Tuesday, October 8, 2013

MASS FISH DIE-OFF IN GREECE: Mass Fish Kill Appears In Gulf Of Laganas In Zakynthos And Hundreds Of Dead Fish Surface In Lake Karla Reservoir?!

October 08, 2013 - GREECE - Large numbers of dead fish identified residents in the gulf of Laganas in Zakynthos.

The problem is pretty intense the last two weeks, during which reports of dead fish multiplied.

The problem is pretty intense the last two weeks, during which reports of dead fish propagated to the appropriate services

The phenomenon is investigated by the competent authorities and especially the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. Experts say the first estimate for the death of fish is that due to viral nervous necrosis and seek causes.

On Monday, a sample of fish found dead on beaches of Zakynthos were sent for examination to the National Reference Laboratories and the University of the Aegean. - Skai. [Translated]

Hundreds of dead fish in the early stages of their development have surfaced in the Lake Karla reservoir in northern Greece over the past few days, prompting authorities on Friday to conduct studies into the condition of the lake.

According to an initial report by the authority that manages the reservoir, the fish died of asphyxiation due to low oxygen levels in the water.

They said that this may be attributed to the sudden weather change rather than outside interference. - Ekathimerini.

WAR DRUMS: The Gathering And Amassing Of Military Forces - U.S. Developing Missile That Can Hit Anywhere In The World Within One Hour And Golden Eye-style Energy Beam Developed By NATO, Disables Vehicles!

October 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A recent report revealed that the US Department of Defense is developing a cutting-edge long-range missile capable of hitting any target in the world - including North Korea’s nuclear facilities - within an hour.

U.S. Developing Missile That Can Hit Anywhere In The World Within One Hour

In a report published at the beginning of this month, James Acton, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), explained the current status of the development of conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons. Development of CPGS weapons began in 2003. Outfitted with a conventional ballistic warhead, such weapons are designed to travel at supersonic speeds faster than Mach 5. The idea is to be able to hit a target thousands of kilometers away within an hour of making the decision to strike. Whereas current ballistic missiles are accurate within a radius of 100 meters or more, CPGS weapons would be accurate within a few meters. The report explained that, while no decision has been made on whether or not to acquire the weapon, the recent geopolitical situation has helped arguments for the weapon’s necessity gain traction with the administration of US President Barack Obama and the US Congress.

North Korea and Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, along with China’s anti-satellite weaponry, are the grounds used to argue for introducing the weapon, the report said. The CEIP report also indicated that the technology required to develop the weapon is maturing. A successful test launch of the advanced hypersonic weapon (AHW), the first model in this line of weapons, was held in 2011, and the supersonic cruise missile X-51A WaveRider was tested successfully for the second time in May 2013. One of the hypothetical scenarios posited by the report in which such a weapon would be needed was a preemptive strike or a counterattack on North Korean nuclear weapons. It said that, if the US believed that North Korea or Iran were on the verge of using nuclear weapons and decided to make a preemptive strike, it would need to use what is called “strategic surprise.”

This would involve making sure the target country is unaware of the missile launch until just before impact. The report also said that, even if North Korea or Iran had already used a nuclear weapon, a swift attack might be necessary to prevent them from striking again. “Some North Korean road-mobile missiles, such as the Nodong, must be fueled before use, creating a window of maybe thirty to ninety minutes,” the report said, suggesting that these weapons could be used flexibly in such situations. Nevertheless, the report warned that there is a risk that this weapon could accidentally provoke a war if another country mistakenly thought that the missile being launched was a nuclear weapon or if there was confusion about the missile’s target. In fact, former US President George W. Bush pushed for a bill in 2006 to have such weapons deployed within two years, but these efforts were stymied because of opposition in Congress. The bill that had been proposed was to replace some of the nuclear warheads on the ballistic missiles that can be launched from submarines with conventional warheads.

The cover of ”Silver Bullet?”
The idea was that these could be used in preemptive strikes. Congress, on the other hand, was concerned that Russia or China could confuse the launch of such a missile as the launch of a nuclear weapon, which could then trigger a nuclear war. Subsequent to this, the US Department of Defense altered its course toward using non-ballistic missile technology such as supersonic cruise missiles in order to avoid this danger. However, because US enemies would find it difficult to determine what the missile’s target was, the risk remains that an unintended war could break out.

The Obama administration has also supported the development program for this weapon within the current budget, the report noted, and it is expected that there will a major decision on developing and acquiring the weapon within two or three years. However, the report noted that developing the weapon today costs billions of dollars more than in the past. “Obama’s latest budget, released in April 2013, calls for reductions in CPGS funding by about 40 percent compared to the previous year,” the report said. “If sequestration - across-the-board spending cuts imposed in early 2013 under the Budget Control Act of 2011 - is not rolled back, the affordability of the entire program may be called into question.” - THO.

Golden Eye-style Energy Beam Developed By NATO, Disables Vehicles

The device uses an intense pulse of electromagnetic energy that can be directed at a moving vehicle to interfere with the electronics on board.  Tests conducted by Nato scientists who have been developing the device in Norway show that it can stop a car approaching a roadblock and could be used to thwart suicide bomb attacks.  It can also be carried in the back of a vehicle to disable other vehicles that are in pursuit. The researchers, who are working as part of Nato’s Science and Technology Organisation, have also demonstrated it can disable jet skis and drones.

 In 2000 terrorists launched a suicide attack against a US Navy ship, ramming it with boats packed with explosives.  It is hoped the device could help defend against this while also be used to defend ships against pirates.  The device has also been tested to disable electronic devices such as mobile phones that may be used to remotely trigger a bomb.  It is the latest advance in non-lethal weapons under research being carried out by military scientists around the world.  Recently US scientists unveiled a non-lethal microwave ray that induces intense pain in those in its path and was developed to help subdue riots.  Scientists from the UK, Norway, the US, Germany, France and a number of other countries have been working as part of the Nato Science and Technology Organisation to use high powered radio waves and microwaves as non-lethal weapons.

Dr Ernst Krogager, task group chairman of the Nato STO group that has been leading this work, code-named SCI-250, described the new electromagnetic beam in a video released on the Nato website.

He said: "The ignition generates a very high intensity pulse and it will interfere with the electronic control system inside the car so the car will stop." The video shows the system being tested in a number of scenarios to defend vehicles and checkpoints from suicide bomb attacks and approaching vehicles. The device has been compared to the satellite weapon that features in the James Bond movie Golden Eye. In this an electromagnetic beam is fired from a satellite in orbit to disable electronic equipment.

While the latest device cannot work on the same scale, it has the potential to disable almost any electronic device. It is, however, unlikely to work against older vehicles that rely upon purely mechanical equipment.

Electromagnetic pulses create an intense magnetic field that damages electronic circuitry. Details of how the new device works are still secret but it is likely to use microwaves or radio frequency energy. Images released by Nato show pressure transmitters that are used to generate electrical signals. The new device has been developed in collaboration with defence company Diehl, which has also been working on high altitude electromagnetic pulse weapons.

Diehl say its "convoy protection" system, which is designed to be portable, can also be used to disable electronic sensors on improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It states: "Enemy vehicles with electronic motor management can be stopped inconspicuously by mobile and stationary High Power Electro-Magnetics systems. "HPEM sources can be used for personal and convoy protection, for instance, to overload and permanently destroy radio-based fusing systems. "HPEM can also support special and police forces in fulfilling their tasks. "HPEM systems suppress enemy communication and disturb reconnaissance and information systems, for instance, in freeing hostages." In 2011 Diehl tested its HPEM prototypes against IEDs in an armoured vehicle in Afghanistan. Scientists at the UK Ministry of Defence's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory have also been conducting research on directed electromagnetic energy weapons.

The most recent tests, conducted at a secret location in Norway, show how the electromagnetic beam can turn off a car engine and its lights as it approaches a checkpoint and a parked vehicle. It also shows how a device mounted in the back of a car can stop another vehicle that is chasing it. Describing the test Harry Arnesen, senior scientist at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment that has been leading the project, said: "When we get close to the car, they will fire the engine stopper and the electromagnetic noise from the radiator will interfere with our engine and stop it. "This is a fairly safe and simple way of doing it. It is also non-lethal – it doesn't actually kill anyone, or harm anyone. It also doesn't really harm the vehicle much either." - Telegraph.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "This Is The Worst Invasive Pest We've Ever Had" - "Superpests" Swarming Across America?!

October 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Stink bugs are invading downtown Sacramento, Japanese mosquitoes are moving into Minnesota, and bed bugs are … well, everywhere, horrifyingly enough. And that’s not even including the weeds, supergerms and parasitic wasps.

A close-up of stink bugs clinging to a the underside of a tree in downtown Sacramento.
(Baldo Villegas, USDA)

Farmers and homeowners in the U.S. are waging war against a range of pests -- both homegrown and imported -- that threaten crops and livestock, sicken our children, and generally annoy the heck out of us. They come from several sources: Abuse of pesticides and antibiotics have led to the rise of superweeds and superbugs -- a problem one researcher called “a slow-train wreck” -- while the rise in international trade and tourism has brought with it foreign superpests with no known enemies -- and they’re the ones living the American Dream.

Just look at the brown marmorated stink bug.

“There are reports of people using manure shovels and 5-gallon buckets to dispose of them,” said Chuck Ingels, farm advisor and interim county director with the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources arm.

“This is the worst invasive pest we’ve ever had in California.”

A stinky problem
The nightmarish nuisance of the stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, likely began 15 years ago or so when the bug sneaked into the U.S. from Asia. The inch-or-so long, extra-smelly pest can fly up to half a mile at a pop and feasts on grapes, apples, berries and other crops.

“Whenever you bring a pest over, they can explode, because there’s no parasites,” Ingels told FoxNews.com. They’re trouble for farmers, but lately the bugs have branched out -- Ingels found a hearty colony of the critters living in downtown Sacramento. Stink bugs will creep into houses and breed in sheds; some advise vacuuming up the swarming pests.

The solution sounds even worse than the problem: Scientists aim to import another pest from Asia, a type of parasitic wasp that specifically target the larva of the stink bug, laying its own eggs within them. Currently living in quarantine, the wasps may be released shortly.

The stink bugs have taken over thanks to the rise in agribusiness -- just take a look at the fruits in your fridge for a quick tour of South America. Another factor is the increase in tourism, said Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, who leads the Endemic and Invasive Pest and Disease initiative at the University of California.

“It’s the size of the world population and how much travel is going on and movement of people and products,” she told FoxNews.com.

Minnesota faces a similar imported threat: the Japanese rock pool mosquito, Aedes japonicas, which likely arrived on container ships from Asia and has slowly worked its way from both coasts to Minnesota over the course of a decade, explained Mike McLean, public information officer with Metropolitan Mosquito Control.

“It’s been interesting to watch an exotic species take hold,” he told FoxNews.com. Interesting, but, also potentially dangerous: In its native habitat, the japonicas is a carrier for Japanese encephalitis.

“We don’t have that disease in this country, but because the mosquitoes can spread it, we really keep a close eye on it,” he said.

Non-native species aren’t just an American problem, of course. We export various species from the U.S. to plague other countries as well.

“The prickly pear cactus has taken over in Africa,” he said, “and you see certain diseases decimating crayfish populations in Europe. You see that not just in North America but all over the world.”

Superbugs, superweeds and more
Not all superpests fly and sting, of course. Some are so small you can barely see them. This week, the CDC warned of the rise of a different form of superpest: superbugs, dangerous bacteria that are resistant to the drugs we’ve created to kill them.

And like Lex Luthor or the Joker, this superproblem has a sinister origin: Like a bad science-fiction story, we have inflicted the plague upon ourselves.

“It’s an approaching crisis,” explained Scott Saber, vice president of government affairs for Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization.

The widespread overuse of antibiotics in hospitals and on farms is leading to the rise of superbugs that are resistant to drugs -- antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, a diarrhea-causing superbug, and a class of fast-growing killer bacteria dubbed a "nightmare" among them. The CDC called it an urgent public-health threat on Monday.

As farm animals are continually exposed to antibiotics, which serve to promote growth and prevent disease, a small number of the bacteria living in their guts develop resistance to those antibiotics. Then it’s Darwin’s Law writ large: The drug-resistant bacteria that survive thrive, and make their way into the food system, into supermarkets, and ultimately into us.

“Of [the CDC’s] top 10, at least half of them originally were created on the farm from continuous use of antibiotics in pigs and chicken,” explained Washington State University research Charles Benbrook.

Benbrook, who works at WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, released a study last year showing a second side to the superpest problem: superweeds.

The widespread use of genetically modified seeds specially coded to battle bugs and wilt weeds has led to the rise of superweeds that just won’t die, despite the best poisons available to farmers. Marketed as Roundup, the chemical glyphosate worked extremely well for a few years. But thanks to overspraying, the weeds have woken up and gotten smart.

Now 28 species of weed are resistant to Roundup, on more than 100 million acres of farmland.

“This is probably the most valuable herbicide ever discovered. And in little more than a decade, its efficacy, if not completely eroded, is very substantially reduced,” he told FoxNews.com.

“This is a slow train wreck that’s been happening in agriculture,” he said.
If farmers increase spraying or use harsher chemicals, they put farm workers and other creatures at risk. If they don’t do anything, the weeds and bugs will take over.

“There’s almost no good options that doesn’t place some other organism in the environment at risk,” Benbrook told FoxNews.com. - FOX News.

EARTH CHANGES: Geological Upheaval - Massive Underwater Mountains Churn Antarctic Waters!

October 08, 2013 - ANTARCTICA - Underwater mountains in the ocean passage between South America and Antarctica mix midlevel seawater dramatically, new research suggests.

Mountainous terrain buried beneath Drake Passage, the waterway separating South America
and Antarctica, may be responsible for much of the ocean mixing in the region.
Alan Homer and British Antarctic Survey

This churning of waters in the Southern Ocean plays a huge role in ocean circulation and, in turn, climate.
"Our study indicates that virtually all the mixing in the Southern Ocean occurs in Drake Passage and at a few other undersea mountain locations," study co-author Andrew Watson, an oceanographer at the University of Exeter in England, said in a statement. "Our study will provide climate scientists with the detailed information about the oceans that they currently lack."

The findings, detailed Wednesday in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing mystery about how ocean waters are mixed near Antarctica.

Mystery mixingFor years, scientists had known that the dense water from the deepest depths of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica had to mix with the lighter water above it. But scientists had no idea what was going on at the middle depths of the ocean.

That was a problem for climate predictions, because the churning of ocean waters can drive long-term climate patterns, said Rick Lumpkin, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Miami, who was not involved in the study. Understanding how this mixing occurs can better inform the climate models that make those predictions, because ocean mixing carries carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the deep sea. Ocean mixing also affects how heat is transferred to the poles of the Earth, affecting global temperatures.

The tracer showed almost no vertical mixing in the Pacific but as the water passed over the mountainous ocean floor in the relatively narrow continental gap that forms the Drake Passage it began to mix dramatically.
British Antarctic Survey

Oceanographers knew the Andes Mountains once connected South America and Antarctica, before the movement of Earth's continents and changes in sea level flooded the southern tail of the range. Now, some mountains lie buried beneath Drake Passage, the channel that separates the two continents. Some researchers had proposed that the rough topography of those mountains could cause seawater to mix, but they had no way to test that idea. An alternative theory posited that water evaporation caused surface waters to become denser, causing it to sink and drive ocean mixing.

Tracing seawater
To understand the mixing of ocean waters at middle depths near Antarctica, Watson and his colleagues released a tank of an inert tracer into the Southern Ocean water at various locations in and near Drake Passage.

They then went back over a few years to find the patches of ocean where they left the tracer, and took water samples at many depths to see how the tracer had mixed with the seawater.

"It's an impressive feat to go back and find that again," Lumpkin told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.
The team found that relatively little mixing happened at the middle depths of the ocean outside Drake Passage. But there were a few places where a lot was going on.

"There are these hotspots associated with the topography — mountains — where mixing is a lot, lot higher," Lumpkin said. "As much as 20 or 30 percent of the density change that the water experiences might be happening by interior mixing."

Another study, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that huge underwater waves mix enormous amounts of deep water as they break in the narrow Samoan Passage in the South Pacific. - NBC.

TERMINATOR & BIG BROTHER NOW: Rise Of The Machines And The Global Police State - New U.K. Gun Allows Cops To Shoot And Capture Your DNA And LAPD Police Body Camera Tool Could Mean Age Of 'Ubiquitous Surveillance'!

October 08, 2013 - TECHNOLOGY - A new tool that would allow law enforcement to prevent criminals from running away or disappearing into a crowd before arrest was highlighted last week at The SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

New Gun Allows Cops To Shoot And Capture Your DNA
SelectaDNA’s high velocity DNA tagging system in action, available in both pistol and rifle formats.
(Photo: Selectamark Security Systems)

The High Velocity DNA Tagging system by the U.K.-based security company Selectamark was introduced with police officers in a riot situation in mind. Coming in both pistol and rifle form, the tool would allow police to remain 30 to 40 meters from the target and tag them with a SelectaDNA High Velocity pellet that contains a unique DNA code to ensure the correct person is apprehended later.

DNA pellets used by law enforcement officers to tag individuals with a unique SelectaDNA code from a distance. (Photo: Selectamark Security Systems)

“On contact with the target the uniquely-coded SelectaDNA solution leaves a synthetic DNA trace mark that will enable the relevant authorities to confirm or eliminate that person from their involvement in a particular situation and could ultimately lead to arrest and prosecution,” Selectamark Managing Director Andrew Knights said in a statement. - The Blaze.

LAPD Police Body Camera Tool Could Mean Age Of 'Ubiquitous Surveillance'
One of the largest law enforcement departments in the United States wants to give body-worn cameras to all of its officers, but the specter of constant surveillance is raising privacy issues for both police and the suspects caught on video.

Led by newly installed President of the Los Angeles Police Commission Steve Soboroff, the Los Angeles Police Department is ramping up a campaign to raise private funds for the new technology. Soboroff already has secured about $500,000 from Hollywood figures like media executive Casey Wasserman and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, which gets him halfway toward his goal to give cameras to 1,500 LAPD officers, reports the Associated Press. Soboroff hopes to have cameras for all on-shift officers within a year, reports the LA Daily News.

A pilot study conducted on the 66-officer police department in nearby Rialto, Calif., found that complaints against police officers dropped 88 percent and use of force by an officer dropped by almost 60 percent after instituting body-worn cameras, according to The New York Times.

The LAPD, which employs about 10,000 officers, paid out $24,154,957 in settlements related to civil rights violations or traffic accidents in 2011, which means there is a financial incentive -- besides the potential reduction of police brutality or false abuse allegations -- for the cameras to work.

But the effort to reduce abuse could bring up a host of potential privacy violations. Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, points out that the introduction of body-worn cameras needs to come with strong policies that severely restrict access to the footage and protect the privacy of people caught on camera.

"Police officers often interact with people who are in vulnerable states, or not at their best," said Bibring in an interview with The Huffington Post. "The fact that video is being taken for accountability purposes does not mean it should end up on the evening news." As an example, Bibring brought up the dash-cam video taken of movie star Reese Witherspoon's drunken arrest in Atlanta. While it was filmed on the street where Witherspoon had no expectation of privacy, Bibring pointed out that the video was "very embarrassing," and ended up leaking from the police department.

WATCH: As LAPD Campaigns For Body Cameras, Privacy Questions Emerge.

"[These videos] shouldn't be accessible to anyone else in the department," said Bibring. "Not only should they not be shared with the evening news, they shouldn't be emailed around the office."

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union for LAPD officers, emphasized similar concerns about officers' privacy.

"Balancing everyone’s right to privacy with technology that could, in effect, capture every moment of every day, will be our emphasis as we consider and negotiate work rules," said a LAPPL statement released Monday. "Among other issues, recording a very personal moment or a deeply visceral reaction to a violent or tragic crime scene may serve no purpose other than to satisfy morbid curiosity and embarrass someone."

The LAPPL also emphasized that video or images alone are not "complete investigations," and shouldn't be used to encourage a "gotcha" mentality within the department.

When contacted Wednesday by HuffPost, the LAPD had no comment on the privacy issues related to body cameras.

But some police watchdogs believe that donning the uniform means officers should expect extra public scrutiny at all times. Diop Kamau, the founder of an independent police oversight body called PoliceAbuse.com, was a police officer in Hawthorne, Calif., and has strong opinions about the privacy police officers should expect when they sign up for the job.

"What [police] do in public when they're in their uniform is something that they should be comfortable with letting people view at a later date," said Kamau to HuffPost. "It's about openness and accountability."

Kamau also pointed out that because of the widespread use of smartphones, the public is already routinely surveilling the police, whether or not officers realize it. "I think that if any [department] needed cameras, it's the LAPD," he continued. "I would like to see the entire country move in that direction."

Police departments in Iowa, Texas, North Carolina and Arizona, to name a few, have experimented with body-worn cameras.

The question of public access to footage obtained by police is a murky one. Michael Donaldson, a partner at Beverly Hills law firm Donaldson & Callif specializing in fair use and privacy issues, said he believes body-camera footage is part of the public domain because it probably can't be copyrighted by a police department and it is a public record created by a public employee.

But whether the public should have access to the footage is a different question entirely, he said, and gets at possibly the most important legal issue surrounding the body-camera footage.

"The privacy issues are paramount," said Donaldson to HuffPost. "For instance, if the cops were to break down your door, you'd have a legitimate expectation of privacy in your home. Therefore, that footage would invade your privacy if it were shown outside of strictly, tightly controlled police usage."

"What's new about the technology?" added Donaldson. "It's a small, hidden camera. The [privacy] law is the same." Still, he conceded that without a video from an officer's lapel camera to examine, the issues were all hypothetical and have yet to be tested in court.

Bibring has been vocal about the specific protections needed if body cameras go mainstream. He recommended that video be uploaded securely and that sharing the footage with other departments or agencies be limited. He also suggested a log-in system for the video database, so that officers would have to identify themselves and outline their reasons for accessing past footage.

Bibring warned against what he called "ubiquitous surveillance" -- like officers scanning videos to note who attended a protest.

"People should be aware that they're being recorded, and there's a question of whether they're properly public records," said Bibring. "They shouldn't be publicized with the identity of the individual, but certainly the person being recorded should have access to it."

The LAPD is still in the process of outfitting patrol cars with dashboard cameras, a reform instituted after the 1991 beating of Rodney King by LA officers. So far, a quarter of the department's 1,200 patrol cars have been equipped, notes the AP. - Huffington Post.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: "Rare Occurrence" - Why Are Elk Mysteriously Dying In New Mexico?!

October 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - In August of 2013, more than 100 elk were found dead on a range to the north of Las Vegas. They are believed to have all died within a 24 hour period. The mysterious deaths have left the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish baffled over what caused the animals to die.

The death of livestock is not in itself a rare occurrence. Poachers, predators, disease, toxins, starvation, drought, heat and even lightening can wipe out herds of animals. Wildlife officials have, however, dismissed these possibilities.

Anthrax poisoning, which occurs following ingestion of the organism, was suspected as causing the deaths. In 2000, more than 150 livestock animals in North Dakota died of anthrax. The bacteria also exists naturally in the New Mexico region.

However, according to a report in Live Science, tests for anthrax came back negative. (1)

Pesticides have also been responsible for killing livestock. Cattle will eat grass that has been sprayed with pesticides such as calcium arsenate powder and liquid arsenate herbicide. These substances are highly toxic to livestock. If arsenic is ingested, it can damage small blood vessels, which affects the blood supply to the major organs, as stated by the LSU AGCenter. (2)

There does, however, seem to be no evidence of any pesticide use in the area and officials have ruled out the use of heavy pesticides as being the reason for the mass killings.

Is the Weather to Blame?
Thunderstorms and lightning are a common occurrence in the New Mexico area, particularly during the summer months. In fact, according to the Severe Weather Climatology for New Mexico report, because the state has one of the highest storm frequencies in the United States, it has the highest lightning fatalities per capita in the US. (3)

Lighting does represent a significant hazard to large animals and the natural world and, given the frequency of lightning in the area, death by lightning was another slim possibility. However, this premise was ruled out by officials at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish primarily because it would be highly unlikely that lightning strikes would lead to the deaths of 100 animals.

Contamination and Disease as Possible Causes

Contaminated well water is another possible cause of the mystery deaths but no toxins have been identified in the water. An unidentified disease has also been mentioned as being a potential cause but has also been dubbed as being unlikely due to the implausibility that so many animals would all die so quickly.

Another possible culprit is Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), which is carried by insect bites.

“With EHD, an elk could get a fever. It’s usually a pretty fast illness, and up to eight to 36 hours later the animals go into shock, and then they die,” said Rachel Shockley, spokesperson for New Mexico Game and Fish department. (4)
Theories and Other Examples of Sudden Animal Deaths
This is not the first time large groups of livestock have simultaneously died and the cause of the deaths is unconfirmed and remains a mystery.

In the 1980s, a mysterious wasting disease killed 280 cattle on a farm near the Dry Run Landfill in West Virginia. The incident eventually led to a Class Action lawsuit against DuPont, a US chemical company. DuPont was blamed for contaminating the drinking water supplies at the farm with C8.

The contamination was said to have originated from the DuPont Washington Works facility in Wood County. According to the Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project, the farmers sued DuPont for the death of their cattle and the ill health of their family and farm workers.

The cause of death was never conclusively associated with the chemical contamination of drinking water stemming from the DuPont facility. The company did settle for an “undisclosed amount” in light of the allegations. (5)

In 2010, a more fantastical theory was pinned as the cause of deaths of more than 300 goats in rural Mexico. Shepherds and ranchers in the area were convinced that el chupacabra – goat sucker in Spanish – a Hispanic vampire beast was responsible for the livestock killings.
“Shepherds in Puebla State are frightened by the attacks on their flocks by either the chupacabra, wild dogs or some other wild creature that they’ve been unable to hunt down, and which has caused the deaths of over 300 goats for some 50 days,” reporter Pedro Morales noted in a report. (6)
As for the fated elks, EHD seems like the most probable cause. As Rachel Shockley says, EHD is most dangerous at this time of the year when temperatures are hot and the animals stay close together at water supplies.

Both water samples from the streams and creeks and tissue samples have been sent off for testing. Until EHD has been confirmed, the death of so many elk in a 75,000-acre ranch remains a mystery.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Live Science
(2) LSU AgCenter
(3) Severe Weather Climatology for New Mexico
(4) Raw Story
(5) Fluoride Action Network Pesticide Project
(6) Live Science
(7) digitalART2 via photopin cc
(8) New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish
- TSW.

ICE AGE NOW: Weather Anomalies - The Shortest Summer On Record In Alaska?!

October 08, 2013 - ALASKA - Back in May we had extensive discussion about the unusually cold spring conditions, which broke some longstanding records in Fairbanks - including the latest date with daily mean temperature below freezing (May 18). 

Barrow Sea Ice Webcam

With the early arrival of freezing conditions this month, it should be no surprise that the length of the continuous summer thaw season was the shortest on record in Fairbanks (despite the summer being much warmer than normal).  The most recent similar year was 1992 - again, no surprise, though it is interesting to note that 1992 was cold both in spring and in September, similar to this year.

See below for the data in graphical form; I've defined the thaw season as the period when daily mean temperatures are continuously above freezing.

In Bettles the continuous thaw season ended with the record freeze of August 31.  Remarkably, the season was bounded on both ends by hard frost (10 °F on May 19, 15 °F on August 31).  The 103 days of continuous thaw matched the outcome in 1983. - Alaskan Weather and Climate Blog.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Series of Six Earthquakes Strikes Mexican State Of Guerrero!

October 08, 2013 - MEXICO - A series of at least six earthquakes — two reaching at least 5.0- magnitude — struck Sunday in the Mexican state of Guerrero, which is still reeling from deadly tropical storms last month.

The epicenter of the strongest quake — 5.21-magnitude, at 9.27 local time (1527 GMT), according to the National Seismological Service — was located in the mountainous area where a September 16 mudslide buried a whole town.

“We are monitoring the areas affected by the recent rains because the soil is moist and that can generate problems” from the trembling, said Jose Luis Serna, civil protection director of the town nearest the epicenter, Coyuca de Benitez.

“But so far, we have no news,” he said.

The quakes were also felt with moderate intensity in the resort town of Acapulco, which is recovering from the massive flooding brought on when storms Ingrid and Manuel swept across the country in mid-September.

Authorities recommended moving “away from risk areas, such as slopes and where there are cracks in the ground,” Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre said in his Twitter account.

Tourists in Acapulco were evacuated from hotels to the Costera Miguel Aleman, the port town’s main tourist road.

All six quakes were recorded between 9am local time (1500 GMT) and 10.36am (1636 GMT), and so far no damage has been reported in Guerrero state. - Borneo Post.

Tectonic Summary
Earthquakes are a common occurrence along the Middle American subduction zone.  Since 1975, 25 events of M 6 or greater have occurred within 200 km of the August 2013 earthquake, including events of M 7.4 (May 2012, 130km east), M 7.1 (February 1996, 175km southeast), M 7.4 (September 1994, 85km east), and M 7.2 (October 1980, 187km northeast).  The series of earthquakes also occurred within the general rupture area of the 1957 Guerrero Earthquake that defines the southern boundary of the “Guerrero Gap” – a segment of the Cocos-North America plate boundary identified to have experienced no large earthquakes in instrumental or historical records.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Seismotectonics of Mexico

Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismologically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.

The area west of the Gulf of California, including Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, is moving northwestward with the Pacific plate at about 50 mm per year. Here, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other creating strike-slip faulting, the southern extension of California's San Andreas fault. In the past, this relative plate motion pulled Baja California away from the coast forming the Gulf of California and is the cause of earthquakes in the Gulf of California region today.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. In southern Mexico, Volcán de Colima and El Chichón erupted in 2005 and 1982, respectively. Paricutín volcano, west of Mexico City, began venting smoke in a cornfield in 1943; a decade later this new volcano had grown to a height of 424 meters. Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanos ("smoking mountain" and "white lady", respectively), southeast of Mexico City, occasionally vent gas that can be clearly seen from the City, a reminder that volcanic activity is ongoing. In 1994 and 2000 Popocatépetl renewed its activity forcing the evacuation of nearby towns, causing seismologists and government officials to be concerned about the effect a large-scale eruption might have on the heavily populated region. Popocatépetl volcano last erupted in 2010. - USGS.