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Fri, 25 Sep 2020
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Rats, not men, to blame for death of Easter Island

It was the first and most extreme ecological disaster. Easter Island, in the south Pacific, once lush with subtropical broadleaf forest, was left barren and vast seabird colonies were destroyed after the arrival of man.

But now there is new evidence that human beings may not have been responsible for the destruction after all. Although Easter Island has long been held to be the most important example of a traditional society destroying itself, it appears that the real culprits were rats - up to three million of them.

This contradicts the belief that the native population's obsession with carving, constructing, and transporting its famous statues around the island led it to deplete its own natural resources, going into what has been called "a downward spiral of cultural regression".

Bomb

Dead birds shut down Austin

AUSTIN, Texas - Police shut down 10 blocks of businesses in the heart of downtown early Monday after dozens of birds were found dead in the streets, but officials said preliminary tests showed no dangerous chemicals in the air.

Bomb

Scientists Say 2007 May Be Warmest Yet

LONDON - A resurgent El Nino and persistently high levels of greenhouse gases are likely to make 2007 the world's hottest year ever recorded, British climate scientists said Thursday.

Britain's Meteorological Office said there was a 60 percent probability that 2007 would break the record set by 1998, which was 1.20 degrees over the long-term average.

"This new information represents another warning that climate change is happening around the world," the office said.

Bomb

2 dead after strong storms, tornadoes rip through southern Louisiana

NEW IBERIA, La. - Powerful storms that killed at least two people and ripped apart mobile homes in Louisiana headed into Alabama on Friday, where tornado watches were posted across the state.

A flash-flood watch was still in effect Friday morning for parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi after the heavy rain.

Some of the worst damage from Thursday's storms was in Louisiana's Iberia Parish after what appeared to be a tornado hit in the New Iberia area just before 4 p.m.

Cloud Lightning

Warm winter wreaks havoc

Bill Weigle's tree service in Lyndeborough, N.H., usually delivers five to 10 cords of firewood a day this time of year. He's sold only one in the past two weeks.

Business is "dead," Weigle says. "I've never seen it like this ... I feel like the Maytag man."

This winter's curiously warm weather across the Northeast and much of the Midwest has played havoc with more than seasonal businesses. In Washington, D.C., springlike temperatures have faked out flora, causing dogwoods and daffodils to bloom.

Snowflake

Record snowfall buries Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska - It snowed all day in Anchorage Wednesday. A combination of snow, fog and ice contributed to more than 100 cars becoming stuck in ditches and snow berms across the city. The Anchorage Police Department said accidents occurred at a pace of a collision every 10 minutes today. A snow advisory remains in effect and the job of digging out is only beginning.

Health

The price of cheap chicken is bird flu

CHICKEN HAS never been cheaper. A whole one can be bought for little more than the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee. But the industrial farming methods that make ever-cheaper chicken possible may also have created the lethal strain of bird flu virus, H5N1, that threatens to set off a global pandemic.

Health

Ducks die en mass in Vietnam's southern province

HANOI, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Several thousands of ducks in Vietnam's southern Soc Trang province have died in the last few days, Vietnam News Agency reported Monday.

Some 4,000 ducks in two farms in the province's Nga Nam and Thanh Tri districts have been either killed by an identified disease or culled by local relevant agencies. Specimens from the affected waterfowls are being tested for bird flu viruses.

Comment: Much of the focus in the fight against avian flu has been directed against small producers. However, there is research that suggests it is the large-scale, factory farming of chickens that is the cause.


Recycle

Gas-like odour blankets Manhattan

A gas-like odour covered much of Manhattan and parts of New Jersey Monday as firefighters worked to discover the cause.

Reports of the mysterious odour started coming in around 9 a.m. ET, said New York fire department spokesperson Tim Hinchey.

X

6 of 75 Cities Get Top Disaster Rating

WASHINGTON -- On Sept. 11, 2001, New York fire battalion chief Dennis Devlin issued an urgent plea: His men were in "a state of confusion" and needed more working radios immediately. Yet, more than five years since Devlin and 342 other members of the city's fire department perished at the World Trade Center, the government says only six U.S. cities have fully answered the late fire chief's call by adopting advanced emergency communications systems.

New York is not one of the six, according to the scorecard by the Homeland Security Department that was to be released Wednesday.