Friday, December 23, 2011

There will be just a short update on Sunday, December 25.
Have a very Merry Christmas!

**The spirit of man is more important than mere physical strength,
and the spiritual fiber of a nation is more than its wealth.**
Dwight D. Eisenhower

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/22/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - The earthquake-devastated city of Christchurch has been rocked by two powerful 5.8 magnitude tremors, sending terrified residents onto the streets and forcing the airport to close. The first quake struck at 1.58 pm (11.58am AEDT) as stores were packed with Christmas shoppers, turning their festive mood into panic as stock fell from shelves. Local news media reported people fleeing in fear as the quake and a series of strong aftershocks rattled the city.
The second 5.8 quake came 70 minutes later as inner-city streets were gridlocked by people desperate to get home. "You can't underestimate the ongoing stress this has created for people." The city continues to recover from a 6.3-magnitude quake in February that killed 181 people and destroyed much of the downtown. One person was rushed to hospital after being injured in a shopping mall and the National Crisis Management Centre was activated. Telephone services were cut in many areas and electricity supplies disrupted, but police said there were no reports of other injuries or widespread damage. The international airport and shopping malls were evacuated and closed after the earthquake as a precautionary measure. People were urged to stay away from hill suburbs because of the risk of rockfalls. Two vacant properties were reported to have collapsed and liquefaction appeared in some of the suburbs worst hit in previous earthquakes. Scientists had warned last month of an increased probability that another powerful earthquake would hit Christchurch. "We knew to expect aftershocks and one in the range around about 6.0 was expected over the next 12 months and that appears to have arrived."
"It was violent, some are long and slow. This one was violent and then three or four aftershocks." "I was terrified, I guess just because it's been so long since we've had a decent one. We've had a TV and glasses fall over but no repeat of liquefaction (when earth becomes fluid) like in June, so I guess it's not so bad.'' The local power company confirmed there were power outages and phone lines were jammed. Twitter reports said household items were smashed as the quake was felt as far south as Dunedin. Government seismologists said both 5.8 quakes were shallow. The series of shakes are the largest to hit the region in about three months. New Zealand sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire'', the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.


New Study: Eyjafjallajökull Eruption Health Hazard - The preliminary results of an extensive scientific study on the effects of the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in south Iceland in April-June 2010 published earlier this month indicate that the eruption caused both physical complications and mental strain for local inhabitants.
While the eruption was still ongoing, authorities decided to carry out research on its impact on the health of south Iceland’s residents. A questionnaire was sent to all inhabitants of the region between Hvolsvöllur in the west to Öræfi in the east in the autumn of 2010. The response ratio was 71 percent. “The first conclusions show that there is a definite difference in symptoms from the respiratory organs: cough and mucus expectoration, discomfort, heaviness in the chest and other such symptoms, along with significant stress. You can sense that these people were under serious strain." Many of those who aren’t feeling well have already sought help. “One of the things the research showed was that those who feel worst are those who obtain the most assistance. We checked that and people are generally very satisfied with the support they have received.”

No current tropical storms.

Philippines floods: More than 1,000 remain missing - 1,079 people are still missing in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Washi. More than 1,000 others are known to have died in the storm, which struck Mindanao island on Saturday. Entire neighbourhoods in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities were swept away. The previous estimate for the missing was just 51 but officials say the new figure includes city migrant workers whose rural relatives did not immediately realise they were missing. The authorities acknowledge that the new number may still not be accurate. Entire families who were killed may still not be accounted for and some of the missing may also be counted among the unidentified dead. But it is clear that the scale of this disaster is far greater than the authorities originally thought.
The death toll from the disaster now stands at 1,080, the government says. Some 338,000 people have been affected and more than 10,000 homes damaged. Tens of thousands of people are now living in evacuation centres. Many of those who died were sleeping as Typhoon Washi caused rivers to burst their banks, leading to landslides.

Weather forecasters say a low pressure system off Australia's northern coast is expected to become a cyclone early on Christmas Day. A vast expanse of coast that includes Darwin and Arnham Land is on cyclone watch. It's a strange feeling waiting for a cyclone to arrive, a mix of adrenalin, anxiety, a little bit of excitement and a decent dose of fear.
Ex-tropical cyclone Fina may blow away plans for a Christmas on the beach, with strong winds and heavy swells set to hit the Fraser Coast at the weekend. It isexpected to whip up some dangerous surf conditions for the Sunshine Coast this Christmas. Swimmers and surfers are being urged to take care this weekend with rip-riddled eastern swell predicted to reach four metres. It has already brought big swells, strong winds to Illawarra coast. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Fina formed off the Queensland coast earlier this week.


Mystery of 6kg ball that fell from the sky - A handout photo provided by the National Forensic Science Institute shows a giant metallic ball of 1.1 metre in diameter weighing some 6 kilograms that fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency (ESA). It left locals baffled when it fell from the sky without explanation. Now police have notified Nasa and the European Space Agency of this mysterious metal ball, which landed in northern Namibia.
It weighs around 6 kilograms and has a circumference of 1.1metres. It left a hole 30cm deep and nearly 4 metres wide when it hit the ground. Locals claimed to have heard several explosions in the days before it was discovered by a farmer on his land. The noise could have been a sonic boom or just the sound of the object hitting the ground. The find sparked speculation on the internet that it could be proof of extra terrestrial life. However, a more likely theory is that it is a hydrazine tank, used on satellites to store the flammable chemical.
More tests needed to be done before any conclusions about its origins can be reached. The ball was discovered a month ago but it had only now been made public. It was said to be made from a “sophisticated material”, which appeared to be a “metallic compound normally used in space vehicles”. Police deputy inspector general said that the ball, which landed 480 miles from the Namibian capital Windhoek, did not pose any danger. "It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first.” (photo)


A rush is on to determine if infant formula triggered a bacterial infection that killed one newborn and sickened another baby who were both treated at Missouri hospitals.