Sunday, November 11, 2012

GREAT DELUGE: Devastating Trough - Widespread, Unprecedented and "Catastrophic" Floods Submerges Parish of St. Mary, in Jamaica!

November 11, 2012 - ST. MARY, JAMAICA - Damage assessment of yesterday's torrential rains which caused widespread flooding in Port Maria, St Mary has not yet been completed, but the Meteorological Service is forecasting more showers and windy conditions for that section of the island.

A trough east of the island dumped showers on most northern parishes yesterday, particularly in the north eastern parish of St Mary. Heavy rains caused damage to businesses and streets in Port Maria, where a group of shoppers at a supermarket were trapped for hours by rising flood waters. A motor vehicle was also submerged by the waters.

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson says the flooding in Port Maria is an issue of spatial planning. He explains that the town is located between two rivers and is also below sea level. He says while the ODPEM does not have direct responsibility for disaster coordination at the local level, it is assisting with the welfare needs of residents where the parish authorities cannot. The ODPEM says Oracabessa and sections of Junction in the vicinity of Georgia in St Mary were also affected by the rains. - Jamaica Gleaner.

WATCH: Stunning scenes from St. Mary.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Quake Jolts Guatemala's Western Coast!

November 11, 2012 - GUATEMALA - An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale jolted offshore Guatemala on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. This comes against the background of the powerful magnitude 7.5 tremor that struck off the Pacific Coast of Guatemala on Wednesday, killing at least 52 people and shaking buildings as far away as Mexico.

Striking about 18 miles (30 kilometers) below sea level, the tremor was centered about 15 miles west-southwest of Champerico, Guatemala, and 110 miles from the capital, Guatemala City. The quake was not far from southern Mexico, with the USGS reporting it was 24 miles south-southeast of the border community of Suchiate, Mexico. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that "based on all available data, a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected." - CNN.

Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity.
Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics. - USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Sakurajima in Japan, Erupts Again - Producing Powerful Explosions, With Ash Plumes Rising to 13,000 Feet!

November 11, 2012 - JAPAN - The Sakurajima volcano in Japan continues to show elevated activity: During the 9th of November, there were 4 moderate explosions with ash plumes rising to 8-13,000 ft (2.4-4 km) altitude.

While the volcano has only had about 1 explosion per day from the 5th to the 7th of November, Sakurajima has been very active since the 8th, with at least 6 moderate explosions recorded during the past 24 hours. A large one this morning at 06:27 GMT produced an ash plume reaching 13,000 ft (4.3 km) altitude. Sakurajima is presently in constant (persistant) activity. Its ongoing typical activity range from strong strombolian to large ash explosions every 4-24 hours. The volcano is located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km east of the city of Kagoshima with a population of half a million. - Volcano Discovery.

Geologic Summary: Sakurajima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76. - Global Volcanism Program.

WATCH: Sakurajima's latest explosions.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Large Numbers of Fish Found Mysteriously Dead in the Guangdang River, China?!

November 11, 2012 - CHINA - Yesterday afternoon, Yantai public Mr. Cao call 96110 reflects the number of dead fish floating the Laishan Guangdang River river, nearby residents competing salvage. Some residents said, may be the result of someone deliberately electric fish.  16:30, Hutchison Who rushed to the the Laishan green homes north gate reaches Guangdang River, most of the dead fish in the river has been fishing for walking, from time to time, residents rush to the river holding a fishing tool.

FILE: A man collects dead fish in the Guanqiao Lake in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province from earlier this year.
Nearby residents said, here morning people up all their tools to fish, dead fish discarded in the river weeds. On the surface of the water near the shore has been the color green, sporadic floating in waving belly stiff quite dead fish, most of these fish is about 2 cm carp seedlings, the river of dead fish gathered at the green moss, exudes a pungent stench. Beside the river 5,6 individuals are busy with homemade nets fishing. A middle-aged man riding a motorcycle holding hand nets hurriedly ran down the river join the fishing team, about 20 minutes later, he trotted on the shore, the reporter followed him, and found the net a treaty weighing 2 pounds catfish.  Mr. Cao said, these dead fish is 5:00 yesterday morning, from Phoenix Mountain Reservoir has spread to the seaside.

Mr. Cao suspect that the river is a man-made cause of death and so many fish, likely was electrical fish in the river. Ms. Wang said that the people she lived here for six years, and have never seen so many dead fish. The people walk on in Guangdang River bridge Uncle Lee said, two weeks ago, there are a lot of people come to the river to fish, dead fish in the river are now members of the public fish the rest of the fish in the morning. Lee uncle said, these are carp, carp and catfish fry, could have long from samgun now alive died, Uncle Lee that the river water is too shallow hypoxia caused by large tracts of fish floating on the surface of the water, but also may be electric fish electric fish Mongolia.  The interview, the reporter learned that fishing people in dead fish the majority do not know the dead fish as a food harmful. In this regard, the health practitioner Yuhuangding Hospital, under the premise of not understanding the cause of death of fish a large area, it is recommended that the public is best not to eat fish floating in the river, in order to avoid injury to the body. - SHM.

WORLD WAR III: The Syrian Crisis & the Middle East Conflict - Israel Fires Warning Shots into Syria in Response to Errant Shell Landing!

November 11, 2012 - GOLAN HEIGHTS - For the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli forces on Sunday fired over the country’s northern border to Syria as a warning after a mortar shell fired from Syrian territory exploded in the Golan Heights, officials say. The Israeli newspaper Ynet reported the Israeli Defense Forces Artillery Corps fired at a post in Syria in response.

On Thursday, three Syrian mortar shells struck in and around an Israeli village in the Golan Heights. The IDF vowed in a statement, “Further attacks [from Syria] will illicit a vigorous response,” the Jerusalem Post reported. A longer statement posted on the IDF spokesman’s website read:

A short while ago, a mortar shell hit an IDF post in the Golan Heights adjacent to the Israel- Syria border, as part of the internal conflict inside Syria. No damage or injuries have been reported. In response, IDF soldiers fired warning shots towards Syrian areas. The IDF has filed a complaint through the UN forces operating in the area, stating that fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity.
According to the Post, IDF officials believe the Syrian shell fell over the border unintentionally due to the ongoing fighting between the forces of President Bashar Assad and opposition forces trying to oust him. The errant shell caused no injuries or damage to property. IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai believes there were no casualties on the Syrian side from the warning shots. The Jerusalem Post quoted an unnamed source who said, “This was a signal to the Syrians that we will not be so forgiving of everything that lands in a territory.” Brig. Gen. Mordechai told the Times of Israel: “We have no interest in getting in between the rebels and the Syrian army, but to defend the Golan Heights from stray fire.” Earlier on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with Army Radio that Israel would respond to further incidents of explosives hitting the Golan Heights, which is home to both Jewish and Druse Arab residents. “The message has certainly been relayed. To tell you confidently that no shell will fall? I cannot. If a shell falls, we will respond,” Barack said. The Jerusalem Post further reported:
At the Sunday cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel was closely following events along the Syrian border, and was prepared for all possibilities on that front. Israel told Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday to rein in attacks on rebels near the Golan, which had been mostly quiet for decades. The Thursday mortar at Moshav Alonei Habashan was one of three Syrian mortar shells that struck the Golan that day, marking a significant deterioration of security conditions along the border.
All of this rasies concern that the Syria conflict could expand to neighboring countries, leading to a wider conflagration. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War. In 1981, Israel annexed the territory, placing it under Israeli law, but Syria has always insisted it wants the territory back. - The Blaze.

DISASTER IMPACT: Myanmar Earthquake Death Toll Rises - At Least 12 Feared Dead!

November 11, 2012 - YANGON, BURMA - A strong earthquake struck northern Burma on Sunday, collapsing a bridge and a gold mine, damaging several old Buddhist pagodas and leaving as many as 12 people feared dead. No casualties or major damage was reported in the nearest major population center, Burma's second-biggest city of Mandalay, about 117 kilometers (72 miles) south of the quake's epicenter near the town of Shwebo. An official from the Meteorological Department in the capital, Naypyitaw, said the magnitude-6.8 quake struck at 7:42 a.m. local time.

The area surrounding the epicenter is underdeveloped, and casualty reports were coming in piecemeal, mostly from local media. The region is a center for mining of minerals and gemstones, and several mines were reported to have collapsed. The biggest single death toll was reported by a local administrative officer in Sintku township on the Irrawaddy River near the quake's epicenter who told The Associated Press that six people had died there and another 11 were injured. He said some of the dead were miners who were killed when a gold mine collapsed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because local officials are not usually allowed to release information to the media. According to news reports, several people died when a bridge under construction across the Irrawaddy River east of Shwebo collapsed. The bridge linked the town of Sinku, 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Mandalay on the east bank of the Irrawaddy, with Kyaukmyaung on the west bank. The website of Weekly Eleven magazine said four people were killed and 25 injured when the bridge, which was 80 percent built, fell. The local government announced a toll of two dead and 16 injured. All of the victims appeared to be workers.

However, a Shwebo police officer, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said just one person was confirmed dead from the bridge's collapse, while five were still unaccounted for. Weekly Eleven also said two monasteries in Kyaukmyaung collapsed, killing two people. "This is the worst earthquake I felt in my entire life," Soe Soe, a 52-year-old Shwebo resident, told The Associated Press by phone. She said that the huge concrete gate of a local monastery collapsed and that several sculptures from another pagoda in the town were damaged. Other damage was reported in Mogok, a major gem-mining area just east of the quake's epicenter. Temples were damaged there, as were some abandoned mines. "Landslides occurred at some old ruby mines, but there were no casualties because these are old mines," Sein Win, a Mogok resident, said by phone. Damage to centuries-old Buddhist temples is a common result of Burma earthquakes, but regarded by the superstitious as a bad omen. The so-called "umbrella" atop a stupa in Mogok had reportedly crashed down in Sunday's quake. These uppermost parts of the brick domes usually have encased in them relics of the Buddha and small Buddha images, and sometimes jewels. Sein Win said police were guarding the damaged stupa and its exposed relics. A resident of Naypyitaw, which is 365 kilometers (225 miles) south of the quake's epicenter, said several window panes of the parliament building had broken. The epicenter is in a region frequently hit by small temblors that usually cause little damage. The quake was felt in Bangkok, the capital of neighboring Thailand. - CBS News.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Major Disaster Impact - Former UN Official Says Climate Report to Shock the Nations of the World!

November 11, 2012 - UNITED NATIONS - The next United Nations climate report will ''scare the wits out of everyone'' and should provide the impetus needed for the world to finally sign an agreement to tackle global warming, the former head of the UN negotiations said.  Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change talks, said his conversations with scientists working on the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested the findings would be shocking. 

"That report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,'' Mr de Boer said in the only scheduled interview of his visit to Australia. "I'm confident those scientific findings will create new political momentum.''  The IPCC's fifth assessment report is due to be published in late 2013 and early 2014. Advertisement  Before then is the next end-of-year UN climate meeting in Doha, Qatar. Delegates will discuss a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  Last December nations agreed in South Africa to work on a binding agreement that would cover all countries. That work is expected to continue until 2015.  Mr de Boer, who is now special global advisor on climate change for KPMG, said the best prospect may be for nations to settle on targets that they write into their national laws, rather than a binding international deal.  The latter would be "almost impossible to get through the US Senate", he said, no matter whether incumbent Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney wins the US presidential election.  Three years on from Copenhagen, Mr de Boer said he has neither nightmares nor withdrawal symptoms from those failed talks, which included a final 12-hour marathon of discussions behind closed doors with Mr Obama, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and 23 other global leaders. 

"That was such a fantastic opportunity and it slipped between our fingers," said Mr de Boer. "That's my big frustration."  He said Copenhagen's legacy had changed political attitudes to  climate talks.  "Most politicians will think twice about going to a climate event, and if they go again, they will be damned sure that they'll be celebrating success rather than be associated with failure,'' he said.  Expectations of global action on climate change have diminished, but Mr de Boer said it would still be "a very, very difficult conference" for his successor, Christiana Figueres.  He said the mandate for 2015 remained ambiguous and nations would be reluctant to sign up before they know what they were getting into.  The Kyoto Protocol has not been ratified by the US, and Canada, Japan and Russia have said they would not sign up to a second round when the current commitment lapses at the end of the year. Australia is yet to announce whether it will commit. Developing nations are holding back until they can see the rich acting.  They also want proof the UN's Green Climate Fund - aimed at supporting efforts to counter climate change  - will get the $US100 billion in government and private funding promised.  He said superstorm Sandy may spur more Americans, and people elsewhere, to consider the risks of climate change, but warned: "It's a bit like being shocked into stopping smoking when you've been told you've got terminal cancer." - Brisbane Times.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report - Cleveland, Lokon, the Tjörnes Fracture Zone, Mayon,Taal, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Santiaguito, Alaid, and Heard Island!

November 11, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

New explosions occurred earlier today from Paluweh (Rokatenda) volcano in Flores, Indonesia. An ash plume was observed at 09:30 GMT reaching 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude and extending 80 nm (about 140 km) to the NW.

A new explosion occurred earlier today at Cleveland volcano in the Aleutian Islands. A small ash cloud was detected on satellite images. AVO raised the Aviation Color Code to orange. Lokon volcano in North Sulawesi produced another small explosion today at 13:47 local time. Residents heard a loud bang and observed ash coming out from the crater. Ash was not seen on satellite data.  The seismic swarm in the Tjörnes Fracture Zone north off Iceland regained some strength the past days. The seismic swarm has now been ongoing for almost 3 weeks. 

After being unusually quiet, two of the volcanoes in the Philippines seem to become more restless:
Mayon volcano has started to show some signs of renewed activity. PHILVOLS has detected a slightly elevated number of quakes and weak inflation of parts of the volcanic edifice. The volcano is producing a gas and steam plume. It is not expected to erupt in the near future, but PHILVOLCS recommends a safety distance of 6 km due to the risk of sudeen phreatic explosions and lahars.

Taal volcano has been showing increased CO2 emissions, but otherwise no significant changes in the ongoing weak volcanic unrest. Popocatépetl in Mexico had more than 120 emissions of steam and sometimes small amounts of ash during 9-10 November, in other words more than 3 times what has been reported for most of the previous days. It is unclear whether this is due to better observation circumstances (clearer weather etc.) or reflects a true increase of activity. During 9-10 Nov, Fuego volcano was unusually quiet with only 3 weak explosions. The latest INSIVUMEH report also mentions the length of the lava flow at only 200 m, which would suggest that effusion rate has dropped a lot (temporarily).

During the past days, also Santiaguito seems to have been calm compared to previous periods. INSIVUMEH reports steaming and a few weak explosions, but states the dome was "calm". A strong thermal anomaly remains visible at Alaid volcano in the Northern Kuriles, Russia. MODIS satellite data continues also to show a hotspot at Heard Island volcano.

CLONING: Genetic Engineering and Manipulation - Brazil to Clone Endangered Species to Bolster Wild Population Numbers!

November 11, 2012 - RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - Brazilian scientists are attempting to clone animals in danger of extinction, like the jaguar and maned wolf, although the potential impact on the conservation of these threatened species is still not clear. 

The jaguar is one of the first three species that Brazilian scientists will attempt to clone.
Credit: Courtesy of the Brasilia Zoo.
The cloning initiative is being undertaken by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, and is now in its second phase. The research is aimed at adapting cloning techniques to wild animal species as a means of contributing to conservation.  The first phase involved the collection of samples of genetic material, or germplasm, in the form of blood, sperm, somatic cells and umbilical cord cells.  “We already have 420 germplasm samples stored in our bank and are going to continue collecting,” EMBRAPA researcher Carlos Frederico Martins told Tierramérica*. Eight animals have been chosen for the initiative, including the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). Most are on the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

The samples were gathered over the course of two years. In addition to the three species mentioned above, the bank has also been stocked with germplasm from the bush dog (Speothos venaticus), coati (genus Nasua), collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and bison (genus Bison).  The researchers harvested the genetic material primarily from dead specimens of animals native to the Cerrado, the vast tropical savannah biome that stretches across central Brazil.  The next phase will be the training of researchers at the zoo.  “At EMBRAPA we have already cloned cows. What we are going to do now is to transfer our knowledge to the researchers so that they can conduct studies to adapt the technique to wild animals,” said Martins.  EMBRAPA was responsible for the birth of the first cloned animal in Brazil, a calf named Vitória, who was born in 2001 and lived until 2011.  After Vitória, many other animals have been cloned, mainly cows and horses who now add up to over 100 living specimens.  A bill that has been making its way through the Brazilian senate since 2007 would establish regulations for the practice of cloning, since the current legislation does not set very clear rules.  “Research can be freely conducted, but there is little monitoring and control. Any laboratory can clone cows, so it is impossible to precisely say how many clones exist,” explained the EMBRAPA researcher.  This is Brazil’s first attempt at cloning wild animals. Martins noted that “countries like the United States and South Korea are already working on similar research.” - IPS News.

DELUGE: Major Flooding Swamps St. Mary, Jamaica - Area Already Ravaged by Hurricane Sandy!

November 11, 2012 - JAMAICA - There was major flooding in the St Mary capital of Port Maria yesterday afternoon.

A section of Port Maria, St Mary under water on Saturday - via Twitter @D_spender.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management says the community of Oracabessa and sections of Junction in the vicinity of Georgia have also been affected.  ODPEM says the rain was produced by the stationary front currently affecting the island.  ODPEM says emergency response agencies have been alerted and are currently reporting to the areas. - Jamaica Gleaner.
Several residents from St Mary were left stranded in Ocho Rios Saturday evening after sections of capital town Port Maria was flooded.  The flooding followed heavy rains Saturday afternoon affecting both the business and residential communities.  A bus driver, identified as ‘Rumface’, who operates the Port Maria to Ocho Rios route said passengers were stranded on both ends of the route as there were also people in Port Maria wanting to go to Ocho Rios.  The flooding occurred just days after chief public health inspector for the parish, Paul Brown, suggested that people in certain communities in Port Maria be relocated. - Jamaica Observer.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The West Nile Virus May Be Attacking the Brain More Aggressively - Hints of a More Virulent, Mutating West Nile Virus Emerges!

November 11, 2012 - UNITED STATES - The West Nile virus epidemic of 2012, the worst in a decade, may be notorious for yet another reason: The virus, in some cases, is attacking the brain more aggressively than in the past, raising the specter that it may have mutated into a nastier form, say two neurologists who have extensive experience dealing with the illness.  One doctor, Art Leis in Jackson, Miss., has seen the virus damaging the speech, language and thinking centers of the brain — something he has never observed before. The other, Elizabeth Angus in Detroit, has noticed brain damage in young, previously healthy patients, not just in older, sicker ones — another change from past years.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Reuters - West Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes, can lead to
inflammation of the brain, damaging its speech, language and thinking centers.
But a scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the federal agency has not seen any evidence that the virus is causing a different type of brain damage. He said doctors may be seeing more-serious cases this year because there are more cases overall. But he acknowledged that the CDC does not collect the granular data needed to quickly determine whether the virus is causing more-severe brain damage.  Still, Angus, who has treated West Nile patients for a decade, and Leis, who has more experience treating severe West Nile illness than perhaps any doctor in the country, both suspect the virus has changed — a view bolstered by a Texas virologist whose laboratory has found signs of genetic ­changes in virus collected from the Houston area.  “I’ve been struck this year that I’m seeing more patients where the brain dysfunction has been very much worse,” said Angus, of Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. “It makes you wonder if something’s different, if something’s changed.” And while the virus in the past has typically invaded the brain and spinal cord only of people who have weakened immune systems, such as the elderly and transplant or cancer patients, Angus this summer treated a severely affected woman in her 20s and a man in his 40s.

Leis said he is seeing much more severe encephalitis — inflammation of the brain — than he has in the past. “It is clearly much more neuroinvasive, neurovirulent,” he said.  Four patients Leis treated this summer had lost their ability to talk or write. Another was paralyzed on one side, as often seen in strokes, not West Nile infections. Others experienced recurring seizures.  In all, 11 of the first 12 patients Leis saw this year at the Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson had more severe brain damage than he had seen previously. The outlook for such patients varies, but most will face years or a lifetime of disability.  “For the first time, we have radiographic evidence, clinical evidence of the virus attacking the higher cortical areas,” said Leis, who has published 15 scientific papers describing previous West Nile patients.  Marc Fischer, a CDC epidemiologist who tracks the West Nile virus, said the agency has not noticed the ­changes described by Leis and Angus. “There’s just a lot more cases this year than anybody has seen in at least 10 years,” he said. “You’re just going to see more severe cases and probably a broader variety of manifestations.” - Washington Post.

EXTREME WEATHER: U.S. Drought Worsening, Wheat Crop Suffering - Nearly 60% of Country Suffering From Moderate Drought, 19.36% From Severely Dry Conditions!

November 11, 2012 - UNITED STATES - As the East Coast is still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, hot and dry conditions throughout middle America have been deepening, worsening the ongoing drought there, according to a new climatology report released Thursday.

Image Credits: Fields hit by drought via Wikimedia Commons
Usually, October is the third-wettest month of the year for Texas, but this year there has barely been any rain at all. Last month was the ninth-driest October there since 1895.  Both Texas and Oklahoma have recorded temperatures that are above “normal” and have received practically no rain. And Kansas and Nebraska have also seen the droughts that they are experiencing expand.  These long-persisting droughts have limited the growth of the new winter wheat crop in those states, “as soil moisture levels were too low to spur normal plant development. Grazing for livestock was also poor as pastures remained parched.”

 “Roughly 59.48 percent of the contiguous United States was suffering from at least ‘moderate’ drought as of November 6, down from 60.16 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday’s Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists.”  The section of the US that is now under “extreme” or “exceptional” drought has risen though, up to 19.36 percent from 19.04 percent. “In the High Plains, which include Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 83.94 percent of the region, up from 83.87 percent of the region a week earlier. An estimated 57.54 percent of the region was in extreme or worse drought, up from 57.02 percent a week earlier.”  Many places have not seen any, or barely any, rain in the past three weeks or more. Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels have been continuing to plummet. And surface water supplies have been continuing to drop sharply, with no end in sight. As the climatologists say, we are entering a “new normal.” - Clean Technica.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Grows to 438 Cases Across the United States - 32 of Them Fatal!

November 11, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Fourteen more infections and one death have been reported in a multistate fungal meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated steroid injections, the CDC said today.

Cases and Deaths with Fungal Infections Linked to Steroid Injections.
The new cases raise the outbreak total to 438 illnesses, 32 of them fatal. The number of affected states remained at 19, and the number of peripheral joint infections linked to tainted methylprednisolone acetate from New England Compounding Center stayed at 10. So far Exserohilum rostratum, a type of black mold, has been confirmed in clinical specimens from 75 patients. Only one patient—the index case—had a lab-confirmed Aspergillus fumigatus infection. The CDC said it is aware of reports of spinal epidural abscess and arachnoiditis complications in a number of patients being treated for fungal meningitis infections. It added that most of the early reports are from patients in Michigan and Tennessee, but other states are reporting the conditions as well.
Table by State
State Total Case Counts Peripheral Joint Infections Deaths
TOTALS 438* 10 32
Florida (FL) 23 0 3
Georgia (GA) 1 0 0
Idaho (ID) 1 0 0
Illinois (IL) 2 0 0
Indiana (IN) 52 0 4
Maryland (MD) 23 0 1
Michigan (MI) 128 6 8
Minnesota (MN) 11 0 0
New Hampshire (NH) 13 4 0
New Jersey (NJ) 27 0 0
New York (NY) 1 0 0
North Carolina (NC) 3 0 1
Ohio (OH)** 15 0 0
Pennsylvania (PA) 1 0 0
Rhode Island (RI) 3 0 0
South Carolina (SC) 1 0 0
Tennessee (TN) 81 0 13
Texas (TX) 2 0 0
Virginia (VA) 50 0 2

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.8 Earthquake Rocks Myanmar - Five Reportedly Killed, Many Injuries, Bridge and Road Collapse, Buildings Damaged!

November 11, 2012 - MYANMAR - A strong earthquake struck northern Myanmar on Sunday, with local media reporting that five people were killed. Scattered damage and injuries also were reported in areas close to the quake's epicenter.

According to news reports, the most significant damage appeared to be the collapsing of bridge under construction across the Irrawaddy River in the town of Shwebo, the location of the quake's epicenter. The website of Weekly Eleven magazine said five people were killed when the bridge, which was 80 percent built, collapsed. "This is the worst earthquake I felt in my entire life," said Soe Soe, a 52-year-old Shwebo resident. According to Soe Soe, the huge concrete gate of a monastery collapsed and several sculptures from another pagoda were damaged in the town. Other damage was reported in Mogok, a major gem-mining area just east of the quake's epicenter. Temples were damaged there, as were some abandoned ruby mines hit by landslides, Sein Win, a resident, said by phone. A resident in the capital, Naypyitaw, said several window panes of the parliament building had broken.

An official from the Meteorological Department in Naypyitaw said the magnitude-6.8 quake struck at 7:42 am local time. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to the media. The US Geological Survey reported the quake's initial magnitude as 6.6 with a depth of just 10 kilometers (6 miles). There were no reports of casualties or major damage in Myanmar's second-largest city, Mandalay, which is about 117 kilometers (72 miles) south of the epicenter and the region's only major population center. Mandalay residents contacted by phone said the quake was strong enough to send people dashing out of their homes for safety, as water splashed out of jars and tanks. They said they saw no major structural damage in their immediate neighbourhoods, but added that it did cause cracks in some walls. The epicenter of the quake is in a region frequently hit by small temblors that usually cause little damage. The quake was felt in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand. - NDTV.