Friday, December 10, 2010

#More holiday obligations - no update on Sunday this week.#

**You are your own scriptwriter and the play is never finished,
no matter what your age or position in life.
Denis Waitley

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
12/9/10 -

No current tropical cyclones.


BRITAIN is freezing to death
- After a week of snow and freezing temperatures a shocking picture has emerged of the bleak months ahead for 5.5 million households. Pensioners, who are among those most ­vulnerable to the cold, are resorting to ­extraordinary measures to keep warm. Many have been using their free travel ­passes to spend the day riding on buses while others are seeking refuge from the cold in libraries and shopping centres. “Now that we have one of the coldest winters, older people are going to have to make the unenviable decision whether or not to put the heating on. The Government should guarantee that they won’t cut the winter fuel allowance.”
The death toll from the big freeze rose to seven yesterday. The winter death toll is set to rise steeply as official figures show that nine elderly people died every hour because of cold-related illnesses last year. The number of deaths linked to cold over the four months of last ­winter reached nearly 28,000. Charities claim this country has the highest winter death rate in northern Europe, worse than colder nations such as Finland and Sweden.
About half of the people forced to spend over 10 per cent of their income on energy bills – the official definition of fuel poverty – are aged over 60. But working families also face a tough time meeting the cost of keeping the central heating turned on as fuel prices continue to rise. “Middle-class households are now in fuel poverty.”
National Energy Action estimates that 5.5 million households will have plunged into fuel poverty by early next year due to price rises. That represents 21 per cent of the UK’s 26 million households. Last winter 70 per cent of household were forced to cut down or ration their energy use because of cost.
Are they freezing because of global warming? - As a blanket of snow settles across the country, train services grind to a halt and roads become impassable, you could be forgiven for thinking that global warming seems more remote than ever. But yesterday, the World Meteorological Organisation announced that 2010 is almost certain to rank among the three warmest years since records began in 1850 – and it has long been accepted that one of the effects of climate change could be an increase in the frequency of harsher, Continental-style winters.
So which is it? Is it the vagaries of the elements that we should be cursing through our chattering teeth, or the carbon emissions from Chinese smokestacks? Well, the most alarming way in which temperatures in Britain could fall significantly is through a decline in the warm Atlantic current that maintains our mild climate. Although our weather depends on turbulent events in the atmosphere, these are shaped – in the long term – by the oceans, whose currents transport vast amounts of heat around the planet. Ancient records show that if these slowed or stopped, temperatures could drop by up to 10C within decades.


What Do You Do When Your Country Disappears? - The pacific island nation of Kiribati is well aware of the looming threats that climate change poses to the small atoll. Increased flooding from storms and rising seas are already problematic for the 100,00 citizens of the nation. A sea-wall improvement project for the country recently cost $2 million. The nation's GDP is just $152 million a year — meaning the investment in sea walls is significant for the country. "If we had to cover the whole country, we're talking hundreds of millions of dollars." The republic is made up of 32 atolls and one island, spread over 1.3 million square miles - roughly the size of the United States. The government is already considering evacuation plans as another way to deal with the rising seas, which would also come at great cost.
Even if countries set and follow through on their pledges to cut emissions, the world is still on a path to substantial warming. And that warming is going to have significant effects - sea level rise, loss of glaciers, diminished biodiversity, ocean acidification, and decline of forests. Many of those will have very real economic costs for countries. And that's before you even get to more dramatic costs like relocating an entire population or rebuilding a village destroyed by a cyclone, or the cost if an island community is someday completely submerged by the sea.
Many of these countries have trouble getting insured for losses. Samoa suffered a tsunami in September 2009, which caused an estimated $300 million in damage to a country with an annual GDP of just $567 million. Of course, the tsunami was not caused by climate change, but the island has also faced more frequent cyclones as well. And the events have made insurance premiums exceptionally high for the country. "It is almost impossible even for government to insure its own properties, let alone the damage sustained by a cyclone or by a tsunami."
Island states argue that assurances that the damage they sustain will be covered is the least developed countries can do. "It's not about whether it's convenient to you, it's about survival. Here we are trying to survive."


Study blames faulty immune response for severe H1N1 in adults - A team of researchers has proposed an UNUSUAL biological mechanism to explain severe pandemic H1N1 influenza cases in nonelderly adults, involving antibodies that react with but fail to stop the virus. The scientists say that the antibody response in some middle-aged adults, shaped by previous exposures to influenza, not only failed to block the new virus but also made things worse by activating the complement system, leading to a damaging accumulation of proteins in the lungs. Their observations "provide a previously unknown biological mechanism for the UNUSUAL age distribution of severe cases during influenza pandemics."
The burden of severe and fatal 2009 H1N1 cases fell most heavily on nonelderly adults, while the elderly were relatively spared, and young children had milder disease. The elderly were believed to be protected because of their exposure before 1957 to H1N1 viruses related to the 2009 H1N1 strain. A possible part of the explanation for this age pattern, the authors write, is that in the nonelderly adults, "an antibody repertoire shaped by seasonal infections may recognize but fail to neutralize the new pandemic strain." The investigators examined the lungs of H1N1 patients who died, and found evidence of hemorrhaging, swelling of the alveoli, and other kinds of damage.
The scientists found antibodies to the pandemic virus in both elderly and nonelderly adults, but antibody "avidity" for the virus was lower in the younger adults, and this group lacked sufficient levels of antibody to neutralize the virus, the report says. The younger adults' antibodies had a greater ability to bind to an earlier (1999) seasonal H1N strain than to the 2009 virus. Further, severely ill patients had antibodies with lower avidity for the 2009 virus than did mildly ill patients. In other steps, the researchers examined their samples for evidence of "cytokine storm" - an immune-mediated outpouring of chemical messengers that triggers intense lung inflammation. Cytokine storm has been suggested as a cause of or contributor to death from influenza. The team found little evidence of cytokine storm, with "low cytokine concentrations" in secretions from pandemic H1N1 patients. "We speculate that this phenomenon contributes to severe symptoms in the middle-aged adult population during all pandemics." The findings imply that severe flu cases could be treated by disrupting immune complexes or interfering with the complement system. "Perhaps a better approach is to produce universal influenza vaccines, which would neutralize any strain."

-Rushing Waters Fisheries, Palmyra, is recalling about 225 pounds of smoked trout and smoked salmon spreads, because the products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.