Saturday, July 9, 2011

ICELAND - Hekla eruption news just 'sensational journalism'. International speculation has begun that Iceland’s Hekla volcano may be about to erupt; but scientists say that there is not yet any indication of when. No eruption is starting at this time. Iceland has endured hundreds of volcanic eruptions since human settlement began and most of them have caused little disruption.
Mount Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes and last erupted in 2000, 1991 and 1981. Scientists have been expecting a new eruption for several years and recent activity under the mountain seems to have confirmed that the volcano is ready to erupt. However, a geophysicist says that the current volcano scare is simply made up: “They are actually quoting me as saying that Hekla will erupt soon; but there is nothing new in this. I’ve been saying this for three or four years and ‘soon’ means different things to journalists and geologists."
The mountain has risen up by about a metre – a sure sign that magma is close to the surface. But no earthquakes have been measured – which means that an eruption is not immediately imminent. The Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has advised, as always, to take every precaution when climbing the Hekla mountain.
“This is just another example of sensational journalism and actually a discredit to their profession; especially in Britain. Some major British media are making sensational stories about Hekla based on nothing at all. The last scare earlier this year, about Bardarbunga which came to nothing, was based on a bad translation from Icelandic. This time there is not even that excuse. A lot of this news is even built around quotes by ‘experts’ who are not, in fact, real experts. Foreign journalists should get their expert quotes from us at the University of Iceland, or from the Icelandic Met Office; which also has an excellent up-to-date website in English. Journalists should talk to experts and not just take their news from anyone!”
Hekla is not underneath a glacier (as both Eyjafjallajokull and Grimsvotn are); so lava does not come into explosive contact with ice. Hekla therefore is not known for the sort of ash production which causes disruption to aviation. Historically, when Hekla erupts roughly every ten years its force is moderate and the disruption it causes is minimal. It last erupted 11 years ago. When the gap between eruptions is significantly longer than a decade, the force of eruptions tends to be much bigger. The 2000 eruption was short and was most active during the first couple of hours.

**It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.**
Lewis Carroll

This morning -

Yesterday -
7/8/11 -


Tonga to complain over wave gauge failure - Tonga has admitted it is woefully ill-prepared for a tsunami, with several systems, including an Australian-run tidal monitoring gauge, failing during this week's tsunami scare.

Tropical Storm 03E (Calvin) was located off the west caost of Mexico.

Calvin became the third hurricane of the eastern Pacific season Friday, though it did not immediately threaten land. The storm was a Category 1 hurricane. The storm had maximum sustained winds of about 75 mph and was moving to the west at 13 mph. It was about 340 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes.

PHILIPPINES - Flash floods and landslides loom over western Luzon and eastern Mindanao due to two potential cyclones forming near the two areas Saturday.


Climate change and disaster in Montana - The flooding of the Yellowstone River and the oil spill in the riverbed are connected. This year had historic flooding. "It's unbelievable. It's like nothing I've experienced in my lifetime. It destroyed houses; people died; crops didn't get in the fields…. We barely were able to get our hay crop in."
Everyone agrees that the two disasters — the flooding of the Yellowstone River and the oil spill in the riverbed — are connected. According to Exxon officials, the high and fast-moving river has four times its usual flow this year, which has hampered cleanup and prevented their workers from reaching the exact source of the spill. Also thanks to the flooding, the oiled water has breached the riverbanks, inundating farmland, endangering animals, killing crops and contaminating surface water. And the rush of water appears to be carrying the oil toward North Dakota. Government and company officials have also speculated that the flooding may even have caused the spill in the first place. Recent testing showed the pipeline was buried five to eight feet under the riverbed, but officials suspect that raging water may have exposed the pipe, leaving it vulnerable to fast-moving debris.
So the flooding may have caused the pipeline spill. But here is the really uncomfortable question: Did the pipeline cause the flooding? Not this one particular pipeline, of course, but all the pipelines, and all the coal trains, and all the refineries and the power plants they supply? Was the flooding that has made the oil spill so much worse caused by the burning of oil and other fossil fuels? Put bluntly, do these dual disasters have the same root? This is an unanswerable question, since no one weather event can be traced to climate change. Still, in Montana, it's hard to deny that global warming is happening. The state is home to Glacier National Park, which had 150 large glaciers in 1850 and now has just 25.
And we do know that Montana's flooding was caused by record rainfall and by runoff from heavy snowfall. Though climate deniers (some of them funded by Exxon) love to point to freak snowstorms as "proof" that the planet isn't warming, the opposite is often true: In some places, the warmer the air, the more water vapor accumulates in the atmosphere and the more moisture comes down in the form of rain or snow. "We went from drought to rain forest in just a few months. The weather has just been bizarre."
Despite all this, Montana is in the midst of a fossil fuel frenzy. The state's governor may be shaking his fist at Exxon now, but he has championed virtually every fossil fuel project that has crossed his desk, from a vast new coal mine near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, to new rail lines that would help ship Montana's coal to China, to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta's tar sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Wall collapse in India kills 10 - Heavy monsoon rains caused a stone wall to collapse, killing 10 construction workers, on the outskirts of India's financial capital Mumbai. The fallen wall buried the workers on Friday at a building construction site in the Thane district of Mumbai. Two injured workers have been hospitalised. Heavy rains lasting several hours flooded railroad tracks and low-lying areas of the metropolis, disrupting train services. Police were looking for the builder to arrest him on a charge of culpable homicide. Monsoon rains lash India from June to September.

Rains in China leave 70 dead or missing - Heavy rains across China have left at least 70 people dead or missing over the past week. 49 people died from July 1 through Friday in rain-triggered disasters. At least 21 people disappeared during the heavy rains in Shanxi, Sichuan, and Hebei provinces. Seasonal flooding last month left more than 260 people dead or missing in eastern and southern China. The flooding in those areas has triggered landslides, forced the evacuation of thousands and caused nearly $1 billion in direct economic losses.


East Africa drought: Somalis engulf Ethiopian town. The small, remote border town of Dollo-Ado is rapidly becoming one of the focal points of the drought emergency in the Horn of Africa. Two thousand or so Somali refugees who are now arriving here each day from across the border are forcing a long-running refugee assistance operation to be ramped up to deal with this emergency. And aid officials acknowledge that it is a severe challenge.
From early morning until the evening - in corrugated shelters alongside a sandy, stony track running from the border a few hundred metres away - the new arrivals are registered. They stand or sit outside the shelters patiently waiting for their turn, which is announced by an official through a loudspeaker. It is a critical part of the operation, opening the way to the assistance they will be entitled to. But it is a bottleneck. At present some may be waiting for two or three days, and an effort is now under way to speed up the process. While there, a medical worker did go through the throng of people, measuring the circumference of the children's arms to spot cases of serious malnutrition. It is at alarming levels in the children now being brought across from Somalia. Such children receive special high-energy food when they are discovered. But like every other aspect of the relief operation, the challenge is to keep up the pace. The numbers are fluid, but up to 10% of the children are showing signs of severe acute malnutrition. And that is something NOT SEEN IN A DECADE - and one of the reasons they are now responding "in a more forceful manner". One of the risks associated with malnutrition is increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. The potential for such outbreaks is adding to the pressure to get all the refugees into properly organised camps as quickly as possible and - crucially important - to step up the supply of water.
Extended drought is causing a severe food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Weather conditions over the Pacific means the RAINS HAVE FAILED FOR TWO SEASONS and are unlikely to return until September. Food shortages are affecting up to 12 million people. The UN has not declared a famine but large areas of the region are now classified as in crisis or emergency, with malnutrition affecting up to 35-40% of children under five. The humanitarian problem is made worse by ongoing conflicts, which means that until July militant groups had only allowed aid organisations limited access to large parts of southern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. The refugee camp at Dadaab, in Kenya, has been overwhelmed by 370,000 people. Farmers unable to meet their basic food costs are abandoning their herds. High cereal and fuel prices had already forced them to sell many animals before the drought and their smaller herds are now unprofitable or dying. The refugee problem may have been preventable. However, violent conflict in the region has deterred international investment in long-term development programmes, which may have reduced the effects of the drought. Development aid would focus on reducing deforestation, topsoil erosion and overgrazing and improving water conservation. New roads and infrastructure for markets would help farmers increase their profits. The result of climate conditions, conflict and lack of investment is that 6.7 million people in Kenya and Ethiopia are currently existing on food rations, and relief agencies estimate 2.6 million in Somalia will need assistance. The problem at the moment is that camps are filling up as fast as they can be opened. The Kobe camp, opened only on 24 June, is already nearing a capacity level of 20,000 that was set at least in part with the environment around the camp in mind.


Improperly stored soup leads to 2 botulism cases - As a reminder of the dangers of botulism, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed two cases of botulism poisoning this year resulting from eating improperly stored potato soup. On Jan 28 a 29-year-old Ohio man was hospitalized after 5 days of progressive dizziness, blurred vision, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. He had bought refrigerated soup but had stored it unrefrigerated for 42 days before tasting some from the then-bulging container on Jan 18, noting a bad taste, and discarding the remainder. He required 57 days' hospitalization before being transferred with residual weakness to a rehabilitation facility. On Apr 8 a 41-year-old Georgia woman was hospitalized after 4 days of progressive dizziness and difficulty swallowing. In the hospital she developed respiratory distress, required mechanical ventilation, and was treated with botulism antitoxin. Five days before hospitalization she too had tasted soup that she bought refrigerated but left unrefrigerated for 18 days. Heating food to a temperature of 185°F (85°C) for 5 minutes inactivates the toxin, so besides propoer storage, proper preparation also is an important safeguard.

Federal budget cuts threaten produce pathogen program - Congress is considering legislation that would dismantle the US Department of Agriculture's Microbiological Data Program, a national foodborne pathogen monitoring program launched in 2001 that tests about 15,000 samples of vulnerable produce each year. The US House of Representatives in June approved a bill that would end the program's $4.5 million annual funding, and the Senate is expected to address the measure over the next few months. Some produce industry groups have said the program has overstepped its initial monitoring mission and has led to unnecessary food recalls and testing duplication. However, some food safety experts have said the program is valuable, because of the broad scope of pathogens it tests for. They said, for example, the program fills a void, because it tests for non-O157 Escherichia coli strains, such as the one linked to sprouts in a European outbreak that has now sickened more than 4,200 people.

-McNeil Consumer Healthcare - Recall of one product lot (60,912 bottles) of TYLENOL Extra Strength Caplets 225 Count distributed in the U.S. The product was manufactured in February, 2009.
-Qualitest Pharmaceuticals issued a voluntary nationwide retail level recall of Butalbital, Acetaminophen, and Caffeine Tablets USP, 50 and Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablets, because an individual bottle of Butalbital, Acetaminophen, and Caffeine Tablets was found incorrectly labeled.
-Endo Pharmaceuticals issued a voluntary nationwide consumer level recall of Endocet oxycodone/acetaminophen, USP Tablets. One bottle from each lot of Endocet was found to contain a different dosage than marked on the label.