Cool Stuff

The Wayfarers trilogy by author Jim Yackel

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dallas Declares State Of Emergency Over West Nile Virus

(RTTNews) - The city of Dallas declared a state of emergency this week after a particularly bad wave of the West Nile virus was cited in the deaths of 26 Americans this summer. Nearly half of the 693 cases reported nationwide this year have been in the state of Texas alone.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings personally took the blame for the outbreak in an official statement saying, "I want to take the politics out of it. I want to say this is my responsibility. I will take the heat for it."

To quell the outbreak, Rawlings approved the use of aerial sprays to kill mosquitoes and other potential carriers of the illness, marking the first time in nearly 50 years the county has resorted to spraying to keep an illness at bay.

The spraying began late Thursday night and will cover around 49,000 acres in a dozen cities or more in Dallas county. Of the 230 cases of confirmed West Nile virus this year, more than half were reported in Texas.

"I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we did not take action," Rawlings said.

According to the CDC, of the nearly 700 cases, over half reported displaying symptoms of neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis). Over 80 percent of the cases were reported in only six states - Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and California.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


 The Plains states where the production of corn and soybeans is key are being hit harder by excessive drought conditions in the wake of the hottest month on record in the continental U.S., contributing to a surge in global food prices.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed that the amount of the contiguous U.S. mired in drought conditions dropped a little more than 1 percentage point, to 78.14 percent as of Tuesday. But the expanse still gripped by extreme or exceptional drought - the two worst classifications - rose to 24.14 percent, up nearly 2 percentage points from the previous week.

That's because key farm states didn't get as much benefit from rains as elsewhere on the heels of temperatures in July that federal scientists said were so high they broke a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

More here

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thousands of fish die as Midwest streams heat up

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -

Thousands of fish are dying in the Midwest as the hot, dry summer dries up rivers and causes water temperatures to climb in some spots to nearly 100 degrees.

About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. Nebraska fishery officials said they've seen thousands of dead sturgeon, catfish, carp, and other species in the Lower Platte River, including the endangered pallid sturgeon. And biologists in Illinois said the hot weather has killed tens of thousands of large- and smallmouth bass and channel catfish and is threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state-endangered species.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

So many fish died in one Illinois lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant, lowering water levels to the point that the station had to shut down one of its generators.

"It's something I've never seen in my career, and I've been here for more than 17 years," said Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "I think what we're mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat."

The fish are victims of one of the driest and warmest summers in history. The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought, and the Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation's counties - nearly 1,600 in 32 states - as natural disaster areas. More than 3,000 heat records were broken over the last month.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

'Iran strike talk legitimate, airing details is not'

Public detailed discussion by former senior security officials over a strike on Iran harms state security, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said Sunday morning in an interview with Army Radio.

Yatom expressed concern about statements released by former security officials recently, saying, "It is legitimate to discuss whether or not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, but going into detail, harms state security."

His comments came a day after former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told Channel 2 that Israel should not, and likely will not, act against Tehran's nuclear program without the consent of the Unites States.

photo source

“It would not be wise for Israel to operate on its own, and I believe it won’t,” Halevy said. “I didn’t say [Israel] won’t act alone, but I think it won’t do something that is against American interests.”

A further problem, he explained, is that there is no telling how far back a military strike will set the program.

Continues HERE

Friday, August 3, 2012

Global 'weirdness' seen in summer's extreme weather events

A melting Greenland glacier, summer heat waves, a devastating "derecho," drought: Is it all part of global warming or "global weirdness"? A plague of extreme weather events, from Greenland briefly thawing to the derecho thunderstorms that knocked out power for millions across the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest has struck this summer. Above all, an exceptional drought has marked roughly 50% of all U.S. counties nationwide as federal disaster areas. That's on top of last year, which saw record U.S. tornadoes, floods and a drought that tortured Texas and Oklahoma.

 Has global warming arrived not with a bang or a whimper, but with wild weather? It's starting to look that way, suggests science writer Michael Lemonick, co-author of this year's Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas and the Weather of the Future. "In retrospect, we'll look back and say we were starting to make changes to climate back then," Lemonick says. "But you can only say that in retrospect." Reviewed by a panel of climate scientists, Global Weirdness looks at global warming and finds temperatures, heat waves and sea levels all increasing as predicted. Many extreme events, such as tornadoes or floods, look to be only suggestive of the results of a warming climate.