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

    This file is attached to http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterEight/2014-2017.htm from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or return to Global Environment 2020 July-September

Global Environment 2020 OCTOBER-DECEMBER

2020 World Disaster and Environmental Issues



10/2/2020 Fire Crews Continue To Combat Wildfires In Calif. by OAN Newsroom
Smoke billows into the sky as the Glass Fire burns in the hills of Calistoga, Calif.,
on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)
    Emergency crews continue to fight the flames of two massive blazes in California amid the state’s unprecedented 2020 fire season.
    The Glass Fire plowed through Napa and Sonoma County this week.    According to Calfire, it has burned tens of thousands of acres and posed an immediate threat to life in the area.
    Calistoga’s local fire department worked through the night to keep the blaze from spreading.    Crews searched for fire spots that could reignite amid high winds, which were previously predicted by the National Weather Service.
    Homes and businesses, including the area’s wine country, have been severely affected by the flames.
    “I looked on the winery camera, which was still running, and everything was engulfed in flames,” explained winery owner Suzanne Phifer Pavitt.    “It was a red blaze.”
The Global Supertanker drops retardant while battling the Glass Fire in Napa County, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Meanwhile, Shasta County firefighters have had more luck with the Zogg Fire, where they are slowly but surely increasing containment.    Officials have also increased resources and fire crews in the area.
    However, forecasters have said they expect hot and dry weather to pervade this weekend, which could add fuel to the flames.
    Officials also warned of the infamous Santa Ana winds, which usually last between October and November.    These gusts have been known to complicate fire containment efforts.
    As the flames continue to rage in California, residents are living in a constant state of uncertainty.
    “We don’t know what’s going to happen, this year’s been really crazy,” stated Calistoga resident Douglas Wright.

10/3/2020 Two Killed, 25 Missing As Drenching Rain Hits Parts Of France And Italy by Tangi Salaün and Crispian Balmer
A view shows a truck underwater in the Vesubie river, after heavy rainfall hit
southern France, in La Bollene-Vesubie, France October 3, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
    PARIS/ROME (Reuters) – Two people died and 25 people were missing in France and Italy after a storm hit border regions of the two countries, bringing record rainfall in places and causing heavy flooding that swept away roads and damaged homes, authorities said on Saturday.
    The storm, dubbed Alex, ravaged several villages around the city of Nice on the French Riviera.    Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi called it the worst flooding disaster in the area for more than a century after flying over the worst-hit area by helicopter.
    “The roads and about 100 houses were swept away or partially destroyed,” he told French news channel BFM.
    “I have been particularly shocked by what I saw today,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference after visiting affected areas, adding he was concerned that the death toll could rise.
    At least eight people were missing in France, authorities said.    These included two firemen whose vehicle was carried away by a swollen river, according to local witnesses cited by several French media.
    Television images from both countries showed several roads and bridges had been swept away by flood water and numerous rivers were reported to have burst their banks.
    In Italy, at least two people died — one a fireman and another a man in his 30s whose car was swept into a river after a road subsided, local authorities said.    Seventeen people were also missing.
    Six German trekkers were among the missing after failing to return from a trip in the mountains in the province of Cuneo.
    Officials in the Piedmont region reported a record 630 mm (24.8 inches) of rain in just 24 hours in Sambughetto, close to the border with Switzerland.    The Piedmont regional chief Alberto Cirio called on the government to declare a state of emergency.
    The water level in the River Po jumped by 3 metres (9.84 feet) in just 24 hours.
    Eric Ciotti, a member of French parliament who is from one of the worst affected villages in the area, Saint-Martin-Vésubie, said several villages were cut off as they are located in steep-sided valleys of the mountainous region.
    Meteo France said that rainfall of 500 mm (19.69 inches) of rain was registered over 24 hours in Saint-Martin-Vésubie and close to 400 mm in several other towns – the equivalent of more than three months of rain at this time of the year.
    There was more rainfall than on Oct. 3 2015, when floods caused the death of 20 people in and around the French Riviera city of Cannes, Jérémy Crunchant, the director of civil protection, told France Info.
    Venice, a long-delayed flood barrier system successfully protected the lagoon city from a high tide for the first time on Saturday, bringing big relief following years of repeated inundations.
(Reporting by Tangi Salaün in Paris and Crispian Balmer in Rome; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Louise Heavens and Frances Kerry)

10/4/2020 Five Bodies Found In Northern Italy After Violent Storms
A fire brigade helicopter carries out rescue operation in flooded area in Ornavasso, Italy, October 4, 2020. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS
    ROME (Reuters) – Five bodies were discovered in northwestern Italy on Sunday, including four washed up on the shore close to the border with France, officials said, in deaths thought to be caused by severe storms in the region.
    At least some of the corpses might have been swept down the coast from France.
    Officials said on Saturday that two people died and nine were missing after fierce rains and strong winds lashed the border areas linking the two countries since Friday.
    Four of the bodies were found on a stretch of coast between the border town of Ventimiglia and Santo Stefano al Mare, police said.    The fifth body was discovered slightly inland near to a river. None of the corpses were immediately identified.
    The bad weather caused millions of euros of damage, with several road bridges swept away in Italy, and streets in some towns littered with debris, mud and overturned cars.
    Officials in the Piedmont region reported a record 630 mm (24.8 inches) of rain in just 24 hours in Sambughetto, near to Switzerland — more than half its annual average rainfall.
    In Limone Piemonte, close to France, a three-storey house was swept off its foundations and into a river.    In the nearby village of Tanaro, floodwaters destroyed the local cemetery, sweeping away dozens of coffins.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Frances Kerry)

10/5/2020 Virus-Hunting Trio Win Nobel For Hepatitis C Discovery by Simon Johnson and Douglas Busvine
Nils-Goran Larsson, Patrik Ernfors, Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam and Thomas Perlmann (Secretary), of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or
Medicine present the winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice, during
a press conference at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, October 5, 2020. Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency/via REUTERS
    STOCKHOLM/BERLIN (Reuters) – Two Americans and a Briton won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday for identifying the hepatitis C virus, in work spanning decades that has helped to limit the spread of the fatal disease and develop drugs to cure it.
    The discoveries by Harvey Alter, Charles Rice and Briton Michael Houghton mean there is now a chance of eradicating the hepatitis C virus – a goal the World Health Organization wants to achieve in the next decade.
    “It’s so other-worldly – it’s something you don’t think will ever happen,” Alter, 85, said after picking up the phone only after a third pre-dawn call from Stockholm.
    The trio share the 10 million Swedish crown ($1.1 million) award for discovering and proving that a blood-borne virus causes hepatitis C, which afflicts 70 million people and causes 400,000 deaths each year.
    “(To) go from basically the beginning-part of this discovery to when it can be successfully treated – this is kind of a rare treat for a basic scientist,” Rice, 68, told reporters on a Zoom call.
    Nominations for this year’s award preceded the global spread of the new coronavirus pandemic, but the choice of winners recognises the importance of identifying a virus as the first step in winning the battle against a new disease.
    Rice said advances in gene sequencing would make it possible today for researchers to achieve “spectacular” progress towards developing treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
    Nearly 3 million hepatitis C sufferers are co-infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, according to the WHO.
THREE STEPS
    The shared prize recognizes research dating back to the 1960s when Alter, at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that a liver disease that was not hepatitis A or B could be spread through blood transfusions.
    A team led by Houghton, then working for the pharmaceuticals firm Chiron, created a clone of a new virus in the mid-1980s from fragments found in the blood of an infected chimpanzee.
    The disease it causes was named hepatitis C.    Its identification made it possible to develop tests to screen bloodbank supplies and greatly reduce the spread of the disease, which can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.
    “We thought it would be solved quickly, but it actually took seven years to find,” Houghton told a news conference on Zoom.    “I thought I was going mad.”
    The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle came when Rice, now at Rockefeller University in New York, was able to genetically engineer a version of the hepatitis C virus and demonstrate that it alone could cause symptoms in a chimpanzee comparable to an infection in humans.
    But Rice told Reuters that the WHO was unlikely to be able to eradicate the virus by 2030, in part because a broadly effective and widely available vaccine was still years away, and also because many countries have banned research on chimpanzees, which was more powerful than studies on rodents.
    Houghton, 69, is a professor of virology at Canada’s University of Alberta. He told reporters the award validated his team’s work on a hepatitis C vaccine, which is now in clinical trials.
COSTLY TREATMENT
    While effective antiviral treatments are now available, a course can cost $30,000 in the United States.
    “In well-resourced countries that have the political will to do it, we are seeing huge progress,” said Graham Cooke, NIHR Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College, London.
    In poorer countries, he said, “there are lots of challenges to overcome, but I think it is a realistic ambition.”
    Rice said manufacturers were now attempting to lower the price, in part by granting production rights in poorer countries.    “I would have been much happier had it been more rapid,” he said.
    Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nobel Foundation has cancelled the banquet that traditionally forms the centrepiece of the award ceremonies in Stockholm in December, and will present medals and diplomas in a televised event instead.
(Graphic of Nobel laureates – https://graphics.reuters.com/NOBEL-PRIZE/010050ZC27H/index.html)
(Writing by Douglas Busvine in Berlin; Additional reporting by Niklas Pollard, Johannes Hellstrom, Supantha Mukherjee, Anna Ringstrom and Daniel Trotta; Editing by William Maclean and Kevin Liffey)

10/5/2020 Nvidia Building UK Supercomputer To Boost COVID-19 Research
FILE PHOTO: An NVIDIA logo is shown at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. chip giant Nvidia said on Monday it is building Britain’s most powerful supercomputer, which will use artificial intelligence to help researchers solve pressing medical challenges, including those related to COVID-19.
    GSK and AstraZeneca, which are both involved in coronavirus vaccine research, will be two of the first pharmaceutical companies to harness the power of the machine, Nvidia said.
    The Cambridge-1 computer, which is expected to come online by the end of the year in Cambridge, east England, will be a NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD system capable of delivering more than 400 petaflops of AI performance, the company said.
    That would mean it ranks 29th on the Top 500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, it said.
    Cambridge is also home to Arm, the British chip designer that Nvidia has agreed to buy from Japan’s SoftBank for $40 billion.
    Nvidia has previously said it intended to create an AI Center of Excellence in the university city, featuring an Arm-based supercomputer, which will serve as a hub of collaboration for researchers, scientists and startups across the UK.
    The separate Cambridge-1 supercomputer will be made available to researchers from industry and academia.
    “The Cambridge-1 supercomputer will serve as a hub of innovation for the UK, and further the groundbreaking work being done by the nation’s researchers in critical healthcare and drug discovery,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, in his GPU Technology Conference keynote speech.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle)

10/5/2020 Johnson & Johnson To Pay More Than $100 Million To Settle Over 1,000 Talc Lawsuits: Bloomberg
FILE PHOTO: A Johnson & Johnson building is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
    (Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson will pay more than $100 million to settle over 1,000 lawsuits that allege the company’s Baby Powder caused cancer, Bloomberg news reported on Monday, citing people with knowledge of the pacts.
(https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/j-j-to-pay-more-than-100-million-to-end-over-1-000-talc-suits?utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_content=business&sref=WJKVI5nK)
    J&J faces more than 19,000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors claiming its talc products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, a known carcinogen.    The company has maintained that its talc is safe.
    The drugmaker declined to comment on the Bloomberg report but reiterated that its talc is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.
    “In certain circumstances, we do choose to settle lawsuits, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products,” the company said in a statement.
    In May, J&J said it would stop selling its talc in the United States and Canada after demand had fallen in the wake of what it called “misinformation” about the product’s safety amid a barrage of legal challenges.
    J&J has faced scrutiny over the safety of its baby powder following an investigative report by Reuters in 2018 that found the company knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its talc.
(Reporting by Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

10/6/2020 Four Dead In Southern France Flooding, Up To 18 Missing by Geert De Clercq
Emergency workers remove trees from the Roya river in Breil-sur-Roya as clean-up operations continue after storm Alex hit southern France, bringing record
rainfall in places and causing heavy flooding that swept away roads and damaged homes, France, October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
    PARIS (Reuters) – Four people have died and up to 18 more are missing in floods and heavy rain in south-eastern France, local authorities said on Monday.
    Over the weekend, southern France was lashed by torrential rain and swollen rivers have swept away houses, bridges and parts of roads.
    A spokeswoman for the Alpes Maritimes prefecture told Reuters that eight people were missing and about 10 more may be missing but she gave no further details.
    Authorities cannot give a more precise estimate for the death toll from the flooding as emergency services struggle to reach flood-hit villages as many roads have been washed away or are still blocked by debris.
    Over the weekend Storm Alex caused widespread damage in several villages around Nice on the French Riviera in what the city’s mayor Christian Estrosi called the worst flooding disaster in the area for more than a century.
    Meteo France registered rainfall of 500 mm (19.69 inches) of rain over 24 hours in Saint-Martin-Vesubie on Saturday and close to 400 mm in several other towns – the equivalent of more than three months of rain at this time of the year.
    French daily Ouest France on Monday reported that three bodies had been found, one in Saint-Martin-Vesubie – where one had been discovered earlier – one in Lantosque and one in Colomars.
    Among those missing is a couple in their eighties who are believed to have still been in their house in the village of Roquebilliere as the surging Vesubie river engulfed it.    Footage of the house collapsing into the river has dominated French TV news coverage of the flooding over the weekend.
    The couple’s son told Nice-Matin newspaper that contrary to some media reports, his parents had not refused to leave the house, but that helicopters could not reach them because of high winds.
    “My parents are reported missing, but I know it is over.    They are dead.    I understood this when I received confirmation that they were in the house until the last moment.    They departed together after a long and loving life, that is what I tell myself to soften the pain,” Eric Borello told the paper.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Jane Merriman)

10/6/2020 Black Hole Discoveries Win 2020 Nobel Prize In Physics by Niklas Pollard and Douglas Busvine
U.S. astrophysicist Andrea Ghez of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), one of three scientists
to win the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, poses in an undated photograph provided October 6, 2020. UCLA/Elena Zhukova/Handout
via REUTERS. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    STOCKHOLM/BERLIN (Reuters) – Britain’s Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel of Germany and American Andrea Ghez won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole.
    Penrose, professor at the University of Oxford, won half the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.1 million) for his work using mathematics to prove that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
    “It was an extreme honour and great pleasure to hear the news this morning in a slightly unusual way – I had to get out of my shower to hear it,” Penrose, 89, told reporters.
    Genzel, of the Max Planck Institute and University of California, Berkeley, and Ghez, at the University of California, Los Angeles, shared the other half for discovering that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy.
    Ghez – only the fourth woman to be awarded the Physics prize after Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 and Donna Strickland in 2018 – said she hoped it would inspire others to enter the field.
    Asked about the moment of discovery, Ghez said: “The first thing is doubt.
    “You have to prove to yourself that what you are really seeing is what you think you are seeing.    So, both doubt and excitement,” the 55-year-old astronomer said in a call with the committee after receiving the award.
    “It’s that feeling of being at the frontier of research when you have to always question what you are seeing.”
    Genzel was on a Zoom call with colleagues when the phone rang. “Just like in the movies, a voice said: ‘This is Stockholm’,” the 68-year-old astrophysicist told Reuters Television in his cluttered office on the outskirts of Munich.
    He was flabbergasted by the news: “I cried a little bit.”
WHERE TIME ENDS
    Scientists have wondered since the 18th century whether any object existed in the universe that would exert a gravitational pull so strong that light may not be able to escape.
    Einstein predicted in 1915, in his general theory of relativity, that space and time could be warped by the force of gravity.    Yet he did not actually believe in black holes, and finding a way to prove their existence baffled scientists for another 50 years.
    It was not until a seminal paper in 1965 that Penrose proved that black holes can really form – describing them in detail and stating that, at their centre, there is a singularity where time and space cease to exist.
    Illustrating Penrose’s insight at the awards presentation in Stockholm, Ulf Danielsson of the Nobel Committee held a black ball the size of a grapefruit in one hand and pointed at it with the finger of his other hand.
    At the ball’s edge, time stands still, Danielsson said, and as his finger pushed into it, its tip moves into the future.
    It would be impossible to withdraw one’s finger without tearing it apart.    Instead it would be “carried all the way into the centre of the black hole, where time ends and the known laws of physics cease to apply.”
    Asked by Reuters what was the biggest riddle about black holes, Penrose said: “The greatest puzzle is the singularities, because we don’t know what to do with them: You see the black holes shield us from the singularities."
    “As the matter collapses into the middle, the densities get larger and larger and they just exceed everything you can think of,” he told reporters from Oxford.
‘AWE-INSPIRING’ MYSTERY
    Subsequent efforts to find a black hole focused on the clouds of dust in a region of the Milky Way called Sagittarius A*.     Using the world’s largest telescopes to observe how stars orbited, separate teams led by Genzel and Ghez concluded that around 4 million solar masses are packed into a region the size of our solar system.
    “Penrose, Genzel and Ghez together showed us that black holes are awe-inspiring, mathematically sublime, and actually exist,” said Tom McLeish, professor of natural philosophy at Britain’s University of York.
    Physics is the second of this year’s crop of Nobels to be awarded, after three scientists won the medicine prize for their discovery of Hepatitis C on Monday.
    The Nobel prizes were created in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.
    This year’s awards are taking place under the long shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic that has curtailed much of the usual festivities surrounding the prizes. ($1 = 8.9108 Swedish crowns)
(Additional reporting by Johannes Hellstrom, Supantha Mukherjee, Simon Johnson, Colm Fulton, Anna Ringstrom, Daniel Trotta, Ayhan Uyanik, Marcus Nagle, Guy Faulconbridge and Alistair Smout; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean)

10/7/2020 Charpentier And Doudna Win 2020 Nobel Prize In Chemistry
FILE PHOTO: French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier (L) and professor Jennifer Doudna of the U.S. pose for the media during a
visit to a painting exhibition by children about the genome, at the San Francisco park in Oviedo, SPAIN, October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso
    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of a method for genome editing, the award-giving body said on Wednesday.
    “Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on awarding the 10 million Swedish crown ($1.1 million) prize.
    “This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.”
    “The ability to cut the DNA where you want has revolutionized the life sciences” Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, member of the academy of sciences, told reporters.
    Charpentier, who is French, and Doudna, an American, become the sixth and seventh women to win a Nobel for chemistry, joining the likes of Marie Curie, who won in 1911, and more recently, Frances Arnold, in 2018.
    In keeping with tradition, chemistry is the third prize announced every year and follows those for medicine and physics earlier this week.
    The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created and funded in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901, with the economics award a later addition.
    Like so much else, the pandemic has redrawn the Nobels, with many of the traditional events, such as the grand banquet, cancelled or moved online even as research into the disease – above all the hunt for a vaccine – has dominated the scientific spotlight.
(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; additional reporting Simon Johnson, Anna Ringstrom, Supantha Mukherjee, Colm Fulton and Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Alison Williams and Giles Elgood)

10/7/2020 Ozone hole over Antarctica among the largest in years
    GENEVA – The European Union’s Earth observation program said Tuesday that the ozone hole over Antarctica has swelled to its largest size and deepest level in years.    Experts at the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service said a strong, stable, cold polar vortex has driven the expansion, and they called for greater international efforts to abide by an international accord to phase out use of ozone-depleting chemicals.    Vincent-Henri Peuch, who heads the service, said the hole was “definitely” among the largest in the last 15 years.

10/7/2020 European Parliament Backs A 60% EU Emissions-Cutting Target For 2030 by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows European Council President Charles Michel addressing an extraordinary plenary session of
the EU Parliament following an EU leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament on Tuesday voted in favour of a legally binding target for the European Union to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030, against 1990 levels, according to vote results released on Wednesday.
    The full assembly will rubber-stamp its position on the target with another vote on Wednesday.
    The goal approved by the Parliament is more ambitious than the net emissions cut of “at least 55%” by 2030 proposed by the European Commission, which wants to finalise the target by the end of the year.
    To do that, Parliament will need to agree the target with EU member countries, who are split over how ambitious it should be.
    The EU’s current 2030 goal is a 40% emissions cut.
    Experts say a 55% cut by 2030 is the minimum effort needed to get the EU on track for its plan to become climate neutral by 2050, putting EU emissions firmly on a pathway that, if adopted globally, would cap global warming at safe levels.
    The legislative assembly approved the 60% emissions-cutting target by a majority of 26 votes.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett, editing by Marine Strauss)

10/7/2020 Weather Experts Warn Gulf Coast Residents To Evacuate, Prepare After Hurricane Delta Makes Landfall In Mexico by OAN Newsroom
A fallen palm tree left by Hurricane Delta in Cancun, in Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz Garcia)
    Officials along the U.S. Gulf Coast are warning residents to prepare after Hurricane Delta touched down in Mexico on Wednesday.    Although Delta has been downgraded to a Category Two storm with 100 mph winds, the National Hurricane Center has predicted it may restrengthen into a Category Four later in the evening.
    Evacuations have been issued along the Gulf Coast.    Experts believe the storm will make landfall in Louisiana on Friday.
    State Governor John Bel Edwards encouraged residents to put the next few days to good use.
    “We’ve been given a rare gift here because this forecast is telling us several days in advance that we can expect to be hit by a hurricane,” he said.    “I’m encouraging everybody to use the time you have available to you between now and when it’s too dangerous to continue to prepare, evacuate, get yourself, your family in the best possible position for this storm.”

Tourists wait for transportation to return to their hotels after sleeping in a shelter, as they wave to and applaud soldiers
following the passing of Hurricane Delta in Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz Garcia)
    Delta has also had a severe impact on offshore crude oil production in the gulf, reportedly shutting down 80% of operations there.
    President Trump has since received an update on Hurricane Delta. On Twitter, he warned Gulf Coast residents to be prepared and listen to the directions from state and local officials.

10/8/2020 Russia Finds Contaminants In Rivers Near Site Of Far East Sea Pollution
FILE PHOTO: A member of Russian Investigative Committee works on the shore of Avacha Bay following the recent discovery of high pollution levels off the
coast of Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, in this handout picture released October 7, 2020. Investigative Committee of Russia/Handout via REUTERS
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s environment watchdog, which is investigating unexplained toxic pollution off the country’s far eastern coast, said on Thursday it had found significantly higher levels of pollutants in nearby rivers than in the affected waters themselves.
    Greenpeace warned last week of an ecological disaster in waters off the Russian region of Kamchatka, a volcanic peninsula on the Pacific, where large numbers of sea creatures died, their carcasses washing up ashore.
    Russia opened a criminal investigation on Wednesday to establish the cause of the pollution.    Conservation group WWF has said it was very likely caused by a highly toxic soluble substance.
    Watchdog Rosprirodnadzor said in a report on Thursday it found high levels of phosphates, iron and phenol in rivers that enter the Avacha Bay in the Far East, several times more than in the waters off the coast.
    Greenpeace said that the tests did not include enough data, that the cause of the pollution remained unknown and that the official inquiry was taking a worrying amount of time.
    “The results that have been received are not enough to show the full picture of what has happened,” Vladimir Chuprov, Greenpeace Russia project director, said in a statement, adding that an analysis of the water’s heavy metal content was still being conducted.
    Laboratory analyses of samples taken from the animals that died were also lacking, Chuprov said.
    The Investigative Committee, a Russian equivalent of the U.S. FBI, has said that dead marine life had washed up on the shore from Sept. 1 to Oct. 3, and that the sea water had been found to contain oil components including phenol and had changed colour.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Toby Chopra and Frances Kerry)

10/8/2020 Japan Fishermen Oppose ‘Catastrophic’ Release Of Fukushima Water To Ocean
FILE PHOTO: An employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) uses a geiger counter next to storage tanks for radioactive water at TEPCO's
tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Aaron Sheldrick
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese fish industry representatives on Thursday urged the government not to allow the release at sea of tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant, saying it would undo years of work to restore their reputation.
    Tokyo Electric has collected more than a million tonnes of contaminated water since the plant was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
    The water is stored in huge tanks that crowd the site and it says it will run out of storage room by 2022.
    “We are dead against a release of contaminated water to the ocean as it could have a catastrophic impact on the future of Japan’s fishing industry,” Hiroshi Kishi, president of JF Zengyoren, told a meeting with government officials.
    JF Zengyoren is a nationwide federation of Japan’s fisheries cooperatives.
    Early this year, a panel of experts advising Japan’s government on the disposal of radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima plant, recommended releasing it into the ocean.
    Japan’s industry ministry, which has been hearing views since April, invited fishery representatives to a seventh round of such hearings.
    “We vigorously oppose a release of contaminated water into the ocean as it will clearly cause reputational damage,” said Toshihito Ono, the head of fish wholesalers and processors in Fukushima prefecture.
    Any release could prompt other countries to reinforce restrictions on imports of Japanese fishery products, reversing a recent trend toward easing, JF Zengyoren’s Kishi said.
    Both representatives did not put forward alternatives, but Kishi asked the government to consider further and get as much information as possible before making its decision.
    Kiyoshi Ejima, state minister of economy, trade and industry, said the government would take their views into account and make a responsible decision.
    “We need to make a decision as soon as possible since this is a top priority issue,” he told reporters after the meeting, but gave no timeframe.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; editing by Barbara Lewis)

10/9/2020 U.N. Food Agency WFP Wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize by Terje Solsvik and Nerijus Adomaitis
FILE PHOTO: Medical supplies are seen on the tarmac before being loaded to an aircraft chartered by the U.N. World Food Programme to help developing countries
hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Liege airport, Belgium April 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo
    OSLO (Reuters) – The United Nations food agency, the World Food Programme (WFP), won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in areas affected by conflict.
    The Rome-based organisation says it helps some 97 million people in about 88 countries each year, and that one in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat.
    “The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told a news conference.
    The WFP is a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict, with the COVID-19 outbreak further boosting its relevance, she said.
    “The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” the Nobel committee said in its citation.
    “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos …There is an estimate within the World Food Programme that… there will be 265 million starving people within a year, so of course this is also a call to the international community not to underfund the World Food Programme.”
    The World Food Programme said this was “a proud moment … nothing short of a feat.”
    The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns, or around $1.1 million, and will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10.
(Reporting by Oslo newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

10/10/2020 Argentina First Nation To OK Drought-Resistant GMO Wheat, Farm Industry Balks
FILE PHOTO: A bird flies over a field of wheat on farmland near Azul, Argentina September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina on Friday formally became the first country in the world to approve the use of drought-resistant genetically modified (GMO) wheat, prompting fierce criticism by the country’s massive export agriculture industry.
    Bioceres’ HB4 wheat is resistant to drought and tolerates the herbicide glufosinate sodium, a combination the company says can help boost yields on dry years. But the government said the product cannot be sold before Brazil, Argentina’s biggest wheat buyer, approves its importation.
    Last year, 45% of the 11.3 million tonnes of wheat exported by Argentina went to neighboring Brazil, which has not commented on the prospects of it approving the purchase of HB4 wheat.
    Many farm groups in Argentina objected to the government’s approval of the product, over concerns it could prove a stigma for exporters.
    “Not only are wheat and flour exports put at risk, but also pellets, starch, gluten, baked goods, noodles and all the products (that require additional processing),” said a statement signed by regional farmers’ associations, traders, and the influential Chamber of Cereal Exporters (CEC).
    No other countries have yet approved the importation of GMO wheat, leaving Argentine farmers with little incentive to plant it.    Environmental groups have warned that not enough is yet known about GMO crops, treated with weed killers like glufosinate sodium, for them to be safely consumed by humans.
    A green light from Brazil would not trigger Bioceres to immediately commercially launch the new technology before getting approval from other markets, CEO Federico Trucco told Reuters on Thursday.
    Associations linked to the farm supply chain in Argentina warned in the statement that national and international companies are already requesting assurances that the wheat they purchase does not have genetic modifications – in addition to its derived flour.
    “The damage that would occur to the Argentine wheat market would be irreparable and irreversible,” the group said, adding that the government did not consult them before approving the variety.
    The HB4 wheat variety was developed by Trigall Genetics, a joint venture between Bioceres and France’s Florimond Desprez.
(Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Rosalba O’Brien)

10/10/2020 Trump Backs Revoking Tariff Exemption For Some Solar Panel Imports
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump poses on the Truman Balcony of the White House after returning from being hospitalized at
Walter Reed Medical Center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment, in Washington, U.S. October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday signed a proclamation underscoring his support for revoking an exclusion from tariffs on some imported double-sided solar panels, and for raising the planned tariff rate to 18% for 2021 from 15%.
    Trump said the domestic U.S. industry was starting to increase production and market share of certain solar modules after he imposed tariffs on imports in January 2018, but further steps were needed.
    Bifacial panels should not be excluded from the tariffs, Trump said, adding that doing so had limited the overall measures and would likely continue to impair their effectiveness.
    “In light of the increased imports of competing products such exclusion entails … it is necessary to revoke (the) exclusion and to apply the safeguard tariff to bifacial panel,” Trump said in a proclamation released by the White House.
    “To achieve the full remedial effect envisaged for that action, it is necessary to adjust the duty rate of the safeguard tariff for the fourth year of the safeguard measure to 18 percent.”
    Solar farm developers, including Chicago-based Invenergy Renewables LLC, had sued to maintain the exemption initially granted by the Trump administration, but it was later rescinded after officials realized it led to a spike in imports.
    The United States in January 2018 imposed duties on solar panel imports beginning at 30% and expected to drop to 15% by 2021.    Trump’s announcement would put the rate at 18% next year.
    China and other producers dominate the bifacial technology market, a small but growing part of the solar panel market that costs more but produces greater power than traditional panels.
    Consumers and importers have argued that higher tariffs will boost their costs and are unnecessary because domestic producers do not make the panels and face no harm from imports.
    Domestic producers argue that solar farm developers could use either monofacial or bifacial panels, and higher tariffs would safeguard domestic production.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

10/11/2020 Fire Breaks Out On Mount Kilimanjaro, Says Tanzania National Park
FILE PHOTO: A fresh dusting of snow sits atop the dormant volcano of Mount Kilimanjaro,
Africa's highest peak, in northern Tanzania, November 22, 2007. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly/File Photo
    DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – A fire broke out on Mount Kilimanjaro on Sunday afternoon and authorities were trying to contain it, Tanzania’s National Parks service (TANAPA) said.
    The parks service posted a blurry photograph on its Twitter account of what appeared to be Mount Kilimanjaro with several pockets of flames burning on it, with the message: “A fire emerged on Mount Kilimanjaro this afternoon.    Efforts in containing it (are) going on.    More details to follow.”
    TANAPA official Pascal Shelutete told Reuters by phone on Sunday evening that he had no further details.
    Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak, at nearly 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) above sea level. Around 50,000 tourists climb Kilimanjaro annually.
(Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen,; Writing by Maggie Fick; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

10/11/2020 Floods Kill 17 People In Central Vietnam, Next Storm Due Soon
Military personnel rescue sailors of a ship at Cua Viet Port in Quang Tri province, Vietnam October 11, 2020. Ho Cau/VNA via REUTERS
    HANOI (Reuters) – At least 17 people have been killed by floods in Vietnam’s central provinces in the past week and 13 are still missing, state media said on Sunday as the country braced for another tropical storm.
    In the next few days, the central region should be prepared for another typhoon, Linfa, which will bring more rains and result in more flooding, state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) reported.
    Footage broadcast by VTV showed fishermen being rescued by coastguard and helicopters as strong winds battered the central Vietnamese coast in the central province of Quang Tri.
    Floods have cut food supplies to thousands of people.    Around 31,000 people have been displaced and more than 33,000 houses submerged and damaged by floods, according to a government report.
    Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline.    Natural disasters – predominantly floods and landslides triggered by storms – killed 132 people and injured 207 others in the country last year.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

10/12/2020 Natural Disasters Surge In Past 20 Years, Likely To Continue To Wreak Havoc: U.N. by Stephanie Nebehay
FILE PHOTO: Abandoned buildings are seen inside the exclusion zone around the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in
Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 10, 2020. Picture taken March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – Extreme weather events have increased dramatically in the past 20 years, taking a heavy human and economic toll worldwide, and are likely to wreak further havoc, the United Nations said on Monday.
    Heatwaves and droughts will pose the greatest threat in the next decade, as temperatures continue to rise due to heat-trapping gases, experts said.
    China (577) and the United States (467) recorded the highest number of disaster events from 2000 to 2019, followed by India (321), the Philippines (304) and Indonesia (278), the U.N. said in a report issued the day before the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.    Eight of the top 10 countries are in Asia.
    Some 7,348 major disaster events were recorded globally, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and causing $2.97 trillion in economic losses during the two-decade period.
    Drought, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and extreme temperature events caused major damage.
    “The good news is that more lives have been saved but the bad news is that more people are being affected by the expanding climate emergency,” Mami Mizutori, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, told a news briefing.
    She called for governments to invest in early warning systems and implement disaster risk reduction strategies.
    Debarati Guha-Sapir of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Louvain, Belgium, which provided data for the report, said: “If this level of growth in extreme weather events continues over the next twenty years, the future of mankind looks very bleak indeed."
    “Heatwaves are going to be our biggest challenge in the next 10 years, especially in the poor countries,” she said.
    Last month was the world’s hottest September on record, with unusually high temperatures recorded off Siberia, in the Middle East, and in parts of South America and Australia, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said.
    Global temperatures will continue to warm over the next five years, and may even temporarily rise to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in July.    Scientists have set 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) as the ceiling for avoiding catastrophic climate change.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Ed Osmond)
[HERE THEY GO AGAIN MAKING CLAIMS WITHOUT PROVIDING EVIDENCE THAT CO2 CAUSED IT BUT IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE COUNTRIES IN THE EAST ARE THE BIGGEST POLLUTERS.].

10/12/2020 Climate Change Poses ‘Profound Threat’ To Global Growth, IMF Chief Says by Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva makes remarks during a closing
news conference for the International Monetary Finance Committee (IMFC), during the IMF and World Bank's 2019 Annual
Meetings of finance ministers and bank governors, in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Climate change poses a serious threat to global growth, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, urging the world’s top emitters to agree on a floor for carbon prices.
    IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told finance ministers meeting on climate change that countries should also ensure that green investments are included in the money they are spending to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its economic impact.
    Doing so, she said, could boost global gross domestic product by 0.7% on average in the first 15 years of the recovery.
    “Even while we are in the midst of the COVID crisis, we should mobilize to prevent the climate crisis,” Georgieva told a meeting of finance ministers from 52 countries working to integrate climate change into their economic policies.
    The group, launched in April 2019 and led by the finance ministers of Chile and Finland, met virtually Monday on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
    China and the United States, the world’s largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, are not part of the coalition.    Together they account for 43% of the world’s emissions.
    “The evidence is clear: Climate change is a profound threat to growth and prosperity.    It is macro-critical.    And macroeconomic policies are central to the fight against climate change,” she said.
    Georgieva said IMF research showed that policy tools could help achieve net zero emissions by 2050 despite the pandemic, but it was imperative that countries earmarked some of the $12 trillion in fiscal stimulus toward green investments.
    Carbon pricing should be at the heart of the strategy, she said, adding, “It is critical to get the implementation right, including to shield vulnerable people and sectors to ensure a just transition.”
    Voicing concern that the current Paris framework would not deliver the needed 25% to 50% reduction of emissions over the next decade, Georgieva called on top emitters to adopt a carbon price floor, which could pave the way for a global consensus.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and Steve Orlofsky)

10/13/2020 Southeast Asia Flood Deaths Near 40 As New Storm Approaches by Khanh Vu and Prak Chan Thul
A flooded village is seen in Quang Tri province, Vietnam October 12, 2020. Ho Cau/VNA via REUTERS.
    HANOI/PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Nearly 40 people have died in Vietnam and Cambodia and scores more were missing, including rescuers, due to prolonged heavy rain and flash flooding as tropical storm Nangka edged towards the Vietnamese coast on Tuesday.
    Heavy rains since early October have caused deadly floods and landslides in several provinces in central Vietnam and displaced thousands of people in western Cambodia, officials and state media said.
    The floods are expected to worsen over the coming days, with tropical storm Nangka forecast to dump more rain as it makes landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday.
    Nangka, packing wind speeds of up to 100 km per hour (62 miles per hour) will trigger heavy rain of up to 400 millimetres in parts of northern and central Vietnam from Wednesday through Friday, its weather agency said.
    Ongoing flooding has killed at least 28 people in Vietnam, and 11 in Cambodia, where almost 25,000 houses and 84,000 hectares of crops have been damaged, according to local media.
    Vietnamese disaster management authorities said over 130,000 houses have been impacted.
    Seventeen construction workers were missing following a landslide at the site of a hydropower dam project in the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien Hue, state media reported.
    An additional 13 people sent to rescue the workers are also missing, the state-run Nhan Dan newspaper reported on Tuesday.
    Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has instructed the defence ministry to send more rescue troops to the site of the landslide, according to a government statement.
    As of Tuesday morning they were unable to reach the site, the statement added, because of high water levels, heavy rains, and additional landslides.
(Reporting by Khanh Vu and Prak Chan Thul; Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Martin Petty)

10/15/2020 The Robot Dolphin That Could Replace Captive Animals At Theme Parks One Day by Nathan Frandino
Walt Conti, founder and CEO of Edge Innovations, uses a handheld controller to move an animatronic dolphin in a tank at
the company's warehouse in Fremont, California, U.S., September 30, 2020. Picture taken September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Nathan Frandino
    HAYWARD, Calif. (Reuters) – Darting around the pool as a group of swimmers stands in the shallow end, the dolphin looks much like those that jump through hoops and perform acrobatics at theme parks.
    But this marine creature is a robot.
    “When I first saw the dolphin, I thought it could be real,” said a woman who swam with the remote-controlled creature.
    Edge Innovations, a U.S. engineering company with an animatronic and special effects division in California, designed the dolphin, which starts at $3 million to $5 million.
    It hopes that life-like animatronics used in Hollywood movies could one day entertain crowds at theme parks, instead of wild animals held in captivity.    Swimmers could dive with robotic great white sharks or even reptiles that filled Jurassic-era seas millions of years ago.
    “There are like 3,000 dolphins currently in captivity being used to generate several billions of dollars just for dolphin experiences.    And so there’s obviously an appetite to love and learn about dolphins,” said Edge Innovations founder and CEO Walt Conti.
    “And so we want to use that appetite and offer kind of different ways to fall in love with the dolphin.”br>     Animatronics may bring back audiences turned off by parks using live animals, said Conti.
    Some 20 European countries have already banned or limited the presence of wild animals in circuses.
    At Edge’s Hayward, California headquarters, its 550-pound (250-kg), 8-and-a-half-foot (2.5-meter) animatronic dolphin with skin made from medical-grade silicone headlined a program for schools in partnership with TeachKind, part of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
    Edge also made the aquatic creatures used in Hollywood blockbusters “Free Willy,” “Deep Blue Sea” and “Anaconda.”
    “The idea of this pilot is really to create a kind of “Sesame Street” under water,” said Roger Holzberg, creative director for Edge’s animatronic program.
    “Those characters taught a generation how to feel about different kinds of aspects of humankind in ways that had never been imagined before.    And that’s what we dream of with this project.”
(This story corrects price in fourth paragraph.)
(Reporting by Nathan Frandino; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

10/15/2020 Tanzania Deploys Helicopter To Boost Fight To Douse Kilimanjaro Fires
FILE PHOTO: People are seen near a fire spreading on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania October 12, 2020
in this picture obtained from social media. Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)/via REUTERS
    DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania said on Thursday it had deployed a helicopter to bolster its efforts to put out a blaze that has been burning on Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in the East African country’s north.
    “In order to increase efficiency in containing the fire, we have started using a helicopter since this afternoon,” Hamisi Kigwangalla, minister for natural resources and tourism, said in a statement late on Thursday.
    He added the government and other stakeholders were “continuing with the efforts to add more aircraft to support the exercise.”
    The fire erupted on Sunday in the Whona area, a rest centre for climbers using Mandara and Horombo, two of the routes that tourists take up the mountain.
    Hundreds of firefighters including residents and students have been battling to extinguish the blaze.
    Kilimanjaro rises to almost 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) above sea level and attracts about 50,000 climbers a year.
    On Tuesday, Alex Kisingo, an official at a school near the mountain, said calmer weather was helping accelerate firefighters’ efforts, giving hope that the inferno could be vanquished soon. But success has remained elusive.
(Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Peter Cooney)

10/15/2020 Conservationists worry for sharks killed for science by Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
    Conservationist groups are concerned demand for a coronavirus vaccine will strain an already taxed resource: sharks.    Shark liver oil contains the natural occurring substance squalene.    Scientists use squalene for adjuvants that are added to vaccines to enhance immune response and increase effectiveness.
    “We are in no way prioritizing sharks over human health, but we simply have to ask why more sustainable squalene sources are not being considered as an option,” said Stefanie Brendl, founder of Shark Allies, a nonprofit group dedicated to the protection of sharks and rays.
    In many shark species, 50% to 80% of the weight of their liver is squalene, according to Corey Casper, president and CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute.    A single shark could yield up to 300 grams of squalene, enough for about 30,000 doses of vaccine adjuvant.
    The oil in a shark’s liver helps regulate its buoyancy in the water.    Deep-sea sharks, which have higher concentrations of oil in their liver, are sought by fishermen, as are large sharks in more shallow waters.
    Shark Allies lists more than 50 species targeted for their livers.    Though most are relatively obscure creatures of the deep ocean, others are more wellknown, such as whale sharks, great white sharks and basking sharks – all of which are considered vulnerable or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
    Before the pandemic, about 3 million sharks a year were harvested for their livers.    In a worst-case scenario, Shark Allies estimates 500,000 more sharks will be needed to meet COVID-19 demand.
Sharks’ liver oil contains a substance used to make vaccines. GETTY IMAGES
    That number is based on an assumption of every person in the world getting two doses of the vaccine made with a shark-based squalene adjuvant.    Most candidate vaccines listed by the World Health Organization don’t contain that type of immunity-boosting agent, so the actual number of sharks needed for COVID-19 vaccines is likely to be far lower.
    GSK is one of the few companies manufacturing an adjuvant with shark-based squalene to support multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates.    In a statement to USA TODAY, the company said research into squalene alternatives is ongoing, but they won’t be an option within the time frame of the pandemic.
    “The amount of squalene that will be needed to manufacture the intended 1 billion doses of its adjuvant system represents a very small proportion of the animal-derived squalene used worldwide – the vast majority of squalene produced is used by other industries including the cosmetic industry,” GSK said in the statement.
    According to a study in 2012 by BLOOM, a nonprofit group that works to preserve marine life, about 90% of the world’s shark liver oil production feeds the needs of the cosmetics industry, which uses squalene – or its hydrogenated form, squalane – for its anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin redness and swelling.
    “Pointing to someone worse doesn’t really relieve your burden of doing the right thing,” Shark Allies’ Brendl said.    “The numbers are a little bit out of proportion, but we should change the thing we can change especially when it’s in our control.”
    More cosmetic companies are switching from shark-based to plantbased squalene.    California-based biotechnology company Amyris created a plant-based squalene by fermenting sugarcane in Brazil.
    Amyris CEO John Melo said the company could create the world’s supply for squalene in a matter of months at half the cost of harvesting shark livers.
    “We can do that all day long,” he said.    “We can do a billion vaccines this month and the next month.    We can do that on demand.”
    The company developed a method by which it extracts a small amount of squalene from low-yield sources such as sugar cane and uses a chemical method to develop a semi-synthetic squalene that is amplified, according to Casper, who disclosed that the Infectious Disease Research Institute is working with Amyris for its “promising alternative.”
    Amyris has a long history of making squalane for cosmetics but has only recently begun producing squalene for pharmaceuticals.    Its research suggests plant-based squalene performs at the same level as that from sharks.
    “Everybody in the world deserves to have access to a clean and sustainable vaccine without killing one shark,” Melo said.
    Though this semi-synthetic alternative exists, Casper said there’s no other natural resource that meets the demand for a COVID-19 vaccine because extracting squalene from a plant source can be “extremely limiting.”
    A study in 2014 in BioMed Research International found an entire olive tree would yield 16 grams of squalene, about 5% of the yield of a shark, enough for about 1,600 doses of vaccine.    Olives are the most plentiful plant source for squalene.
    “We are in crisis because we cannot source enough squalene from the only viable natural source (sharks), but with innovative methods, we can develop semi- or fully synthetic alternatives,” Casper said.
    GSK said in its statement it’s committed to “exploring the potential for alternative sources of its raw materials when possible,” including non-animal- derived sources of squalene for use in adjuvants.
    Brendl is aware it may be too late to stop using shark-based adjuvants for the immediate COVID-19 vaccine push but hopes pharmaceutical companies can make the change by the second or third generations of the vaccine.
    “We are not trying to stop anything … it’s just something that we should all in our conscious calculate and try to do better,” she said.    “We can do both: We can take care of sharks and make this vaccine.”
    Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

10/15/2020 Cameron Peak Fire In Colo. Engulfs More Than 150K Acres by OAN Newsroom
Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 in Masonville, Colo. (Bethany Baker/Fort Collins Coloradoan via AP)
    The Cameron Peak Fire has become the largest fire in Colorado state history.    According to reports, the blaze has consumed over 164,000 acres, along with at least 95 buildings and 33 homes so far.
    Authorities have ordered mass evacuations as the fire continues to burn through thousands of acres a day.    The fire burned 30,000 acres in the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday morning, closing down highways as it pushed its way toward Fort Collins.
    The flames have now spread into northern Rocky Mountain National Park, which is just a few miles away from Colorado State University’s Mountain Campus.
    The Larimer County Sheriffs Office announced voluntary and mandatory evacuations for numerous cities and counties on Wednesday.    They urged residents to “not delay leaving to gather belongings or make efforts to protect your home or business.”
    Authorities have said evacuating immediately not only supports personal safety, but also allows emergency crews better access to the area.
#CameronPeakFire Evac Update
    Posted by Larimer County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, 14 October 2020
The setting sun sinks in an orange sky as smoke from several wildfires funnels into
the metropolitan area Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
    According to officials, low humidity coupled with strong winds has severely dried the state, producing essentially unlimited fuel.    These high winds have created “extreme fire conditions” for the firefighters in the field, preventing them from using air support.
    The American Red Cross has since set up several evacuation centers.    In a statement, they said they are working hard to make sure everyone who needs a roof over their head will have shelter.
    Investigators believe the fire first ignited on August 13th, but noted they are still looking into what sparked it.    Emergency teams are hopeful the flames will be fully extinguished by November 8th.

10/16/2020 Japan To Release Fukushima’s Contaminated Water Into Sea: Reports by Yuka Obayashi and Kaori Kaneko
FILE PHOTO: Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Aaron Sheldrick
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Nearly a decade after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s government has decided to release over one million tonnes of contaminated water into the sea, media reports said on Friday, with a formal announcement expected to be made later this month.
    The decision is expected to rankle neighbouring countries like South Korea, which has already stepped up radiation tests of food from Japan, and further devastate the fishing industry in Fukushima that has battled against such a move for years.
    The disposal of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been a longstanding problem for Japan as it proceeds with an decades-long decommissioning project.    Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks at the facility.
    The plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc <9501.T>, suffered multiple nuclear meltdowns after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
    On Friday, Japan’s industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said no decision had been made on the disposal of the water yet, but the government aims to make one quickly.
    “To prevent any delays in the decommissioning process, we need to make a decision quickly,” he told a news conference. He did not give any further details, including a time-frame.
    The Asahi newspaper reported that any such release is expected to take at around two years to prepare, as the site’s irradiated water first needs to pass through a filtration process before it can be further diluted with seawater and finally released into the ocean.
    In 2018, Tokyo Electric apologised after admitting its filtration systems had not removed all dangerous material from the water, collected from the cooling pipes used to keep fuel cores from melting when the plant was crippled.
    It has said it plans to remove all radioactive particles from the water except tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is hard to separate and is considered to be relatively harmless.
    It is common practice for nuclear plants around the world to release water that contain traces of tritium into the ocean.     In April, a team sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency to review contaminated water issues at the Fukushima site said the options for water disposal outlined by an advisory committee in Japan – vapour release and discharges to the sea – were both technically feasible.    The IAEA said both options were used by operating nuclear plants.
    Last week, Japanese fish industry representatives urged the government to not allow the release of contaminated water from the Fukushima plant into the sea, saying it would undo years of work to restore their reputation.
    South Korea has retained a ban on imports of seafood from the Fukushima region that was imposed after the nuclear disaster and summoned a senior Japanese embassy official last year to explain how Tokyo planned to deal with the Fukushima water problem.
    During Tokyo’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2013, then-prime minister Shinzo Abe told members of the International Olympic Committee that the Fukushima facility was “under control.”
    The Games have been delayed to 2021 because of the pandemic and some events are due to be held as close as 60 km (35 miles) from the wrecked plant.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko, Yuka Obayashi and Mari Saito; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

10/16/2020 Cost Of Calif. Wildfires Expected To Hit $10B by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Sept. 27, 2020 file photo the Glass Fire burns a hillside above Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Calif. Dry,
windy weather posed an extreme wildfire risk Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Northern California, where massive
blazes already have cost hundreds of homes and killed or injured dozens of people. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
    Since fire season began in California, the state has seen more than 8,400 wildfires.    The blazes have devastated communities throughout the Golden State.
    There are currently at least 14 major wildfires still ravaging the state’s countryside with nearly 13,000 firefighters working to combat the violent flames.br>
    So far this year, fires have destroyed more than 4 million acres, which is more than double the previous record.
    Officials report fires have tragically taken the lives of dozens of people and caused the destruction of thousands of structures, including homes and businesses.
    Experts have said this years fire season could cost the state more than $10 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the cost of wildfires in three of the last four years.
    Researchers also suggest there are hidden costs to California’s yearly wildfires such as decreased property values, health care bills the cost of disrupting business and lost tax revenue.
FILE – In this Sept. 27, 2020, file photo, a house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif. California’s
largest utility company said its equipment might have caused a fatal wildfire last month in a county in the
northern part of the state, the Mercury News reported Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope, File)

10/18/2020 2 People Hospitalized After Va. Explosion by OAN Newsroom
Screengrab via WHSV/ABC 3 official report.
    A massive explosion in Virginia left at least five injured this weekend, including several college students.    Early Saturday morning, firefighters rushed to put out the flames caused by an explosion in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
    According to Governor Ralph Northam, the incident was caused by a gas explosion.
    Officials reported a three-alarm fire spread to at least two other commercial buildings in the strip mall where the blast occurred.    Nearby residents have said they were shocked by the impact.
    “I heard a loud bang and I was thrown into my wall,” explained resident Mathew Jenkins.    “I thought that something had crashed into the building, so I looked outside and…I saw a big mushroom cloud.”
    The two who were injured in the blast are reportedly still in the hospital and in stable condition.    The flames have since been contained and the cause of the incident is under investigation.

10/19/2020 Russian Court Sentences Arctic City Mayor To Community Service Over Fuel Spill
FILE PHOTO: The TPP-3 power plant, owned by NTEK, a subsidiary of Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel, is seen during work on the demolition of
a fuel tank which collapsed on May 29, resulting in a spill of diesel fuel, in Norilsk, Russia July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Irina Yarinskaya/File Photo
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian court on Monday sentenced the former mayor of the Arctic city of Norilsk to six months of community service after finding him guilty of negligence over a major fuel spill in the region.
    Rinat Akhmetchin, who resigned as mayor in July, was charged with negligence after a fuel tank at a power station in the remote, industrial region lost pressure and collapsed in late May, leaking more than 20,000 tonnes of fuel into rivers and subsoil.
    Greenpeace has compared the incident to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska.
    The Krasnoyarsk Regional Court said in a statement that in addition to his community service, Akhmetchin would have his salary cut by 15% during that period.    It did not specify the capacity in which he would carry out his community service.
    Russia’s Investigative Committee, the body that probes serious crimes, charged Akhmetchin with criminal negligence in June, saying he had failed to coordinate and organise emergency measures to contain and control fallout from the spill.
    Norilsk, a city of 180,000 people located 300 km (190 miles) inside the Arctic Circle, is built around Norilsk Nickel, the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.
    The company has disputed the environmental cost of the spill as assessed by Russia’s environment watchdog.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

10/20/2020 Swelled By Rain And COVID Curbs, Locust Swarms Ravage Ethiopia by Tiksa Negeri
Ahmed Ibrahim, 30, an Ethiopian farmer, attempts to fend off desert locusts as they fly in his khat farm on the outskirt
of Jijiga in Somali region, Ethiopia January 12, 2020. Picture taken January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini
    KOMBOLCHA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – Widow-of-ten Marima Wadisha screamed, threw rocks and in her desperation even fired bullets at the locusts that descended on her sorghum fields in northeast Ethiopia.
    But the insect swarms were so relentless that her entire crop – her family’s only source of income – was destroyed.
    “They never left for a week. We are left with an empty harvest, we tie our waist and cry day and night.    How can (I) feed … my children like this,” she said, surrounded by five of them as she held a bundle of damaged sorghum.
    The locust invasion is Ethiopia’s worst in 25 years, United Nations food agency FAO says.
    It has damaged an estimated 200,000 hectares of land there since January, threatening food supplies – a single square kilometre swarm can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people – and the livelihoods of millions.
    It is part of a once-in-a-lifetime succession of swarms that have plagued East Africa and the Red Sea region since late 2019, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating the crisis this year by disrupting the FAO’s supply chain of pesticides and other equipment to fight them off.
    “The biggest challenge now in the region is here, in Ethiopia and we are working on that together with our partners like the FAO,” said the Desert Locust Control Organization’s Eastern Africa Director for Eastern Africa Stephen Njoka.br>     Conflict and chaos in Yemen, where some of the swarms originated, have made spraying pesticide by airplane at source impossible.    That combined with unusually heavy rains have swelled the swarms spreading across Ethiopia.
    The World Bank has said the insects could cost East Africa and Yemen $8.5 billion this year, and the FAO’s Ethiopia representative Fatouma Seid fears the pattern of destruction will be repeated next year.
    “Infestation will continue into 2021.    We are being re-invaded and the swarms will then go to Kenya,” she said.
(Reporting by Tiksa Negeri; Writing by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Maggie Fick and John Stonestreet)

10/21/2020 Study: Air pollution may boost Alzheimer’s risk by Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
    The air you breathe each day could be harming your brain, a recent study suggests.
    The report, published Monday in The Lancet Planetary Health, found air pollution was significantly associated with an increased risk of hospital admissions for several neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.
    In the 17-year-long study of more than 63 million older U.S. adults on Medicare, scientists specifically looked at fine pollution particles called particulate matter of 2.5 microns in diameter or less.br>     Xiao Wu, co-lead author of the study and a doctoral student in biostatistics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said these particles come from construction sites, unpaved roads, smokestacks and fires.
    “Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles,” he said.
    These particles are considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national ambient air quality standards, so long as a person breathes in an average of 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air or less per day over the duration of a year.
    But the long-term study calls that guidance into question.
    “Our U.S.-wide study shows that the current standards are not protecting the aging American population enough, highlighting the need for stricter standards and policies that help further reduce PM2.5 concentrations and improve air quality overall,” said Antonella Zanobetti, co-senior author of the study and principal research scientist in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Environmental Health.
    Every five years, the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review science and update air quality standards if changes are needed to protect public health “with an adequate margin of safety,” according to the agency.
    “As a result of Clean Air Act programs and efforts by state, local and tribal governments, as well as technological improvements, the United States has made vast improvements in air quality,” an EPA spokesperson said in a statement sent to USA TODAY.    “During the Trump Administration, criteria air pollutant emissions have dropped 7% – the best air quality ever on record.”
    The World Health Organization said exposure to fine particulate matter is estimated to have caused 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2016.    The agency says it can cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers.
    However, this is the first nationwide U.S. analysis that has linked fine pollution particles and neurodegenerative diseases, according to researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
    The study follows research from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health published in February that found fine particulate matter was associated with depression and brain damage, including memory loss and accelerated aging especially later in life.
    Dr. William Vizuete, associate professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering who co-led the UNC study, said while the new study may have been limited to an ensemble of air quality models that can only estimate levels of exposure, it puts into question whether current EPA standards are protective of an older population.
    “This new evidence seems to suggest that we may need to take a look at if we’re being protective of everyone,” he said.    “We need to look at the longer terms.”
    The mounting evidence comes as wildfires continue to rage in Colorado, where the Cameron Peak Fire and Calwood Fire have torched more than 200,000 acres of land, forcing thousands to flee from their homes.    This year’s wildfire season also ravaged parts of California and Oregon.
    Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
    “This new evidence seems to suggest that we may need to take a look at if we’re being protective of everyone.”
Dr. William Vizuete
    Associate professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering who co-led the UNC study
The study of more than 63 million Americans spanned 17 years. GETTY IMAGES

10/23/2020 Trump’s Description Of India As Filthy Sets Off Calls For Cleaner Air by Neha Arora
Traffic moves on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s description of India as a filthy place with polluted air has unleashed calls on social media for urgent clean-up action, particularly over New Delhi, the world’s most polluted capital.
    Defending the clean air in the United States, Trump made the comment during his final debate on Thursday with Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, saying “Look at India.    It’s filthy.    The air is filthy.”
    On Friday, air pollution in New Delhi and surrounding cities was at its worst in eight months, with the air quality index surging above 300 on a scale of 500, indicating “emergency conditions.”
    Trump referred to India to defend his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, said one environmental expert.
    “Trump’s commentary on India’s air in the backdrop of his justification from withdrawing from the Paris pact is unfortunate and juvenile,” said Vimlendu Jha, the founder of an activist group, Swechha.
    “America is historically the largest emitter in the world and currently the second largest one,” he added.
    Trump was correct, said Kapil Mishra, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
    “Trump is right,” Mishra said on Twitter.    “Our air quality is actually filthy.    In Delhi, we are breathing poison.    Time for all of us to come together and deal with the real reasons.”
    Modi’s Hindu nationalist party is not in power in New Delhi, which is ruled by the liberal Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, officials of which have often sparred with BJP functionaries over blame for the poor quality of air in New Delhi.
    In a 2017 interview with Reuters, Trump complained that China, India, Russia and other countries were paying too little to help poorer countries battle climate change under the Paris accord’s Green Climate Fund.
    “It’s not a fair situation because they are paying virtually nothing and we are paying massive amounts of money,” he said at the time.
(Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Mayank Bhardwaj and Clarence Fernandez)
[I HAVE SEEN THIS KIND OF POLLUTION IN THE 1970’S IN LOS AGELES, CA AND YOU COULD CUT IT WITH A KNIFE AND AFTER 2 MONTHS I DEVELOPED A COUGH FROM THAT POLLUTION THAT ALL CALIFORNIANS GET AND LIVE WITH IT, BUT TRUMP HAS DONE SOME NEW TECHNIQUES TO KEEP THIS DOWN NOW BUT INDIA, CHINA AND MANY SOUTH EAST NATIONS ARE HAVING THE SAME THING AND THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARE ATTACKING U.S. AND SHOULD GO OVER THERE AND TELL THEM AND THEY WONT BECAUSE THEY WILL BE PUT IN CAMPS NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN].

10/26/2020 Evacuations Underway As Silverado Fire Burns Near Irvine, Calif. by OAN Newsroom
Screengrab courtesy of ABC7
    On Monday, Orange County, Calif. underwent mandatory evacuations when firefighters battled a fire near Irvine, Calif.
    The Silverado Fire broke out early Monday morning in the Santiago Canyon and has now burned 2,000 acres.    The fire has been fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and is zero percent contained.
    Around 60,000 residents have been forced to evacuate their homes.    Crews are currently fighting the blaze on the ground and in the air and two firefighters are critically injured.

    A red flag warning is in effect until Tuesday.

10/27/2020 Water found on sunlit side of the moon by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Water was discovered on the sunlit surface of the moon, NASA announced Monday, an important revelation that indicates water may be distributed across the lunar surface – and not just limited to its cold, shadowed places such as the poles.
    That’s good news for astronauts at future lunar bases who could tap into these resources for drinking and rocket fuel production.
    “We had indications that H 2 O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the moon,” Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division in the science mission directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. “    Now we know it is there.”
    Water is a precious resource in deep space and a key ingredient of life as we know it.     “We don’t know yet if we can use it as a resource, but learning about water on the moon is key for our Artemis exploration plans,” NASA tweeted.

10/28/2020 Scientists Discover 1,600 Ft. Tall Coral Reef In Australia by OAN Newsroom
Stretching along more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of Australia’s eastern coast is one of
the world’s most natural wonders – The Great Barrier Reef. (HO/AFP via Getty Images)
    Scientists have discovered a detached coral reef in Australia which is reportedly taller than the Empire State Building.    On Sunday, researchers used an underwater robot to explore the detached coral near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
    The 1600-foot-tall reef was first found earlier this month during a mapping project of the ocean.    This is reportedly the first detached reef discovered by scientists in more than 120 years.
    Researchers will continue to map and uncover the depths of the area through mid-November.

10/29/2020 At Least 25 Dead, Scores Missing After Typhoon Lashes Vietnam by Phuong Nguyen
A man bikes past a broken sign as the Typhoon Molave lashes Vietnam's coast in
Binh Chau village, Quang Ngai province October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Thanh Hue
    HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam deployed hundreds of soldiers and heavy machinery on Thursday to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons in the region in decades.
    The landslides, which hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam late on Wednesday, killed 13 with 40 missing as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm, the government said.    State media said 12 fishermen died at sea.
    “We can forecast the storm path or the amount of rain, but can’t predict when landslides happen,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a statement.
    “The road is covered under deep mud and heavy rains are still lashing the area, but rescue work has to be carried out quickly,” Dung said.
    State television said the bodies 12 fishermen were found on Thursday after their boats sank when trying to return to shore two days earlier.    Two navy vessels had been mobilised to find them and 14 were still missing.
    Since early October, Vietnam has been battered by storms, heavy rains and floods which have affected over a million people.
    The government said Typhoon Molave had left millions of people without electricity and damaged 56,000 houses.    It weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall on Wednesday and is expected to reach Laos later on Thursday.
Images on social media showed villages overwhelmed by flooding, and roads filled with debris, toppled trees or blocked by landslides.
    Before the storm, people in affected areas had shared photos of corrugated roof tiles bearing their names and addresses, to help facilitate rebuilding efforts.
    Heavy rain of up to 700 millimetres (27.5 inches) will continue in parts of central Vietnam until Saturday, the weather agency said.
    Before it hit Vietnam, Typhoon Molave passed through the Philippines, where it caused flooding and landslides that disaster authorities on Thursday said had killed at least 16 people.
(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Ed Davies and Martin Petty)

10/29/2020 22 Active Wildfires Burning In Calif. by OAN Newsroom
Herman Termeer, 54, stands on the roof of his home as the Blue Ridge Fire burns along the hillside. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    Dozens of wildfires have continued to burn across California.
    On Wednesday, CAL-FIRE officials said more than 5,000 firefighters were working to contain those flames.
    The biggest fires burning right now are the ‘Blue Ridge’ and ‘Silverado’ fire which have blazed through Orange County, Calif.    The two fires have burned a combined total of more than 28,000 acres.
    So far, the Blue Ridge fire has been 23 percent contained while the Silverado has been 40 percent contained.


10/29/2020 Storm ‘Zeta’ Continues To Batter The Southeast by OAN Newsroom
A resident clears storm drains after the eye of Hurricane Zeta passes over. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
    Tropical storm ‘Zeta‘ has claimed the lives of at least three people across the southeast and has caused extensive damage.
    On Thursday, one person died in Georgia after a tree fell through a mobile home early in the morning.    Two others died in Louisiana, including a 55-year-old man who was electrocuted by a downed power line, just hours after the storm touched down on Wednesday evening.
    Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) offered his condolences and urged residents to be cautious.     “This is sad and tragic and certainly we offer our prayers to the family of that gentleman,” stated the Louisiana governor.    “At the same time, we need people to take seriously the threat of downed power lines all of which should be regarded as live.”
    ‘Zeta’ has brought about strong winds and heavy rain which damaged many businesses and homes.    More than two million people are without power in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
Storm surge hits the banks of Lake Pontchartrain as Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
    Officials in those states are assessing the damage and have urged people to take precautions.

10/30/2020 Strong Earthquake Kills 14 People In Turkey And Greek Islands by Mehmet Emin Caliskan and Murad Sezer
Locals and officials search for survivors at a collapsed building after a strong earthquake struck the Aegean Sea on Friday and was felt in both Greece
and Turkey, where some buildings collapsed in the coastal province of Izmir, Turkey, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Tuncay Dersinlioglu
    IZMIR, Turkey (Reuters) – Fourteen people were killed in Turkey and Greece after a strong earthquake struck the Aegean Sea on Friday, bringing buildings crashing down and setting off tidal waves which slammed into coastal areas and islands.
    People ran onto streets in panic in the Turkish city of Izmir, witnesses said, after the quake struck with a magnitude of up to 7.0.    Neighbourhoods were deluged with surging seawater which swept debris inland and left fish stranded as it receded.
    Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said 12 people died, one due to drowning, while 607 people were injured.    On the Greek island of Samos two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed.
    Search and rescue operations continued at 17 collapsed or damaged buildings in Izmir, AFAD said.    Authorities were setting up tents with a total capacity of 2,000 people near areas with the highest damage, Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum said.
    Ilke Cide, a doctoral student who was in Izmir’s Guzelbahce region during the earthquake, said he went inland after waters rose following the earthquake.
    “I am very used to earthquakes … so I didn’t take it very seriously at first but this time it was really scary,” he said, adding the earthquake had lasted for at least 25-30 seconds.
    Crisscrossed by major fault lines, Turkey is among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck Izmit, a city southeast of Istanbul.    In 2011, a quake in the eastern city of Van killed more than 500.
FLOODING
    Ismail Yetiskin, mayor of Izmir’s Seferihisar, said sea levels rose as a result of the quake.    “There seems to be a small tsunami,” he told broadcaster NTV.
    Footage on social media showed debris including refrigerators, chairs and tables floating through streets on the deluge. TRT Haber showed cars in Izmir’s Seferihisar district had been dragged by the water and piled on top of each other.
    Idil Gungor, who runs a hotel in Izmir’s Seferihisar district, told broadcaster NTV that people were cleaning the debris after the floodwaters receded.    She said fish had washed up on the garden of the hotel, around 50 metres (55 yards)from the shore.
    Residents of the Greek island of Samos, which has a population of about 45,000, were urged to stay away from coastal areas, Eftyhmios Lekkas, head of Greece’s organisation for anti-seismic planning, told Greece’s Skai TV.
    “It was a very big earthquake, it’s difficult to have a bigger one,” said Lekkas.
    High tidal wave warnings were in place in Samos, where eight people were also injured, according to a Greek official.
    “We have never experienced anything like it,” said George Dionysiou, the local vice-mayor.    “People are panicking.”    A Greek police spokesman said there was damage to some old buildings on the island.
    The leaders of Turkey and Greece – caught up in a bitter dispute over exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean – spoke by phone and expressed hopes that both countries would see a speedy recovery from the quake, Turkey’s presidency said.
    Both leaders said they were ready to help the other country if needed and emphasised the importance of solidarity.
    “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in a tweet.
    “That two neighbors show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wrote in a tweet responding to Mistotakis.
    Cooperation between the two countries after the devastating 1999 earthquake led to a period of warmer ties between them.
    AFAD put the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.6, while the U.S. Geological Survey said it was 7.0.    It was felt along Turkey’s Aegean coast and the northwestern Marmara region, media said.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Ece Toksabay; Additional reporting by Renee Maltezou, Angeliki Koutantou and Michele Kambas; Editing by Ezgi Erkoyun, Dominic Evans, Jon Boyle, Susan Fenton, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jonathan Oatis)

10/31/2020 Mother, Children Rescued From Turkey Quake Rubble; Death Toll At 37 by Murad Sezer and Ece Toksabay
Rescue operations take place after an earthquake struck the Aegean Sea, in the
coastal province of Izmir, Turkey, October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
    IZMIR (Reuters) – A mother and three of her children were pulled to safety on Saturday after being trapped for almost 18 hours under a building in the western Turkish city of Izmir that was flattened in a powerful earthquake.
    One of the children succumbed to his injuries later in hospital, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters in Izmir.    The child was one of 37 people killed in Friday’s quake: 35 in Turkey and two on the Greek island of Samos.
    Rescuers were continuing efforts to free the woman’s fourth child.    The mayor of the Aegean port city said around 180 people remained trapped.
    “In the meantime, we are delighted to be hearing miracles happening as a result of diligent work by rescue teams,” Mayor Tunc Soyer told television channel Fox TV.
    The quake destroyed at least 20 buildings in Izmir, causing panic in the city and setting off tidal waves that slammed into coastal areas and islands.
    President Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in a televised address, said 885 people were injured, 15 of them critically.    Koca, the health minister, said on Saturday 243 people were still being treated in Turkish hospitals, eight in critical condition.
    Environment Minister Murat Kurum said more than 100 people had been rescued so far.
    Rescue work was punctuated by hundreds of aftershocks.    By Saturday afternoon search operations had been completed in eight buildings and were continuing in nine others, officials said.
    One resident said both her parents were still trapped.
    “I couldn’t get any news.    I couldn’t get any news,” the woman told Reuters, when asked about attempts to reach them.
    Bulldozers removed debris from collapsed buildings while rescuers dismantled walls by hand.    Workers set up 300 tents for those made homeless in the city, with 600 more tents on the way.
    In a rare show of warmth between Turkey and Greece – caught up in a dispute over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean – Erdogan exchanged solidarity messages with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
    “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together,” Mitsotakis tweeted.
    Erdogan responded in a tweet: “Turkey, too, is always ready to help Greece heal its wounds.    That two neighbours show solidarity in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”
    Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.    Cooperation between the two countries after a devastating quake in 1999 led to a period of warmer ties between them.
(Writing by John Stonestreet; Editing by Ece Toksabay, Frances Kerry and Peter Graff)

11/1/2020 Typhoon Goni Weakens As It Crosses Philippines, Four Dead by Enrico Dela Cruz
A view of floodwater and damaged houses in the aftermath of Typhoon Goni in Albay Province, Philippines,
November 1, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. Marychris Olavario-Cuachin/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS
- THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
    MANILA (Reuters) – A super typhoon weakened after barrelling through the southern part of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon on Sunday, with officials reporting at least four deaths, power supply outages, infrastructure damage and flash floods.
    The weather bureau downgraded Goni, the world’s strongest storm so far this year, to typhoon category, with 215 kph (140 miles per hour) sustained winds and gusts of up to 290 kph (180 mph) after it made landfall in the Bicol region.
    Tropical storm-wind alerts were lowered, but the weather agency warned in its 0300 GMT bulletin that Goni still posed a threat while traversing provinces south of the capital Manila.
    Goni made two landfall in two places in the Bicol region, where four deaths were reported, said provincial Governor Al Francis Bichara, including one hit by a tree and a five-year-old washed away after a river overflowed.
    The disaster management agency could not confirm the report.
    Video footage by news channels and on social media showed rivers overflowing and some dikes destroyed, submerging villages in Bicol.
    Bichara also received reports of volcanic mud flows, as well as electricity supply and communication service outages.
    In Quezon, Governor Danilo Suarez said power supply was cut in 10 towns as Goni toppled trees.
    Between 19 million and 31 million people could be affected by the typhoon, including those in danger zones and in metropolitan Manila, the disaster management agency said.
    About 347,000 people were in evacuation centres, said disaster management chief Ricardo Jalad, lowering the figure of nearly a million reported by the agency on Saturday.
    President Rodrigo Duterte was monitoring the government’s disaster response from his southern hometown Davao city, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
    Health officials reminded those in evacuation centres to observe social distancing as the coronavirus spread is also a concern.
    Dozens of international and domestic flights have been cancelled as the civil aviation authority ordered a one-day closure of Manila’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
    Goni is among the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines since Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.
    It follows Typhoon Molave, which hit the Philippines last month killing 22 people, mostly through drowning in provinces south of Manila.
    The weather bureau said it was also monitoring another cyclone, tropical storm Atsani, which could hit northern Luzon provinces in the coming days.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by William Mallard)

11/1/2020 Tropical Storm Eta Expected To Make Landfall In Nicaragua Tuesday by OAN Newsroom
    Tropical storm Eta has been named the 28th storm of this year’s hurricane season as it heads toward Central America.    Eta is expected to make landfall in Nicaragua on Tuesday and currently has sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.
    Upgraded from tropical depression 29, Eta has tied the record of named storms in a season, which was set in 2005.
    The tropical storm could be upgraded to a category one hurricane if it gains strength quickly as it moves westward.    Flash flooding may occur in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Central America as Eta has continued to bring heavy rainfall.

11/1/2020 Man Rescued From Rubble As Turkey Quake Death Toll Hits 62
Rescue operations continue at a collapsed building after an earthquake in the Aegean port city of Izmir, Turkey, November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan
    IZMIR, Turkey (Reuters) – A 70-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in the Turkish city of Izmir on Sunday, after being buried for 33 hours following a powerful earthquake which struck Turkey’s Aegean coast and Greek islands.
    Turkish authorities reported more deaths on Sunday, bringing the toll to 62, all in Izmir, while two teenagers died on the Greek island of Samos.
    The man, identified as Ahmet Citim, was rescued from one of 20 residential buildings destroyed in Izmir’s Bayrakli district, a former shantytown where older buildings vulnerable to earthquakes were being replaced by newer construction projects.    Television images showed that the collapsed buildings were older ones.
    Rescue and emergency teams have been working through the wrecked buildings for two days and President Tayyip Erdogan said his government was “determined to heal the wounds of our brothers and sisters in Izmir before the cold and rains begin.”
    More than 3,000 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to Turkey’s disasters and emergency agency AFAD, which said 940 people had been injured in Friday’s earthquake.
    More than 700 victims have so far been discharged from hospitals, while eight remain in intensive care, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
    Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.    In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.
    Friday’s earthquake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centered in the Aegean Sea, northeast of Samos.
I WILL PLAY VIOLIN FOR YOU
    Sixteen-year-old Inci Okan was trapped under the rubble of the same 8-storey building as the elderly man before being rescued 17 hours after the strong quake, along with her dog Fistik (Pistachio).
    Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) member Edanur Dogan visited Okan at hospital.
    Emergency worker Dogan had held the girl’s hand while rescue teams removed the debris above her.
    “I am very happy.    Thankfully my father was not at home.    My father couldn’t fit there.    He would hurt his head.    I am tiny.    I am short so I squeezed in and that’s how I was rescued.    We stayed home with my dog.    Both of us are well,” Okan said from her hospital bed.
    Okan promised to play the violin for Dogan after being discharged from hospital.
    “I will play the violin for you, I promise.”
(Reporting by Mehmet Emin Caliskan and Murad Sezer; Writing by Ece Toksabay and Dominic Evans; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Hugh Lawson)

11/2/2020 Turkey Continues Rescue Work After Quake, Death Toll Hits 81
FILE PHOTO: Rescue operations take place on a site secured by the police after an earthquake struck
the Aegean Sea, in the coastal province of Izmir, Turkey, November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Rescue efforts continued in eight buildings in western Turkish city of Izmir on Monday, authorities said, as the death toll from Friday’s powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea region rose to 81.
    Turkish authorities said 79 were killed, all in Izmir, while two teenagers died on the Greek island of Samos.
    More than 3,500 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD), which said 962 people had been injured in Friday’s earthquake.
    More than 740 victims have so far been discharged from hospitals, AFAD said.
    Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.    In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.
    The Friday earthquake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centred in the Aegean Sea, northeast of Samos.
(Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

11/2/2020 Philippines’ Duterte To Inspect Typhoon Damage As Deaths Rise To 16 by Neil Jerome Morales
FILE PHOTO: A house is partially submerged in debris after Typhoon Goni swept through Daraga, Albay province,
Philippines, November 2, 2020, in this photo obtained from social media. David Lee/via REUTERS
    MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will make an aerial inspection on Monday of the havoc from the world’s strongest typhoon this year, which has killed 16 people, though officials said a forcible evacuation effort had averted more deaths.
    Three people have also been reported missing in provinces south of the main island of Luzon, the disaster agency added in a statement, with communications to some regions still severed.
    Typhoon Goni, which battered provinces south of the capital Manila on Sunday, is the 18th to hit the Philippines this year and one of the strongest typhoons since Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.
    “The goal should be zero casualties, but since people were forcibly evacuated our casualties were reduced,” Harry Roque, a spokesman for Duterte, told a news conference.
    Duterte is to fly to Manila from his southern hometown of Davao for an aerial inspection of some of the worst-hit areas, Roque added.    He was in Davao when the typhoon struck, provoking some public criticism.
    The Philippine police chief was also travelling to Guinobatan in the province of Albay after a lawmaker reported about 300 houses were buried under volcanic rock and mud flows from the Mayon volcano.
    Goni, packing gusts of up to 310 kph (190 mph), destroyed up to 80% of homes in several towns in Catanduanes, Senator Richard Gordon, the chief of the Philippine Red Cross, told media.
    With its communication and power lines down, the province of 275,000 people was cut off, said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
    Goni hit 2.1 million residents of Luzon, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, leaving more than 50,000 homes without power by Monday, while authorities said more than 300,000 people were still in evacuation centres.
    Strong winds and torrential rain have damaged crops worth 1.1 billion pesos ($23 million), mainly of rice and corn, Agriculture Secretary William Dar told a news conference.
    Before Goni hit land, the Philippines had been grappling with the impact of typhoon Molave, which killed 22 people, most of whom drowned, in provinces south of Manila.
    Another storm, Atsani, is gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean as it approaches the Philippines, which is usually lashed by about 20 tropical storms every year.
    Vietnam said Goni is forecast to hit its central coast on Wednesday night, dumping more heavy rain in an area where floods and landslides in the past month have already killed about 160 people, with dozens missing.
($1=48.46 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Additional Reporting by Karen Lema and Khanh Vu in HANOI; Editing by Ed Davies and Clarence Fernandez)

11/2/2020 Three-Year-Old Rescued From Rubble, Turkey Quake Death Toll Hits 81
FILE PHOTO: Rescue operations take place on a site secured by the police after an earthquake struck
the Aegean Sea, in the coastal province of Izmir, Turkey, November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A three-year-old girl was rescued from a collapsed building in the western Turkish city of Izmir on Monday, officials said, nearly three days after a powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea region which has killed 81 people.
    Rescue efforts were continuing in eight buildings in Izmir where 79 people were killed, making Friday’s earthquake the deadliest in Turkey for nearly a decade.    Two teenagers died on the Greek island of Samos, authorities said.
    Television footage showed the girl, Elif, being pulled from the rubble and carried by rescue workers on a stretcher to an ambulance, 65 hours after the earthquake struck.
    Elif’s two sisters and brother were rescued along with their mother on Saturday, but one of the children subsequently died.
    “A thousand thanks to you, my God.    We have brought out our little one Elif from the apartment block,” Mehmet Gulluoglu, head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), wrote on Twitter.
    More than 3,500 tents and 13,000 beds have been supplied to provide temporary shelter, according to AFAD, which said 962 people had been injured in Friday’s earthquake.
    More than 740 victims have so far been discharged from hospitals, AFAD said.
    It was the deadliest earthquake in Turkey since one in the eastern city of Van in 2011 which killed more than 500 people.    A quake in January this year killed 41 people in the eastern province of Elazig.
    Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.    In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.
    The Friday earthquake, which the Istanbul-based Kandilli Institute said had a magnitude of 6.9, was centred in the Aegean Sea, northeast of Samos.
(Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Catherine Evans)

11/3/2020 Death Toll Climbs To 100 From Devastating Aegean Quake
A worker holds a national flag as rescue operations take place on a site after an earthquake struck
the Aegean Sea, in the coastal province of Izmir, Turkey, November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The death toll from Friday’s earthquake in the Aegean Sea has reached 100, with the deaths of 98 people in Turkey’s western city of Izmir, disaster authorities said.
    Two teenagers also died on the Greek island of Samos, authorities said.    It was the deadliest quake to hit Turkey in nearly a decade.
    The quake injured 994 people in Izmir, with 147 still being treated, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said on Tuesday, adding that rescuers were still combing five buildings in the search effort.
    More than 3,500 tents and 13,000 beds are being used for temporary shelters in Turkey, where relief efforts have drawn in nearly 8,000 personnel and 25 rescue dogs, the agency said.
    Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.    More than 500 people were killed in a 2011 quake in the eastern city of Van, while another in January this year killed 41 people in the eastern province of Elazig.
    In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.    AFAD said Friday’s earthquake had a magnitude of 6.6, with some 1,400 aftershocks.
(Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Clarence Fernandez)

11/3/2020 Nicaragua Braces For ‘Catastrophic’ Winds As Hurricane Eta Nears Coast by Gustavo Palencia
Hurricane Eta is seen churning in the Caribbean Sea toward Nicaragua in this satellite image taken November 2, 2020
over the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Handout via REUTERS
    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Nicaragua on Monday scrambled to evacuate citizens from its Atlantic coast or put them in shelters as Hurricane Eta barreled closer, while the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of flash floods and “catastrophic winds” in Central America.
    Eta, a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was gaining force and expected to slam into the northeast coast of Nicaragua early on Tuesday morning, the Miami-based NHC said.
    According to the latest NHC forecast, winds could reach 160 miles per hour (258 kph) by the time Eta reaches land, NHC said.    Once the storm clatters into the mountains of Nicaragua and Honduras, it should weaken swiftly.
    In the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, where Eta is expected to make landfall, government shelters had reached capacity and there was a town-wide power outage following intense rains, said Javier Plat, a local Catholic priest.
    By Monday evening, Eta was 45 miles (72 km) east of Puerto Cabezas, churning west-southwest at seven mph and blowing sustained winds of 150 mph, the NHC added.
    Describing it as a “major hurricane,” NHC said Eta’s rains may cause “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding and landslides” in parts of Central America.    Jamaica, southern Haiti, the Cayman Islands, El Salvador and southern Mexico may also be hit.
    Eta was poised to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit Nicaragua in years, and may test President Daniel Ortega, who presides over one of the poorest countries in the Americas.
    On Monday evening, strong winds and heavy rains lashed Nicaragua and the government put regions in the hurricane’s path on red alert.    It has evacuated about 3,000 coastal families from their homes and sent supplies to help residents prepare for the storm’s impact, Vice President Rosario Murillo said.
    Eta could also trigger destructive waves in Nicaragua, while water levels could reach 14 feet to 21 feet (4.3m to 6.4m) above normal tide levels, NHC said.
    In Honduras, the government has placed five Atlantic coast regions on red alert, its highest warning, and evacuations were underway, authorities said.
    Adverse weather conditions on Monday forced Honduras to shutter some of its ports, while several towns on its Atlantic coast were already experiencing flooding, the Honduras Permanent Contingencies Commission (COPECO) said.
    El Salvador on Monday also announced a red alert and began precautionary evacuations, Interior Minister Mario Duran said.
    Eta is the 28th named tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, tying a record set in 2005, the NHC’s Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch said.
    Eta could dump 15-25 inches (38-64 cm) of rain on central and northern Nicaragua and much of Honduras, with up to 35 inches in some areas, the NHC said.
(Additional reporting by Ismael Lopez and Nelson Renteria; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by David Gregorio and Stephen Coates)

11/3/2020 Sri Lankan Navy, Villagers Rescue More Than 100 Stranded Whales by Waruna Karunatilake
People look at a dead pilot whale after being stranded on a beach in Panadura, Sri Lanka, November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
    COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s navy said on Tuesday more than 100 whales had been rescued after becoming stranded on a beach on the island’s southwest coast.
    Villagers defied a novel coronavirus curfew to help rescue the small whales on Monday, wading into the breaking surf to push them back into the sea at Panadura, south of the capital, Colombo.
    “We pushed back all of them last night, about 100 to 120 whales,” navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva told Reuters.     Four of the whales died during the rescue operation, he said.
    “I was fishing when I saw a dark patch and about 100 came ashore,” fisherman Upul Ranjith said earlier.
    “I don’t know why this has happened.    It’s never happened before.    This is the first time I’ve seen it,” Ranjith said.
    The phenomenon of whales getting stranded in shallow water remains largely a mystery to scientists.
    In September, several hundred whales died in shallows off the coast of Australia in its biggest stranding on record and one of the largest in the world.
(Reporting by Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo; Writing by Robert Birsel and Alasdair Pal; Editing by Richard Pullin)

11/3/2020 ‘We’re Really Afraid’: Fierce Hurricane Eta Lashes Nicaragua by Oswaldo Rivas
FILE PHOTO: Hurricane Eta is seen churning in the Caribbean Sea toward Nicaragua in this satellite image taken November 2, 2020
over the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Handout via REUTERS
    MANAGUA (Reuters) – Hurricane Eta, one of the most powerful storms to hit Central America in years, plowed into Nicaragua on Tuesday in an impoverished region of its Caribbean coast, battering homes and infrastructure and threatening deadly floods.
    Eta came ashore south of the port of Puerto Cabezas, pulling roofs off houses, knocking down trees and power lines, and causing flooding in the region, said Guillermo Gonzalez, the head of Nicaragua’s disaster management agency SINAPRED.
    The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Eta was an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, bringing “catastrophic winds, flash flooding, and landlines” to Nicaragua and portions of Central America.
    “We’re really afraid, there are fallen poles, there’s flooding, roofs torn off, some of the zinc on my house fell off,” said Carmen Enriquez, a resident of Puerto Cabezas.
    As of early afternoon, the storm had so far “not done catastrophic material damage” as some had feared, Vice President Rosario Murillo said in a national broadcast.
    Nevertheless, around 1,227,000 people in Nicaragua, including nearly 500,000 children, were at risk from the storm’s fury, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said in a statement.
    When it struck the coast, Eta was blowing potentially devastating winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) the NHC said.    The storm should weaken rapidly as it advances inland, it added.
    In neighboring Honduras, rivers burst their banks, towns and cities on the Atlantic coast flooded, and landslides hit roads.
    Nicaraguan officials said there were still no reports of deaths or injuries.    But in Honduras a 13-year-old girl died in a mudslide on her home in a neighborhood of the northern city of San Pedro Sula, which has been hammered by rain, authorities said.
    The indigenous regions in Eta’s path in northern Nicaragua are some of the country’s poorest.    Many people live in wooden homes that stand little chance against such a powerful storm.
    “We’re in a pretty ugly situation here,” said Elizabeth Enriquez, a local leader of the Miskito ethnic group that live in the region.     “There’s flooding and strong winds.    And so we’re really worried, because there’s a lot of rain.”
    Earlier, Javier Plat, a local Catholic priest, had told Reuters there was a city-wide power outage in Puerto Cabezas and government-arranged shelters had reached capacity.     “This city of 70,000 people is very vulnerable.    We have houses made of wood and adobe. The infrastructure of the residential houses is our main vulnerability,” Plat said.
    Nicaragua on Monday evacuated at least 3,000 families, including fishermen who live in the most vulnerable villages on the Atlantic coast, officials said.    Some 20,000 people were taking cover in shelters, SINAPRED said on Tuesday.
    Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government issued red alerts in several regions facing the hurricane. On Monday, ports in Honduras, where the government carried out evacuations, were forced to shut.
    Eta is forecast to move into northern Nicaragua through Wednesday afternoon and hit central Honduras on Thursday. Forecasting models then show it crossing over Cuba and approaching the tip of the Florida panhandle this weekend.
    Flash and river flooding are also possible in Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands, the Miami-based hurricane center added.
    El Salvador also evacuated citizens as a precaution.
    Eta is the 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, tying an all-time record set in 2005, the NHC said.
(Reporting by Ismael Lopez, Nelson Renteria and Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Daniel Flynn, David Gregorio and Sandra Maler)

11/4/2020 Hurricane Eta Slams Central America, Causes Deadly Mudslides, Strands Fishermen by Oswaldo Rivas
    MANAGUA (Reuters) – Hurricane Eta ripped roofs from homes, unleashed major flooding and caused landslides as it battered the coastline of Nicaragua and neighboring Honduras on Tuesday, reportedly killing at least three people and putting dozens of fishermen in peril.
    Eta, one of the most powerful storms to hit Central America in years, plowed into Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, battering roads and bridges in Honduras. Hundreds of people were evacuated.
    Barreling ashore south of the port of Puerto Cabezas, Eta was expected to cause “catastrophic” wind damage as the eye of the storm moved inland along the northeastern coast of Nicaragua, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
    When it struck the coast, Eta was blowing potentially devastating winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) the NHC said.    The storm should weaken rapidly as it advances inland, it added.
    By 9 p.m. local time, Eta was a Category 2 storm blowing winds of 105 mph (169 kph).    It was churing through Nicaragua about 45 miles (70 km) west-southwest of Puerto Cabezas, moving westward at 6 mph (9 kph), the NHC said.
    Nicaraguan media reported that two artisanal miners were killed by a mudslide.    In Honduras, a 13-year-old girl died in a landslide on her home, the fire department said.
    Meanwhile, about 60 fishermen were trapped and in danger in the eastern Mosquitia region of Honduras, according to Robin Morales, a representative of the local population.
    The fishermen “remain adrift at sea shouting for help,” Morales said, adding that a Honduran Navy official told him it was currently too dangerous to mount a rescue operation.
    “If they aren’t rescued, I don’t think these people will remain alive for more than 24 hours,” Morales said.
    By early Tuesday, Eta had knocked down trees and power lines and caused serious flooding in northeast Nicaragua, disaster management agency SINAPRED said.    Still, Vice President Rosario Murillo said the initial damage had been less than feared.
    “We’re really afraid, there are fallen poles, there’s flooding, roofs torn off, some of the zinc on my house fell off,” said Carmen Enriquez, a resident of Puerto Cabezas.
    The indigenous regions in northern Nicaragua are some of the country’s poorest.    Many people live in homes made of wood and adobe that are ill-equipped to withstand such a powerful storm.
    Earlier, Javier Plat, a Catholic priest, had said there was a citywide power outage in Puerto Cabezas and government-arranged shelters had reached capacity.
    Around 1,227,000 people in Nicaragua, including nearly 500,000 children, were at risk from the storm’s fury, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said in a statement.
    Nicaragua on Monday evacuated at least 3,000 families, including fishermen who live in the most vulnerable villages.
    In Honduras, rivers burst their banks, towns and cities on the Atlantic coast flooded, and landslides hit roads.
    Eta is forecast to move into northern Nicaragua through Wednesday afternoon and hit central Honduras on Thursday.
    Forecasting models then show it snaking back out into the Caribbean over Cuba as a tropical storm toward the end of the week and approaching the tip of the Florida panhandle on Sunday.
    Flash and river flooding are also possible in Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands, the Miami-based hurricane center said.
(Reporting by Oswaldo Rivas, Ismael Lopez, Nelson Renteria and Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Dave Graham and Drazen Jorgic; Editing by David Gregorio, Sandra Maler, Grant McCool and Simon Cameron-Moore)

11/4/2020 Storm Eta Dumps Heavy Rain On Central America, Sets Path To Florida by Oswaldo Rivas and Gustavo Palencia
FILE PHOTO: Palm trees sway in the wind as Hurricane Eta approaches, in Tela, Honduras November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    MANAGUA/TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Storm Eta pummeled Nicaragua and Honduras with torrential rain on Wednesday after triggering major floods and landslides in Central America, reportedly killing at least three people and stranding dozens of fishermen in the Atlantic.
    Eta, one of the most powerful storms to strike Central America in years, hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, before weakening to a tropical storm as it forged inland in the impoverished country.
    After losing more strength over Central America, Eta is forecast to return to the sea and regain momentum as a tropical storm, charting a course to Cuba and southern Florida this weekend, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
    In its wake, the storm has left a whole swathe of damaged homes, roads and key infrastructure, while thousands of people have been evacuated.
    About 60 fishermen were trapped out at sea in the eastern Mosquitia region of Honduras, possibly taking shelter on Caribbean keys, said Robin Morales, a representative of the local population.
    A boat was sent on Wednesday to collect the body of one fishermen, who died from a heart attack, but the Navy will be needed to rescue others, Morales said.
    So far, the Navy has not been able to attempt a rescue due to the dangerous conditions, said Douglas Espinal, head of the fire department in the port of Puerto Lempira.
    The deluge was so extreme in the northern Honduran city of El Progreso that a prison was flooded to waist level, a wall collapsed and the facility’s 604 inmates were transferred to local gyms, police commissioner Juan Molina told local television.
    The storm weakened in intensity around noon on Wednesday but it continued to produce “life-threatening flash flooding” in parts of Central America, the NHC said.
    Nicaraguan media reported that two wildcat miners were killed by a mudslide.    In Honduras, a 13-year-old girl died in a landslide on her home, the fire department said.
    By 12 noon local time, Eta was blowing winds of 45 miles mph (72 kph), the NHC said.    It was grinding through Nicaragua about 125 miles (201 km) north-northeast of Nicaragua’s capital Managua, moving westward at 7 mph (11 kph).
    Eta could dump 10-20 inches (25-51 cm) of rain on central and northern Nicaragua and much of Honduras, with up to 40 inches in some areas, according to the latest NHC forecasts.
    The storm knocked down trees and power lines and caused serious flooding in northern Nicaragua, national disaster management agency SINAPRED said Tuesday.    Still, Vice President Rosario Murillo said the initial damage was less than feared.
    In Honduras, rivers burst their banks, towns and cities on the Atlantic coast flooded, and landslides hit roads.
    In Guatemala, the rains felled trees and unleashed landslides onto roads, authorities said.
    Through Sunday, flash and river flooding is also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands, NHC said.
    The storm is forecast to advance further into Honduras on Wednesday before barreling over Belize and back out into the Caribbean over Cuba and Florida, the NHC said.
    Eta is the 28th named tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, tying a record set in 2005, the NHC said.
(Reporting by Ismael Lopez and Gustavo Palencia; Additional reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

11/4/2020 Aegean Quake Toll Rises To 116 As Turkey Ends Search
Rescue workers carry a 4-year-old girl, Ayda Gezgin, out from a collapsed building after an earthquake in the Aegean port
city of Izmir, Turkey November 3, 2020. Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD)/Handout via REUTERS
    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey on Wednesday ended search and rescue efforts in the rubble of buildings that collapsed as a result of Friday’s strong earthquake in the Aegean Sea, after the death toll crept up to 116 in the western city of Izmir and a Greek island.
    The quake, the deadliest to hit Turkey in nearly a decade, injured 1,035 people in Izmir and 137 were still being treated, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said.
    It said search and rescue efforts at 17 damaged or collapsed buildings had been completed and teams were clearing the rubble.
    In addition to the 114 people killed in Turkey, two victims of the tremor were teenagers on the Greek island of Samos, authorities said.
    On Tuesday, 90 hours after the quake struck, rescuers in Izmir pulled a young girl alive out of the rubble.
    More than 2,790 tents were set up for temporary shelter and more than 10,222 beds were distributed in the area, AFAD said.
    It said 22 boats had sunk and 43 others had run aground, of which 40 had been rescued, as a result of the quake.
    Turkey is crossed by fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.    More than 500 people were killed in a 2011 quake in the eastern city of Van, while another in January this year killed 41 people in the eastern province of Elazig.
    In 1999, two powerful quakes killed 18,000 people in northwestern Turkey.
    AFAD said Friday’s earthquake had a magnitude of 6.6, with 1,855 aftershocks.    The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.0 and the Kandilli Observatory in Istanbul said it was 6.9.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Daren Butler)

11/5/2020 US officially out of Paris climate deal by John Bacon, USA TODAY
    ARLINGTON, Va. – The United States formally dropped out of the Paris Agreement on climate change Wednesday, finally fulfilling a vow President Donald Trump made more than three years ago.
    That could all change, however, if former Vice President Joe Biden squeezes out a victory over Trump in Tuesday’s election.    Biden has pledged to rejoin the agreement immediately after being sworn into office.
    The historic 2015 deal signed by President Barack Obama includes almost 200 nations in a single agreement to combat global warming.    Trump, however, has championed fossil fuels in the U.S. and claimed the deal unfairly placed few restrictions on India and China while forcing the U.S. to curb carbon emissions.
    “The terrible, one-sided climate accord was a total disaster for our country,” Trump reiterated at an energy conference in Pittsburgh last year.
    Bob Perciasepe, president of the Arlington- based nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, called the U.S. withdrawal a “shameful retreat” from obligations that leaders have to the planet and to future generations.
    “No country can withdraw from the reality of climate change, and no country bears greater responsibility or possesses greater capacity to lead the world in confronting this reality head-on,” Perciasepe said.    “Other nations thankfully remain committed to the Paris Agreement, and we are confident that the United States will in time recommit itself to this vital global cause.”
    May Boeve, executive director of the California-based global environmental advocacy group 350.org, said a protracted lack of U.S. leadership on climate issues risks sabotaging other areas of global cooperation, such as trade and human rights.
    Carbon dioxide emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and fuel conditions for climate change.    By 2050, climate change could wipe out some species, place more homes in floodplains and trigger longer, more intense heat waves, scientists have said.
    The Paris accord requires countries to set their own voluntary targets for reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.    The only binding requirement is that nations have to accurately report on their efforts.
    “We have a really good environmental record,” U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a recent interview with the USA TODAY Network.    Wheeler, before taking over the agency, had been an EPA employee and also a lobbyist for energy, oil and uranium processing companies.
    “I would say that the Obama administration only focused on climate change and not on the nuts and bolts of what the EPA is supposed to be doing,” Wheeler said.    “And we’ve been doing all of it at the same time.”
    The actual withdrawal took so long because of rules built into the agreement aimed at slowing efforts to drop out.    Nations could not provide formal notice of withdrawal until three years after ratification, which took place in fall 2016.    A 12-month notice period was then required.
    Rejoining would be much simpler: a letter of intent followed by a 30-day waiting period.
Contributing: Beth Burger

11/6/2020 Dozens Dead As Eta Wreaks Waterlogged Havoc On Central America by Gustavo Palencia and Sofia Menchu
A man carries his dog as he walks with other people through a flooded street during
the passage of Storm Eta, in La Lima, Honduras November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    TEGUCIGALPA/GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – The remnants of Hurricane Eta unleashed torrential rains and catastrophic flooding on Central America, with fatalities sharply up on Thursday mostly because of mudslides as streets turned into rivers and bridges came tumbling down.
    More than 70 people were reported killed across the region of mostly poor countries wedged between Mexico and Colombia, and at least hundreds were stranded on rooftops or cut off by floods.
    In Guatemala, the death toll shot up past 50 over the course of Thursday, according to President Alejandro Giammattei, who said mudslides around a couple small towns swallowed about a couple dozen homes.
    “Right now, we’re trying to get there on foot because there’s no other way,” said Giammattei, referring to flooded out roads that complicated rescue efforts.
    One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta struck Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday with winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph) before weakening to a tropical depression as it moved inland and into neighboring Honduras.
    Families waded through flooded streets of the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, while cars sat almost submerged in parts of the central Guatemalan city of San Pedro Carcha, television footage and images posted on social media showed.
    Overall, eight fatalities were confirmed in Honduras, as more than 5,000 people were holed up in shelters while 63 communities were cut off from communications, according to the government.    Officials said 20 bridges there had been destroyed.
    Video posted on social media showed one of the bridges, spanning the Ulua River just east of San Pedro Sula, disappearing into the waterway after a raging torrent pulled it down.
    The government said about 500 people were rescued from their roofs in Honduras on Thursday as water levels continued to rise, but many others were likely still stranded.
    “We will not leave the area until we rescue the last person,” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told media, adding that rescue efforts led by police, soldiers and firefighters will continue overnight.
    Damage and destruction had spread across most of Honduras and speedboats and helicopters would be sent to take people to safety in inaccessible areas, Hernandez said earlier in the day.
    Media in Nicaragua also reported two miners had been killed in a mudslide.
‘FRIENDS ALIVE’
    Guatemala’s Giammattei had already declared a state of emergency in nearly half of the country’s 22 departments.
    In southern Costa Rica, a landslide killed two people in a house, a Costa Rican woman and an American man, officials said.    Meanwhile, five people, including three children, died in flooding in Panama’s Chiriqui province, near the Costa Rica border, authorities said.
    There was at least one silver lining in Honduras, where 60 fishermen who disappeared at sea on Tuesday returned after taking shelter on cays until they were rescued, said community leader Robin Morales.
    Calling their survival a “miracle,” Morales said a man among them presumed dead from a heart attack also made it back.
    “Our friends are alive, thank God,” he said.
    Across swathes of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica, high winds and heavy rain have damaged hundreds if not thousands of homes, forcing thousands to take cover in shelters.
    Eta was moving northwest over Honduras and Belize and headed toward the Caribbean, at eight miles per hour (13 kph) on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Heavy rains continued and the storm’s top winds edged up to 35 mph (56 kph).
    It is forecast to return to sea and regain momentum as a tropical storm, possibly reaching the Cayman Islands, Cuba and southern Florida in the coming days, the NHC said.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia, Sofia Menchu, Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Dave Graham and David Alire Garcia; Editing by Tom Brown and Stephen Coates)

11/6/2020 Wealthy Countries Edge Towards Global Climate Finance Goal by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant
operated by PGE Group, near Belchatow, Poland November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Wealthy countries have ramped up financing to help developing countries cut carbon emissions and cope with the impact of climate change, although it is unclear if they will meet their goal of $100 billion this year.
    In its annual update on climate finance for developing countries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said donor governments contributed $78.9 billion in 2018, the latest year for which data are available. This was an 11% increase from $71.2 billion in 2017.
    The funds include loans, grants and a small amount of equity, plus private investments which public bodies helped mobilise.
    Developed countries agreed at the United Nations in 2009 to together contribute $100 billion each year by 2020 in climate finance to poorer countries, many of whom are grappling with rising seas, storms and droughts made worse by climate change.
    The $100 billion goal remains within reach, the OECD said, even though mobilised private finance, which totalled $14.6 billion in 2018, hardly increased from 2017-2018.
    “That means they’d need more public finance to meet that target,” said Simon Buckle, head of the OECD’s climate change division. “That’s not impossible, based on this trend.”
    With the coronavirus pandemic upending investments this year, the OECD said data were not yet available on how the pandemic has affected climate finance.
    “Developed countries haven’t yet delivered on their promise, both in terms of quantity and quality,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Nairobi-based think-tank Power Shift Africa.
    Adow urged developed countries to increase support for “climate adaptation” – such as defences against wilder weather, or methods to adapt farming practices during droughts and floods.
    Only a fifth of global contributions went on adaptation last year, while most support focussed on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.
    The European Union and its member countries are, taken together, the biggest provider of climate finance to developing countries.    The EU said last week it also increased such contributions in 2019, to 21.9 billion euros.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Aurora Ellis and David Evans)

11/6/2020 Central America Reels From Tropical Storm Eta, As Death Toll Surpasses 100 by Josue Decavele and Gustavo Palencia
Chickens are pictured among debris and mud at the patio of a house damaged after the
passage of Storm Eta, in Pimienta, Honduras November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    GUATEMALA CITY/TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – The death toll from the calamitous storm Eta in Central America soared on Friday after the Guatemalan military reached a remote mountainous village where torrential rains had triggered devastating mudslides, killing about 100 people.
    Many of the dead were buried in their homes in the remote Queja village in central region of Alta Verapaz, where about 150 houses had been swallowed by mudslides, Guatemalan army spokesman Ruben Tellez told Reuters, citing preliminary figures.
    The area around Queja village appeared to be the site of a huge landslide on a road pass a decade ago, which left dozens of people dead, Tellez added.
    “Now with all this (Eta) phenomenon it collapsed again,” Tellez said.
    Photos of the Queja landslide showed a lengthy strip of brown mud peeled from the lush green hillside.    Footage from another part of Guatemala showed boats ferrying villagers in flooded regions and rescue workers carrying children on their backs, wading through water up to their hips.
    Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei indicated the death toll could jump even higher, with the number of dead and missing in Queja village estimated to total about 150.
‘CATASTROPHIC FLOODING’
    One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta on Friday dumped more torrential rain across large parts of Central America and the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned “catastrophic flooding” in the region would continue.
    Rescue operations across Honduras and Guatemala have been slowed by destroyed roads and bridges, forcing authorities to draft in the military and use helicopters and speedboats to rescue people stranded on top of their houses.
    Eta wrought chaos after plowing into Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday with winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph), before weakening to a tropical depression and unleashing torrents of rain on regions of Honduras and Guatemala.
    “This is the worst storm Honduras has seen in decades.    The damage will undoubtedly be significant,” said Mark Connolly, UNICEF Representative in Honduras, who estimated about 1.5 million children there will be impacted by Eta.
    Eta’s devastation will likely trigger memories of Hurricane Mitch, which killed some 10,000 people in Central America in 1998.
    Giammattei earlier added that bad weather was hampering emergency efforts, which were further limited by the country having only one helicopter adequate for rescue operations.
    “We have a lot of people trapped (whom) we have not been able to reach,” he said.
    A further 10 people were killed and six people are missing in Honduras.    About 4,000 people had been rescued but many others remained trapped on their roofs, added Max Gonzalez, the minister of the National Risk Management System (SINAGER).
    “We have been without food for two days… waiting to be evacuated,” William Santos, sheltering on top of a banana packing plant with about 300 people in northern Honduras, told Reuters.
ETA’S REGIONAL IMPACT
    Across swathes of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica, high winds and heavy rain have damaged hundreds, if not thousands, of homes, forcing people to take cover in shelters.
    Two artisanal miners were killed in Nicaragua while in southern Costa Rica, a landslide killed two people in a house, a Costa Rican woman and an American man, officials said.
    Near the Costa Rican border in Panama’s Chiriqui province, five people, including three children, died in flooding, authorities said.
    On Friday noon, the eye of the storm was off Belize’s coast and heading out to the Caribbean Sea, charting a course to Cuba and Florida this weekend, the U.S. National Hurricane Center(NHC) said.
    But remnants of Eta will continue to batter portions of Central America with “catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding,” NHC said.
    Flash flooding was also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Cuba, NHC added.
(Additional reporting by Sofia Menchu and Josue Decavele in GUATEMALA CITY; Anthony Esposito, Diego Ore, Ana Martinez, and Lizbeth Diaz in MEXICO CITY; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Aurora Ellis)

11/6/2020 Calif. Expects Cooler Weather, Could Help Contain Fires by OAN Newsroom
Firefighters set a backfire to protect homes and try to contain the Blue Ridge Fire on October 27, 2020 in Chino Hills, California.
Strong Santa Ana Winds gusting to more than 90 miles per hour have driven the Blue Ridge Fire and Silverado Fire across thousands of
acres, grounding firefighting aircraft, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee and gravely injuring two firefighters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
    California expects cooler weather over the weekend, which could help relieve wildfires across the state.    On Friday, the National Weather Service said rain and some mountain snow is expected as a low-pressure system moves south along the Pacific.
    Recently, summer weather and dry conditions have fueled wildfires while more than 80 percent of California experiences a drought.
    Cal-Fire has reported the ‘Blue Ridge’ and ‘Silverado’ fires, which collectively have burned nearly 30,000 acres, are now at over 93 percent containment.

    Both fires are expected to be fully contained by November 10th.

11/7/2020 Guatemalan Mudslides Push Storm Eta’s Death Toll Near 150 by Josue Decavele and Gustavo Palencia
Chickens are pictured among debris and mud at the patio of a house damaged after the
passage of Storm Eta, in Pimienta, Honduras November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    GUATEMALA CITY/TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – The death toll from torrential downpours unleashed by storm Eta leapt on Friday as Guatemalan soldiers reached a mountain village where around 100 people were killed by a landslide, adding to dozens of other dead in Central America and Mexico.
    Many of those who lost their lives in the village of Queja in the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz were buried in their homes after mudslides swallowed around 150 houses, army spokesman Ruben Tellez said.
    The devastating weather front brought destruction from Panama to Honduras and Mexico, which between them have registered more than 50 flood-related deaths.
    Tellez said it was not the first time disaster had struck the remote corner of Alta Verapaz.    The area around Queja appeared to be the site of a huge landslide on a road pass a decade ago, which killed dozens, he said.
    “Now with all this phenomenon it collapsed again,” he added.
    Photos of the Queja landslide showed a lengthy strip of brown mud peeled from the lush green hillside.    A video shared by the army showed soldiers trying to get to Queja having to haul themselves through a morass of mud with the aid of a guide rope.
    The army said about 100 people are believed to have died in Queja alone, though searches for survivors continue.
    Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei hinted the death toll could be higher, with the number of dead and missing in Queja estimated at about 150.
    Footage from another part of Guatemala showed boats ferrying villagers in flooded regions and rescue workers carrying children on their backs, wading through water up to their hips.
‘CATASTROPHIC FLOODING’
    One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta on Friday dumped more torrential rain across swaths of Central America.    The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned “catastrophic flooding” in the region would continue.
    Rescue operations across Honduras and Guatemala have been slowed by destroyed roads and bridges, forcing authorities to bring in the military and use helicopters and speedboats to rescue people stranded on top of their houses.
    “This is the worst storm Honduras has seen in decades.    The damage will undoubtedly be significant,” said Mark Connolly, UNICEF representative in Honduras, who estimated about 1.5 million children there will be affected.
    Across the border from Guatemala in the Mexican state of Chiapas, flooding has killed 19 people, many swept up by rivers whose banks burst, state authorities said.
    North of Chiapas in Tabasco state, the deluges killed two more people, the federal government said.
    In Honduras, flooding has killed 23 people and two are missing, the government said.    Many remained trapped on their roofs, the National Risk Management System said.
    “We have been without food for two days … waiting to be evacuated,” William Santos, sheltering on top of a banana packing plant with about 300 people in northern Honduras, told Reuters.
    Eta hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday blowing furious winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph). It weakened to a tropical depression inland but the rain continued.
    Bad weather is hampering rescue efforts.
    “We have a lot of people trapped we have not been able to reach,” said Guatemalan President Giammattei.
    The devastation harked back to Hurricane Mitch, which killed some 10,000 people in Central America in 1998.
REGIONAL IMPACT
    The high winds and heavy rain have damaged thousands of homes in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, whose government has not yet detailed the human cost of the storm.
    Two miners were reported killed in Nicaragua, while in southern Costa Rica a landslide killed a Costa Rican woman and an American man in a house.    Eight others, including at least three children, died in flooding near the Costa Rican border in Panama’s Chiriqui province, authorities said.
    In Honduras, about 16,000 people have been rescued in the northern Valle Sula region, authorities said.    Over 5,000 people were evacuated in Guatemala, officials said.
    On Friday evening, Eta was off Belize’s coast in the Caribbean, churning towards Cuba and Florida, the NHC said.
    But remnants of the weather system will continue to hammer parts of Central America with flooding, it added.
    Flash flooding was also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Cuba.
(Reporting by Josue Decavele in Guatemala City and Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Additional reporting by Sofia Menchu, Josue Decavele and Enrique Garcia in Guatemala City; Anthony Esposito, Diego Ore, Ana Martinez, Dave Graham, Abraham Gonzalez and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Elida Moreno in Panama City; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Aurora Ellis, Grant McCool and William Mallard)

11/7/2020 Cuba Braces For Storm Eta After Deadly Toll In Central America
Submerged cars are pictured at an area affected by floods after the passage of
Storm Eta, in El Progreso, Honduras November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s meteorology office warned on Saturday of torrential rain and flooding as Tropical Depression Eta churned northwards towards the Caribbean island, and on track to Florida, after killing more than 70 people in Central America last week.
    Eta could strengthen back into a tropical storm over the warm Caribbean waters before making landfall on the southern coast of central Cuba overnight, the office said, warning of coastal flooding and winds of 80-100 km per hour.
    Flooding could be a problem more broadly, it said, given Cuba was already waterlogged in the wake of heavy rains of late and Eta could potentially dump more than 300mm of water on central and mountainous regions.
    “As the ground is already saturated, any additional rain could provoke inundations especially in mountainous areas and along the rivers,” Cuba’s best known meteorologist Jose Rubiera said on the Friday evening news broadcast on state-run TV.
    The northwestern coast, including Havana’s seafront, will probably flood moderately from Sunday to Tuesday, he said.
    The government – well known for preparedness in the face of natural disasters – discussed measures on Friday to evacuate people, especially those living downstream from dams, and protect crops, homes and animals, according to state-run media.
    Given Eta’s stormfront was uneven, there was the risk of torrential rain occurring across the entire country and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero warned against complacency in eastern or western regions.
    The U.S. National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warned that flash and urban flooding would also be a possibility for the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, the Bahamas and southern Florida.
    Tropical storm conditions were possible in the Florida Keys and south and central Florida from late Sunday, it said.
    One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta struck Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday with winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph) before weakening to a tropical depression as it moved inland and into neighboring Honduras and Belize.
    Across swathes of the mostly poor countries wedged between Mexico and Colombia, high winds, torrential rains and catastrophic flooding caused deadly mudslides and damaged hundreds if not thousands of homes.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

11/7/2020 Rescue Teams Inch Toward Storm-Wrecked Guatemalan Village, Dozens Missing by Sofia Menchu
FILE PHOTO: Women walk at an area affected by a mudslide after the passage of Storm Eta,
in Purulha, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
    SAN CRISTOBAL VERAPAZ, Guatemala (Reuters) – Rescue workers on Saturday struggled over treacherous roads buried in mud and rubble to a remote mountain village in Guatemala swamped by a devastating storm that has killed dozens of people across Central America and southern Mexico.
    Storm Eta’s torrential downpours toppled trees, engorged swift-moving rivers, and ripped down parts of a mountainside above the village of Queja in the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz, burying dozens of people in their homes.
    The devastating weather front has spread destruction from Panama to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico, which between them have registered well over 50 deaths.
    A steady drizzle fell as firefighters in the town of San Cristobal Verapaz prepared to make the journey on foot to Queja, which they said could take a full day.
    “An attempt was already made to get through but it’s very difficult and we’re really sad we couldn’t get through, but it’s very dangerous,” said Juan Alberto Leal, an official with the local fire service.    “The problem is that there are several mudslides throughout the route.”
    Ordinarily, the 22 kilometer (13.7 mile) trip between San Cristobal Verapaz and Queja takes an hour by car.
    Still, some 55 soldiers, 25 firefighters and 15 police officers have managed to reach the site of the disaster.
    President Alejandro Giammattei on Friday hinted up to 150 people could have been buried in the Queja landslide.
    Guatemalan disaster relief agency Conred said 116 people were still missing and 12 confirmed dead in the country.
    It was not the first time disaster struck this corner of Alta Verapaz.    The area around Queja appeared to be the site of a huge landslide on a road pass a decade ago, which killed dozens, army spokesman Ruben Tellez said.
    One of the fiercest storms to hit Central America in years, Eta struck Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday with winds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph).
    Dumping relentless rains, it weakened to a tropical depression as it moved inland into Honduras and Guatemala before re-entering the Caribbean sea and advancing towards Cuba.
    The Cuban meteorological office warned on Saturday of torrential rain and flooding as Eta churned northwards towards the island, and on track for Florida.
(Additional reporting by Enrique Garcia in Guatemala City; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Dave Graham)

11/8/2020 Fresh Landslides Halt Search In Guatemalan Hamlet Buried In Mud by Sofia Menchu
The wreckage of a trailer is seen at an area hit by a mudslide, caused by heavy rains brought by Storm Eta, as the search for victims
continue in the buried village of Queja, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala November 7, 2020. Esteban Bilba/EFE/Pool via REUTERS
    SAN CRISTOBAL VERAPAZ, Guatemala (Reuters) – Fresh landslides have halted Guatemalan rescue workers’ efforts to dig through mud as much as 50 ft (15 meters) deep to reach houses swamped by a devastating storm that has killed dozens of people across Central America and southern Mexico.
    Storm Eta’s torrential downpours toppled trees, engorged swift-moving rivers, and ripped down parts of a mountainside above the village of Queja in the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz, burying dozens of people in their homes.
    The rains triggered more mudslides in Queja late on Saturday, and the head of a local emergency worker team said rescue efforts had been called off, possibly permanently.
    “We are coordinating so that all the personal are evacuated in the morning because we can’t work there.    If we stay, lives will be lost,” said the emergency worker, Juan Alberto Leal.
    Some of the houses in Queja are under 50 feet of mud, Leal said, with relentless rain making the soil too loose to safely work, and new landslides forcing workers to flee to safer ground in the village.
    Gloria Cac, a member of the Poqomchi' people and a resident of Queja, said 22 family members were missing after the mountain collapsed.
    “All her family is gone, she’s the only survivor.    Her dad, mom, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, they’re all gone.    Twenty-two family members and it’s just her alive,” a visibly distraught Cac, carrying a small child in her arms, said through an interpreter in a recorded video.
    Queja had been home to about 1,300 people, according to government data. Not all its houses were destroyed, and most survivors have already been evacuated, officials say.
    “At ground zero there is a terrible reality,” said Francisco Muz, a retired general who was helping in the rescue efforts.
    The weather front spread destruction from Panama to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico, has continued to push the death toll higher in those countries.    It now stands above 65.
    In the Mexican state of Chiapas, flooding has killed 19 people, many swept up by rivers whose banks burst, state authorities said.    North of Chiapas in Tabasco state, the deluges killed two more people, the federal government said.
    The devastation harked back to Hurricane Mitch, which killed some 10,000 people in Central America in 1998.
    President Alejandro Giammattei on Friday suggested up to 150 people could have been buried in the Queja landslide.
    Guatemalan disaster relief agency Conred said 103 people were known missing and 21 confirmed dead in the country.
(Additional reporting by Enrique Garcia in Guatemala City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Elida Moreno in Panama City, Alvaro Murillo in San Jose and Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

11/9/2020 Earthquake felt across southern New England
    BOSTON – The strongest earthquake to hit southern New England in decades rattled homes and nerves Sunday morning but didn’t cause any significant damage, authorities said.    The 3.6 magnitude quake centered off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts, in Buzzards Bay struck just after 9 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center.    It hit at a depth of a little more than 9.3 miles and was felt across Massachusetts and Rhode Island and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.

11/10/2020 Scientists Watch As China Remote Glaciers Melt At ‘Shocking’ Pace by Martin Quin Pollard
Meltwater flows over the Laohugou No. 12 glacier in the Qilian mountains, Subei Mongol Autonomous
County in Gansu province, China, September 27, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
    QILIAN MOUNTAINS, China (Reuters) – Glaciers in China’s bleak Qilian mountains are disappearing at a shocking rate as global warming brings unpredictable change and raises the prospect of crippling, long-term water shortages, scientists say.
    The largest glacier in the 800-km (500-mile) mountain chain on the arid northeastern edge of the Tibetan plateau has retreated about 450 metres since the 1950s, when researchers set up China’s first monitoring station to study it.
    The 20-square kilometre glacier, known as Laohugou No. 12, is criss-crossed by rivulets of water down its craggy, grit-blown surface.    It has shrunk by about 7% since measurements began, with melting accelerating in recent years, scientists say.
    Equally alarming is the loss of thickness, with about 13 metres (42 feet) of ice disappearing as temperatures have risen, said Qin Xiang, the director at the monitoring station.
    “The speed that this glacier has been shrinking is really shocking,” Qin told Reuters on a recent visit to the spartan station in a frozen, treeless world, where he and a small team of researchers track the changes.
    The Tibetan plateau is known as the world’s Third Pole for the amount of ice long locked in the high-altitude wilderness.
    But since the 1950s, average temperatures in the area have risen about 1.5 Celsius, Qin said, and with no sign of an end to warming, the outlook is grim for the 2,684 glaciers in the Qilian range.
    Across the mountains, glacier retreat was 50% faster in 1990-2010 than it was from 1956 to 1990, data from the China Academy of Sciences shows.
    “When I first came here in 2005, the glacier was around that point there where the river bends,” Qin said, pointing to where the rock-strewn slopes of the Laohugou valley channel the winding river to lower ground.
    The flow of water in a stream near the terminus of the Laohugou No. 12 runoff is about double what it was 60 years ago, Qin said.
    Further downstream, near Dunhuang, once a major junction on the ancient Silk Road, water flowing out of the mountains has formed a lake in the desert for the first time in 300 years, state media reported.
    For interactive graphic, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UdIHOq
DANGEROUS CHANGE
    Global warming is also blamed for changes in the weather that have brought other unpredictable conditions.
    Snowfall and rain has at times been much less than normal, so even though the melting glaciers have brought more runoff, farmers downstream can still face water shortages for their crops of onions and corn and for their animals.
    Large sections of the Shule river, on the outskirts of Dunhuang, were either dry or reduced to murky patches of pool, isolated in desert scrub when Reuters visited in September.
    The new fluctuations also bring danger.
    “Across the region, glacial melt water is pooling into lakes and causing devastating floods,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Liu Junyan.
    “In spring, we’re seeing increased flooding, and then when water is needed most for irrigation later in the summer, we’re seeing shortages.”
    For Gu Jianwei, 35, a vegetable farmer on the outskirts of the small city of Jiuquan, the changes in the weather have meant meagre water for his cauliflowers this year.
    Gu said he had been able to water his crop just twice over two crucial summer months, holding up a small cauliflower head that he said was just a fraction of the normal weight.
    The melting in the mountains could peak within a decade, after which snow melt would sharply decrease due to the smaller, fewer glaciers, China Academy of Sciences expert Shen Yongping said. That could bring water crises, he warned.
    The changes in Qilian reflect melting trends in other parts of the Tibetan plateau, the source of the Yangtze and other great Asian rivers, scientists say.
    “Those glaciers are monitoring atmospheric warming trends that apply to nearby glaciated mountain chains that contribute runoff to the upper Yellow and Yangtze Rivers,” said Aaron Putnam, associate professor of earth sciences at the University of Maine.
    The evidence of the withering ice is all too clear for student researcher Jin Zizhen, out under a deep-blue sky checking his instruments in the glare of Laohugou No. 12.
    “It’s something I’ve been able to see with my own eyes.”
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, additional reporting by Ryan Woo in Jiuquan and Yumen; Editing by Robert Birsel)

11/11/2020 12 of 29 storms hit US as season broke records by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    A record-breaking 29 storms into this seemingly endless hurricane season, storm-battered residents in the U.S. and elsewhere are wondering when it will finally come to an end.
    Twelve storms have made landfall on U.S. soil this season, breaking a century- old record.    And for just the second time, meteorologists had to dip into the Greek alphabet to name storms.
    And after all, the “official” end to the season is Nov. 30, and November is typically one of the quietest months for storms.
    In the short term, unfortunately, after Hurricane Eta’s deadly rampage through Central America, Subtropical Storm Theta formed early Tuesday, breaking the record for most storms in a single season.
    Theta, which transitioned to a “regular” tropical storm Tuesday afternoon, is far out in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean.    The storm, which was nearing hurricane strength, posed no immediate threat to any land areas, the National Hurricane Center said.
    A developing storm – which would be called Iota – is closer to home in the Caribbean Sea.    It probably won’t form until later this week at the earliest, if it forms at all, the Hurricane Center said.
    But “there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel,” Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said in an email to USA TODAY. He said the strong upper-level winds that tear developing storms and hurricanes apart will be increasing over the Caribbean Sea in a couple of weeks and could put an end to the tropical cyclone production, he said.
    But what about in other parts of the Atlantic? Could the season actually stretch past its “official” end date?
    “There is definitely concern that we could see activity into December,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Randy Adkins told USA TODAY.
    December tropical storms and hurricanes are exceedingly rare.    “Only one season on record has had more than one named storm form in December, and that was all the way back in 1887,” Klotzbach said.
A squall from Tropical Storm Eta in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday. LANNIS WATERS/USA TODAY NETWORK

11/12/2020 Robot dogs to help patrol Air Force base by Tony Mixon Panama City News Herald USA TODAY NETWORK
    TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. –     Tyndall Air Force Base is living up to its motto as 'Base of the Future,' with the integration of state-of-the-art, four-legged robots for security use – a first in the Department of Defense.
    Ghost Robotics held a demonstration Tuesday morning next to Maxwell Flag Park to show a few dozen airmen and civilians how the robots work.     The almost 100-pound robots, which look somewhat like dogs, can be controlled with a remote but will operate autonomously around the base as security.
    The 325th Security Forces Squadron will be the first unit in the Department of Defense to use the technology for enhanced security patrolling.    They will test the capabilities of the robots as the precursor for the Air Force as a whole.
    Hurricane Michael in 2018 significantly damaged static cameras, sensor platforms and fence lines in Tyndall’s integrated defense operation.    Maj. Jordan Criss, the 325th Security Squadron commander, has been working with Ghost Robotics for several years to get the robot dogs to Tyndall.
    'This is a springboard into the future of integrated defense,' Criss said.    'Rather than using a person, we can now leverage technology.    We can use these robotic sentries to go out and sweep massive areas.'
    The thinking behind using robotic dogs for security measures is to keep humans out of harm’s way.    The robots can run for an extended period of time with a wireless charging doghouse.
    The robots are designed for tasks such as remote inspection, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, mapping, distributed communications and persistent security. The technology, along with other innovations, will replace and exceed the capabilities of static defense equipment, officials said.
The robot dogs are designed for many tasks, including remote inspection, intelligence and surveillance. Michael Snyder/The Northwest Florida Daily News

11/12/2020 Seven Dead As Typhoon Vamco Triggers Philippine Capital’s Worst Floods In Years by Neil Jerome Morales
A man walks his bike past a fallen tree following Typhoon Vamco, at a road in
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, November 12, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
    MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered government agencies to hasten relief efforts after a powerful typhoon killed at least seven people and unleashed some of the worst flooding in years in the capital Manila.
    Duterte cut short his attendance of a virtual meeting of Southeast Asian leaders to inspect the damage from Typhoon Vamco, moments after a speech during which he urged his counterparts to urgently combat the effects of climate change.
    The typhoon, the eighth to hit the Philippines in the past two months and 21st of the year, forced residents to scramble onto rooftops to await rescue after tens of thousands of homes were submerged.
    Those killed across the main island of Luzon, home to half of the country’s 108 million population, included people who drowned, an elderly man hit by a tree and three workers crushed when a warehouse collapsed.
    It struck areas still reeling from Goni, the most powerful typhoon in the world this year, which killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes earlier this month.
    “Rest assured, the government will not leave anybody behind,” Duterte said in a national address, pledging shelter, relief goods, financial aid and counselling.
    Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated before Vamco arrived late on Wednesday packing winds of 155 kilometres (96 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph).    It has since weakened and exited the mainland.
    Duterte told Southeast Asian leaders the devastation of recent weeks was “a stark reminder of the urgency of collective action to combat the effects of climate change.”
‘OVERWHELMING’
    Nearly three million households in and around Manila were without power as people waded through waist-high floods, carrying valuables and pets.
    Coastguard swam through brown floodwater as high as electricity poles in some areas, while rescue workers used rubber boats and makeshift floats to move children and the elderly to safety.
    In some suburbs east of Manila, residents took refuge atop flooded homes.
    “The flood reached the entire second floor of our house.    For more than eight hours, we stayed at our neighbour’s house,” call center worker Albert Rano, 35, told Reuters.
    “Aside from some clothes and laptops, nothing is left.”
    The typhoons have battered the Philippines as it faces an uphill struggle to breathe life into its withering economy while keeping coronavirus infections under control.
    Roughly 40,000 homes had either been fully or partially submerged in the Marikina area, a situation its mayor, Marcelino Teodoro, said was “overwhelming” and the worst since a typhoon flooded large swathes of the capital in 2009.
    “The local government cannot handle this,” Teodoro told DZMM radio, requesting motorised boats and airlifts.
    Residents posted images on social media of flooded homes and the disaster agency said parts of 36 cities and towns were inundated.
    Flights and mass transit in Manila were suspended and port operations stopped. Government work was halted and financial markets shut.
    Vamco was headed towards Vietnam, where devastating floods and mudslides over the past month have killed at least 160 people in central areas.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Additional Reporting by Eloisa Lopez and Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Ed Davies and Martin Petty)

11/13/2020 Outside Mogadishu, Locusts Turn Farmland Into Desert by Abdirahman Hussein
Desert locusts are seen as they mate in a grazing land on the outskirt of Daynile district of Mogadishu, Somalia November 13, 2020 REUTERS/Feisal Omar
    MOGADISHU (Reuters) – A rifle on his back, Mohamed Yasin tries in vain to chase away the swarm of yellow-coloured insects that have invaded his farm as his camels mill about nearby.
    Swarming on the outskirts of Mogadishu, locusts are eating away at Yasin’s livelihood, destroying maize and beans and all his grass.
    “We have asked the government to help us on how we will fight the locusts as they are turning everywhere into a desert,” Yasin told Reuters.
    The insect plague hitting Somalia is part of a once-in-a-generation succession of swarms that have swept across East Africa and the Red Sea region since late 2019, driven by unusual weather patterns.
    In a region where many already go hungry, The coronavirus has this year exacerbated the crisis by disrupting the supply chain of pesticides and other equipment needed to fight them off.
(Reporting by Abdirahman Hussein; writing by Omar Mohammed; editing by John Stonestreet)

11/13/2020 Boston Dynamics Dog Robot ‘Spot’ Learns New Tricks On BP Oil Rig
FILE PHOTO: A security guard walks alongside Boston Dynamics' four-legged robot Spot during its
demonstration at Tokyo Robot Collection, Japan September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    (Reuters) – Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot ‘Spot’ is learning new tricks.
    Working on an oil rig operated by BP Plc nearly 190 miles (305 km) offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, the company is programming Spot to read gauges, look for corrosion, map out the facility and even sniff out methane on its Mad Dog rig.
    Adam Ballard, BP’s facilities technology manager, said tasks performed by Spot will make the work on the rig safer by reducing the number of people.    It also will free up personnel to do other work.
    “Several hours a day, several operators will walk the facility; read gauges; listen for noise that doesn’t sound right; look out at the horizon for anomalies, boats that may not be caught on radar; look for sheens,” Ballard said.
    “What we’re doing with Spot is really trying to replicate that observation piece,” Ballard said, adding that an operator could then review the information from a central location.
    Spot also has an integrated gas sensor that is programmed to shut the robot down if it detects a methane leak.
    “We believe a lot of that up-front, remote work preparation can be done with a remotely-controlled robot… being able to pan, tilt, zoom and really understand the entire area in real conditions, real time,” Ballard said.
    Boston Dynamics does not release terms of its sales agreements with companies, but the Spot robot model can be purchased for $74,500.
    BP hopes in the future to expand Spot’s data gathering capability to augment areas where humans are limited.
    “We’ve got multispectral imaging that basically you can see many bands across that spectrum… to be able to see things that the human eye can’t see,” said Ballard.
(Reporting by Catherine Koppel; editing by Diane Craft and Rosalba O’Brien)

11/14/2020 Vietnam Braces For Typhoon Vamco, 53 Dead In Philippines by Khanh Vu and Neil Jerome Morales
Philippine Coast Guard conduct a rescue operation, after Typhoon Vamco resulted in severe flooding, in the Cagayan Valley
region in northeastern Philippines, November 13, 2020. Mandatory credit PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD/Handout via REUTERS
    HANOI/MANILA (Reuters) – Vietnam was bracing for Typhoon Vamco to make landfall in the country’s central coast early on Sunday, as the death toll in the Philippines rose to 53 from that country’s deadliest storm this year.
    Packing winds of up to 165 kph (103 mph), Vamco is forecast to hit a swathe of Vietnam’s coast from Ha Tinh to Quang Ngai province, the government’s weather agency said on Saturday.
    “This is a very strong typhoon,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, warning provinces in Vamco’s projected path to prepare for its impact.
    The provinces plan to evacuate 468,000 people by the end of Saturday, state media cited the government’s disaster management authority as saying.
    Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline.    Vamco will be the 13th storm that affects the Southeast Asian country this year, where more than 160 people have been killed in natural disasters triggered by a series of storms since early October.
    “There has been no respite for more than eight million people living in central Vietnam,” said Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, Vietnam Red Cross Society President.    “Each time they start rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, they are pummelled by yet another storm.”
    In the Philippines, coast guard and disaster agencies scrambled on Saturday to rescue thousands in a northern province after the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines this year tore through the main island of Luzon late on Wednesday and early Thursday.
    Vamco has killed at least 53 people, injured 52 and left 22 missing in the Philippines, according to the Philippines police and army.
(Reporting by Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by William Mallard)

11/14/2020 Vietnam Braces For Typhoon Vamco, 53 Dead In Philippines by Khanh Vu and Neil Jerome Morales
Philippine Coast Guard conduct a rescue operation, after Typhoon Vamco resulted in severe flooding, in the Cagayan Valley
region in northeastern Philippines, November 13, 2020. Mandatory credit PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD/Handout via REUTERS
    HANOI/MANILA (Reuters) – Vietnam was bracing for Typhoon Vamco to make landfall in the country’s central coast early on Sunday, as the death toll in the Philippines rose to 53 from that country’s deadliest storm this year.
    Packing winds of up to 165 kph (103 mph), Vamco is forecast to hit a swathe of Vietnam’s coast from Ha Tinh to Quang Ngai province, the government’s weather agency said on Saturday.
    “This is a very strong typhoon,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, warning provinces in Vamco’s projected path to prepare for its impact.
    The provinces plan to evacuate 468,000 people by the end of Saturday, state media cited the government’s disaster management authority as saying.
    Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding due to its long coastline. Vamco will be the 13th storm that affects the Southeast Asian country this year, where more than 160 people have been killed in natural disasters triggered by a series of storms since early October.
    “There has been no respite for more than eight million people living in central Vietnam,” said Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, Vietnam Red Cross Society President.    “Each time they start rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, they are pummelled by yet another storm.”
    In the Philippines, coast guard and disaster agencies scrambled on Saturday to rescue thousands in a northern province after the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines this year tore through the main island of Luzon late on Wednesday and early Thursday.
    Vamco has killed at least 53 people, injured 52 and left 22 missing in the Philippines, according to the Philippines police and army.
(Reporting by Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by William Mallard)

11/14/2020 Tropical Storm Iota Barrels Toward Central America As Mudslide Buries 10 In Guatemala by Sofia Menchu
A surfer times the waves before jumping off the jetty into the surf before the arrival of
Tropical Storm Eta in Bradenton Beach, Florida, U.S. November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
    GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – As Tropical Storm Iota barrels toward Central America, eight people were killed or reported missing in a landslide in Guatemala, authorities said on Saturday, in the latest disaster triggered by this year’s unprecedented hurricane season.
    Iota is expected to intensify to hurricane strength or just short of it by the time it smashes into the jungles of the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras on Monday, even as Central America is still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.
    Eta sparked floods and mudslides that killed scores of people across a huge swath of terrain stretching from Panama to southern Mexico.    No area was harder hit than the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz, where a mountain partly collapsed onto the village of Queja, killing and burying alive dozens of residents.
    Early on Saturday morning, Guatemalan authorities said a mudslide buried 10 people in the state of Chiquimula near the border with Honduras. Emergency workers have rescued two people and recovered three corpses so far, with another five people still missing.
    The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) is warning Iota could unleash “life threatening” flash flooding and mudslides across northern Colombia and Central America as early as Monday. It is expected to pack maximum winds of 110 mph (177 km) as it approaches landfall.
    At 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Iota was about 495 miles (797 km) east-southeast from the Nicaraguan-Honduran coast, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph). It was moving 5 mph (8 kph) in a west-southwest direction.
(Reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

11/14/2020 SpaceX, NASA Prepare For Historic Launch This Weekend by OAN Newsroom
NASA firefighters drive on the road outside the fence near a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon capsule attached, sits
on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Four astronauts will
fly on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on Nov. 14, 2020 (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
    NASA and aerospace company SpaceX are preparing to blast off into space this weekend with a historic launch, marking SpaceX’s first fully operational spaceflight with a full crew.
    The launch will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending three Americans and one Japanese astronaut to the International Space Station.
    “The first time we go with a crew of four to the International Space Station on a commercial crew vehicle, it’s the first time we go with one of our international partners, Japan, and it’s the first time we go as a commercial vehicle licensed with humans into orbit, licensed by the FAA,” announced NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
    Originally, the Crew-1 mission intended to start their journey on Saturday, but the launch has been pushed back to Sunday due to weather interference caused by Tropical Storm Eta.
    This mission will mark the first time the U.S. has used its own technology to send its astronauts into space after retiring the Space Shuttle program back in 2011.
    Officials said the success of the Crew-1 mission will set a precedent for space travel and future missions, opening up a gateway to the final frontier.
    "We’re thinking about programs that last, not just decades, but even a generation,” Bridenstine continued.    “I would like to see a day when my children are my age and we have people living and working on the Moon, and, in fact, on Mars.”
    If all goes as planned, officials in the Sunshine State estimate roughly 250,000 observers will be in attendance in order to witness the rocket blast off into space.

11/15/2020 Philippines’ Typhoon Deaths Rise As Worst Floods In 45 Years Hit North
A woman retrieves her cat from a submerged village following floods caused by Typhoon Vamco,
in Rodriguez, Rizal province, Philippines, November 14, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
    MANILA (Reuters) – The death toll from the deadliest cyclone to hit the Philippines this year has climbed to 67, while many areas remained submerged in a northern region hit by the worst flooding in more than four decades, officials said on Sunday.
    President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Tuguegarao province to assess the situation in Cagayan Valley region, which was heavily flooded after Typhoon Vamco dumped rain over swathes of the main Luzon island, including the capital, metropolitan Manila.
    Twenty-two fatalities were recorded in Cagayan, 17 in southern Luzon, eight in Metro Manila, and 20 in two other regions, said Mark Timbal, the disaster management agency spokesman.
    Twelve people were still missing and nearly 26,000 houses were damaged by Vamco, he said.
    “This is the worst flooding that we had in the last 45 years,” Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said during a briefing with Duterte.    “We see that it is worsening every year.”
    The accumulated effects of weather disturbances and huge volumes of water from a dam affected thousands of families in Cagayan, some of whom had fled to rooftops to escape two-storey high floods.
    Six cyclones hit the Philippines in a span of just four weeks, including Vamco and Super Typhoon Goni, the world’s most powerful this year.
    But Mamba also lamented about denuded forests in Cagayan, prompting Duterte to order him to curb logging operations in the province.
    “We always talk about illegal logging and mining but nothing has been done about it,” Duterte said.
    Relief and rescue operations continued in Cagayan even as the nearby Magat Dam was still releasing water, two days after releasing a volume equivalent to two Olympic-size pools per second, based on government data.
    Vamco, the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, also caused the worst flooding in years in parts of the capital.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kim Coghill)

11/15/2020 Iota Strengthens Into 13th Hurricane Of 2020
FILE PHOTO: A lifeguard walks to the end of the jetty after closing it down to surfers before the
arrival of Tropical Storm Eta in Bradenton Beach, Florida, U.S. November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Nesius/
    (Reuters) – Iota has strengthened into the 13th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and is expected to become a major hurricane as it approaches Central America, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Sunday.
    “Reconnaissance aircraft finds Iota has strengthened into the thirteenth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season,” NHC said.
    Iota is about 295 miles (475 km) east of Isla De Providencia Colombia with maximum sustained winds 75 miles per hour (120 kph).
(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates)

11/15/2020 Hurricane Iota Rapidly Strengthens As It Heads Toward Central America by Sofia Menchu and Gustavo Palencia
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows an area flooded after the passage of Storm Eta, in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Josue Decavele
    GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Hurricane Iota is rapidly gathering strength as it barrels toward Central America, with the potential to bring “life threatening” storm surges and “catastrophic” winds to a region still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Eta.
    As of 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), Hurricane Iota was about 335 miles (539 km) off the Nicaraguan-Honduran coast, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (145 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).
    “Iota is forecast to be an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane when it approaches Central America,” the NHC warned.
    The storm comes as Central America is still coping with the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Eta, which slammed into the region two weeks ago, causing flooding and mudslides that have killed scores of people across a huge swath from Panama to southern Mexico.
    Hurricane Iota is expected to smash into the jungles of the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras on Monday.
    Evacuations are already underway in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in areas expected to be affected by Iota.
    In Honduras, Douglas Espinal, head of the fire department of Puerto Lempira on the Miskito Coast, told Reuters that evacuees have been arriving since early Saturday, traveling from the region’s remote peninsulas by canoe or boat.
    “People are coming from the coastal areas, but only those who have a boat or a canoe. The rest are staying in their communities,” he said.
    Espinal said Puerto Lempira has run out of fuel since deliveries were suspended following Hurricane Eta, making it impossible for the fire department to carry out a more extensive evacuation plan.
    Puerto Lempira is the largest municipality in the Honduran department of Gracias a Dios, a remote region only accessible by air, sea, or by traversing its internal rivers.    With just over 100,000 residents, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the area is home to a number of indigenous communities, including Miskitos, Garifunas, Pech, and Tawhakas.
    Puerto Lempira is still recovering from massive flooding sparked by Eta that caused property damage and crop losses.
    In Nicaragua, authorities said evacuations are also underway in the indigenous and fishing communities on the Miskito Coast.
(Reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Additional reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City, Nelson Rentería in San Salvador, Álvaro Murillo in San José and Ismael Lopez; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

11/15/2020 Northern India Chokes On Toxic Smog Day After Diwali Festival by Sudarshan Varadhan and Neha Arora
People watch as firecrackers burn during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in New Delhi, India, November 14, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
    CHENNAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Hundreds of millions of Indians in north India woke up on Sunday to toxic air following Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, after many revellers defied bans on using firecrackers to celebrate.
    The capital New Delhi was blanketed with a thick haze, with the average pollution level over 9 times what is considered safe by the World Health Organization.
    Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had banned the use and sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali, but the policy has been difficult to implement.
    Revellers in the capital let off huge amounts of fireworks well into Sunday morning, prompting angry residents and environmentalists to complain on social media of breathing difficulties and stinging eyes.
    “Our gods must be so happy today, that their followers burst firecrackers and choked the young ones to despair and death,” said Vimlendu Jha, the founder of non-profit environmental group Swechha.
    Some defended firecrackers as an essential part of a religious tradition celebrated by millions across the country.
    “Are you realizing how all of India, all places stood up in defiance against the cracker ban? It’s like a form of Hindu- freedom battle cry,” Tarun Vijay, a leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, tweeted.
    New Delhi’s air pollution typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning agricultural waste, coal-fired power plants, traffic and windless days.
    The raging coronavirus epidemic, with more than 400,000 cases in the city of 20 million people, has also heightened alarm over the smog.    Doctors have warned of a sharp increase in respiratory illnesses.
    Cities in the states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and New Delhi – which have already been suffering from some of the worst air in the world – saw even higher levels of pollution than on the morning after Diwali last year, government data analyzed by Reuters showed.
    An average of air quality indices measured at different places within the major cities in these states was higher than last year, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan in Chennai and Neha Arora in New Delhi; Editing by Alasdair Pal and Stephen Coates)

11/16/2020 ‘One Heck Of A Ride’: SpaceX Launches Astronauts Into Space by Andrea Shalal and Joey Roulette
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the Crew Dragon capsule, is launched carrying four astronauts on the first operational NASA
commercial crew mission at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. November 15, 2020. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX launched four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station on Sunday, NASA’s first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft.
    SpaceX’s newly designed Crew Dragon capsule, which the crew has dubbed Resilience, lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:27 p.m. eastern time (0027 GMT on Monday) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
    “That was one heck of a ride,” astronaut Mike Hopkins said from Crew Dragon to SpaceX mission control about an hour after liftoff.    “There was a lot of smiles.”
    Crew Dragon will gradually raise its orbit for the next 27 hours through a series of onboard thruster firings, giving the astronauts time to eat pre-packaged dinners and roughly eight hours to rest before docking at the International Space Station at 11 p.m. eastern time on Monday.
    An air leak caused an unexpected drop in capsule pressure less than two hours before launch, NASA officials said.    But technicians said they conducted a successful leak check, and the scheduled launch was still on.
    The Resilience crew includes Hopkins and two fellow NASA astronauts, mission pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker.    They were joined by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the U.S. shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.
    The 27-hour ride to the space station, an orbiting laboratory some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, was originally scheduled to begin on Saturday.    But the launch was postponed for a day due to forecasts of gusty winds – remnants of Tropical Storm Eta – that would have made a return landing for the Falcon 9’s reusable booster stage difficult, NASA officials said.
    The astronauts donned their custom white flight suits and arrived at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad on schedule at 4:30 p.m. in three white Tesla SUVs, flanked by NASA and SpaceX personnel.
    SpaceX mission operator Jay Aranha, speaking from the company’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, told the crew to “have an amazing trip, and know that we are all for one.”
    Mission commander Mike Hopkins responded, saying “to all the people at NASA and SpaceX, by working together through these difficult times, you’ve inspired the nation the world.”
    “And now it’s time for us to do our part, Crew 1 for all,” Hopkins said.
    Vice-President Mike Pence attended the launch and said beforehand that under President Donald Trump, America had “renewed our commitment to lead in human space exploration.”
    President-elect Joe Biden Tweeted his congratulations, saying the launch was “a testament to the power of science.”
FIRST PRIVATE MISSION
    NASA is calling the flight its first “operational” mission for a rocket and crew-vehicle system that was 10 years in the making. It represents a new era of commercially developed spacecraft – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – for sending Americans into orbit.
    A trial flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon in August, carrying just two astronauts to and from the space station, marked NASA’s first human space mission to be launched from U.S. soil in nine years, following the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.    In the intervening years, U.S. astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
    NASA contracted SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop competing space capsules aimed at replacing its shuttle program and weaning the United States from dependence on Russian rockets to send astronauts to space.
    SpaceX’s launch on Sunday was the first of six operational missions for NASA.    The company has also booked private astronaut missions, including one slated to carry actor Tom Cruise in the coming years.
    Musk, the billionaire SpaceX chief executive who is also CEO of electric carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc, did not watch the liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center launch control room, NASA officials said.    Musk said on Saturday he “most likely” has a moderate case of COVID-19.
    SpaceX and NASA have conducted contact-tracing and determined Musk had not come into contact with anyone who interacted with the astronauts.
    “Our astronauts have been in quarantine for weeks, and they should not have had contact with anybody,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Friday.    “They should be in good shape.”
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Cape Canaveral and Joey Roulette in Washington; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Leslie Adler, Chris Reese & Simon Cameron-Moore)

11/16/2020 Hurricane Iota Threatens Catastrophe In Central America, Fuel Shortages Hamper Evacuation by Gustavo Palencia
FILE PHOTO: Aerial patrols are conducted over beach areas to prevent entry of swimmers, ahead of Hurricane Iota in
Cartagena, Colombia in this still image taken from social media video dated November 15, 2020. LUIS GUILLERMO FERREBUS/via REUTERS
    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Iota exploded into a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane on Monday and bore down on a remote Central American coastal region already reeling from another major storm, with efforts to evacuate villagers hampered by shortages of fuel for boats.
    Iota was due to collide with northeastern Nicaragua overnight and was packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles (260 km) per hour, reaching category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
    Barely recovering after Hurricane Eta hit two weeks ago, Guatemala and southern Mexico were also bracing for renewed flooding on land already waterlogged from the earlier storm.
    In El Salvador, the government declared a “red alert” ahead of Iota, suspending school and activating emergency funding.
    The hurricane was located about 100 miles (160 km) east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua in the Miskito region after whipping past the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia before dawn.
    The Miskito people are descendants of indigenous groups and Africans believed to have escaped from shipwrecked slave ships.
    The World Food Programme warned that some 80,000 people in Nicaragua were at risk from Iota, while Honduran authorities said they were evacuating another 80,000.
    Local authorities and the navy frantically tried to get thousands of families to higher ground or ports in the watery region of jungles, rivers and coastline, which also straddles Honduras and took a direct hit from Eta.
    “There are villages that can protect or save themselves, but others cannot cope with this catastrophe after Eta,” said Teonela Wood, mayor of Honduras’ Brus Laguna municipality, which she said was home to more than 17,000 people.
    “The biggest problem we have right now is that we don’t have fuel to keep on evacuating people” on boats, Wood said.
    Douglas Espinal, emergency services chief in nearby Puerto Lempira, said the fuel shortages stemmed from evacuation and rescue efforts during the earlier storm, which went on to dump rain across a large swath of Central America, destroying crops and killing dozens in landslides and flooding.
    Espinal said a little extra fuel had arrived on Sunday, allowing him to make some evacuation runs, and that villagers were also making their own way to seek shelter in Puerto Lempira.
    The unprecedented 2020 hurricane season comes as Central America is facing an economic crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, with experts warning the compounding hardship could worsen infections, spread hunger, and fuel a new round of migration from the region.
    The World Food Programme said millions of people in Central America already urgently needed food assistance in the wake of Eta and that it had transported nearly 300 tonnes of food to affected villages in Nicaragua.
    Climate change is increasing the intensity of both rain and droughts across Central America, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said last week, saying such phenomena can exacerbate the poverty which drives people to flee their homes.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Additional reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bernadette Baum)

11/17/2020 ‘In The Hands Of God:’ Central America Bears Brunt Of Powerful Hurricane Iota by Wilmer Lopez
People carry their belongings while heading to a shelter as Hurricane Iota
approaches Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Wilmer Lopez
    PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua (Reuters) – Hurricane Iota sent zinc roofing flying into the streets, toppled electricity poles and flayed palm trees as its core approached a remote Central American coast on Tuesday, the second giant storm to tear at the area this month.
    Iota reached northeastern Nicaragua late on Monday with sustained winds of nearly 155 miles per hour (250 kmh).    It is expected to weaken after moving westward into neighboring Honduras, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
    Puerto Cabezas, still partly flooded and strewn with debris from the force of Hurricane Eta two weeks ago, again bore the brunt of the storm.     Frightened residents huddled in shelters and worried about food and their lives.
    “We could die,” said Inocencia Smith, in a shelter in the town of about 40,000 people.
    “There is nothing to eat at all,” she said, adding that the area’s farms were wrecked by Eta.
    The wind tore the roof off a makeshift hospital.    Patients were evacuated, including two women who gave birth during the first rains of the storm on Monday, and others in intensive care, Vice-President Rosario Murillo told a news conference.
    About 40,000 people in Nicaragua have been evacuated to shelters, authorities said.    Many coastal areas are at risk of storm surges of as much as 20 feet (6 meters) above normal tides.    In Honduras, 80,000 people were moved to safety.
    “It’s the strongest hurricane that has touched Nicaraguan soil since records began,” said Marcio Baca, director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Earth Studies.
    This is the first time two major hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic basin in November since records began in 1851.
    Iota was also the first category 5 storm of the hurricane season before losing a little wind speed off the coast to reach land as a category 4.
    Even after weakening, Iota’s rain – with up to 30 inches (76 cm) expected – could cause landslides and more flooding across the water-logged region, the NHC warned, compounding the damage wrought by Eta across Central America.
    Eta devastated crops and washed away hillsides two weeks ago, killing dozens.
    “We are in the hands of God.    If I have to climb up trees, I’ll do it,” said Jaime Caal Cuz, 53, a farmer in Guatemala’s southeastern province of Izabal.    After taking his family to a shelter, he stayed to guard the house and their belongings.
    “We don’t have food, but we are going to wait here for the hurricane that we’re asking God to stop from coming,” he said.
(Reporting by Wilmer Lopez in Puerto Cabezas, Ismael Lopez in Mexico City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Robert Birsel)

11/17/2020 Climate ‘Bomb’ Iota Weakens Slightly Off Central America by Gustavo Palencia and Ismael Lopez
A child fills a plastic container with water at a school being used as a shelter as Hurricane Iota approaches
Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Wilmer Lopez NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – A slightly weakened Hurricane Iota began whipping a remote coastal area of Nicaragua with catastrophic winds and storm surges on Monday, as the region’s leaders blamed climate change for destructive weather pushing millions closer to hunger.
    Iota was due to crash through northeastern Nicaragua’s Miskito region overnight, packing maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph).
    By 10 p.m. EST, the U.S. National Hurricane Center had downgraded its power to Category 4 from 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.    It is expected to dissipate over Central America on Wednesday, but not without causing serious damage.
    Reuters images showed rain spattering the partially flooded beachside city of Puerto Cabezas on Nicaragua’s coast, and wind rattling the roofs of its one-story buildings.
    “We’re all scared for our lives,” said Magdalena Bell, who had taken refuge in a shelter in Puerto Cabezas.
    Central America and southern Mexico are still reeling from Hurricane Eta, which devastated crops and washed away hillsides after landing near Puerto Cabezas two weeks ago, killing dozens. Many towns are still partially flooded, and the land is waterlogged from the earlier storm.
    Along with the wind, Iota will raise sea levels as much as 20 feet (6 meters) above normal tides.    It is expected to dump as much as 30 inches (76 cm) of rain over the next few days as it weakens inland.
    Earlier in the day, governments from Panama to Guatemala rushed to move people away from hillsides, volcanoes and bodies of water.    The World Food Programme said millions of people had already urgently needed food aid in the wake of Eta.
    “What’s drawing closer is a bomb,” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told a news conference, speaking alongside Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
    Central America was among the worst affected regions in the world by climate change, the presidents said.    Tens of thousands of families had lost entire crops to Eta’s destruction, he said.
    Iota will leave Honduras and its neighbors in “a very difficult situation,” Hernandez said.
    This is the first time two major hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic basin in November since records began in 1851.    Iota is also the first Category 5 storm of the hurricane season.
    The Miskito region straddling Honduras and Nicaragua raced to get people to safety before a forecast direct hit from Iota.    Its eye was about 30 miles (45 km) east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas after clipping the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia before dawn, cutting off electricity.
UNPRECEDENTED SEASON
    Images from Nicaragua’s military showed soldiers helping people into boats in heaving seas and trucks to move to higher land and larger towns in the watery region of jungles, rivers and coastline.
    “There are villages that can protect or save themselves, but others cannot cope with this catastrophe after Eta,” said Teonela Wood, mayor of Honduras’ Brus Laguna municipality, which she said was home to more than 17,000 people.
    Many of the people of Miskito are descendants of indigenous groups along with Africans who escaped from slavery and those castaways believed to have survived a 17th-century slave shipwreck.
    The unprecedented 2020 hurricane season comes as Central America is facing an economic crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, with experts warning the compounding hardship could worsen infections, spread hunger and fuel a new round of migration from the region.
    Iota is the fiercest November storm in the region since a 1932 Cuba hurricane that packed 175-mph (281-kph) winds, according to private forecasting firm AccuWeather.
    Climate change is increasing the intensity of both rain and droughts across Central America, the United Nations refugee agency said last week, saying such phenomena can exacerbate the poverty that drives people to flee their homes.
    With a rise in average global temperatures, hurricanes are growing stronger and spinning more slowly, which can prolong their destructive treks across land.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Teguigalpa; Additional reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Ismael Lopez in Mexico City, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador, Elida Moreno in Panama City and Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Aurora Ellis)

11/17/2020 ‘We’re Flooded Everywhere’: Storm Iota Batters Central America by Wilmer Lopez
People carry their belongings while heading to a shelter as Hurricane Iota approaches
Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Wilmer Lopez
    PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua (Reuters) – Storm Iota unleashed torrential flooding in Central America on Tuesday, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks as it flipped roofs onto the streets, and downed electricity poles and trees, killing at least two people in the region.
    The strongest storm on record to reach Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday, packing winds of nearly 155 miles per hour (249 kph) and flooding villages still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.
    By midday (1800 GMT), the winds had fallen to 65 mph (105 kph) as Iota weakened to a tropical storm, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.    But it continued bringing down heavy rains as it moved inland toward southern Honduras.
    “We’re flooded everywhere, the rain lasted almost all night and now it stops for an hour then comes back for 2-3 hours,” said Marcelo Herrera, mayor of Wampusirpi, a municipality in the interior of northeast Honduras crossed by rivers and streams.
    “We need food and water for the population, because we lost our crops with Eta,” he told Reuters.
    Iota marked the first time two major hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic basin in November since records began.    The Nicaraguan port of Puerto Cabezas, still partly flooded and strewn with debris left by Eta, again bore the brunt of the hit.
    Frightened residents huddled in shelters.
    “We could die,” said one, Inocencia Smith.    “There is nothing to eat at all,” she added, noting Eta had shattered local farms.br>     The wind tore the roof off a makeshift hospital. Patients in intensive care were evacuated, including two women who gave birth during the first rains on Monday, the government said.
    Guillermo Gonzalez, head of Nicaragua’s disaster management agency SINAPRED, said he had reports of damage to houses and roofs, fallen power lines and overflowing rivers, but no deaths.
    Unlike its neighbors, Nicaragua did not register fatalities from Eta, although local media said the storm killed at least two people there, plus dozens more across Central America.
    Iota passed close to Providencia, one of a cluster of islands in Colombia’s Caribbean province of San Andres.    Local authorities reported at least one death there.
    “We have a critical situation in Providencia,” Colombian President Ivan Duque told local radio on Tuesday morning.    “Many people have lost everything.”    As much as 98% of the island’s infrastructure may be destroyed, Duque added.
    Panama’s government said a person had died in its western Ngäbe-Buglé region due to conditions caused by storm.
    A resident of Brus Laguna on the Honduran coast told local radio a boy was killed by a falling tree, though the mayor, Teonela Wood, said she had no reports of fatalities.
    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Iota risked causing disaster after Eta.
    “We are very concerned about the potential for deadly landslides in these areas as the soil is already completely saturated,” IFRC spokesman Matthew Cochrane told a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
    About 40,000 people in Nicaragua and 80,000 in Honduras were evacuated from their homes, authorities said.
    By early afternoon, Iota was about 105 miles (169 km) east of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, the NHC said.
    The NHC said Iota could dump up to 30 inches (76 cm) of rain in some areas, compounding damage wrought by Eta.
    “We are in the hands of God.    If I have to climb up trees, I’ll do it,” said Jaime Cabal Cu, a farmer in Guatemala’s Izabal province.    “We don’t have food, but we are going to wait here for the hurricane that we’re asking God to stop from coming.”
(Reporting by Wilmer Lopez in Puerto Cabezas, Ismael Lopez in Mexico City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, Emma Farge in Geneva and Elida Moreno in Panama; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Dave Graham, Robert Birsel, Timothy Heritage, Steve Orlofsky and Aurora Ellis)

11/17/2020 SpaceX Spacecraft Successfully Docks At ISS by OAN Newsroom
In this frame grab from NASA TV, SpaceX Dragon crew, from front left to right, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi
stand with International Space Station crew Kate Rubins, from back left, Expedition 64 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey
Kud-Sverchkov during a welcome ceremony, early Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. The Dragon arrived and docked at the ISS late Monday. (NASA TV via AP)
    Aerospace company SpaceX is breaking records for space travel after partnering with NASA in order to send four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
    The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docked onto the ISS around 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday after making the 27-hour journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.    This marks the first time the Space Agency has used a commercial spacecraft to send astronauts to the ISS.
    While joining the crew members aboard the Space Station, crew leader Mike Hopkins shared about the group’s experience leaving the Earth’s atmosphere.
    “It’s been an incredible journey and it’s really amazing that this is marking the start of operational crew rotation missions to the International Space Station from the Florida coast,” he stated.    “It was an amazing ride, I can’t tell you how excited we were when that rocket lifted off the pad and then the last 27-hours have gone really smooth, actually.”
    At the launch on Sunday night, Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance to show the White Houses’s support.    He stated that the U.S. has “renewed its commitment to lead in space exploration.”

11/18/2020 Storm Iota Weakens In Central America, But Flooding And Death Toll Rise by Wilmer Lopez
People carry their belongings while heading to a shelter as Hurricane Iota approaches Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Wilmer Lopez
    PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua (Reuters) – Unleashing torrential floods even as it weakened, Storm Iota churned through Central America on Tuesday, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks, flipping roofs onto streets and killing at least nine people across the region.
    The strongest storm on record to reach Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday, bringing winds of nearly 155 miles per hour (249 kph) and flooding villages still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.
    But by Tuesday night, the winds had fallen to 50 mph (80 kph) as Iota weakened to a tropical storm but heavy rainfall continued, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
    Iota was drenching already saturated towns and villages as it moved inland over southern Honduras and as authorities reported many people missing with some of the worst-hit areas still cut off.
    “We’re flooded everywhere, the rain lasted almost all night and now it stops for an hour then comes back for two to three hours,” said Marcelo Herrera, mayor of Wampusirpi, a municipality in the interior of northeast Honduras crossed by rivers and streams.
    “We need food and water for the population, because we lost our crops with Eta,” he told Reuters.
    The Honduran government closed bridges and highways across the country on Tuesday, while opening more than 600 shelters where some 13,000 residents sought refuge.
    The double punch of Eta and Iota marked the first time two major hurricanes had formed in the Atlantic basin in November since records began.    The Nicaraguan port of Puerto Cabezas, still partly flooded and strewn with debris left by Eta, again bore the brunt of the hit.
    Frightened residents huddled in shelters.
    “We could die,” said Inocencia Smith at one of the shelters.    “There is nothing to eat at all,” she added, noting Eta had destroyed local farms.
    Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said at least six people had died as they were dragged down by raging rivers.
    The wind tore the roof off a makeshift hospital.    Patients in intensive care were evacuated, including two women who gave birth during the first rains on Monday, the Nicaraguan officials said.
‘IN THE HANDS OF GOD’
    Two people died on Providencia island, part of Colombia’s Caribbean archipelago near the coast of Central America, after it was clipped by Iota, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday evening.
    Nearly all of the infrastructure on Providencia – home to some 6,000 people – had been damaged or destroyed.
    Panama’s government said a person had died in its western Ngabe-Bugle region due to conditions caused by the storm.
    A resident of Brus Laguna on the Honduran coast told local radio a boy was killed by a falling tree, although the mayor, Teonela Wood, said she had no reports of fatalities.
    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said flooding from Iota risked causing disaster after Eta.
    “We are very concerned about the potential for deadly landslides in these areas as the soil is already completely saturated,” IFRC spokesman Matthew Cochrane told a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
    About 100,000 Nicaraguans and Hondurans had been evacuated from their homes, authorities said.
    Iota was about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, the NHC said, moving west at 12 mph (19 kph) where it could provoke “catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides.”
    The center added that Iota could dump up to 30 inches (76 cm) of rain in some areas.
    “We are in the hands of God.    If I have to climb up trees, I’ll do it,” said Jaime Cabal Cu, a farmer in Guatemala’s Izabal province.    “We don’t have food, but we are going to wait here for the hurricane that we’re asking God to stop from coming.”
(Reporting by Wilmer Lopez in Puerto Cabezas, Ismael Lopez in Mexico City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Oliver Griffin and Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, Emma Farge in Geneva and Elida Moreno in Panama; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon and David Alire Garcia; Editing by Aurora Ellis, Rosalba O’Brien and Peter Cooney)

11/18/2020 Nev. Declares State Of Emergency To Combat Pinehaven Fire by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak updates the state’s COVID-19 response during a news conference
at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, Pool, File)
    Nevada’s governor declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after a wildfire broke out in southwest Reno. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) made the declaration in order to make local, state and federal resources available to combat the Pinehaven Fire.
    An evacuation order has been issued for several neighborhoods as the fast-moving fire grew to at least 15-hundred acres, in turn, threatening 500 homes.
    While speaking to reporters, a Reno resident Anita Boble described how she saved her daughter’s home from the blaze.
    “We were about ready to leave and I saw a bunch of smoke, and my daughter said it was coming from up in the canyon and it wasn’t, it was right below the ravine,” she recounted.    “And it was within 10 yards from her property line, so I got the hose and I started spraying…water does work a miracle in a fire.”
    So far, nearly a dozen buildings were destroyed in the blaze.    Meanwhile, fire crews are also responding to a brush fire along the California-Nevada state line.

11/18/2020 Flint Water Lawsuit Settlement Grows To $641M by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, file photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, File)
    A proposed multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of Flint, Michigan residents is finally making its way to court.    The $641 million settlement is set to be filed in a U.S. District Court Wednesday.
    Back in April of 2014, residents became sick from toxic water as a result of the city switching its water source to the Flint River without anti-corrosive additives.
    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said the proposed settlement is an important step forward to help affected Flint residents participate in the legal process.
    “What happened in Flint should have never happened and financial compensation with this settlement is just one of the many ways we can continue to show our support for the city of Flint and its families,” stated the governor.
    The court itself will still need to determine that the settlement is fair and adequate.    If the judge approves the proposed settlement, residents will be able to file for a claim.
    “This is the first opportunity for the people of Flint to see all the details,” Whitmer continued.    “The legal process can proceed as smoothly as possible.”

11/18/2020 Storm Iota Breaks Up Over El Salvador But Leaves Major Flood Risk
A girl looks at a family photo recovered from the debris of her house destroyed after the
passing of Hurricane Iota, in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
    PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua (Reuters) – Storm Iota unleashed flash floods in areas already waterlogged with rain, forcing tens of thousands of people across Central America to flee their homes with a death toll feared to be over 20 by Wednesday morning.
    The strongest storm on record ever to hit Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday, bringing winds of nearly 155 miles per hour (249 kph) and inundating villages still reeling from the impact two weeks ago of Eta, another major hurricane.
    Iota had largely dissipated over El Salvador by Wednesday morning, but authorities across Nicaragua and Honduras were still battling to cope with the devastating flooding the weather front had left behind in the deeply impoverished region.
    Six people in Nicaragua and three others across Central America and the Caribbean had been confirmed dead by Tuesday evening.
    Nicaraguan media said a landslide had killed at least 15 other people in the north of the country.    Many more were still missing and feared lost, according to the reports.
    In Honduras, more than 71,000 people are in shelters, and dozens of rivers and streams burst their banks, flooding nearby streets and highways, authorities said.
    Despite the dissolution of Iota, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm’s remnants could trigger life-threatening flash flooding, river flooding and mudslides across parts of Central America through Thursday.
    Authorities in El Salvador have reported one death related to the storm so far, with hundreds more people in shelters.
    The remnants of Iota were drifting west toward the Pacific by mid-morning on Wednesday, the Miami-based NHC said.
(Reporting by Wilmer Lopez in Puerto Cabezas, Ismael Lopez in Mexico City, Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

11/19/2020 Central America Faces Havoc, More Than 30 Killed, From Latest Storm by Gustavo Palencia and Ismael Lopez
    TEGUCIGALPA/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Storm Iota unleashed devastating floods across Central America on Wednesday in areas already waterlogged, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in a disaster that could spur migration to the United States.
    More than 30 people were killed and the toll in the impoverished region was expected to rise as rescue workers reach isolated communities.
    While numerous villages from northern Colombia to southern Mexico have seen record rainfall swelling rivers and triggering mudslides, cities like the Honduran industrial hub of San Pedro Sula have also been hit hard.
    The city’s airport was completely flooded, with jetways looking more like docks and nearby tree tops barely visible above a sea of muddy water, video posted on social media showed.
    The strongest storm on record to hit Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday, unleashing Category 5 magnitude winds and inundating low-lying areas still reeling from the impact two weeks ago of Eta, another major hurricane.
    Some 160,000 Nicaraguans and 70,000 Hondurans have been forced to flee to shelters.
    Karen Valladares, the head of Honduras’ FONAMIH migrants agency, warned that the devastation from the storms would accelerate migration to the United States over the next few months.
    “That shouldn’t surprise us,” she said.
    While Iota had largely dissipated over El Salvador on Wednesday, authorities across Nicaragua and Honduras were struggling with the fallout from the days of heavy rain.
    Most of the dead were in Nicaragua, where authorities say a mother and her four children were swept away by a river that overflowed its banks, while a landslide in the north killed at least eight people, with many missing.
    In La Dalia, a rural outpost in northern Nicaragua, police would only let state media to pass where mudslides are believed to have trapped some residents.
    In Honduras, five members of a family, including three children, were buried in a landslide that swept their home away in the western department of Ocotepeque, near the border with El Salvador and Guatemala, police said.
    Two deaths have been confirmed in Panama and one in El Salvador.
    In Colombia, authorities said two people were killed when the storm battered its Caribbean islands.
    The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Iota’s remnants could trigger more flooding and mudslides across Central America through Thursday as it drifted west toward the Pacific Ocean.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Ismael Lopez in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Wilmer Lopez in Puerto Cabezas, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City and Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener and David Alire Garcia; Editing by Aurora Ellis, Robert Birsel)

11/20/2020 Storm Death Toll Rises In Central America As Honduran Leader Pleads For Help by Gustavo Palencia and Ismael Lopez
A stranded car is seen at a road flooded by the Chamelecon River due to heavy rain caused
by Storm Iota, in La Lima, Honduras November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
    TEGUCIGALPA/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Authorities in Central America recovered more bodies on Thursday from landslides triggered by hurricane Iota, which battered the impoverished region this week, the second deadly storm to roar through this month.
    The number of reported deaths rose to more than 40 across Central America and Colombia, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue workers reach isolated communities.    Most of the deaths occurred in Nicaragua and Honduras.
    Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez issued an urgent plea for international help.
    “We are in a situation of great calamity and we need the world to help us rebuild our country,” he told a news conference.
    The strongest storm on record to hit Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane.    It inundated low-lying areas still reeling from the impact two weeks ago of Eta, another major hurricane that killed dozens of people in the region.
    The destruction caused by the unprecedented 2020 hurricane season in Central America could spur migration to the United States from a region already coping with insecurity and an economic crisis triggered by novel coronavirus lockdowns, aid officials say.
    More details from the toll that Iota inflicted came to light on Thursday.
    Honduran authorities said eight members of two families, including four children, were killed when a landslide buried their homes in a village in a mountainous region populated by indigenous Lencas near the border with El Salvador.
    Those deaths raised the Honduras toll to 14.
    In Nicaragua, where at least 21 people have been confirmed dead, rescue efforts were focussed on a landslide in the north of the country that killed eight people, with more missing.
    While Iota largely dissipated over El Salvador on Wednesday, authorities struggled to cope with the fallout from days of heavy rain.
    Numerous villages from northern Colombia to southern Mexico saw record rainfall swell rivers and trigger mudslides.    Cities like the Honduran industrial hub of San Pedro Sula were also hit hard, with the city’s airport completely flooded.
    Some 160,000 Nicaraguans and 74,000 Hondurans have been forced to flee to shelters, where aid workers worry the chaotic conditions could lead fresh outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.
    Giovanni Bassu, the regional representative for Central America for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) told Reuters he expected to see the compounding hardships driving more migration out of northern Central America in coming months.
    “One storm after another is a very sad metaphor for the much broader phenomenon,” Bassu said.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Ismael Lopez in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Wilmer Lopez in Puerto Cabezas, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City and Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Writing by Laura Gottesdiener and David Alire Garcia; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Aurora Ellis, Robert Birsel)

11/20/2020 Billionaire UK Investor Aims To Force Hundreds Of Companies To Act On Climate by Matthew Green and Simon Jessop
FILE PHOTO: Factories are seen near Tokyo. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – British billionaire Chris Hohn is aiming to force hundreds of U.S. and European companies to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by enlisting global investors to demand an annual vote on their climate plans at shareholder meetings.
    Hohn, who has emerged as a major investor voice on climate change, set a precedent last month by using a shareholder resolution to force     Spanish airports operator Aena to draft a new climate plan and submit it to an annual vote.
    Hohn, founder of the TCI hedge fund, aims to replicate that model at many more companies in the next two years by mobilising investors to sponsor similar resolutions as part of his new Say on Climate https://www.sayonclimate.org campaign.
    “Of course, not all companies will support the Say On Climate.    There will be fights, but we can win the votes,” Hohn told a webinar with representatives of pension funds and insurance companies on Thursday.
    Hohn’s Children’s Investment Fund Foundation said the funds taking part represented more than $3 trillion in assets.    The webinar was later posted https://www.sayonclimate.org/presentations on the Say on Climate website.
    Hohn’s campaign opens a new front in a wider push by activist investors on climate change.
    Under Hohn’s plan, shareholders submit a resolution requesting companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, present a plan to reduce them, and give shareholders an annual nonbinding advisory vote on that plan.
    Rather than push for specific action by groups of high-emitting companies, such as oil and gas majors, Hohn aims to drive a systemic shift so that it becomes standard practice for all major companies to submit climate plans for annual scrutiny.
    “We think we need an annual general meeting shareholder vote to create an accountability mechanism for the execution of the plan – otherwise companies will do as little as they can get away with,” Hohn said.
    Earlier this month, U.N. climate envoy Mark Carney backed the idea.
(Reporting by Matthew Green and Simon Jessop in London; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
[I HOPE THEY JUST DONT PICK ON JAPAN AND NOT THEMSELVES AND ESPECIALLY CHINA, INDIA AND MANY SOUTHEAST NATIONS WHO ARE THE BIGGEST POLLUTERS.].

11/21/2020 As They Repair Iota’s Damage, Colombian Survivors Vow To Rebuild by Javier Andres Rojas
Naeeth Novaglia, 32, collects some debris from her home that was destroyed by the passage of
Storm Iota, in Providencia, Colombia November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Javier Andres Rojas
    BOGOTA (Reuters) – When Category 5 Hurricane Iota roared over the small Colombian island of Providencia in the early hours of Monday morning, Yeisler Chamorro and his wife hunkered down underneath a mattress in their bedroom.
    Nearly all the infrastructure on the island of some 6,000 people, near the coast of Central America, was damaged or destroyed by the storm, which sent rubble raining down on top of Chamorro, 29.
    “I was saved by my mattress,” Chamorro said, as he showed a Reuters reporter the temporary repairs he has made to the room’s roof.    “Stuff was falling on us, debris and everything, but thank God we survived. Material things you can get back, the important thing is life.”
    Iota’s winds and heavy rains have killed around 40 people across Central America and Colombia, including at least two in Providencia.
    In Nicaragua, it inundated low-lying areas still reeling from the impact two weeks ago of Eta, another major hurricane that killed dozens of people in the region.
    “When I got up and looked out, the first impression I had was that the neighbors were dead,” air conditioning technician Chamorro said.
    “I had to go out to see how my relatives were…when I arrived I found out everyone was alive.”
    Many residents are still in shock over the destruction, Chamorro said, but the born-and-bred islander is committed to rebuilding.
    “We’ll fight and get ahead because this is a new beginning,” he said.    “More than asking God why, we have to be grateful we’re alive.”
    Colombia’s government has credited an alerts system and shelters for the low death toll on the island, whose residents speak a Creole language as well as Spanish.
    Larger island San Andres, part of the same archipelago and which also sustained damage in the storm, has become a destination for hundreds of evacuees from Providencia seeking to reunite with family members.
(Reporting by Javier Andres Rojas; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

11/21/2020 Pompeii’s Ruins Yield Scalded Bodies Of Rich Man And Slave
Remains of two men who died in the volcanic eruption that destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in 79 AD are discovered in a dig carried out
during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Pompeii, Italy November 18, 2020. Luigi Spina/Handout via REUTERS
    ROME (Reuters) – Archaeologists have discovered the exceptionally well-preserved remains of two men scalded to death by the volcanic eruption that destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in 79 AD, the Italian culture ministry said on Saturday.
    One was probably a man of high status, aged between 30 and 40, who still bore traces of a woollen cloak under his neck.
    The second, probably aged 18 to 23, was dressed in a tunic and had a number of crushed vertebrae, indicating that he had been a slave who did heavy labour.
    The remains were found in Civita Giuliana, 700 metres northwest of the centre of ancient Pompeii, in an underground chamber in the area of a large villa being excavated.
    The men’s teeth and bones were preserved, and the voids left by their soft tissues were filled with plaster that was left to harden and then excavated to show the outline of their bodies.
    “These two victims were perhaps seeking refuge when they were swept away by the pyroclastic current at about 9 in the morning,” said Massimo Osanna, director of the archeological site.    “It is a death by thermal shock, as also demonstrated by their clenched feet and hands.”
    In a statement, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the find underlined Pompeii’s status as “an incredible place for research and study.”
    Pompeii, 23 km (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when the eruption buried it under under ash, pumice pebbles and dust, freezing it in time.
    The remains were not discovered until the 16th century and organised excavations began around 1750.    However, more recently, attention has focused on arresting the decay or collapse of the exposed ruins.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

11/22/2020 Ocean monitoring satellite takes off by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A U.S.-European satellite designed to extend a decades-long measurement of global sea surface heights was launched into Earth orbit from California on Saturday.
    A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:17 a.m. and arced southward over the Pacific Ocean.    The Falcon’s first stage flew back to the launch site and landed for reuse.
    The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was expected to deploy its solar panels and later make first contact with controllers.
    Named for a former NASA official who had a key role in developing spacebased oceanography, the satellite’s main instrument is an extremely accurate radar altimeter that will bounce energy off the sea surface as it sweeps over Earth’s oceans.
    An identical twin, Sentinel-6B, will be launched in 2025 to ensure continuity of the record.
    Space-based sea level measurements have been uninterrupted since the 1992 launch of the U.S.-French satellite TOPEX-Poseidon, which was followed by a series of satellites including the current Jason-3.
    Sea surface heights are affected by heating and cooling of water, allowing scientists to use the altimeter data to detect such weather-influencing conditions as the warm El Nino and the cool La Nina.
    The measurements are also important for understanding overall sea level rise due to global warming that scientists warn is a risk to the world’s coastlines and billions of people.
    “Our Earth is a system of intricately connected dynamics between land, ocean, ice, atmosphere and also of course our human communities, and that system is changing,” Karen St. Germain, NASA’s Earth Science Division director, said in a pre-launch briefing Friday.
    “Because 70% of the Earth’s surface is ocean, the oceans play an enormous role in how the whole system changes,” she said.
    The new satellite is expected to have unprecedented accuracy.
    “This is an extremely important parameter for climate monitoring,” Josef Aschbacher, the European Space Agency’s director of Earth observation, told The Associated Press last week.
    “We know that sea level is rising,” Aschbacher said.    The big question is, by how much, how quickly.
    Other instruments on board will measure how radio signals pass through the atmosphere, providing data on atmospheric temperature and humidity that can help improve global weather forecasts.
    Europe and the U.S. are sharing the $1.1 billion cost of the mission, which includes the twin satellite.

11/22/2020 China To Launch Moon Probe, Seeking First Lunar Rock Retrieval Since 1970s by Ryan Woo
FILE PHOTO: A partial lunar eclipse is seen in Berlin, Germany, July 16, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks in the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth’s natural satellite since the 1970s.
    The Chang’e-5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will seek to collect material that can help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins and formation. The mission will test China’s ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions.
    If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the United States and the Soviet Union decades ago.
    Since the Soviet Union crash-landed the Luna 2 on the moon in 1959, the first human-made object to reach another celestial body, a handful of other countries including Japan and India have launched moon missions.
    In the Apollo programme, which first put men on the moon, the United States landed 12 astronauts over six flights from 1969 to 1972, bringing back 382 kg (842 pounds) of rocks and soil.
    The Soviet Union deployed three successful robotic sample return missions in the 1970s.    The last, the Luna 24, retrieved 170.1 grams (6 ounces) of samples in 1976 from Mare Crisium, or “Sea of Crises.”
    China’s probe, scheduled to launch in coming days, will attempt to collect 2 kg (4 1/2 pounds) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or “Ocean of Storms.”
    “The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface,” said James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University.
    Subsequent data from orbital remote sensing missions have shown a wider diversity of rock types, mineralogies and ages than represented in the Apollo-Luna sample collections, he said.
    “Lunar scientists have been advocating for robotic sample return missions to these many different critical areas in order to address a host of fundamental questions remaining from earlier exploration,” Head said.
    The Chang’e-5 mission may help answer questions such as how long the moon remained volcanically active in its interior and when its magnetic field – key to protecting any form of life from the sun’s radiation – dissipated.
THE MISSION
    Once in the moon’s orbit, the probe will aim to deploy a pair of vehicles to the surface: a lander will drill into the ground, then transfer its soil and rock samples to an ascender that will lift off and dock with an orbiting module.
    If this is successful, the samples will be transferred to a return capsule that will return them to Earth.
    China made its first lunar landing in 2013.    In January 2019, the Chang’e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon, the first by any nation’s space probe.
    Within the next decade, China plans to establish a robotic base station to conduct unmanned exploration in the south polar region.
    It is to be developed through the Chang’e-6,7 and 8 missions through the 2020s and expanded through the 2030s ahead of manned landings.
    China plans to retrieve samples from Mars by 2030.
    In July, China launched an unmanned probe to Mars in its first independent mission to another planet.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao; Editing by William Mallard)

11/22/2020 Officials: Colo. ‘Bear Creek Fire’ At 100% Containment by OAN Newsroom
Flames from the Bear Creek Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo. are seen above homes. (Christian Murdock/The Gazetter via AP)
    A Colorado fire, named the Bear Creek Fire, has been successfully stopped after firefighters reported 100 percent containment of the blaze.    This was announced Friday after the 26 acre fire sparked near Colorado Springs Thursday, in turn, prompting an evacuation of more than 230 homes.
    Dozens of firefighters worked from the ground and air to combat the flames with reports noting the fire came within 10 feet of some homes.    Fortunately, no structures or lives were lost, which fire officials credit to fire mitigation efforts by resident. the city and the county.
    The firefighters were facing fast-moving flames fueled by dry vegetation and windy conditions.    However, the removal of excess vegetation from around homes helped them keep the blaze from getting too close.    Officials said mitigation efforts also kept the flames low to the ground, where they are easier to fight.
    “Reduced the fuels, reduced the spread of fire, reduced the rate of spread, which allowed us firefighters to get in there and to really make a good attack on this fire,” said BC Steve Wilch, incident commander.
    The cause of the fire remains under investigation.    Moving forward, firefighters are urging residents to continue being proactive in their efforts to protect their homes from future wildfires.

11/22/2020 FDA Approves First-Ever Progeria Medication by OAN Newsroom
In this Feb. 12, 2019 photo, Meghan Waldron walks down the street in Boston. Waldron is a student at Emerson College with progeria,
one of the world’s rarest diseases. The first treatment has been approved for progeria, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Zokinvy which was shown in testing
to extend patients’ lives by 2 ½ years on average. (Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via AP)
    A breakthrough medication for the ultra rare genetic disease known as progeria has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).    The oral capsule drug, which goes by the name Zokinvy, was given the green-light on Friday.
    The FDA said it’s expected to reduce the risk of the death for those with the fatal diagnosis.    On average, it’s shown to increase life expectancy by two and a half years.    Research behind the treatment was largely funded by the Progeria Research Foundation (PRF).
    “My hope is that the time will come where we’ll talk about progeria as something in the histroy books that we will have figured out,” stated Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.    “Not just how to treat it to make it a little better, but a cure and that’s a big task.”
    With this latest development, PRF has gotten one step closer to that goal. Once the medication is widely available, the world’s some 400 people with the condition, including 20 in the U.S., can breath a little bit easier knowing scientists are one step closer to a cure.
    Progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, has been described by the FDA as a “rare genetic disease that causes premature aging, death and has a debilitating effect on people’s lives.”
    At a molecular level, it’s caused by a buildup of defective progerin or progerin-like protein in cells. It causes vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, stroke, heart problems and more.
    On average, children with progeria die around the age of 14-years-old.    Fortunately however, that will hopefully be changing as Zokinvy hits the market after conducting four meticulous worldwide studies over the span of more than 10 years.

11/23/2020 Surge In Greenhouse Gases Sustained Despite COVID Lockdowns: U.N. by Emma Farge
FILE PHOTO: People enjoy Bournemouth Beach during an unusual heat wave in Bournemouth, England, August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – Greenhouse gas concentrations climbed to a new record in 2019 and rose again this year despite an expected drop in emissions due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday, warning against complacency.
    Many scientists expect the biggest annual fall in carbon emissions in generations this year as measures to contain coronavirus have grounded planes, docked ships and kept commuters at home.
    However, the WMO described the projected 2020 drop as a “tiny blip” and said the resulting impact on the carbon dioxide concentrations that contribute to global warming would be no bigger than normal annual fluctuations.
    “…In the short-term the impact of the COVID-19 confinements cannot be distinguished from natural variability,” the WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin said.
    The annual report released by the Geneva-based U.N. agency measures the atmospheric concentration of the gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – that are warming our planet and triggering extreme weather events.
    Levels of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that is the biggest contributor to global warming, touched a new record of 410.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2019, it said.
    The annual increase is larger than the previous year and beats the average over the last decade.
    “Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records,” WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said, referring to a rise of 10 ppm since 2015, calling for a “sustained flattening of the (emissions) curve.”
    WMO’s head of atmospheric environment research Dr. Oksana Tarasova said the magnitude of the increase in carbon dioxide levels over the past four years was comparable to changes seen during the shift from ice age to more temperate periods but, back then, the transition happened over a much longer timeframe.
    “We humans did it without anything, with just with our emissions, and we did it within four years.”
    Global data is not yet available for 2020 but the trend of rising concentrations appears to be intact, the WMO said, citing initial readings from its Tasmania and Hawaii stations.
    Like other scientific bodies, the WMO said it expects annual global carbon emissions to fall this year due to COVID measures, and ventured a preliminary estimate of between 4.2-7.5%.
    Such a drop would not cause atmospheric carbon dioxide to go down, but would slow the rate of increase temporarily on a scale that falls within normal variations, it said.
    “Our whole economy and our consumption patterns wire us to extremely high emissions even if we all sit in lockdown,” said Tarasova.
    Irrespective of what we do to curb emissions today, much of the carbon dioxide already emitted decades ago remains in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming, climate scientists say.
    Over the 2018-2019 period, concentrations of the more potent heat-trapping gas methane increased by 8 parts per billion, the report said – slightly lower than the previous year-on-year change but still above-average over the last 10-year period.
    Methane concentrations data is closely watched by scientists as the gas is prone to unexpected leaks such as those from the fossil fuel industry.    That can make its atmospheric levels harder to predict than carbon dioxide.
    Levels of nitrous oxide, which erode the atmosphere’s ozone layer and expose humans to harmful ultraviolet rays, also increased in 2019 but at a lower rate than the previous year and on par with the average growth over the last decade.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jane Merriman)
[Trees need CO2 to survive and they then release Oxygen the stuff we need so you CO2 carbon haters, cows, cars are all messed up in the head with the science you promote and if you end up in charge we will end up looking like China and India.]

11/24/2020 China Calls Launch A Success As Robotic Spacecraft Heads To Moon by Martin Quin Pollard
The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space
Launch Center, in Wenchang, Hainan province, China November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
    WENCHANG, China (Reuters) – China hailed as a success its pre-dawn launch on Tuesday of a robotic spacecraft to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve lunar surface samples since the 1970s, a mission underscoring Chinese ambitions in space.
    The Long March-5, China’s largest carrier rocket, blasted off at 4:30 a.m. Beijing time (2030 GMT on Monday) in a launch from Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying the Chang’e-5 spacecraft.
    The China National Space Administration (CNSA) called the launch a success and said in a statement that the rocket flew for nearly 37 minutes before sending the spacecraft on its intended trajectory.
    The Chang’e-5 mission, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will seek to collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins and formation.    The mission will test China’s ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions.
    State broadcaster CCTV, which ran live coverage of the launch, showed images of CNSA staff in blue uniforms applauding and cheering as they watched the spacecraft climbing through the atmosphere, lighting up the night sky.
    If the mission is completed as planned, it would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, joining the United States and the Soviet Union.
    Upon entering the moon’s orbit, the spacecraft is intended to deploy a pair of vehicles to the lunar surface: a lander and an ascender.    The landing is due to take place in about eight days, according to Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesman for the mission.    The probe is due to be on the lunar surface for about two days, while the entire mission is scheduled to take around 23 days.
    The plan is for the lander to drill into the lunar surface, with a robotic arm scooping out soil and rocks.    This material would be transferred to the ascender vehicle, which is due to carry it from the surface and then dock with an orbiting module.
    The samples then would be transferred to a return capsule for the return trip to Earth, with a landing in China’s Inner Mongolia region.
    “The biggest challenges … are the sampling work on the lunar surface, take-off from the lunar surface, rendezvous and docking in the lunar orbit, as well as high-speed re-entry to Earth,” said Pei, also director of the space administration’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center.
    “We can conduct sampling through circumlunar and moon- landing exploration, but it is more intuitive to obtain samples to conduct scientific research – the method is more direct,” Pei added.    “Plus, there will be more instruments and more methods to study them on Earth.”
SPACE STATION PLANS
    China, which last year carried out the first landing on the far side of the moon and in July of this year launched a robotic probe to Mars, has other space goals in its sights.    It aims to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.
    “From next year, we will carry out the launch mission of our national space station,” said Qu Yiguang, deputy commander of the Long March-5 carrier rocket.
    Asked when China was planning to put astronauts on the moon, Pei said any decision would be based on scientific needs, as well as technical and economic conditions, adding: “I think future lunar exploration activities should be carried out by a combination of man and machine.”
    Matt Siegler, a research scientist at the Arizona-based Planetary Science Institute who is not part of Chang’e-5 mission, said the Mons Rumker volcanic area of the moon where the spacecraft is due to land is 1-2 billion years old.
    “That is very young for the moon – most of our samples are 3.5 billion years old or more,” Siegler said in an email, noting that the area and other similar ones represented “late-stage volcanism” when the moon had enough internal heat for such activity.
    “We want to find out what is special about these regions and why they remained warm longer than the rest of the moon,” Siegler added.
    The United States, which currently has plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, landed 12 astronauts there in its Apollo programme over six flights from 1969 to 1972, and brought back 382 kg (842 pounds) of rocks and soil.
    The Soviet Union deployed three successful robotic lunar sample-return missions in the 1970s.    The last, the Luna 24, retrieved about 170 grams (6 ounces) of samples in 1976 from a region called Mare Crisium.
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; additional reporting by Ryan Woo; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Will Dunham)

11/24/2020 Scientists create diamonds in a lab at room temperature by Wyatte Grantham-Philips USA TODAY
The creation of diamonds normally takes billions of years, gigantic pressure and extremely hot temperatures.     One international team of scientists defied nature – producing the beautiful mineral in a laboratory at room temperature within only minutes.     Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU), RMIT University, University of Sydney and Oak Ridge National Laboratory published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Small.     The co-authors announced Wednesday that they used high pressure “equivalent of 640 African elephants on the tip of one ballet shoe” to create two types of diamonds: the kind found on an engagement ring and Lonsdaleite, a type of diamond found in nature at the site of meteorite impacts.
    Diamonds have been synthesized in labs since 1954. The jewels are usually created by subjecting carbon to intense pressure and heat.    This is the first time the dazzling mineral has been made at room temperature.
    “Natural diamonds are usually formed over billions of years, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) deep in the Earth where there are high pressures and temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 degrees Fahrenheit),” Jodie Bradby, an ANU physics professor and colead researcher, said in an ANU news release.
    “The twist in the story is how we apply the pressure,” she continued.    “As well as very high pressures, we allow the carbon to also experience something called ‘shear’ – which is like a twisting or sliding force.    We think this allows the carbon atoms to move into place and form Lonsdaleite and regular diamond.”
    Using advanced microscopy techniques, Dougal McCulloch, a physics professor at RMIT who co-led the research, and his team captured slices from the samples to better understand both types of diamonds.
    “Seeing these little ‘rivers’ of Lonsdaleite and regular diamond for the first time was just amazing and really helps us understand how they might form,” McCulloch said.

11/25/2020 Nearly 100 Whales Die After Mass Stranding In New Zealand
Pilot whales are seen stranded on the beach in Chatham Islands, New Zealand November 22, 2020 in this picture
obtained from social media. Picture taken November 22, 2020. JEMMA WELCH/DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION NZ
via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
    WELLINGTON (Reuters) – About 100 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins have died in a mass stranding on the remote Chatham Islands, about 800 km (497 miles) off New Zealand’s east coast, officials said on Wednesday.
    Most of them were stranded during the weekend but rescue efforts have been hampered by the remote location of the island.     New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) said in total 97 pilot whales and three dolphins died in the stranding, adding that they were notified of the incident on Sunday.
    “Only 26 of the whales were still alive at this point, the majority of them appearing very weak, and were euthanised due to the rough sea conditions and almost certainty of there being great white sharks in the water which are brought in by a stranding like this,” said DOC Biodiversity Ranger Jemma Welch.
    Mass strandings are reasonably common on the Chatham Islands with up to 1,000 animals dying in a single stranding in 1918.
    Mass whale strandings have occurred throughout recorded modern history, and why it happens is a question that has puzzled marine biologists for years.
    In late September, several hundred whales died in shallow waters off the Australian coast in one of the world’s biggest mass whale strandings.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

11/25/2020 Hurricanes Eta, Iota Hit Nicaragua With $743 Million In Economic Losses
FILE PHOTO: A man sits on the shore of the Masachapa river under the rain caused by
Storm Eta in Masachapa, Nicaragua November 4, 2020.REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas
    MANAGUA (Reuters) – Nicaragua suffered more than $740 million in damage from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, the government said on Tuesday, as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) promised $1.7 billion in aid for millions of people affected across Central America.
    Nearly 44,000 homes experienced total or partial damage in Nicaragua, said Nicaraguan Finance Minister Ivan Acosta, estimating the storms had cost the country $743 million in losses, according to government media site El 19.
    Hurricane Eta alone affected some 3 million people in seven Central American countries and caused up to $5.5 billion in damage, the IDB said, citing estimates from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
    A spokeswoman said UNOCHA could not confirm the figure and that evaluations were continuing in the field.
    Iota’s economic toll had yet to be calculated, said the IDB.
    The region was still recovering from deadly flooding and mudslides triggered by Eta when Iota walloped Central America.
    The IDB said on Monday it would support reconstruction in the hardest-hit countries with up to $1.2 billion in new funds, plus up to $500 million reassigned from existing operations and money mobilized from other institutions working in the region.
    IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone, who took office on Oct. 1, told Reuters on Tuesday that he was seeking to expand the capital base of the bank and make it a more powerful force in the region.
    Claver-Carone, the first U.S. national to head the bank and a former aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, faced opposition from some of Latin America’s leading economies when he ran for the job earlier this year.
    He said an IDB study of more than 250 natural disasters between 1970 and 2008, published in the Review of Development Economics, showed disaster aid typically fell short of what was needed.
    “History shows that aid to countries that have suffered natural disasters has typically covered only about 3% of the total estimated economic damage from the disasters.    That’s nowhere near enough.    We’re going to do things very differently,” Claver-Carone said.
    The Honduran central bank said on Monday that devastation caused by Eta would shave an additional percentage point from economic growth, which along with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic would lead to a record contraction of 8 to 9% in 2020.
(Reporting by Ismael Lopez in Managua and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Aurora Ellis and Peter Cooney)

11/25/2020 Tornado Touches Down In City Of Arlington, Texas by OAN Newsroom
    Residents in northern Texas are picking up the pieces after severe thunderstorms and a tornado blew through the region.
    According to reports Wednesday, the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in the city of Arlington late Tuesday.
    This came as a line of thunderstorms moved through the region in the evening hours, prompting severe weather watches and tornado warnings.
    Power lines, trees and buildings were knocked over with “significant damage” reported to several structures.    The National Weather Service said it’s sending out a storm survey crew to determine the strength of the storm.
    The American Red Cross is also assisting more than 80 families displaced after their apartment complexes were damaged in the storms.

11/25/2020 Tens Of Thousands Evacuated As Cyclone Targets Southeast India by Sudarshan Varadhan
Fishermen move a fishing boat to a safer place along the shore before Cyclone Nivar's landfall,
in Chennai, India, November 25, 2020. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar
    CHENNAI (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas of the southeast Indian state of Tamil Nadu ahead of a cyclone expected to make landfall in the early hours of Thursday.
    Cyclone Nivar, labelled a category 1 “severe cyclonic storm” on a scale from 1 to 5 by Tropical Storm Risk, was likely to damage houses, uproot power lines and trees and destroy crops along India’s southeast coast, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
    “Over 145,000 people have been shifted to 1,516 relief camps across the state as a precaution,” R.B. Udhayakumar, Tamil Nadu’s disaster management minister, told Reuters.
    Edappadi Palaniswami, Tamil Nadu state’s chief minister, has declared Wednesday and Thursday public holidays in some areas, advised fishermen not venture out to sea and asked people to stay indoors.
    The districts of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, located south of Chennai on the state’s coast, accounted for the most number of evacuations, together totalling nearly 89,000 people, Udhayakumar said.
    Areas in and around the state’s capital Chennai witnessed intense spells of rain and strong winds on Wednesday.
    Many companies in Chennai, home to a flourishing automobile industry and dubbed the “Detroit of South Asia”, shut operations on Wednesday.
    Government officials in Chennai released water from a major reservoir and cleared fallen trees.    Vessels in the city’s port have been moved to sea and port operations will likely remain shut until the cyclone has passed, a senior port official said.
    Chennai’s airport will remain closed at least until 7 a.m. (0130 GMT) on Thursday, India’s aviation minister said in a post on Twitter.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Alexander Smith and Nick Macfie)

11/26/2020 Telescope on moon would peer into past by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Although it happened more than 13 billion years ago, astronomers still want to see the Big Bang.
    Now, they’re proposing to put a huge telescope on the moon to study the first stars in the universe.
    “The telescope would be able to observe the first stars that formed after the Big Bang, out of material made in the Big Bang,” University of Texas astronomer Anna Schauer said.
    They can’t be studied from Earth because its atmosphere blocks the light in the wavelengths scientists need to see, she said.    No telescope today can peer back that far in time.
    The proposed lunar telescope, which Schauer has nicknamed the “Ultimately Large Telescope,” would have a liquid mirror more than 300 feet in diameter.
    Rather than glass, the telescope’s mirror would be made of liquid, as it’s lighter and cheaper to transport to the moon.    The telescope’s mirror would be a spinning vat of liquid, topped by a metallic – and thus reflective – liquid.
    The telescope would be located inside a crater at the moon’s north or south pole.

11/26/2020 Cyclone Nivar Slams Into Southern India Causing Five Deaths by Sudarshan Varadhan
FILE PHOTO: Municipal workers remove fallen tree branches from a road during rains before
Cyclone Nivar's landfall, in Chennai, India, November 25, 2020. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar
    CHENNAI, India (Reuters) – A severe cyclone slammed into India’s southern coast early on Thursday, killing at least five people and uprooting trees and power lines.
    Cyclone Nivar made landfall near the city of Puducherry, located near the southern state of Tamil Nadu, with winds of up to 130 km per hour (81 miles per hour), according to the India Meteorological Department.
    Heavy rains from the storm caused flooding in some streets of the city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s largest city which is home to many large automobile manufacturers, according to a Reuters witness.
    The storm caused at least five deaths in and around Chennai from trees falling, drowning and electrocution, the Times of India reported.
    A spokesman for the chief minister’s office declined to comment on the reported deaths.
    Local administration workers have been working to remove fallen trees and power lines, city corporation officials said on Twitter.
    People in Velachery, a low-lying suburb of Chennai, said the storm’s impact was mitigated by steps taken by the government ahead of the storm, compared to the hundreds of deaths during floods in 2015.
    “The situation was terrible here during the floods in 2015.    This year, because of the precautions taken, the situation has not been that bad,” said S. Sakthivel, a shopkeeper in Velachery.
    More than a hundred cars were parked on the edge of a bridge in Velachery to keep them above the floodwaters, according to a Reuters witness.
    While rains are expected to subside in Tamil Nadu, heavy precipitation is expected in the Rayalaseema region of the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
    The streets around the Lord Venkateshwara temple, one of the world’s richest, in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh, were flooded and officials were working to drain the water, the New Indian Express newspaper reported.
    Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Tamil Nadu ahead of the storm’s landfall, a state minister said on Wednesday.
    The Meteorological Department said Nivar’s intensity had dropped to 85 to 95 kph (53 to 59 mph) and is expected to weaken further.
GRAPHIC: Cyclone Nivar – https://graphics.reuters.com/ASIA-STORM/xegvbqbzypq/Nivar.jpg
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Christian Schmollinger and Michael Perry)

11/27/2020 Eight Dead After Cyclone Hits Somalia’s Puntland, Spread Of Locusts Feared
Cyclone Gati seen over Ras Hafun, Somalia November 22, 2020. NASA Earth Observatory/Handout via REUTERS
    GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – A cyclone that hit parts of Somalia this week killed eight people and displaced thousands, flooded farmlands and could worsen a locust plague, an official and United Nations agencies said.
    The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Thursday Tropical Cyclone Gati made landfall in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on Sunday and subsided on Tuesday, but moderate and light rain continues to fall.
    Eight Yemeni fishermen had been killed by the cyclone, Mohamed Yusuf Boli, commissioner for the coastal district of Hafun told Reuters.
    “It also destroyed many boats and houses.    The town is in water and in bad situation,” Boli added.
    In addition to the deaths, UNOCHA said the cyclone had displaced 42,000 people from their homes.
    “The cyclone has disrupted livelihoods by destroying fishing gear, killing livestock, and flooding agricultural land and crops,” the agency said in a report.
    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said earlier this week the cyclone could also allow immature desert locust swarms in Hargeisa and Jigjiga in Ethiopia to mature faster and lay eggs.
    The effect of the cyclone could also be to let the swarms to move south east to Ogaden region and lay eggs there too, the FAO said.
    The insect plague hitting Somalia is part of a once-in-a-generation succession of swarms that have swept across East Africa and the Red Sea region since late 2019, driven by unusual weather patterns.
(Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Toby Chopra)

10/28/2020 Europe sets deal to net space trash by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BERLIN – The European Space Agency said it is signing a $102 million
contract with a Swiss start-up company to bring a large piece of orbital trash back to Earth.
    The agency said Thursday that the deal with ClearSpace SA will lead to the “first active debris removal mission” in 2025, in which a custom-made spacecraft will capture and bring down part of a rocket once used to deliver a satellite into orbit.
    Experts have long warned that hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris circling the planet – including an astronaut’s lost mirror – pose a threat to functioning satellites and even the International Space Station.    Several teams are working on ways to tackle the problem.
    When spacecraft are launched through the atmosphere and achieve orbit, it is possible that the craft will lose pieces.    Other bits such as hatches and equipment covers are jettisoned when the craft reaches its station.    Over the decades of space exploration, hundreds of rockets have passed through the region where trash can accumulate.
    The nature of orbital ballistics dictates when the material, whether large or small, will settle back to earth, usually burning up while reentering the atmosphere.
    Space agencies around the world calculate the orbits of the floating trash cloud in order to launch new spacecraft safely.
    The object being removed from orbit is a Vespa payload adapter that was used to hold and then release a satellite in 2013.    It weighs about 247 pounds.

11/29/2020 NASA Begins Assembling ‘Artemis’ Rocket For 2021 Launch by OAN Newsroom
30th Anniversary Of Apollo 11 Landing On The Moon (9 Of 20): Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module Pilot, Is
Photographed Walking Near The Lunar Module During The Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity. (Photo By Nasa/Getty Images)
    NASA is beginning to prepare the launch system for the ‘Artemis’ moon mission next year.
    On Tuesday, NASA announced the start of assembly for the rocket, which will be used to take the first woman to the moon.    The launch is scheduled for 2021.
    The first booster engine was completed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for the ‘Artemis’ program’s unmanned maiden voyage.
    The trip will act as a test run for the technology slated to be apart of the manned ‘Artemis’ rocket.
    “So the Artemis program is our lunar exploration program,” said astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor.    We will get to the south pole of the moon by 2024, landing the first woman and the next man.”
    It’s the first of 10 test run engines to be assembled as part of the new space launch system, which NASA hopes can be used for future trips to Mars and other deep-space missions.
    In 2021, officials are expected to make an unmanned test flight around the moon before the second mission in 2023.    This is all in preparation for the final mission, ‘Artemis three,’ which will make the lunar landing in 2024.
    Since 1969, the U.S. has only made six trips crewed to the moon.    The last one took place in 1972.
    In 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency will use the next trip to gauge their ability to sustainably travel and stay on the moon.
    “We are going to take the lead, and we’re going to take a coalition of nations, to go to the moon, this time to stay,” Bridenstine said.    “That is a significant difference between what we’re doing today, and what we did back in 1969 to 1972.”
[DONT FORGET THAT IT WAS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WHO STOPPED OUR SPACE PROGRAM AND FORCED IT TO GO TO RUSSIA TO GET RIDES AND NOW IF BIDEN DOES TAKE OVER HE MAY DO IT IN BECAUSE THEY WILL NEED THE MONEY FOR THEIR PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMS AND IF SO MAYBE ELON MUSK WILL TELL THEM TO GET OUT OF THE WAY.].

11/30/2020 Canadian Indigenous Deal With KXL Oil Pipeline Took Years, Aims To Unlock Long-Term Wealth by Rod Nickel
FILE PHOTO: Deer gather at a depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp's planned Keystone XL
oil pipeline in Gascoyne, North Dakota, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester/File Photo
    WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – TC Energy Corp’s sale of a C$1 billion ($769 million) stake in Keystone XL (KXL) to a Canadian indigenous group is the result of over three years of pressure from a tiny Saskatchewan First Nation that demanded part ownership of the long-delayed oil pipeline, rather than short-term payments for allowing it to be built through its lands.
    Natural Law Energy’s (NLE) planned investment was billed by TC as the biggest-ever indigenous investment in an oil project, highlighting how some communities are seeking to share in the industry’s profits while others oppose it.
    Adding indigenous support may help efforts by Canada and TC to convince U.S. President-elect Joe Biden not to revoke the permit of the $8-billion Keystone XL when he takes office as he has promised.
    If they are successful, millions of dollars will flow over a generation into indigenous communities to help youth afford university or pay for business investments, said Chief Alvin Francis of Nekaneet First Nation in Saskatchewan, one of five involved in NLE.
    “It’s about making life better for all of our youth,” Francis said.
    “If I could meet Joe Biden I’d say, ‘This a chance for you to change my First Nation’s view of the world.'
    TC proposed KXL 12 years ago and the project has since run into a steady series of legal and political obstacles, opposed by some U.S. tribes, landowners and environmental activists.
    Nekaneet, a community of about 540 people, has never been involved in a deal of this scale, having previously developed a strip mall.
    It joined four First Nations – Ermineskin, Akamihk, Louis Bull Tribe and Little Pine – to form NLE.    The coalition has attracted interest from banks in financing TC’s project, given that much of its shipping capacity is already under contract, said NLE director Brian Mountain.    He declined to identify the banks.
    “What we’re doing is creating intergenerational wealth,” Mountain said.
    NLE is talking with Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp, a provincial corporation, about guaranteeing some of the loans, he said.
    Spokespeople for Canada’s six big banks declined to comment or did not respond.    There is precedent for banks supporting indigenous investments in energy, such as a C$545 million bond issue for two bands in 2017 to invest in a Suncor Energy Inc storage facility.
    Financing is set to close in the third quarter next year, likely well after Biden clarifies his position on KXL, easing risk for the First Nations, said Ken Coates, a professor of public policy at University of Saskatchewan.
    Francis said while there is risk Biden will quash KXL, he is optimistic his position will soften.
LONG-TERM DEAL
    He said he asked TC in 2017 for a benefits-sharing agreement that would last KXL’s lifetime.    TC balked, but in late 2019 it contacted Francis and asked if Nekaneet would buy a stake.
    That began a year of negotiations and development of the coalition.
    Under the deal, TC would give NLE a stake and pay it a prescribed annual return in exchange for NLE raising funds and investing them in KXL, Mountain said.
    NLE would use the proceeds to repay loans for its investment and provide cash to its First Nations for 30 years.
    The payments will be based on KXL’s revenues.    Mountain and TC declined to estimate the payments’ value and TC did not confirm NLE’s account of the deal’s structure, saying it was confidential.
    For TC, the investment allows the company to tie up less of its own capital, after recently selling a stake in its Coastal GasLink pipeline to private equity.
    The partnership reflects TC’s commitment to sharing KXL’s benefits with indigenous communities in both Canada and the United States, company spokesman Terry Cunha said.
    Some oppose new pipelines for the toll fossil fuels have on the environment.
    “Destroying the planet to make money is unconscionable, no matter who is making the money,” said Steve Volker, lawyer for U.S.-based Indigenous Environmental Network.
($1 = 1.3000 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Additional reporting by Nichola Saminather and Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Marguerita Choy)

12/2/2020 Chinese robot lands on moon by Joe McDonald, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BEIJING – A Chinese robot probe sent to return lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s landed on the moon Tuesday, the government announced, adding to a string of increasingly bold space missions by Beijing.
    The Chang’e 5 probe “successfully landed” at its planned site, state TV and news agencies reported, citing the China National Space Administration.    They didn’t immediately announce any more details.
    The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical southern island of Hainan, is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that fired a human into orbit in 2003, has a probe en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.
    Plans call for the robot lander to drill into the lunar surface and load 4.4 pounds of rocks and debris into an ascent stage that will blast off to return them to Earth.
    If it succeeds, it will be the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since a Soviet probe in the 1970s.
    The Chang’e 5 flight is China’s third successful lunar landing.    Its predecessor, Chang’e 4, became the first probe to land on the moon’s little-explored far side.
    The latest flight includes collaboration with the European Space Agency, which is helping to monitor the mission.
    China’s space program has proceeded more cautiously than the U.S.Soviet space race of the 1960s, which was marked by fatalities and launch failures.

12/2/2020 China Successfully Lands Spacecraft On Moon To Retrieve Lunar Rocks
FILE PHOTO: The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space
Launch Center, in Wenchang, Hainan province, China November 24, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
    BEIJING (Reuters) – China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon’s surface on Tuesday in a historic mission to retrieve lunar surface samples, Chinese state media reported.
    China launched its Chang’e-5 probe on Nov. 24.    The uncrewed mission, named after the mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, aims to collect lunar material to help scientists learn more about the moon’s origins.
    The mission will attempt to collect 2 kg (4-1/2 lbs) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or “Ocean of Storms.”
    If the mission is completed as planned, it would make China the third nation to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.
    The lander vehicle that touched down on the moon’s surface was one of several spacecraft deployed by the Chang’e-5 probe.
    Upon landing, the lander vehicle is supposed to drill into the ground with a robotic arm, then transfer its soil and rock samples to an ascender vehicle that would lift off and dock with an orbiting module.
    State broadcaster CCTV said it would start collecting samples on the lunar surface in the next two days.    The samples would be transferred to a return capsule for the trip back to Earth, landing in China’s Inner Mongolia region.
    China made its first lunar landing in 2013.    In January last year, the Chang’e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon, the first space probe from any nation to do so.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Twinnie Siu and Tom Daly; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alex Richardson)

12/2/2020 Bushfires Threaten Tourist Areas On Australia’s Fraser Island
Smoke rises from bushfires on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia, November 30, 2020, in this still
image taken from video. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services/Handout via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian fire crews are battling massive bushfires on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, which have been burning for six weeks, forcing tourists to flee the island off the northeast coast.
    The fires have razed more than 76,000 hectares (187,800 acres), nearly half of the island, which is world heritage listed for its tropical rain forests and sand dunes.
    “Conditions remain unpredictable and can change rapidly,” the state’s emergency services said in a statement, adding that guests and staff at one of the island’s largest resorts should be prepared to leave anytime.
    Several guests were ferried off the island, also known by its indigenous name K’gari, on Tuesday as weather conditions worsened, Australian media reported.
    More than 1 million litres of water and fire-retardant gel have been dropped on the fires since Saturday, the Queensland state fire department said.
    “I think its frustrating for everybody, the fact that a campfire has started this fire. Having the impact that it has had, it started in a very, very remote part of the island… really difficult to access,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Mike Wassing told Nine News.
    Australia is baking through a major heat wave, which has been building across the country’s outback interior over the last week and now shifting to the northeast.
    Though moist conditions during the year have generally limited the threat from fires that devastated the country during the last fire season.
    Last summer’s bush fires razed more than 11 million hectares (37 million acres) of bushland, killing 33 people and billions of native animals, a disaster that Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Australia’s “black summer.”
    Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology forecast intense heat wave conditions in the inland areas of Queensland state on Wednesday with temperatures expected to be well above 40 degree Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit) but sea breezes will keep the weather cooler close to the coast.
    Total fire bans have been enforced in several parts of the northeast amid the first major heat wave of Australia’s bush fire season, which usually runs from late southern hemisphere spring through summer.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Michael Perry)

12/2/2020 Massive Puerto Rico Telescope Featured In James Bond Movie Collapses by Joey Roulette
A view of the structure of the telescope at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory following
its collapse in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Gabriella Baez
    (Reuters) – A massive radio telescope at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory – one of the world’s largest – collapsed on Tuesday after sustaining severe damage since August, officials said, following 57 years of astronomical discoveries.
    The deteriorating telescope’s 900-ton instrument platform, suspended by cables 450 feet (137 meters) above a 1,000-foot-wide (305 meters) bowl-shaped reflector dish, fell on Tuesday morning, the U.S. National Science Foundation said. No injuries were reported, it added.
    The telescope – which received radio waves from space – had been used by scientists around the world to hunt for possible signatures of extraterrestrial life, study distant planets and find potentially hazardous asteroids.    It also gained fame after pivotal scenes in the 1995     James Bond film “GoldenEye” starring Pierce Brosnan were shot there.
    Two cables supporting the reflector dish had broken since August, causing damage and forcing officials to close the observatory as engineering firms retained by the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory, studied ways to repair the damage.
    In November, the engineering reviews led the NSF and the university to conclude that efforts to repair the structure would be too dangerous and that it would have to be demolished.
    The NSF said that initial findings indicated that the top section of all three of the telescope’s support towers broke off and that as the instrument platform fell, the telescope’s support cables also plummeted.
    The observatory also includes other scientific assets such as a 40-foot (12-meter) telescope used for radio astronomy research and a facility used to study the Earth’s upper atmosphere and ionosphere.    The observatory’s learning center, located next to the telescope, sustained significant damage from falling cables, the NSF said.
    “We are saddened by this situation but thankful that no one was hurt,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in a statement.    “Our focus is now on assessing the damage, finding ways to restore operations at other parts of the observatory, and working to continue supporting the scientific community, and the people of Puerto Rico.”
    The NSF said it will authorize the university to continue paying Arecibo staff and to come up with a plan to continue research at the observatory.    The agency said it has not determined the cause of the initial cable failure in August.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham)

12/2/2020 2020 Likely World’s Second Hottest Year, U.N. Says by Emma Farge
FILE PHOTO: The morning sun rises over a neighborhood as a heatwave continues during the outbreak of the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) in Encinitas, California, U.S., August 19, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – This year is on track to be the second hottest on record, behind 2016, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.
    Five data sets currently place 2020, a year characterised by heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and raging hurricanes, as the second warmest since records began in 1850.
    “2020 is very likely to be one of the three warmest years on record globally,” the Geneva-based U.N. agency said in its State of the Global     Climate in 2020 report. (Report: https://bit.ly/2KPSVTJ)
    Stoked by extreme heat, wildfires flared across Australia, Siberia and the United States this year, sending smoke plumes around the globe.
    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University in New York that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are to blame and policies have yet to rise to the challenge.
    “To put it simply the state of the planet is broken,” Guterres said.    “Humanity is waging war on nature.    This is suicidal,” he said.
    A less visible sign of change was a surge in marine heat to record levels, with more than 80% of the global ocean experiencing a marine heatwave, the WMO said.
    “2020 has, unfortunately, been yet another extraordinary year for our climate,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, urging more efforts to curb the emissions.
    Greenhouse gas concentrations climbed to a new record in 2019 and have risen so far this year despite an expected drop in emissions due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the WMO said last month.
    The latest WMO report said the global mean temperature was around 1.2 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 baseline between January and October this year, placing it second behind 2016 and marginally ahead of 2019.
    Hot years have typically been associated with El Niño, a natural event that releases heat from the Pacific Ocean.    However, this year coincides with La Niña which has the opposite effect and cools temperatures.
    The WMO will confirm the data in March 2021.
    A climate pact agreed in Paris five years ago compels countries to make efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, above which scientists warn of catastrophic climate change.
    While it is not the same as crossing that long-term warming threshold, the WMO says there is at least a one in five chance of temperatures temporarily, on an annual basis, exceeding that level by 2024.
    Guterres said that last year natural disasters related to climate change cost the world $150 billion, and that air and water pollution are killing 9 million people annually. He urged world leaders to align global finance behind the Paris pact, to commit to reaching net zero emissions, and to fund efforts to adapt to climate change.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Mark Potter and Lisa Shumaker)

12/3/2020 UN report: World needs to do more to halt global warming - Continued production of fossil fuels has hastened move toward ‘catastrophic’ levels of warming by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    We’ve got to do a better job of stopping global warming, a new report says.
    The report, released Wednesday by the United Nations and several other research groups, says the world isn’t doing nearly enough to rein in fossil fuel production to the level that’s needed to halt “catastrophic” levels of global warming.
    In fact, countries around the world are poised to pump out over 120% more fossil fuels than needed to meet the Paris Climate Agreement.    The report said that to meet the Paris goals, countries would need to wind down fossil fuel production by 6% a year over the coming decade.
    “Five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the world is still far from meeting its climate goals,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said.
    “This year’s devastating forest fires, floods and droughts and other unfolding extreme weather events serve as powerful reminders for why we must succeed in tackling the climate crisis,” she said.
    President Donald Trump formally withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement in November, but President-elect Joe Biden has said the U.S. would rejoin the accord on his first day in office.    The report, launched in 2019, measures the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned production of coal, oil and gas.    Burning fossil fuels produces emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that cause global warming.    Instead of reducing production, countries are planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production needed to reach the 1.5-degree Celsius limit set by the Paris Agreement.    “The research is abundantly clear that we face severe climate disruption if countries continue to produce fossil fuels at current levels, let alone at their planned increases,” said Michael Lazarus, study co-author.    “The research is similarly clear on the solution: government policies that decrease both the demand and supply for fossil fuels and support communities currently dependent on them.”
    Experts agree that the longer countries burn fossil fuels, the more warming will be “locked in” as emissions stay in the atmosphere for years.
    In the U.S., while the nation undergoes a major shift from coal – production estimates are dropping by 103 million tons a year compared with 2019 estimates – that is offset by increases in projected oil and gas production.
    The report said COVID-19 recovery money has been disproportionately allocated to fossil fuel development rather than into the clean energy industry.    As of mid-November, the G20 governments had committed more than $233 billion to fossil fuel production and related activities compared with about $150 billion for clean fuels.
    Like many sectors, oil and gas have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with initial estimates dropping fossil fuel production by up to 7% on the year, according to the report.    But the production drop is probably temporary unless countries and industry players change their ways.
    “This report is a vivid reminder that we are far off track for averting the worst impacts of climate change,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
[NOTED THAT THE IMAGE ABOVE IS MOST LIKELY NOT IN THE UNITED STATES SO FEEL FREE TO TELL OTHER COUNTRIES TO STOP POLLUTING SINCE THE UNITED STATES IS NOT DOING THAT AND TRUMP TOOK US OUT OF IT BECAUSE WE WERE PAYING MORE MONEY AND THE REST OF THE WORLD PAID VERY LITTLE AND ARE POLLUTING LIKE YOU SEE ABOVE.].

12/3/2020 Calif. Authorities Issue Red Flag Warning Amid High Risk Fire Conditions by OAN Newsroom
A firefighter battles the Bond Fire in Silverado, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
    As multiple fires continue to rage in California, the state faces a wave of dry winds and low humidity levels, which raises concerns about another heavy round of major wildfires.
    A ‘red flag warning,’ which is extremely rare this late in the year, is already in place for parts of Southern California.
    The warning is expected to stay in place through the weekend as the dry Santa Ana winds are expected to blow across the parched region.    As a precaution, utility companies in the region braced for such threats by cutting electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes on Wednesday evening.
    Experts said the powerful winds could reach speeds as high as 75 miles-per-hour.    These winds have the potential to knock over hazardous power lines, which have been known to cause major wildfires in the past.
    2020 has already been the most destructive year in the Golden State’s history for wildfires as more than four million acres have been torched over the course of the summer alone.
    Meanwhile, as residents hope for wetter weather in the coming winter months, multiple fires continue to burn.
    On Wednesday, the ‘Willow Fire‘ erupted near San Diego.    This prompted numerous evacuation orders as the blaze threatened multiple homes.
    “We did see some flames. We had some friends down the hill a little bit and some flames were coming up over that side too,” a San Diego resident stated.    “We’ve been here 20 years and you kind of wonder if this is gonna happen because anytime you live on a hillside, you get a lot of wind.”
    Calfire reported the flames spread rapidly by covering 25 acres in just a few hours.    After firefighters worked to contain the spread through Thursday morning, evacuation orders were lifted though the fire has not yet been completely contained.
In the meantime, fire crews also battled the ‘Bond Fire‘ in Silverado Canyon near Los Angeles.
    Evacuation orders were announced for nearby residents after a house fire sparked the blaze Wednesday night.    The flames have already spread thousands of acres.
As the forecast does not show any wet weather expected in the near future, officials considered issuing a red flag warning in northern     California as well.    Weather experts said after the especially devastating year the state has had, the Bay Area is 95 percent behind where it should be in the rainfall season.    The area needs at least 2.5 inches of rain to return to normal.

12/6/2020 Australia Bushfire Threatens Township On World Heritage-Listed Fraser Island
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows bushfires on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia, in this still image
taken from video released on December 2, 2020. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Residents of a coastal township on Australia’s World Heritage-listed Fraser Island were told to evacuate on Sunday as a bushfire approached.
    Since it was sparked by an illegal campfire seven weeks ago, the blaze has blackened half the island off Australia’s north eastern coast, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef and famed for a tropical rainforest on sand dunes, and inland lakes.
    “Leaving immediately is the safest option, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive,” Queensland state’s Fire and Emergency Services said on social media.    “Any persons in the vicinity of Happy Valley township should leave the area.”
    Australia has been experiencing hotter and longer summers, with last season dubbed “Black Summer” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison due to unusually prolonged and intense bushfires that burned nearly 12 million hectares (30 million acres) and killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by William Mallard)

12/8/2020 Arctic Warming Cascades Through Ocean And Over Land, U.S. Report Says by Yereth Rosen
FILE PHOTO: Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship navigates through floating ice in the Arctic Ocean, September 15, 2020.
Picture taken September 15, 2020. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Natalie Thomas/File Photo
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The Arctic region has had its second-warmest year since 1900, continuing a pattern of extreme heat, ice melt and environmental transformation at the top of the world, scientists reported Tuesday.
    In the 15th annual Arctic Report Card, released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), researchers detail the stark ways in which climate change is altering the long-frozen region.
    “Taken as a whole, the story is unambiguous,” Alaska-based climate scientist Rick Thoman, one of the report’s editors, said in a statement.
    “The transformation of the Arctic to a warmer, less frozen and biologically changed region is well underway.”
    Among the milestones hit this year was the second-lowest minimum sea ice extent in the satellite record, at 3.74 million square kilometers reached on Sept. 15.    That was beaten only by the low in 2012, when a late-season cyclonic storm broke up much of that year’s remaining ice.
    The minimum sea ice extent has never risen above its level in 2007 since then.
    “When the report card started 15 years ago, I wrote about how low it was then.    But I’d trade that low for what we’re seeing now any day,” said co-author Donald Perovich, a sea ice geophysicist at Dartmouth University.    The September average extent this year was 3.9 million square kilometers. In 2005, it was 5.6 million square kilometers.
    The sea ice is also thinner, younger and more fragile and vanishing sea ice is leading to warmer Arctic waters, the report said, as sunlight permeated the ocean rather than bouncing off the white surface of ice.
    Mean sea-surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean in August were 1 degree to 3 degrees Celsius above the 1982-to-2010 average, the report said, with “exceptionally warm” temperatures seen in the Laptev and Kara seas off Russia early in the year.
    “We’re starting to see more of these feedbacks,” Perovich told Reuters.    Research on the Arctic now “is more than an intellectual exercise in understanding nature.    These changes are having consequences for people living today.”
    The warmer waters were also connected to warmer air over Arctic lands, triggering glacial melt along the fringes of the Arctic Ocean.    A record-hot summer in Siberia, linked to climate change, led to massive wildfires in the area as well as delaying the refreezing of the Arctic Ocean.
    It also led to the lowest June snow cover in Eurasia since records began in 1967, the report said.    Overall, the annual snow cover on land has been decreasing since 1981 at a rate of 3.7 percent per decade – with an even steeper decrease of 15 percent per decade for the May-June period, the report said.
    From year to year, the warming trend has shifted to focus on different areas around the Arctic.    This year’s warmth centered around Siberia.    In 2019, the hotspots were around the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska, with soaring water temperatures and widespread bird and mammal die-offs recorded.
    Water entering the ocean from melting glaciers and the ice sheet covering Greenland is raising global sea levels.    In 2019, the most recent year for which glacier data is available – and a record-hot year in Alaska – the state’s glaciers lost more mass than in any other year on record, the report card said.
(Aditional reporting by Katy Daigle; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

12/8/2020 Flint, Mich. Nearly Done Removing Lead Lines From City, According To Officials by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2016 file photo, water analysis test kits for Flint, Mich., residents to pick up for lead testing
in their drinking water are set out on a table at Flint Fire Department Station No. 1 as members of the
U.S. Army National Guard 125th Infantry Battalion wait to help residents. (Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press via AP, File)
    Officials in Flint, Michigan said they are making progress in resolving the city’s lead contamination crisis.    In the press conference on Monday, Mayor Sheldon Neeley and EPA official Kurt Thiede confirmed they have replaced thousands of lead service lines.
    “The EPA first provided $100 million in grant funding for water infrastructure improvements throughout the city and the state contributed another $20 million for that effort,” Thiede stated.    “That money has allowed for the completion of over 26,000 service line excavations, resulting in replacement of over 9,700 lead service lines.”
    The improvements came in compliance with a 2016 emergency order from the EPA to upgrade the city’s water system.    The order was issued after the city gained national attention in 2014 when it switched its water source from treatment plants in Detroit to the Flint River.
    The move caused dangerous levels of lead to find its way into the water supply.    Officials said things are finally starting to look good again for the city.
    “We’re going through and making sure that we do a thorough check, making sure that no one was missed in having this opportunity to have the lead service lines removed from their homes,” Thiede explained.    “But right now, we have fewer than 500 before we get to our completion goal.”
    However, Mayor Neeley warned there is still a lot of work to do.
    “Though the technology is saying that we’re better, but the psychological impact of having poor water quality for a long period of time still exists,” said the mayor.    “So, there is still a crisis in confidence and that’s not going to be resolved overnight.”
    Meanwhile, Flint is facing more than 100 lawsuits stemming from alleged damages to thousands of its residents due to the citywide contamination.

12/9/2020 Giant Iceberg On Course To Collide With South Atlantic Penguin Colony Island by Cassandra Garrison
A view of the A-68A iceberg from a Royal Air Force reconnaissance plane near South George island, November 18, 2020. Picture taken
November 18, 2020. UK Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
    (Reuters) -An enormous iceberg is heading toward South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic, where scientists say a collision could devastate wildlife by threatening the food chain.
    Scientists have long been watching this climate-related event unfold, as the iceberg – about the same size as the island itself – has meandered and advanced over two years since breaking off from the Antarctic peninsula in July 2017.
    The peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, registering a record high temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius (69.35 degrees Fahrenheit) on Feb. 9.    The warming has scientists concerned about ice melt and collapse leading to higher sea levels worldwide.
    The gigantic iceberg – dubbed A68a – is on a path to collide with South Georgia Island, a remote British overseas territory off the southern tip of South America. Whether that collision is days or weeks away is unclear, as the iceberg has sped up and slowed down with the ocean currents along the way, said Geraint Tarling, a biological oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey who has been tracking the icy mass.
    A collision, while looking increasingly likely, could still be avoided if the currents carry the iceberg past the island, Tarling said.
    The currents “still have the power to take this iceberg in one direction or another away from South Georgia,” Tarling said in an interview on Wednesday.    “But it is really, really close, less than 50 kilometers away from the south shelf edge.    That’s getting so close that it’s almost inevitable.”
    Images captured by a British Royal Air Force aircraft and released on Tuesday show the magnitude of the monstrous, 4,200-square-km (1,620-square-mile) iceberg, its surface carved with tunnels, cracks and fissures.    A number of smaller ice chunks can be seen floating nearby.
    “The sheer size of the A68a iceberg means it is impossible to capture its entirety in one single shot,” British officials said in a statement.
    Still, the berg is diminished from its original size of 5,800 square km (2,240 square miles), measured when the mass broke off from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf 2-1/2 years ago.
    Scientists fear that the iceberg, in hitting the island, could crush marine life on the sea floor, including coral, sponges and plankton. Should it lodge at the island’s flank, it could block seals along with the island’s 2 million penguins from their normal foraging routes.
    Some species, like King penguins, travel for up to 16 days to find food.    If the berg gets in the way, that foraging trip could take longer.
    “And that’s unlikely to be sustainable.    The chicks will start to lose mass,” Norman Ratcliffe, a seabird biologist in the Ecosystems Division of the British Antarctic Survey, said in an interview on Wednesday.
    A68a could also be an obstacle to government ships conducting fishery patrols and surveillance around South Georgia and the nearby South Sandwich Islands, British officials said.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Katy Daigle, Alexandra Hudson and Jonathan Oatis)

12/9/2020 Israel Plans 2024 Moonshot After First Unmanned Lander Crashed
FILE PHOTO: Members of Israeli non-profit group SpaceIL and representatives from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) do a selfie in front
of a model of Beresheet spacecraft, near the control room, in Yahud, Israel April 11, 2019 REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo/File Photo
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will try another unmanned lunar landing in early 2024 after its first attempt ended last year with the spacecraft crashing on the moon’s surface, officials said on Wednesday.
    The new project, named “Beresheet 2,” will involve launching two landing craft and an orbiter that would circle the moon for years, conducting experiments and collecting data on behalf of school students, Israel’s Science Ministry said in statement.
    Hoping to become the fourth country to carry out a controlled lunar landing, Israel in early 2019 launched “Beresheet” – Hebrew for “Genesis” and the opening words, “In the beginning,” of the biblical book – from Cape Canaveral.
    But the dishwasher-sized robotic spacecraft crashed during the final approach, with engineers blaming technical failure.
    Like that project, Beresheet 2 will cost around $100 million raised from international partnerships and donors, and will involve state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Israeli non-profit space venture SpaceIL, the ministry said.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

12/9/2020 New York State Pension Fund Sets 2040 Goal Of Net Zero Carbon Emissions by Timothy Gardner and Sohini Podder
FILE PHOTO: Wind turbines operate at sunrise in the Permian Basin oil and natural gas
production area in Big Spring, Texas, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo
    (Reuters) -The New York state pension fund on Wednesday committed to help curb climate change by transitioning its investments to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, making it the first U.S. pension fund to set the goal by that date.
    New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the move will put the fund, the third largest in the country, in a strong position for the future of a green economy mapped out in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate.
    President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris accord soon after his inauguration on Jan. 20.
    The fund will review its energy company investments for their ability to provide returns in light of the need to take action to curb climate change, he said.
    “Those that fail to meet our minimum standards may be removed from our portfolio,” DiNapoli said in a statement.
    Divestment is a “last resort,” he said, but it is also a tool the fund can use to push companies to invest in technologies that reduce emissions.
    The New York state Common Retirement Fund, which has an estimated valuation of about $226 billion, is wrapping up its evaluation of nine oil sands companies, mainly in Canada and Russia, and will develop minimum standards for investments in shale oil and gas.
    This will be followed by a review of sectors including integrated oil and gas, oil and gas exploration, production, storage and transportation.     The fund had about $2.6 billion invested in fossil fuels as of September.
    The state fund joins a growing list of financial sector players who are cutting their exposure to carbon intensive projects and companies.
    It has already set minimum standards for the thermal coal mining industry and divested from about $40 million from 22 coal companies, DiNapoli said.
    The fund has a climate solutions plan to double investments in things like wind and solar power to $20 billion this decade and so far has about $11 billion invested, DiNapoli said.
    The fund will decide which companies are suitable to remain in its portfolio by 2025.
    Environmentalists praised the move.
    “We hope this commitment … will help to inspire and ratchet up ambition across the broader investment community,” said Mindy Lubber, head of the sustainability nonprofit Ceres.
(Reporting by Sohini Podder and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Bill Berkrot and Marguerita Choy)

12/10/2020 SpaceX’s Starship Prototype Explodes On Landing After Test Launch by Joey Roulette
SpaceX launches its first super heavy-lift Starship SN8 rocket during a test from
their facility in Boca Chica,Texas, U.S. December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – SpaceX’s Starship prototype exploded while attempting to land on Wednesday after an otherwise successful test launch from the company’s rocket facility in Boca Chica, Texas, live video of the flight showed.
    The Starship rocket destroyed in the accident was a 16-story-tall prototype for the heavy-lift launch vehicle being developed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private space company to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.
    The self-guided rocket blew up as it touched down on a landing pad following a controlled descent.    The test flight had been intended to reach an altitude of 41,000 feet, propelled by three of SpaceX’s newly developed Raptor engines for the first time.    But the company left unclear whether the rocket had flown that high.
    Musk said in a tweet immediately following the landing mishap that the rocket’s “fuel header tank pressure was low” during descent, “causing touchdown velocity to be high.”
    He added that SpaceX had obtained “all the data we needed” from the test and hailed the rocket’s ascent phase a success.
SpaceX made its first attempt to launch Starship on Tuesday, but a problem with its Raptor engines forced an automatic abort just one second before liftoff.
    The complete Starship rocket, which will stand 394-feet (120.09 meters) tall when mated with its super-heavy first-stage booster, is the company’s next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle – the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel more affordable and routine.
    NASA awarded SpaceX $135 million to help develop Starship, alongside competing vehicles from rival ventures Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, and Leidos-owned Dynetcis.
    The three companies are vying for future contracts to build the moon landers under NASA’s Artemis program, which calls for a series of human lunar explorations within the next decade.
    Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has been buying up residential properties in the Boca Chica village situated just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern Texas to make room for his expanding Starship facilities, which Musk envisions as a future “gateway to Mars.”
    Musk has faced resistance from Boca Chica residents unwilling to sell their homes.
(Reporting by Joey Roulettee in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates)

12/10/2020 1 Killed, 2 Injured In W.VA. Chemical Plant Explosion by OAN Newsroom
One person died and at least three others were injured following an explosion
that occurred in a chemical plant in Belle, West Virginia. (REUTERS Photo)
    One person is dead and at least two others are injured following a chemical plant explosion in West Virginia.    The explosion happened late Tuesday at the Optima Belle Chemical Plant in the town of Belle, which is located about 10 miles southeast of the capital city of Charleston.
    The incident prompted a shelter-in-place order in a two mile radius around the plant.    It has since been lifted.    The explosion was reportedly heard and felt as far away as neighboring towns.
    “I’ve never felt anything like this…it was a very tense jolt inside of your body and this is in your house,” recounted Marmet Mayor Jay Snodgrass.    “I know it was a little lengthy on the shelter-in-place, but it was very warranted…that is part of the whole planning process to make sure nothing else happens.”
    According to reports, the man who died was identified by family members as a chemical operator.     The explosion was reportedly caused by a metal dryer that became over pressurized.    The incident remains under investigation.

12/10/2020 Radiation Levels Rose Inside A Finnish Nuclear Unit - Nuclear Watchdog
Aerial view of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant area in Eurajoki, Finland December 10, 2020. A severe abnormal
disturbance occurred at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant Unit 2 that led to reactor shut down. Lehtikuva/Tomi
Glad/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. FINLAND OUT.
    HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s nuclear safety authority said on Thursday that radiation levels had risen following an incident at the Olkiluoto 2 nuclear unit in western Finland but there was no radioactivity leakage outside and the situation was under control.
    “There are no indications of a fuel leak from the incident and there are no longer any exceptional radiation levels inside the plant,” the authority, STUK, said in a statement.
    It said it had been informed of elevated radiation levels at the reactor at around 1 p.m. (1100 GMT).
    “This is a significant and an exceptional incident and we consider it important to spread correct information about it,” Finland’s minister of social affairs and health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen told reporters.
    The elevated readings stemmed from a room regularly showing higher values during normal operations, and no power company employees had been exposed to radiation or were injured, it added.
    Jarmo Tanhua, CEO of the nuclear power plant operator TVO, said the incident was an unparalleled event in the facility’s history.    TVO is a consortium of power and industrial companies.
    The International Atomic Energy Agency said STUK had informed it of the incident and that it would provide public information as it became available.
    Olkiluoto 2, which has a capacity of 890 megawatts, shut down and would remain offline until Saturday, according to information posted by TVO via power exchange Nord Pool.
    “They have to check that everything is OK and then they have to have our permit from STUK to start the reactor again,” Tomi Routamo, deputy director of STUK, told Reuters.
    TVO was investigating the cause of the radiation spike, which may have originated from contaminated filter material reaching the coolant system, he added.
    Intraday power prices in Finland spiked as high as 2,000 euros ($2,426) per megawatt hour following the incident, Nord Pool data showed.
($1 = 0.8245 euros)
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki and Nora Buli in Oslo; Editing by Jane Merriman and Dan Grebler)

12/11/2020 Bushfires In A Wet Year Have Australia’s Scientists Looking To Climate Change by Byron Kaye
FILE PHOTO: A firefighter is seen as New South Wales Rural Fire Service personnel conduct a controlled burn to eliminate fuels
before the upcoming bushfire season in the Arcadia suburb of Sydney, Australia, September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – In a summer that was supposed to be unusually cool and wet, Australian builder Rob Lye did not expect to be trapped by a bushfire on sub-tropical Fraser Island and battling with his neighbours to protect their homes.
    With climate change overriding some of Australia’s more moderating weather forces, scientists say wildfires like the one that tore through half of the island’s forest in recent weeks are increasingly likely.
    “We just found a safe spot to settle and rest while the fire was burning,” said Lye, 52, of the island’s Happy Valley township.
    “It wasn’t pleasant,” he said, adding that the local community, many of whom opted against following an evacuation order, saved all 50 or so houses before sheltering for safety as fire tore through the island on Monday.
    The first major bushfires of the 2020-21 fire season first broke out in the southern hemisphere spring even as Australia was still recovering from last season’s record infernos, which not long ago would have been considered a once-in-a-generation event.
    Research released in March found that human-caused global warming made the 2019-20 fires at least 30% more likely to occur.
    “For any specific event, it’s actually very difficult to say ‘the dry condition and the fire is attributable to climate change’,” said Wenju Cai, a climate scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
    “But one thing we are sure of is that climate change will make soil and land dry faster,” Cai said.    “It’s the background conditions that can be attributed to climate change.”
    The fire on Fraser Island burned through 80,000 hectares (198,000 acres) of wilderness on the heritage-listed island off the country’s northeast.    The fact that fire could do so much damage in a La Nina year – which normally brings high rainfall and lower temperatures – offers yet another sign that global warming is making Australian weather less predictable.
    “What we’re seeing at Fraser Island I haven’t seen in my lifetime,” said Richie Merzian, climate and energy director at think tank The Australia Institute.
    “That doesn’t mean that it is a direct manifestation of climate change, but we know that (climate change) is definitely part of the picture, and it is making these things worse.”
PERFECT STORM
    There were signs that 2020 would not be a typical La Nina before the Fraser Island fire sparked in mid-October.    The country was experiencing its hottest spring on record, and rainfall over southeast Queensland, home of Fraser Island, was “well below average,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.
    Australia has had nine of its 10 hottest years on record since 2005, prompting authorities to warn that fire risk will continue to grow. This year is also on track to feature among the hottest years on record.
    There is a “very clear linkage” between climate change and high temperatures, low humidity and dry fuel – the main ingredients of bushfire risk, said Mark Howden, director of Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute and vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    On Fraser Island, property owners like Lye said their efforts were helped by planning a year earlier, when fires destroyed millions of hectares in the country’s southeast.
    Residents want to get permission for controlled burns, to diminish forest fuel and reduce wildfire hazards.    But securing permission for such burns is difficult on Fraser Island, home to the world’s only tropical forest that grows on sand.
    With the island’s wildfire now coming under control, evacuees have been able to return to survey the damage.     “I was in tears because I didn’t realise how close it had come.    It literally had burned to the grass on the edge of all the houses,” said Elspeth Murray, head of the Happy Valley Community Association.
    “You fight hard on the day, and then it hits you afterwards.”
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; additional reporting by Cordelia Hsu; Editing by Katy Daigle and Michael Perry)

12/11/2020 Ahead Of U.N. Climate Summit, Urgent Calls To ‘Fix The Future’ by Matthew Green and Valerie Volcovici
FILE PHOTO: The United Nations logo is seen on a window in an empty hallway at United Nations headquarters
during the 75th annual U.N. General Assembly high-level debate, which is being held mostly virtually due
to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in New York, U.S., September 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar
    LONDON (Reuters) – When the Paris Agreement on climate change was finalized after two weeks of fraught negotiations and years of past failures, diplomats hugged and shed tears of joy.    They had haggled over verb tenses, cut deals, and in the end, brought 196 countries into the accord.
    Five years later, governments are lagging far behind in implementing the deal, struck on Dec. 12, 2015.    Annual greenhouse gas emissions hit a new high last year.    And climate change impacts are intensifying, from the thawing Arctic to raging wildfires in Australia and the U.S. West.
    “Emissions are not being reduced at the rate that science says we need,” said Alden Meyer, a longtime veteran of the U.N. talks and an analyst for the E3G climate change think-tank.
    The Paris Agreement aims to hold the rise in average global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and preferably 1.5C — a threshold beyond which climate impacts are projected to sharply intensify.
    Temperatures have already risen by more than 1C since pre-industrial times, and scientists say that the world’s fossil fuel-dependent economies will have to undergo wholesale transformation to bring those goals within reach.
    As delegates prepare for a one-day online U.N. climate summit on Saturday, negotiators point to signs of progress: rapid advances in renewable energy, growing appetite for greener investments, and pledges on emissions by the European Union and China.    U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to rejoin the accord.
    “Am I optimistic?    Yes, by choice, and by evidence,” said Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat who played a key role in brokering the Paris deal as then executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
FIX THE FUTURE
    The Paris accord makes no specific mention of the fossil fuels responsible for the bulk of planet-warming emissions.    But the implication in the 25-page text is clear: the world needs to rapidly end the 250-year reign of coal, oil and natural gas.
    Pledges so far to reduce emissions put the world on track for a catastrophic 3C or more of warming this century, with countries planning to produce double the amount of fossil fuels needed to hit the 1.5C target in the next decade alone.
    Scientists say it is now imperative that the world halve carbon emissions over the next 10 years. And government action still falls far short of that.
    “If you look at the immediate action that we need right now, it’s like we are still in a state of denial,” Swedish activist Greta Thunberg told reporters on Tuesday.
    At the summit on Saturday, diplomats will be watching for signs that countries are preparing to ramp up climate efforts ahead of a major round of U.N. climate talks in Glasgow due to take place in November 2021.
    “What we have to do is translate what we can do into what we will do – and that is where many of us worry,” said British climate economist Nicholas Stern.
    Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Paris deal is the number of countries that have begun to pledge to slash carbon emissions to net zero — meaning they will release only as much as they remove from the air — by 2050.
    “We are seeing the payoff of the push we all made in Paris,” said Meyer.    “Net-zero was a radical concept not too long ago.”
    Britain and the European Union adopted the target last year, and China – the largest emitter – surprised many in September by announcing of goal of net-zero by 2060.    Subsequent pledges by Japan and South Korea mean more than 50% of global emissions are now under net-zero targets, U.N. officials say.
    Assuming Biden adopts a similar goal after he takes office in January, and that governments do far more to keep existing pledges, warming could be held to 2.1C by 2100, according to research network Climate Action Tracker https://climateactiontracker.org/press/global-update-paris-agreement-turning-point.
    Experts say governments now have a fleeting opportunity to harness massive post-pandemic economic recovery packages to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy.    So far, however, much of that money has been spent supporting the status quo.
    Nevertheless, rapid expansion of wind and solar along with strong uptake of electric vehicles this year marked a sharp contrast with the faltering fortunes of oil and gas companies hit by collapsing demand.
    Young activists, who form the vanguard of growing global protests for climate action, aim to push even harder.
    “You already determined our present, which is obviously catastrophic,” Ugandan campaigner Vanessa Nakate said of older generations. “Now fix the future.”
(Reporting by Matthew Green in London and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels; Editing by Katy Daigle and Lisa Shumaker)

12/11/2020 House Passes Bill To Examine Consequences Of Private Drone Use Near Sites Of Active Wildfires by OAN Newsroom
A helicopter drops water while trying to keep the Bond Fire from jumping State
Route 241 in Orange County, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
    The House has passed a bill geared toward looking into the damaging effects of people flying personal drones near wildfires.    On Thursday, the lower chamber voted 382-to-six to pass the Aerial Incursion Repercussion Safety Act.
    According to the bills sponsor, Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), when people ignore no-fly orders with their drones, fire crews may be forced to ground emergency aircraft.    This, in turn, prevents them from effectively fighting the blazes.
    “In the last few years Utah and the rest of the West has been battling extreme wildfires,” he explained.    “And our federal land managers at state and local partners need every tool available to them to put these fires out.”
    The bill calls for the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service to study the effects personal drones have on firefighting efforts as well as additional costs that may be incurred by government agencies due to their use.    The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration.

12/12/2020 In Boost To Climate Action, Britain To Stop Backing Overseas Oil And Gas Projects by Matthew Green
FILE PHOTO: Icebergs float in a fjord near the south Greenland town of Narsaq July 28, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pledge to end direct government support for overseas fossil fuel projects at a U.N. summit on Saturday, aiming to spur similar moves by other countries to help tackle climate change, his office said.
    Britain, which is co-hosting the virtual summit ahead of climate negotiations in Glasgow next year, has faced accusations of hypocrisy from campaigners for continuing to finance climate-warming oil and natural gas projects abroad.
    “By taking ambitious and decisive action today, we will create the jobs of the future, drive the recovery from coronavirus and protect our beautiful planet for generations to come,” Johnson said in a statement.
    More than 70 world leaders from countries including China, India, Canada and Japan are due to unveil more ambitious climate commitments at the summit.
    Britain would be the first major economy to commit to ending public finance for overseas fossil fuel projects.
    “This policy shift sets a new gold standard for what serious climate action looks like,” said Louise Burrows, policy adviser with consultancy E3G.    “Britain now has a mandate to mobilise other countries to follow suit.”
    The UK Export Finance agency has offered guarantees worth billions of dollars to help British oil and gas companies expand in countries such as Brazil, Iraq, Argentina and Russia, Burrows said.
    Johnson had faced particular criticism from campaigners for UKEF’s role in backing French major Total’s planned $20 billion liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique.
    The government said the new policy would come into effect “as soon as possible” and would mean no further state support for oil, natural gas or coal projects overseas, including via development aid, export finance and trade promotion.
    There would be “very limited exceptions” for gas-fired power plants within “strict parameters” in line with the Paris deal, the statement said.
(Reporting by Matthew Green, editing by Louise Heavens)

12/12/2020 Declare States Of ‘Climate Emergency,’ U.N. Chief Tells World Leaders by Matthew Green and Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a news conference at U.N.
headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) -World leaders should declare states of “climate emergency” to spur faster cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday at a summit marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord.
    Dozens of world leaders addressed the one-day virtual gathering, aimed at building momentum for more ambitious national commitments ahead of a pivotal round of climate talks due to take place in Glasgow in late 2021.
    “Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?” Guterres said via video.    “That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”
    Guterres said economic recovery packages launched in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic should represent an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future – but said this was not happening fast enough.
    “So far, the members of the G20 are spending 50% more in their stimulus and rescue packages on sectors linked to fossil fuel production and consumption, than on low-carbon energy,” Guterres said.
    “This is unacceptable.    The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations,” he said.
    On the eve of the summit on Friday, co-host Britain had announced it would end direct government support for overseas fossil fuel projects, aiming to spur similar moves by other countries to accelerate a shift to cleaner energy.
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the summit that countries could work together to radically cut dependence on fossil fuels, change agricultural practices, and reverse the process by which for centuries humanity has been quilting the planet in “a toxic teacosy” of greenhouse gases.
    “And at the same time, we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, millions of jobs, across the planet as we collectively recover from coronavirus,” Johnson said.
    China, which in September gave the Paris process a boost with a surprise announcement that it would target net zero carbon emissions by 2060, said it was raising its ambitions for shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
    President Xi Jinping announced that China would aim to have more than 1,200 Gigawatts of installed wind and solar capacity by 2030 — more than double the country’s existing capacity.
    China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the state planning body, is aiming to have 240 GW of wind and the same amount of solar capacity installed by the end of this year.
    “We will take solid steps to implement the targets just announced and contribute even more to tackling the global climate challenge,” Xi said via a video message.
    With the impacts of climate change increasingly visible in disasters from wildfires in the U.S. West to melting ice caps, more intense hurricanes, and fast-rising sea levels, campaigners urged leaders to heed calls for emergency action.
    “It is the melting of permafrost; forest fires that hit closer to the home of the climate crisis deniers; droughts that ransack living beings of their resources; floods that reminded many of us that we have no escape,” said Selina Neirok Leem, a campaigner from the Marshall Islands.
(Reporting by Matthew GreenEditing by Alex Richardson, Tom Brown and Frances Kerry)

12/13/2020 U.N. Chief Urges Leaders Of Every Country To Declare ‘Climate Emergency’ by Matthew Green and Kate Abnett
    LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on every country to declare a “climate emergency” on Saturday, as world leaders marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord made mostly incremental pledges relative to the scale of the crisis.
    Guterres made his call at a summit aimed at building on momentum behind the Paris deal, buoyed in recent months by renewed commitment from China and the prospect of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden bringing the United States back into the pact.
    Nevertheless, the dozens of leaders who spoke mostly offered tweaks to existing commitments or promises of bolder moves before crucial talks in Glasgow in late 2021, rather than breakthrough new policies to hasten the end of fossil fuels.
    “Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?” Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who has made climate change his signature issue, said via video.
    “That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”
    With the impacts of climate change increasingly stark since the Paris deal was struck – ranging from wildfires in Australia and California to collapsing ice sheets – popular pressure has grown on leaders to listen to warnings from scientists.
    Britain, co-hosting the summit, made one of the clearest new commitments, announcing late on Friday it would stop direct government support for overseas fossil fuel projects.
    Campaigners hailed the move for putting pressure on other G7 economies to restrict support for oil and gas companies.
    Renewed pledges to back Paris from countries such as India, Germany and France were welcomed less in terms of substance and more for keeping alive hopes of faster action to meet the monumental challenge of halving global emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris deal.
DISAPPOINTMENT ON COAL
    Chinese President Xi Jinping, who surprised many in September when he announced the world’s biggest producer of climate-warming emissions would become carbon neutral by 2060, and unveiled targets to speed the expansion of wind and solar power.
    “China always honours its commitments,” Xi said.
    But China showed no signs of bowing to calls from Guterres and campaigners to wind down finance for new coal-fired power plants, a major source of emissions.
    Japan and South Korea, which both pledged in October to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, likewise made no commitments on coal finance – though they did pledge to submit more ambitious emissions targets under the Paris accord.
    Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, by contrast, drew praise for saying the country “will not have any more power based on coal.”    It was not immediately clear what the pledge would mean for Pakistan’s existing plans to build coal plants under a deal with China.
    Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Iceland and Peru were among 15 countries who shifted from “incremental” to “major” increases in their emissions pledges, the U.N., British and French co-hosts said in a statement.
    Climate negotiators say that the Paris process has begun to look far stronger than it did even six few months ago, with countries representing around 65% of global carbon emissions now expected to have committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions or carbon neutrality by early next year.
    But campaigners pointed to the gulf that still yawns between the pace of action and the Paris goals of capping rising global temperatures quickly enough to avoid catastrophic impacts.
    “It is the melting of permafrost; forest fires that hit closer to the home of the climate crisis deniers; droughts that ransack living beings of their resources; floods that reminded many of us that we have no escape,” Selina Neirok Leem, a campaigner from the Marshall Islands, told the summit.
    Major emitters Australia and Brazil did not make ambitious enough pledges to qualify to speak, diplomats said.
“TURN THE CORNER”
    Guterres said economic recovery packages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic were an opportunity to act on climate – but said G20 countries had so far spent 50% more of their stimulus on sectors linked to fossil fuels than on cleaner energy.
    “This is unacceptable,” Guterres said.    “The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations.”
    The European Union, which plans to spend 30% of its 1.8-trillion-euro ($2.2 trillion) budget and COVID-19 recovery fund on climate action, boosted its own 2030 climate pledge on Friday, aiming to cut emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the world to cooperate to tackle the “toxic tea cosy” of greenhouse gases now quilting the planet, while investors and businesses underscored their support for action.
    “We call on companies and governments around the world to do all we can to make 2021 the year we turn the corner for good,” said Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook.
(Reporting by Matthew Green and Kate Abnett; Editing by Alex Richardson, Tom Brown, Frances Kerry and William Mallard)

12/14/2020 Earth’s carbon dioxide emissions have record decline by Doyle Rice by USA TODAY
    Although it took a catastrophic pandemic for it to occur, worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide had a record drop in 2020, a new report said.
    Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the leading cause of global warming, fell by 7%, according to the report from the Global Carbon Project, a group of international scientists who track emissions.
    That’s the biggest yearly drop on record, the group said.
    Transportation accounted for the largest share of the global decrease, researchers said.    Emissions from surface transport, such as car journeys, fell by approximately half at the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
    “Of course, lockdown is absolutely not the way to tackle climate change,” said report co-author Corinne Le Quere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
    The report estimated that the world will have put 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the air by the end of 2020.    That’s down from 40.1 billion tons in 2019.
    Emissions dropped 12% in the USA and 11% in Europe but only 1.7% in China. China had an earlier lockdown and less of a second wave of coronavirus infections.    China’s emissions are more industrial-based than other countries’, and its industry was less affected than transportation, Le Quere said.
    Globally, the peak of the decrease in emissions occurred in the first half of April, when lockdown measures were at their maximum, particularly across Europe and the USA.
    Lead researcher Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter in the U.K. said, “Although global emissions were not as high as last year, they still amounted to about 37 billion tons of CO2 and inevitably led to a further increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.    The atmospheric CO2 level, and consequently the world’s climate, will only stabilize when global CO2 emissions are near zero.”
    Researchers said it is too early to say how much emissions will rebound in 2021 and beyond, as the long-term trend will be influenced by actions to stimulate the global economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “All elements are not yet in place for sustained decreases in global emission, and emissions are slowly edging back to 2019 levels,” Le Quere said.    “Government actions to stimulate the economy at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic can also help lower emissions and tackle climate change.”
    The report was published in the journal Earth System Science Data.
Contributing: The Associated Press
The 110 Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles is almost free of traffic March 20. The lack of traffic during the pandemic helped lower emissions. MARK J. TERRILL/AP

12/14/2020 Wild Winds, Huge Seas And Rain Batter Australian Tourist Spots
A tree collapses along the coastline of Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia, December 14, 2020,
in this still image from video obtained via social media. Marc Wilson via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Cyclonic conditions along Australia’s northeast coast generated huge seas washing away beaches at popular tourist spots and destructive winds and rain causing widespread flooding, authorities said on Monday.
    Main Beach at Byron Bay, a popular tourist destination in northern New South Wales state and home to Hollywood A-listers such as Chris Hemsworth, has all but disappeared, Byron Mayor Simon Richardson told media on Monday.
    Television news footage showed a concrete walkway along the beach collapsing into the sea.
    “Right now around Byron, we’ve got some severe weather, massive swells, we’re watching our beach disappear,” he said.
    “What we’ve got here is yet another event.    An extreme weather event coming on the back of climate change that our community’s dealing with.     It’s about the fourth or fifth major event in the last couple of years.”
    The wet conditions contrast with the fierce bushfires that ravaged world heritage listed Fraser Island in Queensland state in recent weeks.    On Monday, fire evacuation points on Fraser Island were underwater due to high tides and huge waves.
    The heavy band of rain and wild winds, generated by an intense low pressure system off the southern Queensland coast, battered the heavily-populated border regions between NSW and Queensland for the third day bringing more than 700 millimetres (27.6 inches) of rain in some places over 48 hours.
    Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) warned coastal erosion, hazardous rain and huge waves off the coast would continue through Monday and urged motorists to stay off the roads.
    Australia is expecting a wetter than usual summer this year due to a La Nina weather phenomenon, typically associated with greater rainfall and more tropical cyclones, though a major heat wave had sweltered the east just weeks ago.
    “Major coastal erosion is ongoing along numerous beaches in northeast (NSW) and southeast Queensland as spring tides combined with large waves and gale force easterly winds eat away sand from beaches,” BoM meteorologist Dean Narramore said.
(Reporting by Renju Jose and Jill Gralow; Editing by Michael Perry)

12/14/2020 EU Rights Watchdog Warns Of Pitfalls In Use Of AI by Foo Yun Chee
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker uses a robot to carry out consultations with patients suffering from the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19), at NOVA hospital in Monterrey, Mexico August 18, 2020. Picture taken August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s rights watchdog has warned of the risks of using artificial intelligence in predictive policing, medical diagnoses and targeted advertising as the bloc mulls rules next year to address the challenges posed by the technology.
    While AI is widely used by law enforcement agencies, rights groups say it is also abused by authoritarian regimes for mass and discriminatory surveillance.    Critics also worry about the violation of people’s fundamental rights and data privacy rules.
    The Vienna-based EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) urged policymakers in a report issued on Monday to provide more guidance on how existing rules apply to AI and ensure that future AI laws protect fundamental rights.br>     “AI is not infallible, it is made by people – and humans can make mistakes.    That is why people need to be aware when AI is used, how it works and how to challenge automated decisions,” FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty said in a statement.
    FRA’s report comes as the European Commission, the EU executive, considers legislation next year to cover so-called high risk sectors such as healthcare, energy, transport and parts of the public sector.
    The agency said AI rules must respect all fundamental rights, with safeguards to ensure this and include a guarantee that people can challenge decisions taken by AI and that companies need to be able to explain how their systems take AI decisions.
    It also said there should be more research into the potentially discriminatory effects of AI so Europe can guard against it, and the bloc must further clarify how data protection rules apply to the technology.
    FRA’s report is based on more than 100 interviews with public and private organisations already using AI, with the analysis based on uses of AI in Estonia, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alex Richardson)

12/14/2020 Coral IVF Trial Offers Hope Of Renewal For Australia’s Great Barrier Reef by James Redmayne
A diver deploys coral larvae onto a reef in Whitsunday Islands, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia,
in this still frame taken from a handout video. Great Barrier Reef Foundation/Handout via REUTERS TV
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Coral populations from Australia’s first “Coral IVF” trial on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 have not only survived recent bleaching events, but are on track to reproduce and spawn next year, researchers say.
    “I’m really excited,” said Peter Harrison, director of Southern Cross University’s Marine Ecology Research Centre, who led the development of the larvae restoration technique which involves collecting coral sperm and eggs during the annual mass spawning on the reef.
    After culturing larvae in specially designed enclosures for about a week, scientists distribute them to parts of the reef damaged by bleaching and in need of live coral.
    Harrison’s team, working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, first used the tactic just off Heron Island in 2016, where more than 60 corals are now on the way to being the first re-established reproducing population on the reef through Coral IVF.
    “This proves that the larvae restoration technique works just as we predicted and we can grow very large corals from tiny microscopic larvae within just a few years,” Harrison said after visiting the restoration site in early December.
    The corals varied in diameter, from just a few centimetres to the size of a dinner plate, and were healthy, despite a bleaching event that hit Heron Island in March.
    The March bleaching was the reef’s most extensive yet, scientists said, and the third one in five years.
    Bleaching occurs when hotter water destroys the algae which corals feed on, causing them to turn white.
    A recent study from James Cook University found the reef had lost more than half of its coral in the past three decades and raised concern that it is less able to recover from mass bleaching events.
    The Great Barrier Reef runs 2,300 km (1,429 miles) down Australia’s northeast coast spanning an area half the size of Texas.    It was world heritage-listed in 1981 by UNESCO as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet.
(Reporting by James Redmayne; Editing by Karishma Singh)

12/15/2020 Samples From Asteroid More Than Hoped For, Japan Researchers Say by Elaine Lies
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) staff carry a case containing Hayabusa2's capsule with extensive samples of an asteroid as
it arrives at JAXA Sagamihara Campus in Sagamihara in this photo taken by Kyodo December 8, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Samples of dust collected by a Japanese space probe from an asteroid some 300 million km (186 million miles) from Earth were better than hoped for, with one researcher saying he was lost for words when they opened the capsule for the first time.
    The samples, the climax of a six-year space odyssey to the Ryugu asteroid by the space probe Hayabusa2, arrived in Japan last week but researchers did not know for sure until this week if they had actually gotten anything.
    “We were aiming for 100 mg or more, and we definitely got that,” said Hirotaka Sawada at Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), who said he was speechless when he first glimpsed the sample.
    “I think that next I probably screamed, I don’t really remember,” he told a news conference.    “It was really different from what I expected, there was a fair amount.”
    Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of the solar system, and scientists have said the sample may contain organic matter that could have contributed to life on earth.
    The Hayabusa2 – named for the peregrine falcon – orbited above Ryugu for a few months before landing, then used small explosives to blast a crater and collected the resulting debris. After dropping off the capsule, it changed course and headed back into space.
    That capsule plunged to earth in Australia’s outback on Dec 6 and was flown to Japan.    The final stage of its journey was by truck to a JAXA research centre just outside Tokyo, where it was greeted by a crowd of excited researchers.
    Next up is removing and preparing the samples, including weighing them to determine just how much has been obtained, a process that will take some time, before research can begin.
    “We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Sei-ichiro Watanabe, a Nagoya University professor who heads the research team.
    “There’s so many things we should be able to learn from this.”
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Michael Perry)

12/15/2020 Heavy Rain Forces Evacuations In Australia, But Conditions To Ease Soon
Sea foam forms at Froggy's Beach at the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, December 15, 2020, in this still image from social media. Rob Ledger/via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s northeast coast was smashed by heavy rains, wild winds and huge seas for the fifth straight day on Tuesday, forcing widespread evacuations.
    As water levels continued to rise due to the heavy overnight rains shutting low-lying roads, New South Wales (NSW) state emergency services directed hundreds of residents of several regional towns to move to safer places.
    The cyclonic conditions, generated by an intense low-pressure system off the Queensland coast, have swallowed beaches and submerged large swathes of the heavily populated regions between NSW and Queensland state borders.
    Quiet seaside suburbs were battered by the storm with high seas destroying some of the most famous beaches along the coast, including the main beach at popular tourist spot Byron Bay in northern NSW.
    The storm also whipped up thick sea foams, a rare event, along the beaches in Gold Coast that lured families and children to play in the bubbles, footage on social media showed.
    Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said the heavy rains are expected to weaken by late Tuesday or early Wednesday but warned isolated thunderstorms may still generate localised heavy falls triggering flash floods.
    Australia is passing through a summer expected to be dominated by the La Nina phenomenon, typically associated with greater rainfall and more tropical cyclones – a sharp contrast to the massive bushfires that razed the country last summer.
    “We’ve been warned by the weather experts that La Nina will have an impact over summer in the eastern coast of Australia so we need to expect the unexpected,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Australian Broadcasting Corp television.
    “I’m hoping what we’ve seen in the last few days won’t be repeated frequently over summer, but it could. Our weather experts tell us they are expecting conditions worse than what we’ve seen in quite a number of years.”
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Michael Perry)

12/16/2020 Report: Chemicals in plastics threaten humans by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    More bad news about plastic.
    According to a scientific report issued Tuesday, the plastics we commonly use contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including some that threaten human health, especially the body’s endocrine system.
    “Many of the plastics we use every day at home and work are exposing us to a harmful cocktail of endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” the report’s lead author, Jodi Flaws of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said.
    The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones the body uses for a wide range of functions, according to the Endocrine Society, which co-produced the report.    The hormones control many bodily functions, including respiration, reproduction, sensory perception, growth, movement and sexual development.
    According to the report, which was based on hundreds of studies, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) mimic, block or interfere with those hormones.    More than 1,000 manufactured chemicals in use are EDCs.
    These chemicals can cause cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders and neurological impairments of developing fetuses and children.    The report says there are direct cause-and-effect links between the toxic chemical additives in plastics and specific health impacts to the endocrine system.
    The additives are meant to make plastics more pliable or durable, more fire-resistant or antimicrobial, more UV-resistant or simply more colorful.
    “Endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure is not only a global problem today, but it poses a serious threat to future generations,” report co-author Pauliina Damdimopoulou of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said.    “When a pregnant woman is exposed, EDCs can affect the health of her child and eventual grandchildren.    Animal studies show EDCs can cause DNA modifications that have repercussions across multiple generations.”
    Plastic containing EDCs is used in al- most every aspect of our lives, including packaging, construction, flooring, food production, cookware, health care, toys, furniture, home electronics, textiles, automobiles and cosmetics.
    The report says the need for public policy to protect people’s health from EDCs in plastics is all the more urgent given the industry’s dramatic growth projections.
    Hundreds of millions of metric tons of plastic are produced each year.
    “This report clarifies that the current acceleration of plastic production, projected to increase by 30%-36% in the next six years, will greatly exacerbate EDC exposures and rising global rates of endocrine diseases,” said Pamela Miller, International Pollutants Elimination Network co-chair.
    “Global policies to reduce and eliminate EDCs from plastic and reduce exposures from plastic recycling, plastic waste and incineration are imperative,” Miller said.
    The report was produced by the International Pollutants Elimination Network with the Endocrine Society.

12/17/2020 China’s Moon Probe Lands Back On Earth – State Media
FILE PHOTO: The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch
Center in Wenchang, Hainan province, China, November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo/File Photo
    (Reuters) – China’s Chang’e-5 moon probe has landed in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, the official Xinhua news agency reported, completing its return to Earth and bringing back the first lunar samples since the 1970s.
    The return capsule touched down in the Siziwang, or Dorbod, banner of Inner Mongolia, in the early hours of Thursday local time, Xinhua said, citing the China National Space Administration.
    China launched the Chang’e-5 spacecraft on Nov. 24 and landed a vehicle on the moon at the start of December.
    The success of the mission would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union, who 44 years ago launched the last successful mission to retrieve samples.
    The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.41 lbs) of samples, although how much was eventually gathered has yet to be disclosed.
(Reporting by Tom Daly and Nikhil Kurian Nainan; Editing by Chris Reese and Mark Heinrich)

12/17/2020 China Says To Share Part Of Lunar Samples With Scientists From Other Countries
Researchers work around Chang'e-5 lunar return capsule carrying moon samples next to a Chinese national flag, after
it landed in northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, December 17, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
    BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans to share data and samples that the Chang’e 5 probe obtained during its recent mission to the moon, based on international cooperation conventions, said the deputy head of the country’s space agency on Thursday.
    The lunar samples will be mainly used for scientific research, Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration, told a press briefing.
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

12/17/2020 NASA Holds An Astronaut, Student Q&A by OAN Newsroom
Clouds are seen behind the NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center
February 7, 2008 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
    Students across the country were given the chance to have their space questions answered by NASA astronauts.    In Q-and-A fashion, astronauts virtually answered students’ questions from the International Space Station on Wednesday.
    A main topic of discussion was the Artemis Program, which will determine the next man and first woman on the moon.    Students also asked about what may lie ahead for the future of space travel.
    Olivia, a fifth grader, asked the astronauts, “what hasn’t been accomplished in space that you would like to see happen within the next five years?”    To which one of the astronauts replied, “I think what would be really neat would be for us to have other space stations and places for tourists and ordinary people to go visit space.”
    NASA said that through the Artemis Program, it hopes to establish a human presence in space by the end of the decade.

12/17/2020 Heavy Snowfall In Japan Triggers Power Outages, Isolates Communities
People remove snow on a street in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo December 17, 2020. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Heavy snowfall in central Japan and along the northern coast isolated communities and cut off power to about 10,000 households, prompting the government to call an emergency meeting on Thursday to address the fallout.
    The heavy snowfall was centred on Niigata and Gunma prefectures, which saw about 2 metres (6.6 feet) of snow over three days, according to public broadcaster NHK.
    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was set to attend the emergency meeting with relevant ministries and agencies on Thursday afternoon, his office said.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Tom Hogue)

12/18/2020 Fiji Says Two Dead As Powerful Cyclone Tears Across Pacific Nation by Colin Packham
A fallen electric pole due to Cyclone Yasa lies on Lesiaceva Road in Savusavu, Fiji, December 18, 2020, in this image obtained via social media.
Fiji Roads Authority via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
    (Reuters) -A powerful cyclone pounded Fiji, killing two people, including a three-month old baby, and leaving a trail of destruction across the Pacific Island nation, authorities said on Friday.
    Cyclone Yasa, a top category five storm, made landfall over Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu on Thursday evening, bringing torrential rain, widespread flooding and winds of up to 285 km per hour (177 miles) across the archipelago.
    Scores of houses were destroyed, while power was cut to some areas and roads blocked by fallen trees and flash flooding, authorities said.
    Images shared on social media showed roads blocked by landslides, floodwaters and power lines.    All roads in Rakiraki, a district on the main island with about 30,000 residents, were flooded, Fiji’s Road Authority said.
    Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama confirmed the two deaths in a video posted in Facebook.
    “Two fatalities have been confirmed.    A 45-year old man in Labasa and a three-month old baby,” he said.
    “The dust has yet to settle… but we are likely looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.”
    Fiji on Thursday had declared a state of natural disaster, implemented a nightly curfew and ordered its entire population of nearly 1 million people to seek shelter.
    “Villages in Vanua Levu have lost a lot of houses.    The wind has flattened many community buildings and crops have been flattened,” Fiji Red Cross Society Director-General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau told Reuters by phone from Suva, the country’s capital.
    Bainimarama said authorities were scrambling to help affected communities.    Adverse weather has hampered efforts by aid groups to dispatch assistance, with waves of more than 3 metres (10 ft) preventing ships leaving Suva.
    Concerns remain about heavy rains, although the storm has weakened in strength and is now a category two as it moves south across the island chain.
(Reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Richard Pullin)

12/18/2020 Massive Iceberg Pivots, Breaks Near South Atlantic Penguin Colony Island by Cassandra Garrison
FILE PHOTO: A satellite image of the A-68A iceberg (L) as it approaches South Georgia island (R)
in the South Atlantic, December 4, 2020. Copernicus Sentinel-Pierre Markuse/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – Strong currents have taken hold of a massive Antarctic iceberg that is on a collision course towards South Georgia Island, causing it to shift direction and lose a major chunk of mass, a scientist tracking its journey said on Friday.
    As the iceberg, dubbed A68a, approached the western shelf edge of the south Atlantic island this week, it encountered strong currents, causing it to pivot nearly 180 degrees, according to Geraint Tarling, a biological oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey.
    “You can almost imagine it as a handbrake turn for the iceberg because the currents were so strong,” Tarling said.
    That’s when the berg appeared to clip the shelf edge, and caused a large piece to break apart.    That new piece is an iceberg in its own right and already has a name – A68d.
    Scientists have been watching for weeks the massive iceberg, last measured at 4,200-square-kilometers, as it rode a fast-track current towards the island.
    Researchers feared that, as the berg closed in on the wildlife-rich island, it could grind into the seabed, disrupting underwater ecosystems.    They were also worried that the berg might block penguins making their way into the sea for food.
    As of Friday, the original A68a iceberg was about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the island’s west coast.    It appeared, however, to be heading southeast towards another current that would likely carry it away from the shelf edge before sweeping it back around toward the island’s eastern shelf area.
    That means the berg could still cause an environmental disaster for local wildlife, but along the island’s eastern coast rather than the southwest.
    “All of those things can still happen, nothing has changed in that regard,” Tarling said.
    The new smaller berg, A68d, is moving further away from the original berg.    Scientists don’t yet know if it will follow the same path, or become lodged somewhere else on the shelf.    An estimate of A68d’s size was not yet available.
    Scientists had predicted some chunks could break away from A68a as it approached the island, and more breakage is possible.     A68a broke off from the Antarctic peninsula in 2017.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Katy Daigle and Gareth Jones)

12/18/2020 Massive Winter Storm Pummels Northeast, At Least 7 Dead by OAN Newsroom
A man walks through the Villanova University campus during a snow storm, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
    A major snowstorm hit the northeastern U.S., breaking records in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.    Winter Storm Gail swept through the region late Wednesday night and into Thursday, bringing snow, freezing rain and heavy winds.
    More than a dozen states, including New Jersey, declared a state of emergency and shut down both transportation as well as power services.    According to reports, up to 15 percent of flights have been cancelled in the tri-state area with more expected as the weather worsens.
    Despite the warnings, however, hundreds of car crashes were reported with several fatalities and multiple injuries.    Police in Pennsylvania reported a 66 car pileup in Clinton County and 19 cars collided in New York on the Henry Hudson Bridge.    Both areas received a record breaking 40 inches of snow on Thursday.
    Boston, Massachusetts also received more than nine inches of snow, breaking its previous record for the month of December.
    The wintry mix has led a number of local government officials to suspend outdoor dining and in-person learning.
    A number of coronavirus testing centers have temporarily closed as well, but New York City Mayor Bill de Dlasio (D) said the storm will in no way hinder efforts to distribute a vaccine.
    “There’s no one with more motivation, literally no one in New York City with more motivation, to get these vaccinations to happen quickly than our healthcare workers and our healthcare leaders,” he stated.    “They’re going to move this very, very aggressively, but the storm at this point does not present any meaningful change to our schedule.”
    His comments were echoed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who said the agency is monitoring “any potential impact of the storm on the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to hospitals.”
    He went on to assure the public, “this is Fedex, this is UPS express shipping — they know how to deal with bad weather.”

12/18/2020 Heavy Snow Paralyses Traffic In Japan, More Expected Over Weekend
Vehicles are stranded on the snow-covered Kanetsu expressway in Minamiuonuma in Niigata Prefecture,
Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo December 18, 2020 Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Heavy snow brought traffic chaos to much of northwest Japan on Friday, with hundreds of vehicles stuck on blocked highways.
    “The government will do its utmost to rescue anyone who is stuck in their vehicle,” the government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, said at a regular briefing.
    Self-Defense Force troops were delivering food, petrol and blankets, and helping clear snow, while fire service crews rescued some drivers, including at least three people who were taken to hospital, according to public broadcaster NHK.
    As highway workers in hard-hit areas such as Niigata prefecture cleared snow several feet deep in places, the Meteorological Agency warned of heavier snow over the weekend along the Sea of Japan coast.
    Some places are bracing for as much as 80 cm (32 inches) of snow amid a cold snap that has affected much of the country.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Karishma Singh)

12/20/2020 Powerful Cyclone Leaves Trail Of Destruction In Parts Of Fiji
Aid workers bring aid to people who are returning to their houses, completely destroyed by Cyclone Yasa,
northern Bua, Vanua Levu, Fiji, December 19, 2020, in this photo supplied by IFRC. Ponipate/IFRC/via REUTERS
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A powerful cyclone that tore through Fiji late last week has caused havoc in some areas and left people without shelter and fresh water, Fiji Red Cross said on Sunday.
    The death toll from Cyclone Yasa, a top category-five storm that made landfall on Thursday, rose to four, authorities said.
    Aerial assessment showed that Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu suffered 70% damage and destruction, while the small island of Kia was completely destroyed, Fiji Red Cross Director General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau said.
    “It’s like a ground zero, there’s nothing left,” Rokotunidau told Reuters.
    While the largest island of Viti Levu – where about three-quarters of Fijians live – was spared the worst, Vanua Levu and other small islands were in dire need of fresh water and shelter.
    Disrupted communications and poor weather were hampering the damage assessment effort but Red Cross volunteers were assisting those in need, Rokotunidau said.
    There were concerns about the spread of diseases.
    Australia is sending air force aircraft to help with surveillance of storm-affected areas and has offered further assistance to Fiji if needed.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Stephen Coates)

12/21/2020 Rains Give West African Herders Brief Respite Amid Growing Heat by Alessandra Prentice
A general view taken with drone shows shepherds walking with their flocks at Ranch Djibo Leity Ka
in Louga region, Senegal November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Christophe Van Der Perre
    LINGUERE, Senegal (Reuters) – Fari Sow bent over to pick a green shoot from what is normally parched earth at this time of year, tearing its leaves to show their freshness.
    “Thank God, this year we have grass,” the herder said on a livestock reserve in northern Senegal as plump cows munched the pasture behind him.
    Abundant rains soaked West Africa’s Sahel region in recent months, causing catastrophic floods in some areas that raised concerns about the rising costs of extreme weather.
    But this year’s downpours also created the thickest vegetation in years, satellite data show – a vital respite for Senegal’s farmers and its 3 million-strong herding community after six years of drought.
    Since the early 1980s, the frequency of storms has tripled in the Sahel, according to a study https://www.nature.com/articles/nature22069 in the journal Nature, which said the trend was consistent with what scientists expect from human-driven climate change.
    Herders are not used to unexpected benefits in the Sahel, whose semi-arid prairies stretch eastwards from Senegal across some of the world’s poorest countries.
    The successive droughts in Senegal and neighbouring Mauritania and a particularly long dry season before the latest rains have helped permanently weaken pastoral livelihoods across the whole region, according to aid agency Action Against Hunger.
    Meanwhile rising temperatures mean some areas could become as hot as the Sahara Desert within 80 years, according to a study in the online journal Climatic Change published in October.
    This year, though, things are looking up.
RECORD VEGETATION
    Sow’s long-horned white cows do not have to walk far to fill their bellies as they roam the sun-baked fields studded with acacia and baobab trees.
    Cattle and sheep on the reserve are at their fattest in recent memory.    The heavy rain has encouraged zornia, a nutritious plant with slender leaves that herders feared was becoming scarce, said local vet Mawdo Ngom.
    “This time last year the grass was already dry,” Sow said in late November.
    The rains have also boosted other sectors.    Grains output is expected to jump over 30% this year, prompting Senegal to reverse its economic outlook for 2020 from contraction to growth.
    Vegetation levels have hit record highs this year in more central parts of the Sahel, including Niger and Chad, the satellite data from Action Against Hunger show.
    This should have proved a blessing for the two-thirds of the region’s population dependent on farming or herding.    But conflict across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has cut off access to farms and displaced communities.
    Partly as result of this, the region is facing its worst food crisis in a decade with potentially over 23 million people needing aid to survive the upcoming dry season, according to the Cadre Harmonise, a regional food security framework under the auspices of the United Nations.
DRYING HEAT
    Dramatic climate swings year to year are normal for the Sahel, making it hard to assess the impact of climate change on current conditions or predict what Senegal should prepare for in the long term, climate scientist Sylwia Trzaska of Columbia University’s Earth Institute said.
    “We are very uncertain about which way the rainfall is going to evolve, but temperatures are rising, especially during the dry season, that’s a given,” she said.
    Senegal has escaped the violence devastating its neighbours, but some herders doubt the sustainability of their way of life given their struggle to get through recent dry seasons.
    Sitting in his family’s traditional home of woven branches, herder Dioubeyrou Ka, 67, said drought has made it hard to find the long-stalked plant needed to thatch his roof.
    “Often we went in our carts from morning till night, searching for water so our children could have a drink,” he said, tossing back thimble-sized glasses of tea.
    If dry seasons keep getting hotter as projected under climate models, water resources will dry out quicker during these periods, putting additional pressure on herders and their livestock, Trzaska said.
    On the reserve, where some herders have settled, Ngom says it’s quiet.    Earlier in the year nomadic herders desperate for pasture came in droves, piling children, possessions and baby goats onto carts pulled by three donkeys abreast. He does not expect such numbers this season.
    “Herders – if nature smiles on them, they forget all their problems,” said the vet, strolling past cows he deemed to be reassuringly stout.
(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; editing by Edward McAllister and Philippa Fletcher)

12/22/2020 China’s New Long March 8 Rocket Makes Maiden Flight
    BEIJING (Reuters) – A new Chinese carrier rocket made its first flight on Tuesday under a long-term plan to develop reusable launch vehicles aimed at reducing mission costs and speed up launch schedules for commercial clients.
    The medium-lift Long March 8 Y-1 blasted off at 12:37 p.m. (0437 GMT) from the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying five satellites, state media reported.
    China plans to develop reusable rockets under the Long March 8 series in the coming years, similar to the Falcon range already produced by U.S. private aerospace firm SpaceX.
    State media did not say if the Long March 8 Y-1 itself was reusable, but future variants are expected to be capable of vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL), allowing them to be used for more than one launch.
    China will develop its first VTVL vehicle around 2025, an official at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country’s main space contractor, told a local conference in November.
    The Long March 9 Y-1 launch wrapped up a hectic year for China’s space programme.
    Earlier this month, China brought back rocks and soil from the moon in the first lunar sample retrieval since 1976.    In July, China launched its first independent mission to Mars.
    Around 2022, China aims to complete a multi-module, inhabited space station.
    By 2045, it hopes to establish a programme operating thousands of flights a year and carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of cargo and passengers.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

12/22/2020 Pollution Deaths In India Rose To 1.67 Million In 2019 -Lancet
FILE PHOTO: People arrive to visit the Red Fort on a smoggy morning in the old quarters of Delhi, India, November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Toxic air killed more people in India in 2019 than in 2017, The Lancet said in a report shared by the government on Tuesday, with 1.67 million deaths accounting for 18% of all fatalities.
    India, whose cities top global pollution lists, faces a growing economic as well as human toll from bad air quality, which was linked to 1.24 million, or 12.5% of total deaths in the previous such study for 2017.
    The analysis (https://secure.jbs.elsevierhealth.com/action/getSharedSiteSession?rc=1&redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thelancet.com%2Fjournals%2Flanplh%2Farticle%2FPIIS2542-5196%2820%2930298-9%2Ffulltext) found pollution led to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neonatal disorders and cataracts.
    Land-locked New Delhi, the world’s most polluted capital whose winter skies are often obscured (https://in.reuters.com/article/us-india-pollution/new-delhis-poisonous-air-a-perennial-crisis-of-its-own-making-idUSKBN28609N) by its filthy air, recorded the highest per-capita economic hit, the journal said.
    The fatalities in 2019 led to a total loss of $36.8 billion, or 1.36% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), with the poor and populous states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar experiencing the highest economic loss as a percentage of their GDP.
    Although the death rate due to household air pollution fell 64.2% from 1990 to 2019, that due to ambient particulate matter pollution more than doubled, The Lancet said.
    “The improvements in air quality across India during the COVID-19 lockdown period, and its upsurge again with the easing of restrictions, provide interesting pointers to the extent of air pollution reduction that is possible with reduced human activity,” it added.
    The government said in a statement that India would need to invest more in state-specific pollution control programmes if it were to meet its goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024, from around $2.9 trillion now.
    India’s three main cities, New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, were on the list of the world’s 20 worst polluted cities, Swiss air quality technology company IQAir reported on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Krishna N. Das; Editing by Alexander Smith)

12/22/2020 China’s New Long March 8 Rocket Makes Maiden Flight
People watch the medium-lift Long March 8 Y-1 rocket taking off from Wenchang Space Launch Center,
on a beach in Wenchang, Hainan province, China December 22, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS
    BEIJING (Reuters) – A new Chinese carrier rocket made its first flight on Tuesday under a long-term plan to develop reusable launch vehicles aimed at reducing mission costs and speed up launch schedules for commercial clients.
    The medium-lift Long March 8 Y-1 blasted off at 12:37 p.m. (0437 GMT) from the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying five satellites, state media reported.
    China plans to develop reusable rockets under the Long March 8 series in the coming years, similar to the Falcon range already produced by U.S. private aerospace firm SpaceX.
    State media did not say if the Long March 8 Y-1 itself was reusable, but future variants are expected to be capable of vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL), allowing them to be used for more than one launch.
    China will develop its first VTVL vehicle around 2025, an official at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country’s main space contractor, told a local conference in November.
    The Long March 9 Y-1 launch wrapped up a hectic year for China’s space programme.
    Earlier this month, China brought back rocks and soil from the moon in the first lunar sample retrieval since 1976.    In July, China launched its first independent mission to Mars.
    Around 2022, China aims to complete a multi-module, inhabited space station.
    By 2045, it hopes to establish a programme operating thousands of flights a year and carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of cargo and passengers.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

12/25/2020 Japan Aims To Eliminate Gasoline Vehicles By Mid-2030s, Boost Green Growth
FILE PHOTO: A schoolboy walks up the overhead bridge along a traffic junction
in Beppu, Japan October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan aims to eliminate gasoline-powered vehicles in the next 15 years, the government said on Friday in a plan to reach net zero carbon emissions and generate nearly $2 trillion a year in green growth by 2050.
    The “green growth strategy,” targeting the hydrogen and auto industries, is meant as an action plan to achieve Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s October pledge to eliminate carbon emissions on a net basis by mid-century.
    Suga has made green investment a top priority to help revive the economy hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and to bring Japan into line with the European Union, China and other economies setting ambitious emissions targets.

12/27/2020 ‘Oceans Asia’: 1.56B Face Masks Will Enter Oceans In 2020 by OAN Newsroom
(Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)
    Researchers believe more than 1.5 billion face masks used this year may be headed for the ocean.
    Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, marine conservation organization ‘Oceans Asia’ has been keeping track of washed-up masks on a remote island near Hong Kong.
    They believe those masks will create up to 6,000 tons of extra waste in our oceans.    Additionally, the group said the thin plastic fibers, which make up the masks, can remain in the ocean for hundreds of years.
    “1.56 billion facemasks that have entered our oceans in 2020 are there for the long run,” Teale Bondaroff, Director of Research for ‘Oceans Asia’ said.    “They will remain in our oceans for 450 years or more and they’ll break up into smaller and smaller pieces.”
    The organization asked people to wear reusable masks as much as possible and to dispose of non-reusable masks responsibly.

12/27/2020 Central England Under Flood Warnings After ‘Storm Bella’ Rainfall Causes River Overflow by OAN Newsroom
A view of children’s playground equipment immersed in floodwater, surrounding Tewkesbury Abbey, where flood watches are in place
with more wet weather expected in the coming days, in Tewkesbury, England, Wednesday Dec. 23, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
    Hundreds of Bedfordshire residents evacuated their homes following massive flooding caused by ‘Storm Bella.’
    According to reports this weekend, river levels are ‘extremely high,’ with flood warnings in the region along the ‘Great River Ouse,’ which is about 65 miles north of London.
    Residents woke up to find parks, roads and in some cases– their homes–submerged by ‘Storm Bella’s’ heavy rainfall. Flooding was five feet deep in some spots.
    “I don’t think I’ve seen it for over 20 years I would say,” a local resident said.    “It’s amazingly fast as well, so you wouldn’t want to fall in, I don’t think.”
    Fire crews in boats spent Christmas day rescuing residents.    They saved dozens of people from their homes, businesses and stuck cars.    Emergency accommodations were sourced for approximately 500 people, some of whom even showed signs of hypothermia.
    “It’s not exactly been the best year,” another resident stated.    “And it’s just another thing to add to 2020 of things that are not good.”
    The U.K. Environment Agency has warned “flooding is imminent,” as ‘Storm Bella’ is expected to continue to hit the U.K. throughout the weekend.
    Meanwhile, the region is also under “Tier Four” coronavirus restrictions, which bans households from mixing with each other.    However, authorities said the flood warnings overrule the current coronavirus restrictions. Officials also noted people are allowed to go to other households to stay safe.
    Residents are strongly encouraged to turn off water, gas and electricity before evacuating to prevent additional problems.

12/28/2020 Earthquake Of Magnitude 5.2 Shakes Central Croatia
A man walks next to a damaged house after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, in Brest
Pokupski village, Croatia, December 28, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
    ZAGREB (Reuters) – A magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit central Croatia on Monday with an epicentre some 50 kilometres southeast of the capital Zagreb, Croatian state television reported, citing data from the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
    The quake at 0528 GMT was also felt in the capital.    There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
    “We have no such reports yet but it is possible that such an earthquake could cause material damage in the epicentre area, which was in the vicinity of the town of Petrinja,” seismologist Kresimir Kuk told state radio.
    The quake was followed by an aftershock registering 4.9 magnitude at 0649 GMT, according to the EMSC data.
    Bozidar Skrinjaric, head of the Pokupsko municipality, an area near the epicentre with some 3,000 inhabitants, said people ran into the streets when the quakes hit.
    “No building collapsed, but the people said they saw some cracks in the buildings and damaged tiles,” he said.
    In March, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit Zagreb causing one death and injuring 27 people.
(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

12/28/2020 U.S. To Allow Small Drones To Fly Over People And At Night by David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: A drone demonstrates delivery capabilities from the top of a UPS truck during
testing in Lithia, Florida, U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Scott Audette/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Small drones will be allowed to fly over people and at night in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday, a significant step toward their use for widespread commercial deliveries.
    The FAA said its long-awaited rules for the drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, will address security concerns by requiring remote identification technology in most cases to enable their identification from the ground.
    Previously, small drone operations over people were limited to operations over people who were directly participating in the operation, located under a covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle – unless operators had obtained a waiver from the FAA.
    The rules will take effect 60 days after publication in the federal register in January.    Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, and operators will have an additional year to provide Remote ID.
    There are other, more complicated rules that allow for operations at night and over people for larger drones in some cases.
    “The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said.    “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”
    Companies have been racing to create drone fleets to speed deliveries.    The United States has over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots.
    For at-night operations, the FAA said drones must be equipped with anti-collision lights.    The final rules allow operations over moving vehicles in some circumstances.
    Remote ID is required for all drones weighing 0.55 lb (0.25 kg) or more, but is required for smaller drones under certain circumstances like flights over open-air assemblies.
    The new rules eliminate requirements that drones be connected to the internet to transmit location data but do that they broadcast remote ID messages via radio frequency broadcast.    Without the change, drone use could have been barred from use in areas without internet access.
    The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said Remote ID will function as “a digital license plate for drones … that will enable more complex operations” while operations at night and over people “are important steps towards enabling integration of drones into our national airspace.”
    One change, since the rules were first proposed in 2019, requires that small drones not have any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin.
    United Parcel Service Inc said in October 2019 that it won the government’s first full approval to operate a drone airline.
    Last year, Alphabet’s Wing, a sister unit of search engine Google, was the first company to get U.S. air carrier certification for a single-pilot drone operation.
    In August, Amazon.com Inc’s drone service received federal approval allowing the retailer to begin testing commercial deliveries through its drone fleet.
    Walmart Inc said in September it would run a pilot project for delivery of grocery and household products through automated drones but acknowledged “it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Howard Goller)

12/31/2020 Will 2020 be the Earth’s hottest year on record? by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Climate scientists are poring over global temperature data to determine whether 2020 will surpass 2016 as the planet’s warmest year on record.
    The final answer won’t be so clearcut: There are at least six separate data sets for global climate measurements, and each uses a slightly different system for determining our planet’s temperature.
    For example, based on measurements through November, it’s likely that NASA’s data will show 2020 as the warmest on record.    Other groups, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will probably show 2020 in second place.
    “In most datasets, 2020 will be more or less tied with 2016 – at least within the margin of uncertainty in our global temperature reconstructions,” tweeted Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute in California.    “That’s remarkable in a sense, given that 2020 is a La Niña year and 2016 was a super El Niño event.”
    La Niña, a natural cooling of Pacific Ocean water, tends to lower the global temperature, while El Niño does the opposite.
    “The record warmth experienced in 2016 was a result of both the long-term human-driven warming trend of nearly 0.4 degree per decade and a super El Niño event,” Hausfather told USA TODAY.
    He said 2016 was around 2.22 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than pre-industrial temperatures based on NASA data.    “The second warmest year on record – 2019 – was 2.16 degrees warmer,” he said.
    U.K. Met Office scientist Nick Dunstone said that “the variability of the La Niña/El Niño cycle is the secondmost important factor in determining the Earth’s temperature but it is simply dwarfed by the forcing effect of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”     The U.K. Met Office is another group that measures global temperatures.
    “The difference between the groups is mostly to do with how they fill in the ‘gaps’ in the Arctic,” Hausfather told the Independent.    There are gaps in our knowledge of temperatures in remote parts of the Arctic Ocean as a result of there being no weather stations in these locations, the Independent said.
    Does it really matter which year is the warmest on record?    “Ultimately the media cares about new records a lot more than the climate does,” Hausfather said.    “What matters for the climate is the long-term warming trend, where we see clear evidence of human activity changing the climate.”

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