Tuesday, December 8, 2015

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MCR-1 Mobile Gene - Superbugs Resistant To ALL ANTIBIOTICS Found In Europe For The First Time; Experts Fear This Is The Start Of A GLOBAL EPIDEMIC Of Untreatable Infections!

December 8, 2015 - DENMARK - Just three weeks after Chinese academics discovered that superbugs had breached the last line of antibiotic defences for the first time, a patient in Denmark has become infected with an untreatable form of salmonella.

The Chinese team had warned that the hyper-resistant bugs were likely to spread fast, but experts said the speed at which it had travelled to Europe was extremely serious.

Until recently, colistin – a drug classed as “critical” to human medicine – was the only antibiotic to work after all others had failed.

But the first germs to become resistant to the drug were identified last month, and experts warned of the “inevitable” spread of uncontrollable superbugs which attack the blood and lungs.

The scientists discovered a mobile gene called MCR-1, which made bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella and germs which cause pneumonia, untreatable.

The gene was found to be easily transferrable to other types of bacteria, meaning it could spread quickly between animals and humans.

Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark started searching for signs of the MCR-1 gene in their own country as soon as they read the Chinese report.

Six samples were found: one in the blood of a sick patient, and five in imported chicken.

“This is a very alarming discovery,” said Professor Frank Møller Aarestrup, a microbiologist at the university. “It is something I had feared, but hoped I would not see.”

“I would be very much surprised if it was not in the UK already. It is a much bigger country than Denmark, with more travel and more food imports,” he added.

Professor Aarestrup said the Danish patient had suffered from a blood infection earlier this year, and in subsequent checks had tested positive for salmonella bacteria with the MCR-1 gene.

The patient’s name and current health status were not disclosed.

The professor said the bugs had probably come from China via imported meat, or been brought in by people travelling from the Far East.

Experts fear this is the start of a global epidemic of untreatable infections, according to the Daily Mail.

Dr Lance Price, of George Washington University in the US, who worked with the Danish team, said: “History shows that these mobile resistance genes can spread around the world quickly, silently riding in people, animals, and food.

“The news that MCR-1 has been discovered in Denmark suggests that this scenario is playing out in real time.

“We must act swiftly to contain the spread of colistin-resistant bacteria, or we will face increasing numbers of untreatable infections. Leaders from every nation should immediately implement a ban on the use of colistin in animal agriculture,” Dr Price added.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has launched an immediate risk assessment of colistin use.

British expert Professor Mark Enright, a microbiologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that patients infected with such superbugs would have very few treatment options.

“Colistin is a top-shelf antibiotic – it is the antibiotic of last defence when nothing else works,” he said.

“This gene is going into bugs which are resistant to everything else, which is very worrying.

“If a patient is resistant there is not a lot you could do.”

Professor Enright said people are probably getting the bug by handling infected meat. He warned that once it got into hospitals, it would be very hard to control.

A major problem is that colistin is widely used in farming.

The more that antibiotics are used, whether in humans or animals, the easier it is for bacteria to evolve to become resistant against them.

Yet colistin was reportedly the fifth most-widely used antibiotic in European agriculture in 2010.

Dame Sally Davies, the British Government’s chief medical officer, has repeatedly warned of the disastrous consequences of antibiotic resistance, putting it on a par with terrorism and climate change.

She has called for a vast reduction in the use of antibiotics in farming, in order that drugs are not rendered useless in humans.

Last year she even proposed the slaughter of sick animals, rather than treating them with drugs.

Yet while many experts said they were alarmed at the findings, and called for urgent restrictions of the use of colistin drugs among animals, Professor Neil Woodford, head of Public Health England’s antimicrobial resistance unit, said that people should be reassured that “our current assessment is that the public health risk is very low.”  - Caribbean 360.

EXTREME WEATHER: Powerful Storm System Rages In St. Petersburg, Russia - Flooding Raises The Neva River To The Highest Levels In Several Years; Strong Winds Knock Out Traffic Lights And Trees! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

December 8, 2015 - ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - A powerful storm has been raging in Russia's second city St. Petersburg, damaging traffic lights, trees and even monuments, and pushing the Neva River towards its limits.

Just two more centimeters and the river will reach flood level for the first time in several years, meteorologists have warned.

The storm has been wreaking havoc since Friday, when the St. Petersburg dam gates were shut.

The dam helps protect the city from floods by holding back water from the Baltic coming into the Neva Bay.

Strong winds knocked down a monument in the form of a ship standing near Hotel St. Petersburg, Radio Baltika reported on Saturday.

Witnesses said gusty winds brought traffic lights crashing down and overturned containers with trash into the way of traffic, with roadside obstructions damaging cars parked nearby.
Several people received minor injuries as kiosks collapsed due to heavy winds at a local market.

WATCH: Scenes from St. Petersburgh, courtesy of Instagram.

A video posted by Mikhail N (@mnagaev) on

On Monday squally winds reached between 22 and 27 meters per second in the Gulf of Finland.Floods in Russia's northern capital are registered when the water level rises above 160cm.

“It's currently 159 according to a gauge at the St. Petersburg Mining Institute,” the city's chief meteorologist, Aleksandr Kolesov, told TASS on Monday.

A north-western wind will be blowing for the next six hours. There will probably be a flood,” he added.However, the meteorologist reassured locals the situation won't worsen into a diasater.

“The maximum [level] will remain as it currently is. It may only increase several centimeters.” - RT.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE & GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Heavy Rainfall, Widespread Flooding, Landslides And Sinkholes Ravage Portland, Oregon - The Wettest Calendar Day In Recorded History; Residents Force To Flee Their Homes! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Canoeing in the McMinnville WalMart parking lot (Photo: Corbin Moore)

December 8, 2015 - PORTLAND, OREGON, UNITED STATES - Monday was the wettest calendar day in recorded history in Portland, and the rain was expected to stick around for days.

KGW-TV meteorologist Matt Zaffino said nearly 2.7 inches of rain on Monday tied a record for one day, from 12:01 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. The previous record was set on Nov. 19, 1996. More rain was forecast for Monday night, and Zaffino said the record would be sure to break.

The storm that caused floods, landslides, road closures and even a sinkhole was expected to bring its next wave of heavy rain Tuesday, possibly during the evening commute.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation said people should expect delays in every mode of transportation in the metro area for the next several days.

WATCH: Wettest day in Portland history causes landslides, floods.

Authorities were offering sandbags to any area residents who needed them.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera called the weather an "extraordinary event that had extraordinary impacts."

Rivera said 5.61 inches of rain had fallen so far this month, with three inches falling within a 12-hour period.

The December average for rainfall in the metro area is 5.49 inches.

KGW meteorologist Rod Hill said said the worst of the storm will likely happen on Tuesday night and continue into Thursday.

"We'll see several shots of long, steady, heavy rain on Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly even Thursday," Hill said.

Road closure in McMinnville (Photo: Danyell Miller-Logsdon)

This landslide occurred along SE Foster Road Monday. (Photo: KGW)

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for most of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington through Wednesday afternoon. The watch includes the greater Portland metro area, north and central Oregon coast, the central Willamette Valley, the central Columbia River Gorge, the north and central Coast Range, and the northern Oregon Cascades and Cascade foothills.

"Alerts for wind, flooding and mudslides will be common through the days of Wednesday and Thursday," Hill added.

The pouring rain triggered landslides, forced people to abandon their cars and caused widespread flooding on Monday. Johnson Creek flooded in Portland and Milwaukie, sending floodwaters over bridges and into roads.

On Monday morning, Portland's combined sewer system overflowed into the Willamette River and the Columbia Slough.The Bureau of Environmental Services urged people to avoid coming into contact with waterways and floodwaters.

Sinkhole in Gresham (Photo: KGW)

"It's really important that folks minimize their contact with this water," a BEC spokeswoman said at a press conference. "It's extremely polluted. There are oil cans, gas cans, dog poop, industrial pollution — who knows what else. It's really dirty."

Drivers were stranded in many areas. Along Northwest 13th Street and Quimby Street in Portland, cars were abandoned in rising water.

In Lake Oswego, three drivers were stuck in high water along Fielding Road. The people inside the vehicles had to be rescued, but no one was hurt.

In Gresham, a sinkhole near Mount Hood Community College took out two lanes on Southeast Kane Road. The college will be closed through Tuesday night. - USA Today.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Etna Bursts Into Life In Sicily - Sending Red-Hot Lava Spurting Into The Sky! [VIDEO]

December 8, 2015 - SICILY, ITALY
- Mount Etna has erupted in Sicily, sending hot ash and lava shooting into the sky.
The world's most active volcano has rumbled back to life for the first time in two years.

It has been erupting for four days, with rivers of lava flowing down the side of the mountain, and columns of hot ash being spewed into the air.

The nearby Catania airport has now reopened after it closed on Friday when ash clouds caused safety concerns.

Etna is the highest volcano in mainland Europe, standing at 10,000ft.

It draws thousands of tourists every year. - SKY News.

WATCH: Red hot lava spurts into sky as volcano Mount Etna erupts.

New lava flow into Valle del Bove

Lava fountaining from the pit crater on the upper New SE cone's flank continued all day yesterday and fed a lava flow with two branches, the main one headed to the east reaching quickly the Valle del Bove, a lesser one to the NE base of the cone.

Activity today has decreased, but lava effusion seems to continue.

This is likely only a pause in what is certainly one of Etna's most interesting eruptive phases in recent years. - Volcano Discovery.

SMOGEDDON: Beijing Apocalypse - City Disappears In The Smog, Shuts Down Amid 3-Day Red Alert - Six Killed In 33-Car Pileup As Thick Pollution Cloud Swamps China! [PHOTOS]

Horror: Six people died in the huge pileup

December 8, 2015 - CHINA - At least six people have died in a 33-car pileup.

The horror smash appeared to have been caused by thick smog which has triggered a 'red alert' by authorities in the China.

The crash happened this morning in the industrial city of Tianjin, around 300 miles from Beijing, and the wreckage of the cars remain strewn across the highway.

The red alert - the most serious warning - was issued for the capital Beijing late on Monday. It means authorities have forecast more than three consecutive days of severe smog.

It looks set to remain in place until at least Thursday.

Most of the pollution is blamed on coal-fired power plants, along with vehicle emissions and construction and factory work.

An online notice from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said it issued the alert to "protect public health and reduce levels of heavy air pollution".

Along with school closures and limiting cars to driving every other day depending on the last number of their licence plate, a raft of other restrictions will seek to reduce the amount of dust.

Officials said extra subway trains and buses would be added to handle the additional strain on public transport.

Beijing was also shrouded in persistent smog for most of November, when power demand soared due to unusually cold weather.

Wreckage: A total of 33 cars were involved in the crash

Smog: The crash took place amid low visibility on the roads

 Before and after: The dramatic effect of Beijing's air pollution

(Top) Before: The Bird's Nest stadium on a regular day
(Bottom) After: Visitors wearing protective masks take a selfie in front of the National Stadium

Pollution: People visiting Tiananmen Square

While pollution in the capital improved slightly in the first 10 months of the year, heavy smog that can be seen from space regularly forces Beijing schools to suspend outdoor activities and can even prompt highway closures because of reduced visibility.

There have previously been stretches of severe smog that lasted more than three straight days. However, those had been forecast to last three days or less, so they did not trigger a red alert.

A study led by atmospheric chemist Jos Lelieveld of Germany's Max Planck Institute and published this year in Nature magazine estimated that 1.4 million people die prematurely because of pollution in China each year.

China, the world's biggest carbon emitter, plans to upgrade coal power plants over the next five years to tackle the problem, and says its emissions will peak by around 2030 before starting to decline.

While emissions standards have been tightened and heavy investments made in solar, wind and other renewable energy, China still depends on coal for more than 60 per cent of its power. - Mirror.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Two Trains Collide Head On India - At Least 3 People Killed; Over 100 Injured!

December 8, 2015 - INDIA - At least three people were killed and over 100 injured in Haryana's Palwal district in northern India after two trains collided head on.

The driver of one train is reported dead, while the other one is said to be seriously injured.

The accident took place at around 8:25am on Tuesday morning between Palwal and Asaoti Railway Station, the Haryana Ab Tak daily reported.

It's believed that dense fog could be the reason for the collision, local media reports. Trains running through the area have been delayed.

India has one of the world's largest railway networks, with over 12,000 trains carrying more than 23 million passengers per day.

The system is poorly maintained, however, and accidents are common.

Two express trains derailed and plunged into a river in Madhya Pradesh (India's sixth-largest state by population) in early August after flood water weakened the tracks, killing 24 people.

Using gas cutters, divers managed to pull out trapped passengers and 300 were rescued. Dozens were rushed to hospital. - RT.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Researchers Unveil First Biologically Powered "Cyborg" Computer Chip And Say It Could Be Able To Taste And Smell; Robots Can Learn For Themselves And Become An Expert In Just 8 Hours; Billionaire Warns Tech Is Going To Kill White-Collar Jobs; China Plans A Robot Revolution, Wants Robots To Replace Millions Of Humans!

Researchers unveil first biologically powered 'cyborg' computer chip and say it could be able to taste and smell. 
The breakthrough could see systems that blend silicon and biology far more effectively. See more on the story below.

December 8, 2015 - TECHNOLOGY
- The following constitutes the latest reports on the rise of the machines.

Researchers unveil first biologically powered 'cyborg' computer chip and say it could be able to taste and smell

For the first time, scientist have developed an electronic chip made of both biological and solid-state components.

It could lead to a new generation of 'cyborg' chips blending senses such as taste or smell with traditional electronic components.

They combined solid-state complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit with an artificial lipid bilayer membrane made of ATP-powered ion pumps to create a 'biochip'.

This breakthrough study was led by Ken Shepard, Lau Family Professor of Electrical Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University.

'In combining a biological electronic device with CMOS, we will be able to create new systems not possible with either technology alone,' said Shepard.

'We are excited at the prospect of expanding the palette of active devices that will have new functions, such as harvesting energy from ATP, as was done here, or recognizing specific molecules, giving chips the potential to taste and smell.'

'This was quite a unique new direction for us and it has great potential to give solid-state systems new capabilities with biological components.'

Although there has been a breakthrough with these new findings, Shepard said that CMOS solid-state electronics do not have the ability to perform or replicate certain functions of living systems, such as tasting, smelling and the use of biochemical energy sources.

(a) Illustration depicting biocell attached to CMOS integrated circuit. (b) Illustration of membrane in pore containing sodium–potassium pumps.
For the first time, scientist have developed an electronic chip that is both biological and solid-state components.

Living systems perform these functions with their own versions of electronics based on lipid membranes and ion channels and pumps, which act as a kind of biological transistor.

Charge is produced in ion form, which carries energy and information, and the ion channels control the flow of ions across cell membranes.

Solid-state systems, such as those in computers and communication devices, use electrons; their electronic signaling and power are controlled by field-effect transistors.

Living systems store energy in potentials across lipid membranes, but in this case they were create through the action of ion pumps.

ATP is used to transport energy from where it is generated to where it is consumed in the cell.

The team packaged a CMOS integrated circuit with an ATP-harvesting 'biocell' to begin building the prototype.

 WATCH: Qualcomm Zeroth - Computer chips that mimic the human brain.

In the presence of ATP, the system pumped ions across the membrane, which produced an electrical potential harvested by the CMOS integrated circuit (IC).

'We made a macroscale version of this system, at the scale of several millimeters, to see if it worked,' Shepard said.

'Our results provide new insight into a generalized circuit model, enabling us to determine the conditions to maximize the efficiency of harnessing chemical energy through the action of these ion pumps. We will now be looking at how to scale the system down.'

By performing this on a molecular level, scientists where able to isolate the desired function and interface this with electronics.

'We don't need the whole cell,' Shepard explains.

'We just grab the component of the cell that's doing what we want.'

'For this project, we isolated the ATPases because they were the proteins that allowed us to extract energy from ATP.'

The ability to build a system that combines the power of solid-state electronics with the capabilities of biological components has great promise.

'You need a bomb-sniffing dog now, but if you can take just the part of the dog that is useful -- the molecules that are doing the sensing -- we wouldn't need the whole animal,' says Shepard.  - Daily Mail.

Zero to expert in 8 hours - these robots can learn for themselves

A yellow robotic arm pauses over a pile of metal cylinders, snaps a photo, then proceeds to confidently pick pieces out of the jumble. What’s impressive is that just eight hours ago, its bin-picking skills were about zero.Fanuc Corp. is showing off the first results of its partnership with artificial intelligence startup Preferred Networks Inc. at Tokyo’s International Robot Exhibition this week. The world’s largest maker of automation equipment is using so-called “deep learning” to enable machines that can acquire skills independently.

Left overnight, a robot empowered by the algorithms can use trial and error to figure out how to pick up randomly positioned objects with 90 percent accuracy. Eight machines working simultaneously and sharing their lessons can do that in an hour. A veteran Fanuc engineer would need several days to write a teaching program that even approaches that performance.

“Deep learning allows machines to take vast amounts of data and distill useful rules and lessons all by themselves,” Preferred Networks Chief Executive Officer Toru Nishikawa said at the expo. “For a robot, that means understanding not only why one movement was successful and another one not, but also how to improve its performance.”

Fanuc plans to make the self-learning functionality commercially available next year, Nishikawa said. The two companies are also working on applications that predict machine failures to prevent costly factory stoppages.

 The Fanuc logo on an industrial robot. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

 A Fanuc industrial robot lifts a vehicle during a demonstration. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

 A Fanuc industrial robot lifts a vehicle during a demonstration at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

The deep learning algorithms, inspired by the way living things process information, already help minimize human involvement when Facebook Inc. tags user photos or Google Inc. serves up ads. Now hardware companies from Fanuc to Toyota Motor Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. are stepping up investments to add problem-solving capabilities to their products.

Fanuc earlier this year paid 900 million yen ($7.5 million) for a 6 percent stake in Preferred Network, after rival ABB Ltd. invested several million dollars into AI startup Vicarious. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, actor Ashton Kutcher and Samsung are also among Vicarious’s shareholders.

Nishikawa is a world finalist of the prestigious ACM Programming Contest, whose winners include a former chief technology officer of Facebook and the first employee at Google. He founded Preferred Networks with his University of Tokyo classmate Daisuke Okanahara in March 2014. Little more than a year later, the company counted Fanuc, Toyota and Panasonic Corp. among its partners.

“This technology doesn’t have to be limited to Fanuc robots,” Nishikawa said. “There are all kinds of machines that can benefit from it.” - Bloomberg.

Billionaire warns tech going to kill white-collar jobs

Touch-screen ordering at fast food restaurants, robots welding car parts at Tesla factories, apps like Uber taking a bite out of the taxi and limo industry: They’re all good for innovation but perhaps not so great for the workers whose jobs are on the line, according to real estate billionaire Jeff Greene.

“What globalization did to blue collar jobs and the working class economy over the past 30 or 40 years, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics will do to the white collar economy — and at a much, much faster pace,” says Greene.

It’s a problem that will only exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, he claims, because we’ve left ourselves unprepared for the inevitable automation of many jobs traditionally done by humans.

“I realized that that is the greatest threat we have in our country today,” says Greene. “So I thought, ‘Let’s convene some of the greatest minds from academia, government, business and the nonprofit sector to come together to talk realistically about what’s happening.’”

What he devised is a two-day conference spanning Monday and Tuesday dubbed “Closing the Gap: Solutions for An Inclusive Economy,” hosted by Greene at Palm Beach’s Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa. Speakers include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, author Thomas Friedman, former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley, lawyer and TV personality Star Jones and boxing legend Mike Tyson.

Panels will cover everything from debates about the role of government in trimming the gap between the rich and poor to which technologies will disrupt the workplace and fundamental discussions about fairness and corporate social responsibility.

Jeff Greene and Paula Abdul at the Los Angeles Ballet Gala on Thursday, May 7, 2015. (Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)

Greene says his biggest goals are increasing awareness so we know what’s coming and having a dialogue about what we can do to smooth the transition to new technology. While there has been some talk of economic inequality in the race for the White House, according to Greene Republicans are clamoring for less regulation and Democrats are obsessing over taxing the rich while no one is focusing on the people who are going to lose their jobs to machines in the near future.

“This is a much bigger issue than any of the presidential candidates are acknowledging,” says Greene, who unsuccessfully ran for a Senate seat in 2010, pointing to a Harvard Business Review study that claims as many as 40 million Americans may soon have job skills that have no economic value.

More than 300 people have purchased conference tickets, which cost between $2,000 and $4,000 apiece. Even with the ticket revenue and sponsors like the Ford Foundation and Goldman Sachs, Greene — who Forbes estimates is worth $3.3 billion — is paying more than $500,000 out of his own pocket to put on the event he’s been planning for more than a year.

In some ways it’s an unlikely cause for a guy like Greene to champion. He’s one of the world’s richest people. He made headlines at Davos in January for allegedly claiming Americans need to adjust their lifestyle expectations to live a “smaller, better existence” despite traveling to the summit on his private jet with his wife, children and their nanny (Greene later said he was “completely misquoted”). And last year he listed his 50,000-square-foot Beverly Hills megamansion for $195 million — making it America’s most expensive home for sale at the time (he slashed the price to $149 million earlier this year before taking it off the market last month).

But, for Greene, empathy about the gap between the wealthy and the poor can be traced back to his humble beginnings. Born to a middle-class family in Worcester, Massachusetts, he remembers growing up among a mix of people — pediatricians, bricklayers and factory workers all living side-by-side.

“I never knew anything else other than an inclusive economy,” says Greene. “Everyone cared about each other and felt good about each other.”

Then his father, who was a textile machinery salesman, lost his job when the mills moved south to lower costs. The family moved to Florida and his dad found work filling vending machines. His mother, formerly a homemaker, began waitressing. Greene got into Johns Hopkins and worked his way through, teaching Hebrew and working as a busboy at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach.

While in business school at Harvard, he put $7,400 down on a three-family home and rented out the other rooms so he could live for free. After getting his MBA, he moved into Los Angeles real estate and was nearly wiped out when property prices dropped. He held on and by 2006 owned nearly 7,000 rental units in southern California, and had a $700 million net worth. One of the few to worry about rising prices before the crash, Greene made a bold bet against the real estate market that made him. He shorted it to the tune of an $800 million profit — a far cry from bussing tables to cover tuition.

He says he feels the same level of conviction about how automation will impact the U.S. economy. In Greene’s view it’s important to accept that things like globalization and automation will occur, teach workers how to adapt to the changing landscape and use the benefits to help those whose jobs are lost to Schumpeterian “creative destruction.”

“There are a lot of great things coming from technology,” says Greene. “It’s going to democratize medicine, healthcare, education, which is fantastic. The only concern I have is, you can’t leave behind the bulk of the population.”

He sees it everywhere. Standing in the lobby at the Tideline days before the conference, Greene says he watched a woman vacuuming the floor, five valet attendants parking cars and three people behind the front desk welcoming guests.

It’s not hard to imagine fingerprint and eye-scanning kiosks taking over for the front desk workers (“Wouldn’t that be more efficient and more thorough?”). Self-driving cars park themselves, and Uber drivers just drop off guests and leave. As for the woman sweeping? “We have an iRobot at home doing our floors now,” says Greene. “This isn’t crazy, futuristic stuff — this is stuff that is already here.” - Forbes.

China wants robots to replace millions

China is laying the groundwork for a robot revolution by planning to automate the work currently done by millions of low-paid workers.

The government's plan will be crucial to a broader effort to reform China's economy while also meeting the ambitious production goals laid out in its latest economic blueprint, which aims to double per capita income by 2020 from 2016 levels with at least 6.5% annual growth. The success of this effort could, in turn, affect the vitality of the global economy.

The scale and importance of China's robot ambitions were made clear when the vice president of the People's Republic of China, Li Yuanchao, appeared at the country's first major robotics conference, held recently in Beijing. Standing onstage between two humanoid entertainment robots with outsized heads, Li delivered a message from China's leader, Xi Jinping, congratulating the organizers of the effort. He also made it clear that robotics would be a major priority for the country's economic future.

Many of the robots on show at the conference's exhibition hall were service or entertainment robots such as automated vacuum cleaners, cheap drones, or quirky looking machines designed to serve as personal companions. But there were also many industrial robots that signaled the real impetus for China's robot push: its manufacturing sector.

China is already the world's largest producer of everything from clothes to electronics, but much of it depends on low-cost, low-skill labor. And even as economic growth has slowed, wages continue to rise across the country as the economy evolves. The Chinese government is also eager to see its workforce diversify and its manufacturing industries become more technologically advanced.

Robots might offer a clever solution to some of these challenges. If more robots can be deployed successfully in many manufacturing plants, this would increase efficiency while also allowing some workers to be replaced. At the same time, because more capable robots will require advanced sensing, manipulation, and intelligence, the drive could help promote the technical expertise of the remaining manufacturing workers, as well as those employed in designing, building, and servicing these manufacturing machines.

The scale of this robot revolution could be enormous. Two years ago China became the world's largest importer of robots, and the International Federation of Robotics, an industry group, estimates that China will account for more than a third of all industrial robots installed worldwide by 2018. Yet the number of robots per worker in China is far lower than in many industrially advanced countries, indicating a huge potential for growth.

A more comprehensive effort to upgrade China's manufacturing base is already underway, under a program announced in May known as Made in China 2025, which aims to make China an innovative and green "world manufacturing power" by that year. The effort involves adding connectivity and intelligence to manufacturing equipment and factories, to improve overall flexibility and efficiency. It was inspired by Germany's Industry 4.0 effort, launched in 2011, and by similar efforts to promote more advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

The robotic component of this overhaul will be about more than just installing more robots in manufacturing plants, however. Some of the tasks currently done by humans cannot easily be automated at low cost while others, such as fine manipulation or visual inspection, will require sophisticated hardware and software to mechanize.

Tianran Wang, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an expert on industrial automation, spoke about China's manufacturing industry at the Beijing event. He said that it lagged behind those of other nations and would need a major technological overhaul. He also emphasized that part of the challenge will be figuring out which tasks can be automated most effectively, and how machines and humans can share the workload. "Not all labor-intensive industry can be automated," Tianran said. "We need hybrid automation."

China may soon become not only an important market for more advanced robotic technology, but a producer of more advanced robot systems itself. Many international robot makers were present at the Beijing conference, including the German giant Kuka and the Swiss company ABB. But dozens of Chinese robot companies were also present, including some companies that have only been around for a few years.

Siasun, an industrial robot manufacturer based in Shanghai, is developing a range of robots designed to help factories automate more of their work. In an industrial park on the outskirts of the city, at a showroom where the company demonstrates new products to prospective customers, I saw a dexterous new six-axis robot arm in action as well as wheeled robots that move products from one part of a production line to the next. The company is also developing robotic solutions that are customized for specific industries, such as a robot for painting the sides of ships by climbing up and down a cable that hangs down the side of the hull.

Daokui Qu, the president of Siansun, said the priorities for robot makers would be to develop more flexible systems with advanced sensing, as well as finding better ways for robots to toil effectively and safely alongside human workers. He added that the company had already received a lot of orders for the mobile robot arm it was developing, and that it was developing a gesture-controlled robot that should be easier for workers to interact with.

Before leaving the stage to tour the Beijing conference's exhibition hall, Vice President Li suggested that robotics researchers and companies from outside the country would be welcome to take part in the country's robot revolution: "China would like to welcome robot experts and entrepreneurs from all over the world to communicate and coӧperate with us, in order to push forward the development of robot technology and industry."  - Mashable.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: The Effects Of Magnetic Polar Migration - The Latest Incidents Of Plane Crashes Across The Globe!

Plane crash at Apple Valley Airport.

December 8, 2015 - EARTH - Here are the latest incidents of plane crashes across the planet over the last few days.

Champion Air Racer Killed in California Crash of Small Plane

The other victim hasn't been publicly identified.

The jet, an Aero L-39 high-performance training aircraft, was taxiing down the runway for takeoff at Apple Valley Airport when witnesses saw flames coming from its engine.

"It came down, and I went, 'Oh, my God — it's going to crash,'" Debbie Williams, a witness, told NBC Los Angeles, saying she saw "flames coming all the way out in the back."

"It came over to the right, and it went 'bang,' and it exploded," Williams said.

"The Red Bull Air Race community has reacted with great sadness at the news of the untimely passing of one of their most vibrant and respected friends," the company said in a statement. "His precise and spectacular flying has amazed millions at numerous airshows around the globe."

All flights to and from the small airport were halted, the Apple Valley Fire Protection District said. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. - NBC News.

Des Moines Woman Killed in Missouri Plane Crash

Two people, including an Iowa woman, were killed Sunday night in a plane crash in central Missouri.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol tells KOMU-TV8 the crash was reported about 9:15 p.m. Sunday near Keytesville. Emergency crews responded to the scene and found wreckage of a 1946 Cessna 140 single-engine plane in a hayfield.

Dawn Harl, 38, of Des Moines, and Andrew Beautte, 40, of La Plata, Missouri, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to conduct a complete investigation Monday.

A spokesperson with the National Transportation Safety Board told KOMU officials are unsure where the plane took off or where it was heading. - WHOTV.

2 men dead in Crawford County plane crash, Pennsylvania

The Crawford County coroner has confirmed two men died in a plane crash near Linesville on Monday night.

The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead investigating agency on the crash. The Pennsylvania State Police and Federal Aviation Administration were also investigating the incident.

State police said the crash happened on Airport Road in Conneaut Township around 6:30 p.m. Monday. Troopers from the Pennsylvania State Police Meadville post and Linesville volunteer firefighters started looking for the plane shortly after they received calls from neighbors saying they saw a low flying plane and heard a loud noise nearby.

“I was in the bedroom watching a movie,” said Trina Porter. “I heard a loud crash with some trees breaking, sounds of trees breaking.”

WATCH: Two men die in Crawford County plane crash.

Troopers say the thickness of the fog made it impossible to use a helicopter to search for the wreckage. A pair of volunteers on ATVs discovered the crash scene around 9:45 p.m..

An FAA spokesperson says it was a kit club plane, an experimental home-built aircraft. The spokesperson says the pilot was flying by visual flight rules, so it was not being watched by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport control tower.

One report indicates the plane had just taken off from the Greenville area.

State police said they have notified those that need to know that the two victims died and expect to release those names Tuesday morning. - WKBN.

South African Civil Aviation Authority investigating deadly Swellendam plane crash

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is investigating a deadly light aircraft crash in the Western Cape.

A man died when his plane went down between Swellendam and Bredasdorp yesterday.

It’s believed he was flying to Cape Town from Johannesburg's Lanseria Airport when he lost radio contact.

The cause of the incident is unclear.The South Africa Air Force were also alerted to the incident over the Overberg region.

The plane was apparently seen rapidly spiraling towards a mountain before it hit the ground.

Businessman Kobus Dicks (57) was the only person on board.

The Department of Transport's Air Crash Investigative Unit and the CAA are investigating the incident. - EWN.

Pilot, student hurt in Mindoro plane crash in the Philippines

A pilot and his student were slightly hurt when a trainer aircraft owned by a private flying school crashed in the waters of Calapan Bay in the City of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro on Tuesday, police said.

The aircraft, owned by Sapphire International Aviation Academy based in Sucat, Paranaque City, went down off the coast of the village of Lazareto at 9:50 a.m., according to Superintendent Jonathan Paguio, Calapan City police chief.

He said rescuers rushed the pilot, identified as Angelo Serna, and his student pilot, Mark Mendoza, to Maria Estrella Hospital in downtown area of the city.

Paguio said the pilot and the student survived with only minor injuries.

He said personnel from the Philippine National Police-Maritime unit in the city and from the Philippine Coast Guard were now conducting retrieval operations and are investigating the cause of the crash.

City of Calapan Mayor Arnan Panaligan said the flying school’s branch in the city would be suspended from operation. He said he would also ask the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines to ground the trainer planes of Sapphire and evaluate the airworthiness of their planes. - Inquirer.

NEW WORLD DISORDER: Terrorism, False Flag Distractions, Societal Collapse, Wars And Civilizations Unraveling Ahead Of The Black Celestial Event - Leading Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Promises Ban On Muslim Immigration To The United States If Elected; Calls For A "TOTAL, COMPLETE SHUTDOWN"!

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

December 8, 2015 - UNITED STATES - Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” on Monday. Reactions ranged from outrage to speechlessness.

Additionally, Trump clarified that even American Muslims abroad would fall under his proposed plan. When The Hill asked whether Muslim-Americans would be included, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks replied by email, "Mr. Trump says, ‘everyone’."

There was more demagoguery than detail in the Trump policy announcement. Without referring to how the plan would work, the statement did briefly imply when the travel ban would be lifted, saying it would continue "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

Anti-Washington, DC rhetoric is part and parcel of Trump’s campaign, but Monday’s announcement spent more time on "great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”

“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” he said.

To back his claim that Muslim immigration is dangerous, Trump cited the Center for Security Policy, a think-tank founded by Frank Gaffney, a former Pentagon staffer under President Ronald Reagan who has been shunned by both conservative and liberal groups for anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. A survey by the center found 51 percent of American Muslims agreed they "should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah," which, like other religious codes of law, is interpreted in vastly different ways, especially in the US. Trump’s statement says Shariah "authorizes such atrocities as" murder for non-believers, beheadings, "and more unthinkable acts."

After citing polling data, Trump said, "Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine.”

Dave Weigel of The Washington Post tweeted that Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director for the Council on American–Islamic Relations, responded, "Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution?"

Last week, following the domestic terrorism attack in San Bernardino, California, Trump referred to the event as an “Islamic disaster.” One of the attackers, Tashfeen Malik, had come to the US on a K-1 “fiance visa” to marry the other attacker, Syed Farook. Together with the Syrian refugee crisis and the attack in Paris last month, fears over terrorism are more heightened. A post-Paris attack Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 83 percent of registered voters believe a terrorist attack in the US is likely, up from 73 percent in a pre-Paris attack Quinnipiac University poll.In September, the Public Religion Research Institute found that 56 percent of Americans believe “the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life,” which is up from 47 percent in 2011.

Overshadowed by Trump’s proposal are other restrictive plans on immigration put forward by fellow Republican candidates Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Kentucky). Cruz noted refugees from "territory substantially controlled by a foreign terrorist organization," would not be permitted, and Paul’s bill similarly prohibits refugees from countries with "significant jihadist movements.”

The rest of Trump’s main 2016 competition responded either with criticism or a highlight of their own preferred policy."This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don't know what they're talking about,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told talk radio host Michael Medved following Trump’s announcement."Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries. I do not and would not advocate being selective on one's religion," Dr. Ben Carson told Fox Business.

“Donald Trump is unhinged,” Jeb Bush tweeted. “His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”On the Democratic side, presidential candidate Martin O’Malley tweeted that Trump “removes all doubt: he is running for President as a fascist demagogue.”Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) tweeted, “The US is a strong nation when we stand together. We are weak when we allow racism and xenophobia to divide us.”

“This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive,” Hillary Clinton tweeted, addressing Trump, “you don't get it. This makes us less safe.”

WATCH: Trump's Descent Into White Supremacist Fascism.

- RT.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: "They Have Never Seen This Happen Before" - Storm Desmond Brings HIGHEST WATERFALL In England Back To Life After HUNDREDS OF YEARS! [PHOTOS]

December 8, 2015 - ENGLAND - Storm Desmond has brought a waterfall back to life at a famous beauty spot for the first time in living memory.

While they last, the falls at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales are believed to be the highest in England, thundering off a cliff 260ft (80m high).

Local residents and tourists gathered on Sunday to see the phenomenon, which is believed to be the first time the falls have flowed in hundreds of years.

Stu Gledhill, who filmed the scene, wrote on YouTube: "Talking to two neighbours who are both around 80 and have both lived in Malhamdale all their lives.

"They have never seen this happen before, and some suggestions are that it could be nearly 200 years since it was last recorded."

Malham Cove's amphitheatre-shaped cliff formation was used as a filming location in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and is believed to have been J.R.R. Tolkien's inspiration for the fort of Helm's Deep in The Lord of the Rings.

Melting glaciers caused the original waterfall and a small stream fell over the cliff until centuries ago, when it disappeared underground into the network of caves beneath.

But they could not handle the floodwaters sent thundering through the Dales on Sunday after Storm Desmond brought a month of rainfall in a single day.

The Government declared a major incident as homes were flooded across northern England and Scotland.

Tens of thousands of people remained without power today after an electricity substation in Lancaster was flooded, while the Army was called in to evacuate homes in Cumbria.

The Environment Agency still has 46 severe flood warnings in place, warning of a "danger to life", and 80 less serious alerts.

A 90-year-old man died in London on Saturday when he was reportedly blown into the side of a moving bus, while Cumbria Police are searching for an elderly man who fell into a swollen river in Kendal.

Rain and heavy winds have subsided but the Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for the rest of the week and forecast "persistent rain". - Independent.

FIRE IN THE SKY: The Latest Fireball Sightings - Meteor-Fireball Filmed Over Santa Fe, New Mexico; Meteor Caught On Dashcam Over Scotland; Taurid Fireball Seen Over Tenerife, Spain; Fireball Streaks Across Brazilian Sky; And Fireball Over Providence, Rhode Island! [VIDEOS]

Fireball over New Mexico.

December 8, 2015 - SPACE
- The following constitutes several of the latest reports of fireballs, seen in the skies, across the globe.

Meteor-fireball filmed over Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hanukkah evening meteor in the south sky of of Santa Fe, December 6 2015 at 7:34PM.

The meteor comes from the east at about 25 second mark. I was driving southbound at https://goo.gl/maps/zqjSYkayet32 .

The fireball was brilliant white and the dashcam doesn't do it justice.

The rumble you hear is the sound of a diesel Vanagon.

WATCH: Meteor over Santa Fe, New Mexico.

- YouTube.

Meteor caught on dashcam over Scotland

Parked outside waiting for someone I noticed a large bright object travelling towards the ground at speed, it appears blue-ish in colour and is trailing before disappearing behind the houses.

WATCH: Meteor caught on dashcam in Scotland.

- YouTube.

Taurid fireball filmed over Tenerife, Spain

WATCH: Taurid shooting star from the Pico del Teide (Tenerife).

- YouTube.

Meteor-fireball streaks across Brazilian sky

WATCH: Fireball over Brazil.

- YouTube.

Meteor fireball filmed on morning weather show over Providence, Rhode Island

It was more a matter of luck than anything else, but it was an amazing 1-2 seconds caught live on television Sunday morning at about 8:17 a.m. A fireball raced across the deep blue sky over Providence, and I watched it as it happened. Look just above the smoke stack about 3 seconds into the video.

To see the fireball, enlarge the video to fill your screen.

WATCH: Meteor over Rhode Island.

Our Hurricane Barrier Cam was pointed to the west. For perspective, the I-Way Bridge is on the right, Rhode Island and Hasbro Children's Hospitals are in the center of the screen. I circled the streak of light in red below. You can see it behind the exhaust from the smoke stack. In the inset, you can see the pieces of the burning debris that fell off of the object. The fireball was very bright because I saw it within that bright blue sky. If the sky was dark, thousands of people would have likely seen it.

As the meteor fell through the sky, it burned up due to friction with the Earth's atmosphere. What was the object? That part is unknown. It appeared to be moving from the northeast into the west. That's not a typical direction for a piece of space rock to create a 'shooting star'. It could have been a piece of space debris. We'll likely never know. There is no indication the object hit the Earth. - WIVB.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Massive Landslide Filmed On Manali-Chandigarh Highway, India - Had Tourists Running For Their Lives! [VIDEOS]

December 8, 2015 - INDIA
- Several tourists on had a narrow escape when a part of a mountain near Chandigarh-Manali highway collapsed.

The 31-second video, recorded by a mobile phone camera, shows tourists running for their lives.

Initially, it was said that the landslide was caused due to an earthquake today in the region, but later it was clarified that the incident has no connection with the earthquake.

WATCH: Landslides at Manali-Chandigarh highway.

A strong 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Tajikistan in Central Asia on Monday with tremors being felt in North India. Tremors were also felt in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

At the same time, tremors were felt in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As per the US Geological Survey the epicentre of the quake was 111 km (65 miles) southwest of Karakul at a depth of 28.7 km. - Zee News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Hour-Long Hail Storm Ravages Thailand - Destroys Houses, Farms, Trees And Crops!

Samarn Jaiyasarn surveys the damage to his banana plantation the morning after the hail storm on Thursday night. © Bangkok Post photo

December 8, 2015 - THAILAND
- A strong hail storm that swept through the province on Thursday night caused damage to farms and crops, particularly banana and teak trees, and some houses.

The storm lasted almost an hour, starting around 9.30pm.

Samarn Jaiyasarn, chief of tambon Pak Kang of Long district, said most banana trees on his plantation were damaged by the hail.

More than 100 teak trees, aged 15-20 years, were also knocked over in the area, he said, falling onto about 15 houses in Ban Had Sak Kham, Moo 9.

In Ban Na Tum of Moo 3, eight houses slightly damaged by falling teak trees. - Bangkok Post.