Carol J. Williams LA Times Wed, 03 Jan 2007 14:48 UTC
MIAMI - Frustrated with people and politicians who refuse to listen or learn, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield ends his 34-year government career today in search of a new platform for getting out his unwelcome message: Hurricane Katrina was nothing compared with the big one yet to come.
Mayfield, 58, leaves his high-profile job with the National Weather Service more convinced than ever that U.S. residents of the Southeast are risking unprecedented tragedy by continuing to build vulnerable homes in the tropical storm zone and failing to plan escape routes.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.