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Sat, 22 Oct 2016
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20-foot sinkhole closes intersection in Phoenix, Arizona

A sinkhole has closed the intersection of 59th Avenue and Indian School Road in west Phoenix.

Emergency crews responded to the scene Monday morning.


BPA disrupts male turtle's brain development to show behaviour common in females

© StrangerView / Fotolia
Cheryl Rosenfeld and her team found that BPA can induce behavioral changes in turtles, reprogramming male turtle brains to show behavior common in females. Researchers worry this could lead to population declines in painted turtles.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in many consumer products including water bottles, metal food storage products and certain resins. Often, aquatic environments such as rivers and streams become reservoirs for BPA, affecting turtle habitats. Last year, a team of researchers led by the University of Missouri determined that BPA can disrupt sexual function in painted turtles, causing males to develop female sex organs. Now, the team has shown that BPA also can induce behavioral changes in turtles, reprogramming male turtle brains to show behavior common in females. Researchers worry this could lead to population declines in painted turtles.

"Previously, our research team found that BPA and ethinyl estradiol (EE2), a hormone found in birth control pills, could 'sex-reverse' turtles from males to females," said Cheryl Rosenfeld, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center. "Painted turtles and other reptiles lack sex chromosomes. The gender of painted turtles and other reptiles is determined by the incubation temperature of the egg during development. Studies have shown that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such as BPA, can override incubation temperature and switch the sex of males to females. In our latest study, we found that BPA also affects how the male brain is 'wired,' potentially inducing males to show female type behavioral patterns."

Comment: Turtles are not the only species that are being affected by BPA because similar effects have also been found to occur in humans.


Aggressive deer killed after attacking four people in Geneva, Switzerland

Authorities in Geneva have put down a rutting deer that attacked four people over the course of 48 hours, according to reports.

The buck went on the rampage at the end of July in a residential area in the Collonge-Bellerive area of Geneva, newspaper 24 Heures said on Thursday.

Describing his experience to the paper, one of the animal's victims, José Taboada, said he was driving his van through the area on July 25th when he saw it leap out of a sunflower field a few metres from his vehicle.

Taboada got out of the van to take a photo of the buck with his phone when it attacked.


Giant 2-metre catfish attacks woman in Bavaria, Germany

When a young woman went for a swim in an idyllic south Bavarian region, she got more than she bargained for.

The woman was swimming in a lake in Straubing-Bogen in southeastern Bavaria when the huge flesh-eating fish bit into her leg, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Wednesday.

She immediately turned round and was able to swim back to the shore in safety. But the large bite left in her leg allowed experts to estimate that the beast - a wels catfish - that had a nip at her was around two metres in length, about 6.5 feet.

An expert from the Bavarian Fishing Association told the SZ that such incidents are not wholly uncommon, especially when the male is protecting a pair's eggs.

Cloud Lightning

Second lightning strike victim dies in Poughkeepsie, New York; total lightning fatalities for U.S. in 2016 now 30

A second victim of the freak Aug. 12 lightning strike in a City of Poughkeepsie park has died.

The 46-year-old man died at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, according to John Nelson, director of public and community affairs at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

The man, whose name was not released, was the second man fatally struck in City of Poughkeepsie's Mansion Square Park that Friday afternoon. A 50-year-old man died early the following day.

Three other lightning strike victims, Alexander Carr, Karen Brooks and an unnamed 46-year-old man, were treated at local hospitals following the strike and released.

Lightning struck a tree, traveling down it and into the ground, shocking five victims on or near a bench, one of whom died. Police have not released the names of the victims.

Comment: See also: Fatalities from U.S. lightning strikes this year at highest since 2010

Cloud Lightning

Lightning kills 38 animals in India

© DC
In a gross natural disaster, a total of 38 sheep were killed on Tuesday night as lightning struck the Kammalam Poondy village in Kanchipuram district.

The catastrophe had left the village in a pall of gloom and is a first of its kind in the recent past, said the distressed villagers.

Cattle owner E. Lakshmanan (45), who lost 38 sheep among the 104 ones, has incurred a loss of Rs 1.52 lakh. As brief spells and thunderstorms were observed on Tuesday evening, Lakshmanan had chosen to not take the cattle to a fenced field and left them in an open ground, a few yards behind his house. At around 11pm, he woke up to the disturbance and was shocked to see the carcasses of the cattle.


Whale shark discovered dead in coastal waters of Shandong, China

On Aug. 23, a deceased whale shark was discovered in a fishing net on the coast of eastern China's Shandong province.

The shark, weighing about 1.5 tons, has been sent to a local aquarium to be made into a zoological specimen.

Whale sharks seldom approach coastal regions, which indicates that this shark might have been ill prior to its death.

Source: People's Daily Online

Bizarro Earth

Italy earthquake: Death toll approaches 250 as rescue operation continues

© Remo Casilli / Reuters
Rescuers work in the night at a collapsed house following an earthquake in Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016.
Rescuers continued to search for survivors in central Italian towns devastated by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake as the number of victims rose to 247 on Thursday morning. Accounts of lucky escapes and tragedies have emerged as communities struggle to cope with the aftermath.

Italy's earthquake death toll has climbed to 247, local wire service ANSA quoted regional officials as saying.

Meanwhile, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) reported yet another 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit central Italy, some 66 km northeast from the town of Terni, with a population of over 220,000 people. It was the 22nd quake in the region in less than 24 hours.

The dramatic rescue operation continued overnight into the early hours of Thursday as scores of people are still believed trapped under the rubble. Thousands have been left homeless.

At least 86 victims come from the small towns of Amatrice and Accumoli that lie close to the epicenter of the quake, about 100 km from Rome.

Comment: An earthquake of comparable force hit the nearby city of L'Aquila in 2009, killing 309 people. In the subsequent 'witch hunt' seven seismologists were convicted of manslaughter for failing to adequately assess the earthquake risk. In 2012 they were sentenced to six years in prison, six were acquitted two years later.

This is one of the most seismically active parts of Italy as clearly identified in many seismic hazard maps. Addressing the fundamental reason for such tragic loss of life, Kevin McCue, president of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, said
"This earthquake occurred in an area rated a high earthquake hazard region of Italy. Buildings should be designed and built to withstand this level of shaking without collapse. That they don't is typical of the attitude to the hazard in Italy and Australia where the risk of being killed in a vehicle accident is much higher."
Mr Renzi, the Italian prime minister,says "Our credibility and honor depends on a real reconstruction that would prevent the inhabitants of these municipalities from leaving, to allow these beautiful places to start over."

The reason why so many buildings fall down in Italy during earthquakes is that many were put up without planning consent, with the structural guarantees that normally accompany it; but more specifically buildings have simply not been designed and built with due consideration to the seismic threat, like in Japan for instance.

According to the government own statistics office, unlawful construction in Italy is of "dimensions unparalleled in other advanced economies". The latest estimate, for 2014, is that 18% of buildings are erected without permission, excluding extensions.

Unless these planning and construction laws are completely overhauled further tragedies such as this are inevitable.

Cloud Precipitation

Floods in India kill 300, affect 6 million

Mourners cremating a body on a rooftop in Varanasi after floods made it impossible to perform the ceremony by the banks of River Ganges.
At least 300 people have died in eastern and central India and more than 6 million others have been affected by floods that have submerged villages, washed away crops, destroyed roads and disrupted power and phone lines, officials say.

Heavy monsoon rains have caused rivers, including the mighty Ganges and its tributaries, to burst their banks forcing people into relief camps in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.

Government officials in Bihar, which has seen some of the worst flooding this year with almost 120 dead and more than 5 million affected, said the situation was serious.

"The flood waters have engulfed low-lying areas, homes and fields of crops," said Zafar Rakib, a district magistrate of Katihar, one of 24 districts out of Bihar's 38 districts which have been hit by the deluge.

Snowflake Cold

'Warmest year ever'? 8 inches of snow for Alaska, record cold temperatures around Europe and 'astonishing' snowpack remains on Scottish mountain

© Highland Mountain Company
'Astonishing' snow depth on North Face of Ben Nevis
Unusual to say the least with all the news articles saying its the warmest year ever and now 8 Inches of August Snow for Alaska, Record Cold Europe, Snow pack Remains Scotland & UK up to 20 meters/60 feet deep.