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Bizarro Earth

US: Thousand Cankers Disease Detected in Eugene Tree

Walnut Tree Disease

Eugene's urban forest is facing a very serious threat from a new disease called Thousand Cankers Disease that is killing black walnut trees in eight western states.

Laboratory analysis at the Plant Clinic at Oregon State University (OSU) confirmed the large walnut on Madison Street next to Gray's Garden Center to be the first known case in Eugene found to have the disease.

The disease has probably been present in Eugene for the last few years, and it has already been found in every county in the Willamette Valley, according to Dr. Jay Pscheidt, OSU Extension Plant Pathology Specialist.

Thousand Cankers Disease is caused by a newly-discovered fungus (Geosmithia morbida) that is carried to trees by the tiny walnut twig beetle. The fungus kills areas of bark throughout the tree. Cankers eventually grow together and girdle limbs and the trunk so nutrients can no longer move in the tree.


Another case of outgassing? Portland, US: Mysterious odor forces Hall kindergartners to move to new classroom

A kindergarten class at Hall Elementary School has been moved to another classroom while school officials investigate an unknown odor.

The class started meeting in the school's library in mid-February, after its teacher noticed an earthy, unfamiliar odor in the classroom, Principal Kelly Hasson said Wednesday.

Maintenance workers removed interior and exterior walls looking for the odor's source, but they found none, said Hasson, who heads the school off outer Brighton Avenue.

The odor is no longer noticeable in the room, which has its own heating and ventilation system, said Doug Sherwood, facilities director of the city's schools.

The walls have been replaced, and the relatively new carpet will be cleaned and dried before a company tests the room's air quality next week, Sherwood said. Earlier air quality tests didn't reveal any problems.


India: A mysterious bug wrecks havoc in a village in Ukhrul

Imphal: An idyllic and nondescript New Wahong village located some 80 km north of Ukhrul district headquarters under Chingai assembly constituency has been overwhelmed by a mysterious disease claiming the lives of 4 children with many more needing emergency medical attention.

The inscrutable disease has claimed the lives of 4 children between the age of 6 months and 1 year in the last 2 months. At least 8 other children have been transferred and are now being treated in Ukhrul district hospital.

The symptom of the disease resembles that of dysentery with excessive vomiting, said a source.

Despite the fact that the mysterious disease has claimed predominantly young suckling, an old woman has reportedly died showing similar symptom.

People from the village lamented that far from getting emergency medical attention the suffering of the people has been multiplied with many children already affected and many more potentially in danger of contacting the disease.


South East of England suffered darkest winter on record

It was the darkest winter since records began for the South-East of England, experts have said.

The Met Office revealed that the sun shined 40 per cent less than usual between December and the end of February.

London was particularly gloomy, with only 98.2 hours hours of sunlight at Heathrow over the period, making it the darkest winter since monitoring began in 1957.

Darkest Winter South east England
© APBleak: London was particularly gloomy, with only 98.2 hours hours of sunlight at Heathrow over three months, making it the darkest winter since monitoring began in 1957
However, the North West was unusually bright, while Northern Ireland enjoyed 223 hours of sun - 62 per cent more than average.

Even Scotland basked in 20 per cent more shine than usual.

But a beaming sun didn't necessarily mean warm weather. In fact, it was partnered by high pressure systems and freezing temperatures.

But although it may have felt like the coming of a new ice age, it was only the 15th chilliest winter of the last century.


Bodies pulverised by New Zealand earthquake 'may never be found'

The bodies of some victims of New Zealand's devastating earthquake may never be recovered because they were pulverised by the buildings that collapsed around them, police said today.

Superintendent Dave Cliff said four more bodies had been pulled from rubble by recovery teams in the shattered city of Christchurch overnight, bringing the latest tally to 159.

But many more people remain missing and Mr Cliff has said the final tally is likely to be around 240.

© UnknownAfter-effects: A cloud of dust covered Christchurch New Zealand today as a police chief warned that many of the bodies crushed in the earthquake might never be recovered

A cloud of dust covers Christchurch New Zealand Tuesday, March 1, 2011, as the silt caused from the liquefaction dried out and is blown around by high winds.

The gloomy verdict came on the day that thick clouds of dust engulfed the city which is still reeling from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Strong winds whipped up particles of debris from the fallen rubble in a haunting after-effect of the disaster.

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: Massive Dust Storm Hits Quake-hit Christchurch

© Agence France-PresseA cyclist wears a protective mask in Christchurch on Wednesday, March 2. Strong winds whipped up huge dust clouds in earthquake-hit Christchurch as officials defended the devastated city's building standards.
Strong winds whipped up huge dust clouds in earthquake-hit Christchurch Wednesday, as officials defended the devastated city's building standards.

Gusts of 70 kilometres per hour (44 mph) buffeted emergency crews in the ruins of New Zealand's second largest city, hampering the search for bodies amid fears of masonry dislodging and trees toppling.

"In some places it was difficult to stand up, you'd look across the city and see these enormous clouds of dust blowing down the main avenues -- it's been a terrible day," mayor Bob Parker said.

The winds stirred an estimated 200,000 tonnes of silt and sand pushed up from the ground after the power of the February 22 quake loosened the bond between soil particles in a process called liquefaction.

Search and rescue teams donned respirators and dodged flying sheets of corrugated iron as they raked through the wreckage, while supplies of facemasks were rushed to Christchurch for residents.

The death toll from last week's 6.3-magnitude tremor stood at 160 Wednesday, climbing toward a final tally that police expect to exceed 240.

About 400 relatives of the dead visited the city's worst-hit sites in what Parker said was a difficult and emotional trip that he hoped would bring them some closure.


New Zealand: Kiwis Terrified by Fresh Earthquake Prediction

A New Zealand mathematician who predicted the deadly Christchurch quake has terrified Kiwis with news another will strike the city in two weeks.

Popular long-range weather forecaster Ken Ring is warning that a second jolt will hit the already-devastated South Island city on March 20.

Mr Ring, who lives in Auckland, uses the moon, sun and tidal activity for the basis of his theories, which have been dismissed by scientists.

His warning is clear.

"If I lived in Christchurch, I'd get out for a few days over that time, go camping, visit friends, just get out and keep safe," he said.

"And if you don't live there, stay away."

His frightening words have panicked New Zealanders, with hundreds using Twitter and Facebook to brand his theories as "crackpot", "wacky" and scientifically baseless.

Despite this, his following is substantial, with more than 5000 New Zealanders - including farmers, gardeners and even disaster specialists - signed up to receive his weather predictions.

On Valentine's Day, he issued a tweet stating that conditions were "potent" for a quake in Christchurch between February 15 and 25.

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck on February 22, killing as many as 240 people.


SOTT Focus: Apocalypse Now! Of Revolutions and Crop Disasters

What we're seeing here is, in a sense, the growing - the birth pangs of a new Middle East - and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East.
So said US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in 2006 when Israel was blitzing Lebanese civilians. I've been wondering to what extent this applies here and now as North African and Middle Eastern regimes fall left, right and center. Is this an imperial operation directed from the shadows? Or a nascent uprising coming from below? The Egyptian protesters formed a cohesive unit which articulated political aims. I think THAT more than anything frightens the Powers That Be. They can handle chaos, they can control civil wars, but people organising resistance creatively into a united mass requires drastic shock treatment. Overshadowing the nascent political movement in Egypt is a list of countries in revolt that grows by the day:
Saudi Arabia
And it's not consigned to Middle East. Mass protests have taken place against the state of Wisconsin's austerity fiscal measures, hundreds have been shot to death over a disputed electoral result in Ivory Coast, the Chinese government is stamping down on the slightest whiff of dissent, university students were recently shot in Nigeria, thousands demonstrated in Croatia this week, protests have flared up again in Greece and even isolated North Korea has caught the fever. Thousands protest against high food prices in Delhi. Revolution is in the air across the whole globe. Indeed, it's already upon us.

Bizarro Earth

Geologists warn of major earthquake in Spain

The president of the Colegio Oficial de Geólogos (ICOG), Luis Suárez, has warned that Spain may be due a major earthquake soon, if statistics of history and monitoring are anything to go by.

Statistically, Spain has suffered a major, destructive earthquake every 70 years, but as the last one was in 1884, the risk of reoccurrence may be increasing with every day that passes.

There has been an increase in minor earthquakes in high risk areas of Spain over recent years, and studies suggest that this may be a warning of impending disaster, potentially affecting the already recognised high risk areas of Andalusia and Murcia.
Warn quake Spain


Mysterious Florida panther deaths have officials concerned

© Allen Cheuvront 1994Endangered Florida Panther
Is it open season on Florida panthers?

In the past two years, three of the endangered panthers have been killed under mysterious circumstances, prompting federal investigations that so far have not yielded an arrest. The most recent one was discovered a week ago.

At least one of the three panthers was shot. Federal officials won't say what killed the others.