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Bizarro Earth

Serie A: All Italian Matches Hit by Bad Weather

© AP PhotoWorkers shovel snow from the pitch of the Bologna Dall'Ara stadium
AC Milan's hopes of clawing some ground back on Serie A leaders Inter before the end of the year were hit by the postponement of their match at Fiorentina.

Milan are five points behind their city rivals following a run of four wins in five matches, with this weekend's programme the final round of fixtures before the league breaks up for Christmas.

Leonardo's men had been hoping to further close that gap and also ensure they would head into the winter break in second place, but heavy snow at the Stadio Artemio Franchi saw the fixture in Florence called off this evening.

Juventus will have the chance to climb above Milan when they play host to Catania on Sunday.

Bizarro Earth

Five Dead as Snowstorm Engulfs U.S. East Coast

© AP PhotoSnow was being cleared from the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore ahead of an NFL game on Sunday
A winter storm is gripping the eastern US, dumping more than 1ft (30cm) of snow in some areas, snarling up travel and cutting power supplies.

Storm-related incidents claimed five lives and forecasters warned of 40mph (64km/h) winds in what may be the worst snowstorm in a decade.

Snowfall is due to reach 22in overnight in the Baltimore-Washington DC area, the heaviest since 2003.

The storm system is moving north toward New York and Boston.

Forecasters say the cities could be in for more than 14in of snow.

Bizarro Earth

Major earthquake strikes Taiwan; buildings rattled in capital of Taipei

A large earthquake struck Taiwan on Saturday, rattling buildings in the capital of Taipei.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.4-magnitude quake was centered off the eastern coast of Taiwan, about 16 miles (25 kilometers) from Hua-lien. It struck at a depth of 28 miles (45 kilometers). The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not immediately issue any warning.


Global Warming? Big Storm Warnings As Snow Bears Down On Mid-Atlantic - 20 inches of Snow

© AFP/Getty Images/Scott HalleranA pizza delivery man crosses a street in the falling snow to make a delivery in the Montford neighborhood in Asheville, North Carolina. Northeastern United States from North Carolina to Connecticut was under a winter storm warning Friday, as a major storm system threatens to dump up to 16 inches (40 centimeters) of snow in the region, weather forecasters said.
A major storm moving up the Atlantic Coast on the last shopping weekend before Christmas threatened to shut down much of the region as officials warned of up to 20 inches of snow and significant power outages.

People stocked up on groceries and other staples Friday after the National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings from the Carolinas to Rhode Island.

In Virginia, Gov. Tim Kaine declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm, placing the National Guard and other agencies on standby. Philadelphia officials also declared a state of emergency and the school district canceled all weekend activities. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley urged motorists to stay home if possible.

Some shoppers were trying to get their holiday buying done before the snow hit.

"Most of them are coming in this morning to shop before they get snowed in," said Kayla Mahr at the Bath and Body shop at the River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg, Va.

The Federal Aviation Administration said departing flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were delayed by as much as an hour Friday because of rain and wind. United Airlines said it had already canceled more than 140 Saturday flights on the East Coast ahead of Saturday's weather.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Magnitude 3.1 - New Madrid, Missouri

A 3.1-magnitude earthquake centered near New Madrid, Mo., Friday shook parts of the Midwest, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau, Mo., said the early morning quake's epicenter was nine miles outside New Madrid and the quake was determined to have occurred at a depth of 5.6 miles.

No reports of damage or injuries were reported.

The New Madrid Seismic Network said the quake took place at 5:38 a.m. CST, nearly six miles northwest of Tiptonville, Tenn.

Better Earth

Europe's Flora is Becoming Impoverished

© André Künzelmann/UFZThe Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) are up to four metres high.
With increasing species richness, due to more plant introductions than extinctions, plant communities of many European regions are becoming more homogeneous. The same species are occurring more frequently, whereas rare species are becoming extinct.

It is not only the biological communities that are becoming increasingly similar, but also the phylogenetic relations between regions. These processes have led to a loss of uniqueness among European floras, scientists from the DAISIE research project have published their findings in the current online edition of the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

For their research the scientists analysed the data of flora native to Europe (Flora Europaea), extinct plant species (national red lists) and alien plant species from the DAISIE database. About 1,600 new non-European species were introduced to the approx. 11,000 native European plant species since 1500 A.D. The researchers also took into account those European plants that are native to a particular region of Europe but considered as introduced species in another (approx. 1,700. It works in a similar way for the species considered to be "extinct."

While in the whole of Europe only 2 plant species can "really" be considered as extinct, approx. 500 species have become locally extinct. One such example is the Blue Woodruff (Asperula arvensis), a weed that grows on cultivated land, which has been greatly displaced particularly from the intensification of agricultural practices. This species is considered to be locally extinct in Germany and Austria for example, whereas it still occurs e.g. in Italy and Spain.


Why Some Insects Can Survive Freezing: Huge X-Ray Microscope Provides Clues

© University of Western OntarioSynchrotron x-ray visualisation of ice formation in insects during lethal and non-lethal freezing.
Using a microscope the size of a football field, researchers from The University of Western Ontario are studying why some insects can survive freezing, while others cannot.

Why is this important? Because the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is one of the bugs that cannot survive freezing and the little creature just so happens to share much of the same genetic makeup as humans, therefore finding a way to freeze them for research purposes is a top priority for geneticists the world over (about 75 per cent of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies).

And why the large microscope?

"It's the only one in the world that's set up for this kind of imaging on insects," says lead researcher Brent Sinclair of his team's use of the Advanced Photon Source (APS), located near Chicago, Illinois. The APS generates high-energy x-rays that allow Sinclair and his collaborators to film the formation and spread of ice in real time as the maggots freeze.

Bizarro Earth

US: 3.5 Earthquake Jolts Southeast Nebraska

A minor earthquake has rattled southeast Nebraska but apparently caused little damage and no injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the 3.5 magnitude quake struck at 8:53 Wednesday night, centered two miles north-northwest of Auburn.

Nemaha County authorities reported no injuries.

The quake was felt by people in several nearby Nebraska towns, including Peru, Nebraska City, and Dunbar. It also was felt across the Missouri River in Hamburg, Iowa; and Rock Port, Mo.

Though not known for its earthquakes, Nebraska has experienced several notable shakes since its founding as a state in 1867.

Comment: This article might be of interest as well: Fireball: Curious Events In Nebraska: Dec. 16, 2009


Climategate Goes SERIAL: Now the Russians Confirm that UK Climate Scientists Manipulated Data to Exaggerate Global Warming

Climategate just got much, much bigger. And all thanks to the Russians who, with perfect timing, dropped this bombshell just as the world's leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss ways of carbon-taxing us all back to the dark ages.

Feast your eyes on this news release from Rionovosta, via the Ria Novosti agency, posted on Icecap. (Hat Tip: Richard North)

Bizarro Earth

Britain: Race Against Snow to Avert Transport Chaos

© TimesSnowfall today hit Coverdale, in the Pennines
Heavy snowfall blanketed parts of Britain last night as forecasters warned that treacherous conditions could lead to disruption on main road and rail networks.

Several inches of snow fell in East Anglia and Cambridgeshire with a peppering of showers in other parts of the country, including the Midlands and Essex. The Met Office also issued severe weather warnings for very heavy snowfall in London, the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands

Local authorities and transport agencies were on high alert last night, with fleets of gritters and de-icing lorries ready to be dispatched to keep key commuting routes clear today.

As commuters anticipated disruption this morning, a spokesman for Transport for London insisted that lessons had been learnt after snowfall brought the entire bus network to a standstill in February and paralysed other public transport links.