Sunday, May 6, 2012

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Peru Government Issues Alert Along its North Coast - Following the Mysterious Deaths of 1,400 Birds and 800 Dolphins!

The Peruvian government has issued a health alert after more than 1,400 birds are washed up along with 800 dolphins, with the cause unknown.  The health alert  has been declared along its northern coastline and urges residents and tourists to stay away from long stretches of beach as it investigates the unexplained deaths of hundreds of dolphins and pelicans. 

Peruvian officials examine a pelican carcass on the beach of Port Eten.
At least 1,200 birds, mostly pelicans, have washed up dead along a stretch of Peru's northern Pacific coastline in recent weeks, according to health officials, and an estimated 800 dolphins have died in the same area in recent months.  The health ministry recommended staying away from beaches, although it stopped short of a ban, and called on health officials to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.  The peak tourism season around Lima's beaches is over but many surfers are still venturing into the waters near the capital.  The agriculture ministry said preliminary tests on some dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. Oscar Dominguez, head of the ministry's health department, said experts had ruled out bird flu. 

"The health ministry ... calls on the population to abstain from going to the beaches until the health alert is lifted," said a statement accompanied by a photograph of a dead pelican.  The ministry said officials had so far checked 18 beaches in and around Lima for dead birds but gave no details of any findings.  "We're starting from the hypothesis that it's because the birds are young and unable to find enough food for themselves, and also because the sea temperature has risen and anchovies have moved elsewhere," said Juan Rheineck, the deputy agriculture minister.  A mass pelican death along Peru's northern coast in 1997 was blamed at the time on a shortage of their anchovy staple diet due to the El Niño weather pattern.  Some were undeterred by the mysterious deaths. "We eat fresh fish on the quay of Chorrillos every day and no fisherman has died yet, so don't worry, it's nothing," said Gloria Rivera, a seafood restaurant owner. - Guardian.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: The Disaster Precursors and the "Butterfly of Doom" - Highly Unusual Population Explosion of Red Admiral Butterflies in New York?!

The Red Admiral Butterfly, known as the "Butterfly of Doom," was especially abundant the year the Russian Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. 

Lepidopterist Kurt Johnson reports an unusually large number of the species are descending upon Brooklyn, NY According to Dr. Kurt Johnson, a retired lepidopterist from the American Museum of Natural History, in the last two days there has been an outbreak of Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) in Brooklyn the likes of which I have never seen (not even close), and I've been here 45 years. ... [T]here were at least a half dozen Red Admirals for every 10 paces one walked.... [At] the Botanical Garden, Red Admirals were also flying all over the place, chasing each other etc. Butterfly population explosions are not particularly common, says Dr. Johnson. In 1881, the Red Admiral, also known as the Red Admirable, was found in great abundance in Russia. According to Russian lore, the undersides of the wings bore markings that resembled the numbers "1881." Russians came to call the insect the "Butterfly of Doom," and some believe its great numbers "signaled" the beginning of the revolution and the death of the Tsar.

The "Butterfly of Doom" also appears in the writings of Russian-American novelist and lepidopterist, Vladimir Nabokov, who specialized in the study of some small butterflies known as "Blues." Dr. Johnson, also an expert on Blues, wrote about the novelist's favorite butterfly in a book called Nabkov's Blues . It was through Nabokov's writings that Johnson learned of the Red Admiral's association with the Russian Revolution. Normally, Red Admirals migrate north from Guatemala to Canada beginning in March, but they do not usually arrive so early and in such great numbers. Unusual sitings were also reported in Le Roy, NY by the Daily News, in Trenton, NJ by CBS News and in Ottawa, Canada by Canada.com. Dr. Johnson speculates that the warm winter might have initiated the breakout.... One would have to account for why there are so many of them in this year's spring brood if nothing last year seemed unusual. There are no reports that the Brooklyn butterflies bear the numbers "2012" on their wing undersides. - Digital Journal.


ICE AGE NOW: The Global Food Crisis - UK Farmers Worry That May Snow and Freezing Temperatures Could Bring Widespread Crop Failures!

Parts of Britain will be colder than the Arctic this weekend as rain and even snow threaten to put a freeze on millions of families' May Bank Holiday plans.  Beach trips and barbecues are likely to be off the agenda as forecasters predicted the mercury could plunge as low as 26F (-3C) in places on Saturday. Holidaymakers were advised to go skiing rather than sunbathing and seaside resorts warned of multi-million pound losses and deserted beaches. Farmers and gardeners, battered by drought and floods, have also been warned that crops and plants could be killed by widespread frosts.

Snow is expected over higher ground in Scotland and northern England as
Britain braces itself for a chilly May Bank Holiday
Flooding continued today as the Met Office said rain hit many parts and the Environment Agency issued 19 flood warnings and 61 alerts. East Anglia, the Midlands and the South were worst hit. Showers will hit the south coast on Saturday, a wider area of the south on Sunday, and most areas on a washout Bank Holiday Monday, with further widespread rain next week. Forecasters warned of snow falling on high ground in Scotland, as thousands of skiers prepared for out-of-season sport at Cairngorm and Glencoe. Parts of Scotland and northern England could see temperatures down to 26F (-3C) on Saturday night - colder than the 32F (0C) expected in Honningsvag, Norway - the most northerly village in Europe.  Top temperatures in Britain are likely to be in the south but will only reach around 50F (10C) at best, the Met Office said. The cold weather will continue through Sunday and Monday with highs of around 52F (11C) and lows of 28F (-2C).  "It's certainly cold for this time of year, particularly for a May Bank Holiday weekend," a Met Office spokesman said. He added that it will be 5-6C colder than the average May minimum over the weekend. The cold spell is being blamed on a plunge of Polar air, with weeks of rain caused by stalled high-altitude Atlantic jet stream winds leaving soggy low pressure systems stuck over Britain.

Despite deluges, the Environment Agency said the drought is so severe that levels of groundwater, the main source of drinking water in the south and east, only improved minimally in the last week.  Experts say soil is so dry that deluges have failed to filter down, instead running off to cause floods, evaporate or be sucked up by thirsty plants.  Of 27 groundwater measuring sites across England and Wales, 11 are exceptionally low - down from 14 last week - with another eight still below normal.  Reservoir levels are up by up to 14 per cent - but still exceptionally low in the south-east - while overflowing rivers are exceptionally high at half of all measuring sites. Forecaster Brian Gaze of The Weather Outlook said: "Skiing looks like a better prospect than sunbathing this weekend." Bournemouth area hospitality association Chairman Andrew Woodland said: "Visitor spend will be way down this weekend, with a fall of around £1 million compared to a good weather weekend. "It's not only hotels which suffer, as seafront businesses, cafés, pubs and taxis are also affected." - Telegraph.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Pressure Variation Propagation - Lava Flows Continue at Slow Pace at Kilauea Volcano!

USGS-HVO composite image with FLIR from April 26, 2012.
Since entering the National Park, lava flows have continued to slowly advance towards the ocean but have not made much ground. Pressure variations propagating through Kīlauea volcano have kept the flows from building momentum, but they have persisted sluggishly and lava flows are still visible by means of a 6-7mi / 9-11km round-trip hike from the Kalapana side. When the lava is flowing more slowly (like right now), it actually gives us a chance to approach and interact with it more easily, whereas more vigorous flows require additional safety considerations. For non-hikers, strong glow continues from the summit, visible from Jaggar Overlook and Museum! - Volcano Discovery.


DELUGE: Flash Floods Kills 50 People in Kenya - Thousands Displaced, Red Cross Expects Fatalities Will Continue!

Kenya's flash floods have left at least 50 people as dead and displaced thousands of others in this east African nation, a humanitarian agency has said. 

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) spokesperson Nelly Muluka said four people were swept away by flood waters near Rongai town Friday night, Xinhua reported Sunday.  According to Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), the number of fatalities will continue to rise due to heavy rains that have led to flash floods in several parts of the country. 

"At least 50 people have lost their lives as a result of the flooding since March. Four people were swept away by flood waters near Rongai on the night of May 4. Their bodies were found on top of the Rimpa bridge in Rongai on Saturday morning," said Nelly Muluka, KRCS's spokesperson. - IANS Live.


EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rare Tornado Strikes Japan - I Killed and 30 Injured, with Over 200 Homes Damage in Tsukuba City!

A tornado tore through a city northeast of Japan's capital on Sunday, killing one person, injuring dozens of others and destroying scores of houses.

Firefighters and medical teams rushed to the area after the tornado struck Tsukuba city, 40 miles from Tokyo. The city is a science center, with dozens of research and academic institutes, but the tornado appeared to be mostly in residential areas.  A 14-year-old boy died after being injured by the storm, Tsukuba Medical Center said.

More than 30 other people were injured, including at least 10 who were being treated at hospitals, fire officials said. Details of the death and injuries were not immediately available.  Public broadcaster NHK showed rows of houses without roofs, apartment complexes with smashed balconies and shattered windows, and tilting telephone poles that could barely stand.  It said about 200 homes were damaged.  Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 24,000 homes were without electricity as lightning added to the storm's damage.  Tornadoes are relatively rare in the Tokyo area. - USA Today.
WATCH: Scenes of destruction in Japan.


THE AGE OF OBAMA & BIG BROTHER NOW: The Emerging Global Police State - U.S. Military Developing Tracking Spychips For Soldiers!

The U.S. military wants to plant nanosensors in soldiers to monitor health on future battlefields and immediately respond to needs, but a privacy expert warns the step is just one more down the road to computer chips for all. “It’s never going to happen that the government at gunpoint says, ‘You’re going to have a tracking chip,’” said Katherine Albrecht, who with Liz McIntyre authored “Spychips,” a book that warns of the threat to privacy posed by Radio Frequency Identification.

“It’s always in incremental steps. If you can put a microchip in someone that doesn’t track them … everybody looks and says, ‘Come on,’” she said. “It’ll be interesting seeing where we go.” According to a report at Mobiledia, the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has confirmed plans to create nanosensors to monitor the health of soldiers on battlefields. The devices also would report data to doctors. But privacy analysts have expressed concern that the implants could be used not just to monitor health but to keep track of and possibly control people. DARPA describes the technology on which it is working as “a truly disruptive innovation,” which would diagnose, monitor vital states and “even deliver medicine into the bloodstream.” According to LiveScience.com, “Solving the problem of sickness could have a huge impact on the number of soldiers ready to fight, because far more have historically died due to illness rather than combat.” The report suggested that for special forces, “the practical realization of implantable nanosensors capable of monitoring multiple indicators of physiological state could be a truly disruptive innovation.” Already being researched is the concept of nanosensors diagnosing disease. DARPA expects to launch a second effort focused on treatment later this year. Albrecht said the move is another step in the trip down the road of having every person implanted with a chip that might very well monitor health but also other areas of life. Microchipping, she said, already is “par for the course” for pets in many parts of the nation, and that acceptance will make it easier to require it for people.

She said it was expected that captive audiences, such as prisoners and troops, would be the first subjected to the requirement, which would make it easier for the general populace to accept it as well. “It’s interesting,” she said. “I’m stunned how this younger generation is OK. They don’t see the problem. … ‘Why wouldn’t everyone want to be tracked?’” But she said Americans will have to decide to say no to incremental advances, or by the time officials finally roll out the idea of chips for all, whether they want them or not, it will be too late to decide. “The analogy that I draw is [that of a train], and if I’m in California and I do not want to wind up in New City, every stop brings me closer,” she said. “At some point I have to get off the train.” Albrecht also has helped develop and launch a new project called StartPage, which now is handling some 2 million search requests per day. The benefit of the page is its privacy. The site explains that every time a person uses a typical search program such as Google, “your search data is recorded.
Then they store that information in a giant database,” she explains. As a result, corporate America and the government have access to “a shocking amount of personal information about you, such as your interests, family circumstances, political leanings, medical conditions and more. - WND.

SIGNS FROM THE HEAVENS: Light Fantastic of the "Supermoon" - Our Cosmic Sidekick Appears in its Biggest and Brightest Form!

The biggest and brightest full moon of the year arrived Saturday night as our celestial neighbor passed closer to Earth than usual.  Saturday's event was a "supermoon," the closest and therefore the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. At 11:34 p.m., the moon was about 221,802 miles from Earth. That's about 15,300 miles closer than average.

That proximity makes the moon appear about 14% bigger than it would if the moon were at its farthest distance, said Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The difference in appearance is so small that "you'd be very hard-pressed to detect that with the unaided eye," he said.  The moon's distance from Earth varies because it follows an elliptical orbit rather than a circular one.  Like any full moon, the supermoon would appear bigger when it's on or near the horizon rather than higher in the sky, thanks to an optical illusion, Chester noted. The full moon appears on the horizon at sunset. On the East coast, for example, that will be a bit before 8 p.m. Saturday.  The supermoon and unusually high tides are linked because of the moon's closeness and its alignment with the sun and Earth, Chester said.  The last supermoon, on March 19, 2011, was about 240 miles closer than this year's will be.

Next year's will be a bit farther away than this year's.  But no matter how far away a full moon is, it's not going to make people kill themselves or others, commit other crimes, get admitted to a psychiatric hospital or do anything else that popular belief suggests, a psychologist says.  Studies that have tried to document such connections have found "pretty much a big mound of nothing, as far as I can tell," said Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University.  Lilienfeld, an author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, said the notion of full moons causing bizarre behavior ranks among the top 10 myths because "it's so widely held and it's held with such conviction."  Why do people cling to the idea?  Lilienfeld said a key reason could be the way people pay attention to things. If something unusual happens to occur during a full moon, people who believe the myth take note and remember, even telling other people because it confirms their ideas. But when another full moon appears and nothing out of the ordinary occurs, "they're not very likely to remember" or point it out to others.  So in the end, he said, all they remember are the coincidences. - Detroit Free Press.

EXTREME WEATHER: Thunderstorms and Hailstones Hits Oklahoma and Texas - Injury to Persons and Damage to Homes and Vehicles!

Oklahoma and Texas were hit by severe weather, causing injury to persons and damage to homes and vehicles. 

Hailstones the size of baseballs fell in Oklahoma, injuring one as a couple and their grandchild tried to escape the storm, Tillman County Emergency Management Director Jeffrey Rector said.  Rector said hail battered the windows and roofs of numerous homes and damaged more vehicles in Grandfield. He said officials were asking for plywood to board up damaged windows. In neighboring Cotton County, a sheriff's dispatcher said some cars were damaged as the storm passed through, but there were no reports of injuries. 

Thunderstorms developed ahead of a dryline in the region, which warmed into the 90s Friday afternoon.   In Texas, lightning forced Fort Worth's Mayfest 2012 to shut down on Friday night and Texas Christian University called off its baseball game early, NBC DFW reported.  In Celina one resident's home was seriously damaged by strong winds which caused a roof to collapse in the Carter Ranch addition, the Collin County sheriff said.  Hood County had tornado warnings but there were no immediate reports of damage. - Daily Mail.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Seismic Swarm and Increasing Activity at Alaska's Iliamna Volcano!

Iliamna Volcano, located 140 miles southwest of Anchorage and 70 miles northwest of Homer, experienced increased seismic activity early Saturday morning, causing consternation among some Cook Inlet area residents.

But according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, an eruption is still considered not imminent or certain. The most recent status update from the AVO, from Noon Friday, says that the volcano was exhibiting activity above background, but that the seismic activity wasn't enough to indicate an eruption or change in status.
The observatory said Friday that a similar seismic swarm at Iliamna in 1996-1997 was not followed by an eruption, and further that historically the mountain hasn't exhibited volcanic activity.

But according to the "webicorder" streaming seismic data from a monitoring station about 2 miles from Iliamna's summit, a band of new seismic activity began Saturday a little before 3:30 a.m. Saturday, and ended by 10:30 a.m. As of Saturday at Noon, there hasn't been a new status update issued for Iliamna, and the aviation color code and volcano alert status has not changed from Yellow/Advisory.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory's latest status report, from Saturday afternoon, does not indicate a change in status for Iliamna despite the new activity: "Seismic activity at Iliamna Volcano remains slightly above background. Nothing unusual was observed in web camera and mostly cloudy satellite images over the past 24 hours. The current activity at Iliamna does not indicate an imminent or certain eruption." - Alaska Dispatch.


EARTH CHANGES: Deadly Snowstorm in Japan's Northern Alps Kills 8 Climbers!

Eight elderly mountaineers who went missing in Japan's Northern Alps following a snowstorm were confirmed dead on Saturday after some of them were evacuated by helicopter, police said.

The climbers collapsed near Mount Korenge in central Nagano prefecture.
A group of six climbers in their 60s and 70s were spotted early Saturday after they collapsed near Mount Korenge in central Nagano prefecture, a police spokesman said.  The climbers, who went missing Friday on their way to the 2,932-metre (9,676-foot) Shiroumadake Peak, were transported by helicopter to a nearby village but were later confirmed dead, he said. 

The spokesman also confirmed the death of a 62-year-old woman who was found unconscious near Jiigatake Peak, south of Mount Korenge.  Another 71-year-old man died of hypothermia after he made an emergency call for rescue after being stuck in bad weather near Karasawa Peak, south of Jiigatake Peak.  Climbers are rushing to the Northern Alps during the nation's "Golden Week" spring holidays in late April and early May as a climbing season in the region just begins. - AFP.