Saturday, February 27, 2016

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Robin Revives Another After An Accident?!

European robin in Lancashire, UK.
© Wikimedia Commons

February 27, 2016 -SAUDI ARABIA - Are birds capable of altruistic behavior? A new video suggests so.

The scene, shot in Saudi Arabia, shows a robin slapping wings and stroking unconscious partner using its beak. The bird regains consciousness and flies away.

With the video, a robin is seen unconscious on the ground. The robin was believed to have been knocked out by flying into a window.

Another robin, thought to be an 'associated' of the other robin (robins spend most of their time apart), attempts to revive the fallen bird.

This is undertaken by the robin slapping the wings of the unconscious bird and seemingly giving the quiescent bird the 'kiss of life', by making a motion towards the beak.

After this proved unsuccessful, the robin moves round the begins to stroke his fallen friend with his beak. He then attempts to move the fallen bird around. This is an interesting alteration of tactics.

Eventually the fallen bird wakes up, by flapping its wings and then looking around. A final peck from the savior bird sends the bird into the sky, with the rescuer close behind.

The video is shown here (original video via The Daily Mail newspaper):

WATCH: Bird revived back to life by another bird.

The birds are the European robin (Erithacus rubecula). Adult birds are 12.5 - 14.0 centimeters (5.0 - 5.5 inches) long and they weighs 16 - 22 grams (9/16 - 13/16 ounces), and they have a typical wingspan of 20 - 22 centimeters (8 - 9 inches.)

It is important not to over-interpret animal behavior; however, the video is remarkable and few activities of a similar nature have been reported previously.

Male robins are noted for their highly aggressive territorial behavior and neither males nor females are known for associating together for long periods. - Digital Journal.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "Super Lice" Outbreak Hits 25 U.S. States - Bugs Can't Be Killed With Most Over-The-Counter Treatments!

Photo: Shutterstock

February 27, 2016 - UNITED STATES - A strain of so-called ‘super lice’ has hit a reported 25 states, causing concern and frustration among parents because the bugs can’t be killed with most over-the-counter treatments.

The treatments, known as pyrethroids, had a 100 percent success rate in 2000 against lice but now only work in 25 percent of cases, reported.

A new FDA-approved treatment called AirAlle, which was developed by Lice Clinics of America, has been found to be effective against the super lice, with treatments costing about $170.

“We use heated air, and we dehydrate the lice and the eggs in a single treatment,” Claire Roberts, CEO of Lice Clinics America, told “It takes about an hour, and we guarantee it.”

While some insurance companies will cover the cost of treatment, experts say the likely best medicine in this situation is prevention.

Lice populations in the states in pink have developed a high level
of resistance to some of the most common treatments.
Photo: Kyong Yoon, Ph.D. / American Chemical Society

Parents should teach their children about the repercussions of sharing hats, hairbrushes and contact with another’s hair, reported.

For those parents whose children do come home with lice, experts caution not to panic and to stick to what they know.

Old-fashioned nit-picking will help but may take longer than usual. Experts instruct parents to vacuum where hair has fallen, wash bedding in hot water, and throw stuff animals and clothing in a hot dryer for 20 to 30 minutes.

A graphic from the American Chemical Society, an advocacy group for the chemical enterprise, illustrates which states have reported outbreaks, which span from the West to the Northeast and the South. - NY Post.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Mesmerizing Von Karman Vortices Swirl In The Skies Over South Korea! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Von Karman vortices captured via satellite on Feb. 25, 2016, south of Jeju Island. © CIRA/Colorado State

February 27, 2016 - SOUTH KOREA - Winds blowing over South Korea's Jeju island Thursday gave rise to a chain of magnificent swirling clouds known as von Karman vortex streets.

Satellite images show beautiful whirlpool-shaped cloud formations downwind of the island in the East China Sea.

The swirls are lined up one after another comprising the so-called "street" in the sky.

© CIRA/Colorado State

© CIRA/Colorado State

"[W]hen fluids encounter obstacles, they can form spiral eddies," wrote NASA, in an explanation as to how these vortices form.

The obstacle in this case is the volcanic high terrain on Jeju Island which the air flows around, leaving behind an area of low pressure downwind on the island's opposite side, where the air begins spinning counterclockwise forming a vortex.

As one vortex forms and moves off to the south, another follows in its wake forming the vortex street. - Washington Post.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Animal Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Apocalyptic Invasion Of Beetles Along Beaches In Argentina, Surprising Locals And Tourists; Cause Unexplained?! [PHOTOS]

February 27, 2016 - ARGENTINA - A biblical beetle invasion has started along the beaches of Mar de Aj贸 and San Bernardo in Argentina.





The strange phenomenon surprised locals and tourists, but the cause of this insect plague remains unexplained. - Strange Sounds.

WORLD WAR Z: Zika Cases Growing Quickly In The United States - 9 Pregnancies, 2 Abortions, 2 Miscarriages And 1 Baby With SEVERE Microcephaly!

Jannelissa Santana, 37 weeks pregnant, stands next to a flier explaining Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya prevention at a public hospital in San Juan on Feb. 3.
(Alvin Baez/Reuters)

February 27, 2016 - UNITED STATES - At least two pregnant women in the United States infected with the Zika virus have chosen to have abortions in recent months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday, while two others have suffered miscarriages. One woman gave birth to an infant with serious birth defects, while two others delivered healthy infants. Two are still pregnant.

The varied outcomes of nine pregnant U.S. women the agency has identified with Zika, as well as the hundreds of U.S. women that have sought out tests for the virus, underscore the angst and uncertainty that the diseases is causing as it spreads through much of the Americas, particularly when it comes to worries over severe birth defects associated with illness.One of the women who had an abortion was in her 30s and had contracted the virus during her first trimester while traveling to a Zika-affected area, the agency said. When she was 20 weeks pregnant, she learned from an ultrasound that her fetus was suffering from severe brain abnormalities. Doctors also tested her amniotic fluid and found the presence of Zika virus. "After discussion with her health-care providers, the patient elected to terminate her pregnancy," the CDC wrote in a case study released Friday. Officials did not offer details surrounding the second abortion, other than to say it involved another woman who had become infected with Zika during the first trimester of her pregnancy.

The agency said that between last August and Feb. 10, it received more than 257 requests for Zika virus testing of pregnant women in the United States. The vast majority of those cases, 97 percent, tested negative for the disease. But the CDC has been tracking nine pregnant women in the country who tested positive for Zika. All had reported symptoms of the disease — such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis — and all had traveled to one of more than two-dozen Zika-affected countries, officials said.

Denise Jamieson, a CDC researcher helping oversee the agency’s response to the outbreak, said the number of brain abnormalities observed among the small group of pregnant women with Zika was higher than experts would have expected.

Six of the infected women acquired Zika during their first trimester, the CDC reported. Of those, two experienced miscarriages and two chose to have abortions. One woman delivered a baby who suffered from "severe microcephaly," a condition marked by abnormally small head size, as well as seizures, trouble swallowing, eye problems and calcifications in the brain. One pregnancy is ongoing, the CDC said. The agency said that while remnants of the Zika virus were detected in fetal tissues taken after both miscarriages, "it is not known whether Zika virus infection caused the pregnancy losses." Roughly 10 to 20 percent of all pregnant women suffer miscarriages during the first trimester, officials noted. 

Of the two pregnant women with Zika diagnosed during their second

trimester, one gave birth to an apparently healthy baby and another is still pregnant. The one pregnant woman who experienced Zika symptoms during her third trimester later delivered a healthy infant.

Friday's report adds another dimension to the ongoing efforts by scientists in the United States and abroad to answer some of the many mysteries surrounding the once-obscure Zika virus. At the top of that list is determining whether — and how — the virus is linked to birth defects such as microcephaly, as well as to cases of a rare autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barr茅 Syndrome. Those associations, particularly to possible problems in newborns, appear to be growing more likely over time.

"The evidence every week is accumulating and getting stronger and stronger," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing this week.

CDC director Tom Frieden said Friday that scientists are confident that there is an association between the Zika virus and microcephaly. But there is much they still don't understand, such as why the risks are higher at certain points during pregnancy and whether there are other factors that

can influence the likelihood of birth defects. He said researchers have undertaken studies to answer some of those questions in Brazil, where the number of microcephaly cases is highest.

"There are many things we wish we knew and are working hard to find out," Frieden said. "This is an extraordinarily unusual occurrence. ... Part of science is uncovering information step by step, trying to be sure not to overstate what the data shows."

Frieden said Friday that the United States has 147 reported Zika cases in 24 states and the District, most related to people who traveled to areas affected by the virus.

But Friday's CDC report also highlights the hard questions that pregnant

women face when they have been infected with the Zika virus, not to mention the religious and societal debates that have unfolded as the epidemic has spread.

Throughout Latin America, home to some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, there have been controversial calls to lighten restrictions on the practice in the face of the Zika virus outbreak. In El Salvador, where abortion is banned, the health minister has argued for a revision of the law because of the dangers the virus poses to fetal development. In Colombia and Brazil, there have been efforts to lift certain restrictions on abortions as the virus has spread explosively through the continent, but those efforts have encountered stiff opposition, particularly from religious authorities.

Pope Francis himself has waded into the issue, saying recently that the use of contraceptives may be morally acceptable in fighting the Zika virus. He cited the decision in the 1960s by Pope Paul VI, who allowed nuns in Belgian Congo to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancies because they were being systematically raped. But Francis stopped short of saying abortion should be condoned.

“Abortion isn’t a lesser evil, it’s a crime,” he told reporters earlier this month. “Taking one life to save another, that’s what the Mafia does. It’s a crime. It’s an absolute evil.”

The explosive spread of Zika has raised the spectre of the crisis in birth defects in the 1960s. During that decade, thousands of children were born with malformed limbs after their mothers were prescribed thalidomide, which had been marketed as a mild sleeping pill. And an estimated 20,000 other babies were born with issues related to the eyes, ears, heart and other organs after their mothers became infected with German measles or rubella.

Both those crises are considered critical to shifting public opinion about whether abortion should be legal at a time when the merits of Roe v. Wade were being debated.

Of the estimated 700,000 legal abortions that take place in the United States each year, only a small percentage are believed to be due to birth defects. While providers are not required to track information about why women choose the procedure, a 2004 survey by the Guttmacher Institute found that only 13 percent made their decision because of possible problems impacting the fetus. (The vast majority of the rest said it was because a baby would dramatically change their life or they couldn’t afford to have a child.)

Richard Beigi, chief medical officer of Magee-Womens Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who recently wrote a JAMA opinion piece on Zika, said the CDC report reinforces fears that many pregnant woman already have but does not provide any answers.

While the CDC recommends increased surveillance starting at 18 to 20 weeks for women suspected of having a Zika infection, there is little a woman can do at that time except psychologically prepare for the child or choose to terminate the pregnancy if there is suspected microcephaly.

“The big challenge right now is we don’t have any interventions,” Beigi said.

Women considering abortions related to Zika face an ethical dilemma that can be very different from those whose babies have other types of birth defects. Unlike like chromosomal issues that can be detected in the womb with a very high degree of certainty, the initial diagnosis and a child’s long-term trajectory can be less clear cut with microcephaly.

Ultrasounds can show whether a child’s head is growing abnormally small, but the cut-off for a child having microcephaly is arbitrary and varies by region. Moreover, while head size does sometimes correlate with the severity of the impact, that is not always the case. Experts have estimated that as many as 10 to 15 percent of people diagnosed with the condition at birth do not have any intellectual impairment or other issues related to it.

Ganeshwaran Mochida, a neurologist at Boston Children’s, said that pregnant women suspected of being infected with Zika may also consider getting fetal MRIs which can provide more detailed pictures and better guesses about whether the microcephaly is accompanied by a brain defect. Mochida emphasized that while the prognosis of Zika babies with microcephaly may not seem so hopeful in some cases, it's important to keep in mind that children’s brains are “still very plastic.”

"Even if certain parts are damaged or underdeveloped,” Mochida said, “sometimes with enough intervention early on we are surprised how much they are capable of.” - Washington Post.

RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Sounds Heard Across The Planet - Strange Inexplicable HUMMING SOUND Detected In The Dark Reaches Of The Ocean?! [AUDIO]

What could be making the deep ocean hum? (Photo: Pedro Fernandes/flickr)

February 27, 2016 - OCEAN - The deep sea is a forbidding place, inhabited by strange, monstrous creatures that haunt its pitch-black waters.

Now researchers have discovered an eerie new attribute of this little-known region: a subtle low humming sound that emanates from its depths every day around dawn and dusk.

“It’s not that loud, it sounds like a buzzing or humming, and that goes on for an hour to two hours, depending on the day,” said Simone Baumann-Pickering, co-author of the study, in a statement.

The source of the hum remains a mystery, to say the least. Researchers suspect that it may be coming from an organism, or perhaps many organisms chanting in unison, but no known marine creature could be matched to the noise.

It might be coming from a species yet to be identified, or it might be evidence of a new capability of an already-known creature. Then again, it might be coming from a non-living source too.

There's one clue, however. The sound comes from the ocean's mesopelagic zone, a region between 660 to 3,300 feet below the surface that's too dark for photosynthesis to occur. Since food is scarce there, many of the bizarre organisms that call this region home must migrate up and down the water column en masse on a daily basis to feed. These migrations typically happen at dawn and dusk, which coincides with the weird humming sound.

Researchers have theorized that the hum might be serving as some sort of "dinner bell" for the scores of marine creatures, a signal that tells them when to rise up or down in depth depending on the time of day.

Or perhaps the sound is just the wholesale noise of the migration itself, the cacophony of billions of creatures moving through the depths simultaneously.

The daily migration of organisms that inhabit the mesopelagic zone is no small matter. The region is home to an unfathomable — and largely unstudied — number of sea creatures, which are estimated to weigh around 10 billion tons all combined.

The planet's carbon cycle is likely tied in many fundamental ways to this global daily migration.

That we're just now detecting this omnipresent ocean hum is proof that there's much for us to discover about this little-known but vitally important region.

Though it's difficult to pick out from the background noise, you can listen to the hum yourself here, thanks to NPR:

- MNN.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 4.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Rattled Windows And Shook Desks! [MAPS + SEISMIC HISTORY]

USGS earthquake location.

February 27, 2016 - WYOMING, UNITED STATES - An earthquake rumbled across Jackson Hole shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, causing windows to rattle and desks to shake.

The temblor was a magnitude 4.2 with an epicenter just north of Crystal Peak in the Gros Ventre Range, University of Utah professor of geophysics Bob Smith said.

The U.S. Geologic Survey listed it as a 4.1 on

USGS shakemap intensity.

Still, he said it “qualifies as small.”

People as far away as Dubois reported feeling the quake. Teton County Dispatch reported several phone calls about it, but no one had immediately reported any damage or injuries. 

Smith encouraged anyone who experienced the bump to let the U.S Geological Survey know by visiting - JHN&G.

Earthquake History

The first earthquake known to originate in Wyoming occurred on June 25, 1894, near Casper. Dishes fell to the floor, and a number of people were thrown from their beds (MM V). The Platte River was thick with mud, apparently stirred up by the tremor. On November 14, 1897, another shock caused considerable damage to the Grand Central Hotel at Casper. A 2- to 4-inch crack extended from the third to the first story (MM VI-VII). Frightened citizens dashed into the streets.

A moderate earthquake on July 25, 1910, shook houses (MM V) and was felt in mine shafts at Rock Springs. On May 8, 1915, a shock was felt (MM V) in the north-central part of Yellowstone National Park. Thirteen minor shocks were felt (MM V) at Kelly during the March 23 - April 12, 1923, period. A strong earthquake with noticeable rumbling (MM V) occurred at Big Horn on November 17, 1925. The tremor was felt in Johnson and Sheridan Counties, an area of approximately 7800 square kilometers. Mine props near Thermopolis were loosened during an earthquake on February 13, 1928, and later became tight (MM V). Bumping and trembling sensations were reported at Thermopolis; there were sounds noted before the shock was felt. The earthquake was also felt at Crosby, Gebo, Kirby, Owl Creek, and Worland. The felt area covered about 7800 km square.

USGS Yellowstone Quaternary Fault Map

One brick building, at Grover was cracked from a June 12, 1930, tremor (MM VI). Also, a concrete swimming pool about 5 kilometers northwest of town was cracked. Minor aftershocks continued sporadically until November 16. Another long series of moderate shocks occurred in the Yellowstone Park area from August 24 to December 22, 1930. Dishes fell, and other light damage occurred (MM V). Cracked plaster and broken dishes were also reported from a January 26, 1932, earthquake south of Yellowstone Park. At Grovemont, Jackson, Kelly, and Moran, people were awakened (MM V-VI) by the shock. The telephone line westward into Idaho was put out of order, presumably by the earthquake. The tremor was also felt at DuBois and Lander. There were a number of aftershocks felt at Jackson on January 26 and 27.

Persons vacated office buildings at Lander during a moderate earthquake on November 23, 1934. Slight damage occurred (MM V). The tremor was strong at Atlantic City and was also felt at Riverton and Rock Springs. The total felt area included approximately 21,000 km square. Two brick chimneys were cracked (MM VI), and small objects were moved near the south entrance to Yellowstone Park on January 14, 1936. The shock was also felt at Moran, where beds rocked from the 9:40 PM jolt. Another earthquake was felt by everyone (MM V) at the West Thumb Ranger Station in Yellowstone Park on August 5, 1942. Windows and dishes rattled from the tremor.

The region south of Yellowstone Park was disturbed again on February 23, 1948. Intensity VI effects were observed at Jackson, Moran, and Wilson; windows, doors, and dishes rattled, hanging objects swung, buildings creaked, and so forth. At Moran, a piano and a bed shifted. The shock was felt over an area of approximately 3900 km square.

Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern Wyoming was jolted by an earthquake on January 20, 1954. Furnishings shifted and windows rattled (MM V) at Albany; buildings shook at Centennial and Laramie. It was also strongly felt at Foxpark and Jelm, where a lighter aftershock was felt about 5 hours after the 1:50 PM tremor. Felt reports were received from Cowdrey, Colo., and Tie Siding, Wyo.; the total area affected was about 5200 km square. Yellowstone Park was shaken again on July 4, 1954. Many residents at Mammoth were awakened (MM V) by a 12:40 AM tremor. Another shock at 9:32 AM caused buildings to creak and small objects to shift; also, windows, doors, and dishes rattled loudly. Four or five minor shocks with the same type of effects (MM V) were felt in the Old Faithful area on April 28, 1958.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake centered near Hebgen Lake, Montana, occurred just before midnight on August 17, 1959. At least 28 persons died, and over \$11 million damage resulted. In Yellowstone National Park, about 18,000 people were vacationing. No one was killed or badly injured, although huge boulders smashed down onto roads and buildings in the park were shaken noticeably and did sustain some minor damage. The well-known thermal features of the park were disrupted by the tremor. Old Faithful's eruptions slowed slightly from an average 61-minute cycle to 65 minutes. Other geysers changed eruption times, new ones began to erupt, and many bubbling springs burst into violent activity. The earthquake was felt over one-half of Wyoming, an area included within a diagonal running from southwest to northeast. Minor felt reports were received from Casper and from Hat Creek, near the Nebraska State line.

USGS Seismicity Map of Wyoming

Numerous aftershocks continued in Yellowstone Park through 1963. Maximum intensities were V and VI, and the felt areas generally were small. Dates and descriptions of these events are contained in Earthquake History of the United States Many additional shocks of intensity IV or less are listed in the annual United States Earthquakes publications.

On February 25, 1963, a magnitude 4.3 earthquake jarred windows, doors, and dishes at Fort Washakie (MM V). The rapid 2- to 3-second shock shifted a bed in one home. The shock was also felt at Lander. The area around Van Tassell, near the Nebraska State line, felt a moderate earthquake on March 27, 1964. Doors and dishes rattled and furniture vibrated (MM V). Thunderlike noises were heard. The tremor was also felt in parts of western Nebraska and South Dakota. The same general area felt a magnitude 4.5 shock on August 21, 1964. Intensity V effects were observed at Keeline, Lost Springs, and Lusk; it was also felt at Jay Em, Lance Creek, and Node.

Slight damage (MM V) occurred at Thermopolis from a magnitude 4.1 earthquake on December 8, 1972. The ceiling was cracked at a rest home; the concrete floor of a lumber yard building settled about 7.6 centimeters. The shock was felt in much of the surrounding area. On April 21, 1973, the area between Jeffrey City and Lander was shaken by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake. Many residents were awakened by the 11:07 PM tremor (MM V).

Yellowstone National Park experienced another strong shock on August 30, 1974. Intensity V effects were reported at Norris, Old Faithful, and West Yellowstone. Numerous additional small tremors were recorded on the seismograph at the Old Faithful Visitor Center. Another swarm of minor tremors was recorded on October 17. This increased seismic activity culminated on June 30, 1975, with a magnitude 6.4 earthquake. Rockslides and landslides stopped or hindered traffic on many roads in the park. Some geysers were affected (MM VII). Telephone service was out for several hours. The shock was felt over approximately 50,000 square kilometers of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and scattered places in Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington. Several aftershocks occurred in the area through July. Still another series of earthquakes originated in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone Park during December 1976. The largest of these shocks, magnitude 5.1, occurred on December 9. Intensity V effects were reported at Canyon Village; intensity IV effects, at Madison Junction and Mammoth Hot Springs; and intensity III effects, at the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

A small earthquake, magnitude 2.3, occurred near Rawlins on January 27, 1976. The tremor knocked a lamp off a table and pictures from a wall (MM V) according to a press report. No other felt reports were received.

The above is from Earthquake Information Bulletin, Volume 10, Number 4, July-August 1978, by Carl von Hake.

For a complete list of earthquakes please use the Earthquake Catalog Search.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "The Throat Of Fire" - Ecuador's Tungurahua Volcano Erupts, Produces Ash Plume Over 16,000 Feet High; Prompts Orange Danger Level! [PHOTOS]

Twitter: J.L Espinosa-Naranjo

February 27, 2016 - ECUADOR
- Ecuador’s Volcano Tungurahua, which translates from Quichua as “Throat of Fire,” has been exploding and puffing out an impressing 8-kilometer-high black spout.

Impressive images of the enormous ash cloud have been posted online by the local admirers.

Instagram: rohocentro

Instagram: aalaneez

At least five explosions shook Tungurahua on Friday, the Geophysical Institute of National Polytechnic School reported.

The first of them threw a grey cloud of volcanic gases to 5 kilometers above the crater, rising up another 3 kilometers in the hours that followed.

Ash headed northwest, falling in towns of Chonglontus, El Manzano, Pillate and Juive.

Local authorities updated the danger level to orange on Friday, warning the population of possible eruption.Current Tungurahua’s emission is regarded by experts as “mild to moderate.” - RT.

Two moderately large explosions occurred at the volcano yesterday noon from 12:12 local time. The first and larger explosion produced an ash plume that rose approx. 5000 meters (16404.2 feet) above the summit.

The ash plume dispersed mainly to the west and northwest where ash fall occurred in areas including Choglont煤s, Pillate, Cahuaji and El Manzano.

Eruption plume of Tungurahua volcano yesterday.
Twitter: J
.L Espinosa-Naranjo / Ambalaser

Tungurahua volcano eruption in Ecuador on February 26, 2016.

According to IGEPN, the eruption - which came after a 3 months interval of quiet since last November - was most likely NOT the result of new magma, but instead of accumulated gas pressure in the upper conduit. Magmatic gasses (H2O, CO2 etc) still contained in older magma inside the conduit was being released quietly as the magma continued to cool and crystallize, but most of these gasses were being trapped beneath a solid plug. With time, the gas pressure increased to the critical point: the plug gave way in yesterday's explosions.

The explosion itself, a typical so-called "vulcanian"-type eruption, was preceded only by a short (lasting little more than an hour), but intense seismic swarm of shallow earthquakes caused by internal fluid movements and rock fracturing as pressurized gasses started to disintegrate the overlying plug. - Volcano Discovery.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Indian Elephant Goes On The Rampage During Holy Festival, Smashing Vehicles In Its Path; Belligerent Bird Brings Traffic Chaos To Prague; And Pony Dressed Up As Mythical Unicorn Leads California Highway Patrol Officers On A Nearly Four-Hour Chase Outside Of Fresno?! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Pick-up van: A religious festival went awry when an elephant began picking up vehicles and smashing them. Devidasan was
taking part in a festival at the Bhagavathi Temple in Kerala on Thursday

February 27, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of animal attacks on humans.

Indian elephant goes on the rampage during holy festival smashing vehicles in its path

A religious festival went awry when an elephant began picking up vehicles and smashing them.

The great creature, named Devidasan, was taking part in a festival at the Bhagavathi Temple in the south Indian state of Kerala on Thursday.

However he proved to be at the end of the tether when he started destroying vehicles in his path.

He picked up a motorbike with his trunk before proving his herculean strength by grabbing an auto-rickshaw as though it were a toy and smashing it on the ground.

Violent: However he proved to be at the end of the tether when he started destroying vehicles in his path including a motorbike

Powerful: The elephant proved his herculean strength by grabbing an auto-rickshaw as though it were a toy and smashing it on the ground

Devidasan then turned his violence on a nearby pick-up van, throwing it into the air three times before overturning it on its side.

Two mahouts (people who work with elephants) were on the back of the animal throughout the ordeal trying to control him.It took several hours to finally bring the beast under control.

Nobody was injured.

WATCH: Elephant goes on a rampage in India.

The Bhagavathi Temple is one of the most ancient temples in India as well as one of the richest.

A four day festival is held there every year around January-February time.

The Thalappoli festival features a big music-filled procession headed by richly caparisoned elephants such as Devidasan. - Daily Mail.

Belligerent bird brings traffic chaos to Prague

Rush-hour tailbacks are frustrating for motorists at the best of times, so when a stubborn swan decided to hold up traffic on a Prague bridge, you can imagine that commuters got pretty narky.

Local police arrived on the scene where the graceful bird had decided to park itself – right in the middle of the road, stopping oncoming cars in their tracks and causing significant delays.

WATCH: Swan disrupts traffic in Prague, refuses to move.

However, law enforcement officers appeared to be making an even bigger production of things than the swan itself, as a video shows them furiously taking notes while apparently conferring about the best course of action.

There was also a police car and van on hand for backup.

All the while, the snooty swan remained defiant and unmoved, not in the least bit intimidated by the prospect of the parking ticket imminently coming its way.

When it comes to traffic disruption, swans have style. This one put on a decent show while blocking cars on Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin.

WATCH: Swan holds up traffic on the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Yet these avian menaces couldn’t quite capture our hearts in the same way as a sloth in Ecuador that recently became a social media star after being snapped clinging to a crash barrier in the middle of a highway. - RT.

Pony dressed up as mythical unicorn leads California Highway Patrol officers on a nearly four-hour chase outside of Fresno

It was like a crossover between ‘Once Upon a Time’ and ‘Cops’ after a unicorn escaped ‒ twice ‒ from a fairy-tale photo shoot. A horned pony led California Highway Patrol officers on a nearly four-hour chase outside of Fresno. Juliet, a regular old Shetland pony, was dressed up as the mythical forest creature during a children’s photo shoot in Madera Ranchos, when she got fed up and busted loose Thursday afternoon.

The 500 or 600-lbs. grey darted away from her child handler around 2:30 pm, but was quickly recaptured.

Juliet wasn’t ready to finish her romp around town, however, escaping from another kid three hours later. This time, she wasn’t so easy to catch, running out “onto the roadways,” Madera CHP spokesman Officer Joshua McConnell told KTVU.

Police were alerted by drivers calling about a "unicorn-like" creature galloping down the road.

"Initially [the dispatcher] thought it might be somebody out there on drugs, seeing things," McConnell told the Los Angeles Times. "It was a little unreal to hear calls of a unicorn running around on the roadway."

Juliet hoofed it through town in her horn and pink bridle.

“She went through 13 orchards and five miles,” Sandra Boos, the photographer who owns Juliet, told BuzzFeed. “It was crazy. The sun started going down and it started getting dark.”

Because of the pony’s white coloring, Boos was worried for the equine’s safety, and called the highway patrol.

“She’s all white and she’s small which made finding her difficult,” Boos said. “The highway patrol called in a helicopter and they actually used infrared heat to find her.”

Juliet was “finally located in an orchard by the CHP H40 helicopter, using the heat seeking FLIR radar," McConnell told KTVU.

The community came together to help rescue the wayward unicorn.

“We had people stopping traffic,” Boos said. “And people came out from a horse rescue.”

After her friend Renee helped corral Juliet, a highway patrolman radioed, “Please be advised the unicorn is in custody,” Boos said.

She has owned the frisky pony ‒ a gift to her 5-year old daughter Tatum ‒ for about a year.

The unicorn-induced mayhem had its scary moments.

"No injuries were reported but there were several near-misses [by cars]. The pony was just lucky. It was returned to its owner unharmed and was secured. No citations were issued in this case, but had the pony been hit by a car ‒ it would have been a different story. The business or owner providing the pony would have been financially liable for all injuries, property damages and other costs, which could have been significant," McConnell said.

"Children should not be tasked with restraining any animal near roadways, especially the large ones," he added.While Tatum was happy to hear that Juliet was found safely, it turns out that the “naughty unicorn” was really just the devil in disguise. - RT.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: The Latest Incidents Of Methane Blasts, Chemical Explosions And Gas Leaks Across The Globe - California Gas Leak Was The "WORST CLIMATE DISASTER In U.S. History", Over 100,000 TONS Of Methane Released Into The Atmosphere, Larger Impact Than The 2010 BP Oil Disaster; Massive Fire As 3 Explosions Rock Factory In Mexico; Methane Explosion In Russian Coal Mine Kills 4, Dozens Trapped; Huge Explosion Rocks Waste Treatment Plant In Antwerp, Belgium; Elderly Couple Killed In Gas Cylinder Explosion In Jaipur, India; And UNSTOPPABLE Gas Leaks In Texas EVEN WORSE Than California's, Media Silent! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Plant explosion in Belgium. Twitter:

February 27, 2016 - EARTH - Here are the latest incidents of methane blasts, gas leaks and chemical explosions across the planet.

California gas leak was 'worst climate disaster in US history', over 100,000 TONS of methane released into the atmosphere, larger impact than The 2010 BP oil disaster

Getty Images

A devastating methane leak in California was probably the worst single environmental disaster in US history, researchers have said.

The natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon, near Los Angeles, saw more than 100,000 tonnes of methane and ethane vented into the atmosphere.

Researchers now estimate it was probably the worst man-made greenhouse gas disaster in US history, with a larger impact on the climate than the 2010 BP oil disaster. The impact of the leak was equivalent to the annual output of an extra half a million cars, researchers now estimate.

The leak was first detected in October 2015, but was not sealed until 18 February. More than 11,000 residents had to be evacuated after one of the 115 wells connected to an underground gas storage system failed.

Analysing air samples collected downwind from the leak across three months, a team at the University of California-Davis found surprisingly high levels of atmospheric ozone. Led by Stephen Conley, the group reported that the leak effectively doubled the emissions of the entire Los Angeles Basin.

They also said that the gas released in a single day was enough to fill a balloon the size of a major stadium; the leak lasted for 112 days.

"The climate impact is the largest on a record," Conley told the Washington Post. He added that the leak may have undone much of California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- which include extra subsidies for electric vehicles -- and said leaks will "continue to happen".

A closure notice is posted on a gate at Porter Ranch Community School. Around 1,700 homes were evacuated due to the leak.
Getty Images

The US Environmental Protection Agency is currently attempting to reinforce rules around methane leaks, amid fears that such accidents are vastly underreported across the oil and gas industry.

The wider environmental impact of methane is often under-reported; a 2013 analysis of methane suggested that because non-CO2 greenhouse gases dissipate in the atmosphere much quicker than CO2, reducing their emission would be more immediately beneficial to the climate.

"We clearly need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to cut CO2 emissions," said William Ripple, a professor at the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, at the time of that report. "But that addresses only part of the problem. We also need to reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases to lessen the likelihood of us crossing this climatic threshold." - WIRED.

Massive fire as 3 explosions rock factory in Mexico

Tres explosiones consecutivas, @AlvarCdeV ¡URGEN bomberos de apoyo! @miguelmarquezm @RICHANCARDO Auxilio

Three strong explosions, supposedly involving chemicals, has rocked a factory in Mexico’s central city of Irapuato, according to reports. A massive blaze has been seen spreading black smoke throughout the area.

No deaths or injuries have been reported so far, but 12 families have been evacuated, according to Guana Juato Informa.

© Peri贸dico Correo / YouTube

The incident was first called in at 8:00 pm local time. Fire crews are reportedly on site trying to battle the blaze.

It is likely that a short circuit in the electrical system ignited the factory blaze, according to local media reports.

Three rescue workers are said to be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

WATCH: 3 explosions rock factory in Mexico.

The fire quickly intensified, as the factory allegedly had 600 liters of gasoline stored inside. - RT.

Methane explosion in Russian coal mine kills 4, dozens trapped

At least four miners were killed after a structural collapse at a coal mine in northern Russia, and the rescue operation was further complicated by a second explosion when emergency workers were trying to reach dozens of miners trapped underground, officials and media reports said Friday.

About 110 coal miners were underground at the "Severnaya" coal mine — operated by the Vorkutaugol company in the northern region of Komi — when a seismic jolt caused part of the structure to collapse on Thursday, the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. Shortly before midnight, 80 of the miners had been rescued, the ministry said. Eight of them had suffered injuries.

Rescuers have also recovered the bodies of four more miners, while 26 others were listed as missing as of Friday afternoon, according to Russian media reports.

About an hour after the initial jolt, when attempts to evacuate workers were already underway, the mine suffered a second "explosion," Vorkutaugol technical director Igor Paykin said, the Interfax news agency reported Friday.

The second blast caused additional structural collapses in the mine, stoked a fire, and caused clouds of smoke to fill the mine shaft, Paykin was quoted as saying.

"It appears impossible to extinguish it [the fire] through ordinary methods," he said, Interfax reported. "We will look into the option of temporarily isolating the combustion section."

Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, who was in Vorkuta on Friday to direct the rescue operation, said his agency dispatched an Ilyushin-76 strategic airlifter to bring an additional 70 rescuers to the site to "organize continuous shift work by mountain-rescue teams," Interfax reported.

© Vorkutaugol

The primary version of the event considers human factors the root cause, an unidentified source in the region's technical inspection services told the Interfax news agency. The source added that the reasons for the tragedy could be complex, including both human and natural factors.

Meanwhile, according to Vorkutaugol, the incident was caused by a methane explosion, the TASS news agency reported, citing the company's spokeswoman Tatyana Bushkova. Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case over the violation of safety rules during operations at the mine.

Russian coal mines have suffered multiple accidents in recent decades and are considered among the most dangerous in the world. Part of the danger stems from the lack of modern safety features at many of the facilities. - The Moscow Times.

Huge explosion rocks waste treatment plant in Antwerp, Belgium

A large explosion has hit a waste treatment plant in the Belgian port of Antwerp. Local fire services have described the incident as a “municipal disaster” and asked the locals to keep doors and windows shut.

The blast occurred in a storage bunker at an industrial waste treatment plant belonging to the Indaver company on Friday.

© Stark Biker / YouTube

Twitter: Glenn De Nys

Twitter: Brandweer Antwerpen


Twitter: Lynn V.

Photos from social media networks show dark clouds of smoke curling upwards.About 60 firefighters have arrived at the site, the RTBF public broadcaster reports.

The Antwerp fire service said on Twitter that neighboring Tijsmanstunnel on the R2 roadway was closed.

WATCH: Plant explosion in Belgium.

Indaver said that there were no casualties or injuries resulting from the incident, as it managed to evacuate its staff from the site unharmed, according to Reuters.

The cause and nature of the blast remain unknown. - RT.

Elderly Couple Killed In Cooking Gas Explosion In Jaipur, India

An elderly couple were killed today in an LPG cylinder explosion at their house in Viswakarma area in the district, police said.

Jagdish Nayak and his wife Dhapu Devi, both in their 60s, were residents of in Akeda village.

The woman was a cancer patient and bed-ridden.

Her husband Jagdish was working in the kitchen early in the morning when the cylinder exploded. Both of them were burnt alive, police said.

The bodies were shifted to a hospital for postmortem, they said. - NDTV.

Unstoppable Gas Leaks in Texas Even Worse than California’s, Media Silent

A massive leak from a Texas fracking operation dwarfs the infamous methane leak in California’s Aliso Canyon.
Photo credit: Scott Towery / Flickr

After the mammoth methane gas leak that spewed uncontrollably from a damaged well in California’s Aliso Canyon was finally capped last week, residents of nearby Porter Ranch began trepidatiously returning to their homes. Lingering doubts over whether Southern California Gas Company will continue using the underground storage field have left many wondering if concerns for their safety are being considered at all — particularly considering the company has, so far, only been charged with misdemeanor violations.

All told, the Aliso Canyon leak thrust an estimated 96,000 metric tons of potent methane — not to mention benzene, nitrogen oxides, and other noxious substances — into the atmosphere over a period of months. So vast was the impact of the leak, it has been likened in impactful scope to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

California, however, isn’t the only state dealing with mammoth methane leakage.

Texas is dealing with a comparable disaster that has been overlooked by officials and the media, in part, because the state’s methane emanates from a powerful industry’s infrastructure. According to the Texas Observer’s Naveena Sadasivam:

“Every hour, natural gas facilities in North Texas’ Barnett Shale region emit thousands of tons of methane — a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide — and a slate of noxious pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and benzene.

“The Aliso Canyon leak was big. The Barnett leaks, combined, are even bigger.”

At its peak, the SoCal Gas leak emitted 58,000 kilograms of methane per hour. By comparison, researchers with universities in Colorado and Michigan, partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund, estimate around 60,000 kilograms are spewed every hour by over 25,000 natural gas wells in operation on the Barnett Shale — with the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex at the center. This amounts to around 544,000 tons of methane every year. But contrary to the magnitude of the Aliso Canyon event, emissions caused by oil and gas extraction from the Barnett Shale — and a second large formation, Eagle Ford Shale — won’t cease as long as hydraulic fracturing remains the boon it has been to the fossil fuel industry.

An eight-month long study of Eagle Ford by the Center for Public Integrity, the Weather Channel, and InsideClimate News found “a system that does more to protect the industry than the public.”
Due to a scarcity of air quality monitoring stations, with only five permanent monitors to cover Eagle Ford’s nearly 20,000 square miles, state officials simply don’t know the extent of pollutants in the air. Many facilities are permitted to police themselves, and aren’t required to submit those findings. Not that regulators would have an easy time enforcing a reporting mandate, as the “Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which regulates most air emissions, doesn’t even know some of these facilities exist.”

David Sterling, chair of the University of North Texas Health Science Center, told InsideClimate News, “As much as I would like to believe that industry can police itself, history has shown that that has not worked without sufficient oversight.” With TCEQ’s budget having fallen 34 percent between 2010 and 2014, it’s virtually impossible to imagine such oversight increasing in the future.
There is a dearth of accountability for lawbreakers in Texas’ oil and gas industry. As the study discovered, in a period of nearly two years beginning in January 2010, 284 complaints against the industry — and “164 documented violations” — led to just two non-punitive fines, the larger of which was a mere $14,250.

Though alarming, that gap in accountability isn’t a surprise.

“Texas officials tasked with overseeing the industry are often its strongest defenders,”
stated the study. “The Texas Railroad Commission, which issues drilling permits and regulates all other aspects of oil and gas production, is controlled by three elected commissioners who accepted more than $2 million in campaign contributions from the industry during the 2012 election cycle, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.”

Texas lawmakers are often personally tied to the industry, as “nearly one in four state legislators, or his or her spouse, has a financial interest in at least one energy company active in the Eagle Ford,” according to an analysis of personal financial forms by CPI cited by the study.

Residents located in the two Texas shale production regions experience many similar symptoms to those in Porter Ranch near Aliso Canyon, such as nosebleeds, dizziness, nausea, and various respiratory ailments. Those symptoms could be due to any number of pollutants and toxins. As the study described:

“Chemicals released during oil and gas extraction include hydrogen sulfide, a deadly gas found in abundance in Eagle Ford wells; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, a known carcinogen; sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which irritate the lungs; and other harmful substances such as carbon monoxide and carbon disulfide. VOCs also mix with nitrogen oxides emitted from field equipment to create ozone, a major respiratory hazard.

“Studies show that, depending on the concentration and length of exposure, these chemicals can cause a range of ailments, from minor headaches to neurological damage and cancer. People in the Eagle Ford face an added risk: hydrogen sulfide, also known as H
2S or sour gas, a naturally occurring component of crude oil and natural gas that lurks underground.”

Texas’ shale facilities are responsible for 8 percent of the nation’s methane emissions, already; but the combination of faulty equipment and lack of monitoring sites mean occasional large methane releases from wells — called “super-emitters” — won’t necessarily be noticed immediately.

“If one well was a super-emitter the day we measured them, it could change the next day,”
explained Daniel Zavala-Araiza, lead researcher of a 2015 Barnett Shale methane study by the Environmental Defense Fund, in the Observer. “It’s not just about finding a handful of sites. You need to be looking continuously to keep finding the ones that are malfunctioning … If you don’t have frequent monitoring, there’s no way you’re going to know when one of these super-emitters begins spewing.”

In fact, a recent study by Harvard University points the finger at the United States as the cause of an enormous spike in global methane emissions over the past decade, accounting for 30 – 60 percent of all “human-caused atmospheric emissions.”

“I believe the U.S. probably is responsible for this much of an increase in global methane emissions,”
said Roger Howarth, a methane researcher at Cornell University, who is unaffiliated with the Harvard study, theGuardian reported. “And, the increase almost certainly must be coming from the fracking and from the increase in use of natural gas.”

Texas residents unfortunate enough to find their homes positioned near oil or gas facilities aren’t left with much recourse to combat the state’s infamous industry. Shale gas production more than doubled between 2009 and 2014, though it has slowed slightly with the recent glut. As InsideClimate News reported, state Representative Harvey Hilderbran tellingly asserted to a media panel in 2014:

“I believe if you’re anti-oil and gas, you’re anti-Texas.”

- D.C. Clothesline.