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Wed, 24 Aug 2016
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2016 is already a year of extreme weather disasters for the United States

© Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Travis Guedry and his dog Ziggy glide through floodwaters keeping an eye out for people in need on August 17, 2016 in Sorrento, Louisiana. Tremendous downpours have resulted in disastrous flooding, responsible for at least seven deaths and thousands of homes being damaged.
The United States has already seen some of the most extreme weather disasters this year, and 2016 is only half over.

Just this week, the Blue Cut wildfire raged in Southern California, destroying dozens of houses and forcing over 80,000 residents to evacuate.

Also recently, at least 11 people were reported to have died from the catastrophic flooding in south Louisiana. About 30,000 people have been rescued since Friday, when heavy rains started to submerge communities. The flood, which is said to be one of the worst in Louisiana history, had damaged at least 40,000 homes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released a report saying that as of July 2016, weather disasters have already caused $8-billion worth of losses across the U.S. NOAA has listed eight weather and climate disasters (2 flooding events and 6 severe storm events), with losses exceeding $1 billion each, including deaths and significant economic impact among affected areas. These weather events are all notable effects of climate change.

The Blue Cut wildfire and the Louisiana flooding are only two of the most catastrophic weather disasters that plagued the country. Here are the other deadly climate catastrophes that hit the U.S. so far in 2016.

Comment: For more coverage on the extreme weather affecting the planet, check out the monthly SOTT Earth Changes Summaries. Last month:

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - July 2016: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs


Bible fairy tales - A look at yesterday

© Born Again Pagan
British historian, F. W. Maitland wrote:
We study the day before yesterday in order that yesterday may not paralyze today, and that today may not paralyze tomorrow.
Which is a fancy way of saying, what really happened does matter.[1] In a similar vein, John Dominic Crossan said something like, if we get yesterday right, we have a chance of getting today better. So, let's look at yesterday.

Back in 1956, David Ben-Gurion, possibly struggling with his conscience, confessed:
If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural, we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We came from Israel, it's true, but that was two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? [2]
"God promised it to us"?

Not so fast. More and more scholars, Jewish and humanist, are questioning the exodus story and that "promise". Rabbi David Wolpe raised just that provocative question before his congregation of 2,200 at Sinai Temple in Westwood, California back in 2001, saying:
After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua's leadership.[3]
Teresa Watanbe continues:
The modern archeological consensus over the Exodus is just beginning to reach the public. In 1999, an Israeli archeologist, Ze'ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University set off a furor in Israel by writing in a popular magazine that stories of the patriarchs were myths and that neither the Exodus nor Joshua's conquest ever occurred.[4]


Seven killed, two missing in typhoon Dianmu flash flooding, landslides in northern Vietnam

© Tuoitre News
Landslides in the northern Vietnamese province of Yen Bai caused by tropical storm Dianmu.
Seven people have been killed, two are missing, and eight have been wounded by the impact of tropical storm Dianmu in northern Vietnam over the weekend. The Department of Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has sent a brief report to leaders of northern provinces, confirming the number of casualties in the aftermath of the typhoon.

The storm made landfall on Friday afternoon in Hai Phong City and Thai Binh Province with winds near the eye of the storm reaching 60 - 90kph, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting. Dianmu began weakening by 7:00 pm on the same day and eventually dissipated en route to the northern mountains, with anticipated heavy rainfall, flash floods, and landslides.

The two missing victims were swept away by flood water while the injured were caught under fallen trees, muds, and collapsed homes, The Department of Natural Disaster Prevention and Control said.

A total of 44 houses were knocked down entirely or washed away, while the roofs of 651 residences were damaged by strong winds, it continued, adding that 1,511 houses had been submerged in flood and 2,154 households had been evacuated.

The tropical storm also ravaged 8,843 hectares of paddy field and 1,189 hectares of other crops, while uprooting 252 trees planted across the region. About 14 small bridges were destroyed and many sections of national and provincial highways were damaged in the provinces, creating problems for local traffic.Several electric lines were also impacted and about 63 utility posts broken, according to the report.


Trump visits flood-stricken Louisiana - Clinton can't be bothered going - Obama still playing golf

© Max Becherer/AP
Trump hands out kids' toys at an emergency shelter in southern Louisiana
With at least 13 people dead and some 40,000 homes damaged by flooding in Louisiana, the Red Cross has called the resulting devastation the worst US disaster since the 2012 Hurricane Sandy. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is visiting the state.

The Red Cross said Thursday that it has served about 100,000 meals and snacks at shelters housing flood victims in several Louisiana parishes reeling from record rainfall that began about a week ago, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. The relief organization said that it expects to spend about $30 million amid flood recovery efforts, adding that Louisiana flooding in the past week has triggered the largest Red Cross response in the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

"Thousands of people in Louisiana have lost everything they own and need our help now," said Brad Kieserman, the Red Cross' vice president of disaster services operations and logistics, according to CNN. At least 13 people have died in the flooding, while an estimated 40,000 homes have suffered at least some damage. More than 30,000 residents and 1,400 pets have been assisted in vacating flooded areas by the US Coast Guard, National Guard, emergency responders, and others.

Comment: Hillary posted something on Facebook about the situation in Louisiana, while Obama is happy on holidays at Martha's Vineyard.

Meanwhile the Clinton campaign is going on and on about their imaginary 'Trump-Putin bromance'. Say what you want about Trump but, with this photo-op, he may just have won the 2016 US presidential elections.

One woman told Trump, "We knew you'd be here!" A man teared up with thankfulness.

Arrow Down

U.S. Senators trying to muzzle climate change skeptics

© The Right Planet
Nineteen U.S. senators are working to destroy free speech and silence dissent, defying the Constitution they swore to defend and uphold. Senators Harry Reid, Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and fifteen other Democrats took to the Senate floor last month to demonize their 'enemies list' of fossil fuel companies, think tanks and journalists for having the temerity to disagree with their views. They are also proposing a Congressional Resolution to formally disapprove of the actions of those who disagree with them.

Climate change happens to be the subject of their action, but the topic is irrelevant.

As President Harry Truman, himself a Democrat, said, "Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."

That path of repressive measures has already been blazed. Seventeen attorneys general representing fifteen states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands formed "AGs United for Clean Power" and are threatening legal action and huge fines against anyone who declines to believe in a scientific theory which remains in dispute among respected scientists.

The Daily Signal reports, "This comes on top of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitting that the Justice Department is discussing the possibility of pursing civil actions against climate change deniers, and that she has already referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which federal law enforcement could take action."

Cloud Precipitation

Update: 11 dead in devastating Louisiana floods, 30,000 people rescued and at least 40,000 homes damaged

© Getty Images
A total of 11 people have now been killed in the devastating Louisiana floods, the governor said on Tuesday, and at least 40,000 homes were damaged.

Giving a stark assessment of the widespread disaster, Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke at a news conference alongside FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, saying 'well over' 20,000 people have been rescued since the flooding began on Friday.

His office later increased that figure to more than 30,000 - which included a 78-year-old woman who spent a night stranded in a tree.

Beginning on Friday, a torrent of about two feet of rain inundated the southern part of the state over a 48-hour period, and days later many homes and businesses were still underwater.

Comment: Governor Edwards declared a state of emergency over the weekend, calling the floods 'unprecedented' and 'historic'. Some other 'historic' flooding in the United States in recent times include:

June 2016: 23 deaths as West Virginia swamped

March 2016: more 'historic' flooding in the southern states

January 2016: massive flooding and mudslides in southern California

November 2015: record rainfall in Texas

October 2015: "once-in-a-thousand-year" flash flooding in South Carolina


Mexican archaeologist says Teotihuacán was built to worship water

© emerzel21/iStockphoto
The ancient Pyramid of the Moon, the second-largest pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico.
Perched on a plateau surrounded by mountains some 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, the city of Teotihuacán reached its peak between A.D. 200 and 450, when it was home to as many as 100,000 people. In A.D. 600, Teotihuacán was mysteriously abandoned, leaving future generations of scholars to puzzle for centuries over the secrets of the ancient city, its magnificent pyramids and its people. Now, in what may be a major breakthrough in the study of Teotihuacán, one archaeologist argues that the city was likely built around the worship of a single essential substance: water.

For centuries, archaeologists and other scholars have struggled to unlock the secrets of the ancient city of Teotihuacán. After reaching its peak just as the Roman Empire was in decline, the city was largely destroyed around A.D. 600 by fire and looting, perhaps as the result of a civil war or enemy invasion. By A.D. 750, the surviving members of Teotihuacán's population seem to have been absorbed into neighboring cultures, or to have abandoned the once-great city for their ancestral homelands.

Because they had no complex form of writing, relatively little is known about the founders and inhabitants of Teotihuacán. Archaeologists haven't discovered any carved slabs inscribed with characters, or any royal tombs. This lack of artifacts contrasts sharply with the wealth of evidence left behind by the Maya, who also built impressive pyramids in their cities in Central America.

It was the Aztecs who found the ruins of Teotihuacán in the 1300s and gave the city its name, which means "the place where men become gods" in Nahuatl. It was also the Aztecs who linked Teotihuacán's two largest pyramid—the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon—to their own story of creation. But according to Verónica Ortega, the Aztecs may have had the story wrong.

Cloud Precipitation

Flash floods in Moscow after month's worth of rain falls in 1 day

© @liudmilapavlenko / Instagram
Decades-old daily precipitation records have been broken as parts of Moscow were submerged following heavy rain, with hundreds of people having to be rescued.

About 80mm of rain - more than 3 inches of water - fell on Moscow starting on Sunday night, with constant showers continuing all through Monday afternoon and evening.

Usually, it takes a whole month for that amount of rain to fall in the Russian capital. The rainfall has broken the all time single-day precipitation high mark dating back to 1970, as parts of Moscow suffered the worst rainfall since records began.

Cloud Precipitation

5 dead, 20,000 rescued: Disaster declared for flood-ravaged Louisiana

© Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development / Reuters
Floodwaters are seen on Range Road and I-12 in Denham Springs, Livingston Parish, Louisiana, U.S.
US President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for flooded Louisiana, where at least five people have died and emergency workers have had to rescue over 20,000 people.

On Sunday, a major disaster was declared in the state's hardest-hit areas, including East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa. Obama's move freed up federal funding, which can now be used to provide additional emergency aid.

The death toll from the disaster climbed to five on Sunday when an emergency crew discovered the body of a man who had reportedly been swept away in the water on Friday, said Ronda Durbin, a spokeswoman for Tangipahoa Parish, as quoted by Reuters.

Cloud Precipitation

5 dead and 50,000 displaced following floods in Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon in the Philippines

Rescuers (pictured) are seen rowing through the flooded streets trying to evacuate residents who can be seen clinging to debris that has become lodged in the deep currents
Rain brought by the Southwest Monsoon has been affecting parts of the Philippines since 08 August.

The country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) say that the rain has caused flooding in several regions, including Metropolitan Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon.

At least 5 deaths have been reported, with 3 of the fatalities in Manila. A further 6 people have been injured and 1 person is still missing.

NDRRMC report that the flooding has affected 80,467 people so far, and forced 50,592 people to evacuate their homes to stay in the 104 relief centres set up. Over 20 houses have been severely damaged and 12 houses completely destroyed.

The evacuations took place in Metropolitan Manila (18,000), Central Luzon (17,000, with over 11,000 in Bataan and 4,400 in Bulacan) and Calabarzon (almost 15,000).