The cities of Lyon, Strasbourg and Marseille have also restricted traffic.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Richard Lough and Geert De Clercq in Paris; Emma Pinedo and Paul Day in Madrid; Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Catherine Evans and John Stonestreet)
- 6/29/2019 174 dolphins die from red tide bloom off Florida coast
ORLANDO, Fla. – Scores of dolphins have died along Florida’s southwest coast because of a red tide bloom in the past year, federal researchers said. Figures released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed 174 dolphins were stranded in a mass die-off between last July and last week. Fish, sea turtles and manatees also have died from the red tide bloom, which has hampered the southwest Florida Gulf Coast since November 2017. Red tide has diminished since February and the rate of deaths has slowed.
- 6/29/2019 Wildfires and power cuts plague Europe as heatwave breaks records by Gus Trompiz and Joan Faus
People cool off in a fountain in Nice as a heatwave hits much of the country, France, June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
PARIS/MADRID (Reuters) – Hundreds of firefighters battled on Saturday to contain wildfires in southern France as a stifling heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of Europe, killing at least three people in Italy.
In the Gard region, where France’s highest temperature on record was registered on Friday at 45.9 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit), scores of fires burned some 600 hectares (about 1,500 acres) of land and destroyed several houses and vehicles, emergency services said.
More than 700 firefighters and 10 aircraft were mobilized to tackle the fires in the Gard, some of which caused sections of motorways to be temporarily closed. Several firefighters were hurt but no serious injuries were reported.
French media said a man had been arrested for deliberately starting fires in one Gard village.
The extreme heat was expected to ease on Saturday in southern France but highs were still forecast at close to 40 degrees.
Further north, Paris was due to experience its hottest day of the heatwave so far with a predicted high of 37 degrees.
Authorities in the capital maintained a ban on driving older cars to curb heatwave-related pollution.
The World Meteorological Organization said this week that 2019 was on track to be among the world’s hottest years, and 2015-2019 would then be the hottest five-year period on record.
It said the European heatwave was “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
Britain could see its hottest day of the year so far on Saturday, with temperatures expected to reach up to 35 degrees, according to the Met Office.
For a fourth consecutive day, unusually high temperatures above 43 degrees were forecast on Saturday across Spain.
Forty of the Spain’s 50 regions have been placed under weather alert, with seven of them considered to be at extreme risk, the national meteorological agency said.
In the northeastern city of Girona, the mercury reached a record high of 43.9 degrees on Friday, the Catalan city’s highest-ever temperature on record.
Firefighters managed to contain 90% of the wildfires that raged across 60 sq km (23 sq miles) of land in the northeastern Tarragona province, the Catalan government said on Saturday.
Two other wildfires in the central Toledo region were still burning, officials said.
The heat killed at least three people as temperatures soared in central and northern Italy, while hospitals in the financial capital Milan saw a 35% rise in emergency visits due to heat-related conditions, local media reported.
Demand for power in the city surged as people cranked up air conditioning causing sporadic blackouts in stores and restaurants. Temperatures are forecast to ease in the coming days but will remain hot.
(Additional reporting by Costas Pitas in London and Stephen Jewkes in Milan; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Edmund Blair)
- 6/29/2019 Protest in Madrid as conservatives suspend ban on most polluting cars
Demonstrators take part in a protest against Madrid's new conservative People's Party (PP) municipal government plans
to suspend some anti-car emissions policies in the city center, Madrid, Spain, June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina
MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands protested in Madrid on Saturday against the suspension of curbs on polluting cars by the new conservative city hall, raising fears that environmental rollbacks seen in the United States may be spreading to Europe.
The first reversal of environmental policies by a major European city comes despite soaring global environmental concerns and is a fresh sign of growing divisions in Spain after a series of inconclusive elections in April and May.
Last November Madrid’s then far-left government banned most petrol and diesel cars from its center to tackle high levels of nitrogen dioxide. The policy was known as “i>Madrid central” and it was intended to bring Madrid into line with EU clean air rules which it had been violating since 2010.
“Yes we can, I do want Madrid central,” chanted the protesters. Some were holding banners that read “I want to breathe free” and “We aspire to have a Madrid without smoke.”
“We have to save (the planet) starting at the local and small level, the first thing is Madrid’s center,” said Laura Martin, a 39-year-old actress.
She added that she was concerned that the new Madrid government might have some similar ideas to U.S. President Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental policies, such as weakening rules limiting carbon emissions from power plants and standards on harmful gas emissions from cars and trucks.
People of all ages rallied despite a scorching heatwave in Spain and most of Europe, which had already forced the city of Paris to ban more than half of all registered cars from its roads earlier this week because the heat worsens pollution.
Various European cities including Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London and Oslo have started to penalize or ban older polluting cars as they seek to phase out all fossil fuel cars in the coming decade.
Environmental groups including Greenpeace say the “Madrid central” measure slashed air pollution levels from car emissions in the center to record lows.
The new city hall run by the conservative People’s Party suspended fines on cars entering the currently restricted area of around five sq km (two sq miles) from July 1, while it reviews the plan to make it “compatible with citizens’ mobility needs.”
“As far as I know at the European level there’s no precedent in ending a car traffic restriction,” said Lara Lazaro, researcher of the Real Instituto Elcano.
The European Commision has warned Spain that it would face sanctions and a possible lawsuit if it fails to meet air quality standards in its largest cities of Madrid and Barcelona.
(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, writing by Andrei Khalip and Joan Faus; Editing by Stephen Powell)
This page created on 4/1/2019, and updated on 4/30/2019, 5/31/2019 and 6/30/2019.
Please close this window when done, or select the previous tab or back button to return to previous page.
Or return to the Table of Contents - Chapter Eight or
Or return to the Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D. or
Return to Global Environment 2019 January-March or continue to Global Environment 2019 July-September
2011-2022 ????? Unknown future of the Sixth group of Twelve years