From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Global Environment 2020 JULY-SEPTEMBER"

    This file is attached to 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 Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or return to Global Environment 2020 April-June

Global Environment 2020 JULY-SEPTEMBER

2020 World Disaster and Environmental Issues

7/4/2020 15 presumed dead, 9 missing after mass flooding in Japan by OAN Newsroom
Areas are inundated in muddy waters that gushed out from the Kuma River in Hitoyoshi,
Kumamoto prefecture, southwestern Japan, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Kyodo News via AP)
    15 people are presumed dead and nine went missing after mass flooding hit Japan this week.    More than 75,000 residents were forced to vacate their homes due to the region’s Level 3 floods.
    Rescue workers were sent to save victims and warn people about the rising water levels in the area.

Rescue workers search for missing persons at a site of a landslide following a heavy rain in
Tsunagi town, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Kyodo News via AP)
    Over 92,000 households are preparing for more floods and landslides in the region.
    “Special heavy rain warnings were issued in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures,” explained Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.    “So far, flooding of Kuma River and some landslides have occurred, and there is also information of people who may have been fallen victim to landslides.”
    Homeowners who were not able to evacuate quickly enough sought safety on rooftops.
Rescue operation is conducted in a flooded area following a heavy rain in Hitoyoshi,
Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Kyodo News via AP)

7/5/2020 Japan braces for return of torrential southern rains that killed 16
Police officers search for missing people at a landslide site caused by a heavy rain in Tsunagi town, Kumamoto
prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Torrential rains that hit Japan’s southern island of Kyushu killed 16 people, with 13 going missing and 17 showing no vital signs, public broadcaster NHK said on Sunday, as the weather agency expects heavy rain to resume by evening.
    Saturday’s unprecedented rains in the Kumamoto prefecture of central Kyushu unleashed floods and landslides.
    Television broadcast images of overturned cars, people shoveling mud from their homes and the military rescuing stranded residents in boats.
    “We had no electricity and no running water,” one rescued woman told the broadcaster.    “It was tough.”
    The Japan Meteorological Agency urged people to stay vigilant, as more rains are predicted.
    “From this evening on, extremely heavy rains with thunder are expected in southern as well as northern Kyushu,” an agency official told Reuters.
    “The rainfall so far has already loosened the ground.    There is a high chance of landslides occurring, even without much additional rain.”
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

7/6/2020 UAE to launch Mars mission this month by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This image made available by NASA shows the planet Mars. This composite photo was created from
over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s. (NASA via AP Photo)
    The United Arab Emirates is set to launch its first spacecraft to Mars this month, six years after first being announced.    The unmanned mission named al-Amal, which is Arabic for “hope,” will give scientists the opportunity to have a better understanding of Martian atmosphere.
    It will be the first unmanned probe able to provide a clear image of the planet’s atmosphere and it’s layers.    The probe will also answer a number of questions about the red planets loss of hydrogen and oxygen levels over the span of one Martian year — equivalent to 687 Earth days.
    “Being able to put together the data of the Emirates’ Mars mission, together with data that has been collected about Mars throughout the years that humanity has been studying Mars, will allow us to get the full picture of the evolution of the Martian atmosphere,” stated Sarah Amiri, the science lead for the Emirates Mars Mission.
    The spacecraft will be traveling more than 75,000 miles per hour and will have to slow down to around 11,000 miles an hour in order to join the planet’s orbit.    Officials said the mission will take several months as “Hope” isn’t expected to arrive into Mars’ orbit until late 2021.
    “We want to better understand how a planet that is sort of similar to ours has evolved throughout millions of years and how has it gotten to the stage that it’s at today,” Amiri explained.
    If the mission is deemed successful, the Arab nation will join the U.S., the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and India in successfully sending a spacecraft into Mars’ orbit.    The mission is set to launch in Japan during a window opening July 14.

7/6/2020 Russia cracks down on marmot hunting after bubonic plague alert
FILE PHOTO: Two marmots meet at the entrance of their lair in Yushu, west China's Qinghai province July 28, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Monday it had stepped up patrols to stop people hunting marmots near its border
with China and Mongolia after the countries reported possible cases of bubonic plague, which can be carried by the animals.
    Authorities in Bayan Nur, a city in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, issued a warning on Sunday after a hospital reported a suspected case of the deadly disease.
    The Chinese region forbade the hunting and eating of the large rodents and asked the public to report any suspected cases, as well as any sick or dead marmots.
    Neighboring Mongolia also reported two cases of bubonic plague linked to people eating marmot meat in its western Khovd province last week.
    Authorities in Russia’s Altai region, which borders Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, said officials were patrolling the area to enforce a ban on hunting marmots and to warn people about the dangers, TASS news agency reported.
    The local branch of Rospotrebnadzor, the consumer health watchdog, said the cases across the border did not pose a threat to people in Altai, TASS reported.
    The bubonic plague, known as the “Black Death” in the Middle Ages, is a highly infectious and often fatal disease that is spread mostly by rodents.    Bubonic plague outbreaks have become increasingly rare.
(This story has been refiled to add dropped word “with” in first paragraph)
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Heavens)

7/6/2020 Kenya uses app in battle against desert locusts
Desert locust are seen eating a maize plant at the village of Nadooto near the town
of Lodwar, Turkana county, Kenya, June 30, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
    LORUGUM, Kenya (Reuters) – Lorugum village in northwest Kenya is under siege. Hundreds of thousands of young desert locusts perch on trees, shrubs, and in the grass.
    In the coming days or weeks, their bodies will turn from pink to yellow, their wings will harden and, if nothing is done to stop them, they will begin to swarm, with disastrous consequences for agricultural production and the environment.
    Using his smartphone camera, Christopher Achilo takes photos and videos of a tree trunk in the village that is crawling with the pink insects, and uploads the images onto an app.
    “One locust eats food equal to his weight (every day), so imagine having millions of locusts, if you cannot even see over the trees,” he said.
    “Within some time, all the trees are just naked.    Even they go inside the farms, they strip the farms, so it is a very big impact on the food security.”
    Achilo is one of a team of locust scouts trained by local aid group ACTED, with the help of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Turkana County regional government, to spot and report sightings using a new application, E-Locust.
    The information he and the others collect is sent in real-time to a database in Lodwar, Turkana’s main town, which is then used by another team deployed to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent swarm formation.
    Locust numbers, the worst in three generations, surged in East Africa and the Red Sea region in late 2019 and early this year, encouraged by unseasonably wet weather and dispersed by a record number of cyclones.
    The pests could cost East Africa and Yemen $8.5 billion this year, the World Bank has said.
    Swarms can fly up to 150 km (93 miles) a day with the wind, and a single square kilometre swarm can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people.    Desert locusts feed on nearly all green vegetation and crops, including leaves, flowers, bark, fruit, millet and rice.
    In a bulletin from July 3, the FAO said it expected swarm formation in Kenya to continue until mid-July.    It said that in June, control operations treated around 30,830 hectares against locusts, around 8,500 hectares by air.
(Reporting by Baz Ratner; Additional reporting by Nazanine Moshiri in Nairobi; Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa Kasolowsky)

7/6/2020 Japan floods, mudslides kill at least 44 as streets turn to rivers by Sakura Murakami
Local residents are rescued by Japanese Self-Defence Force soldiers using a boat at a flooding area caused by a heavy rain in
Kuma village, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Torrential rain hit Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu on Monday, with at least one more river bursting its banks, as the death toll from three days of floods and mudslides rose to 44, including 14 at an old people’s home.
    Evacuation orders were issued for more than half a million island residents, as well as evacuation advisories for tens of thousands more in western Japan, broadcaster NHK said.
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the rain was forecast to head east by Wednesday and ordered round-the-clock search and rescue operations.    Ten people were missing, NHK said.
    TV pictures showed streets turned into rivers rushing by at waist high, a collapsed bridge, upturned cars and a helicopter winching a man to safety from an inundated house.
    The old people’s home was flooded in the island’s central prefecture of Kumamoto.    NHK did not give details.
    “I urge all citizens to carefully follow the information provided by local authorities and stay alert to take actions to protect their own lives,” Abe said at the start of a government task force meeting.
    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 40,000 members of the Self-Defence Force were involved in rescue missions.
    He added that evacuation centres were also working on preventing the spread of the coronavirus by distributing disinfectant and asking evacuees to self-distance.
    The floods are Japan’s worst natural disaster since Typhoon Hagibis killed about 90 people in October.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami, Chang-Ran Kim and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)

7/7/2020 Japan warns of more heavy rain in flood-hit areas
Local residents are rescued by Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers using a rubber boat on a flooded road, caused by heavy rain
in Omuta, Fukuoka prefecture, southern Japan July 7, 2020 in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan warned of more heavy rain on the southwestern island of Kyushu on Tuesday as the death toll in flood-hit areas reached at least 50, with more than a dozen people reported missing.
    “The rain front is expected to remain until the ninth (of July), and rain is expected over a wide front stretching from western to eastern Japan,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular press briefing, urging people to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety.
    Japan on Monday issued a flood warning to more than half a million people living in three prefectures on Kyushu, including Nagasaki, Saga and Fukuoka.    Police, Self Defense Force and Coast Guard units are conducting search and rescue effort, Suga said.
    Images aired by public broadcaster NHK, showed swollen rivers, destroyed homes and roads covered in landslides.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

7/7/2020 Four killed, 110 homes destroyed in forest fire in eastern Ukraine
Firefighters work to put out a forest fire in Luhansk Region, Ukraine
July 7, 2020. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS
    KYIV (Reuters) – Four people died and nine were hospitalised as a forest fire swept through villages in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, Ukraine’s emergency services said.
    The fire has destroyed 80 dacha holiday cottages and 30 houses in two villages, the service said in a statement.
    This spring, forest fires around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant in the north of the country and elsewhere pushed pollution levels in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to the worst in the world.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Alison Williams)

7/8/2020 Meet the pint-size ancient ancestor of dinosaurs by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
    pint-size predator to bugs may provide scientists clues about the ancient ancestors of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, a study published Monday suggests.
    Standing about 4 inches tall, Kongonaphon kely could be one of the last common ancestors of all dinosaurs and pterosaurs, an extinct flying reptile, and explain some of their physical characteristics and traits.     The discovery and description of the fossil of Kongonaphon kely – which means “tiny bug slayer” – could provide scientists big insights since the species was much smaller than most dinosaurs.
    “There’s a general perception of dinosaurs as being giants,” Christian Kammerer, a research curator in paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, said in a statement.    “But this new animal is very close to the divergence of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and it’s shockingly small.”
    The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    The ancient animal’s fossils date back 237 million years and were discovered in 1998 in Madagascar, said John Flynn, curator of fossil mammals at the American Museum of Natural History.
    “It took some time before we could focus on these bones, but once we did, it was clear we had something unique and worth a closer look,” Flynn said in a statement.
    Dinosaurs and pterosaurs evolved from the group Ornithodira, but little is known about their origins.
    Kammerer said other small animals have been discovered in the group, but they were thought to be an exception.
    Archosaurs, a larger group that includes birds, crocodiles and dinosaurs, and ornithodirans were all thought to be similar in size before dinosaurs and their huge dimensions.
    “Recent discoveries like Kongonaphon have given us a much better understanding of the early evolution of ornithodirans.
    Analyzing changes in body size throughout archosaur evolution, we found compelling evidence that it decreased sharply early in the history of the dinosaur-pterosaur lineage
,” Kammerer said.
    The scientists discovered characteristics about the Kongonaphon kely, including wear on the teeth that suggests it ate insects and fuzzy skin that retained heat.    Both adaptations may have helped the tiny animal fill a unique niche.
This illustration depicts a Kongonaphon kely.

7/8/2020 Masks, disinfectant, social distancing: Japan responds to disaster amid coronavirus by Sakura Murakami
A broken bridge is seen in the back, as an overturned vehicle and a partially submerged bus are pictured in floodwaters
caused by torrential rain in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    Yatsushiro, JAPAN (Reuters) – Boxes of surgical masks, bottles of disinfectant and a sign saying “Please wear a mask” mark the entrance to a public gym in Yatsushiro city, a shelter for residents fleeing devastating floods in southwestern Japan this week.
    Elsewhere in the gym, cardboard partitions separate the 233 evacuees’ sleeping areas and another sign instructs them to check their temperature each morning, then sterilise the thermometers.
    The measures show what a thorny issue it is for Japan to deal with natural disasters in the time of coronavirus.
    Japanese authorities have been warning local officials for months to include coronavirus measures in their disaster preparations.     Residents have been urged to seek shelter with friends or relatives if possible to avoid overcrowding evacuation centres.
    But coronavirus contagion was the last thing on the mind of 78-year-old retiree Aiko Ishimura when neighbours knocked on her door on Monday to tell her about evacuation orders.
    Ishimura, who lives alone, had planned to shelter at home.
    “So we just came as we were.    We were in such a rush to come here, we didn’t bring anything,” Ishimura, who fled with neighbours, told Reuters.    “I wasn’t worried at all about coronavirus, not at all.”
    “We don’t have many cases here in the first place.    We don’t really do the whole mask-wearing thing,” she added, although she said she keeps a mask in her pocket.
    Kumomoto prefecture, where Yatsushiro is located, has had only 49 of Japan’s more than 20,000 coronavirus cases, according to public broadcaster NHK.
    That compares with close to 7,000 in Tokyo, where cases are on the rise again among its 14 million residents.
    Misa Matsuda, a 48-year-old nurse, accustomed to the annual floods in the region, had also intended to remain at home. But she was stunned early Monday when she opened her door and found the river flowing just a few feet from her house.
    “I thought, there’s no way the water would come up here to our house, where it’s a bit of a hill,” she said.
    Extreme weather disasters have become increasingly common in Japan recently.    Last year, Typhoon Hagibis killed nearly 100 people, a year after more than 200 died in western Japan in the worst flooding in decades.
    Matsuda said she wasn’t too concerned about coronavirus because basic steps were being taken, but did worry residents would congregate to chat, creating just the sort of crowded conditions authorities say increase infection risk.
    City official Takanobu Ono said the evacuation centre was limited to 300 people despite a capacity for 500.    But he said the priority for evacuees was escaping with their lives.
    “Some of have just been saved by the skin of their teeth,” he said.    “The reality is that coronavirus is less of a concern for them … So we’re taking the measures we have to, but haven’t been so strict about it.”
    About 60 people have died or were feared dead from floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains that have pounded the southwestern island of Kyushu, including Kumamoto prefecture, since Saturday.    Extreme rain warnings were issued for parts of central Japan on Wednesday.
    Disaster experts said persuading people to evacuate early and find alternative shelters was vital, but agreed that convincing people to plan ahead was often tough.
    “We kept saying, ‘Check your hazard map,'” said Masako Yoneda of the Japan Academic Network for Disaster Reduction, which issued an urgent warning on the topic in May.    “But still, there are people who don’t check.”
(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg and Rocky Swift; Writing by Linda Sieg and Gerry Doyle)

7/8/2020 Google Shuts Down Cloud Project, Says No Plan To Offer Cloud Services In China
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
    (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it has shut down its cloud project named “Isolated Region” and added that it was not weighing options to offer its cloud platform in China.
    Earlier in the day, Bloomberg News reported, citing two employees, that Google had shelved the project in China and other politically sensitive countries in May, partly due to rising geopolitical tensions and the pandemic.
    The search engine giant, however, said that the project’s shutdown was not due to either of those two reasons and that it has not offered cloud platform services in China.
    “Isolated Region” was just one of the paths explored by the company to address requirements related to adoption of cloud technology, a company spokesperson said.
    The project aimed to provide cloud services to customers and regulatory bodies around the world.
(Reporting by Neha Malara; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

7/9/2020 1 Dead, 2 Injured Following Dual Minn. Tornadoes by OAN Newsroom
In this image provided by Kathy Long VanVoorhis, a large tree rests on top of a car, Thursday,
July 9, 2020, in Fergus Falls, Minn., following a severe storm the day before. (Kathy Long VanVoorhis via AP)
    At least one person is dead and two others were injured after a pair of tornadoes slammed western Minnesota.    According to reports, the storms happened just outside the town of Dalton, which is about 170 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
    The National Weather Service confirmed the tornadoes touched down Wednesday evening.    One reportedly left a six to nine-mile trail of damage in its wake.
    Several homes and farmsteads in the area were destroyed or severely damaged.
    “There had been a touchdown just southeast of Dalton, which destroyed several properties.    It continued in a northeast fashion for about 69 miles.    We’re still evaluating and assessing the damage.” – Barry Fitzgibbons, Otter Tail County Sheriff
    At least one of the tornadoes was believed to be an EF3 category storm, which created winds between 136 to 165 miles per hour.
    These tornadoes were just two of several storms reported across central and northern Minnesota this week.

7/11/2020 China’s Southern Jiangxi Province Declares Highest Flood Alert
FILE PHOTO: Rescue workers evacuate with an inflatable boat students stranded by floodwaters at a school, amid
heavy rainfall in Duchang county, Jiangxi province, China July 8, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
    BEIJING (Reuters) – The southern Chinese province of Jiangxi issued its highest flood warning on Saturday, predicting a big overflow from a lake that joins the Yangtze River as torrential rain continued to batter much of the country, state media said.
    The provincial government raised its flood-control response level to I from II, the People’s Daily said, the top of China’s four-tier scale, signalling disasters such as dam collapses or extraordinary simultaneous floods in several rivers.
    With downpours continuing to wreak havoc across swathes of China, several other cities along the Yangtze have issued their highest-level flood warnings, with parts of the river threatening to burst its banks because of the incessant rain.
    The Jiangxi authorities expect severe regional flooding in Poyang, state television said, which is China’s largest freshwater lake and joins the Yangtze near the city of Jiujiang.
    The level of the lake was rising at an unprecedented pace and had reached 22.65 metres by 9 p.m. Saturday (1300 GMT), above the record high set in 1998 and well over the alert level of 19.50 metres, the CCTV said.
    Jiangzhou county, an island in the middle of Asia’s longest river at the end of the lake, issued a call on social media for everyone from the town aged 18 to 60 to return and help fight the flood, citing a severe lack of hands to reinforce dams.
    As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, flooding had affected 5.2 million people in Jiangxi province since Monday, with 432,000 people evacuated.    It had also damaged 4.56 million hectares of crops and toppled 988 houses, leading to direct losses of 6.5 billion yuan ($929 million), CCTV reported.
    China’s emergency management ministry said it had diverted assault boats, tents, folding beds and blankets to the province.
    China’s national observatory renewed its yellow alert for rainstorms on Saturday, warning of heavy weekend rain in places including Sichuan and Chongqing in the southwest, the central province of Hubei and Hunan province in the south.
    Authorities in Jiangsu province in the Yangtze Delta issued orange flood alerts on Saturday – the second-highest – saying huge, long-lasting volumes of water would pour from the river.
(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by David Clarke)

7/11/2020 Floods, Landslides Kill 40 In Nepal, Many Missing by Gopal Sharma
People gather near the bridge that is damaged due to the flood at Raghu Ganga River in Myagdi, Nepal July 11, 2020. REUTERS/Santosh Gautam
    KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides that killed at least 40 people and displaced thousands in western Nepal, officials said on Saturday.
    Twenty people were killed and at least 13 others were missing in Myagdi district, 200 km (125 miles) northwest of the capital Kathmandu, where several houses were destroyed on Friday, district administrator Gyan Nath Dhakal said.
    “Rescuers are looking for those who are still missing in Myagdi,” Dhakal said, adding that 50 people had been plucked to safety using helicopters.    “Eleven people who were injured in the landslides have been moved to nearby hospitals,” he said.
    In neighbouring Kaski district, seven people were killed, said a second government official in the tourist town of Pokhara.
    Another seven were killed in Jajarkot district in the far west.
    “We are searching for eight people who are still missing,” said Kishore Shrestha, a senior police official, said.
    Six people were killed in Gulmi, Lamjung and Sindhupalchowk in central Nepal.
    In the southern plains bordering India, the Koshi river, which causes deadly floods in the eastern Indian state of Bihar almost every year, was flowing above the danger level, police said.
    Landslides and flash floods are a common occurrence in mountainous Nepal during the June-September monsoon every year.
(Editing by Rupam Jain and Christina Fincher)

7/11/2020 Study: Blood Clots Found In ‘Almost Every Organ’ During Autopsies Of COVID-19 Patients by OAN Newsroom
This 2020 electron microscope made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention image shows
the spherical coronavirus particles from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. (C.S. Goldsmith, A. Tamin/CDC via AP)
    A new study has discovered more about the effects of COVID-19 on the human body.
    According to researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, autopsies of COVID-19 patients have revealed extensive blood clotting.
    Pathologists have said they expected to find clotting in the lungs, but scans showed a more generalized effect with excessive clotting appearing in almost every major organ.
    “Clotting was not only in the large vessels, but also in the smaller vessels,” explained Dr. Amy Rapkiewicz.    “This was dramatic, because although we may have just expected it in the lungs, we found it in almost every organ we looked at in our autopsy study.”
    The study also revealed the presence of bone marrow cells outside of bones and lungs.    Officials suggested this could help explain the body’s response to the coronavirus and why excessive clotting arises as a result of the disease.

7/13/2020 China Raises Flood Alert To Second Highest Level
FILE PHOTO: People swim near a pavilion partially submerged in floodwaters on the banks of the Yangtze
River, following heavy rainfall in Wuhan, Hubei province, China July 8, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
    BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China raised its flood response alert on Sunday to the second highest level as heavy rain battered regions along the Yangtze River, with the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Jiangxi among the worst hit, state media reported.
    Flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi pushed water levels of Lake Poyang, China’s biggest freshwater lake, to above 22.52 metres (74 feet), a historical high and well above the alert level of 19.50 metres (64 feet).
    By Saturday evening, provincial military authorities had dispatched thousands of soldiers to help bolster nearly 9 km (6 miles) of the lake’s banks, state television said.
    China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level one representing the most severe.
    So far this year, some 141 people have died or gone missing in the floods, which have ravaged 3.53 million hectares (8.72 million acres) of farmland and flattened 28,000 homes.    Economic losses total 82.23 billion yuan ($11.75 billion), state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday.
    According to the Ministry of Water Resources, 212 rivers have exceeded alerting levels since early July, with 19 of them rising to historical highs.
    China has blamed unusual weather conditions, including humidity carried from the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, as the immediate cause, but it has also said long-term changes in climate patterns have made it more vulnerable.
(Reporting by Liangping Gao in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Frances Kerry)

7/13/2020 U.S., China, UAE Plan Mission To Mars by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Wednesday, May 6, 2015 file photo, Sarah Amiri, deputy project manager of the United Arab Emirates
Mars mission, talks about the project named “Hope,” or “al-Amal” in Arabic, which is scheduled for launch in 2020,
during a ceremony in Dubai, UAE. Three countries — the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates — are
sending unmanned spacecraft to the red planet in quick succession beginning in July 2020. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)
    Multiple countries are planning a joint effort to explore Mars.    Beginning this week, the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates all plan to send unmanned space craft to Mars in an attempt to discover signs of life.
    The ships will travel 300 million miles and arrive in February 2021 to try and discover what Mars was like billions of years ago.
    The timing of all the take-offs has to do with a rare occurrence when Mars and Earth align on the same side of the sun.
    “Planet Earth only gets the opportunity to launch to Mars every 26 months because that’s when Earth and Mars are aligned such that you can cut down on travel time and take the minimum amount of fuel and energy to get there.” — Marcia Dunn, Cape Canaveral correspondent – Associated Press
    If China and the United Arab Emirates land on Mars, it will be their first successful mission to the red planet.

7/14/2020 Humanoid Clerk Helps To Cut Red Tape In Russia
A female human-like robot assists a visitor at a multi-functional document processing centre in the city of
Perm, Russia July 9, 2020. The robot produced by Promobot service robotics manufacturer, which received
its generalized face looks following the research and analysis of Russian women's appearance, currently
works at the multipurpose centre as a clerk in test mode. Promobot/Handout via REUTERS
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – A human-like robot designed to look and act like a female clerk has started providing services to the public at a government office in Siberia.
    The humanoid, with long blond hair and brown eyes, is serving customers in Perm, a city 1,100 km (680 miles) east of Moscow.
    So far it only helps with issuing certificates to testify that people have a clean criminal record and no record of drug use, documents required in Russia to complete various legal transactions.
    The robot has been designed to look like an average Russian woman, the company behind the project Promobot said.    Its facial features were generated by artificial intelligence based on analysing the appearance of several thousand females.
    The robot, which wears the registry office uniform of white shirt and brown waistcoat, can recreate more than 600 human facial expressions by moving its eyes, eyebrows and lips and other mechanical muscles covered with artificial skin, Promobot said.
    The robot can ask and answer generic questions and is connected to a scanner and a printer.    It also has access to a document database and fully replaces a registry office employee, the head of the registry office, Leonid Gromov said.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Maria Vasilyeva; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

7/15/2020 White Castle hires robot - ‘Flippy’ will help reduce human-to-food contact by Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY
    White Castle has plans to usher robots into the kitchen.
    The burger chain announced a partnership with the artificial intelligence firm Miso Robotics on Tuesday.    Under the collaboration, White Castle will deploy Flippy, a hamburger flipping robot, later this year.
    The idea is to reduce human contact with food during the cooking process and comes after many restaurants were crippled due to the pandemic, White Castle said in a statement.
    “The deployment will put autonomous frying to work for enhanced production speeds, improved labor allocation and an added layer of health and safety in the cooking process,” the burger chain said.
    The restaurant didn’t address how many workers could be displaced by robots, though it did say that “team members can be redeployed to more customer-experience driven tasks.”
    White Castle has 365 restaurants nationwide and is well-known for its sliders, which you can buy frozen from supermarkets.    Founded in 1921, White Castle is also one of the oldest fast food chains in the U.S.
    Miso Robotics claims to have created the “world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills over time.”
    Flippy might look familiar.
    In 2018, the robotic arm turned over chicken tenders and tater tots at Dodger Stadium and flipped burgers at Caliburger in Los Angeles.    The robot was pulled from Caliburger temporarily after launching because it was too slow.
    White Castle will get an updated version of the robot called Flippy ROAR. The original robotic arm worked from a fixed position.     Flippy ROAR, or robot on a rail, extends from above and can slide along a line of kitchen equipment.
    Miso Robotics had previously said that the robot can automatically detect the temperatures across the fryer, monitor the cooking process and display the cooking time on a screen.
    White Castle expects to deploy at least one robot this fall.    If successful, the brand will expand its use of Flippy.
White Castle plans to deploy the robot Flippy to reduce human contact with food amid the coronavirus pandemic. COURTESY OF THE LA DODGERS

7/15/2020 Flash Floods Kill At Least 16, Displace Hundreds In Indonesia
Officers evacuate victims in Radda Village, following flash floods that left several dead and dozens
remain missing, in North Luwu in Sulawesi, Indonesia July 14, 2020. Antara Foto/Indra/ via REUTERS
    JAKARTA (Reuters) – Flash floods and landslides have killed at least 16 people and displaced hundreds in a district on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, officials at the country’s disaster mitigation agency said on Wednesday.
    Search and rescue officials were still looking for 23 people missing after the floods struck the North Luwu district of South Sulawesi province, said Raditya Jati, a spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency.
    In one village, photographs showed a damaged house and a truck partially submerged under thick mud, while a runway at a local airport was also swamped by mud and debris.
    “I hope we will be united in our recovery efforts,” Nurdin Abdullah, the governor of South Sulawesi, said on Kompas TV.
    Heavy rains had inundated three nearby rivers for several days prompting the evacuation of 655 people due to the floods, officials at the local disaster mitigation agency and search and rescue agency told Reuters.
    Indonesia frequently suffers from floods and landslides particularly during the rainy season, though the situation is often made worse by the cutting down of forests.
    Flooding also killed 66 people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January, amid some of the heaviest rain since records began.
(Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Editing by Ed Davies)

7/15/2020 NASA Chief Says Russia Ties ‘Solid’ As Moscow’s Space Chief Rejects U.S.-Led Moon Program by Joey Roulette
FILE PHOTO: NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to the media during a prelaunch briefing before the launch
of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 booster rocket from Pad39A at the
Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Tuesday he still expected support from Russia’s space corporation in its Artemis moon program despite Moscow’s space chief slamming the U.S.-led lunar effort.
    Bridenstine said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday “the relationship between NASA and Roscosmos is solid” and emphasized that international partners will play a key role in NASA’s plan to land humans on the lunar surface by 2024 and construct a space station orbiting the moon.
    “I’ve got a good relationship with Dmitri Rogozin, so I’m hopeful that there are opportunities for us to continue to collaborate,” Bridenstine said, referring to the general director of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos.    But Rogozin called the moon program in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda on Monday a “political project” and likened it to NATO, the Western military alliance Russia has long shunned.
    “With the lunar project, we are witnessing the departure of our American partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that have developed with the ISS,” Rogozin said. “    Frankly speaking, we are not interested in participating in such a project.”    The Trump administration in May unveiled an international pact called the Artemis Accords, aiming to leverage its existing relationships on the International Space Station and welcoming agreements with “like-minded” countries to help build a long-term presence on the moon under current international space law.
    NASA expects Russia to deliver its offer of an airlock for the Lunar Gateway, a planned outpost in lunar orbit to be built by a mix of private companies and countries and a key piece to the Artemis program.
    For two decades the U.S. space relationship with Russia has been largely insulated from geopolitics on Earth, party due to NASA’s reliance on Soyuz launch vehicles for trips to the space station.    NASA is now preparing to fly its astronauts on new space capsules from SpaceX and Boeing Co.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; editing by Bill Tarrant and Gerry Doyle)

7/15/2020 Japanese Robot To Clock In At A Convenience Store In Test Of Retail Automation by Tim Kelly
Staff members of Telexistence check the copmany's shelf-stacking avatar robot, designed to resemble a kangaroo and developed to
work in a convenience store, during a photo opportunity ahead of its unveiling in Tokyo, Japan July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato
    TOKYO (Reuters) – In August, a robot vaguely resembling a kangaroo will begin stacking sandwiches, drinks and ready meals on shelves at a Japanese convenience store in a test its maker, Telexistence, hopes will help trigger a wave of retail automation.
    Following that trial, store operator FamilyMart says it plans to use robot workers at 20 stores around Tokyo by 2022.    At first, people will operate them remotely – until the machines’ artificial intelligence (AI) can learn to mimic human movements.    Rival convenience store chain Lawson is deploying its first robot in September, according to Telexistence.
    “It advances the scope and scale of human existence,” the robot maker’s chief executive, Jin Tomioka, said as he explained how its technology lets people sense and experience places other than where they are.
    The idea, dubbed telexistence, was first proposed by the start up’s co-founder, University of Tokyo professor Susumu Tachi, four decades ago.
    Their company has received funding from technology investment company Softbank Group and cell phone service operator KDDI in Japan, with overseas investors including European passenger aircraft maker Airbus SE.    It dubbed its robot the Model T, a nod to the Ford Motor car that began the era of mass motoring a century ago.     Its quirky design is meant to help shoppers feel at ease because people can feel uncomfortable around robots that look too human.
    Robots are still a rare sight in public.    Although they can outperform humans in manufacturing plants built around them, they struggle with simple tasks in more unpredictable urban settings.
    Solving that performance problem could help businesses in industrialised nations, particularly those in rapidly ageing Japan, cope with fewer workers.    Firms hit by the coronavirus outbreak may also need to operate with fewer people.
    Since the outbreak started, hotels, restaurants and even gas and oil companies have contacted Telexistence, Tomioka said.
    “It’s difficult to tell now what impact robots might have in restaurants – it could mean fewer people, but it could also create new jobs,” said Niki Harada, an official at Japan’s Restaurant Workers Union.
    Using human operators with virtual reality goggles and motion-sensor controls to train its machines slashes the cost of retail robotics compared with complex programming that can cost 10 times more than as the hardware and take months to complete, Telexistence says.
    Although FamilyMart will still need humans to control its robots, operators can be anywhere and include people who would not normally work in stores, said Tomohiro Kano, a general manager in charge of franchise development.
    “There are about 1.6 million people in Japan, who for various reasons are not active in the workforce,” he said.
    Future telexistence robots could also be used in hospitals so doctors could perform operations from remote locations, predicted Professor Takeo Kanade, an AI and robotics scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, who joined Telexistence in February as an adviser.
    It might take another 20 years before robots can work in people’s homes, however, he said.
    “In order for robots to be really usable at home we really have to be able to communicate.    The fundamental thing that is lacking is knowing how humans behave.”
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; additional reporting by Kevin Buckland. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

7/16/2020 Mind blown: Universe is about 13.8 billion years old by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, according to new research recently published by an international team of astrophysicists.
    While this estimate of the age of the universe had been known before, in recent years, other scientific measurements had suggested instead that the universe may be hundreds of millions of years younger than this.
    The scientists studied an image of the oldest light in the universe to confirm its age of 13.8 billion years.
    This light, the “afterglow” of the Big Bang, is known as the cosmic microwave background and marks a time 380,000 years after the universe’s birth when protons and electrons joined to form the first atoms.
    Obtaining the best image of the infant universe helps scientists better understand the origins of the universe, how we got to where we are on Earth, where we are going, how the universe may end and when that ending may occur, according to a statement from Stony Brook University.
    “We are restoring the ‘baby photo’ of the universe to its original condition, eliminating the wear and tear of time and space that distorted the image,” explained Stony Brook astrophysicist Neelima Sehgal, a co-author on the papers.
    “Only by seeing this sharper baby photo or image of the universe, can we more fully understand how our universe was born,” Sehgal said.
    By using observations from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile, the new findings match the measurements of the Planck satellite data of the same ancient light.
.     The ACT team estimates the age of the universe by measuring its oldest light.    Other scientific groups take measurements of galaxies to make universe age estimates.
    The new research adds a fresh twist to an ongoing debate in the astrophysics community about the age of the universe, said Simone Aiola, first author of one of the new papers on the findings, in a statement from Princeton University.
    “Now we’ve come up with an answer where Planck and ACT agree,” said Aiola, a researcher at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York City.    “It speaks to the fact that these difficult measurements are reliable.”

7/16/2020 Greta Thunberg Demands ‘Crisis’ Response To Climate Change by Matthew Green
FILE PHOTO: Climate change activist Greta Thunberg speaks during a Fridays for
Future protest in Turin, Italy December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    LONDON (Reuters) – Swedish activist Greta Thunberg urged European leaders on Thursday to take emergency action on climate change, saying people in power had practically “given up” on the possibility of handing over a decent future to coming generations.
    In an open letter also signed by several thousand people, including climate scientists, economists, actors and activists, the 17-year-old called for countries to start treating climate change and ecological breakdown “like an emergency
    The letter was made public ahead of a European Council summit on Friday, where countries in the 27-member EU will try to reach a deal on the bloc’s next budget and a recovery package to respond to the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Demands in the letter included an immediate halt to all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, in parallel with a rapid ending of fossil fuel subsidies.
    It also called for binding annual “carbon budgets” to limit how much greenhouse gas countries can emit to maximise the chances of capping the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5C, a goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
    “We understand and know very well that the world is complicated and that what we are asking for may not be easy. The changes necessary to safeguard humanity may seem very unrealistic,” the letter said.
    “But it is much more unrealistic to believe that our society would be able to survive the global heating we’re heading for, as well as other disastrous ecological consequences of today’s business as usual.”
    The letter called for climate policies to be designed to protect workers and the most vulnerable and reduce economic, racial and gender inequalities, as well as moves to “safeguard and protect” democracy.
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

7/16/2020 Floods Ravage Eastern India As Coronavirus Infections Surge
One-horned rhinos move to higher grounds in the flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park in
Nagaon district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika
    GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Monsoon floods have swamped large parts of India’s densely populated eastern states, forcing more than a million people into makeshift shelters despite the risk of coronavirus, senior officials said on Thursday.
    Torrential annual rains are crucial for agriculture in South Asia, but this year India is also grappling with the virus, which has infected 968,875 people and killed 24,915, health authorities say.
    The floods have killed at least 10 people and injured more than 70 in the states of Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand, where heavy rain has submerged thousands of villages in the past 24 hours as authorities battle to ensure social distancing in relief camps.
    “We have floods taking a deadly turn and simultaneously we are fighting the pandemic spreading its tentacles everywhere,” Assam’s health minister, Hemant Biswa Sarma, told Reuters.
    At a time when world attention is focused on the crisis in the United States and South America, a human tragedy is swiftly unfolding in South Asia, said John Fleming of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
    “COVID-19 is spreading at an alarming rate in South Asia, home to a quarter of humanity,” said Fleming, the group’s head of health in the Asia-Pacific region, referring to the contagious respiratory disease.
    “India alone is nearing 1 million infections in coming days.”
    Officials said that swathes of Assam’s Kaziranga National Park had been submerged with at least 50 wild animals dead, while some rhinos had strayed into villages, adding to the hazards relief and rescue workers face.
    The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of the one-horned rhinoceros.
(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open in an external browser.)
(Reporting by Zarir Hussain in Guwahati, Saurabh Sharma in Lucknow and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Rupam Jain; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

7/16/2020 Flash Floods Kill At Least 30 In Indonesia
People walk over fallen trees and mud after flash floods swept through the village of Radda, as several people were killed and dozens remain
missing in North Luwu, South Sulawesi, Indonesia July 15, 2020. Picture taken July 15, 2020. Abriawan Abhe/Antara Foto/via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – Flash floods and landslides killed at least 30 people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and left hundreds displaced, authorities said on Thursday.
    Fifteen people remain missing, Indonesia search rescue agency spokesman Yusuf Latif said in a statement.
    The flash floods struck the North Luwu district of South Sulawesi province after heavy rain on Monday caused three nearby rivers to burst. More than 4,000 residents were affected.
    Dramatic TV footage showed dozens of houses partially submerged by thick mud up to their roofs.
    Indonesia frequently suffers from floods and landslides, particularly during the rainy season, though the situation is often made worse by the cutting down of forests.
(Reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Alex Richardson)

7/17/2020 Climate change blamed again - Study says Siberian heat wave caused by humans by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The extreme heat in the Siberian Arctic from January to June would have been “almost impossible” without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to a new analysis by a team of leading climate scientists.
    June 20 hit 100 degrees for an Arctic record.
    The analysis, published Wednesday, showed that prolonged heat such as Siberia experienced this year would happen less than once in every 80,000 years without human-induced climate change – “making it almost impossible in a climate that had not been warmed by greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.
    Climate change increased the chances of the prolonged heat by a factor of at least 600.
    “The findings of this rapid research – that climate change increased the chances of the prolonged heat in Siberia by at least 600 times – are truly staggering,” study lead author Andrew Ciavarella, a scientist at the UK Met Office, said in a statement.
    “This research is further evidence of the extreme temperatures we can expect to see more frequently around the world in a warming global climate,” he said.    “Importantly, an increasing frequency of these extreme heat events can be moderated by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
    To reach their conclusions, scientists used 70 climate models running thousands of complex simulations comparing current conditions with a world without man-made warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
    “This study shows again just how much of a game changer climate change is with respect to heat waves,” said study co-author Friederike Otto, acting director of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.    “Given that heat waves are by far the deadliest extreme weather events in most parts of the world, they must be taken very seriously.”
    Researchers said the heat worsened widespread wildfires, pest outbreaks and the thawing of permafrost, which led to a massive pipeline oil spill.
    Thawing permafrost has the potential to release huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped under the frozen ground, which could worsen the warming, scientists said.
    Scientists said that without rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, extreme heat waves could become frequent by the end of the century.
    “The climate of the future is very different, as this paper shows,” said Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor David Titley, who wasn’t part of the research.    “We can either adapt or suffer.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
Children play in the Krugloe Lake outside Verkhoyansk, Sakha Republic, about 2,900 miles northeast of Moscow. Russia's
meteorological service said the thermometer hit 100.4 degrees June 20 in Verkhoyansk. OLGA BURTSEVA/AP

7/17/2020 Chinese Soldiers And Locals Unite To Battle Torrential Rains by OAN Newsroom
    In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese paramilitary policemen form a line to move sandbags to reinforce a dyke
along the banks of Poyang Lake in Poyang County in eastern China’s Jiangxi Province, Sunday, July 12, 2020. (Cao Xianxun/Xinhua via AP)
    The People’s Liberation Army of China has been helping villagers in an eastern Chinese province prepare for torrential rains.    1,500 soldiers arrived early last week amid major flooding throughout Jiangxi’s Poyang County.
    A nearby river began to overfill and was at risk of spilling into the farmland, where it could ruin crops.
    Soldiers and locals quickly went to work on building an embankment to hold the water back.
    “Perhaps this is the purpose of being a soldier,” stated soldier Xia Zenghui.    “Once you change into this uniform, you feel like you are duty bound to come here.”
    Locals and soldiers continue to work together to protect villages in danger due to record rains and flooding throughout eastern China.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, floodwaters flow past a residential building in Qijiang
District of Chongqing Municipality, southwest China on July 1, 2020. (Chen Xingyu/Xinhua via AP)
    The heavy flooding throughout the region has also disrupted supply chains, limiting the shipment of personal protective equipment out of Wuhan to combat to coronavirus.

5/17/2020 Symptom Tracker App Reveals Six Distinct Types Of COVID-19 Infection
FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model
structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the
coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – British scientists analysing data from a widely-used COVID-19 symptom-tracking app have found there are six distinct types of the disease, each distinguished by a cluster of symptoms.
    A King’s College London team found that the six types also correlated with levels of severity of infection, and with the likelihood of a patient needing help with breathing – such as oxygen or ventilator treatment – if they are hospitalised.
    The findings could help doctors to predict which COVID-19 patients are most at risk and likely to need hospital care in future waves of the epidemic.
    “If you can predict who these people are at Day Five, you have time to give them support and early interventions such as monitoring blood oxygen and sugar levels, and ensuring they are properly hydrated,” said Claire Steves, a doctor who co-led the study.
    Besides cough, fever and loss of smell – often highlighted as three key symptoms of COVID-19 – the app data showed others including headaches, muscle pains, fatigue, diarrhoea, confusion, loss of appetite and shortness of breath.
    The outcomes also varied significantly; some got mild, flu-like symptoms or a rash and others suffered acute symptoms or died.
    The study, released online on Friday but not peer-reviewed by independent scientists, described the six COVID-19 types as:
1 ‘Flu-like’ with no fever: Headache, loss of smell, muscle pains, cough, sore throat, chest pain, no fever.
2 ‘Flu-like’ with fever: Headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, loss of appetite.
3 Gastrointestinal: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, sore throat, chest pain, no cough.
4 Severe level one, fatigue: Headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness, chest pain, fatigue.
5 Severe level two, confusion: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain.
6 Severe level three, abdominal and respiratory: Headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion, muscle pain, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, abdominal pain.
    Patients with level 4,5 and 6 types were more likely to be admitted to hospital and more likely to need respiratory support, the researchers said.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

7/19/2020 Floods In India, Nepal Displace Nearly Four Million People, At Least 189 Dead by Zarir Hussain and Gopal Sharma
FILE PHOTO: Girls row a makeshift raft past submerged houses at a flood-affected village in Karbi Anglong
district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika
    GUWAHATI, India/KATHMANDU, Nepal (Reuters) – Nearly four million people in India’s northeastern state of Assam and neighbouring Nepal have been displaced by heavy flooding from monsoon rains, with dozens missing as deaths rose to at least 189, government officials said on Sunday.
    The overflowing Brahmaputra River, which flows through China’s Tibet, India and Bangladesh, has damaged crops and triggered mudslides, displacing millions of people, officials said.
    More than 2.75 million people in Assam have been displaced by three waves of floods since late May that has claimed 79 lives after two more deaths were reported overnight, a state government official said.
    “The flood situation remains critical with most of the rivers flowing menacingly above the danger mark,” Assam water resources Minister Keshab Mahanta told Reuters.
    Assam is facing the twin challenge of combating floods and the coronavirus pandemic.    Out of 33 districts, 25 remained affected after the current wave of flooding, beginning a fortnight ago.
    India is grappling with the novel coronavirus, which has infected nearly 1.1 million people and 26,816 have died from the COVID-19 disease, government data showed on Sunday.
    In neighbouring Nepal, the government asked residents along its southern plains on Sunday to remain alert as heavy monsoon rains were expected to pound the Himalayan nation where more than 100 have died in floods and landslides since June, officials said.
    Some 110 people were killed and another 100 injured as landslides and flash floods washed or swept away homes, upended roads and bridges and displaced hundreds of others in 26 of the country’s 77 districts, police said.
    Home ministry official Murari Wasti said the death toll was expected to rise as 48 people were still missing.
    “Search and rescue teams are looking for those who are missing in different places but chances of finding them alive are slim,” Wasti told Reuters.
    Barun Paudel of the weather forecasting office in the capital, Kathmandu, said heavy rains were expected to pound much of the mainly mountainous nation in the next four days.
    “We have urged residents to remain alert against possible landslides and floods,” he said.
    Landslides and flash floods are common in Nepal, India’s Assam and Bihar states during the June-September annual rainy season.
(Reporting by Zarir Hussain in Guwahati, Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu; Writing by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

7/21/2020 Floods Kill Scores In India’s Tea-Growing Assam; Nine Rhinos Drown by Zarir Hussain
A boy transports a pot on a makeshift raft through a flooded area in Morigaon district,
in the northeastern state of Assam, India, July 20, 2020. REUTERS/David Talukdar
    GUWAHATI,India (Reuters) – Intense rain and floods in the Indian state of Assam have killed at least 84 people and displaced more than 2.75 million since May, authorities said on Monday, as they tried to collect the bodies of nine rare rhinos drowned in the past 10 days.
    Rescue teams were facing a double challenge of rising flood waters amid the novel coronavirus as villagers driven from their homes huddle in shelters.
    “It’s hard to enforce social distancing when people are being ordered to move away from the rising waters,” said Sanghamitra Sanyal, a member of the northeastern state’s flood management force.
    “We’re urging people to at least cover their mouth and nose with a piece of clean cloth.”
    Officials warned that the water level in the Brahmaputra river was expected to rise by 11 cm (4.3 inches), two weeks after it burst its banks swamping more than 2,500 villages.
    Assam, famous for its tea plantations, is hit by flooding every rainy season despite flood-control efforts.
    Rights groups accuse corrupt officials of siphoning off funds meant for flood projects, resulting in shoddy construction of embankments which are often breached.
    Floods have also inundated the Kaziranga National Park, home to the world’s largest concentration of one-horned rhinoceros, with an estimated 2,500 out of a total population of some 3,000 of the animals.
    “Nine rhinos have drowned and over 100 other animals have been killed,” Atul Bora, Assam’s agriculture minister who is Kaziranga’s member of the state parliament, told Reuters.
    With the park waist-deep in water, rhinos, elephants and deer have been forced to seek refuge on roads and in human settlements.
(Writing by Rupam Jain; Editing by Robert Birsel)

7/21/2020 Italian Coastguard Struggle To Free Sperm Whale From Fishing Net
Italian coastguard divers work to free a sperm whale caught in a fishing net at sea north of the Sicilian Aeolian
Islands in this still image taken from a video, July 19, 2020. Italian coastguard/Handout via REUTERS
    ROME (Reuters) – The Italian coastguard has been working for days to free a massive sperm whale caught in an abandoned fishing net in open sea off the Sicilian Aeolian Islands.
    The whale was spotted on Saturday struggling to get free of a net usually used for fishing illegally for swordfish.
    The coastguard said in a statement that operations were hampered by the large size of the whale, which had become highly agitated.
    Due to its energetic efforts to free itself, the whale had been given the name “Fury.”
    It is the second time in less than a month that the Italian coastguard has had to intervene to free a sperm whale tangled in a fishing net.
    “These damn fishing nets are doing huge damage.    I haven’t slept in 36 hours … divers managed to take off some of the net but then it started to move and it became too dangerous,” biologist Monica Blasi told daily newspaper La Repubblica.
    Blasi said they attached a light to Fury’s tail so as not to lose sight of it as they tried to remove the rest of the net.
(Reporting by Cristiano Corvino and Antonio Denti; writing by Angelo Amante; editing by Giles Elgood)

7/21/2020 Nvidia Partners With University Of Florida To Build AI Supercomputer
    (Reuters) – Nvidia Corp and the University of Florida have partnered to build the world’s fastest artificial intelligence based-supercomputer in higher education, the chipmaker said on Tuesday.
    The $70 million project comprises a $25 million gift from the company that includes hardware, software as well as training in addition to $45 million from the university and its alumnus Chris Malachowsky, who co-founded Nvidia.
    The university will also enhance its current supercomputer, HiPerGator, with Nvidia chips and have it functional by early 2021.
    Nvidia was long known as a supplier of graphics chips for personal computers to make video games look more realistic, but researchers now also use its chips inside data centers to speed up artificial intelligence computing work such as training computers to recognize images.
(Reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

7/22/2020 Study: Climate change could kill polar bears by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    All but a few polar bears in the Arctic will likely be gone by the end of the century, a new study suggests, unless measures are taken to reduce the production of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
    The bears’ habitat of sea ice is predicted to decline to such an extent that the animals will be deprived of food.
    “Ultimately, the bears need food and in order to have food, they need ice,” Péter Molnár, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough and one of the authors of the study, told CNN.    “But in order for them to have ice, we need to control climate change.”
    Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt, and when the ice is absent, they are forced onto land where they cannot find food.    As Arctic sea ice declines in response to warming temperatures, the bears must fast for longer periods.
    Prolonged fasting periods have been linked to reduced body condition, reproduction and survival in some polar bear populations, the study found.    Continued sea ice loss ultimately threatens polar bear survival Arctic-wide.

7/22/2020 China Evacuates Thousands After Floods Threaten Villages
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the flooded Gu town following heavy rainfall in the region,
in Luan, Anhui province, China July 20, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China has evacuated thousands of residents after a landslide blocked a river and created a barrier lake that threatened to submerge neighbouring villages, as large parts of the country reeled under some of the heaviest rainfall in decades.
    The landslide occurred on Tuesday when 1.5 million cubic metres of earth fell into a tributary of the Yangtze river near the city of Enshi in Hubei province, the Xinhua news agency said, citing local flood control authorities.
    China’s state weather bureau said on Wednesday that the country was hit by fresh rounds of torrential rain this week, further raising flood risks throughout the country.
    Red alerts have been declared in the provinces of Anhui and Jiangxi, which are bisected by the Yangtze.    China’s water resources ministry also warned on Tuesday that water levels in the Yangtze and adjoining lakes would continue to rise.
    Ministry officials said they needed to keep a close eye on water levels at the Three Gorges Dam, which has been storing huge volumes of water in order to ease downstream flood risks and is now 16 metres higher than its official warning level.
    China’s giant dams, designed to contain floods and generate electricity, have come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks.    While officials have talked up their role in reducing flood peaks, critics say they not only fail to protect against extreme weather but also end up cutting flood storage capacity.
    Dams block the flow of sediment and reduce the ability of downstream flood plains and wetlands to absorb flood waters, said Darrin Magee, a professor at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges who specialises in China’s water issues.
    The need to generate power can also undermine flood control efforts, he added.
    “Flood control requires retaining water, and power production requires letting it out,” he said.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry)

7/22/2020 Student Files First Climate Change Lawsuit Against Australian Government by Swati Pandey
FILE PHOTO: A lone tree stands near a water trough in a drought-affected paddock on Jimmie and May McKeown's property
located on the outskirts of town of Walgett, in New South Wales, Australia, July 20, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – A 23-year-old student has filed a lawsuit against Australia’s government alleging it has failed to disclose climate change-related risks to investors in the country’s sovereign bonds, in the first such action.
    According to the litigation filed on Wednesday, Kathleen O’Donnell claims investors who buy Australian government bonds should be made aware of the risks due to climate change that might make it difficult for Australia to pay back its debt.
    A spokeswoman for Australia’s Treasurer told Reuters the government was aware of the lawsuit.
    “Legal representatives are considering the matter. As it concerns current court proceedings the government will not make any comment,” the spokeswoman said.
    The litigation comes amid a global call for a “green” recovery in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic and as many large investment managers pledge their commitment for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 across their entire portfolio.
    Climate change has long been a hot button issue in Australia, becoming even more so since last summer when intense wildfires raged for about four months across large parts of the country, killing 33 people and millions of animals.
    “Australia is materially exposed and susceptible” to climate change risks, according to the statement filed with the Federal Court of Australia in Victoria state.
    “Accordingly, (a) those risks are material to an investor’s decision to trade in exchange-traded Australian government bonds (e-AGBs) and (b) an investor is entitled to be informed of those risks.”
    O’Donnell is seeking declaration that the government breached its duty of disclosure and an injunction restraining further promotion of e-AGBs until it complies.
    Australia has more than A$600 billion ($428 billion) of sovereign bonds on issue, enjoying a coveted ‘AAA’ rating from all three major ratings agencies.
    The country contributes only 1.3% of the world’s carbon emissions but is the second-largest emitter per capita behind the United States and is a leading exporter of coal.
    Climate change-related disclosures have become more mainstream globally in the past couple of years, with stake holders expecting better disclosures and transparency on climate risks.
    Global financial authorities are also pushing banks to improve transparency on their exposure to climate-change risks, arguing that disclosures on climate exposure are a prerequisite for market participants – an issue referenced in O’Donnell’s litigation.
    “As a promoter, the Commonwealth (government) owes a duty of utmost candour and honesty to investors who acquire or intend to acquire e-AGBs,” according to the statement filed in court.
    “The Commonwealth breached its duty as a promoter by … failing to disclose any information about Australia’s climate change risks.”
(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel)

7/22/2020 Greek Firefighters Battle Forest Blaze Near Seaside Village
A firefighting plane makes a water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Kechries, Greece, July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Vassilis Triandafyllou
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek firefighters brought in reinforcements from across the country on Wednesday to help control a large forest fire fanned by strong winds near the seaside village of Kechries in the eastern Peloponnese, fire brigade officials said.
    Authorities said they had been forced to evacuate a residential settlement as the blaze, burning through pine trees, came close to a military camp where explosives were stored.
    Thick dark smoke clouded the area, with the front of the blaze moving south in very windy conditions.
    “The blaze is fanned by strong winds, we have recommended the evacuation of three settlements.    So far there are no injuries or damage to homes,” a fire brigade official said earlier.
    Authorities had preventively evacuated the “Summerfun” camp, taking children to a safer area near the village’s beach.
    More than 70 firefighters were battling the blaze, assisted by five helicopters and two planes, with volunteers also helping. Late in the evening, reinforcements arrived from northern Greece. Winds had dropped but the fire was still active on several fronts, witnesses said.     The chief of Greece’s fire brigade had travelled to the area to coordinate efforts, with reinforcements also heading there.
Kechries, a village in the municipality of Corinth, takes its name from the ancient port town of Kenchreai.    A beauty spot surrounded by lush forest, it is very popular with local bathers.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Alex Richardson and Leslie Adler)

7/23/2020 Powerful 7.8 magnitude quake hits Alaska isles by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A powerful 7.8 earthquake that hit in the waters off the Alaska Peninsula late Tuesday and triggered a tsunami warning sent residents fleeing for high ground over fears of threatening waves before an all clear was given.
    The 7.8 magnitude quake struck Tuesday at 10:12 p.m. local time and was centered in the ocean about 65 miles south-southeast of Perryville, Alaska.
    A tsunami warning that was issued for much of coastal Alaska, including southern Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands, was called off about two hours later with no serious damage reported.
    “No reports of any damage,” Kodiak Police Sgt. Mike Sorter told The Associated Press early Wednesday.    “No injuries were reported. Everything is nominal.”
    The National Tsunami Warning Center said in calling off the warning that “a tsunami was generated by this event, but no longer poses a threat.”    The center added that some sea level change may still occur in the area and that people should not return to hazard zones until local officials say it is safe.
    According to the Anchorage Daily News, some people in Anchorage, the state’s most populous city, received tsunami warning alerts though the area was not at risk.
    But some people in Anchorage did feel the earthquake’s power.
    “This is a very significant earthquake in size,” Michael West, a state seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center, told the Anchorage Daily News.
    West told the newspaper that while the type of earthquake felt on Tuesday was typical for Alaska, “these are the style of earthquakes which can be very tsunami-producing.”
    Many residents in the areas that were issued warnings fled for shelters and evacuated as sirens blared.    Many gathering at shelters donned masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
    High schools on Kodiak Island opened their doors for evacuees, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
    “We’ve got a high school full of people,” said Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak School District.    “I’ve been passing out masks since the first siren sounded,” he told the newspaper.
    LeDoux, who grew up in Kodiak, was nonchalant about the warning, telling the Anchorage Daily News, ”I’ve been doing these since I was a little kid. ... Old news.”
Contributing: The Associated Press

7/23/2020 3 Dangerous Storms Expected To Hit U.S. This Weekend by OAN Newsroom
Elia Estevez, left, and Jose Estevez, of Island Park, N.Y., walk in the rain during
a visit Long Beach, Friday, July 10, 2020. (Chris Ware/Newsday via AP)
    Three severe storms have been growing this week and are expected to make landfall by the weekend.
    Tropical Depression Eight has been forming in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to bring heavy rains to the western coast of Texas. Officials have issued storm warnings from Port Mansfield to High Island.
    The tropical depression could become Tropical Storm Hanna if winds reach over 39 miles per hour.    Residents fear the tropical depression will cause major flooding in parts of Central and South Texas.
    In the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Douglas has created winds of over 120 miles per hour and is moving west-northwest towards Hawaii.    The storm is about 1,500 miles away from the Hawaiian Islands and officials have been monitoring the hurricane closely.
    Douglas is expected to remain strong, bringing winds and heavy rains to the the islands by Sunday.    Hawaii has been advised to remain on high alert until Monday.
    In the Atlantic, the fate of Tropical Storm Gonzalo remains uncertain.    Officials have predicted the tropical storm will turn into a hurricane before reaching the Caribbean on Saturday.
    Authorities have warned the storm could lead to life-threatening flash floods on the Windward Islands if it reaches land.
    Meteorologists have issued weather advisories in the all affected areas for the remainder of the week.

7/24/2020 Greek Firefighters Battle Forest Blaze For Second Day Near Seaside Village
A firefighting plane makes a water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Kechries, Greece, July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Costas baltas
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek firefighters on Thursday battled a wind-driven forest fire that burned through pine forest and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near the seaside village of Kechries in the eastern Peleponnese, officials said.
    Thick smoke billowed above treetops licked by flames as more than 236 firefighters tackled the blaze, assisted by four helicopters, eight planes municipal staff and volunteers.
    “The fire burned olive and pine trees in a thick forest.    Distressing to see residents running around with hoses, it’s a sad picture,” Anastasis Giolis, vice-prefect of Corinth told state TV ERT.
    The fire lightly damaged three homes at the nearby villages of Athikia and Alamano and destroyed one fire truck, without causing any injuries to residents or firefighters.
    Officials said they had been forced to order the evacuation of six residential compounds and one summer camp.
    Overnight the blaze moved near the villages of Galataki and Agios Ioannis, with thick smoke clouding the area.    The Greek fire brigade chief was still in the area to coordinate efforts, officials said.
    On Wednesday authorities evacuated settlements as the blaze had come close to a military camp where explosives were stored.    They also preventively evacuated the “Summerfun” camp, taking children to a safer area near the village’s beach.
    Kechries, a village in the municipality of Corinth, takes its name from the ancient port town of Kenchreai.    A beauty spot surrounded by lush forest, it is very popular with local bathers.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Vassilis Triantafyllou, Editing by William Maclean)

7/25/2020 Record Numbers Of Coronavirus Cases In Every Global Region: Reuters Tally by Jane Wardell
FILE PHOTO: A nurse works inside a field hospital builtÊon a soccer stadium in Machakos, as the number of confirmed coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in Kenya, July 23, 2020. Picture taken July 23, 2020.REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Almost 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week, around double the number that did so the previous week, according to a Reuters tally showing a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world.
    The rate of cases has been increasing not only in countries like the United States, Brazil and India, which have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks, but in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel, among others.
    Many countries, especially those where officials eased earlier social distancing lockdowns, are experiencing a second peak more than a month after recording their first.
    “We will not be going back to the ‘old normal’. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this week.    “We’re asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions – because they are.”
    The Reuters data, compiled from official reports, shows a steady rise in the number of countries reporting record daily increases in the virus that causes COVID-19 over the past month.    At least seven countries recorded such increases three weeks ago, rising to at least 13 countries two weeks ago to at least 20 countries last week and to 37 countries this week.
    The true numbers of both cases and deaths are almost certainly underreported, particularly in countries with poorer health care systems, health experts and officials say. For this report, the Reuters data was restricted to countries that provide regular daily numbers.
    A surge in cases usually precedes a rise in deaths by a couple of weeks.
    The United States remains at the top of the case list, this week passing more than 4 million cases and recording more than 1,000 deaths for four consecutive days.    Brazil and India – which epidemiologists say is still likely months from hitting its peak – have also exceeded 1 million cases.
    The data reveals a growing number of resurgent cases in countries across all regions.
    In Australia, officials enforced a six-week partial lockdown and made face masks mandatory for residents in the country’s second-largest city, Melbourne, after a fresh outbreak.
    Australia and Japan, which also posted a daily case record this week, both warned of a rise in infections among young people, many of whom celebrated the end of social restrictions at bars and parties.
    In Mexico, which also posted a daily record this week and has the fourth-highest death toll of any country, officials warned that a downward trend in case numbers that began in mid-June – about the time the city began relaxing social distancing measures – could reverse.
    Based on the rate of hospital admissions over the past week, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said, hospitalisation levels by October could exceed those registered in June, the height of the pandemic.
    “It is important to recognise that if we do not change the trend, there could be exponential growth,” she said.
    In Europe, where the summer vacation season is in full swing, a new daily record figure in Spain is likely to deter tourists from visiting one of the continent’s most popular destinations.
    In Africa, Kenya recorded a record high daily case number less than two weeks after reopening activity, including domestic passenger flights.    President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had announced international flights would resume on Aug. 1, has summoned officials to an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the surge in cases.
    In the Middle East, Oman imposed new restrictions that begin on Saturday in addition to a two-week lockdown that will overlap the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha after reporting a record number of cases.
(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by William Mallard)

7/25/2020 Parts Of U.S. Brace For Hurricanes, Tropical Storms This Weekend by OAN Newsroom
This GOES-17 taken at 3:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday, July 23, 2020, shows Hurricane Douglas,
right, churning in the Pacific Ocean heading towards Hawaii, left. (NOAA via AP)
    Parts of the U.S. are preparing for extreme weather ahead of two approaching hurricanes and one tropical storm, which are expected to reach land this weekend.
    In Texas, Hurricane Hanna is gaining strength.    It was predicted to hit the western coast on Saturday afternoon with winds speeds of over 75 miles per hour.
    Meteorologists are also concerned about potential flooding in some areas.
    In the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Gonzalo could become a hurricane. It is currently headed for the Windward Islands.
    Meanwhile, in Hawaii, residents are bracing for Hurricane Douglas.    The state’s governor declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard earlier this week to support preparations for the storm.
    “Hurricane Douglas is the first major hurricane in the 2020 hurricane season.    We do know that the forecast and models show it coming over the Hawaiian Islands. We anticipate significant wind, rain, flooding impact, as well as storm surge along the east facing shores.” – David Ige, Governor of Hawaii
    Locals in these affected areas have been advised to shelter in place as the storms approach.

7/26/2020 Tropical Storm Hanna Weakens After Making Landfall As Hurricane In South Texas by OAN Newsroom
Water splashes as cars move along Weslayan Street near Bissonnet, Saturday,
July 25, 2020, in Houston. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Severe weather conditions are expected to continue in parts of Texas as the region grapples with Tropical Storm Hanna.    The system first made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday before being downgraded on Sunday morning.
    Its first touchdown was on Padre Island, which is not far from Corpus Christi.    It made landfall again near Kenedy County, which is closer to Mexico.
    Hanna ripped across the coast, moving west, and topped out at a maximum wind speed of 90 miles per>

Debris floats around damaged boats in a marina after it was hit by Hurricane Hanna, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in
Corpus Christi, Texas. About 30 boats were lost or damaged in the storm at the marina. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
    Communities across the Texas Gulf Coast have issued flash flood warnings and preliminary damage reports.    More than 180,000 customers of American Electric Power also lost power throughout South Texas.
    Governor Greg Abbott has already issued a disaster declaration for 32 counties in an effort to hopefully carry out a speedy response to the fallout.

7/27/2020 Engineer’s Best Friend: How A Dog-Like Robot Is Helping Ford Retool Plants
Boston Dynamics' dog-like robot Fluffy uses lasers to scan the Ford Van Dyke Transmission Plant to help engineers come up
with a computer-aided design plan to retool the plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, U.S., in this undated handout photo. Ford Motor Company/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – It runs, walks, and prances, rhythmically tapping its four feet before it sinks down on its haunches and crouches.
    Despite its name, Fluffy has no fur.    But the bright yellow robot, leased by Ford Motor Co from Boston Dynamics Inc, can fetch pictures and videos of a car factory with its five ‘eyes’ to help engineers design upgrades for workspaces.
    With an accurate camera scan, “we can build those pieces within the workstation, and we can see if there’s any interferences or if everything new is going to fit,” said Mark Goderis, Ford’s advanced manufacturing center digital engineering manager.
    Fluffy, controlled by an engineer with a handheld device, can travel up to 3 miles per hour (4.8 kph) for about two hours on its battery.
    Fluffy can also ride ‘Scouter,’ a small round robot, through a factory to save power, while the two companions gather data. Wherever Scouter cannot glide into, Fluffy can fill in the gaps.
    The automaker is testing the robots at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan.    The robots’ scans cost a fraction of the $300,000 needed for engineers to walk over millions of square feet in a factory to set up cameras on a tripod, Ford said in a statement.
    But the new engineers are just helpers, Goderis said.
    “Our goal isn’t to displace any of the workforce,” he said, but “automating our processes and making the engineers and people that work for our company more efficient and effective in building quality products.”
    Boston does not provide lease terms but Fluffy’s robot model, named ‘Spot,’ can be purchased for $74,500.
(Produced by Reuters TV; Writing by Richard Chang; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

7/28/2020 Woolly Mammoth Skeleton Found In Lake In Russia’s Arctic
FILE PHOTO: Specialists discover mammoth bones along the shore of Pechevalavato Lake in the Yamalo-Nenets
autonomous district, Russia July 22, 2020. Government of Yamalo-Nenets District/Handout via REUTERS
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian scientists are poring over the stunningly well-preserved bones of an adult woolly mammoth that roamed the earth at least 10,000 years ago, after local inhabitants discovered its remains in the shallows of a north Siberian lake.
    Part of its skull, several ribs and foreleg bones, some with soft tissue still attached to them, were retrieved from Russia’s remote Yamal peninsula above the Arctic circle on July 23.    Scientists are still searching the site for other bones.
    Similar finds in Russia’s vast Siberian region have happened with increasing regularity as climate change warming the Arctic at a faster pace than the rest of the world has thawed the ground in some areas long locked in permafrost.
    Scientists circulated images in December of a prehistoric puppy, thought to be 18,000 years old, that was found in the permafrost region of Russia’s Far East in 2018.
    The mammoth remains are at least 10,000 years old, although researchers don’t yet know exactly when it walked the earth or how old it was when it died, said Dmitry Frolov, director of the Scientific Centre for Arctic studies.
    Researchers have found mammoth fossils dating from up to 30,000 years ago in Russia, he said.
    Yevgeniya Khozyainova, a scientist from a local museum, said it was unusual to find so many bones belonging to a single species and to know where they came from.
    “Of course, we’d like to find the remaining parts, to understand how complete a find it is.    Whenever there is soft tissue left behind, it is valuable material to study,” she said.
(Reporting by Dmitriy Turlyun; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

7/28/2020 Virgin Galactic Shows Off New Space Plane’s Cabin by Joey Roulette
The interior cabin of billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism firm Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is
seen in an artist's rendition released July 28, 2020. Virgin Galactic/Handout via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism firm Virgin Galactic revealed the interior of its centerpiece space plane on Tuesday, showing off a cabin with new custom seats and a “space mirror” in a virtual tour of what its passengers can expect to experience on flights to the edge of space.
    For $250,000 a ticket, passengers who have signed up for the suborbital flight aboard the air-launched plane VSS Unity will strap into six tailored, teal-colored seats and can peer out of the cabin’s 12 circular windows as they ascend some 60 miles (97 km) above Earth.    The plane has five other windows up front.
    “We have amazing seats that will be tailored to each person, and that move during the flight to maximize people’s comfort,” Virgin Galactic Chief Space Officer George Whitesides told Reuters, adding that passengers can unbuckle themselves at peak altitude to float around the cabin in zero-gravity conditions.
    The company has 600 customers signed up to fly and more than 400 more who have expressed interest, Whitesides said.    The company has not set a firm date for its first commercial space flight, with its British founder Branson expected to be aboard.
    The cabin, revealed in a virtual-reality headset the company provided to journalists, also features a large, circular mirror in the back “to allow our customers to see themselves in space in a way that has really never been done before,” Whitesides said.
    The plane, attached to a bigger carrier plane, is intended to take off from the company’s New Mexico spaceport and detach mid-air to launch further toward the edge of space in a trip lasting 90 minutes.
    Virgin Galactic went public in October after merging with Social Capital Hedosophia, the special-purpose acquisition vehicle run by early Facebook Inc executive and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Will Dunham)

7/29/2020 China’s Hengli Makes Bold $20 Billion Bet To Spin Coal Into Fabric by Chen Aizhu
FILE PHOTO: A worker drives a forklift past sacks of polyester-making chemicals, waiting to be shipped, at Hengli Petrochemical's new refining,
petrochemical complex at Changxing island in Dalian, Liaoning province, China July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu/File Photo
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – What to do with China’s abundant stock of coal?    Chemical giant Hengli plans to make clothes out of it.
    It may sound like something from ancient alchemy, but the privately-owned Chinese company surprised industry watchers in June when it said it was getting into mining with a $20 billion project to convert coal into polyester yarn, used in clothes, packaging and plastic bottles.
    The announcement was intriguing.    Coal is not a typical raw material for polyester and Hengli’s plan will be the world’s first of its kind in the China-dominated coal to chemical sector, where investment so far has totalled $85 billion according to the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation.
    It also comes after Hengli borrowed heavily to set itself up as an oil refiner, using crude to make polyester.
    The shift into coal, a major source of smog and climate-warming greenhouse gases, is at odds with a global push to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and will exact a heavy environmental price, according to industry analysts.
    But the project, which Hengli aims to have running by the end of 2025 in Shaanxi province, fits into Beijing’s enduring commitment to coal and will add Hengli to a roster of Chinese companies, including coal miner Shenhua Group and oil refiner Sinopec, which have moved into the coal to chemicals business.
(GRAPHIC – China’s capacities turning coal into olefin:
    “By picking Hengli, the country’s largest polyester producer with extensive reaches to the consumer textile market, it will help Shaanxi province efficiently develop its rich coal resource and grow the local economy,” said Zhu Fang, senior researcher at the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation, which represents over 400 oil and chemical firms.
    Hengli, as a Chinese company and one of the world’s largest polyester yarn producers, also stands a better chance of getting regulatory approvals for its plan, according to analysts.
    Officials from Yulin city, in Shaanxi province where Hengli plans to base its coal-to-polyester operations, approached the company first with the idea of setting up a plant there, according to company spokesman Li Feng, and it took about 10 months for Hengli and the city to reach a deal.
    An official inter-provincial alliance between economically lagging Shaanxi and coastal Jiangsu, China’s second wealthiest province, where Hengli is headquartered, may also help it gain regulatory support, as the project will generate jobs and boost local revenue, according to a Beijing-based executive from a rival company.
    Li, Hengli’s spokesman, declined to comment on the likelihood of regulatory approvals and said the project was about diversification from oil, full integration and economies of scale not politics.
    “With technological advances in the large-scale coal-to chemical plants, the cost of building and operating such a facility will become more and more competitive,” he said.
    Global rivals Dow Chemicals , Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) <2010.SE> and Total faced lengthy regulatory processes when they planned similar ventures in China.    Dow and Total ultimately abandoned their plans amid a range of challenges from financial and environmental cost to the competition from cheaper shale gas-based projects in the United States.

    If all goes as planned, the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission will launch an unmanned rover today from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rover will look for clues of ancient life in the dry bed of a vanished lake – and, for the first time, fly a small helicopter in the thin Martian air.
    The rover coasts for seven months to reach Mars
Jezero Crater
Centaur escapes Earth’s gravity
Fairings separate
Payload fairing Perseverance Rover
Laser microimager
Subsurface radar
Panoramic cameras Weather station
Interstage adapter Ingenuity helicopter 197 ft
46 in
Atlas booster Solar panel Solid boosters jettison
Solid rocket boosters Weight: 4 pounds
Battery/ sensors
RD-180 engine Flight time: 90 seconds per flight Thursday’s launch window: 7:50 to 9:50 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Weight: 2,260 pounds Caching assembly (Drills and collects samples)
SOURCE USA TODAY reporting; NASA; United Launch Alliance; Jet Propulsion Laboratory;;;;; USA TODAY research GRAPHIC BY KARL GELLES, GEORGE PETRAS AND RAMON PADILLA/USA TODAY

7/29/2020 NASA Prepares For Mars 2020 Mission Launch by OAN Newsroom
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will launch to Mars leaves the vertical integration facility, left, as it rolls out to Space Launch
Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
    On Wednesday, NASA officials detailed the upcoming historic mission to Mars.    NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine explained how the Perseverance Mars Rover was made possible by previous missions.
    The Perseverance is scheduled to launch to the red planet on Thursday.

A security guard is silhouetted near a display depicting rovers on Mars during
an exhibition in Beijing on Thursday, July 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
    The rover will have seven months to explore and document possible signs of life in an ancient lake, which scientists believe may have existed billions of years ago on the planet’s surface.
    “This is the first time in history where we are going to go to Mars with an explicit mission to find life on another world, ancient life on Mars.    Are we going to do that?    We don’t know, we don’t know if life existed there or not.    But we do know that Mars, at one point in its history, was habitable.    We don’t know if it was inhabited, but we know that it was habitable.” – Jim Bridenstine, Administrator for NASA
    The Mars 2020 Perseverance is part of larger “Moon to Mars” exploration, which will include missions to the moon to help prepare for human exploration of the red planet.

7/30/2020 Nearly One In Three Children Have Dangerous Amounts Of Lead In Bloodstream: Study by Mayank Bhardwaj
Men recycle electronic waste or e-waste from computers at a workshop in New Delhi, India, July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Nearly one in three children around the world have high levels of lead in their bloodstream, according to a new study, as widespread lead pollution puts millions of young people at risk of irreversible mental and physical damage.
    Some 800 million children had lead levels of 5 micrograms per decilitre or higher in their bloodstream, the study carried out by     United Nations agency UNICEF and environmental group Pure Earth showed, levels considered high enough to impair the development of brains, nervous systems and vital organs such as heart and lungs.
    The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the high levels of lead in children were a “cause for action,” according to the report, which cited inadequate battery recycling and open-air smelters among the lead polluters.
    “The unequivocal conclusion of this research is that children around the world are being poisoned by lead on a massive and previously unrecognized scale,” said the report released on Thursday.
    It cited a wide range of factors responsible for high levels of lead in children’s blood, from inadequate recycling of lead-acid batteries and homes with peeling lead paint to lead-laced electronic waste dumps and food contamination due to lead-glazed pottery.
    Lead-acid batteries could be a key culprit, with nearly 85% of the lead used worldwide going into their production, for use in telecommunications and power back-up equipment as well as conventional and electric vehicles.
    While more than 95% of the lead from batteries is recycled in the United States and Europe, developing economies lack the facilities to reuse the heavy metal, the study said.
    The report also said that the longer the toxin goes undetected in the bloodstream and remains untreated, the more dangerous and potentially lethal it becomes.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

7/31/2020 NASA rover is stepping stone to sending humans to Mars by Antonia Jaramillo, Florida TODAY USA TODAY NETWORK
    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – It’s the summer of Mars.
    In the past few weeks, two spacecraft have been launched to the Red Planet, and on Thursday, one more was sent.
    After the United Arab Emirates and China launched their spacecraft to Mars this month, the United States has gotten in on the action.
    United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, equipped with NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, launched Thursday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
    Perseverance would be NASA’s fifth rover to reach the Martian surface.
    Perseverance will bring the space agency one step closer in taking humans to Mars.
    “Perseverance is ... the bridge between science and human exploration that demonstrates how the two can support and reinforce each other,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, last week.
    “Basically, Perseverance will bring all human senses to Mars.    We’ll sense the air around it, see and scan the horizon, hear the planet with microphones on the surface for the first time,” Zurbuchen said.    “Perhaps even taste (the samples) ... as other instruments sample the chemistry and the rocks and soil around it.    As humans prepare for the greatest adventure here in (human) exploration of Mars, our robots can help.”
    Perseverance marks the first time the space agency attempts a samplereturn mission from Mars or from any other planet.
    Throughout its 10-year mission, the rover will search for past signs of extraterrestrial life by collecting and caching Martian rock samples.    Then, in 2026, a mission will send a sample return lander to collect the samples and return them to Earth for scientists to study.
    “It’s going to be the first launch off of the planet Mars,” Zurbuchen told FLORIDA Today, part of the USA TODAY Network, in February. “But we’re already thinking about how to launch off (Mars) with people, because that’s going to be the core piece of the crowning achievement of that Artemis program.”    Artemis is NASA’s program to head back to the moon by 2024.
    Aside from learning how to launch off another planet, NASA also needs to figure out how to sustain human life on Mars so the space agency can eventually send astronauts to the Martian surface, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Monday.
    One of the rover’s instruments, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment will seek to demonstrate how future explorers might produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere for propellant and for breathing.
An artist’s rendering of the new Mars Rover Perseverance, which is expected to reach the Red Planet in 2021. NASA

7/31/2020 Tropical Storm Isaias Upgraded To Category 1 Hurricane by OAN Newsroom
In this GOES-16 satellite image taken Friday, July 31, 2020, at 8:40 a.m. EDT.,
and provided by NOAA, Hurricane Isaias churns in the Caribbean.(NOAA via AP)
    Tropical Storm Isaias was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it made its way to Florida’s east coast this week.    The National Hurricane Center announced a new warning on Thursday night after Isaias barreled through the Dominican Republic.
    A hurricane warning is in effect for the Bahamas, while a tropical storm warning has been issued for Turks and Caicos.
    According to Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida will likely be impacted by intense winds and rain, even if the storm doesn’t make landfall.
    “While we can’t be certain of the exact track of the storm, and we certainly can’t be sure about the intensity it will ultimately reach, we do expect to see impacts to the state of Florida, even if the storm remains off our shore,” he stated.

In this image made from video, cars drive through high water on a road
in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Thursday, July 30, 2020. (AP Photo)
    Florida officials are taking extra precautions and expect the storm to pass the southeastern part of the state on Saturday afternoon with winds up to 85 miles per hour.
    The National Hurricane Center has predicted the storm could reach further north to the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states as the week goes on.

8/1/2020 Fires In Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest Surge In July, Worst In Recent Days by Jake Spring
FILE PHOTO: Billows of smoke rise over a deforested plot of the Amazon jungle in Porto Velho,
Rondonia State, Brazil, August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File/File Photo
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – The number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest jumped 28% in July from a year ago, official data showed on     Saturday, as some environmentalists warned a jump this week could signal a repeat of last year’s surging destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
    Brazil’s space research agency Inpe recorded 6,803 fires in the Amazon last month, up from 5,318 in July 2019.
    Although that is a three-year high for July, the figure pales in comparison to last year’s peak of 30,900 fires in August – a 12-year high for that month.
    Still, environmental groups say there are worrying signs of what may come, with the final days of the month showing a sharp spike.    More than 1,000 fires were registered on July 30, the highest number for a single day in July since 2005, according to an analysis by advocacy group Greenpeace Brasil.
    “It’s a terrible sign,” said Ane Alencar, science director at Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM).    “We can expect that August will already be a difficult month and September will be worse yet.”
    Environmental advocates blame right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening illegal loggers, miners and land speculators to destroy the forest with his vision of economic development for the region.    Bolsonaro defends his plans to introduce mining and farming in protected reserves as a way to lift the region out of poverty.
    This year, the president authorized a military deployment from May to November to combat deforestation and forest fires. He has also banned setting fires in the region for 120 days.
    In 2019, Brazil instituted the same temporary policies later in the year, only after fires in the Amazon provoked global outcry in August.
    Scientists say the rainforest is a vital defense against climate warming because it absorbs greenhouse gases.
    Non-government organization Amazon Conservation says it has tracked 62 major fires for the year as of July 30.    Many of those came after July 15, when the fire ban went into affect, indicating it has not been entirely effective, said Matt Finer, who leads the NGO’s fire tracking project.
    The overwhelming majority of large fires, where elevated levels of aerosols in the smoke indicate large amounts of burning biomass, happened in recently deforested areas, with none found in virgin forest, Finer said.
    Criminals generally extract valuable wood from the jungle before setting fire to the land to increase its value for farming and ranching. Natural fires are very rare in the Amazon.
    Deforestation hit an 11-year high in 2019 and has soared a further 25% in the first half of 2020.
    Earlier this month, scientists with U.S. space agency NASA said higher surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean in 2020 were drawing moisture away from the southern Amazon.
    “As a result, the southern Amazon landscape becomes dry and flammable, making human-set fires used for agriculture and land clearing more prone to growing out of control and spreading,” NASA said on its website.
    Fires are also worsening in the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands, adjacent to the southern Amazon.    In July, the number of blazes there more than tripled to 1,684 compared to the same month a year ago, according to INPE data, the most for that month since records began in 1998.
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Brad Haynes and Bernadette Baum)

8/2/2020 Tropical Storm Isaias Hits Bahamas, Heads Towards Fla. by OAN Newsroom
This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, at 9:40 a.m. EDT.,
and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Isaias over the Bahamas. (NOAA via AP)
    Tropical Storm Isaias, which was recently downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane, blew through the Bahamas on its way to Florida.    State officials have closed beaches, parks and coronavirus testing sites in preparation for the storm, which killed power and snapped trees in its path.
    According to reports, Isaias had maximum sustained wind speeds of 80 miles per hour on Saturday morning.    The center of the storm moved over the Grand Bahama island on Saturday and is expected to crawl up Florida’s eastern coast over the rest of the weekend.
    Residents have expressed concerns about the storm amid the pandemic.
    “I feel that the public is really panicking because it’s a hurricane and we’re in the middle of a pandemic.    We thought that we had enough with corona(virus).    Then a hurricane is coming. So, people are panicking even more about it.” – Natalie Betancur, Palm Beach resident
Dozens of utility trucks are lined up to be processed by Florida Power & Light at Daytona
International Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
    Although the Bahamas’ National Emergency Agency gave the all clear on Sunday, officials urged caution where weather could still pass through.
    The governor of Florida encouraged residents to stay alert after the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm.    Ron DeSantis also asked residents to have a week’s supply of water, food and medicine on hand, as the state is anticipating massive power outages.

8/2/2020 Apple Fire Forces Thousands To Evacuate In Southern California by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters watch the Apple Fire in Banning, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    A fast-moving wildfire in Southern California has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.
    The Apple Fire blaze, which erupted Friday in Riverside County, has burned more than 20,000 acres and remains 0% contained.

An air tanker drops fire retardant at the Apple Fire in Cherry Valley, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    Roughly 8,000 people have been ordered to evacuate the area.    Two structures and one house have reportedly been destroyed.
    No injuries have been reported, but the Red Cross has been requested on scene.
A firefighter battles the Apple Fire in Banning, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    In the meantime, 1,200 firefighters are still working to put out the blaze.    Dozens of engines and air support teams are also on scene.

8/3/2020 Astronauts splash down after historic SpaceX trip by Emre Kelly, Florida Today USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA
    After a roughly two-month stay on the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley returned home in a history making SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
    Sunday afternoon, the spacecraft made a safe splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
    From there, Behnken and Hurley are headed to Johnson Space Center in Houston.
    The mission, officially designated SpaceX Demo-2, was a demonstration flight of SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft, and the return leg of the trip marked the final stage in the more than 60-day flight to the International Space Station. The mission marked the first time in nearly a decade that NASA astronauts launched from U.S. soil to the ISS.
    Behnken and Hurley launched from the Kennedy Space Center in May when a Falcon 9 rocket boosted the Dragon spacecraft into orbit 250 miles above the Earth.
    The splashdown is NASA’s first in 45 years.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken prepare to return to Earth on the
SpaceX capsule. Sunday’s splashdown was the first in 45 years for NASA. AP

8/3/2020 Scientists Inspired By ‘Star Wars’ Create Artificial Skin Able To Feel by Joseph Campbell
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain.
    The device, dubbed ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, is made up of 100 small sensors and is about 1 sq cm (0.16 square inch) in size.
    The researchers at the National University of Singapore say it can process information faster than the human nervous system, is able to recognise 20 to 30 different textures and can read Braille letters with more than 90% accuracy.
So humans need to slide to feel texture, but in this case the skin, with just a single touch, is able to detect textures of different roughness,” said research team leader Benjamin Tee, adding that AI algorithms let the device learn quickly.
    A demonstration showed the device could detect that a squishy stress ball was soft, and determine that a solid plastic ball was hard.
    “When you lose your sense of touch, you essentially become numb… and prosthetic users face that problem,” said Tee.
    “So by recreating an artificial version of the skin, for their prosthetic devices, they can hold a hand and feel the warmth and feel that it is soft, how hard are they holding the hand,” said Tee.
    Tee said the concept was inspired by a scene from the “Star Wars” movie trilogy in which the character Luke Skywalker loses his right hand and it is replaced by a robotic one, seemingly able to experience touch sensations again.
    The technology is still in the experimental stage, but there had been “tremendous interest,” especially from the medical community, Tee added.
    Similar patents developed by his team include a transparent skin that can repair itself when torn and a light-emitting material for wearable electronic devices, Tee said.
(Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

8/3/2020 Carolinas Prepare For Tropical Storm Isaias by OAN Newsroom
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper gives an update on North Carolina’s preparations for Tropical Storm Isaias during a press
conference in the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)
    The National Hurricane Center has predicted Tropical Storm Isaias will strengthen into a hurricane again when it approaches the Carolinas.
    North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) declared a state of emergency in preparation for the storm, which is expected to hit the state either Monday night or Tuesday morning.
    Residents have been ordered to evacuate inland where they could stay in a hotel or at an emergency shelter.    Cooper assured there would be different sheltering options available for those who tested positive for COVID-19.
    “Just because it’s now categorized as a tropical storm doesn’t change its potential threat,” he stated.    “I’ve declared a state of emergency and we have received federal emergency declaration for 25 counties so far.”
    A hurricane warning has been issued for parts of the Carolinas and a tropical storm warning has been extended as far north as Rhode Island.

8/3/2020 Next Big COVID-19 Treatment May Be Manufactured Antibodies by Deena Beasley
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo
    (Reuters) – As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, the next big advance in battling the pandemic could come from a class of biotech therapies widely used against cancer and other disorders – antibodies designed specifically to attack this new virus.
    Development of monoclonal antibodies to target the virus has been endorsed by leading scientists.    Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, called them “almost a sure bet” against COVID-19.
    When a virus gets past the body’s initial defenses, a more specific response kicks in, triggering production of cells that target the invader.    These include antibodies that recognize and lock onto a virus, preventing the infection from spreading.
    Monoclonal antibodies – grown in bioreactor vats – are copies of these naturally-occurring proteins.
    Scientists are still working out the exact role of neutralizing antibodies in recovery from COVID-19, but drugmakers are confident that the right antibodies or a combination can alter the course of the disease that has claimed more than 675,000 lives globally.
    “Antibodies can block infectivity.    That is a fact,” Regeneron Pharmaceuticals executive Christos Kyratsous told Reuters.
    Regeneron is testing a two-antibody cocktail, which it believes limits the ability of the virus’ to escape better than one, with data on its efficacy expected by late summer or early fall.    “Protection will wane over time.    Dosing is something we don’t know yet,” said Kyratsous.
    The U.S. government in June awarded Regeneron a $450 million supply contract.    The company said it can immediately begin production at its U.S. plant if regulators approve the treatment.
    Eli Lilly and Co     Even with that unusual cooperation among rivals, manufacturing these medicines is complex and capacity is limited.    There is also a debate over whether a single antibody will be powerful enough to stop COVID-19.
    AstraZeneca said it plans to start human trials of its dual-antibody combination within weeks.
    Lilly, which began human testing in June of two antibody candidates in separate trials, is focusing on a one-drug approach.
    “If you need a higher dosage or more antibodies, fewer people can be treated,” Lilly Chief Scientific Officer Dan Skovronsky said.
    Unlike vaccines, which activate the body’s own immune system, the impact of infused antibodies eventually dissipates.
    Still, drugmakers say monoclonal antibodies could temporarily prevent infection in at-risk people such as medical workers and the elderly.    They could also be used as a therapeutic bridge until vaccines become widely available.
    “In a prophylactic setting we think we may achieve coverage for up to six months,” said Phil Pang, chief medical officer of Vir Biotechnology, which aims to start testing an antibody in non-hospitalized patients next month with partner GSK.
    “The advantage of an antibody is that it is basically instant immunity,” said Mark Brunswick, senior vice president at Sorrento Therapeutics, which aims to begin human trials next month of a single antibody candidate.
    Safety risks for monoclonal antibodies are considered low, but their cost can be quite high.    These type of drugs for cancer can cost over $100,000 a year.
    There is also concern that the coronavirus could become resistant to specific antibodies.    Researchers are already at work on second-generation compounds with targets other than the crown-like spikes the virus uses to invade cells.
    “We are trying to develop something that is complementary,” Amgen research chief David Reese said.    Amgen is working with Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp.
    Researchers in a recent paper published in the journal Nature said they had discovered several new, very potent, antibodies directed to an area where the virus attaches to human cells and to a region of the spike that has not attracted attention.
    “To avoid development of resistance you want to target different sites,” study author and Columbia University professor David Ho told Reuters.
    There are also questions about when in the course of the illness it might be best to employ these new weapons.
    “Giving an antibody later on after infection might not be that helpful, said Florian Krammer, microbiology professor at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine."    “Given early, they probably work well.”
(Reporting By Deena Beasley, editing by Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot)

8/4/2020 Flash Floods Kill Two In Thailand, Storm Heads For Myanmar
FILE PHOTO: Soldiers evacuate villagers affected by heavy rain at Muang district
in Loei province, Thailand, August 2, 2020. Royal Thai Army/Handout via REUTERS
    BANGKOK (Reuters) – Flash floods killed at least two people and swept through hundreds of houses in northern Thailand, authorities said after tropical storm Sinlaku dumped heavy rains on 18 provinces over the weekend.
    Muddy, waist-high waters poured into homes in rural areas on Sunday.    Soldiers used small boats to rescue villagers and handed out aid packs in Loei, the worst-hit province.
    By Monday morning, residents in rubber boots were out clearing debris from the storm that uprooted trees, pulled down electricity poles and tore sheet roofs from some buildings.
    “The flood came very fast, my family couldn’t grab anything,” said Rattiya Panich as she cleaned her house. Two people died, according to the interior ministry.
    Sinlaku also hit Laos and Vietnam, where it killed another two people on Sunday in the provinces of Hoa Binh and Quang Ninh, Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reported.
    Authorities there warned that heavy rains might cause landslides and flash flooding in Vietnam’s northern mountainous provinces.
    Some parts will see up to 400 mm of rainfall from Monday to Wednesday, the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority said.
    The storm was moving towards Myanmar on Monday, Thailand’s meteorological department said.
(Reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan; Additional reporting by Phuong Nguyen and Khanh Vu in Hanoi; Editing by Martin Petty and Andrew Heavens)

8/4/2020 Hundreds Of Koreans Flee As Floods Trigger Landslides, Sweep Away Cars
A couple looks at a flooded Han River park in Seoul, South Korea, August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
    SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s longest spell of monsoon rain in seven years triggered floods that have forced more than 1,000 people to flee their homes and killed at least 13 people in landslides and swept-away cars, authorities said on Tuesday.
    Heavy rain, that has also battered China, Thailand, Myanmar and India in recent days, inundated farmland and flooded parts of key highways and bridges in the capital, Seoul.
    President Moon Jae-in expressed concern for public workers battling the coronavirus pandemic after 42 days of rain, which weather officials said was the longest such stretch since 2013.
    He urged “all-out efforts to prevent further loss of life” by national and regional authorities, such as action to avert landslides and evacuate people, even in cases of little apparent danger.
    Most of the flooded roads and bridges along the Han River in central Seoul that had backed up traffic and damaged infrastructure were back in operation on Tuesday, the Yonhap news agency said.
    In neighbouring North Korea, state media warned of possible flooding, saying that some areas were also experiencing heavy rainfall.
    “All the sectors of the national economy, including the agricultural sector, are taking steps to prevent damage from the downpour,” state news agency KCNA said on Tuesday, saying that some areas were predicted to receive as much as half a metre (20 inches) of rain.
    Citing unidentified South Korean government officials, Yonhap said North Korea opened the floodgates of a border dam on Monday without advance notice to its neighbour.
(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Sangmi Cha, and Josh Smith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

8/4/2020 Diesel Vehicle Malfunction Sparked ‘Apple Fire’ In Southern Calif. by OAN Newsroom
A firefighter watches the Apple Fire in Banning, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    Officials in Southern California have determined the cause of a wildfire that has continued to rage in part of the region.
    In a statement Monday, Riverside County officials said the ‘Apple Fire’ was caused after a diesel-fueled vehicle malfunctioned and emitted burning carbon from its exhaust.
    The blaze has burned more than 31-square-miles in the mountains east of Los Angeles and was only seven-percent contained as of Tuesday morning.    Evacuation orders have also been issued for more than 7,000 people.
    Officials have said the hot weather and rough terrain are making it hard to contain the fire.
    “That whole mountainside is covered with those heavy fuels, coupled with the steep terrain,” said Capt. Fernando Herrera, Public Information Officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.    “That’s inaccessible at certain points, even for our dozers, it’s hard for them to maneuver at such steepness.”
    Officials have also said newly added coronavirus precautions have made it difficult to treat people at evacuation centers.
A firefighter with a bulldozer works on a fire line at the Apple Fire in Banning, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

8/5/2020 Global Coronavirus Deaths Exceed 700,000, One Person Dies Every 15 Seconds On Average by Lisa Shumaker
A funeral home worker waits for the funeral of a person who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as the
outbreak continues, at La Bermeja cemetery in San Salvador, El Salvador August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
    (Reuters) – The global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 700,000 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico leading the rise in fatalities.
    Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from COVID-19 on average, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the past two weeks.
    That equates to 247 people per hour, or one person every 15 seconds.
    The United States and Latin America are the new epicenters of the pandemic and both are struggling to curb the spread of the virus.
    The coronavirus was initially slower to reach Latin America, which is home to about 640 million people, than much of the world.    But officials have since struggled to control its spread because of the region’s poverty and densely packed cities.
    More than 100 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean live in slums, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.    Many have jobs in the informal sector with little in the way of a social safety net and have continued to work throughout the pandemic.
    The United States, home to around 330 million people, has also been battered by the virus despite being one of the richest nations in the world.
    The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Monday said states with high coronavirus case counts should reconsider imposing lockdown restrictions, emphasizing the need to get cases to a low baseline before the fall flu season.
    Even in parts of the world that had appeared to have curbed the spread of the virus, countries have recently seen single-day records in new cases, signaling the battle is far from over.    Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel all recently had record increases in cases.
(Open for a Reuters interactive graphic) (Reporting by Lisa Shumaker; editing by Jane Wardell)

8/5/2020 Typhoon Hagupit Causes Flooding, Forces Hundreds To Evacuate In Eastern China by OAN Newsroom
This Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, satellite image released by NASA shows Typhoon Hagupit over Taiwan,
center left. (NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) via AP)
    Typhoon Hagupit struck Eastern China on Tuesday, causing major flooding.    The typhoon hit Pan’an County with intense rain and strong winds, which caused rivers to overflow and flood into homes.
    Nearly 150 residents of a local village and almost 700 tourists were forced to evacuate.
    Winds were reportedly so strong they knocked down a 600-year-old tree.
    Officials have declared a red alert for the county and urged people to shelter in place.
    “We went from home to home and asked the tourists at farmer’s inns to stay indoors and not to go out when (the) typhoon strikes,” explained local official Lyu Hangshuai.
    As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no reports of major injuries.

8/5/2020 CDC Warns About Possible Acute Flaccid Myelitis Outbreak In 2020 by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This 2014 file electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
shows numerous, spheroid-shaped enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) virions. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Yiting Zhang/CDC via AP, File)
    The CDC has warned adults about a paralyzing condition that could affect their children this year.    The agency sent out a warning about acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) on Tuesday.
    The last outbreak of AFM was in 2018.    The illness typically peaks every other year.
    Officials expressed concern that adults will be unable to recognize the polio-like condition or might hesitate to visit a medical center due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Adults have been urged to immediately take children to a doctor if they show symptoms of sudden muscle weakness in their arms or legs.    The CDC remains unsure what exactly causes the illness.
    “Most patients had a cold-like illness or fever consistent with a viral infection less than a week before they developed arm or leg weakness,” stated Dr. Anne Schuchat.    “CDC will continue to investigate how enteroviruses, including EV-D68, might cause or trigger AFM.”
    During the last outbreak, almost all affected children were hospitalized due to the severity of their symptoms.

8/6/2020 SpaceX’s Mars test rocket makes 1st flight, landing upright
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX launched a prototype of its Mars rocketship hundreds of feet into the air, then landed it upright in a successful test flight.    The flight lasted barely 45 seconds and reached just 500 feet Tuesday night at the southeastern tip of Texas near Brownsville but was an important first for SpaceX’s Starship.    Some earlier tests ended in explosions on the pad.    SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said several more short hops are planned before a test version of Starship aims for a high altitude.

8/7/2020 Calif. Fire Season Destroys Thousands Of Acres, Forces Mass Evacuations by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters cools down their fire truck at the Apple Fire in Banning, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    Fire season is in full swing in California as the state battles three major wildfires.
    In Riverside and San Bernardino Counties the blaze dubbed ‘Apple Fire,’ which ignited last week, has burned through more than 28,000 acres so far.    Thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes, while the inferno has destroyed at least 12 structures.
    Evacuation warnings have been issued for Whitewater and Morongo Valley, in turn, uprooting many farmers’ livestock.    A main evacuation center has been set up in the nearby town of Yucaipa in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.
    In Kern County, which is north of Los Angeles, the ‘Stage Coach Fire’ sparked Monday and has since burned through more than 7,000 acres.    The inferno prompted evacuations in nearby towns and destroyed at least 13 structures, including 10 family homes.
    Many local residents have been apprehensive about leaving their homes, especially amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, local authorities have said leaving the area could be the difference between life and death.
    “We understand that people want to be with their home, their belongings, where they are comfortable, but we’re worried about their health, their safety, their life,” said Andrew Freeborn, a public information officer for the California Incident Management Team.     “And so, the decision is not made lightly.”
    Also in Kern County, the ‘Fort Fire’ began Thursday and has since covered more than 350 acres.    The blaze caused authorities to partially close down the I-5 freeway, though no structures were threatened.    That’s according to the Kern County Fire Department.

8/7/2020 Italian Valley Evacuated As Cathedral-Sized Glacier Slips
A segment of the Planpincieux glacier is seen on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif after renewed warnings that a big
portion of the glacier is at risk of collapse, in Aosta, Italy, August 5, 2020. Fondazione Montagna Sicura/Handout via REUTERS
    COURMAYEUR, Italy (Reuters) – A melting glacier as large as a cathedral is at risk of breaking apart due to a heatwave, forcing the evacuation of part of an Italian alpine valley.
    The alarm was raised on Wednesday afternoon when experts in helicopters realised that the Planpincieux glacier, at an altitude of about 2,800 metres in the Ferret Valley in the Mont Blanc massif, was slipping dangerously.
    A heatwave has created a layer of water under the glacier, which is made up of about 500 cubic metres of ice – roughly the size of the Milan cathedral – making it more prone to a break.
    “There is an enormous block of ice resting on the rock and the danger is that it could detach in an instant,” glacier expert Fabrizio Troilo told the Corriere della Sera newspaper’s website.
    About 75 residents and tourists in homes or hotels in hamlets in the threatened part of the valley were evacuated and police threw up roadblocks to prevent others from entering.
    The threatened part of the valley was divided into a “red zone” that could take a direct hit and a “yellow zone” that could suffer from shock waves caused by the displacement of air and other secondary effects.
    Many tourists in parts of the valley not directly threatened by an eventual collapse had already opted to leave, local officials said.
    “The season was going well despite the COVID pandemic,” Jacopo Nitri, who owns a small hotel in the area, told the Corriere.    “I had to send away 25 clients and cancel some reservations.    If the situation is not resolved in the next few days it will be a disaster.”
    A similar evacuation took place last September when the same glacier showed signs of instability and lasted several days.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams)

8/7/2020 Shark Activity On The Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic by OAN Newsroom
This image released by Discovery Channel shows a shark breaking through the water in a scene from “Shark Lockdown,” premiering
Sunday, Aug. 9, one of three programs kicking off Shark Week 2020 on the Discovery Channel. (Discovery Channel via AP)
    Shark activity is on the rise as a result of decreased human presence in oceans worldwide.    The filmmakers and scientists responsible for “Shark Week 2020” content all noticed a dramatic increase in the number of sharks they came across while filming.
    Researchers believe this increase can be attributed to a five decibel decrease in oceanic noise, which occurred as boating and shipping dissipated during the pandemic.
    “It really gave researchers a once in a lifetime opportunity to study the sharks and their behaviors without the influence of human activity on the water,” explained Discovery Channel producer Howard Swartz.
    This image released by Discovery Channel shows a scene from “Sharks of Neptune,”
airing Thursday as part of Shark Week 2020 on Discovery Channel. (Discovery via AP)
    Meanwhile, beach closures have resulted in fewer shark attacks in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic.
    In 2019, there were 101 shark attacks in the U.S. To date this year, there have only been 14.

8/7/2020 Peruvian Forest Fire Rips Through Andes Mountains, Killing 7 by OAN Newsroom
Image via SERNANP.
    A wildfire in the Andes Mountains has reportedly claimed the lives of at least seven people.    On Thursday evening, residents near Cusco, Peru fought back flames that tore through nearby pine forests.     Locals shoveled dirt and battled spot fires before emergency services arrived.    A joint effort between Peruvian police and forest fire rangers was able to contain the flames after a few hours.     Despite this, residents believe the damage has been done.     “We’re really worried about our plants, our forests,” stated one local.    “More than 300,000 planted pine trees, so much sacrifice that the people and the community took upon themselves, all for this.”
    According to local officials, as much as 50 acres of pine forest may have been affected by the fires.    The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

8/8/2020 SpaceX, United Launch Alliance Win Millions In Contracts With Pentagon by OAN Newsroom
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from pad 41 at the Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
    The Pentagon recently ramped up its efforts to advance U.S. launch programs by awarding millions in contracts to SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA).    The contracts came with a $653 million price tag and promised to deliver several launches between 2022 and 2026.
    60% of the liftoffs will be led by the ULA, while the remaining 40% will be SpaceX employed.    The launches are part of several national security missions that will be taking place over five years starting in 2022.
    Air Force representatives expressed they are excited to test ULA’s partially reusable rocket, as well as SpaceX’s fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
    The two aerospace companies beat out government contracted Northrop Grumman and Jeff Bezos’ owned Blue Origin for the deals.
    ULA and Spacex have already conducted several national security missions for the Air Force, which awarded them $12 billion in contracts between 2012 and 2019.
    According to reports, the new launches are expected to cost the military $1 billion each year.

8/9/2020 Canada’s last intact ice shelf collapses by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Canada’s last intact ice shelf has collapsed, researchers announced.
    A huge section of the Milne Ice Shelf, located on Ellesmere Island in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, collapsed into the Arctic Ocean, according to the Canadian Ice Service.    This created an “ice island” that’s about 30 square miles in size.
    For comparison, Manhattan Island is about 23 square miles.
    The ice service said on Twitter that “above-normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up.”
    The ice shelf has now been reduced in area by about 43%.
    An ice shelf is a thick slab, attached to a coastline and extending into the ocean, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).    “Some shelves persist for thousands of years,” the center said.
    Though the planet overall is warming due to climate change, the Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

8/9/2020 Five Killed As Thunderstorms Flood Greek Island Homes
A view of a destroyed house at the village of Bourtzi, following flash floods on the island
of Evia, Greece, August 9, 2020. Sotiris Dimitropoulos/Eurokinissi via REUTERS
    ATHENS (Reuters) – At least five people were killed when torrential rain and thunderstorms caused flash flooding on the Greek island of Evia over the weekend, officials said on Sunday.
    Most of the victims, including a baby, were found in or near their homes in Evia, northeast of Athens, fire brigade officials said.    Rescuers were still searching for two people who were reported missing.
    The fire department received hundreds of calls to pump water from homes and vehicles.
    Dozens were evacuated and eight people were rescued by helicopter as roads flooded an area where a river had burst its banks. Transport was widely disrupted.
    “Our thoughts are with the people who didn’t make it,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias, who visited the area, told reporters.
    “We are faced with phenomena that we haven’t experienced before,” he said.
    Hardalias said the damage caused by the storm was huge in certain areas of central Evia.    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was expected to visit the region on Monday.
    Twenty-four people were killed when flash floods hit the town of Mandra west of Athens in November 2017, and seven were killed in a freak storm in northern Greece in July 2019.
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by David Evans)

8/9/2020 Locals Try To Stop The Spread Of Leaking Oil Off East African Coast by OAN Newsroom
This photo taken and provided by Eric Villars shows oil leaking from the MV Wakashio, a bulk carrier ship that
recently ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (Eric Villars via AP)
    According to officials on the East African island nation of Mauritius, the oil spill on their coast is still a “very sensitive situation.”
    Containment efforts continued in the area on Sunday. Locals erected makeshift barriers, made of fabric sacks filled with sugar cane leaves, along the walls of the leaking ship.
    The incident occurred back in July after a Japanese ship, which was carrying nearly 4,000 tons of fuel, ran itself aground on a coral reef.    Since then, oil has been leaking into the Indian Ocean and beyond.
    “For the local people, it’s been terrible.    They are fishermen, they are boat operators, they are divers.    They live from the sea and they eat from the sea.    So, tourism will be affected for a long period of time, and they won’t be able to do any of that.    The government has had to close a school because of the smell.    It’s terrible, it’s detrimental to the health of the people there.” – Reuben Pillay, resident
This photo provided by the French Defense Ministry shows a French military transport aircraft carrying pollution
control equipment after landing in Mauritius island, Sunday Aug.9, 2020. (Gwendoline Defente/EMAE via AP)
    The small island nation has since declared an environmental emergency.    French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to send help.

8/10/2020 Global Coronavirus Cases Hit 20 Million: Reuters Tally by Gayle Issa
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker checks the temperature and pulse of a resident during a check-up camp for
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India, July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Global coronavirus cases pushed past 20 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil and India accounting for more than half of all known infections.
    The respiratory disease has infected at least four times the average number of people struck down with severe influenza illnesses annually, according to the World Health Organization.
    The death toll from COVID-19, meanwhile, at more than 728,000 has outpaced the upper range of annual deaths from the flu.
    The Reuters tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease is accelerating.    It took almost six months to reach 10 million cases after the first infection was reported in Wuhan, China, in early January.    It took just 43 days to double that tally to 20 million.
    Experts believe the official data likely undercounts both infections and deaths, particularly in countries with limited testing capacity.
    The United States is responsible for around 5 million cases, Brazil 3 million and India 2 million.    Russia and South Africa round out the top ten.
    The pandemic is accelerating fastest in Latin America which accounts for almost 28% of the world’s cases and more than 30% of deaths, according to the Reuters tally.
    With the first wave of the virus yet to peak in some countries and a resurgence of cases in others, governments are still divided in their responses.    Some countries are reintroducing strict public health measures, while others continue to relax restrictions.
    Health experts expect dilemmas about how to proceed with school, work and social life to last – and restrictions to fluctuate – until a vaccine is available.
    The vaccine race has more than 150 candidates being developed and tested around the world with 25 in human clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.
    In the United States, children began returning to their classrooms last week, even as controversy over school safety swirled.
    Britain has added both Spain and Belgium to a list of countries from which returning travellers must quarantine at home for 14 days because of fresh upticks in some European locations.
    In Asia, China continues to squash surges using strict, local lockdowns, bringing its daily numbers down into the low double digits on the mainland.
    Australia has introduced a strict lockdown and night curfew in the city of Melbourne, aiming to stifle an outbreak there.    Neighbouring New Zealand, where life has largely returned to normal, on the weekend recorded 100 days with no new cases of local transmission.
(To see a Reuters interactive, open this link in an external browser:
(Reporting by Gayle Issa; editing by Jane Wardell)

8/10/2020 Italian Valley Evacuated As Cathedral-Sized Glacier Slips
A segment of the Planpincieux glacier is seen on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif after renewed warnings that a big
portion of the glacier is at risk of collapse, in Aosta, Italy, August 5, 2020. Fondazione Montagna Sicura/Handout via REUTERS
(This August 7 story corrects total size of glacier in paragraph three (500,000 cubic meters, not 500)
    COURMAYEUR, Italy (Reuters) – A melting glacier as large as a cathedral is at risk of breaking apart due to a heat wave, forcing the evacuation of part of an Italian alpine valley.
    The alarm was raised on Wednesday afternoon when experts in helicopters realised that the Planpincieux glacier, at an altitude of about 2,800 metres in the Ferret Valley in the Mont Blanc massif, was slipping>     A heatwave has created a layer of water under the glacier, which is made up of about 500,000 cubic metres of ice – roughly the size of the Milan cathedral – making it more prone to a break.
    “There is an enormous block of ice resting on the rock and the danger is that it could detach in an instant,” glacier expert Fabrizio Troilo told the Corriere della Sera newspaper’s website.
    About 75 residents and tourists in homes or hotels in hamlets in the threatened part of the valley were evacuated and police threw up roadblocks to prevent others from entering.
    The threatened part of the valley was divided into a “red zone” that could take a direct hit and a “yellow zone” that could suffer from shock waves caused by the displacement of air and other secondary effects.
    Many tourists in parts of the valley not directly threatened by an eventual collapse had already opted to leave, local officials said.
    “The season was going well despite the COVID pandemic,” Jacopo Nitri, who owns a small hotel in the area, told the Corriere.    “I had to send away 25 clients and cancel some reservations.    If the situation is not resolved in the next few days it will be a disaster.”
    A similar evacuation took place last September when the same glacier showed signs of instability and lasted several days.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams)

8/10/2020 Kenya’s Famed Wildebeest Migration Begins Without Foreign Tourist Crowds by Jackson Njehiabr>
Wildebeests (Connochaetes taurinus) cross the Mara river during their migration to the greener pastures,
between the Maasai Mara game reserve and the open plains of the Serengeti, southwest of Nairobi, in the
Maasai Mara game reserve, Kenya August 9, 2020. Picture taken August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
    MAASAI MARA,Kenya (Reuters) – Normally, the magnificent plains of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve are crowded with international tourists hoping to see a lion hunt during the annual wildebeest migration – but this year COVID-19 means Kenyans had it all to themselves.
    That’s good news for animal watchers but bad for conservationists who rely on the funds to pay for rangers and protection.    By June, Kenya had already lost 80 billion Kenyan shillings ($740 million)in tourism revenue, about half of last year’s total, due to the coronavirus crisis.
    This weekend, thousands of mostly Kenyan visitors travelled to the park to witness the migration.    There were few foreigners – Kenya shut down international flights in March and only resumed them on Aug. 1.
    “Once I came here, my thought and my view about everything has changed. I am actually embarrassed that I have not come here the 29 years I have been alive,” tourist Patience Mumo said.     So far Kenya has just over 26,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 420 deaths.    Tourist resorts are required to observe strict social distancing and hygiene measures but have been allowed to reopen.
    “We are trying to revive the sector through the domestic tourism strategy.    And that is why we ask Kenyans … to support tourism,” Tourism and Wildlife Minister Najib Balala said.
    As part of that push, the government was using celebrities like Eliud Kipchoge, world marathon record holder, to showcase local attractions like the Mara.
    “What has impressed me is the terrain, the environment, the good air, the presence of animals,” Kipchoge told Reuters after having a jog with game rangers.
(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Giles Elgood)

8/11/2020 Indonesia’s Sinabung volcano ejects towering column of ash
    MEDAN, Indonesia – Indonesia’s rumbling Mount Sinabung erupted Monday, sending a column of volcanic materials as high as 16,400 feet into the sky and depositing ash on villages.    Falling grit and ash accumulated up to 2 inches in already abandoned villages on the volcano’s slopes, said Armen Putra, an official at the Sinabung monitoring post on Sumatra Island.    About 12.4miles from the crater, motorists switched on headlights in daylight to see through the ash.    There were no deaths or injuries reported.

8/11/2020 What You Need To Know About The Coronavirus Right Now
FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an illustration of a virus outside a regional science centre,
as the city and surrounding areas face local restrictions in an effort to avoid a local lockdown being forced upon
the region, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Oldham, Britain August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble
    (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Over 20 million cases
    Global coronavirus cases pushed past 20 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil and India accounting for more than half of all known infections.    The Reuters tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease is accelerating.
    Experts believe the official data likely undercounts both infections and deaths, particularly in countries with limited testing capacity.
Signs Australian outbreak subsiding
    Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, reported a small rise in new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, boosting hopes that case numbers are stabilising after a second wave forced authorities to send the city of Melbourne back into lockdown.
    Victoria state detected 331 new COVID-19 infections and 19 deaths in the past 24 hours, compared with 322 infections and the same number of fatalities a day earlier, health officials said.
    Authorities said the restrictions that will run until September are bearing fruit.    Outside the two largest states of Victoria and New South Wales, the virus has effectively been eliminated.
U.S. weekly death toll falls
    Deaths from COVID-19 fell last week after four weeks of increases, according to a Reuters tally of state and county reports.    About 7,200 people died last week, 26% below the previous week.
    And new cases have now fallen for three straight weeks, though the United States still accounts for a quarter of the global total of 20 million cases.
    Last week’s decline in new cases came largely from recent hot spots. For instance, new cases in Arizona fell by more than 48% in the last week, and on Aug. 9 the state reported fewer than 1,000 cases for the first time since June 29.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

8/12/2020 Sea Life Around Mauritius Dying As Japanese Ship Oil Spill Spreads by Duncan Miriri
A drone image shows the oil spillage near the area where the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but
Panamanian-flagged, ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Reuben Pillay
    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Mauritian volunteers fished dead eels from oily waters on Tuesday as they tried to clean up damage to the Indian Ocean island’s most pristine beaches after a Japanese bulk carrier leaked an estimated 1,000 tonnes of oil.
    The ship, MV Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, struck a coral reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25 and began leaking oil last week, raising fears of a major ecological crisis.
    Activists told Reuters that dead eels were floating in the water and dead starfish were marked by the sticky black liquid. Crabs and seabirds are also dying.
    “We don’t know what may happen further with the boat, it may crack more,” said clean up volunteer Yvan Luckhun.
    The MV Wakashio is still holding some 2,000 tonnes of oil and it is expected to eventually break up, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said late on Monday, warning that the country must brace for the worst.
    Tourism is a leading part of the Mauritius economy.    The government, which declared an emergency on Friday due to the spill, is working with former colonial ruler France to try to remove the oil.
    The spill has set back two decades worth of restoring the natural wildlife and plants in the lagoon, which started after the government banned sand harvesting in the area back in 2000, said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.
    The fragmentation of the oil in the sea is expected to damage corals when the heavier particles in the oil settle on them, he said, adding that the steps taken by the government to prevent the disaster are also being scrutinised.
    “There is some anger and some criticism from the civil society that the government may have taken too much time to respond,” Tatayah said.    The ship was grounded for nearly two weeks before it started leaking oil.
    There was no immediate comment from Mauritian government officials.
    The Wakashio passed an annual inspection in March without any problems, Japan’s ClassNK inspection body said. Mitsui OSK Lines said in statement: “We will do our utmost towards resolving the situation quickly.”    It did not provide any details.    The company said it has sent six employees to the site and was considering sending more, along with transport supplies.
    The International Maritime Organization said it had joined efforts to tackle the spill by providing technical advice and coordinating the response.    U.N. agencies and other international groups were also mobilising environmental and oil spill experts.
(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo and Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Sandra Maler, William Maclean)

8/12/2020 British Fossil Hunters Find Bones Of New Dinosaur Species, Cousin To T.Rex
A dinosaur bone is held upon its discovery on the Isle of Wight, Britain
May 26, 2019, in this still image taken from video. Robin Ward/via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Four bones found on a beach on the Isle of Wight, off England’s south coast, belong to a new species of theropod dinosaur, the group that includes Tyrannosaurus rex, researchers at the University of Southampton said on Wednesday.
    The new dinosaur, which has been named Vectaerovenator inopinatus, lived in the Cretaceous period 115 million years ago and was estimated to have been up to four metres long, the palaeontologists said.
    The name refers to the large air spaces found in the bones, which were discovered on the foreshore at Shanklin, a seaside resort on the island, last year.
    The air sacs, which are also seen in modern birds, were extensions of the lung, the researchers said, and it is likely they helped fuel an efficient breathing system while also making the skeleton lighter.
    One of the finders, Robin Ward, a regular fossil hunter from Stratford-upon-Avon in central England, said: “The joy of finding the bones we discovered was absolutely fantastic.”
    “I thought they were special and so took them along when we visited Dinosaur Isle Museum,” he said.    “They immediately knew these were something rare and asked if we could donate them to the museum to be fully researched.”
    James Lockyer, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, in east England, was also visiting the island when he found another of the bones.
    “I was searching a spot at Shanklin and had been told and read that I wouldn’t find much there,” he said.
    “However, I always make sure I search the areas others do not, and on this occasion it paid off.”
    Chris Barker, a doctoral student who led the study, said: “We were struck by just how hollow the animal was – it’s riddled with air spaces.    Parts of its skeleton must have been rather delicate.”
    It is likely that the Vectaerovenator lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby, the researchers said.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

8/13/2020 Owner Of Ship Behind Mauritius Oil Spill Pledges To Face Up To Liability
A volunteer cleans oil spilled from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged,
that ran aground on a reef, at the Mahebourg Waterfront in Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Antoine
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping, owner of the vessel behind a major oil spill off Mauritius, said on Thursday it felt its responsibility acutely and intends to take steps towards assessing compensation.
    The ship, MV Wakashio, is owned by Nagashiki and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines.
    The vessel has leaked about 1,000 tonnes of oil since striking a reef and running aground off the Indian Ocean island’s southeast coast on July 25.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Jan Harvey)

8/15/2020 ‘Canary In The Coal Mine’: Greenland Ice Has Shrunk Beyond Return, Study Finds by Cassandra Garrison
FILE PHOTO: A fishing vessel sails in the ice fjord near Ilulissat, Greenland September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
    (Reuters) – Greenland’s ice sheet may have shrunk past the point of return, with the ice likely to melt away no matter how quickly the world reduces climate-warming emissions, new research suggests.
    Scientists studied data on 234 glaciers across the Arctic territory spanning 34 years through 2018 and found that annual snowfall was no longer enough to replenish glaciers of the snow and ice being lost to summertime melting.
    That melting is already causing global seas to rise about a millimeter on average per year.    If all of Greenland’s ice goes, the water released would push sea levels up by an average of 6 meters — enough to swamp many coastal cities around the world. This process, however, would take decades.
    “Greenland is going to be the canary in the coal mine, and the canary is already pretty much dead at this point,” said glaciologist Ian Howat at Ohio State University. He and his colleagues published the study Thursday in the Nature Communications Earth & Environment journal.
    The Arctic has been warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the world for the last 30 years, an observation referred to as Arctic amplification.    The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in 40 years.
    The Arctic thaw has brought more water to the region, opening up routes for shipping traffic, as well as increased interest in extracting fossil fuels and other natural resources.
    Greenland is strategically important for the U.S. military and its ballistic missile early warning system, as the shortest route from Europe to North America goes via the Arctic island.
    Last year, President Donald Trump offered to buy Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory.    But Denmark, a U.S. ally, rebuffed the offer.    Then last month, the U.S. reopened a consulate in the territory’s capital of Nuuk, and Denmark reportedly said last week it was appointing an intermediary between Nuuk and Copenhagen some 3,500 kilometers away.
    Scientists, however, have long worried about Greenland’s fate, given the amount of water locked into the ice.
    The new study suggests the territory’s ice sheet will now gain mass only once every 100 years — a grim indicator of how difficult it is to re-grow glaciers once they hemorrhage ice.
    In studying satellite images of the glaciers, the researchers noted that the glaciers had a 50% chance of regaining mass before 2000, with the odds declining since.
    “We are still draining more ice now than what was gained through snow accumulation in ‘good’ years,” said lead author Michalea King, a glaciologist at Ohio State University.
    The sobering findings should spur governments to prepare for sea-level rise, King said.
    “Things that happen in the polar regions don’t stay in the polar region,” she said.
    Still, the world can still bring down emissions to slow climate change, scientists said.    Even if Greenland can’t regain the icy bulk that covered its 2 million square kilometers, containing the global temperature rise can slow the rate of ice loss.
    “When we think about climate action, we’re not talking about building back the Greenland ice sheet,” said Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who was not involved in the study.    “We’re talking about how quickly rapid sea-level rise comes to our communities, our infrastructure, our homes, our military bases.”
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Katy Daigle and Aurora Ellis)

8/15/2020 Colo. Pine Gulch Fire 4th Largest Blaze In State History by OAN Newsroom
A satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a pyrocumulus cloud from the Pine Gulch fire
north of Grand Junction, Colo., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. (©2020 Maxar Technologies via AP)
    Colorado first responders battled massive wildfires across the state this week.
    According to reports, a blaze in the state’s western Pine Gulch Creek has become the fourth largest fire in the state’s history.    As of Saturday morning, it has burned more than 74,000 acres of land and is 7% contained.
    Further to the east, the Grizzly Creek Fire doubled in size overnight to more than 13,000 acres, threatening nearby homes and businesses.
Photo via Mt. View Fire Rescue.
    On Friday, Governor Jared Polis reassured residents that federal assistance was on its way.
    “I was actually just informed that the Grizzly Creek Fire is the top fire priority in the nation right now, right on Highway 70,” he said.
    The fire has reportedly closed Interstate 70, a major roadway spanning the U.S., and is 0% contained.

8/17/2020 IBM Rolls Out Newest Processor Chip, Taps Samsung For Manufacturing
FILE PHOTO: A man stands near an IBM logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
    (Reuters) – International Business Machines Corp announced on Monday a new processor chip for data centers that it says will be able to handle three times the workload of its predecessor.
    The IBM-designed Power10 chip will be manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> and is meant for use by businesses inside data centers, IBM said.
    The chip will use Samsung’s 7-nanometer chip manufacturing process, which is similar to the 7-nanometer technology that Advanced Micro Devices Inc uses to have its chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd <2330.TW>.
    Both IBM and AMD use outside chip factories to compete against Intel Corp, the dominant provider of central processor chips in data centers and one of the few players left that both designs and manufactures its own chips.
    Intel recently said its next generation of manufacturing technology faces delays, which analysts believe will allow its rivals to gain market share.
    IBM has long focused on high-performance computing systems, with three of the world’s top-ten fastest supercomputers using its chips.    The company said Monday that the Power10 chip has been designed to be faster at artificial intelligence computing tasks than its predecessor, doing such work up to 20 times faster than its previous generation of chip.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Diane Craft)

8/17/2020 Amazon Blazes Burn Forest, Farmland And Threaten Homes
Miraceli de Oliveira reacts as the fire approaches their house in an area of the Amazon rainforest,
near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
    PORTO VELHO, Brazil (Reuters) – Residents and firefighters in northwestern Brazil are battling fires that are raging in the Amazon, destroying farmland and threatening their homes.
    The blazes, that occur every year in the dry season, sent clouds of smokes billowing into the sky that could be seen and smelt from the capital of Rondonia state 24 miles (38 km) away.
    Experts say the fires that threaten the world’s largest rainforest are rarely a natural phenomenon and are mostly set deliberately by speculators to clear land for pasture.
    “Every year I suffer from this.    Nobody knows who does this.    They come and burn everything and run away,” said bricklayer Rosalino de Oliveira as he watched a firefighter hose flames that came dangerously close to his clap-board home.
    “We are poor.    I can barely feed my family on my salary.    The fire comes to destroy everything in a matter of seconds,” he said, shielding his face from the suffocating smoke.
    His sister Miraceli, in tears, said she feared losing the few possessions they had.
    Last week, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro denied there were any fires in the Amazon, calling it a “lie” and blaming the media for spreading it.
    According to government data, the first 15 days of August have seen about a 17% decrease in the number of fires as this time last year, when a sharp increase in blazes across the Amazon attracted international condemnation amid alarm over the deforestation of a region crucial to the fight against global warming.
    Deforestation rose 34.5% in the 12 months through July, compared to a year earlier.
    Bolsonaro has dispatched the military to fight fires and deforestation since May, but environmental experts question whether these deployments are working.
(Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto and Ueslei Marcelino; additional reporting by Jake Spring, Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

8/18/2020 Greenland’s ice sheet in ‘constant state of loss’ by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Greenland’s melting ice sheet has passed the point of no return.
    In fact, glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking, a new study suggests.
    “Glacier retreat has knocked the dynamics of the whole ice sheet into a constant state of loss,” study co-author Ian Howat, an earth scientist from Ohio State University, said in a statement.    “Even if the climate were to stay the same or even get a little colder, the ice sheet would still be losing mass.”
    This “tipping point” means the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from melting glaciers.
    “The ice that’s discharging into the ocean is far surpassing the snow that’s accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet,” said study lead author Michalea King, a researcher at Ohio State University.
    Overall, according to NOAA, ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet increased sevenfold from 34 billion tons a year from 1992 to 2001 to 247 billion tons a year from 2012 to 2016.
    For the study, scientists analyzed 40 years of satellite data from more than 200 large glaciers draining into the ocean around Greenland.
    Greenland’s shrinking glaciers are a problem for the entire Earth.    Melting ice from the island is a leading contributor to sea-level rise worldwide: The ice that melts or breaks off from Greenland’s ice sheets ends up in the Atlantic Ocean – and, eventually, all of the world’s oceans.
    Greenland’s ice sheet now dumps more than 280 billion metric tons of melting ice into the ocean each year, making it the greatest single contributor to global sea level rise, King told CNN.
    The Greenland study was published recently in the peer-reviewed British journal Communications Earth and Environment.
Icebergs near Greenland form from ice that has broken off from glaciers on the island. A new study shows that the glaciers are losing ice rapidly enough
that, even if global warming were to stop, Greenland’s glaciers would continue to shrink. MICHALEA KING/OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

8/18/2020 Strong Quake In Philippines Kills One, Damages Quarantine Centre by Neil Jerome Morales
A partially damaged building is seen amid debris in Masbate Province, August 18, 2020, after an earthquake struck the Philippines. Philippine
    MANILA (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the Philippines on Tuesday, killing at least one person and damaging roads and buildings including a hospital and a sports complex being used as a novel coronavirus quarantine centre.
    It was the strongest earthquake in eight months in the Philippines, which lies on the “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active belt of volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean.
    “My things at home fell down and my neighbours’ walls cracked and some collapsed,” Rodrigo Gonhuran, 30, told Reuters from the central town of Cataingan, which has a population of more than 50,000 people and is near the epicentre.
    One man, a retired police colonel, was killed when his three-storey house collapsed, while four people suffered minor injuries, provincial administrator Rino Revalo told DZMM radio station.
    Patients were moved out of a hospital into tents because of cracks in the building, Revalo said.
    Engineers were checking a damaged sports complex to see if it was safe to accommodate people staying there in quarantine after moving back from the capital, Manila, he said.
    People returning to their homes in the provinces from the capital have to spend time in quarantine.
    The Philippines, which has a population of 107 million, has the most coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia with more than 164,000 confirmed infections and 2,681 deaths.
    The quake struck at sea at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said.
    The Philippine seismology agency said there was no risk of a tsunami but warned of aftershocks.
(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel)

8/19/2020 Brazil Fires Threaten World’s Largest Wetland by Jake Spring
FILE PHOTO: A firefighter monitors a spot fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest,
near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Flames are ravaging Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, approaching the region’s main highway and threatening endangered species amid a near-record number of fires.
    Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe has registered 3,121 fires in the first 15 days of August, nearly five times higher than the same period a year ago. At the current pace, fires could approach the all-time record for any month since records began in 1998.
    Firefighters in the area worked to douse smoldering earth that was charred black as clouds of smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the air.
    Speaking on a visit to Mato Grosso State to see the fire-fighting efforts in the Pantanal, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said the challenges loom large.
    “The atmosphere is very hot, very dry, with strong winds and high temperatures,” Salles said.
    “We saw hundreds of fires along the journey throughout the day.    Places where the planes and firemen have fought the fires directly without stopping, but still the fires are causing great damage to fauna, flora and to the Pantanal region,” he added.
    Roughly 8,500 square kilometers, or nearly 6% of the Pantanal, burned from January to July, according to government data.
    The Pantanal is 10 times the size of the Everglades wetlands in the U.S. state of Florida.    The region is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet with more than 4,700 plant and animal species, including threatened ones like the jaguar, according to advocacy group WWF.
    Most of the largest sanctuary for the blue Hyacinthine Macaw parrots has gone up in flames this year, Brazil’s Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported.
    The region has been suffering from below-average rainfall and higher-than-average temperatures in the past 30 days, according to data provider Refinitiv.
    “It is extremely difficult to combat, control and combat again a fire with the dimensions that we have seen here in the Pantanal,” said Paulo Barroso, president of the local firefighting committee.
    The blazes in the Pantanal come amid rising concerns about fires in the Amazon, its much larger neighbor to the north.    Fires spiked in the first few days of August in the Amazon, but were down by 17% for Aug. 1-15, compared with the same period a year ago.
(Reporting by Jake Spring; additional reporting Sebastian Rocandio; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Cynthia Osterman)

8/19/2020 Two Dead As Hurricane Genevieve Approaches Los Cabos
Hurricane Genevieve is seen from the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting Earth in an image taken
by NASA astronaut Christopher J. Cassidy August 19, 2020. NASA/Christopher J. Cassidy/Handout via REUTERS
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Packing sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 km/hour), with even higher gusts, Hurricane Genevieve was set to brush the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Wednesday, as two people drowned in heavy seas, authorities said.
    In a change from previous forecasts, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said a hurricane warning was in effect in an area including the resorts of Los Cabos and the town of Todos Santos.
    “The center of Genevieve is forecast to pass near or just west of the Baja California peninsula … hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area beginning tonight and continuing into Thursday,” the NHC said.
    A tropical storm warning is in effect for the west coast of the Baja California peninsula from north of Todos Santos to Cabo San Lazaro.
    The NHC warned that heavy rainfall from Genevieve may lead to life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides across portions of the far southern end of Baja California Sur through Thursday.
    The storm is also expected to produce swells that are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
    Baja California Sur’s civil protection authority said a lifeguard and a woman drowned in heavy seas at Cabo San Lucas and added it was concerned about the forecasts for downpours.
    The civil protection agency said the state was prepared for power outages and ready to keep attending to coronavirus patients hooked up to hospital ventilators.
    Currently a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Genevieve is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches with isolated totals of 10 inches across portions of the southern end of Baja California Sur state.
    Genevieve is forecast to gradually weaken over the next couple of days but is still expected to remain a strong hurricane while it passes west of the southern Baja California peninsula, the NHC said.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Kirsten Donovan and Aurora Ellis)

8/20/2020 Mandatory Evacuations Underway As Firefighters Battle Multiple Fires In Northern Calif. by OAN Newsroom
Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires consume a home in unincorporated Napa County, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.
Fire crews across the region scrambled to contain dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Northern California is being ravaged by wildfires, which has put a strain on firefighters in the Bay Area as well as wine country.    Dozens of small fires burned through the region Tuesday and Wednesday, covering thousands of acres all together.
    The majority of the blazes were started by lightning.    An ongoing heat wave accompanied by strong winds has made things worse while hampering containment efforts.
    Authorities have issued evacuation orders in several counties, including Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Napa and Sonoma.    As the flames continue to burn, fire departments are being spread thin.
    “These conditions aren’t conducive to control of the fire, said Capt. Robert Foxworthy of Cal Fire.    “With as many fires that are going on the resources are limited to some extent, so that does make it a little more difficult to control.”
Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires jump Interstate 80 in Vacaville, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.
The highway was closed in both directions shortly afterward. Fire crews across the region scrambled to contain
dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes as a statewide heat wave continues. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Health officials are also warning Californians about the poor air quality caused by thick smoke from the fires.    Authorities are urging residents to stay indoors.
    Additionally, fire officials have warned that face masks worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will not help to protect them from the smoke.

8/20/2020 Colo. wildfire grows to 195 square miles by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    California isn’t the only state battling ferocious wildfires.
    A wildfire burning in western Colorado has grown into the second-largest in the state’s history, fire officials said Wednesday.
    As of Wednesday, the Pine Gulch fire has spread across more than 195 square miles, according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.    That’s equivalent to about nine Manhattan Islands.
    The largest recorded wildfire in Colorado history was the Hayman Fire in 2002, which was 215.25 square miles.
    The Pine Gulch Fire is 18 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado, and started July 31 from a lightning spark.
    The fire grew almost 60 square miles overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported, and the large increase and high winds brought a large amount of blowing ash into the Grand Junction area.
    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a health advisory because of the smoke emitted by the wildfire and warned nearby residents to limit outdoor activities and stay inside.
    The warnings especially apply to people with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the young and the elderly.
    It’s one of four fires responders are battling that have spread across more than 273 square miles.    The other three, according to the governor’s office, are the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon, the Williams Fork Fire in Grand County and the Cameron Peak Fire near Redfeather Lakes.
    Gov. Jared Polis announced a ban on “campfires, fireworks and other open sources of ignition” for 30 days.    He said making the ban statewide provides “clarity of message.”
    “Since fires are often between counties and between jurisdictions, this will help reduce all of our risk,” Polis said.    “As we’ve said before during coronavirus ... now is not the time to party.    We add to that now, that now is not the time to have campfires or fireworks.”
Contributing: The Associated Press; Jordan Culver, USA TODAY
A helicopter drops water on the Grizzly Creek Fire on Glenwood Canyon on Monday near Glenwood Springs, Colo. HELEN H. RICHARDSON/AP

8/20/2020 ‘Dent’ in magnetic field may damage satellites by Wyatte Grantham-Philips, USA TODAY
    There’s an evolving dent in Earth’s magnetic field over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean – and NASA says it can cause “big headaches” for satellites.    The South Atlantic Anomaly, or SAA, an unusually weak spot in Earth’s magnetic field, is growing and splitting into two lobes.    For Earthlings, the SAA creates no noticeable harm, but in space, the anomaly is like a “pothole” for satellites and spacecraft.
    “Earth’s magnetic field acts like a protective shield around the planet, repelling and trapping charged particles from the Sun,” NASA said in a news release Monday.
    But it added that the SAA “allows these particles to dip closer to the surface than normal.”
    The problem? According to NASA, particle radiation may interfere with onboard computers and data collection in space.    If a satellite is hit by a high-energy proton, it can lead to damage – triggering protective shutdowns by operators as satellites fly through the SAA.
    Many low-Earth-orbit spacecraft, such as the International Space Station, also pass through the SAA.    Astronauts are safe, but the phenomenon can cause occasional (in the space station’s case, monthly) “blips,” or short losses, in data collection.
    The SAA is caused by two features from Earth’s core: the flow of molten metals and tilt of the magnetic axis.    NASA scientists want to study the anomaly to better understand how the planet is changing and help create a safer future for in-space instruments.
    “Even though the SAA is slow-moving, it is going through some change in morphology, so it’s also important that we keep observing it by having continued missions,” Terry Sabaka, a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

8/20/2020 Mich. Reaches $600M Preliminary Settlement Agreement With Victims Of Flint Water Crisis by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this March 21, 2016, file photo, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
    More than six years after the Flint water crisis began, residents have reported the city is still broken.
    “When I hear my son get up at night and cry because his bones hurt, there’s nothing I can give him, nothing I can do for him to take away his pain,” explained one resident.    “I feel completely helpless.”
    Now, officials are now hoping to take one big step forward.    A long-awaited preliminary settlement has finally been reached between the state of Michigan and victims of the incident.
    The agreement, which was announced Thursday, called for $600 million in damages to be distributed among Flint residents, especially children, businesses and special education services.
    80% of the funds will be dedicated to settling the claims of children and those who were under the age of 18 in 2014, when the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the lead-tainted pipes of the Flint River.
    About 15% will be set aside to help adults cover property damages or possible business losses.    $9 million will go towards funding special education services, while $35 million will be placed in a trust fund for the “forgotten children” who may file claims in the years to come.
A view of Saginaw Avenue in downtown Flint, Mich, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
    Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called it “likely the largest settlement in the history of the state” and said the deal “puts the needs of Flint’s children” first.
    “This preliminary agreement is a step forward in the healing process,” she added.
    According to the governor, it was the very best officials could do without causing any further delays. She has vowed to continue working on the issue.
    “We recognize the settlement might not provide all that Flint needs.    We hear and respect those voices, and understand that healing Flint will take a long time.    The uncertainties and troubles that the people of Flint have endured is unconscionable.    It is time for the state to do what it can now.” – Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan
    The agreement must still go through the courts for final approval.    The process is expected to take around 45 days.
    In the meantime, the effects of the catastrophe, including the elevated blood lead levels of residents and a steady rise in the number of special needs children, continue to be monitored closely.

8/21/2020 NOAA: Far-Above-Average Hurricane Season Still To Come by OAN Newsroom
This satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows
Tropical Storm Laura in the North Atlantic Ocean, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. (NOAA via AP)
    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is going to get even worse.    On Thursday, forecasters said they are expecting to run out of traditional hurricane names because they have predicted about twice as much storm activity as a normal year.
    The weather service has predicted up to 25 named storms, 11 of which are expected to become hurricanes.    Six of those could become major hurricanes with wind speeds around 111 miles per hour.
    Meteorologists have warned the public to keep an eye on local reports and be aware of weather dangers.
    “Whether it’s on your own personal device, the internet, weather radios are always a great to have or television,” stated meteorologist Kevin Fryar.    “Just be aware, because this is going to be one of those seasons that we’re going to be talking about for some time going forward.”
    Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression 14 could reportedly make landfall in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as Wednesday.    This would mark the first time two storms made landfall on the same day since 1933.

8/21/2020 5 Dead As Wildfires In Calif. Continue To Burn by OAN Newsroom
A structure is damaged by the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire in Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Bonny Doon, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    At least five people have been declared dead as firefighters continue to battle wildfires burning across Northern California.
    According to reports, several wildfires surrounding San Francisco and the Bay Area destroyed more than 175 structures and are threatening 50,000 more.    33 civilians and firefighters have been injured so far.
    More than 10,000 firefighters have already been deployed, but officials believe this isn’t close to enough to the number actually needed.    California recently requested at least 350 more crews from outside the state.
A plume billows over Healdsburg, Calif., as the LNU Lightning Complex fires burn on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Meanwhile, smoke and ash have inundated communities surrounding the fire zones.
    “It’s really heavy, so I’m changing my mind to be honest,” explained one resident.    “I can’t get enough oxygen, especially with this mask, you have to keep it on.”

Scorched homes and vehicles fill Spanish Flat Mobile Villa following the LNU Lightning Complex
fires in unincorporated Napa County, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    360 wildfires have been reported in recent days, burning more than 660,000 acres throughout the Golden State.

8/21/2020 Pipeline Explosion Causes Fire In Corpus Christi, Texas by OAN Newsroom
Coast Guard crews respond to a dredge on fire in the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel,
Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)
    Texas firefighters have been working to contain a major fire that erupted following a pipeline explosion.    The incident occurred Friday morning in Corpus Christi and sent at least six people to the hospital.
    While the extent of their injuries is unknown, reports suggested at least one person is suffering from severe burns.    Meanwhile, four people of 18 at the site remain unaccounted for.
    According to reports, the fire began when a dredge struck a pipeline at a barge loading dock.
    Officials are investigating the incident.
In this photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard crews respond to a dredge on fire in the Port
of Corpus Christi Ship Channel, Aug. 21, 2020 in Corpus Christi, Texas. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)
    “It’s an ongoing incident. We have firefighters and police officers working on the scene right now, trying to mitigate the circumstances.    I can tell you earlier this morning, Corpus Christi Fire Department responded to a 911 phone call on an explosion over the port in Corpus Christi.” – Chief Robert Rocha, Corpus Christi Fire Department
    Local authorities have asked residents to stay away from the area of the explosion.    However, they confirmed the smoke from the fire is not a danger to the public.

8/22/2020 Antarctic Winds Trigger Rare Snowfall Across Southeast Australia
A view shows a snow-covered road in Oberon, New South Wales, Australia August 22, 2020,
in this still image obtained from social media video. TRACEY JOHNS/via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Antarctic air reaching Australia’s south east triggered snowfall down to low altitudes across several states on Saturday, with many people out enjoying the rare event despite wild winds and heavy snow that closed some roads.
    Pictures of snowy towns and landscapes across New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, the Australia Capital Territory and the island state of Tasmania flooded social media as locals rushed to capture the surprise early spring snowfall.
    “We’ve seen light #snow make it to #Canberra today, and yes even heard a few rogue flakes landed on Parliament House,” in the nation’s capital, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a Twitter post.
    Over one metre (3.3 feet) of snow had fallen in a number of alpine regions, and the cold weather would likely remain for several days, the bureau said.
    “It’s awesome,” Raj Kumar told the Seven Network.    Kumar had travelled from Sydney with his family to see the snow in the town of Oberon in NSW’s Blue Mountains, an area that was under threat from widespread bushfires last year.
    “I think it’s better than Perisher Valley,” referring to a popular snow resort about a four-hour drive south of Oberon.
(Reporting by Paulina Duran and James Redmayne in Sydney; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

8/22/2020 Global Coronavirus Deaths Approach 800,000 by Lisa Shumaker
FILE PHOTO: People hold crosses as they attend a tribute to the 100,000 victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and
a protest against Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo
    (Reuters) – The global death toll from the coronavirus approached 800,000 on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil and India leading the rise in fatalities.
    Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from COVID-19 on average, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the past two weeks that ended on Friday.
    That equates to 246 people per hour, or one person every 15 seconds.
    The rate of deaths is holding steady with it taking 17 days to go from 700,000 to 800,000 deaths — the same time it took to go from 600,000 to 700,000.
    The U.S. death toll surpassed 170,000 on Sunday, the highest in the world.    While the number of new cases is down from a peak in July, the country is still seeing over 360,000 new cases a week.
    Many public schools and universities reopened classrooms to students despite positive test rates of nearly 20% in some parts of the country.    Less than a week after welcoming students, some schools are switching to online-only learning due to a spike in infections.
    In India, the world’s second-most populous country, COVID-19 deaths topped 50,000 on Monday, five months after the country reported its first coronavirus fatality.
    India is only the third country, behind Brazil and the United States, to record more than 2 million infections.    It has a relatively low case fatality rate of 1.9%, compared to the world average of 3.5%, but that may be due to underreporting.
    Case fatality rates are about 3% in the United States and Brazil.
    Health experts have raised the alarm that Brazil and the United States still have no coordinated plan to fight the pandemic, as many officials focus on reopening schools and businesses, which is likely to worsen the outbreak.
    Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 passed 100,000 on Aug. 8 and continues to climb as most Brazilian cities reopen shops and dining even though the pandemic has yet to peak there.
(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

8/22/2020 Amazon Rainforest Fires Persist In Spite Of Brazilian Efforts by OAN Newsroom
Workers from Brazil’s state-run environment agency IBAMA speak with a farmer about an area consumed
by fire near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has disputed the number of fires currently burning in the Amazon Rainforest.    The South American country reported more than 15,000 individual fires during the first two weeks of August, which was a 17% decrease from last year.
    Medical officials fear smoke inhalation will cause a spike in hospitalizations amid already surging cases of the coronavirus.
    Bolsonaro, however, disputed the number of fires last week.
FILE – In this Sept. 3, 2019, file photo, Brazilian soldier puts out fires at the
Nova Fronteira region in Novo Progresso, Brazil. (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)
    “Because it is a rainforest, it does not catch fire,” he said.    “So this story that the Amazon is burning is a lie, and we must fight it with real numbers.”
    According to reports, logging and agricultural burning have gone up approximately 30% since he took office at the beginning of last year.

8/22/2020 Thousands Of Californians Flee As Officials Battle Largest Wildfires In State History by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters make a stand in the backyard of a home in front of the advancing CZU August Lightning
Complex Fire Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Boulder Creek, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    Thousands of California residents have been forced to leave their homes as wildfires continue to spread across several parts of the state.    On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state is currently battling more than 560 separate wildfires.
    This included SCU and CZU lightning complexes, which have burned roughly 600,000 acres.    According to officials, these wildfires have even become larger than the state of Rhode Island.
    “These two fires represent two of the top 20 fire largest fires the state of California has had to battle in recent memory, arguably in modern history,” said Newsom.
    At least six people have died and more than 100,000 residents are under evacuation orders.    After one evacuee came home to nothing, she expressed these fires were like nothing she’s ever seen.
    “The sheriff’s department told us we had to be out of here in a few minutes.    We left and this is what we came home to today.    I’ve never seen anything like it.    The whole sky was red, orange.    It was coming over the hill there and it was massive.    I’ve never seen anything like it, and it only took a few minutes to get here.” – Karen Hansen, wildfire evacuee
Hank Hanson, 81, gestures to the kitchen of his home, destroyed by the LNU Lightning Complex
fires, in Vacaville, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Meanwhile, smoke from these wildfires has amassed over roughly 600 miles, stretching into the Pacific Ocean and making California’s air quality extremely hazardous in certain areas.    Residents in Utah have also been advised to watch out for high smoke levels as winds blow the toxic fumes over the northwestern sky.
    Californians who have been forced to evacuate continue to feel uncertain, not knowing what will happen in the days to come.
    “By tomorrow, maybe I’ll know more, but pretty much I’m thinking we’re going to lose the house,” stated evacuee Steve Walsh.
    Nearly 12,000 firefighters have been deployed, while 96% of California’s fire engines are battling the blazes.    The state has also received help from neighboring states, including Arizona, Oregon, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.
A firefighter monitors the advance of the the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire
Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Boulder Creek, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    Governor Newsom has thanked President Trump for his quick response during the crisis.
    “There’s not one phone call that I have made to the president where he hasn’t quickly responded.    Almost in every instance, he has responded favorably in terms of addressing the emergency needs of this state, through COVID and, of course, over at least the last year and a half that I’ve been governor as it relates to these wildfires.    He may make statements publicly, but the working relationship privately has been a very effective one.” – Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
    He has also reportedly reached out to Australia and Canada for help with these fires.
    “We’ve also reached out across the border into Canada for resources and support,” added the governor.    “Many of you up here recall, I think it was 2017, the support that we were provided and the support we provided in turn of some of the best wildfire firefighters in the world from Australia; we also have requests out for that talent as well.”
    These fires have injured at least 43 firefighters and civilians so far.    Some of the newer fires remain zero percent contained.
This satellite image provided by 2020 Maxar Technologies on Aug. 20, 2020 shows the LNU Lightning Complex wildfire
burning in Sonoma County near Healdsburg, Calif., on Aug. 20, 2020. (2020 Maxar Technologies via AP)

8/23/2020 Louisiana, Cuba Residents Evacuate As Twin Storms Take Aim At U.S. Coast
FILE PHOTO: A member of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) monitors the trajectory of Storm
Laura in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic August 22, 2020. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas
    (Reuters) – Coastal residents in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Cuba were evacuating on Sunday, while roads turned to rivers in Haiti’s capital city, as twin hurricanes threatened the Caribbean and U.S. Gulf Coast.
    Marco, which strengthened to a hurricane on Sunday and is forecast to hit the Louisiana coast on Monday, will be followed by Tropical Storm Laura, now over the Dominican Republic and expected to travel across Hispaniola and Cuba and strengthen to a hurricane before striking the Gulf Coast on Thursday.
    At least three people died, including a mother and her 7-year-old son, in the Dominican Republic due to collapsing walls.    Laura left more than a million in the country without electricity, forced more than a thousand to evacuate and caused several homes along the Isabela River to collapse, authorities said.
    Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Sunday warned the state’s residents that tropical storm-force winds would arrive by Monday morning and they should be ready to ride out both Marco and Laura.    “Wherever you are at dark tonight is where you need to be prepared to ride out these storms,” Edwards said.
    In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, videos on social media showed people wading waist-deep in muddy water in some of the worst flooding the capital has seen in years.    Haiti is especially vulnerable to intense rains due to shoddy infrastructure and deforestation which increases the likelihood of landslides.
    Authorities called on residents along the Artibonite River to evacuate due to risks the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam might burst its banks.
    Haiti was the first to report a death from Laura, where a 10-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on her home in the southern town of Anse-a-Pitres.
    With hopes dashed that the mountains of Hispanola would weaken the storm, Cuba scrambled on Sunday to prepare for Laura.
    Evacuations were underway in eastern parts of the Caribbean’s largest island, where the storm was expected to strike Sunday evening, bringing flooding, before traveling along the entire island on Monday.
    Back-to-back hurricanes arriving at the U.S. coast within days “could result in a prolonged period of hazardous weather,” National Hurricane Center forecaster Stacy Stewart warned on Sunday.
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent teams to emergency operations centers in state capitals in Louisiana and Texas, said spokesman Earl Armstrong.    The agency is prepared to handle back-to-back storms, he said, pointing to 2004 when four hurricanes took aim at Florida in a six-week period.
    Officials in Louisiana’s coastal Lafourche Parish ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents of low-lying areas at noon on Sunday.    The U.S. Coast Guard also raised its warning for the Port of New Orleans, calling for ships to make plans to evacuate some areas.
    The potential for flooding and evacuations added to worries about the spread of COVID-19.    Tulane University, the largest private employer in New Orleans, said it will close its testing center on Monday due to potential flooding and power outages and called on students to maintain social distancing guidelines.
    In Grand Isle, at the state’s southern tip, authorities were placing sandbags to bolster its protective levy while energy companies continued to pull workers from offshore platforms and shut production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico wells.
    Laura could strengthen and become a Category 2 or 3 hurricane and move west, closer to the Houston-Galveston area, bringing flooding rains late Wednesday or Thursday, said Chris Kerr, a meteorologist and director of offshore forecasting for DTN, an energy, agriculture and weather data provider.
    Equinor has finished evacuating its Titan oil-production platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and shut-in oil production at the facility, a spokesman said on Sunday.
    Oil producers including BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc had shut 13% of the region’s offshore oil production on Saturday.    The region accounts for 17% of total U.S. oil production and 5% of U.S. natural gas output.
(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller, Marc Frank, Gary McWilliams, Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

8/23/2020 Monsoon Rains Displace Millions In Bangladesh by OAN Newsroom
A Bangladeshi boy salvages a plastic chair after the flood water inundated their village in Manikganj, some
100 kilometers (62 miles) from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Al-emrun Garjon)
    Millions have been forced to flee their homes as monsoon rains continue in Bangladesh.    According to reports, at least 160 people have died so far as a result of the flooding in the country.
    All 16 of Bangladesh’s major rivers have overflowed, destroying miles of farmland and displacing more than a third of the population.
    Many villagers returned to their homes last week after the rains temporarily subsided, only to become trapped as rising flood waters blocked roads and confined them to their homes.
A Bangladeshi elderly person cuts an uprooted tree as the area around him is seen submerged with flooded waters
in Manikganj, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Al-emrun Garjon)
    “We are suffering a lot from the floods that have been going on for two months.    We can’t move, can’t go anywhere to buy food.    There is no school for the children.    Many people in this village have left to seek shelter, but we are staying here and enduring all the troubles.” – Mohammad Jalil, resident
    So far, the country has recorded close to 4,000 fatalities related to its record flooding over the past two months.

8/23/2020 President Trump Issues Emergency Declaration For La. by OAN Newsroom
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry gives an update on Tropical Storm Marco and Tropical Storm Laura from the Office of Emergency
Management in League City, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. ( Jennifer Reynold)/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
    President Trump issued an emergency disaster declaration for Louisiana as Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura approached the U.S. coast.    The president approved the declaration on Sunday, which will authorize FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts and provide assistance.
    Under the order, federal funding and reimbursement for mass care, including evacuation and shelter efforts, will be available for several counties in the state.
    Meanwhile, Governor John Bel Edwards has urged residents to prepare for both the hurricane and storm.
    “You need to be prepared to ride out the storms, you and your family wherever you are, at dark tonight,” he said.    “Tropical storm force winds will be impacting coastal Louisiana before daylight tomorrow.”
Remnants of city sign lay on the beach, damaged by Tropical Storm Laura in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
    According to the National Weather Service, Marco’s maximum winds are at least 75 miles per hour.    The hurricane is currently over the Gulf of Mexico and is expected make landfall on Monday.
    Tropical Storm Laura is expected to grow into a hurricane and make landfall later this week.    Forecasters have predicted the two storms will both be in the gulf on Monday, which would be the first time two hurricanes have appeared in the area at the same time.
    The phenomenon is part of the irregular hurricane season this year, which reportedly has been experiencing more storm activity than usual due to a number of factors.

8/24/2020 Calif. Firefighters Battle Over 580 Blazes Statewide by OAN Newsroom
A firefighter rubs his head while watching the LNU Lightning Complex fires spread through the
Berryessa Estates neighborhood of unincorporated Napa County, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. The blaze
forced thousands to flee and destroyed hundreds of homes and other structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Hundreds of wildfires have continued to burn across California while residents brace for what lies ahead.    As of Sunday, over 14,000 firefighters are battling over 580 fires throughout the region.
    The fires, believed to be sparked by dry lightning strikes, have burned through nearly 1 million acres in a week.    The blazes stem from northern parts of the San Francisco Bay Area all the way down to Southern California.
    Thousands are being forced to evacuate their homes in some areas, while others remain on high alert of the incoming flames.
    Meanwhile, firefighters working through hot and dangerous conditions remain committed to protecting California residents and preserving any structure they can.
    “It’s tragic, but our chiefs back home…they are aggressive in the training we have in our brush response and we adequately prepare for it, so we can come out here and help out the communities wherever we are called to serve,” said Capt. Antonio Negrete of the San Gabriel Fire Department.
Firefighters protect a home in the Berryessa Estates neighborhood of unincorporated Napa County, Calif., as the LNU Lightning Complex fires burn on Friday,
Aug. 21, 2020. The blaze forced thousands to flee and destroyed hundreds of homes and other structures. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Two of the fires currently burning, the LNU and SCU Lightening Complex fires, are in the top 10 largest in the state’s history.    Over the weekend, President Trump issued a disaster declaration for the state, which allocates federal funds toward effected residents and businesses.
    In a statement, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) thanked the president for his partnership during these “unprecedented times.”    The Democrat also reached out to neighboring Canada and as far as Australia for additional help in containment efforts.
    Despite fire crews making progress in some counties, forecasters fear poor incoming weather conditions could spark new blazes throughout the state.

8/25/2020 California’s smoke-laden air is increasingly unhealthful by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
    SAN FRANCISCO – Kevin Galvin, a water conservation administrator who lives in the Oakland foothills, woke up Monday morning to “dry, smoky air with ash in it,” and the house smelled like the site of a campfire.
    Many of his fellow Californians were breathing in that same harmful air.
    The wildfires ravaging the state, especially the northern and central parts, have badly deteriorated the air quality over large swaths when residents are already at a high risk of pulmonary disease because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    As of Monday afternoon, about 30% of the Golden State had air that was considered unhealthy for all members of the general public, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index.    That assessment included highly populated spots such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno and the capital, Sacramento.
    “The concentration of the tiny particles in the Bay Area is roughly five times the daily average limit set by the EPA.    It’s worse in the Bay Area now than megacities like New Delhi, which are known for poor air quality,” said Coty Jen, assistant professor at the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies at Carnegie Mellon University.    “Even healthy people are reporting headaches, bloody noses.”
    The EPA calculates a daily Air Quality Index based on five major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: groundlevel ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.    Fine particles present the most serious health threat, according to the website
    “These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs,” the site says.    “They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases.”
    The EPA warns that surgical and cloth masks and bandannas, often used to prevent spread of the coronavirus, don’t protect against smoke inhalation.    Higher-grade N-95 masks do to a large extent, but they’re in short supply and mostly reserved for medical workers.
    The California Air Resources Board advises people in the affected areas to stay inside with their windows and doors shut, run air conditioners in the recirculate setting and keep track of conditions.
    Galvin said he and his wife restrict outside exposure for themselves and their 9-year-old daughter, Emmy.    “We’re letting her go out with us on dog walks and to try to get some sunshine,” he said.
    California has registered nearly 673,000 of the 5.7 million cases of COVID- 19 in the USA, which leads the world by far in that category.
    The prevalence of smoke makes residents more vulnerable to the highly contagious disease, said Dr. John Watson, an expert on air quality measurements and the impact of air pollutants at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.
    “Anecdotally, what you’re seeing is people’s systems are becoming more sensitive to (the coronavirus),” Watson said.    “They’re going to be more prone to have more damage.”
    A red alert prompted by forecasts of lightning strikes – a rare occurrence in Northern California that sparked the spate of wildfires a week ago – was called off Monday.    That led to a major sigh of relief for the area, where overwhelmed and undermanned firefighters have battled the blazes nonstop.
Overwhelmed firefighters have been battling lightning-sparked wildfires in northern and central California for a week. NOAH BERGER/AP

8/24/2020 La., Texas Residents Prepare For Tropical Storms by OAN Newsroom
Fisher High School students rest in the back of a truck after they helped place sandbags around the Lafitte, La.,
area as residents prepare for the arrival of two tropical storms along the south Louisiana coast
on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020 . (Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)
    Many residents in Texas and Louisiana have started to evacuate or are preparing to evacuate their homes ahead of several incoming tropical storms.
    The mayor of Port Arthur, which is along the border of Louisiana, announced mandatory citywide evacuations on Monday.    He called for residents to leave the area immediately and noted Tropical Storm Laura, in particular, poses a threat to the area.
    “What is happening now and the uncertainty of the trajectory of the storm, we want our citizens out of harm’s way,” stated Mayor Thurman Bartie.    “It will be mandatory for the entire city of Port Arthur.”
As, from left, Gen. Keith Waddell, Louisiana National Guard, Col. Kevin Reeves, Louisiana State Police,
GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom, left, watches, and Dr. Daniel Burch does sign interpretation, second from right,
Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, answers questions while holding a media briefing about the state’s activity related to Hurricanes
Marco and Laura, in addition to hosting a Unified Command Group meeting afterwards. (Bill Feig./The Advocate via AP)
    While experts believe Tropical Storm Marco is slowly dissipating, they have warned the second system is following close behind and could even strengthen to a major hurricane by the time it reaches the state.
    During a press briefing, state officials warned residents to take precautionary measures before the systems make landfall.
    “The National Guard has more than 2,000 National Guardsmen ready to provide support.    They have staged 94 high water vehicles across South Louisiana.    Also 55 boats and I think an even dozen aircraft.    They’ve also positioned 1,080 linear feet of super sack sandbags in Grand Isle, and completed the delivery of generators and pumps to Grand Isle as well.” – John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana
Firefighters from Houston Fire Station 11 prepare water-rescue equipment Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, at HFD Station 11 in Houston. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    President Trump has approved emergency declarations for Texas and Louisiana, which will authorize FEMA to provide assistance to both states as they prepare for the storms.    The federal government will reimburse costs for shelter and evacuation efforts.

8/25/2020 Hurricane Laura Strengthens As It Approaches La., Texas by OAN Newsroom
Judge Lina Hidalgo emphasized that Laura should not be compared to past hurricanes like Harvey while addressing
the media from Houston Transtar on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (Hadley Chittum /Houston Chronicle via AP)
    Tropical Storm Laura reached hurricane strength on Tuesday as it approached Louisiana and Texas.    According to the National Hurricane Center, Laura is likely to reach a Category 2 hurricane by Wednesday night.
    The threat comes on the heels of Tropical Storm Marco, which continues to dissipate just south of Louisiana.
    Citizens have been advised to board up their windows and brace for deadly winds, rain and storm surges.
An animal control officer directs people as they wait to board charter busses that will evacuate them
from Galveston Island to Austin in anticipation of impact from Hurricane Laura, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020,
from the Galveston Housing Authority offices in Galveston. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    “From this point out, I’d rather be surprised when it’s not as bad as I thought.    Then be surprised that it’s worse than I got ready for.    I’d just rather be prepared, be proactive instead of reactive.” – Unnamed resident
    The governor of Louisiana has warned the system may be even more destructive than 2005’s Hurricane Rita, which was one of the most intense storm systems to hit the Gulf Coast.

8/26/2020 At Least 5 Dead In Northern Calif. Wildfires As Containment Efforts Continue by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters ride in the back of a pickup truck while battling the LNU Lightning Complex fires
Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in unincorporated Lake County, Cailf. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Authorities in Northern California continue to tackle the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, which has burned through five counties and killed at least five people.
    During a briefing Tuesday, Cal Fire operations Section Chief Chris Waters said they have separated the blaze into two zones, east and west, to maximize their resources and efforts.    So far, the LNU Fire has spread to more than 356,000 acres and has destroyed nearly 980 structures.
    “Very heavy fuels, steep terrain, difficult access and numerous structures,” Chief Waters explained.    “And we’re still connecting the dots, trying to protect structures, trying to build line between vineyards and grassy open areas and looking for opportunities to do back firing.”
Following the LNU Lightning Complex fires, a sheriff’s deputy patrols the evacuated community
of Spanish Flat in Napa County, Calif. on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    14,000 firefighters are on scene using bulldozers and hand tools to scrape fire breaks into the ground.    Although cooler temperatures have helped them make progress, Chief Waters said he expects humidity and wind to pick up in the next couple of days.

8/26/2020 U.S. To Spend $625 Million In Five Quantum Information Research Hubs by Jane Lanhee Lee
FILE PHOTO: A man takes a photo of a model of the IBM Q System One quantum computer during
the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday said it will provide $625 million over the next five years for five newly formed quantum information research hubs as it tries to keep ahead of competing nations like China on the emerging technology.
    The funding is part of $1.2 billion earmarked in the National Quantum Initiative Act in 2018.
    Researchers believe quantum computers could operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers, making possible potential tasks ranging from mapping complex molecular structures and chemical reactions to boosting the power of artificial intelligence.
    “It’s absolutely imperative the United States continues to lead the world in AI and quantum.    We know our adversaries around the world are pursuing their own advances,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said during a White House press briefing announcing the quantum information research funding and another $100 million plus investment into the National Science Foundation’s AI Research Institutes.
    The five research hubs are each led by the Energy Department’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories.    The hubs are comprised of top research universities, other national labs and big tech companies in the quantum computing space such as International Business Machines Corp , Intel Corp , Microsoft Corp , and quantum computer startups Rigetti & Co and ColdQuanta Inc.    An Italian research lab and a Canadian university are also taking part.     Missing from the list are Google parent Alphabet Inc , considered one of the top firms in quantum computing, and Honeywell International Inc , which unveiled its quantum computing business in the past year.    The Energy Department spokesperson declined to comment on whether they had been part of a proposal that didn’t receive funding.
    Paul Dabbar, under secretary for science at the Energy Department, said the private sector contributed another $340 million worth of labor, equipment, lab space and other assets to the project.
(Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Leslie Adler)

8/26/2020 Hurricane Laura Strengthens To Category 4 Storm by OAN Newsroom
This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, at 4:50 p.m. EDT., and
provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Laura over the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA via AP)
    Hurricane Laura gained strength Wednesday as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico towards Texas and Louisiana.
    According to reports, the storm has strengthened to a Category 4 storm.    It has seen winds between 130 and 156 miles per hour, which is strong enough to tear rooftops from homes.
    This latest rating is one level below the highest level, Category 5, which can level buildings and houses.
    Laura is set to hit near the Texas-Louisiana border on Thursday morning. Forecasters have warned of an “unsurvivable storm surge,” which could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the coastline.
    “Things changing rapidly here, but what’s not changing is the fact that this could be a catastrophic, life threatening event,” stated the director of the National Hurricane Center.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about the expected impact of Hurricane Laura,
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
    In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards activated the full state National Guard ahead of the hurricane’s landfall. He noted this is the first time the full guard has assembled since Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
    2,000 hotel rooms have also been secured to help shelter those affected by the storm.    Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for several areas and curfew orders have been issued in at least one parish.
    “I am asking people right now to pay attention to this storm, to get out of harm’s way if there is an evacuation order in place, whether it is mandatory or voluntary,” added Edwards.    “Understand our state hasn’t seen a storm surge like this in many, many decades.”
Christopher Thomas holds Taiyren Sylvester, 1, as they wait to board buses to evacuate
Lake Charles, La., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, ahead of Hurricane Laura. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott warned Laura’s winds could be the biggest threat.    However, he didn’t downplay the potential problems caused by the storm surges, which are expected to be between 10 and 15 feet.
    He said some areas should expect flash floods, with some rivers overflowing due to the surge.    The governor has also warned there could be a period of time when residents will simply be inaccessible to rescue crews.
    “It’s important for people to know that from about 7 p.m. tonight until about 9 a.m. in the morning, it will be a little bit of a lockdown time period for the ability of rescuers to get in and provide support for anybody in the local regions,” stated Abbott.    "So we urge anybody who may be in harm’s way to take these few last hours to get out of harm’s way.”
    Hurricane Laura slammed the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Haiti over the weekend, knocking out power for around 1 million people and killing at least 23 people.

8/27/2020 Officials Rescue 2 Calif. Firemen From Wildfire by OAN Newsroom
A Howard Forest Helitack firefighter looks out from a helicopter while battling the LNU
Lightning Complex on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake County, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    The rescue of two firefighters in California was caught on camera earlier this month.    Authorities found them in the mountains near Point Reyes National Seashore, which is north of San Francisco.
    Two local firefighters were trapped by the Woodward Fire, which has burned more than 2,000 acres and was moving very quickly.
    Authorities immediately responded by sending a helicopter to find them.
    Officials were able to spot them within 15 minutes.    Rescue teams rappelled 100 feet down to retrieve the men, who were dangerously close to the fire line.
    The unidentified firefighters were taken to safety and are reportedly expected to make a full recovery.

8/28/2020 HURRICANE LAURA - Tiny town in Louisiana weathers storm’s worst - ‘Sick to my stomach. ... Everything’s gone’ by Rick Jervis and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    HOLLY BEACH, La. – Robert Eggert drove up to this battered seaside town early Thursday and nearly lost his breakfast.
    His stomach churned as he scanned the homes swept from their foundations, crumpled trailers, RVs flipped like toy cars and power poles snapped in half.
    The small travel trailer and outdoor shower he rented to tourists – nicknamed “The Runes” – was nowhere to be seen.
    Hurricane Laura’s center made landfall 10 miles east of here near tiny Cameron, Louisiana, with winds estimated at 150 mph, and demolished nearly everything in its path.    “I was so sick to my stomach, I was going to throw up,” said Eggert, who rode out the storm in nearby Constance Beach, Louisiana.    “Everything’s gone.”
    Eggert joined scores of other residents along the southwestern Louisiana
Winds clocked at 150 mph decimated nearly everything in the path of the storm. PHOTOS BY JASPER COLT/USA TODAY
    Utility poles were snapped and homes were crumbled or swept away in the coastal community of Holly Beach in Cameron Parish.

8/28/2020 As Arctic Ice Melts, Polluting Ships Stream Into Polar Waters by Jonathan Saulbr>
FILE PHOTO: Chunks of ice float inside of meltwater pools on top of the Helheim glacier
near Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – As melting sea ice opens the Arctic to navigation, more ships are plying the loosely regulated polar waters, bringing increasing amounts of climate-warming pollution, a Reuters analysis of new shipping and fuel-consumption data shows.
    Traffic through the icy region’s busiest lane along the Siberian coast increased 58% between 2016 and 2019.    Last year, ships made 2,694 voyages on the Northern Sea Route, according to data collected by researchers from the Centre for High North Logistics at Norway’s Nord University.
    The trade is driven by commodities producers – mainly in Russia, China and Canada – sending iron ore, oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other fuels through Arctic waters.
    Even the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly slowed shipping worldwide as supply chains have been disrupted, has not prevented traffic increasing on the Arctic artery.    Ships made 935 voyages in the first half of 2020, up to the end of June, compared with 855 in the same period last year, the data shows.
    The increase in shipping is a worry for the environment.    As those heavy ships burn fuel, they release climate-warming carbon dioxide as well as black soot.    That soot blankets nearby ice and snow, absorbing solar radiation rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere, which exacerbates warming in the region.
    See graphic on the Arctic’s melting ice, shipping lanes and pollution:
    The Arctic has already warmed at least twice as fast as the rest of the world over the last three decades.    With the region’s warming rate increasing in recent years, governments are gearing up for a future of open Arctic waters.
    “The driving concern is the reduction of Arctic sea ice and the potential for more shipping,” said Sian Prior, lead adviser with the Clean Arctic Alliance.    “We are already seeing that happen.”
    LNG tankers make up the largest proportion of traffic on the Northern Sea Route.    They alone burned 239,000 tonnes of fuel in 2019, versus only 6,000 tonnes in 2017, according to previously unpublished data collected by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation and shared with Reuters.
    The Northern Sea Route, which traces the coasts of Siberia and Norway, is the region’s busiest artery.    It allows cargo ships to save at least 10 days sailing between Europe and Asia, shipping specialists estimate.
    The route is about 6,000 nautical miles shorter than sailing via Africa, and 2,700 nautical miles shorter than sailing through the Suez Canal.
    That shortcut drew ships to make the 2,694 voyages in 2019, up from 2,022 in 2018, 1,908 in 2017 and 1,705 in 2016, according to Nord University’s Centre for High North Logistics.    Those trips are made each year by just 200-300 ships.
    This year, unusually warm weather over northern Russia caused an early retreat of sea ice from Siberia.
    That heatwave, which scientists have linked to climate change, had opened up the Northern Sea Route by the second half of July, marking the earliest complete thaw of that area yet recorded, scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center say.
    As summertime heat shrinks the sea ice further, traffic is expected to become even>     Last year, September was the region’s busiest month in terms of the number of ships navigating the route, with 34 vessels passing though compared with 29 in August, according to data from shipping intelligence platform MarineTraffic.
    Traffic beyond the Northern Sea Route is also rising.
    A total of 1,628 ships entered the Arctic region, outside that route, in 2019, up 25% from 2013, a study by the intergovernmental Arctic Council working group showed.
    “We have seen constant growth (in shipping) over the last several years,” said Kjell Stokvik, managing director of the Centre for High North Logistics at Nord University.    This trend will continue as long as there is demand for fuel and mineral cargoes across the global market, he added.
    Russia in particular is driving trade through the region by developing energy and mineral projects in the Arctic, Stokvik said.     President Vladimir Putin has set a target of transporting 80 million tonnes of cargo annually via the Northern Sea Route by 2025, more than twice what it ships today.
    Also of concern for environmentalists is the risk of fuel spills in Arctic waters, where the harsh conditions make cleanup efforts especially challenging and spills could have devastating impacts on sensitive ecosystems.
    The 1989 crude oil spill by the Exxon Valdez tanker off southern Alaska spread out for months over 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of coastal wilderness, killing marine animals and plants throughout Prince William Sound.
    The accident, considered one of the worst human-caused environmental disasters, led to new rules requiring double-hulled ships in the region.
    But while Antarctic waters are protected by stringent regulations, including a ban on heavy-grade oil adopted in 2011 – despite no cargo moving through those turbulent southern waters – the rules for sailing the Arctic are far looser.
    Waters at both poles are governed by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Polar Code, and ships are “encouraged” to avoid using or carrying heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.
    The IMO is pushing for a full ban on both the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil through the Arctic by 2024.    “The approach is to take action to mitigate any potential negative (environmental) impact,” an IMO spokeswoman told Reuters.
    Environmentalists note, however, that the draft rules being negotiated by member states currently include a clause to exempt ships flagged to countries with Arctic coastlines while operating in those waters until 2029.
    That exemption would end up applying to some of today’s most active Arctic shippers, including Russia and Canada.    Such “big loopholes” would make the regulation “virtually meaningless,” said Prior, of the Clean Arctic Alliance.
    “A significant amount – probably three-quarters or more – of the shipping currently using the Arctic will not need to apply the ban until July 1, 2029, if it remains as currently drafted,” Prior said.
    When asked about whether such exceptions would undermine the proposed regulation, the IMO spokeswoman said:
These are decisions made by the member states following discussion in the relevant fora.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Graphic by Michael Ovaska; Editing by Katy Daigle and Pravin Char)

8/29/2020 ‘Three Little Pigs’: Musk’s Neuralink Puts Computer Chips In Animal Brains by Tina Bellon
FILE PHOTO: Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is seen on a screen during a video message at the opening ceremony
of the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s neuroscience startup Neuralink on Friday unveiled a pig named Gertrude that has had a coin-sized computer chip in its brain for two months, showing off an early step toward the goal of curing human diseases with the same type of implant.
    Co-founded by Tesla Inc and SpaceX CEO Musk in 2016, San Francisco Bay Area-based Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain-computer interfaces that include thousands of electrodes in the most complex human organ to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and ultimately fuse humankind with artificial intelligence.
    “An implantable device can actually solve these problems,” Musk said on a webcast Friday, mentioning ailments such as memory loss, hearing loss, depression and insomnia.
    Musk did not provide a timeline for those treatments, appearing to retreat from earlier statements that human trials would begin by the end of this year.    Neuralink’s first clinical trials with a small number of human patients would be aimed at treating paralysis or paraplegia, the company’s head surgeon Dr. Matthew MacDougall said.
    Neuroscientists unaffiliated with the company said the presentation indicated that Neuralink had made great strides but cautioned that longer studies were needed.     Musk presented what he described as the “three little pigs demo.”    Gertrude, the pig with a Neuralink implant in the part of its brain that controls the snout, required some coaxing by Musk to appear on camera, but eventually began eating off of a stool and sniffing straw, triggering spikes on a graph tracking the animal’s neural activity.
    Musk said the company had three pigs with two implants each, and also revealed a pig that previously had an implant.    They were “healthy, happy and indistinguishable from a normal pig,” Musk said.    Musk said the company predicted a pig’s limb movement during a treadmill run at “high accuracy” using implant data.
    Musk described Neuralink’s chip, which is roughly 23 millimeters (0.9 inch) in diameter, as “a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires.”
    “I could have a Neuralink right now and you wouldn’t know,” Musk said.    “… Maybe I do.”
    One comment from a webcast viewer described the animals as “Cypork.”
    Graeme Moffat, a University of Toronto neuroscience research fellow, said Neuralink’s advancements were “order of magnitude leaps” beyond current science thanks to the novel chip’s size, portability, power management and wireless capabilities.
    Stanford University neuroscientist Sergey Stavisky said the company had made substantial and impressive progress since an initial demonstration of an earlier chip in July 2019.
    “Going from that to the fully implanted system in several pigs they showed is impressive and, I think, really highlights the strengths of having a large multidisciplinary team focused on this problem,” Stavisky said.
    Some researchers said longer studies would be required to determine the longevity of the device.
    Neuralink’s chip could also improve the understanding of neurological diseases by reading brain waves, one of the company’s scientists said during the presentation.
    Musk said the focus of Friday’s event was recruiting, not fundraising.    Musk has a history of bringing together diverse experts to drastically accelerate the development of innovations previously limited to academic labs, including rocket, hyperloop and electrical vehicle technologies through companies such as Tesla and SpaceX.
    Neuralink has received $158 million in funding, $100 million of which came from Musk, and employs about 100 people.
    Musk, who frequently warns about the risks of artificial intelligence, said the implant’s most important achievement beyond medical applications would be “some kind of AI symbiosis where you have an AI extension of yourself.”
    Small devices that electronically stimulate nerves and brain areas to treat hearing loss and Parkinson’s disease have been implanted in humans for decades.    Brain implant trials have also been conducted with a small number of people who have lost control of bodily functions due to spiral cord injuries or neurological conditions like strokes.
    Startups such as Kernel, Paradromics and NeuroPace also are trying to exploit advancements in material, wireless and signaling technology to create devices similar to Neuralink.    In addition, medical device giant Medtronic PLC produces brain implants to treat Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors and epilepsy.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Joe White, Dan Grebler and Will Dunham)

8/29/2020 Wildfire Burns Through Spain, Forcing Hundreds To Evacuate by OAN Newsroom
Photo via Copernicus Emergency Management Services.
    A large wildfire is burning its way through Andalusia, Spain, and has forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.    Firefighters teamed up with military personnel on Saturday to battle the blaze, which has been burning across the southern region since Thursday.
    There are more than 200 personnel and 26 aircraft units on scene working together to put out the flames.
    According to emergency services, at least 500 people were ordered to evacuate as strong winds fueled the blaze.
    “At around 1:15 am, they arrived at the old station where the houses are and they evacuated us,” explained one resident.    “They brought us here to the theater, and here we remain until the fire can be extinguished or they give us some news.”
    Evacuations were required in five different parts of Almonaster la Real.

9/1/2020 Dept. Of Energy Pays S.C. $600M For Plutonium Removal by OAN Newsroom
FILE – S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson speaks to the crowd at a Conservative Leadership Project presidential
forum, with Republican candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File)
    The Trump administration is moving forward with its commitment to remove plutonium from a South Carolina nuclear power plant.
    On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) met with South Carolina officials and granted the state $600 million upfront as part of a settlement.
    The agreement prohibits South Carolina from bringing a lawsuit to the DOE regarding plutonium removal until 2037.    This ends six-years of litigation between the state and the federal government to remove weapons-grade plutonium from the state.
    “It contractually enshrines obligations on the federal government over the long run that will prevent South Carolina from becoming a nuclear dumping ground,” explained state Attorney General Alan Wilson.    “And it brings in well over half-a-billion dollars to the state at a time when South Carolina needs it the most.”
    The DOE has estimated it will clear nearly 10 metric tons of nuclear waste from the state by 2049.

9/3/2020 At Least One Person Killed As Typhoon Maysak Hits Waterlogged Koreas by Josh Smith
General view shows a damaged street by Typhoon Maysak in Ulsan, South Korea, September 3, 2020. Yonhap via REUTERS
    SEOUL (Reuters) – At least one person was reported killed and thousands were temporarily without power as Typhoon Maysak smashed into the Korean peninsula on Thursday, bringing heavy rain and lashing winds to areas still recovering from Typhoon Bavi.
    The ninth typhoon of the season and the fourth to hit the peninsula this year left about 120,000 households without power across South Korea, officials said.Flights were cancelled or delayed and downed trees and other debris caused light damage, Yonhap news agency reported.
    One person died when winds shattered a window in South Korea’s second-largest city of Busan, which bore the brunt of the storm’s 170 kph (105 mph) winds, Yonhap reported.
    The peninsula typically sees only one typhoon a year, but another typhoon, Haishen, is brewing south of Japan and is expected to hit the Korean coast on Sunday or Monday, NASA’s Earth Observatory reported.
    A ship carrying 43 crew and nearly 6,000 cattle from New Zealand to China capsized in the wild weather in the East China Sea, according to a surviving crew member.
    The Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as Typhoon Maysak barrelled towards the Korean peninsula.
    Some of the areas hardest hit on Thursday were still counting the cost of last week’s Typhoon Bavi and one of the wettest monsoon seasons on record.
    Parts of the South Korean resort island of Jeju reported more than 1,000mm (39 inches) of rainfall since Tuesday, according to the weather agency.
    North Korea took the brunt of Typhoon Bavi, and for a second week in a row state TV carried rare live reports of storm surge and flooding, including in the coastal town on Wonsan.
    The reports showed a damaged bridge and flooded farmland, while a van with loudspeakers broadcast warnings to residents.
    Later in the day, state TV reported that the typhoon warning had been lifted, with no immediate reports of casualties.
    North Korea’s agriculture sector is particularly vulnerable to severe weather, and this summer’s storms and floods have raised concerns over the country’s tenuous food situation.
    The string of storms are being fuelled by “extremely warm water of the tropical Western Pacific,” NASA reported.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Minwoo Park; Editing by Stephen Coates)

9/4/2020 Endangered bee doesn’t warrant more protection by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The battle over the bee continues.
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that designating “critical habitat” is not warranted for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee.
    This designation would have been extra layer of protection for the bee, on top of its already endangered status.    The USFWS said the bee could survive without having specific areas managed for its protection.    According to the agency, biologists have concluded that habitat loss is not the biggest reason for the bee’s decline.    Additional factors include disease and climate change.
    An environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, decried the decision: “By refusing to designate critical habitat for the rusty patched bumblebee, the Fish and Wildlife Service is blatantly ignoring threats like habitat loss, pesticides and pathogens that are driving this species to extinction,” said Tara Cornelisse, an entomologist at the Center.
    “This decision weakens the bee’s protection under the Endangered Species Act and will hamper its recovery,” she said.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service said the designation of “critical habitat” wasn’t necessary: “The designation of critical habitat plays a very specific role in species recovery and is prudent when a species’ recovery is dependent on specific habitat elements it needs to survive,” said Lori Nordstrom, assistant regional director for ecological services in the service’s Great Lakes region.
    “As a habitat generalist, the rusty patched bumblebee can find the habitat it needs in a variety of ecosystems, including prairies, woodlands, marshes, agricultural landscapes and residential parks and gardens, all of which are abundant across the bee’s range,” she said.
    The rusty patched bumblebee was listed as endangered in 2017, the first bee in the continental U.S. ever to make the endangered species list.
Contributing: The Associated Press
The rusty patched bumblebee is endangered. AP

9/4/2020 Feds say gray wolves ‘have recovered’ by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Federal wildlife officials aim to remove endangered species protections for gray wolves across the U.S. this year.
    “We’re working hard to have this done by the end of the year, and I’d say it’s very imminent,” Aurelia Skipwith, director of the U.S.     Fish and Wildlife Service, said this week. The agency wants to return management authority of the wolves to the states.    Skipwith said that the wolf has “biologically recovered” and that its removal from the list would demonstrate the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act.    Shot, trapped and poisoned to near extinction in the past century, wolves in recent decades rebounded in the western Great Lakes region and portions of the West. The total population exceeds 6,000.     Wildlife protection groups were not pleased with the announcement.
    “History tells us that under the states’ authority to manage wolf populations, wolves die at the hands of trophy hunters,” the Wolf Conservation Center tweeted Tuesday.
    Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that “by stripping wolves of endangered species protections, decades of work to restore these ecologically important icons of the wild will be undone with the stroke of a pen.”
    “Most Americans want wolves to remain protected, not gunned down for sport,” Adkins said.    “Yet by declaring it open season on wolves, the Trump administration is catering to trophy hunters and the livestock industry."    “We’ll do everything we can to fight this cruel and misguided policy change.”
    The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the decision to delist the gray wolf from endangered species protection.
    “Populations have reached critically high numbers in many states – so high, in fact, that wolves are not just preying on livestock, but pushing elk and deer onto U.S. farms and ranches, which leads to even more destruction,” bureau president Zippy Duvall said in a statement in 2019.
Contributing: The Associated Press
The gray wolf population is at more than 6,000. AP

9/6/2020 Typhoon Haishen Hits Japan With High Winds And Power Outages by Stanley White
FILE PHOTO: High waves triggered by Typhoon Haishen crash against the coast of Amami Oshima island, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan September 5, 2020. Kyodo via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Typhoon Haishen drew closer to Japan’s southern mainland on Sunday, cutting power and prompting authorities to recommend evacuation and warn of potentially record rainfall, unprecedented wind, high tides and large ocean swells.
    Authorities urged early evacuation for more than 100,000 households in the southern island prefecture of Okinawa and in Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Nagasaki on Kyushu, Japan’s main southern island, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).
    “This typhoon is headed toward and may potentially make landfall in Kyushu, bringing record rains, winds, waves and high tides,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting with cabinet ministers.
    “I am asking that people exercise the utmost caution.”
    Trees on Yakushima, an island 100 km (60 miles) south of Kagoshima city could be seen shaking violently in strong winds and driving rain, in a post on Twitter.
    Elderly citizens wearing face masks due to the coronavirus outbreak were gathering at evacuation centres in Kagoshima and other parts of southern Japan, footage on national broadcaster NHK showed.
    The typhoon has cut power to almost 30,000 homes in Kagoshima prefecture and more than 3,000 homes in Okinawa, NHK said.
    Two injuries have been reported, according to the FDMA, but authorities were advising the highest levels of caution because of the risk of damage from high winds, flooding, and landslides.
    The typhoon is forecast to have atmospheric pressure of 945 hectopascals at its centre, and sustained winds of up to 216 km (134 miles) per hour by Monday, the meteorological agency said.
    The typhoon’s centre was near Yakushima on Sunday, moving north at 35 kph (22 mph).
    The typhoon was forecast to approach the Goto Islands west of Nagasaki around 3 a.m. on Monday (1800 GMT on Sunday) and then move to the Korean peninsula, according to Japan’s meteorological agency.
    One evacuation centre in Miyazaki reached capacity and stopped accepting evacuees as a precaution against the coronavirus, according to NHK.
    Airlines have cancelled more than 500 flights departing from Okinawa and southern Japan, NHK said.    Bullet train service in southern and western Japan was suspended, it said.
    Japan’s coastguard on Saturday suspended its search for crew missing from a cattle ship that capsized in the East China Sea for a second day because of the typhoon.
    Typhoon Haishen follows Typhoon Maysak, which smashed into the Korean peninsula on Thursday, leaving at least two dead and thousands temporarily without power.
(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by William Mallard)

9/6/2020 Typhoon Haishen To Make Landfall In Southern Japan by OAN Newsroom
This Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, satellite image released by NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information
System (EOSDIS) shows Typhoon Haishen barreling toward the main southwestern island of Kyushu on Sunday. (NASA via AP)
    Japanese authorities warned residents of potential record rainfall as Typhoon Haishen approached the country’s mainland this weekend.    More than 200,000 people were evacuated on Saturday as winds of more than 100 miles per hour brought storm surges and torrential rain to southern Japan.     This storm came after another typhoon, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, struck southwestern Japan just last week.
    Leaders have been urging residents to take precautionary measures before the storm hits.    It is expected to make landfall on Monday.
    “To all citizens, especially those who are living in areas which have high possibility of having river flooding or high tides, please stay alert on the information from your local authorities,” stated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.    “Please take immediate actions, such as to evacuate or secure safety, to protect your life.”
    North Korea has also been affected by these typhoons.    According to reports, thousands have been displaced and hundreds of homes were destroyed in the Korean Peninsula.

9/7/2020 Wildfires Burning Through Calif. Force Evacuations Amid Heat Wave by OAN Newsroom
A helicopter prepares to drop water at a wildfire in Yucaipa, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    Wildfires continue to ravage the Golden State amid a major heat wave.
    In Fresno and Madera counties, the Creek Fire has been burning since Friday.    So far, the blaze has forced numerous evacuations and a number severe injuries have been reported.
    Massive rescue operations have been underway since Saturday, when hundreds of campers became trapped near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir with no safe evacuation route. Operations were conducted by Fresno and Madera county officials, along with the National Guard, as helicopters lifted people out of the area.
    Evacuees from the Creek Fire are receiving aid from the Central California Red Cross.
    “We can see what’s the best plan for them tonight.    Will they be staying with friends or family?    Do they need a hotel? We can help meet those needs once they come here.” – Nicole Maul, Central California Red Cross

Members of a hand crew work on the fire line in Yucaipa, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    Meanwhile, the CZU Complex Fire continues to burn in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.    The blaze has destroyed hundreds of homes.
    “It was very shocking just seeing a pile of rubble, seeing the steps that lead up to what is nothing now,” explained one Boulder Creek resident.

Traffic comes to a stop at Highway CA-168 and Lodge Road as people are evacuated and roads closed because of
a wildfire Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 near Shaver Lake, Calif. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP)
    Many of those who were forced to flee their home are still unable to return.
    The El Dorado Fire, which erupted Saturday, continues its path of destruction in San Bernardino County.    Officials have issued mandatory evacuation orders for Oak Glen, Forest Falls and parts of Yucaipa.
    An evacuation center has been established by the Red Cross at the Yucaipa Community Center.    As of Sunday, no injuries or structural damage has been>     Fire fighters continue to battle each of these wild fires amid the heat wave, which impacted most of Southern California over Labor Day weekend.

9/7/2020 Typhoon Haishen Threatens Korea After Battering Japan by Sangmi Cha and Sakura Murakami
High waves triggered by Typhoon Haishen crash against the coast in Kagoshima, Kagoshima prefecture, in southwestern
Japan September 6, 2020, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korea hunkered down as Typhoon Haishen travelled northwards along the country’s east coast on Monday, a day after the powerful storm battered Japan’s southern islands where four people are missing following a landslide.
    The storm, carrying top sustained winds of up to 112 km (70 miles) per hour, cut power to more than 17,500 households in the southern tip of the Korean peninsula as it made landfall in the southern city of Ulsan, the country’s weather agency said.
    The wild weather uprooted trees and caused landslides near apartment buildings on Geoje Island, off the southeastern tip of the peninsula, according to footage sent by residents to local broadcaster KBS.
    At least one person was injured after their car overturned in strong winds in Busan, the country’s second largest city, where there was also flooding, the safety ministry said in a statement.
    More than 1,600 people were evacuated in preparation for the storm, while more than 76 flights across 7 airports, including Jeju International Airport, were cancelled.
    Two nuclear reactors in the city of Gyeongju, around 375 km (235 miles) southeast of Seoul were shut down, according to Yonhap news agency.    Entries to national parks and some national train services have been suspended, the ministry said.
    In Japan, the Kyodo news agency reported that four people were missing and more than 50 people were injured in the wake of the typhoon.
    The four went missing in the village of Shiiba, in Miyazaki prefecture, after a mudslide hit the office of a construction firm, Kyodo said.
    Among the injured were a woman who fell down a flight of stairs in the dark and four people who sustained cuts after the glass windows of an evacuation centre were blown in.
    Kyushu Electric said about 290,000 houses were still without power as of 1 p.m. (0400 GMT).
    Almost 2 million people had been ordered to evacuate the region, which was still recovering from heavy rains and flooding in July that killed 83 people.
    Typhoon Haishen comes just days after Typhoon Maysak smashed into the Korean peninsula, leaving at least two dead and thousands without power.
    North Korea, which bore the brunt of both Maysak and Typhoon Bavi a week earlier, is also in Haishen’s trajectory with the storm expected to draw near the port city of Chongjin Monday afternoon.
    Live footage on state TV, a rarity that has now been broadcast for three weeks, showed trees shaking and waves rising in Tongchon county in Gangwon province bordering the South.    The state broadcaster reported that all Tongchon residents had been evacuated.
    North Korea’s agriculture sector is particularly vulnerable to severe weather, and this summer’s storms and floods have raised concerns over the country’s tenuous food situation.
    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday toured coastal areas hit by Maysak, and ordered party members to join the recovery effort.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo; Editing by Jane Wardell)

9/8/2020 Record Floods Threaten Pyramid Sites In Sudan
FILE PHOTO: Creeping desert sands surround the Royal Cemeteries of Meroe Pyramids in Begrawiya
at River Nile State, Sudan November 10, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
    KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Record floods in Sudan have threatened sites housing the royal pyramids of Meroe and Nuri, two of the country’s most important archaeological areas, an official said on Tuesday.
    The royal bath at Meroe, a basin that fills during the annual flooding of the Nile, was at risk from unprecedented water levels, and teams have been working since Monday to protect the site from being swamped, said Hatem al-Nour, director of Sudan’s antiquities and museums authority.
    Meroe is an ancient city on the east bank of the River Nile about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of the capital Khartoum.    It was the capital of the Kush dynasty that ruled from the early 6th century B.C.
    At Nuri, about 350 km north of Khartoum, tombs buried 7-10 metres underneath pyramids had been affected by a rise in groundwater, Nour said.
    The Nuri pyramids include the tomb of Taharqa, who ruled over lands in modern day Sudan and Egypt in the 7th century B.C.    They are an “invaluable historical relic,” Nour said.
    As in Egypt, local dynasties buried members of the royal family in pyramid tombs.
    Floods in Sudan have left at least 102 people dead and destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes, according to the interior ministry.    Authorities have declared a three-month state of emergency.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alex Richardson)

9/8/2020 One In Eight Deaths In Europe Linked To Pollution, Environment, EU Says by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: The City of London financial district is seen from Primrose Hill as high
air pollution obscures the skyline over London April 10, 2015. . REUTERS/Toby Melville
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Environmental factors such as air pollution and heatwaves exacerbated by climate change contribute to around 13% of all deaths in Europe, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Tuesday.
    A total of 630,000 deaths in the European Union’s 27 countries plus Britain were attributable to environmental factors in 2012, the latest year for which data are available, EEA said in a report.
    “These deaths are preventable and can be significantly reduced through efforts to improve environmental quality,” it said.
    Air pollution is the biggest environmental health risk in Europe, contributing to more than 400,000 premature deaths each year.    Prolonged exposure to pollutants can cause diabetes, lung disease and cancer, and early evidence suggests air pollution may be linked to higher death rates among COVID-19 patients.
    Europe’s pollution levels plummeted amid lockdowns imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, but the dip is expected to be temporary and most EU countries are on course to miss their targets to cut air pollutants in the next decade.
    EEA said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the connection between the environment and human health, demonstrating the increased risk of passing diseases from animals to humans as a result of environmental degradation and meat production.
    “COVID-19 has been yet another wake-up call, making us acutely aware of the relationship between our ecosystems and our health,” EU health chief Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.
    The European Commission has proposed EU targets to make agriculture more sustainable, by ringfencing natural habitats and curbing pesticide use, although farming groups have warned the goals could curb crop yields.
    EEA said drinking water quality is consistently high across the EU, but it raised the alarm over the release of antibiotics through waste water treatment plants, which can spread antimicrobial resistance.    Infections from drug-resistant bacteria cause roughly 25,000 deaths in the EU each year.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Ed Osmond)

9/8/2020 COVID Robocop: The Droid That Reminds You To Wear Your Mask
French robot Pepper, detecting whether people are wearing face masks and if not, instructs them to wear them, is displayed at French robotics developer
SoftBank Robotics in Paris as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread out across France, September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
    PARIS (Reuters) – Engineers have developed a robot that can detect whether people are wearing a mask to guard against COVID-19 and, if not, politely remind them to put one on.
    The feature is an upgrade of Pepper, a 120 cm (47 inch) high robot with human-like features that is already in operation in some countries welcoming visitors to shops, exhibitions and other public spaces.
    Pepper’s camera scans the faces of people approaching it, and if it detects the lower half of their face is uncovered, it pronounces the phrase: “You have to always wear a mask properly.”
    If it sees that the visitor then puts on a mask, the robot follows up with the phrase: “Thank you for having put on your mask.”
    The idea is not to have a robot police whether people are wearing masks, but to provide a friendly reminder, said Jonathan Boiria, head of sales in Europe for SoftBank Robotics, the company behind Pepper.
    “Shops have to assign people at the entrance, a lot of people, to ensure respect for the wearing of masks, and sometimes that is a stretch,” Boiria told Reuters in Paris.
    “A robot allows you to free up some people so they can focus on their normal tasks.”
    “We’re all human.    Sometimes I take off my mask when I get off the bus and I forget to put it back on when I arrive at the office.    The robot provides a reminder.    We can all get it wrong or forget.”
(Reporting by Emilie Delwarde; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

9/9/2020 U.S. Regulator Calls Climate Change A Systemic Risk
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at
the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Climate change poses a “slow motion” systemic threat to the stability of the U.S. financial system requiring urgent action from financial regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Securities Exchange Commission.
    That is one of the findings of a landmark report commissioned by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and put together by a panel convened about 10 months ago by Rostin Behnam, one of two Democrats on the five-member CFTC.
    The panel’s 35 members, including representatives of Goldman Sachs Group Inc, BP Plc, the Dairy Farmers of America, and The Nature Conservancy among others, approved the report on Tuesday.
    “The physical impacts of climate change are already affecting the United States, and … the transition to net-zero emissions may also impact many segments of the economy,” the 196-page report said.
    “Both physical and transition risks could give rise to systemic and sub-systemic financial shocks, potentially causing unprecedented disruption in the proper functioning of financial markets and institutions.”
    A sudden shift in perceptions of the risks from frequent wildfires and intense hurricanes could bring a sudden drop in asset prices, for instance, that cascades through a community and spill more broadly into markets, the report said.
    And because the COVID-19 pandemic has depleted household wealth, government budgets and business balance sheets, the economy is more vulnerable than before, it added, “increasing the probability of an overall shock with systemic implications.”
    The report’s release comes less than two months ahead of a national election that pits Republican President Donald Trump, who says climate change is a hoax, against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who calls climate change an “existential threat.”
    Its first recommendation is to “establish a price on carbon” that is hefty enough to push businesses and markets to cut use of carbon dioxide-producing fuels such as oil and gas.    Taxing carbon would require action by Congress.
    But the report’s dozens of other recommendations amount to a call for a sweeping rewrite of financial market rules and norms that could go forward without any new laws and no matter who wins the presidency.
    Among the proposals: requiring banks to address climate-related financial risks and listed companies to disclose emissions, and to stress test community banks for their resilience to climate change.
    Regulators in Europe have worked for years on efforts to calibrate and mitigate climate risks to financial markets.
    Regulators in the United States, where politicians regularly cast doubt on the fact that burning fossil fuels is affecting the earth’s climate, have lagged far behind on such work.
    Only recently has the Federal Reserve begun to acknowledge the potential for climate change to destabilize the financial system, and to think about possible responses.
    The report urges financial authorities to integrate climate risk “into their balance sheet management and asset purchases, particularly relating to corporate and municipal debt.”
    It also calls for them to do research into the financial implications of climate change and join international climate-focused groups, such as the Network for Greening the Financial System, all of which appear to specifically apply to the Fed.
(Reporting by Ann Saphir in Berkeley, Calif.; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

9/9/2020 Brazil’s Amazon Fires Worsen In September, Threaten Virgin Forests by Jake Spring
FILE PHOTO: A Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) fire brigade member attempts to
control a fire in a tract of the Amazon jungle in Apui, Amazonas State, Brazil, August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest worsened in the first week of September and are increasingly spreading into areas of untouched forest, satellite data showed as of Wednesday, after the number of fires likely reached a 10-year high in August.
    Brazil reported 8,373 fires in its portion of the Amazon rainforest for the first seven days of September, more than double the number of fires in the same period a year-ago, according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe.
    A pressing concern is that 27% of the major fires so far in September have been in virgin forest, rather than in recently deforested areas or farmland where blazes are more contained, according to an analysis of satellite images by U.S.-based non-profit Amazon Conservation, reviewed exclusively by Reuters.
    That’s up from 13% in August.
    “It’s much more of this uncontrolled fire scenario that’s just being unleashed,” said Matt Finer, who leads the non-profit’s fire tracking project.
    “These fires, we have no idea where it’s going to go, when it’s going to stop and as the dry season intensifies, it’s just going to get worse.”
    Considering all types of fires, September has already averaged 53 major blazes per day in the first week, up from 18 a day in August, according to Amazon Conservation.
    Amazon Conservation defines major fires as those that emit enough smoke to indicate a large amount of biomass is burning, whereas Inpe’s data is based on heat points, which also detect smaller fires.
    The Inpe figure showing fires doubled may be an underestimate because an issue with a NASA satellite caused partial data to be reported until Sept. 2, although the issue has been resolved in subsequent days, according to NASA and Inpe.
    Revised Inpe data is expected to show fires increased to a 10-year high for August, even worse than the same month last year when Amazon fires provoked global outcry.
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

9/9/2020 Gov. Newsom: 2020 Largest Fire Season In Recent Modern History by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters monitor the Bear Fire burning in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. The blaze, part of the
lightning-sparked North Complex, expanded at a critical rate of spread as winds buffeted the region. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Several wildfires continue to devastate the Golden State as at least 14,00 firefighters battle a record number of fires.    On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom updated Californians on the status of the fires. He confirmed there have been 900 fires since the middle of August with 25 of them being major.
    “This is the largest fire season we’ve had in terms of total acreage impacted in some time, back recorded recent modern history,” he stated.    “i>But nonetheless, you put it in comparison in contrast to last year, it’s rather extraordinary.”
    Gov. Newsom claimed the increase in total fires in 2020 dramatically differs from 2019.    There were nearly 5,000 fires last year and a total of 7,600 fires this year.    He said the total fire damage in 2019 didn’t surpass 120 acres, but fires this year burned a total of 2.3 million acres.
    “So this is a challenging year, it’s historic in terms of magnitude, scope and consequence,” said the Democrat governor.    “And it also has required us a deep reservoir of resource.”
Major fires picked up over the holiday weekend in areas including the counties of Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego.
A table stands outside the destroyed Cressman’s General Store after the Creek Fire burned
through Fresno County, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Gov. Newsom highlighted the extensive resources provided by the state and federal governments as well as international assistance.    He also highlighted a successful rescue operation in the Sierra National Forest, where nearly 400 people have been brought to safety.
    “It’s just a remarkable moment that gives me a sense of optimism at a time when I know we’re filled with fear, so many of us with anxiety about the world we’re living in this state,” he stated.    “But people are remarkable these moments and selfless in these moments.”
    Meanwhile, Gov. Newsom is urging residents to watch their actions while citing annual statistics stating that 90-percent of fires in California are man made.
    Fire officials are predicting a long fire season and are expecting fire threats to increase through the coming months.

9/10/2020 Wild Weather This Year Shows Growing Impact Of Climate Change, Scientists Say by Matthew Green
FILE PHOTO: Miraceli de Oliveira reacts as the fire approaches their house in an area of the Amazon rainforest,
near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – The planet is showing signs it’s in peril.    In recent weeks, the world has seen ferocious wildfires in the U.S. West, torrential rains in Africa, weirdly warm temperatures on the surface of tropical oceans, and record heat waves from California to the Siberian Arctic.
    This spate of wild weather is consistent with climate change, scientists say, and the world can expect even more extreme weather and higher risks from natural disasters as global emissions of greenhouse gases continue.
    “We are seeing the emergence of some signals that would have had almost no chance of happening without human-induced climate change,” said Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at Swiss university ETH Zurich.
    For decades, scientists have warned of such events – but have been wary of saying that a particular storm or heat wave was a direct result of climate change. That’s now changing.
    Advances in a relatively new field known as “event attribution science” have enabled researchers to assess how big a role climate change might have played in a specific case.
    In determining that link, scientists assess simulations of how weather systems might behave if humans had never started pumping carbon dioxide into the air, and compare that with what is happening today.    They also factor in weather observations made over the last century or more.
    “What seemed like an established truth that you cannot attribute a particular extreme weather event to climate change is less and less true,” Seneviratne told Reuters.
    The clearest examples are found in the growing frequency and intensity of heat waves worldwide.
    Scientists needed only days to identify climate change as the key culprit in this year’s record temperatures in Siberia, with extreme heat drying out forests and peat across the Russian tundra, leading to massive wildfires.
    Climate change links have also been found in the simultaneous summer heat waves that hit Europe, Japan and North America in 2018.    Studies found that the chances of these events happening together would have been near zero without the industrial-era rise in planet-warming carbon emissions.
    “When it comes to heat waves, we see that climate change is an absolute game-changer,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford who has helped to pioneer the field of attribution science.
    As a heat wave hit the U.S. West Coast last month, Earth saw a new record high temperature of 54.4 Celsius (130 Fahrenheit) in Death Valley, which sits below sea level in California’s Mojave Desert.    Weeks later, the region was still broiling, with the mercury soaring Sunday to a new record of 49C for nearby Los Angeles County.
    “It’s not so much that climate change is destabilising historical weather patterns,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California.    “In many cases, it’s amplifying them.”
    Hotter temperatures in turn sap the air of humidity and dry out forest and brush on land, creating perfect conditions for wildfires.    In California, “the fires that we’re seeing are larger, and faster moving, and more intense than those you could have expected historically,” Swain said.
    But attribution science has not explained everything.    For example, researchers do not yet fully understand Europe’s heat waves.
    “In Western Europe, the increase in heat waves is much stronger than the models predict, and we have no clue why,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, an attribution science expert at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.
    As average global temperatures have risen by about 1C since pre-industrial times, changes in the atmosphere and oceans are also leading to more intense storms.
    Hurricanes overall are getting stronger and spinning slower, as they pick up energy from the heat in the oceans.    Researchers at the University of Bristol in the west of England published a study last month that found that climate change could make extreme hurricane rainfall in the Caribbean five times more likely, without rapid cuts in emissions.
    In the United States, warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico boosted Hurricane Laura to a category 4 storm in the last hours before it slammed into Louisiana with 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds.    Governor John Bel Edwards described it as the most powerful hurricane to strike the state, surpassing even Katrina in 2005.
    Tropical cyclones spinning out from the Indian Ocean are showing similar patterns.    The region has long been considered a hot spot for cyclones, with some of the deadliest storms in recent history churning through the Bay of Bengal before slamming into India or Bangladesh.
    Exceptionally high surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, associated with climate change, helped Cyclone Amphan grow into a Category 5 storm in a record 18 hours before it tore into the Indian state of West Bengal in May, scientists say.
    The following month, Cyclone Nisarga, initially forecast to be the first to batter Mumbai since 1948, made landfall 100 km (65 miles) south of the city, with winds gusting up to 120 kph (75 mph).
    “Both of the cyclones were unprecedented,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.    “If we go back to what led to these kinds of extreme events, what we see is that very warm ocean temperatures have played a major role.”
    Those warm ocean temperatures are also likely contributing to extreme rainfall and flooding in China, which this summer suffered its most punishing flood season in three decades.
    “The extreme rainfall events are going to become more extreme.    That is something we feel pretty confident about,” said Shang-Ping Xie, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.
    Africa is feeling this now, following torrential rains and severe flooding.    Tens of thousands have been left homeless by flooding from the Nile in Sudan.    And in Senegal, more rain fell on a single day on Saturday than the country would usually see during three months of the rainy season, the government said.
    “There’s a large and growing body of evidence that is telling us that human-caused climate change is affecting extreme events,” said James Kossin, a climate scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.    “It’s very rare that this is happening in a helpful way.”
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)
[I think they are wrong as the Earth's axis is tilting more and changing the weather patterns.].

9/10/2020 Severe Floods Hit 760,000 People In West And Central Africa by Boureima Balima
FILE PHOTO: Residents walk through a flooded street after last week's heavy rains
in Keur Massar, Senegal September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo
    NIAMEY (Reuters) – Nigerien student Hachimou Abdou has had to catch a boat to classes since river water swamped his route to university in the capital Niamey – one of about 760,000 people hit by severe flooding in recent weeks in parts of West and Central Africa.
    Floods are common during the rainy season, but in recent years climate change, land degradation and poor urban planning have led to more frequent disasters as rapidly-growing cities struggle with heavier-than-normal rainfall.
    Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Congo Republic and Senegal are among those worst-hit this year, with at least 111 people killed, according to latest figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
    Waters have yet to recede in parts of Niamey since torrential rains in August caused rivers to burst their banks, destroying nearly 32,000 houses and 5,768 hectares of farmland across Niger.
    “I have to get to university – either I take a boat or I walk in the water,” Abdou said, before settling into a traditional wooden pirogue to travel up the flooded highway.
    Flooding across landlocked Niger alone has so far impacted nearly 333,000 people.    Over 188,000 people have been affected in neighbouring Chad, with OCHA warning of potential food shortages due to inundated land.
    With further rain expected, particularly in Central Africa, the situation is expected to worsen, said OCHA’s director for West and Central Africa, Julie Belanger.
    Communities’ ability to cope with natural disasters has been eroded by instability, food shortages and mass displacement in some areas.    Over 25 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the violence-plagued Sahel area, which includes Niger, Chad and Mali.
    “Many of those populations live in flood-prone areas.    It’s just a matter of time for them to be at risk of epidemics,” Belanger said, describing how quickly diseases can spread once floods wipe out access to clean water and sanitation.
(Reporting by Boureima Balima; Additional reporting and writing by Alessandra Prentice in Dakar; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

9/10/2020 At Least 7 Dead In Wildfires Across Calif., Ore., Wash. by OAN Newsroom
The Creek Fire burns along a hillside in the Cascadel Woods community of
Madera County, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    At least seven people are dead amid a series of wildfires, which continue to burn across the western United States.    According to reports, more than 100 major fires have destroyed thousands of homes and burned up nearly 7,000 square miles.
    Three are dead and another dozen have been reported missing in northern California.    Three deaths were reported in Oregon, while Washington state confirmed one death.
    Oregon Governor Kate Brown claimed five towns have been “substantially destroyed.”
    “We expect to see a great deal of loss as a result of these fires, both in terms of structures and in terms of human lives,” she said.    “It, as I mentioned earlier, could be the greatest loss in human lives and property due to wildfire in our state’s history.”
    According to the National Weather Service, gusty winds should weaken going into the weekend.    However, the threat of fire and poor air quality due to smoke will remain high.
The ruins of a shopping mall in Phoenix, Ore., are seen Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020,
destroyed when fire swept through the area Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
    Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently updated residents on his state’s efforts to contain the hundreds of wildfires burning in California.
    On Wednesday, he announced 50 new fires had sparked overnight.    More than half of them are considered to be large fire complexes.
    “We now have 28 large fire complexes that we’re battling here in the state of California.    Four fires, in particular, have generated a lot of attention: the Fork Fire, the Bear Fire up in Butte County, and the Willow Fire.    Those three, in particular, are points of concern.” – Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
    The Willow Fire broke out on Wednesday in Yuba County, which is just north of Sacramento.    The Bear Fire in nearby Butte County has grown rapidly to more than 97,000 acres.
    Authorities have been encountering new challenges as resources and manpower are stretched thin across the state.
In this image taken with a slow shutter speed, embers light up a hillside behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge
as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    In mid-August, Newsom declared a statewide emergency and brought firefighters in from across the country to help battle the blazes.    Californian officials have since claimed it’s not enough and are asking Canada for help.
    “We’re all competing for fire specific resources, so it does provide a challenge,” said Emergency Services Chief Brian Marshall.    “It’s a challenge to all the states being affected right now.”
    Despite these setbacks, the governor believes this week’s weather could provide an advantage in containment efforts.
    “We’re encouraged that the wind activity appears to be dying down.    The rest of the week looks a little bit more favorable from a wind perspective and a weather perspective.    That will aid our efforts on these 28 major fires in the state.” – Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
    A red flag warning has been issued for the weekend.    Officials have urged residents to prepare for evacuations if necessary.

9/14/2020 Potential Sign Of Alien Life Detected On Inhospitable Venus by Will Dunham
Data from NASA's Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter is used in an undated
composite image of the planet Venus. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERS.
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists said on Monday they have detected in the harshly acidic clouds of Venus a gas called phosphine that indicates microbes may inhabit Earth’s inhospitable neighbor, a tantalizing sign of potential life beyond Earth.
    The researchers did not discover actual life forms, but noted that on Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments.    The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile.
    “I was very surprised – stunned, in fact,” said astronomer Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in Wales, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
.     The existence of extraterrestrial life long has been one of the paramount questions of science.    Scientists have used probes and telescopes to seek “biosignatures” – indirect signs of life – on other planets and moons in our solar system and beyond.
    “With what we currently know of Venus, the most plausible explanation for phosphine, as fantastical as it might sound, is life,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology molecular astrophysicist and study co-author Clara>     “I should emphasize that life, as an explanation for our discovery, should be, as always, the last resort,” Sousa-Silva added.    “This is important because, if it is phosphine, and if it is life, it means that we are not alone.    It also means that life itself must be very common, and there must be many other inhabited planets throughout our galaxy.”
    Phosphine – a phosphorus atom with three hydrogen atoms attached – is highly toxic to people.
    Earth-based telescopes like those used in this research help scientists study the chemistry and other characteristics of celestial objects.
    Phosphine was seen at 20 parts-per-billion in the Venusian atmosphere, a trace concentration.    Greaves said the researchers examined potential non-biological sources such as volcanism, meteorites, lightning and various types of chemical reactions, but none appeared viable.    The research continues to either confirm the presence of life or find an alternative explanation.
    Venus is Earth’s closest planetary neighbor.    Similar in structure but slightly smaller than Earth, it is the second planet from the sun.    Earth is the third.    Venus is wrapped in a thick, toxic atmosphere that traps in heat.    Surface temperatures reach a scorching 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius), hot enough to melt lead.
    “I can only speculate on what life might survive on Venus, if indeed it is there.    No life would be able to survive on the surface of Venus, because it is completely inhospitable, even for biochemistries completely different from ours,” Sousa-Silva said.     “But a long time ago, Venus could have had life on its surface, before a runaway greenhouse effect left the majority of the planet completely uninhabitable.”
    Some scientists have suspected that the Venusian high clouds, with mild temperatures around 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), could harbor aerial microbes that could endure extreme acidity.    These clouds are around 90% sulphuric acid.    Earth microbes could not survive that acidity.
    “If it’s microorganisms, they would have access to some sunlight and water, and maybe live in liquid droplets to stop themselves dehydrating, but they would need some unknown mechanism to protect against corrosion by acid,” Greaves said.
    On Earth, microorganisms in “anaerobic” environments – ecosystems that do not rely on oxygen – produce phosphine.    These include sewage plants, swamps, rice fields, marshlands, lake sediments and the excrements and intestinal tracts of many animals.    Phosphine also arises non-biologically in certain industrial settings.
    To produce phosphine, Earth bacteria take up phosphate from minerals or biological material and add hydrogen.
    “We have done our very best to explain this discovery without the need for a biological process.    With our current knowledge of phosphine, and Venus, and geochemistry, we cannot explain the presence of phosphine in the clouds of Venus.    That doesn’t mean it is life.    It just means that some exotic process is producing phosphine, and our understanding of Venus needs work,” Clara Sousa-Silva said.
    Venus should be hostile to phosphine.    Its surface and atmosphere are rich in oxygen compounds that would rapidly react with and destroy phosphine.
    “Something must be creating the phosphine on Venus as fast as it is being destroyed,” said study co-author Anita Richards, an astrophysicist associated with the University of Manchester in England.
    While previous robotic spacecraft have visited Venus, a new probe may be needed to confirm life.
    “Fortunately, Venus is right next door,” Sousa-Silva said.    “So we can literally go and check.”

9/14/2020 Hurricane Sally Barrels Toward Gulf Coast by OAN Newsroom
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards puts his face mask back on at the conclusion of a press conference at Louisiana State Police
Training Academy, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. Edwards says the state will ease various restrictions on public gatherings
aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 — but he’s withholding details for a day. Edwards said Thursday that Louisiana will
move to “Phase Three” of restrictions after current restrictions expire Friday. (Travis Spradling/The Advocate via AP)
Tropical Storm Sally has upgraded to a Category One hurricane as the storm continues to barrel toward the gulf coast.        The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm Monday as sustained winds hit 85 miles per hour.
    Residents in both Mississippi and Louisiana are making last minute preparations as they brace for the storm.    On Sunday, the states’ governors urged their residents to prepare for the incoming storm, which meteorologists predict could hit as a Category Two hurricane.
    Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said Mississippi is taking actions to prepare for possible evacuations such as setting up shelters and fueling up high water vehicles.    He called on families to make disaster plans, stock emergency kits and prepare for power outages.
    “It is going to affect certainly our coastal region with significant amounts of rainfall,” Reeves explained.    “But as it currently is projected, the eye of the storm would actually enter into Mississippi somewhere around Columbia and so our southwest part of our state is going to be affected immensely as well.”
    Meanwhile in Louisiana, forecasters said the storm track has shifted slightly west, which has brought more of the state into play.    As a result, Gov. John Bel Edwards advised residents to take preparations seriously.
    “Based on all the available information we have right now from the National Weather Service, from the Hurricane Center and our in-state meteorologist, we have every reason to believe that this storm represents a very significant threat to the people of Southeast Louisiana,” he stated.
    The storm comes as residents in Louisiana continue to reel from Hurricane Laura, which hit late last month.

9/14/2020 Sea Of Slush: Arctic Sea Ice Lows Mark A New Polar Climate Regime by Natalie Thomas and Cassandra Garrison
A satellite image shows the Spalte glacier, in Northeast Greenland, August 8, 2018. EU Copernicus and GEUS/Handout
    ARCTIC OCEAN (Reuters) – At the edge of the ice blanketing part of the Arctic Ocean, the ice on Monday looked sickly. Where thick sheets of ice once sat atop the water, now a layer of soft, spongey slush slid and bobbed atop the waves.
    From the deck of a research ship under a bright, clear sky, “ice pilot” Paul Ruzycki mused over how quickly the region was changing since he began helping ships spot and navigate between icebergs in 1996.
    “Not so long ago, I heard that we had 100 years before the Arctic would be ice free in the summer,” he said.    “Then I heard 75 years, 25 years, and just recently I heard 15 years.    It’s accelerating.”
    As if on cue, scientists on Monday said the vast and ancient ice sheet sitting atop Greenland had sloughed off a 113 square kilometer chunk of ice last month.    The section of the Spalte Glacier at the northwest corner of the Arctic island had been cracking for several years before finally breaking free on Aug. 27, clearing the way inland ice loss to the sea, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland reported.
    With climate change driving up Arctic temperatures, the once-solid sea ice cover has been shrinking to stark, new lows in recent years.    This year’s minimum, still a few days from being declared, is expected to be the second-lowest expanse in four decades of record-keeping.     The record low of 3.41 million square kilometers – reached in September 2012 after a late-season cyclonic storm broke up the remaining ice – is not much below what we see today.
    “We haven’t gone back at all to anything from 30 to 40 years ago,” said climatologist Julienne Stroeve at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. And as climate change continues, scientists say the sea ice is unlikely to recover to past levels.
    In fact, the long-frozen region is already shifting to an entirely new climate regime, marked by the escalating trends in ice melt, temperature rise and rainfall days, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.     Those findings, climate scientist Laura Landrum said, were “unnerving.”
    All three variables – sea ice, temperatures and rainfall – are now being measured well beyond the range of past observations.    That makes the future of the Arctic more of a mystery.
    “The new climate can’t be predicted by the previous climate,” Landrum explained.    “The year-to-year variability, the change in many of these parameters, is moving outside the bounds of past fluctuations.”
    Sea ice coverage minimums, in particular, are now about 31% lower than in the decade after 1979, when satellite observations began.    The ice has also lost about two-thirds of its bulk, as much of the thicker ice layer built up over years has long since melted away.    The current ice regime actually began about two decades ago, the study found.
    This vanishing of sea ice also contributes to the region’s warming, as the icy white expanse is replaced by patches of dark water that absorb solar radiation rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere.    The process, referred to as Arctic amplification, helps to explain why the Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the world over the last four decades.
    The polar north will also likely see more days of rain rather than snow, which would further eat into the ice.    For the new research, Landrum and her colleague Marika Holland at the National Center for Atmospheric Research analyzed sea ice, air temperature and precipitation data since 1950 to project climate scenarios up to the end of the century.    They used computer simulations in the analysis and assumed the world’s release of greenhouse gas emissions would continue at a high trajectory.
    Back in the Arctic Ocean aboard the Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise research ship, biologist Kirsten Thompson of the University of Exeter said the new study was important in underlining “how fast and how profoundly the Arctic is changing.”
    For Thompson, that means big change for the region’s wildlife, from polar bears and insects to the whales she focuses on studying.    “All their distributions are changing,” Thompson said.    “We might find in the Arctic there will be winners and losers,” as new species enter the region and outcompete indigenous animals.
    “Other species certainly will not be able to survive in the future.”
(Reporting by Natalie Thomas in the Arctic Ocean and Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

9/15/2020 European Space Agency Signs Deal For Asteroid Defence Mission
FILE PHOTO: A logo of the European Space Agency (ESA) is pictured at their headquarters
in Darmstadt, Germany, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo
    DARMSTADT, Germany (Reuters) – The European space agency (ESA) signed a deal worth 129 million euros ($154 million) on Tuesday to make a spacecraft for a joint project with NASA looking at how to deflect an asteroid heading for Earth.
    NASA is due to launch a spacecraft in June 2021 set on a collision course with the Dimorphos asteroid to test whether it would be possible to nudge objects that might be threatening Earth onto a safer path.
    ESA will then launch its spacecraft – named Hera after the Greek goddess of marriage – in October 2024 to map the resulting impact crater and measure the asteroid’s mass, reaching the area in late 2026 for a six-month survey.
    The mission is reminiscent of the 1998 film Armageddon, in which actor Bruce Willis plays a member of a team sent to destroy an asteroid to save Earth.
    “We want to try for the first time to steer an asteroid on its potential collision course with Earth,” ESA director Rolf Densing told Reuters television.
    Dimorphos has a diameter of 160 metres, about the width of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, which ESA said was big enough to destroy an entire city if it were to hit Earth.
    Hera, set to be only the size of a desk, should navigate autonomously around the asteroid while it collects data.    It will also launch mini satellites – 10 cm cubes which will be able to fly much closer to the asteroid’s surface.
    Marco Fuchs, chief executive of German space and technology group OHB that will develop the Hera craft, said trying to divert an asteroid was like “playing billiards” and noted the challenge of steering towards such a small celestial body.
    “You have to steer very precisely, you have to find it first and then approach it in such a way that you can really observe what has happened as a result of the impact of the American probe,” he said.
($1 = 0.8413 euros)
(Reporting by Tilman Blasshofer, writing by Emma Thomasson, editing by Alexandra Hudson)

9/15/2020 Millions Under Evacuation Orders As Hurricane Sally Moves Toward Gulf Coast by OAN Newsroom
This satellite image provided by the NOAA shows five tropical cyclones churning in the Atlantic basin at 5:20 p.m.
GMT on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. The storms, from left, are Hurricane Sally over the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane
Paulette over Bermuda, the remnants of Tropical Storm Rene, and Tropical Storms Teddy and Vicky. (NOAA via AP)
    Governors in the south have declared a state of emergency as Hurricane Sally, a Category Two storm, continues to make it’s way toward the Gulf Coast.
    Mississippi residents and those living in low-lying areas in Louisiana were under evacuation orders as Sally churned across the Gulf of Mexico, gaining hurricane strength on Monday.
    “So, we have to take precautions of everything right now,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).    “Making sure that we have everything for the storm, making sure that if they say leave, we will leave.”
    The governor went on to note that Sally is a slow, but powerful storm and is expected to make landfall as a Category Two hurricane in the southeast part of the state as early as Tuesday.
    “What we know with a slow-moving storm, if one of those bands settle over part of Louisiana, we know that flooding is going to be a big concern,” he explained.
    Sally could dump eight to 16 inches of rain on the coast and could cause widespread flooding.
Waters from the Guld of Mexico poor onto a local road, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Waveland, Miss. Hurricane Sally, one of a record-tying
five storms churning simultaneously in the Atlantic, closed in on the Gulf Coast on Monday with rapidly strengthening winds of at least
100 mph (161 kph) and the potential for up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) of rain that could bring severe flooding. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbrt)
    Thousands of Louisiana residents are still living in temporary housing after they evacuated for Hurricane Laura, whose damaging winds and rains wreaked havoc just weeks ago.     Other residents are still clearing debris and tens of thousands are still without power. Sally’s path remains east of that hard-hit area.     Energy companies in the U.S. gulf have slowed or cut refinery output, and scrambled to pull workers from offshore oil and gas production platforms.     Sally is the 18th named storm in the Atlantic this year and will be the eighth of tropical storm or hurricane strength to hit the U.S.

9/16/2020 Mitra The Robot Helps COVID Patients In India Speak To Loved Ones by Adnan Abidi and Alasdair Pal
A medical worker puts robot named 'Mitra' , which is used by the patients suffering from the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to communicate with their relatives, on charge at the Yatharth Super Speciality
Hospital in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hospital in India has deployed a customer-service robot to patrol its wards, connecting coronavirus patients to friends and relatives.
    Mitra, meaning “friend” in Hindi, is best known for interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event in 2017.
    Its piercing eyes are equipped with facial recognition technology to help it recall people it has previously interacted with.    A tablet attached to Mitra’s chest allows patients to see loved ones, as well as medical staff unable to access the wards.
    “It takes a lot of time to recover, and during this time, when patients need their families the most, they are unable to visit,” said Dr Arun Lakhanpal, a doctor at the Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension, a satellite city of the capital New Delhi.
    Mitra is mainly used by patients who are not able to communicate using their phones.
    “We mainly discuss my health,” said Makhanlal Qazi, a retired government bureaucrat and coronavirus patient who has used the robot to communicate with relatives.    “I came here on Friday and now I have started feeling better.    I am feeling very happy now.”
    The robot, developed by Bengaluru-based start-up Invento Robotics, cost the hospital 1 million rupees ($13,600), according Yatharth Tyagi, director of the company that runs the hospital.
    Mitra is also being used for remote consultations with specialists to reduce their risk of becoming infected, he added.
    “Normally it is very difficult for a psychologist or a dietician to see a COVID patient,” Tyagi said, adding the robot is “very useful.”
    India’s novel coronavirus cases surged past 5 million on Wednesday, only the second country in the world to cross the grim milestone after the United States. [FWN2GC0UU]
(Reporting by Adnan Abidi and Alasdair Pal in New Delhi; Editing by Stephen Coates)

9/16/2020 Hurricane Sally Causes Catastrophic Flooding Along North-Central Gulf Coast by OAN Newsroom
Flood waters move on the street, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Pensacola, Fla. Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday near Gulf Shores,
Alabama, as a Category 2 storm, pushing a surge of ocean water onto the coast and dumping torrential rain that forecasters
said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    Hurricane Sally continues to dump rain on Alabama and Florida after it made landfall as a Category Two hurricane on Wednesday.
    According to forecasters, the storm is expected to cause disastrous flooding from Florida’s Panhandle to Mississippi in the coming days.
    The storm has caused mass power outages, knocked out a chunk of a three-mile bridge in Pensacola and prompted water rescues after many homes became inundated with water.    Some areas, which were hit with torrential rain and storm surges, are under at least three feet of water.
    “Everything is under water, buildings, it’s crazy,” said Florida resident Jordan Muse.    “It just so happens the power people have the biggest trucks, they are the only ones not flooding.”
    The storm is moving at a walking pace and is predicted to turn northeast before crashing into the southeast on Friday.
Flood waters move on the street, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in downtown Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    Governors in the South declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s arrival.    Mississippi residents and those living in low-lying areas in Louisiana were under evacuation orders as Sally churned across the Gulf of Mexico.
    “So, we have to take precautions of everything right now,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).    “Making sure that we have everything for the storm, making sure that if they say leave, we will leave.”
    Thousands of Louisiana residents are still living in temporary housing after they evacuated for Hurricane Laura, whose damaging winds and rains wreaked havoc just weeks ago.    Other residents are still clearing debris and tens of thousands are still without power.
    In the meantime, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reaffirmed the Trump administration is working closely with local officials to get supplies and aid to those in need.
Vehicles maneuver on a flooded road near a boat washed up near the road after Hurricane Sally moved
through the area, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Orange Beach, Ala. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

9/16/2020 Los Angeles Area ‘Bobcat Fire’ Threatens Century-Old Observatory by OAN Newsroom
FILE – This Aug. 9, 2014, file photo, shows the dome of the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, which houses the 100-inch
(254 cm) Hooker Telescope in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John Antczak, File)
    California firefighters continue to protect a historic observatory in Los Angeles County, which came under threat from the flames of the Bobcat Fire this week.    The blaze, which is burning above the San Gabriel Valley foothills, reportedly came within 500 feet of the 116-year-old Mount Wilson Observatory.
    Officials from the observatory confirmed all personnel had been evacuated and added the fire was “knocking on our door.”
    Firefighters worked to save the observatory, along with $1 billion worth of nearby transmission towers that serve TV, radio and government agencies.
    “They were able to get a lot of good work done around Mount Wilson,” explained Kerri Gilliland with California Incident Management.    “We should have resources in there throughout the night, monitoring the fire growth as well as trying to do any mop-up operations.”

Smoke from wildfires burning east of Los Angeles dims the sunrise on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, seen from Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/John Antczak)
    The fire has burned nearly 42,000 acres and was at 6% containment on Monday.    On Wednesday, containment dropped to 3% due to flare-ups.
[When I lived in California in 1974-1987 I had gone up to the Griffith Observatory which is what it was called at that time to go see the laser shows and its sad to see what they are doing to California today.].

9/17/2020 Researchers Discover Antibody Molecule That Could Be Used As Preventative To COVID-19 by OAN Newsroom
A monitor depicts the structure of SARS-CoV-2 during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public
health during the coronavirus pandemic on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Washington. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)
    Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said they have isolated a molecule that could be used as a treatment against COVID-19.
    According to a report released earlier this week, the scientists isolated the “smallest biological molecule” that specifically neutralizes the virus that causes the virus.
    The molecule has been used to create the drug Ab8 and has been viewed as a potential preventative treatment.    Head researchers said the molecule is 10 times smaller than a regular sized antibody, which means it can penetrate into more areas of the body.
    “It’s fully human, meaning that there’s no foreign material that’s likely to be rejected by the host,” explained Dr. John Mellors, Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh.    “It’s extremely potent.”
    The molecule also doesn’t bind to human cells, which suggests there would be no negative side effects.    Researchers are also looking into different ways to administer the treatment and said it could be inhaled rather than injected.

9/17/2020 More Than 50K Acres Burned In Bobcat Fire, Officials Steer Flames Away From Historic Observatory by OAN Newsroom
Smoke from the Bobcat Fire is seen from California State Highway 39 in Azusa, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020 The heat wave was
expected to spread triple-digit temperatures over much of California through Monday. Temperatures in the San Fernando Valley
area of Los Angeles reached 116 degrees (46 Celsius) for the second day in a row, forecasters said. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)
    Containment efforts have continued for the ‘Bobcat Fire’ in Los Angeles.    The blaze prompted more evacuations in the Antelope Valley area Thursday, which is about 85 miles north of Los Angeles.
    Officials also lifted evacuation orders that were activated in nearby Arcadia on Wednesday.
    Firefighters were successfully able to steer the flames away from the historic Mount Wilson Observatory in northeast Los Angeles by using controlled burning.
    The fire near the observatory was also threatening to destroy nearby broadcast towers that were valued around $1 billion.
    “It has gone around Mount Wilson, it is heading to the northwest,” announced Red Cross Press Information Officer Larry Smith.    “Although, it has bumped 39 over on the northeast side and has actually crossed the two as well on the north.”
    Around 1,200 personnel have been deployed to combat the fire.    So far, the blaze has burned more than 50,000 acres and is 3-percent>

9/17/2020 Rescue And Recovery Efforts Underway In Ala., Fla. After Storm by OAN Newsroom
Members of a citizen response team from Indiana assist in high water rescue of residents,
Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 in Pensacola, Fla. (Tony Giberson/Pensacola News Journal via AP)
    Search and rescue efforts were launched Thursday in Alabama and Florida, where a number of coastal communities experienced flooded streets, downed power lines and destroyed homes in the wake of Hurricane Sally.
    Several parts of Alabama and Pensacola, Florida saw up to 30 inches of rain overnight.    According to Pensacola Fire Chief Ginny Cranor, the city received “four months of rain in four hours.”
    Meanwhile, more than 440,000 customers between the two states are without power.    At least another 400 people were reportedly rescued by the National Guard and other safety crews.
Storm aftermath is seen, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Orange Beach, Ala. (AP Photo/Angie Wang)
    The destruction came after the storm hit the region as a Category Two hurricane on Wednesday.
    “The storm got bad, the wind really started blowing,” stated Gulf Shore resident Logan Estill.    “We started hearing all of our windows start to pop, part of the roof started coming off and the siding was ripping.”
    At least one person has been reported dead, while another remains missing.    In the meantime, Sally has been downgraded to a tropical depression and continues to drop torrential rain on the Carolinas and Georgia.

9/18/2020 Sea Of Slush: Arctic Sea Ice Lows Mark A New Polar Climate Regime by Natalie Thomas and Cassandra Garrison
A satellite image shows the Spalte glacier, in Northeast Greenland, August 8, 2018. EU Copernicus and GEUS/Handout
    ARCTIC OCEAN (Reuters) – At the edge of the ice blanketing part of the Arctic Ocean, the ice on Monday looked sickly. Where thick sheets of ice once sat atop the water, now a layer of soft, spongey slush slid and bobbed atop the waves.
    From the deck of a research ship under a bright, clear sky, “ice pilot” Paul Ruzycki mused over how quickly the region was changing since he began helping ships spot and navigate between icebergs in 1996.
    “Not so long ago, I heard that we had 100 years before the Arctic would be ice free in the summer,” he said.    “Then I heard 75 years, 25 years, and just recently I heard 15 years.    It’s accelerating.”
    As if on cue, scientists on Monday said the vast and ancient ice sheet sitting atop Greenland had sloughed off a 113 square kilometer chunk of ice last month.    The section of the Spalte Glacier at the northwest corner of the Arctic island had been cracking for several years before finally breaking free on Aug. 27, clearing the way inland ice loss to the sea, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland reported.
    With climate change driving up Arctic temperatures, the once-solid sea ice cover has been shrinking to stark, new lows in recent years.    This year’s minimum, still a few days from being declared, is expected to be the second-lowest expanse in four decades of record-keeping.     The record low of 3.41 million square kilometers – reached in September 2012 after a late-season cyclonic storm broke up the remaining ice – is not much below what we see today.
    “We haven’t gone back at all to anything from 30 to 40 years ago,” said climatologist Julienne Stroeve at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.    And as climate change continues, scientists say the sea ice is unlikely to recover to past levels.
    In fact, the long-frozen region is already shifting to an entirely new climate regime, marked by the escalating trends in ice melt, temperature rise and rainfall days, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
    Those findings, climate scientist Laura Landrum said, were “unnerving.”
    All three variables – sea ice, temperatures and rainfall – are now being measured well beyond the range of past observations.    That makes the future of the Arctic more of a mystery.
    “The new climate can’t be predicted by the previous climate,” Landrum explained.    “The year-to-year variability, the change in many of these parameters, is moving outside the bounds of past fluctuations.”
    Sea ice coverage minimums, in particular, are now about 31% lower than in the decade after 1979, when satellite observations began.    The ice has also lost about two-thirds of its bulk, as much of the thicker ice layer built up over years has long since melted away.    The current ice regime actually began about two decades ago, the study found.
    This vanishing of sea ice also contributes to the region’s warming, as the icy white expanse is replaced by patches of dark water that absorb solar radiation rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere.    The process, referred to as Arctic amplification, helps to explain why the Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the world over the last four decades.
    The polar north will also likely see more days of rain rather than snow, which would further eat into the ice.    For the new research,     Landrum and her colleague Marika Holland at the National Center for Atmospheric Research analyzed sea ice, air temperature and precipitation data since 1950 to project climate scenarios up to the end of the century.    They used computer simulations in the analysis and assumed the world’s release of greenhouse gas emissions would continue at a high trajectory.
    Back in the Arctic Ocean aboard the Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise research ship, biologist Kirsten Thompson of the University of Exeter said the new study was important in underlining “how fast and how profoundly the Arctic is changing.”
    For Thompson, that means big change for the region’s wildlife, from polar bears and insects to the whales she focuses on studying.    “All their distributions are changing,” Thompson said.    “We might find in the Arctic there will be winners and losers,” as new species enter the region and outcompete indigenous animals.
    “Other species certainly will not be able to survive in the future.”
(Reporting by Natalie Thomas in the Arctic Ocean and Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

9/19/2020 Two Dead As Destructive Storm Ianos Hits Central Greece
FILE PHOTO: A Greek flag flatters in a beach near the town of Kyllini, as rare storm, known as a Medicane
(Mediterranean hurricane), hit western Greece, September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Two people have died as a hurricane-like storm pounded central Greece, flooding streets and homes, the authorities said on Saturday.
    Cyclone Ianos, known as a medicane (Mediterranean hurricane), uprooted trees and caused power cuts on the Ionian islands and the western Peloponnese.    It swept through central Greece, hitting areas in and around the cities of Karditsa and Farsala.
    The body of an elderly woman was found in a flooded house in a village near Farsala, while a 63-year-old man was found dead in Karditsa, fire brigade officials said.
    The search is continuing for two other people who have been reported missing, the officials added.
    “We’re dealing with a total catastrophe,” Nikolaos Gousios, a resident at Farsala, told state TV.
    The heavy rainfall turned Karditsa, in one of Greece’s biggest plains, into a lake.    Video footage showed flooded highways and agricultural land turned into mud lakes and farmers carrying their sheep to rescue.
    Reuters images captured an overflowing river flooding its banks and damaging roads.    A medical centre in the town of Mouzaki partially collapsed.
    Train connections between Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki were suspended.
    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will provide economic relief to the affected areas.
    “Saving human lives is our priority,” he said.
    The fire brigade said it had received more than 2,450 calls for assistance to rescue trapped people, cut down trees, and pump out water from homes and stores.
    On Saturday, the storm reached the greater Athens region, Attica.    There were no reports of damage.
    Cyclones were first recorded in Greece in 1995 and have become more frequent in recent years.    Flash floods in 2017 killed 25 people and left hundreds homeless.
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter and Mike Harrison)

9/20/2020 Three Dead After Rare Mediterranean Storm Batters Greece
Damage is seen as rare storm, known as a Medicane (Mediterranean hurricane), hit western Greece, in Asos, Kefalonia,
Greece September 19, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. TWITTER / @Jack_T_92 /via REUTERS
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Three people have died after Cyclone Ianos, a rare storm known as a medicane, battered Greece, flooding streets and homes, Greek authorities said on Sunday.
    Ianos uprooted trees and caused power cuts on the Ionian islands and the western Peloponnese.    It swept through central Greece on Saturday, hitting the cities of Karditsa and Farsala before it moved south to the island of Crete.
    The body of a man was found under the collapsed roof of his house in a village near Karditsa on Sunday, the Athens News Agency said.    On Saturday, a 63-year-old man was found dead in the same area and the body of an elderly woman was found in nearby Farsala, fire brigade officials said.
    Authorities were still searching for a woman reported missing in Karditsa, the official said.
    The heavy rainfall on Saturday turned Karditsa, in one of Greece’s biggest plains, into a lake.    Video footage showed flooded highways, collapsed bridges and agricultural land turned into mud lakes with farmers carrying their sheep to rescue.
    A river flooded its banks and damaged roads and a medical centre in the town of Mouzaki.
    Experts estimate that about 5,000 houses were flooded in the area of Karditsa.    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is expected to visit the region in the coming days, said the government will provide economic relief to the affected areas.
    By Saturday night, the storm had reached Crete, where heavy rainfall flooded streets and shops.
    The fire brigade said it had received more than 2,450 calls in the affected regions for assistance to rescue trapped people, cut down trees, and pump out water from homes and businesses.
    Cyclones were first recorded in Greece in 1995 and have become more frequent in recent years.    A similar storm hit the country in 2018.    Flash floods in 2017 killed 25 people and left hundreds homeless.
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Toby Chopra)

9/20/2020 Bobcat Fire Continues To Spread In Calif., More Than 90K Acres Burned by OAN Newsroom
The wind whips embers from the Joshua trees burning in the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills, Calif., Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    Several homes have been destroyed by the Bobcat Fire as it spreads in California.
    According to authorities, the fire near Los Angeles County has burned over 90,000 acres of land and was 15% contained on Sunday.
    Erratic winds pushed the flames into the Juniper Hills community, burning several semi-rural properties there.    Evacuation orders were issued in the foothills north of the blaze on Saturday afternoon.
Alexis Miller of Los Angeles County Fire holds a water hose while protecting a home from the advancing Bobcat
Fire along Cima Mesa Rd. Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Juniper Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    “It’s really, really sad out here, honestly,” said Littlerock resident Genovio Ascencio.    “I feel sorry for all the people going through this right now.”
    Officials have predicted the fire may not be fully contained until October 30th.
A home burns along Cima Mesa Rd. as the Bobcat Fire advances Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Juniper Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

9/21/2020 Taiwan Plant Hunters Race To Collect Rare Species Before They’re Gone by Ann Wang
    TAITUNG, Taiwan (Reuters) – In the forests and on remote offshore islands of Taiwan, a group of conservationists are racing to collect as many rare plant species as they can before they are lost to climate change and human encroachment.
    Overseen by the Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Centre, the plant hunters are scouring sub-tropical Taiwan for as many rare plant samples as they can find, from the rugged eastern coast around Taitung to Dongyin, in the Matsu archipelago.
    “I started collecting plants when I was still at school.    I didn’t used to think it was that important. But since I began working at the conservation centre, I have realised that many (living) things that used to be there, are there no longer,” said Hung Hsin-chieh, a research assistant at the conservation centre.
    “So for many things, if you don’t conserve them properly then perhaps in the future you’ll no longer be able to find them.”
    Industrialised Taiwan is best known for its mass production of technological goods.
    While it has a heavily populated, sometimes polluted, western coastal plain, about 70% of the island is covered in dense, mountainous forest, which is home to deer, wild boar and a threatened population of Formosan black bears.
(Graphic: Searching for Taiwan’s disappearing plant species –
    Taiwan’s government has made environmental protection and a shift to renewable energy a key priority, but the island still ranks poorly when it comes to tackling climate>     Last year’s Climate Change Performance Index ranked Taiwan third to last in the world, its worst rating ever, though Taiwan’s government disputed the data.
    The plant hunters face considerable obstacles, from steep cliff-faces to heavy rains.
    “Not everyone can get to the places I go to.    I can stay a long time out in the wild, in the mountains or forests.    I go in scattered directions.    I am very good at climbing trees – not everyone can climb trees,” Hung said.
    Cheng Ken-yu, the moss and bryophyta collection manager at the centre, said some of the plants they collect may have properties people can use.
    “Then we’ll have these species that we can use. Or perhaps one day when a certain habitat needs this specific species, we can provide it.”
    The goal is to ensure Taiwan’s biodiversity is protected and that rare species that may have died out in their original habitat can one day be re-introduced.
    “We hope that these species have a chance to return to their original habitat.    Or one day, when we wish to create a (new) habitat, these species are able to live there happily,” said Cheng.
(Reporting by Ann Wang; Writing by Ben Blanchard and Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Sam Holmes)

9/21/2020 Around 270 Whales Stranded On Sandbar Off Australia’s Tasmania
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Marine biologists were planning the rescue of around 270 whales stranded on a sandbar off the remote west coast of the Australian island of Tasmania on Monday.
    Government scientists said it appeared that at least 25 of the animals, believed to be pilot whales, had already died.    Pilot whales are a species of oceanic dolphin that grows 7 metres (23 ft) long and can weigh up to 3 tonnes.
    “While strandings are not uncommon in Tasmania, and while strandings of this scale aren’t (unprecedented), we certainly haven’t had one for at least 10 years,” Nic Deka, a regional manager for Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, said.
    Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said the whales were stranded in three groups in shallow water at Macquarie Heads, some 200 kms (120 miles) northwest of the state capital Hobart.
    Rescuers with specialised equipment arrived at the site on Monday afternoon to assess the situation.    They were expected to regroup on the shore as it grew dark to discuss a rescue strategy.
    Officials usually respond to reports of strandings of dolphins and whales in Tasmania once every two or three weeks, on average.
    Government scientists had first thought the mass stranding involved about 70 whales when it was viewed from the air, but a closer inspection revealed the larger number.
    The last mass stranding off the coast of Tasmania was in 2009, when around 200 whales beached themselves.    In 2018, more than 100 pilot whales died after beaching themselves off the coast of New Zealand.
    It is not known why whales, which travel together in pods, sometimes beach themselves but they are known to follow a leader, as well as gather around an injured or distressed whale.
    “Their social groups and strong bonding between the groups causes often all of them to strand,” Olaf Meynecke, a whale researcher and Project Manager of whales and climate at Griffith University, told Reuters.
(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Jane Wardell)

9/21/2020 Botswana Says Toxins In Water Killed Hundreds Of Elephants by Brian Benza
FILE PHOTO: A combination photo shows dead elephants in Okavango Delta, Botswana May-June, 2020. PHOTOGRAPHS OBTAINED BY REUTERS/Handout via REUTERS
    GABORONE (Reuters) – Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year, officials said on Monday, announcing the result of an investigation into the deaths which had baffled and alarmed conservationists.
    Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil.    Not all produce toxins but scientists say toxic ones are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.
    Cyril Taolo, deputy director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told a news conference the number of elephant carcasses found since deaths were first reported around early May had risen to 330, from 281 in July.
    “What we just know at this point is that it’s a toxin caused by cyanobacteria,” said Taolo, adding the specific type of neurotoxin had yet to be established.
    Authorities will monitor the situation during the next rainy season, and Taolo said for now there was no evidence to suggest that Botswana’s wildlife was still under threat as officials were no longer seeing deaths.
    The department’s principal veterinary officer Mmadi Reuben told the same news conference that questions remained as to why only elephants had been affected.
    Other animals in the Okavango Panhandle region appeared unharmed.
    Some cyanobacterial blooms can harm people and animals, and scientists are concerned about their potential impact as climate change leads to warmer water temperatures, which many cyanobacteria prefer.
    Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    “It amounts to having the right conditions, in the right time, in the right place and these species will proliferate,” Patricia Glibert, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, who has studied cyanobacteria, told Reuters.
    “These conditions are coming together more often, in more places, so we are seeing more of these toxic blooms around the world.”
    In neighbouring Zimbabwe, about 25 elephant carcasses were found near the country’s biggest game park and authorities suspect they succumbed to a bacterial infection.
    The animals were found with tusks intact, ruling out poaching and deliberate poisoning.    Parks authorities believe the elephants could have ingested the bacteria while searching for food.    The carcasses were found near water sources.
    “We considered the possibility of cyanobacteria but we have no evidence that this is the case here (in Zimbabwe),” said Chris Foggin, a veterinarian at the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, which tested samples from dead elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana.
    Zimbabwe has sent samples to Britain and is waiting for permits to send samples to two other countries, Foggin said.
    Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Winning in Johannesburg; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Janet Lawrence and Mike Collett-White)

9/21/2020 Fierce, Frequent, Climate-Fueled Wildfires May Decimate Forests Worldwide by Matthew Green
FILE PHOTO: Joshua Trees burn Saturday morning on the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills California, U.S., September 19, 2020. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
    LONDON (Reuters) – Wildfires among ponderosa pines and Douglas firs of the U.S. West have long been part of nature’s cycle of renewal, as much as the changing of the seasons.
    But as climate change makes the region more arid, wildfires have grown more frequent and ferocious.    Scientists worry the hottest blazes could end up obliterating swathes of some forests forever.
    “When you get these large areas burned there are no surviving trees to reseed these areas,” said Jon Keeley, a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.    “It is causing a shift from forest to other vegetation types, mostly shrublands and grasslands.
    Climate change has made these landscape-changing wildfires a concern worldwide.    This year, record fires have also raged in Australia, Argentina and the Siberian Arctic.    The fires in these regions have also been exacerbated by heat and drought conditions made worse by climate change, scientists say.
    “What we’re seeing with fires in California and elsewhere around the world is that fire is really responsive to climate change,” said Jennifer Balch, a fire ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder.
    That is bad news for temperate and boreal forests, which unlike tropical forests such as the Amazon have evolved over millennia to need occasional fire outbreaks for their own renewal, scientists say.    Whether these woodlands can survive more intense wildfire scenarios will depend on two key issues – how frequently the fires come, and how hot they burn.
    This year’s deadly fires in the United States had devoured a record of nearly 5 million acres as of Sunday, a scale of devastation that fits into the longer-term trend of more acreage being scorched as temperatures rise.     Historically, fires in the region tended to burn low to the ground, eliminating dead conifer limbs, keeping competing species in check and prompting pine cones to open and disperse their seeds.     These days, fire crews are seeing increasing cases of massive “tree-torching” fires that engulf forests from the ground up through the canopy.
    “Fires are not unnatural, but the kind of behaviour and the times, places and conditions they are igniting in are very, very unusual,” said Timothy Ingalsbee, who heads the Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, an Oregon-based advocacy group that promotes forest management to mitigate fire risks.
    If fires sweep a forest too frequently, they will wipe out saplings before they can reach maturity.    Too hot, and the fire can turn large areas into a moonscape barren of the seeds needed for new growth.    Climate change could fuel conditions for both scenarios.
    In California, a rise of 1.4 degrees Celsius in average summertime temperatures since the 1970s coincided with a five-fold increase in acreage burned annually, researchers reported last year in the American Geophysical Union.
    The same dry conditions that aggravate the fires also undermine new forest growth.
    “In some hotter and drier areas, the climate has shifted to the point where it’s no longer suitable for tree regeneration,” said Kimberley Davis, an ecologist at the University of Montana.    “In those areas, once there is a fire, trees won’t grow back.”
    In the Rocky Mountain region over the next 30 years, climate change and wildfires could shrink ponderosa pine areas by 16% and Douglas fir acreage by 10%, according to research by Davis and colleagues in Environmental Research Letters.
    Scientists in Australia are already seeing evidence that fire is reshaping landscapes, possibly irreversibly.
    A series of unusually frequent blazes in the southeastern Australian Alps since 2003 has caused forest systems there to collapse, said David Bowman, a fire scientist at the University of Tasmania.
    “As we’re doing the research project, another fire happened: Then the system crashed,” Bowman said.    “It went from a forested state to a non-forested state.    No forest, no trees – Kaput.”
    Even more worrying, scientists say, is an apparent increase in wildfires in the Siberian Arctic, which can thaw permafrost and release climate-warming methane from the frozen land.
    Satellite observations over the last two decades revealed frequent burnings in Siberia’s boreal forest, which might have required a fire only once every 80 to 200 years to regenerate.    That increase could be evidence of a fire regime change, said Thomas Smith, a geographer at the London School of Economics.
    “It’s very difficult for ecosystems to adapt to that pace of change,” Smith said.    “It’s going to be catastrophic in terms of the loss of carbon when you move from forest to non-forest, and that’s part of this positive feedback cycle.”
(Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Katy Daigle and David Gregorio)

9/21/2020 Decades Of Dry, Overgrown Forests Fuel Wildfires In The West by OAN Newsroom
Firefighter Cody Carter battles the North Complex Fire in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.
Firefighters trying to contain the massive wildfires in Oregon, California and Washington state are constantly on
the verge of exhaustion as they try to save suburban houses, including some in their own neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    As massive wildfires continue along the West Coast, more than five million acres of land have burned throughout California, Oregon and Washington State.
    According to wildfire experts, periodic burning has been natural in California for centuries, but this year’s wildfire season brought some of the biggest blazes the Golden State has ever seen.    On September 9 the August Complex Fire in Northern California became the largest in the state’s history, burning through more than 832,000 acres of land.
    The region’s forests, at least in part, are to blame as they continue to overgrow and dry out, which fuels the fires.    President Trump has blamed poor forest management for the continuous fires and often makes comparisons to how well forests are managed in Europe.
    “This is one of the biggest burns we’ve ever seen and we have to do a lot about forest management,” he stated.    “Obviously, forest management in California is very important.”
FILE – In this Aug. 21, 2020, file photo, firefighters make a stand in the backyard of a home in front of the
advancing CZU August Lightning Complex Fire in Boulder Creek, Calif. Two unusual weather phenomena combined to create
some of the most destructive wildfires the West Coast states have seen in modern times. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
    Others like Stephanie Pincetl, the director of California Center for Sustainable Urban Communities at UCLA, have said it’s because people continue to build and move into highly flammable zones.
    “We have to give up on suburbs and that will relieve the pressure on these highly flammable areas because most of the fires are caused by humans,” she stated.    “Whether it’s your lawn, your cigarette, your truck or whatever it is.”
    Pincetl also said the suburbanized areas don’t take into account where Santa Ana winds come from and how they move.
    “So, in fact, you’re creating built funnels in canyons for that wind where the wind goes through, creating the most flammable kind of landscape you could possibly imagine,” she explained.
    Officials also said these wildfires will continue if significant action isn’t taken to adapt.
    Climate change is real and so is our responsibility to do more on vegetation management and forest management,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).    “…I see those as mutual responsibility, both the state and federal government and the private sector partners.”     The 2020 wildfire season brought out six of California’s 20 largest wildfires.

9/22/2020 Australia Attempts To Rescue Hundreds Of Stranded Pilot Whales
Police officers are seen on a boat near stranding whales in MacQuarie Heads, Tasmania, Australia in
this picture obtained from social media dated September 22, 2020. RYAN BLOOMFIELD /via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Rescuers were trying to refloat hundreds of whales stranded on a sandbar off the remote west coast of the Australian island of Tasmania on Tuesday, hoping to end one of the country’s worst beaching events.
    Government scientists estimated about 90 of around 270 pilot whales trapped in shallow water had died since the stranding was reported a day earlier.
    Aerial footage showed large numbers of the animals largely prone on a wide sandbar at Macquarie Harbour, about 200 kms (120 miles) northwest of the state capital Hobart, while others floundered in slightly deeper water.
    “We’ve got animals that are semi-buoyant so it probably won’t take too much to refloat those animals closer to the deeper water, and will involve just a bit of grunt from specialised crew in the water,” Kris Carlyon, a wildlife biologist with the state government, told local media.
    Pilot whales are a species of oceanic dolphin that grow to 7 metres (23 ft) long and can weigh up to 3 tonnes.    Drawing them back out to sea is a labour intensive process that can include physically pushing the animals or using specialised tarpaulins and pontoons to drag them to deeper water.    Rescuers try to keep the whales upright to avoid disorientation.
    Around 40 government scientists, 20 police officers, and local fish farmers and volunteers were involved in the rescue attempt, which experts said was the hardest they had encountered.
    While the wet, cool conditions were beneficial for the whales, the rough waters and remote location were more challenging for their rescuers.
    “It’s pretty ugly out there for people on the ground, but as far as the whales go it’s ideal,” Carlyon said.    “If the conditions stay the same they can survive quite a few days.”
    Scientists do not know why whales, which travel together in pods, sometimes beach themselves but they are known to follow a leader, as well as gather around an injured or distressed whale.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Jane Wardell)

9/23/2020 Australia Says Majority Of 470-Strong Beached Whale Pod Has Died by Byron Kaye
A whale lies on the beach as the rescue efforts take place at Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania,
Australia September 22, 2020 in this picture obtained from social media. Bilal Rashid via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – The majority of a 470-strong pod of pilot whales found stranded off Australia’s remote southern coast has died, officials said on Wednesday, as rescuers struggled in freezing waters and fading light to free those still alive.
    The group, which is the biggest beaching in the country’s modern history, were first spotted a wide sandbank during an aerial reconnaissance of rugged Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania state on Monday.
    After two days of a difficult and dangerous rescue attempt, state marine scientists said at least 380 of the long-finned pilot whales had died.
    By late Wednesday, around fifty of the mammals were freed but experts said there was a high likelihood they would return as many did during the rescue attempt a day earlier, creating an exhausting loop for rescuers who cannot work through the night.
    The outlook for the remaining 30 stranded and still alive pilot whales, a species of oceanic dolphin that grow to 7 metres (23 ft) long and can weigh up to 3 tonnes, was bleak.
    “As time goes on, they do become fatigued and their chance of survival reduces,” Nic Deka, Parks and Wildlife Service incident controller said.    “We do expect to rescue more but increasingly our focus is what do with the carcasses.”
    The refloating process involves as many as four or five people per whale wading waist-deep in freezing water, attaching slings to the animals so they can be guided out of the harbour by a boat. (Graphic: Whales stranded off the coast of Tasmania –
    The stranding, about 200 kms (120 miles) northwest of the state capital Hobart, is the biggest on record in modern Australia and one of the largest in the world, drawing attention to a natural phenomenon that remains a mystery to scientists.
    “It’s certainly a major event and of great concern when we potentially lose that many whales out of a stranding event,” said Peter Harrison, a professor at the Southern Cross University Whale Research Group.
    “Quite often we only get to really see them when there are bad outcomes, such as this stranding event.    We absolutely need some more investment in research to understand these whales in Australian waters.”
    In 1996, 320 pilot whales washed up on the coast of Western Australia, in what was then reported to be the country’s biggest mass stranding.    About 600 pilot whales beached in nearby New Zealand in 2017.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; additional reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Jane Wardell)

9/23/2020 Robots Target Coronavirus With Ultraviolet Light At London Train Station
An Ultrasonic Disinfection Atomiser cleaning robot, known as an Eco Bot 50 cleans St Pancras International station,
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
    LONDON (Reuters) – Robots that can kill the coronavirus with ultraviolet light have been brought in at one of London’s biggest train stations, St Pancras International, as it tries to restore customer confidence in the safety of travel hubs.
    Stations suffered a blow on Tuesday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to work from home again where possible and also ordered restaurants and bars to close early to tackle a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
    St Pancras International saw 34.6 million entries and exits in the year to March 2019, the most recently available yearly data from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), making it the ninth-busiest station in the country.    The ORR has said the pandemic caused a dramatic fall in rail usage.
    “The main thing for us is to get the confidence of customers,” said Jay Newton, Head of Stations Engineering and Operations for the High Speed One Channel tunnel rail link.
    “We are the first train station to bring this type of technology in because we want to allow people to use a train station with confidence, use our retail units with confidence, and slowly get back to a normal way,” he told Reuters.
    The robots use ultraviolet light to sweep large areas without the need for chemical disinfectant, the station said, adding the technology could kill nearly 100% of bacteria and viruses – including the coronavirus – on surfaces and in the surrounding air in minutes.
    St Pancras International is the terminus of the Eurostar link to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, and also shares links to six London Underground lines with neighbouring King’s Cross station.
(Reporting by Ben Makori; writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison)

9/24/2020 Arctic sea ice shrinks: A ‘nail in the coffin’ - Second-lowest level on record caps ‘crazy year’ by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Fueled by unusual warmth at the top of the world, Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-lowest level on record last week, scientists announced Monday.
    “It’s been a crazy year up north, with sea ice at a near-record low, 100degree (Fahrenheit) heat waves in Siberia and massive forest fires,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which made the announcement, along with NASA.
    “The year 2020 will stand as an exclamation point on the downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent,” he said.    “We are headed toward a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean, and this year is another nail in the coffin.”
    Sea ice is frozen ocean water that melts each summer and refreezes each winter.    It affects Arctic communities and wildlife and it helps regulate the planet’s temperature by influencing the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean.
    Arctic sea ice typically reaches its smallest extent in September and largest in March.
    The minimum was reached on Sept. 15 and measured 1.44 million square miles.    This is about 958,000 square miles below average, according to a statement from NASA.
    This appears to be the lowest extent of the year, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.    In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent will begin increasing through autumn and winter.    However, a shift in wind patterns or a period of late-season melt could still push the ice extent lower.
    This year ranks behind only 2012, when the lowest level on record was measured.    Arctic sea ice has been measured since 1979.
    The amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic has been steadily shrinking over the past few decades because of man-made global warming, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.
    A Siberian heat wave in the spring began this year’s Arctic sea ice melt season early, and with Arctic temperatures being 14 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, the ice extent kept declining.
    “It was just really warm in the Arctic this year, and the melt seasons have been starting earlier and earlier,” said Nathan Kurtz, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.    “The earlier the melt season starts, the more ice you generally lose.”
    The 14 lowest extents on record have all occurred in the past 14 years.
    “Sea ice keeps our planet cooler, so when we lose ice, the entire world warms,” said Cecilia Bitz, a professor at the University of Washington. “Arctic sea ice is essential for the survival of polar bears and seals, and humans rely on it, too – northern communities use it for travel and for hunting, and sea ice damps ocean waves, protecting coastal communities from storm-induced damage.”
    Bitz said that Arctic sea ice is an asset for our planet, but it is disappearing rapidly.    “In my lifetime, the sea ice at the end of summer has decreased by 50%, and now we’ve found that late summers may be ice-free in a few decades."    “When it is gone, we’ll have lost a sea ice area about equal to the area of the lower 48 states of the U.S.
    Serreze said the second-lowest extent of sea ice on record is just one of many signs of a warming climate in the north, pointing to the Siberian heat waves, forest fires, higher-than-average temperatures over the Central Arctic and the thawing permafrost that led to a Russian fuel spill.
    “The year 2020 will stand as an exclamation point on the downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent.”
Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

9/24/2020 Okla. House Explosion Kills Young Girl, Injures 3 Others by OAN Newsroom
Screengrab via News9.
    An explosion at a home in Oklahoma left a young girl dead and her three family members injured this week.    Aerial footage showed the home in ruins after first responders surveyed the damage on Thursday.
    Police believe propane may have been the cause of the explosion.
    According to officials, the father sustained serious injuries.    The mother and their other child were also badly burned.    All three were taken to the hospital to receive treatment.
Screengrab via News9.
    Neighbors in the area have said the incident left them in shock.
    “The dad kept saying he plugged in the coffee pot and he was electrocuted,” explained one neighbor.    “Obviously, he wasn’t electrocuted, but he was shocked and the house blew up.”
Screengrab via News9.
    Three nearby homes were also reportedly damaged in the explosion.

9/24/2020 U.S. Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe: People Need Hope by Katy Daigle
FILE PHOTO: Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe speaks during a discussion on the importance of protecting the planet at
the South by South Lawn event at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
    (Reuters) – While the enormity of tackling climate change can be so overwhelming that some people shut down, presenting people with examples of how they can take action offers hope, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.
    In a live interview with Reuters on Thursday Hayhoe explained how climate change was causing weather events such as heat waves, wildfires and hurricanes to become more severe and more frequent.
    “According to natural factors we should be very gradually but inevitably getting cooler right now,” said Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.    “Instead we’re getting warmer faster than any time in the history of human civilization on this planet.”
    The urgency of climate change is real, she says, calling it “a here issue, and a now issue.”    Climate change was a major factor in heat waves that made recent fires in Siberia, Australia, and the U.S. West so extensive and damaging, she said.
    Hayhoe, widely known as a top communicator of climate change, addressed what often stands in the way of more aggressive action toward reducing emissions and adapting our societies to cope with change.
    “Scaring the pants off us, for most of us, doesn’t move us forward.    It actually causes us to freeze.    That’s how our brains are hard-wired,” Hayhoe said.    “We are wired to move forward not only to escape fear but rather towards a reward, something positive.”
    Instead, Hayhoe focuses on communicating how climate change is affecting people locally and offering suggestions for how people can help provide solutions – even if those solutions are small.    Giving people a sense of efficacy, she said, means giving people hope.
    For many, that sense of agency could come simply from talking about climate risks with friends or within their communities.    For others, individual actions such as switching to LED light bulbs or forgoing meat can help people feel they are part of the solution.     Individual actions can only address a small part of the problem, she said.    So governments need to step up, as does the private sector.
    “Having different metrics that measure not only economic growth, but also the sustainability, the ability to live within our boundaries, we need a different paradigm for business,” she said.    “It’s business leaders, and business experts and business thinkers who have to be involved in developing that paradigm,” she said.
(Writing by Katy Daigle, editing by Timothy Gardner)

9/24/2020 Remains Of Jurassic Sea Predator Found In Chile’s Atacama Desert by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
A view of fossil remains of one of the largest and most fearsome marine predators of the Jurassic period found by scientists in the
middle of the Atacama desert, Calama, Chile December 16, 2018. Picture taken December 16, 2018. Mauricio Castro/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – Scientists have unearthed the remains of Jurassic sea predators resembling killer whales in the world’s driest desert in Chile.
    Pliosaurs were reptiles from about 160 million years ago with a more powerful bite than Tyrannosaurus rex, according to University of Chile researchers.    The fossils are the second oldest record of this species in the Southern Hemisphere.
    Chile’s vast Atacama desert, once largely submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean, is now a moonscape of sand and stone with parts untouched by rain for years.    Pliosaurs reined the region, with their large skull, elongated face, short neck, menacing teeth on a hydrodynamic body and fin-like limbs.
    Scientists found jaw, tooth and limb fragments of the creatures “ecologically similar” to killer whales at two sites in the Loa river basin near the mining city of Calama.
    The find helps scientists fill gaps in evolution, said Rodrigo Otero, a University of Chile paleontologist who led the research.
    The complete fossil, under excavation since 2017, is likely to measure six to seven meters (19.7 to 23 feet).    The skull is around a meter (3.3 feet) long, with teeth each around eight to 10 centimeters (3.1 to 3.9 inches) long, Otero.
    The study was published in the Journal of South American Earth Sciences in early September.
(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Richard Chang)

9/25/2020 Murder hornet’ coming to your town? Giant, invasive pests can destroy honeybee hives by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Could the “murder hornet” be coming to your town?
    For the first time, scientists have determined how and where the Asian giant hornet, an invasive newcomer to the Pacific Northwest from Asia, could spread and find an ideal habitat, both in the United States and worldwide.
    The findings were published this week in a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    “We found many suitable climates in the U.S. and around the globe,” said study lead author Gengping Zhu, a postdoctoral scholar at Washington State University’s department of entomology.
    Scarily nicknamed “murder hornets,” the Asian giant hornet, the world’s largest at 2 inches, can destroy entire hives of honeybees and deliver a painful sting to humans.    Farmers in the Northwest depend on those honeybees to pollinate many crops such as apples, blueberries and cherries.
    Asian giant hornets are most likely to thrive in places with warm summers, mild winters and high rainfall, according to the study.    Extreme heat is lethal, so their most suitable habitats are in regions with a maximum temperature of 102 Fahrenheit.
    If the hornet gains a foothold in Washington state, it could eventually spread down much of the West Coast, the study said.
    Washington State University entomologist David Crowder told USA TODAY that “the Asian giant hornet does have the potential for rapid spread throughout the coastal parts of the western United States and British Columbia, and thus widespread and intensive mitigation efforts are completely warranted."
    “Preventing the establishment and spread of Asian giant hornet in western North America is critical for protecting bees and beekeepers,” Crowder said.
    The hornet could spread either naturally or through accidental human transport.
    Fortunately, the bug is unlikely to spread east across the nation: “It is highly unlikely that the hornets could make their way across the entire country,” Crowder said.    “Much of the habitat in the central United states (east of Washington and west of the Mississippi River) is completely unsuitable habitat for the hornets, as it is too hot and has too low rainfall."
    “Thus, unless they are moved by humans, it would be nearly impossible for the hornets to make their way across the country on their own.    Human-transport of the Asian giant hornet is also rare, so we don’t think other parts of the country need to be concerned right now,” he said.
    The invasive insect was first documented in Washington late last year.    Officials have said it’s not known how the insect arrived in North America.    It normally lives in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia.
The Asian giant hornet, the world's largest species of hornet, was found last year in
northwest Washington and could spread elsewhere. WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

9/25/2020 In Argentina’s Ranch Heartlands, Dry Winds Fan Blazes As Firefighters Battle For Control by Cassandra Garrison
FILE PHOTO: Firefighters work as smoke rises in San Antonio de Arredondo, in Cordoba province,
Argentina September 22, 2020. Picture taken September 22, 2020 REUTERS/Charly Soto
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – In the grasslands and mountainous terrain of Argentina’s Cordoba province, dry weather and strong winds are fanning blazes that are on track to outpace previous years as firefighters battle to bring the flames under control.
    The fires so far this year have scorched at least 48,000 hectares in the central province, according to the national fire management service, causing damage to property and almost engulfing a space observation center.
    Dramatic drone footage earlier in the week showed fires advancing across forests and dry brush of the region, with thick plumes of smoke rising in their wake.    Firefighters have used helicopters and airplanes to drop water to contain the blazes.
    In some areas, the fires came under control in recent days, aided by rains. The fires, however, were still on track to spread further in some zones, said Juan Pablo Arganaraz, a biologist in Cordoba who has been tracking the progress.
    “There is typically around 53,000 hectares (burned) per year,” Arganaraz said of the areas of Cordoba he previously studied.    “Now, among those that occurred in the month of August, we would be close to 90,000 hectares, so more than the average.”
    Provincial justice officials were investigating the cause of the fires amid suspicion that they were set by ranchers clearing pastures to make way for new growth, a common practice in Argentina. The dry weather enabled the fires to spread faster.
    The Cordoba fires coincide with wetland fires in Argentina’s Parana delta region, another area of concern for scientists due to its carbon-rich soil, while huge fires are engulfing wetland areas of Brazil.
    Cordoba officials have moved to close transit routes to contain the flames and bring in fire-fighting equipment.    Some homes had been lost in July-August, though officials said they had prevented further damage more recently. “We’re moving heavy equipment that we have working here at Las Jarillas where we had to protect many residences.    Luckily no homes have been burned; some locals have been evacuated,” said Diego Concha, director of Cordoba’s civil defense department.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; additional reporting by Reuters TV; Editing by Alistair Bell)

9/25/2020 Guns Versus Dogs: Swiss Decide Sunday On Law To Ease Curbs On Wolf Shooting by John Miller
FILE PHOTO: A wolf is seen in a near-natural enclosure at the Langenberg Wildlife
Park in Langnau am Albis, Switzerland June 9, 2020. PREUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
    ILANZ, Switzerland (Reuters) – Rival sides are squaring up over a resurgent Swiss wolf population, ahead of a vote on Sunday which could make it easier to shoot the predators whose global comeback has also inflamed passions in the United States, Germany and France.
    A reboot of a 1980s Swiss hunting law, backed by farmers and opposed by wolf advocates, would give regional authorities power to kill wolves deemed a threat to livestock before they attack.
    Under the proposals, wolves would be classified as protected, but regulated.    They could also be shot if they are seen as having lost their fear of humans.
    Currently, a lone wolf must attack 25 farm animals in a month, or 15 if there was damage in the previous year, before officials can authorise its killing.
    The government can also allow half of the wolf pups in a pack to be culled if 15 livestock are killed in its territory within four months.    There are other restrictions.
    Above a wild stretch of the Rhine River near the mountain village of Ilanz, farmer Martin Keller last year lost 59 sheep to wolf attacks.    This year, he installed 25,000 Swiss francs ($27,300) worth of electrical fencing.    While Keller’s livestock went unscathed this summer, his farm’s finances suffered.
    “The law’s opponents always talk about a ‘Shoot-to-kill’ initiative,” said Keller.    “We don’t want to kill all the wolves.    All we want is to be allowed to regulate problem wolves, and that local decisions can be made more easily.”
    The country’s wolves were eradicated by the 19th century, but returned from hold-out packs in Italy in recent decades and now number about 100 animals in 11 packs, with some lone wolves, according to Ralph Manz of the publicly-funded Swiss wolf monitoring organization KORA.
    Their recovery has inflamed emotions akin to those that flared after the 1990s, when wolves were re-introduced to the U.S. Rocky Mountains.
    Their fate is also at the centre of shifting modern political power as agricultural communities affected by the predator’s return compete with a more-urban conservation lobby.
    Wolf hunts in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, where there are now more than 2,000 of the predators, have entrenched positions, with animal activists angered by so-called “wolf derbies” where hunters compete to shoot the animals.
    There are similar tensions in Europe.    French farmers decry thousands of sheep killed yearly while Germany – which has 600 wolves and rising – eased shooting curbs last year. []
    Some studies show Switzerland, with ample prey like deer or wild boar, has habitat for 60 packs, a figure the hunting law’s proponents dispute.
    “We have relatively little room for wolves,” said Georges Schnydrig, a farmer-politician from Switzerland’s Valais region who raises black-nosed sheep.    “The law is a compromise that says, ‘If we can regulate wolf numbers, all stakeholders can find common ground.’
    The Swiss government says the revisions give more power to cantons to regulate wolves while still ensuring that packs thrive.    The last hunting law dates from the 1980s, before wolves returned permanently to the country.
    Foes of the changes say they hand too much power to the regions, including in Valais where some have called for their extermination.
    They also contend the 300-500 Swiss sheep, goats and cattle lost annually to wolf raids represent just a fraction of the thousands killed by disease or accidents.
    Given some 87% of livestock killed by the carnivores were unprotected, according to one Swiss canton’s tally, pro-wolf groups argue heavily-subsidised farmers should deploy more fences, shepherds and herd dogs, not guns. Sheep farmers in 2018 got 15.7 million Swiss francs ($17 million).
    Farmers including Keller receive some payments to install fences, though they say they must bear most of the cost themselves for the extra measures.
    “Protective measures require effort,” said conservation group president Christina Steiner.    “Shooting wolves seems easier.”
    Wolves rarely attack people.    Some tourist communities though back controls, arguing hikers and mountainbikers could be scared off by herd dogs trained to guard sheep or mother cows that have grown aggressive to protect their young as wolves move in.     Polls show Swiss voters divided going into Sunday’s vote.     Regardless of the outcome, KORA’s Manz predicts debate will continue since wolf numbers are likely to keep rising.
    “The wolf’s return intrudes on tradition and private property,” he said.    “An animal that intrudes on property is an enormous challenge for humans.    People aren’t used to that.”
(Reporting by John Miller; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

9/25/2020 Teenage British Activist Stages Climate Protest On Arctic Ice Floe by Natalie Thomas
Environmental activist and campaigner Mya-Rose Craig, 18, holds a cardboard sign reading "youth strike for climate" as she sits on
the ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle, September 20, 2020. REUTERS/Natalie Thomas
    ABOARD ‘ARCTIC SUNRISE’ (Reuters) – Like many of her generation, Mya-Rose Craig feels strongly that adults have failed to take the urgent action needed to tackle global warming and so she has headed to the Arctic Ocean to protest.
    Armed with a placard reading ‘Youth Strike for Climate”, the 18-year-old British activist is staging the most northerly protest in a series of youth strikes worldwide.
    The strikes, made famous by Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, are resuming after a lull caused by the global coronavirus pandemic to draw public attention back to the threat posed by climate change.
    “I’m here to… try and make a statement about how temporary this amazing landscape is and how our leaders have to make a decision now in order to save it,” she told Reuters Television as she stood with her placard on the edge of the Arctic sea ice.
    “I absolutely think that my generation has always had to think about climate change… which is why as we’ve got older there’s been this massive wave of just this need for change, this demand for change when we realised the grown-ups aren’t going to solve this so we have to do it ourselves.”
    Craig, from southwest England, is known as “Birdgirl” online, where her blog chronicling her bird-watching experiences has attracted thousands of followers.
    She has travelled hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle aboard a Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.
    Climate data shows the Arctic is one of the fastest changing ecosystems on the planet, with serious consequences for wildlife from polar bears and seals to plankton and algae, while the melting sea ice contributes to rising sea levels worldwide.
    Warming in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists said on Monday.
    For Craig, getting to the ice floe involved a two-week quarantine in Germany, followed by a three-week voyage to the edge of the sea ice.
    Craig said those who dismiss the youth protests as just a rebellious phase by her generation are wrong, and she wants those in power to stop treating climate change as a low-priority issue, raised only to appease “the lefties in the corner.”
    “It’s everything now and it has to be treated like that,” she said.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

9/27/2020 New data: The moon has hazardous radiation levels by Marcia Dunn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Future moon explorers will be bombarded with two to three times more radiation than astronauts aboard the International Space Station, a health hazard that will require thick-walled shelters for protection, scientists reported Friday.
    China’s lander on the far side of the moon is providing the first full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, vital information for NASA and others aiming to send astronauts to the moon, the study noted.    A Chinese-German team reported on the radiation data collected by the lander– named Chang’e 4 for the Chinese moon goddess – in the U.S. journal Science Advances.    “This is an immense achievement in the sense that now we have a data set which we can use to benchmark our radiation” and better understand the potential risk to people on the moon, said Thomas Berger, a physicist with the German Space Agency’s medicine institute.
    Astronauts would get 200 to 1,000 times more radiation on the moon than what we experience on Earth – or five to 10 times more than passengers on a trans-Atlantic airline flight, noted Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany.
    “The difference is, however, that we’re not on such a flight for as long as astronauts would be when they’re exploring the moon,” Wimmer-Schweingruber said in an email. Cancer is the primary risk.    “Humans are not really made for these radiation levels and should protect themselves when on the moon,” he added.    Radiation levels should be pretty much the same all over the moon, except for near the walls of deep craters, Wimmer-Schweingruber said.    “Basically, the less you see of the sky, the better.    That’s the primary source of the radiation,” he said.
    Wimmer-Schweingruber said the radiation levels are close to what models had predicted.    The levels measured by Chang’e 4, in fact, “agree nearly exactly” with measurements by a detector on a NASA orbiter that has been circling the moon for more than a decade, said Kerry Lee, a space radiation expert at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
    “It is nice to see confirmation of what we think and our understanding of how radiation interacts with the moon is as expected,” said Lee, who was not involved in the Chinese-led study.
    In a detailed outline released this week, NASA said the first pair of astronauts to land on the moon under the new Artemis program would spend about a week on the lunar surface, more than twice as long as the Apollo crews did a half-century ago.    Expeditions would last one to two months once a base camp is established.
    NASA is looking to put astronauts on the moon by the end of 2024.
    The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.    The AP is responsible for all content.

9/28/2020 Evacuations Underway As ‘Glass Fire’ Burns Through Calif.’S Napa Valley by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters battle the Glass Fire burning in Calistoga, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    A fire burning out of control in California’s Napa Valley is forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
    According to reports Sunday, the blaze, dubbed the ‘Glass Fire,’ started as a 20-acre brush fire about 70-miles north of San Francisco.
    As of Monday morning, it has consumed around 2,500-acres and is zero-percent contained.    At least 2,000 residents have been forced to evacuate and firefighters are warning the blaze could spread further because of strong winds expected throughout the day.
    Some residents fleeing their homes are fearing the worst.    As fire fighters continue to fight back the flames, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Global Supertanker drops retardant while battling the Glass Fire in Napa County, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

9/29/2020 Brain-eating amoeba found in Texas city’s water by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
    Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in a Texas county after a deadly brain-eating amoeba was detected in a city’s water supply and tied to the death of 6-year-old boy this month.
    Residents of Lake Jackson were advised to boil their water before using it after Naegleria fowleri was found in their water system.    A previous warning that extended to other cities in Brazoria County said not to use the water at all, but that warning was lifted, and now only the boil advisory remains in effect for Lake Jackson.
    Abbott on Sunday declared a disaster in Brazoria County, saying that three of 11 water tests in the county found N. fowleri, “posing an imminent threat to public health and safety, including loss of life.”
    The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it was alerted Friday to the presence of N. fowleri in the Brazosport Water Authority supply.
    Environmental officials initially warned all users of Brazosport’s system not to use the water, but said later Saturday that “the issue has been narrowed to the city of Lake Jackson’s water distribution system.”    Authorities “are actively working on a plan to flush and disinfect the water system,” but it was unknown how long that will take, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said.
    Earlier this month, 6-year-old Josiah McIntyre died after contracting the microbe.
    “He was an active little boy,” Josiah’s mother, Maria Castillo, told KTRK-TV.    “He was a really good big brother.    He just loved and cared about a lot of people.”
    According to the Houston Chronicle, Josiah’s relatives said he was tested for strep, COVID-19 and other diseases when he got sick with a fever, headaches and vomiting, but by the time doctors realized it was N. fowleri, it was too late.
    “We just want people to be aware that it’s out there,” his grandmother, Natalie McIntyre, said Saturday during a fundraiser, the Chronicle reported.
    N. fowleri can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an infection that destroys brain tissue and can kill within five days.    The boy died Sept. 8.
    The CDC says N. fowleri is commonly found in lakes in the South, especially in the summer, but getting sick from it is rare, with only 34 documented cases in the U.S. from 2009 to 2018.    Those who do get sick are generally infected through their nose after swimming or diving in warm freshwater.    The CDC says N. fowleri also can spread via inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or contaminated tap water.
    While Lake Jackson residents are under the boil advisory, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said they should not allow water to go up their nose or sniff the water while bathing and showering.    An infection cannot occur from swallowing infected water, the CDC says.
    Josiah’s grandparents said they suspect he was infected after inhaling infected water at a “splash-pad” they visited shortly before he fell ill, the Houston Chronicle reported. A hose at the boy’s house also tested positive for the microbe, according to KTRK-TV.
    Josiah’s death prompted city officials to test their water and close the splashpad, KTRK-TV reported Contributing: The Associated Press
This is brain tissue that has been attacked by naegleria fowleri, also called the brain-eating amoeba. DR. GEORGE R. HEALY/CDC

9/30/2020 3 more bodies of water may have been found on Mars by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
    Scientists have new evidence pointing to the presence of water on Mars, adding intrigue about the possibility of life on the Red Planet.
    The findings, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Astronomy, provide more evidence of a lake on Mars’ south pole – first discovered in 2018.    The researchers also say they found three additional possible bodies of water nearby.
    “It’s a complex system,” co-author and Roma Tre University planetary scientist Elena Pettinelli told Nature.
    The bodies of water are more than half a mile deep under Mars’ surface and span an area of nearly 30,000 square miles, according to Nature.    The largest lake found in 2018 may be nearly 20 miles wide, while the other three are much smaller.
    The scientists relied on data collected by the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, or MARSIS, on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.
    The MARSIS uses radio waves to detect the types of materials on Mar’s surface and subsurfaces.    The instrument was used in 2018 by some of the same scientists to document the first body of water.
    According to Nature, the 2018 results were based on 29 observations made from 2012 to 2015.    The results published Tuesday relied on 134 observations from 2012 to 2019.
    However, not all are convinced what the study details are bodies of water.
    “I do not think there are lakes,” Jack Holt, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, told Nature.    “There is not enough heat flow to support a brine here, even under the ice cap.”
Contributing: Doyle Rice

9/30/2020 Calif. Authorities Share Efforts To Contain Zogg, Glass Fires by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters battle the Glass Fire burning in Calistoga, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Thousands of residents in California continue to evacuate their homes with officials battling wildfires in the state’s wine country.
    In a press briefing on Tuesday, authorities in California said firefighters were responding to 19 new wildfires that broke out across the state over the weekend.
    The two largest blazes, the Zogg and Glass Fires, grew exponentially due to heavy winds with officials struggling to contain the wind-driven fires.
    “Sitting in the wildland interface area here in California with all those interface areas, these fires become very disastrous with the amount of structures in populous that’s impacted,” said Bill See of Cal Fire’s Incident Team. “    Currently, we have multiple priorities on this incident, not only over in the Napa Valley area.”
    On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Shasta counties due to the “substantial” amount of structures that have been left to ash as a result of the two massive blazes.
    Additionally, the Zogg Fire has reportedly resulted in the deaths of at least three people living in Shasta County.
Flame are visible from the Zogg Fire on Clear Creek Road near Igo, Calif., on Monday, Sep. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope)
    Authorities are still investigating the initial cause of the two massive wildfires and are urging the public to buckle down with months still to go in the California fire season.
    Since the beginning of the fire season, officials said roughly 3.8 million acres have burned in California this year.

9/30/2020 Texas Officials Give Update On Efforts Clean Water Contaminated By Deadly Parasite by OAN Newsroom
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a visit to Lake Jackson, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. A Houston-area
official says it will take 60 days to ensure a city drinking water system is purged of a deadly, microscopic parasite
that led to warnings over the weekend not to drink tap water. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    Texas officials gave an update on efforts to purge the water source for the city of Lake Jackson of a deadly brain eating parasite.    On Tuesday, officials from the state’s Commission for Environmental Quality and Gov. Gregg Abbott addressed concerns surrounding the contamination.
    Residents in Lake Jackson have been advised to boil their water before consuming it.    This all follows the death of a six-year-old boy earlier this month after he became infected from the parasite.
    Officials said the process of decontaminating the water could take close to three months.
    “The path forward for the citizens of Lake Jackson is not going to be one that’s short, we have to get through the boil water notice first, which could take two to three weeks,” explained Toby Baker, spokesman for the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.    “After that, we have to get chlorine levels to a state that would that can burn the entire system, scour the system and kill the amoebas.”
    Officials said it’s very rare to be killed by the parasite as water has to enter through the nose in order for the parasite to reach the brain.    However, they noted they are committed to finding out how the water supply was contaminated.
National Guard soldiers and City of Lake Jackson employees distribute bottled water to residents
Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Lake Jackson, Texas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Sunday after a
brain-eating amoeba was discovered in the water supply for Lake Jackson, Texas. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP)

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