CHOSEN: End Times Newsletter – Issue 181

Don’t be a Fool, Nor Walk in Darkness

By Regina

As reports of calamities, bird and fish deaths, earthquakes, floods, virus and disease outbreaks and more, continue to dominate the news, many are searching for answers and providing explanations.

Almost all, do not understand the simple concept of our God, Yahweh, and His nature. So when they say that these are “natural occurrences” they are both right and very wrong. Right in that yes, they are natural occurrences, but wrong in that they are nothing but the evolving process of the planet we live on.

What is important to understand is that Yahweh is the source of life for all things and in turn, provides the source of life, via nature, for all things. Whether it be in the Spirit Realm or the Physical Realm, it is His energy that we draw upon to live.

In the Spirit Realm, it is the abundance of higher vibrating raw energy and in the Physical Realm, it is the abundance of energy in different forms, lower vibrating energy in the forms of water and food – nature itself – on which we depend. But ultimately, we depend on Yahweh for it all and it all rightfully belongs to Yahweh because He is the energy source from which all things come.

Ecclesiastes 2:14 The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both.

Definition of the word Fool: a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense, and, a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid.

It is foolish behavior to deny, ignore or dismiss the warnings that come from Yahweh, who disciplines His children and righteously judges them as well. It is equally foolish to deny, ignore or dismiss our Creator, Yahweh, whom we depend upon for our very lives. To do so, is to walk in darkness.

Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?

End Times Truths on BlogTalkRadio

With Regina

End Times Truths are now broadcasted on a weekly schedule via BlogTalkRadio. Shows take place Sunday afternoons at 3pm Central.  This week’s episode is:

UFOs and The Lions of Zion

Archived shows are also available on demand and include:

Past and Present Judgments

Is Yahweh, Israel?

The Falsehood of the Trinity: Who Christ Jesus Really Is

The Mark of the Beast

The Beast Revealed

God’s Anger & Wrath

UFOs & Crop Circles

The Signs of End Times

The Kingdom Message

Was Jesus Psychic?

The Rapture & End Times Prophecy Explained

The Spirit Realm

The Cherubic Order of Angels

Are You Ready for Truth?

By clicking on any of the above links, you will be routed directly to that show.

Another Earthquake, Another Sign

By Deborah

Psalm 99:1 [ The King Is Holy ] The LORD reigns! Let the peoples tremble. He is enthroned above the cherubim. Let the earth quake.

This week saw another visible sign of Yahweh’s anger being poured out upon this world of Satan’s. Many will say that the conditions that brought about the tsunami and earthquake in Japan were caused by natural occurrences. Earth changes. Solar flares. Moon proximity. They continue to reject the One who IS nature. The One who created the heavens and the earth. They continue to deny Her awesome power. And they continue to believe that THEY hold the answers and the solutions to any and all obstacles in their path rather than turning God in humility and obedience.

Isaiah 34:1 [ The Judgment of the Nations ] You nations, come here and listen; you peoples, pay attention! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it, the world and all that comes from it.

Romans 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Ezekiel 3:11 Go to your people, the exiles, and speak to them. Tell them: This is what the Lord GOD says, whether they listen or refuse [to listen].”

Jeremiah 6:19 Listen, earth! I am about to bring disaster on these people, the fruit of their own plotting, for they have paid no attention to My word. They have rejected My law.

Jeremiah 25:31 The tumult reaches to the ends of the earth because the LORD brings a case against the nations. He enters into judgment with all flesh. As for the wicked, He hands them over to the sword [This is] the LORD’s declaration.

It is wise to take heed of these warning signs.

Zephaniah 2:1-3

A Call to Repentance

1 Gather yourselves together;

gather together, undesirable nation,

2 before the decree takes effect

and the day passes like chaff,

before the burning of the LORD’s anger overtakes you,

before the day of the LORD’s anger overtakes you.

3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,

who carry out what He commands.

Seek righteousness, seek humility;

perhaps you will be concealed

on the day of the LORD’s anger.


We would like to announce the arrival of Book Two, the continuation of Chosen: End Times Truths Revealed.

Book Two starts where the first book left off and includes accounts from ministers Regina, Johanna, Deborah, and Elisha describing their individual journeys and experiences in their service to Yahweh and Christ over the past several years in autobiographical form.

It is available in .pdf form for free via www.chosen.weebly.com and will be updated monthly.

The Journey Continues

Below is a sneak-peek of each of the books included in Chosen, Book Two

Regina

There are many days in which I feel as though I must stop and focus and just try to get through the next 24 hours, some days even just the next hour, and then that day passes and the next arrives and passes, and arrives until all of a sudden a year has passed, and then two and four and now five. It’s odd how time can seem to pass so slowly and quickly at the same time. Many of these days, the good and the not-so-good, I will recount here and many have receded to the deeper recesses of my mind but what I’m able to remember, I share with you here honestly and openly…
Johanna

On October 2nd or 3rd of 2005, I was on this website were there were camera’s placed through out peoples homes who claimed that they were being haunted. I have always liked supernatural things. I believed in ghost, angels and demons. I started talking to this woman and asked her how she see’s the things that she does. I also told her that I believed in spirit guides. She told me that she couldn’t help me with the guides but that she knew of a website where I could find some answers. She sent me the link to a forum by the name of “Beyond This World”. After looking at a few things and noticing that they had psychic exercises I decided to sign up to become a member…

Deborah

Word came to us toward the end of May 2010 that we were to begin documenting our experiences ending where Chosen left off. Each Minister is to produce a “book” of our own that will be incorporated into Chosen. Its a little daunting to say the least. I have not been journaling as Regina has been (it isn’t something I naturally do). Also, I actually do not have a very good memory. But I trust that those things that Father wishes us to recall we will. We have been guided by Michael to read the book of ACTS to guide us. It seems to focus on events that show times of strong guidance from/interactions with Holy Spirit…

 

Elisha

In 2006, I was able to reconnect with a long time friend. I found out she had co-authored a book. Considering how we had grown up together I was interested in the fact that she had written one and wanted to read it myself. She, Regina, sent me the book and some more details about it. I found out it was a lot to take in and did so in baby steps with much prayer and guidance from Father. I was blessed to freely ask any question of Regina and felt comfortable in doing so. I read the book with an open mind and while some of it confirmed my deepest suspicions other information provided was such an eye-opener…

1/8/11 Tunguska Event

Joe: Symbolic of Satan’s fall into the dark pit, The USA follows in its benefactor’s path to desolation by falling into the pit of financial and corrupt oblivion. A three part fall. Whereas as the 2nd part, the USA is falling apart in not only its constructions of bridges and other aged and outdated past achievements, but is also in the 3rd part, its moral decline. All leads to the pit of agony. Step by step Yahweh is leading the past leader to its great fall, just like that of Satan’s fall from the heavenly court. When Satan and his demons were ousted and went into the free fall to this planet in 1908, they could not stop the fall nor prevent the continued degradation that comes with losing face and an exalted position. In addition, Satan lost his past wealth he had possessed in heaven. It went down with his status. His powers being curtailed represented his corruption like that of the structures aged out in this dying world of mankind. His lack of morals contributed to this demise from the power structure he was once a valued part of.

1/17/11 The 5th Bowl

Joe: The Fifth Bowl ” 10 The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues from pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, yet the…y did not repent of their actions.”

The “5” that keeps occurring in casts represents the 5th bowl. Satan’s kingdom consists of all nations on earth, but his beast is the USA. Satan’s throne is located in the USA, and so the beast shares that throne by virtue of Satan having passed power to his prized beast.

Can Satan hold his present position on the war chess board, or will he be forced to abandon this beast for the European Union? Time will tell.

Can the USA overcome Yahweh’s assault on its financial stability with so much destruction slated for the country by Yahweh’s mighty right hand as He continues to make war with the beast by use of His natural order’s arsenal? But can Satan shift the tide in his beast’s favor? Satan is clever, and he is being aided by another strong ally whom has moved over to his side on the war board. Again, time will reveal the outcome.

Revelation 13:2 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) 2 The beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear’s, and his mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

Revelation 13:3 (HCSB) 3 One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast.

When the United States sent in Air Force Commando’s in the war against the Taliban, the Northern Alliance whom was aiding them noted the laser technology used to hone in on and take out targets with devastatingly accurate smart bombs. One Afghan Alliance member stated, “Who can successfully make war against a power that rains fire down from the sky?’ The beast is the most powerful military force on this planet. Thanks to all knowledge passed to them by the dragon.

Revelation 13:13 He also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth before people.

How long will the USA unemployed workers numbering in the millions remain docile, before unrest becomes a reality and the beast is forced to declare marshal law? 2011 will tell the story.

Cordelia: Joe, can you reveal the strong ally whom has moved over to Satan’s side on the war board?

Joe: The strong ally is one that shares both the spirit realm and the visible realm. They are from a distant place in the universe, and they are coming to the earth in space crafts to help Satan and his children against Yahweh’s holy… forces. They have become traitors to the Throne of Yahweh by questioning the law given by the Prophets to the point of rebellion.

Jeremiah 47:3-5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) “At the sound of the stomping hooves of his stallions, the rumbling of his chariots,

and the clatter of their wheels,

fathers will not turn back for their sons,

because they will be utterly helpless

on account of the day that is coming

to destroy all the Philistines,

to cut off from Tyre and Sidon

every remaining ally.

Indeed, the LORD is about to destroy the Philistines,

the remnant of the islands of Caphtor.

Baldness is coming to Gaza.

Ashkelon will become silent,

a remnant of their valley.

How long will you gash yourself?”

Psalm 94:20 “Can a corrupt throne— one that creates trouble by law— become Your ally?”

Romans 3:20-22 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) “For no flesh will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, for through the law [comes] the knowledge of sin.”

God’s Righteousness through Faith

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed —attested by the Law and the Prophets —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, (F) [to all who believe, since there is no distinction. “

The Ashkelon’s from the Ash Constellation argued that they have lived faithfully under law of “the Way” and should not be lumped in with Mankind’s Debacle. But because they are expected to be under Christ’s headship over creation as if they to had sinned, they protested and pulled away to join Satan’s side of the Sovereignty issue. The Ashkelon’s have been arguing this issue since Dawn Lucifer’s and mankind’s fall. It finally came to a head in these end times.

(JewishEncyclopedia.com – CONSTELLATIONS: “‘Ash.” Pleiades. Clusters of stars. The number of constellations named in the Biblical … According to Schrader (Schenkel, “Bibel-Lexikon,” v. 398), the constellation of the Dragon is …

www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=749&letter=C · Cached page)

2/21/11 Would you like to end this spiritual war early?

If you march in protest of something, make it count for what is most important. Demand that your governments surrender to Yahweh’s LOZ and accept the incoming governmental rule of Christ Jesus. Any government that publicly acknowledges Christ as the Sovereign King over Yahweh’s creation will be spared from the coming wrath.

Although the compliance will end that governmental rule, it will represent a stepping stone for the other nations to follow suit, and could result in a more peaceful transition. It is because hearts are not directed to Yahweh that She must destroy those resisting, but that is not what She desires. She wants all to gain Salvation. It is possible to alter this world of peoples date with extermination if each person wakes up to what is just ahead if they do not. As Yahweh once spared a city in ancient times from Her wrath because they relented and turned their hearts to Her, it can happen on a worldwide scale in these end times. If the people worldwide turn to Christ in TRUTH, you can alter the punishment phase to be meted out – only to the remaining few human resisters and Satan’s spiritual allies.

1/30/11

Cordelia: Are the two (on the left and right) the same? Nice cast of Mother with her outstretched arm. E stands for Energy, right?

Joe: Yes child, they are the same. Casts set in the stars of the heavens for all to view. And yes. the E is the symbol for Energy, because energy is the universal fuel of both realms.

Regina: It looks like there’s another figure at the hand of the outstretched arm – reminds me of having an errant child “by the ear”.

Joe: Yes, the one cast at Her hand is the child She personally birthed into creation. It means Her great hand is upon Her Son., i.e., his energy is powered by or is a product of Her existence. She keeps a stern hold on him to guide his path on the divine course She has plotted within Her mind. Like any mother that takes a child by the ear in giving strict discipline to adhere to her commands or instructions along with physical discomfort that encourages obedience.

Cordelia: Very nice cast of Mother and Christ! Now that I know trinity is false, really can’t wait for Christ’s Kingdom to be established. Our King can relate to us more than we think. Christ is a Mighty God but He has to walk the straight and narrow path as well.

Multiple unknown lights / UFO fleet over Atlanta, Georgia

Witness recorded UFO that changed from orb to blinker to sprayer

UFO fleet seen over Mount Fuji in Japan on March 1st

Triangle-shaped UFO hovering over Haneda Airport in Japan on March 3rd

Third NASA video showing UFO flying near Discovery

Bank of America says nearly half its mortgages are ‘bad’
Quake and tsunami a blow to fragile Japan economy
Escalating Yemen violence kills three, injures hundreds
21 Signs Of Impending Doom For The 2011 Economy
Power Junkies Promise To Share

18 Arrested in Sexual Assaults on 11-Year-Old Texas Girl
Pot Growers Use Alligator To Protect Stash in California
Police: Man gets stuck in hamper during break-in
State Trooper Facing DUI Charges
Relative of Arson Victims Charged With Sex Assault

The mission of Arks of Safe Haven is to connect via an extensive network and online message board forum, those individuals and families who have been affected by recent economic downfalls and are in need with those individuals who are ready, willing and capable of providing assistance to those in need with employment, shelter, work, food, clothing and other necessities.

Coupled with our primary mission of delivering the Kingdom Message of Salvation, the assistance of Arks of Safe Haven is available to all who are in need. Our purposeful intention is to follow in the footsteps of Christ as our example, by providing hope to the hopeless and answering the prayers of those who have been forced to live outside of society.

How You Can Help?

In order to provide for those whose outcry of prayers have reached our heavenly Father’s ears, Arks of Safe Haven is seeking out those who are able to provide shelter, whether it be an extra bedroom, empty rental property or a work for room and board agreement. Additionally, we also act as a liaison in connecting those with tangible items to donate to those in need like Food, Water, Clothing, & Other Personal Items. We pray that your heart is motivated to make a contribution, no matter how small. Visit www.arksofsafehaven.org and view the many posts from those in need to see if you’re able to help with advice, prayers or goods & services.

Source: http://globaldisasterwatch.blogspot.com/

QUAKES –

3/5/11 –

5.2 SOUTHERN IRAN

5.2 SOUTHERN IRAN

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

3/6/11 –

5.5 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

6.6 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

6.3 TARAPACA, CHILE

5.1 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION

5.0 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION

5.3 SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS

3/7/11 –

5.2 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION

5.0 VANUATU

5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN

6.4 SOLOMON ISLANDS

3/8/11 –

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

5.1 OFF COAST OF OREGON

3/9/11 –

5.2 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION

6.5 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G

5.0 LUZON, PHILIPPINES

5.1 TONGA

5.0 CATAMARCA, ARGENTINA

5.5 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.2 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.2 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.6 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.7 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.5 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.7 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

7.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

3/10/11-

5.2 MINDORO, PHILIPPINES

6.5 BALI SEA

5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.4 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.7 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.4 MYANMAR-CHINA BORDER

3/11/11-

6.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.7 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.8 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

7.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.4 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

8.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.2 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE

NEW ZEALAND – More aftershocks from Christchurch’s big quake have again rattled the devastated city, the strongest measuring 4.8.

Bleak future for Christchurch as population flees – After the deadly earthquake left homes creaking and wiped out buildings and jobs, thousands of residents have turned their back on Christchurch, raising questions over the city’s future. City officials estimate one-sixth of Christchurch’s 390,000 population – some 65,000 people – have fled New Zealand’s second city, terrified by incessant aftershocks or because their workplace has been affected. The key question is how many of those departures will prove to be permanent.

Estimates are that the tremor – that killed at least 166 people – destroyed one-third of the buildings in central Christchurch and left 10,000 people homeless. It could be months before parts of the city reopen, and though the government has underwritten all employees’ wages for six weeks in a bid to protect jobs, prospects for the CBD’s 52,000 workers are uncertain. “I know already that populations in other towns in the South Island have risen exponentially as people from here who have the ability to or have a holiday home or have a contact relocate. They need to make arrangements for their children’s education, they need some sort of permanence.” Hundreds of Canterbury University students are being shipped to Australia to finish their studies while thousands of schoolchildren have enrolled elsewhere, some as far away as Auckland, after some local schools warned they could be closed for a year.

The quake has left city businesses scrambling for office space in the suburbs, setting up in warehouses and homes. Some companies had moved their servers into bunkers after the earlier quake, meaning staff can log in from home while the city remains in lockdown, but others have lost everything. Meanwhile tens of thousands of residences are still without power or water, and a quarter of all homes will need some sort of repair work. About 10,000 will need to be demolished — entire streets in some suburbs — and the rush is on to find parks and other land for temporary housing before the punishing southern winter sets in. Cruise ships are even being considered to accommodate the residents of Lyttelton, epicentre of the violent quake. But many have been scarred by their experience and simply want out. “I’m sick of having earthquakes every day. In the centre right where we live we feel them a lot.” Redundancies have begun in earnest, with at least one major supermarket chain joining scores of small businesses in refusing to reopen its doors, costing hundreds of jobs at two stores alone. The devastation in Christchurch, which accounts for some 15 percent of New Zealand’s economy, has been estimated at NZ$16 billion ($12 billion), with officials warning it could send the country into recession.

But while the exodus is undeniable, experts believe it will only be temporary, with the city’s location in Canterbury’s rich farming heartland and proximity to the major port of Lyttelton still strong drawcards for business.

PHILIPPINES – Series of quakes trigger brownouts in Surigao. A series of earthquakes hit Mindanao from early afternoon of Thursday until the early hours of Friday with the strongest, an intensity 5.7 earthquake, rocking Surigao City shortly before midnight of Thursday causing power outages in some parts of the city and the towns of Cantilan and Carrascal in Surigao del Sur. The quake caused residents of Surigao City to run out of their homes and panic among farm animals. No casualty was reported immediately after the quakes. Another temblor of magnitude 3.9 occurred at 5:27 p.m. with its epicenter located at 54 kilometers northwest of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, with a depth of one kilometer. At 5:41 p.m. Thursday, a magnitude 4.1 quake occurred with epicenter located at 23 kilometers southeast of Jabonga, Agusan Del Norte, at a depth of 18 kilometers. A magnitude 5.6 quake occurred at 8:52 p.m. Thursday with its epicenter at 240 kilometers southeast of General Santos City at a depth of 60 kilometers. At 10:27 p.m. Thursday another earthquake was recorded at magnitude 3.3 with epicenter located at 12 kilometers northeast of Carrascal, Surigao Del Sur, at a depth of one kilometer.Several mild quakes were also recorded in the early hours of morning of Friday. The quake damaged power lines causing power outages in several areas covered by the Surigao Del Norte Electric Cooperative.

7.2 earthquake hits off coast of Japan – A tsunami advisory has been issued in Japan after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu. The quake was centered 169 kilometers (105 miles) off the east coast of Honshu, directly east of the city of Sendai. The quake occurred about 8.8 miles below the earth’s surface. The expected height of the tsunami was only expected to be 0.5 meters (19.6 inches). They could feel the earthquake in Tokyo, 267 miles southwest of the quake’s epicenter, and the shaking lasted as long as three minutes, but there was no significant damage. TV Asahi showed video of boats rocking back and forth, as well as images taken from shaken city cams as the earthquake hit.

So far –

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.5 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.7 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

7.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

NEW ZEALAND – 10,000 homes in Christchurch will have to be demolished after force of quake ‘liquified’ ground underneath city. Parts of Christchurch will have to be abandoned and modular housing brought in for those left homeless. Parts of the city, on New Zealand’s south island, will have to be abandoned altogether after the magnitude 6.3 quake caused massive structural damage.

The epicentre of the quake struck within three miles of the city and close to the surface on February 22.

Earthquakes can cause sections of earth to liquefy and push up to the surface as watery silt, a process known as liquefaction. In Christchurch, 260,000 tons of silt have already been scraped away. ‘There are some parts of Christchurch that can’t be rebuilt on. The liquefaction damage from the… earthquake is so great and the land damage… is so significant we can’t remediate it.’ Several hundred central city commercial buildings will have to be bulldozed. ‘Potentially there are some… areas of Christchurch which will need to be abandoned and we will have to provide other alternatives for people to live in because the land has been so badly damaged we can’t fix it – certainly not in a reasonable time frame.’ Modular houses will be brought in to provide temporary accommodation for some of the many thousands left homeless, many of whom will have to abandon their shattered homes and land. Almost all electricity supplies have been restored, but residents are being told to boil tap water because of the risk of contamination. Some 70,000 people – one-fifth of the city’s population – have left as a result of the quake.

Continuing large aftershocks in Japan, plus new quake locations –

5.2 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION

5.0 LUZON, PHILIPPINES

5.1 TONGA

5.0 CATAMARCA, ARGENTINA

5.8 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6.4 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.2 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

JAPAN – A major 7.2-magnitude offshore earthquake rattled Japan on Wednesday, swaying Tokyo buildings, triggering a small tsunami and reminding the nation of the ever-present threat of seismic disaster. Police reported no casualties or property damage, and operators of nuclear power plants and Shinkansen bullet trains quickly gave the all-clear, while the wave hitting the Pacific coast measured just 60 centimetres (24 inches).

The tremor struck in the late morning about 160 kilometres (100 miles) offshore and 430 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres below the Pacific seafloor. In greater Tokyo — the world’s most populous urban area with more than 30 million people — the earthquake and a succession of tremors that quickly followed were uncomfortably felt as they shook buildings. Television channels immediately cancelled their programming to transmit information on the quake and a coastal tsunami advisory.

It soon became clear the quake had left Japan unscathed, but it was yet another uncomfortable reminder that the threat of “the Big One” is a reality of daily life. Japan, is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and dotted with volcanoes, and Tokyo is situated in one of its most dangerous areas. The mega-city sits on the intersection of three continental plates — the Eurasian, Pacific and Philippine Sea plates — which are slowly grinding against each other, building up enormous seismic pressure. The government’s Earthquake Research Committee warns of a 70 percent chance that a great, magnitude-eight quake will strike within the next 30 years in the Kanto plains, home to Tokyo’s vast urban sprawl.

The last time a “Big One” hit Tokyo was in 1923, when the Great Kanto Earthquake claimed more than 140,000 lives, many of them in fires. In 1855, the Ansei Edo quake also devastated the city. More recently, the 1995 Kobe earthquake killed more then 6,400 people. Families are urged to keep quake survival kits at home, quake alerts can be sent via mobile phones and parks and schools are sign-posted as quake shelters. Nuclear power plants and bullet trains are designed to automatically shut down when the earth rumbles and many buildings have been quake-proofed with steel and ferro-concrete at great cost in recent decades.

JAPAN – A series of powerful aftershocks shook the eastern coast of Japan early Thursday, briefly triggering a tsunami alert, in the wake of a strong earthquake that hit a day earlier. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quakes. Thursday’s quakes were likely aftershocks from a 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit in the same area Wednesday, shaking buildings hundreds of miles (kilometers) away in Tokyo and triggering a small tsunami.

The series of aftershocks included a magnitude 6.8 temblor that struck at 6:24 a.m. local time, and a magnitude 6.1 earthquake about three hours earlier. A tsunami alert was issued after the stronger of the two in Fukushima Prefecture in central Japan, but it was lifted a short time later. All of the earthquakes were centered in an area about 90 miles (150 kilometers) off Japan’s northeastern coast, about 270 miles (440 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo. They struck at depths of between 5 and 6 miles (8 and 10 kilometers).

NEW ZEALAND – ‘Serious’ risk of landslides in quake zone. GNS Science says there is still a real risk of landslides in Christchurch’s hillside suburbs. Experts are examining a number of issues in the hills – including horizontal and vertical cracks. The restoration of water to some areas is also causing problems. “Because the water mains are broken, water has been leaking into landslides and further destabilising them. We’ve already come across this situation, we’re asking for the water to be turned off again because it’s increasing the risk of a landslide falling catastrophically.” Properties in the Port Hills area were being inspected yesterday after around 200 houses were evacuated following the earthquake. Some residents could be out of their homes for months.

Meanwhile, the government said it is confident there is enough safe land for Christchurch residents to be housed on temporarily. “We believe so at this stage to meet what we foresee the demand to be in the next month, but demand will increase over time, we know that. And then it will peak as people move in and use the accommodation and move out and free it up for others.”

ARKANSAS – Geologists say a fault in central Arkansas where hundreds of earthquakes have been recorded in recent months is LONGER AND POTENTIALLY MORE DESTRUCTIVE than initially believed. Scientists had thought the fault is 3.7 miles long. Now they estimate it to be 6 to 7.5 miles long. The length is a concern because a longer fault could trigger bigger earthquakes. More than 800 earthquakes have been recorded in the area in the past six months — including a 4.7 magnitude quake on Feb. 27 that was the largest earthquake recorded in Arkansas in 35 years. Injection wells used by companies drilling for natural gas and thought to be connected to the quakes have been temporarily shut down.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii has widened its tsunami warning to include most of the Pacific Ocean region, including South America. The warning issued Thursday at 0730 GMT follows a massive 8.9 earthquake that has struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. It includes Russia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific coast of South America, including Mexico, Chile and Peru.

In Guam, authorities are urging those residing along coastlines to seek high ground after a tsunami warning was issued for the U.S. territory. The agency says that people are advised to evacuate low areas and seek ground higher than 50 feet above sea level and 100 feet inland. The agency says the tsunami is expected to hit in about 14 hours or 7 a.m. Saturday. The U.S. territory of the Northern Marians Islands was also under the warning.

In the Philippines, thousands of residents near the country’s eastern coast have been ordered to evacuate amid the tsunami warning. The first wave of the tsunami was expected to hit the eastern coast between 5 pm and 7 pm (0900-1100 GMT).The expected tsunami was projected to be 1 meter high. “All residents in coastal areas facing the Pacific should evacuate now. We will announce when it’s safe to return home.”

The tsunami could cause damage “along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii, “ warned the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a bulletin issued at 9:31 p.m. Thursday local Hawaiian time. “Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.” Tsunamis are a series of long ocean waves that can last five to 15 minutes and cause extensive flooding in coastal areas. A succession of waves can hit – often the first NOT being the highest.

The 8.9-magnitude Japan earthquake is the largest earthquake since the 9.0 earthquake struck the Banda Aceh area of Indonesia on December 26, 2004, causing a massive tsunami that killed tens of thousands in more than a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean. Tsunami waves can travel at speeds of 800 kilometers (497 miles) per hour. The earthquake, initially reported as a 7.8 earthquake, was upgraded to an 8.8 quake. “When you jump a magnitude from 7 to 8, it’s not 10 times stronger, it’s a 1000 times stronger. With an 8.8 earthquake that shallow, that close to shore, THERE WILL BE MORE THAN ONE TSUNAMI.”

“You could tell this was different, instantly … you literally couldn’t stand on your feet the ground was shaking so hard,” said a man who lives on the west side of Tokyo. “We have earthquakes from time to time, but we never feel anything like the literal magnitude of this quake.”

Raw video footage of Japanese tsunami

Massive 8.9-magnitude quake strikes Japan – Tsunami washes away cars, buildings in Fukushima. A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan’s northeastern coast Friday afternoon, shaking buildings in Tokyo for several minutes and sending people out into the streets. Japanese television showed major tsunami damage in northern Japan on Friday. Public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by tsunami in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture. A tsunami warning was in effect for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii.

The quake struck at 2:46 p.m. Friday at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers), about 80 miles (125 kilometers) off the eastern coast, about 240 miles northeast of Tokyo. In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. Footage on national broadcaster NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks. Police and coast guard officials said they were assessing possible damage from the quake. Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude temblor on Wednesday.

A shockwave from an X-Class flare hit the earth during a 24 hour window of when Japan was hit by the quake. There have been connections to heightened solar activity being one of the many possible triggers of earthquakes. One meteorologist has studied geomagnetic field patterns in space weather since the early 2000s. “I may just be a weather guy, but solar weather has had my interest for years when I noticed the connection. Many past quakes have been connected with solar flare events, including other events such as Gamma Ray Bursts, or GRBs. I am pretty certain these have connections to triggering earthquakes, however I do not yet understand it. Japan’s activity may not have happened if it was not for the solar flare activity. Others in weather laughed at me for years for what I worked on in quake triggers, however this just may help put that to rest”.

Japan’s Earthquake Research Committee had warned of a 70%chance that a great, magnitude-eight quake would strike Tokyo within the next 30 years. The last major quake to hit Tokyo was in 1923, when the Great Kanto Earthquake claimed more than 140,000 lives, many of them in fires. In 1855, the Ansei Edo quake also devastated the city. More recently, the 1995 Kobe earthquake killed more then 6,400 people.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii has widened its tsunami warning to include most of the Pacific Ocean region, including South America. The warning issued Thursday at 0730 GMT follows a massive 8.9 earthquake that has struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. It includes Russia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific coast of South America, including Mexico, Chile and Peru.

In Guam, authorities are urging those residing along coastlines to seek high ground after a tsunami warning was issued for the U.S. territory. The agency says that people are advised to evacuate low areas and seek ground higher than 50 feet above sea level and 100 feet inland. The agency says the tsunami is expected to hit in about 14 hours or 7 a.m. Saturday. The U.S. territory of the Northern Marians Islands was also under the warning.

In the Philippines, thousands of residents near the country’s eastern coast have been ordered to evacuate amid the tsunami warning. The first wave of the tsunami was expected to hit the eastern coast between 5 pm and 7 pm (0900-1100 GMT).The expected tsunami was projected to be 1 meter high. “All residents in coastal areas facing the Pacific should evacuate now. We will announce when it’s safe to return home.”

JAPAN – At 8.9 on the Richter scale, today’s quake is bigger than the 1995 Kobe earthquake (6.9) in which more than 5,000 people died. It is the LARGEST EARTHQUAKE IN 7 YEARS IN THE WORLD. The BIGGEST QUAKE IN THE REGION IN 140 YEARS. The quake has hit the north-west of Japan, triggering a four-metre tsunami that sent ships and cars crashing into coastal towns. Aftershocks were continuing on Friday, an hour after the quake hit. The quake struck 370 km from Tokyo at a depth of 24 km. It was felt as far away as Beijing. It has prompted tsunami warnings around the Pacific. Tsunami warnings has been issued for the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Russia, Taiwan, Guam Island, Micronesia, Hawai , the Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Kuril Islands, Indonesia and Nauru.Officials are warning the tsunami could reach 10 metres high. Waves have hit Tokyo. Numerous injuries have been reported by police in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture and there is widespread flooding in the area. The quake triggered at least six fires in Tokyo. Many were injured after a roof caved in during a school graduation ceremony at a hall in east Tokyo.

CHINA – rescuers search town after quake kills 25. Rescuers in southwest China battled rolling aftershocks Friday as they scoured toppled buildings for survivors of an earthquake that killed 25 people and injured 250 near the country’s border with Myanmar. The earthquake that struck Yunnan province’s mountainous Yingjiang county around midday Thursday caused more than 1,000 houses and apartment buildings, and parts of a supermarket and a hotel to buckle and fall. More than 127,000 of the county’s 300,000 people have been displaced by the temblor, which Chinese authorities measured at a magnitude 5.8.

Police, firefighters and soldiers rushed to the area to pull out people trapped in the rubble, including a man and girl stuck in the stairwell of a four-story building. Rescuers with sniffer dogs searched through the night. The chances of finding more people alive was shrinking. Many of the buildings in the area were not built to resist earthquakes and fell easily. Survivors spent the night in tents while seven aftershocks measuring up to 4.7 in magnitude shook the town, state media reported. CCTV showed people eating meals cooked in large pots over portable stoves in the morning next to tents set up in a public square. 25 people have been killed, while another 250 people were injured, 134 of them seriously. The mountainous area is 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, close to the border with Myanmar, and is home to many ethnic groups on both sides of the border, which sees heavy traffic in people and goods. The quake-prone region has been hit by more than 1,000 minor tremors over the past two months.

There was no word Friday from authorities across the border in Myanmar. The Myanmar Meteorological Department released a statement Thursday saying a quake had hit some 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Mandalay. The statement did not mention injuries or damage. Authorities in the tightly ruled country tend not to immediately discuss the effects of natural disasters. Much of the area on the Myanmar side has been under the control of various armed ethnic groups, who have battled the Myanmar military to remain free from central government control.

VOLCANOES

HAWAII – Kilauea Volcano has been a relatively peaceful spectacle on Hawaii Island, allowing tourists and scientists to get close to the geological show with minimal danger. But Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists believe Kilauea may be giving everyone the wrong impression. During a deadly eruption in 1790, searing hot ash and gas suddenly exploded out of the volcano, killing many. It is likely that the blast took 80 lives simultaneously, although it is possible that several hundred died. That death toll makes Kilauea THE DEADLIEST KNOWN VOLCANO IN THE U.S.

Which begs the question: Could such a deadly eruption happen again? Yes, but the conditions have to be right.

A deadly hurricane force “surge” is largely driven by steam, and models suggest that the Kilauea summit caldera would have to deepen to the water table below. Such an explosive event would likely spread some ash around the island, but the greatest danger would be to the subdivisions immediately surrounding the national park.

Particularly at risk of deadly surge are the Volcano Golf Course subdivision, Volcano Village, or even Mauna Loa Estates. But how long would such a caldera deepening take before it would begin to trigger explosive eruptions? Would there be time to evacuate?Scientists believe it would take days to weeks of collapsing for the lava to reach the water table, but once it did, it would be time to evacuate. There is no reason to think that any major explosive activity is on the near horizon. Such caldera collapses happen every few hundred to 1,000 years.

HAWAII – Kilauea volcano – A new vent has opened at one of the world’s most active volcanoes, sending lava shooting up to 20 metres high. The fissure eruption was spotted shortly after the floor at the Pu’u O’o crater collapsed around 5pm local time on Saturday. It occurred along the middle of Kilauea’s east rift zone, about 3.2 kilometres west of Pu’u O’o. Kilauea has been in constant eruption since January 3, 1983. At the summit, lava receded rapidly late on Saturday but seemed to slow Sunday. There were also about 150 small earthquakes were recorded within Kilauea in the past 24 hours.

Scientists said areas near the vent could erupt or collapse without warning, posing a threat to visitors or hikers to the area. Also potentially lethal concentrations of sulfer dioxide gas could be present within about a 800m downwind of vent areas. Because of the latest activity, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has closed Chain of Craters Road and all east rift zone and coastal trails. The fissure has expanded to about 490m long and scientists were hiking into the remote area to observe the fissure and take readings.

There may be no such thing as a dormant volcano, according to scientists, who say that many could in fact be reawakened in a period of months. It has long been thought that once a volcano’s magma chamber has cooled down, it stays dormant for centuries before it can be remobilized by fresh magma. But researchers have tested a theoretical model on two major eruptions and found that this process can take place in just a few months. The findings should lead to a reassessment of the dangerousness of some dormant volcanoes.

According to the team’s mathematical model, reheating takes place in three stages. When fresh hot magma rises from below and arrives beneath the chamber, it melts the viscous magma at the base of the reservoir. This freshly molten magma therefore becomes less dense and starts to rise through the chamber, forcing the rest of the viscous mush to mix. This mixing process, they say, enables the heat to spread through the chamber a HUNDRED TIMES FASTER THAN PREDICTED by volcanologists.

The two researchers tested their model against the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in March 1991 and the ongoing eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat, in the Caribbean. In both cases, seismic shocks preceding the eruption indicated the arrival of fresh magma beneath the cooling reservoir. By taking account of various known physical parameters of the two volcanoes – such as magma temperatures, size of the chamber and crystal concentration inferred from the study of magmas – the team was able to pretty much reproduce the time intervals between these warning signals and the eruptions. For Pinatubo, for instance, the mathematical model predicted that the underlying chamber could be reactivated within 20 to 80 days, whereas conventional theory gave a figure of 500 years. In reality, there was a gap of two months between the tremors and the eruption of the volcano.

HAWAII – On Thursday, Kilauea volcano’s latest eruption had decreased in activity and taken a breather from spewing out lava for five days. The Kamoamoa fissure eruption that started Saturday “paused” by 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, with lava starting to recede from the channels a few hours earlier. Seismic activity and sulfur dioxide levels are also down but remain above normal. “Our take is that it’s paused. We’re not using the word ‘stopped.'”

Kamoamoa has paused before, but not for this long. And a break can last anywhere from hours to days. Scientists headed back to the remote east rift zone Thursday to see if the eruption had restarted but no activity was observed as of 3 p.m. HT. Kamoamoa has been unleashing loads of lava and gasses since the fissure cracked open Saturday. Lava shot as high as 100 feet and low-level fountains created several fiery lava flows, blanketing more than 120 acres. The latest eruption is in the same area of the east rift where it started erupting 28 years ago.

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted with greater fury on Wednesday – The frequently restive Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii spewed a plume of lava 160 feet tall on Wednesday, more than twice as high as molten rock shot into the sky when eruptions flared anew on Saturday. As eruptions continued at two spots, seismic activity grew more vigorous and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas emissions peaked at 10,000 tons per day, over 30 times last weekend’s levels, before dropping off again by more than half.

The 2,000-degree Fahrenheit molten lava from Kilauea’s summit and the newly ruptured Kamoamoa fissure have destroyed 78 acres of rain forest since Saturday and buried 162 acres of park land. The ground around the eruptions has continued to collapse, and forests downwind of the fissure were choked with volcanic fumes that are toxic to the vegetation. “We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had showers and rain. One of the biggest unknown dangers is the spread of sulfur dioxide gas. It’s invisible, noxious and toxic. When our rangers are in the field, they use respirators to filter out the harmful gases.”

No injuries to people or damage to residential property has been reported since Kilauea roared back to life on Saturday. USGS scientists continued to monitor the activity. Kilauea is one of five volcanoes that formed the Big Island, officially known as the island of Hawaii. Periodic eruptions of the volcano have destroyed 213 homes since the volcano emerged from a period of dormancy in 1983. The latest episode began with the 370-foot collapse of the floor of the Pu’u O’o crater and opening of the 535-yard long Kamoamoa fissure on March 5.

TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES / RISING SEA LEVELS –

TSUNAMI – Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter. In various locations along Japan’s coast, TV footage showed severe flooding, with dozens of cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by waters. A large ship swept away by the tsunami rammed directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, according to footage on public broadcaster NHK. Officials were trying to assess possible damage from the quake but had no immediate details.

The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a 7.4-magnitude one about 30 minutes later. The U.S. Geological Survey upgraded the strength of the first quake to a magnitude 8.9. The meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific coast of Japan. National broadcaster NHK was warning those near the coast to get to safer ground. Thirty minutes after the quake, tall buildings were still swaying in Tokyo and mobile phone networks were not working. Japan’s Coast Guard has set up task force and officials are standing by for emergency contingencies.

Japan issued its top tsunami warning after the massive 8.9 magnitude offshore quake on Friday, with reports of ‘numerous’ injuries and ships being washed ashore by waves. The US Geological Survey first upgraded the quake to 8.8 from 7.9.

Numerous injuries were reported by police in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture and there were reports of scores of cars floating in Iwate prefecture harbour. The meteorological agency issued its top-level evacuation alerts for the entire Japanese coast, warning of a tsunami of up to six metres (20 feet). A tsunami warning was issued for Japan, Russia and the Mariana Islands. The quake struck about 382 kilometres (237 miles) northeast of Tokyo. Smoke could be seen rising from a building in Tokyo port. Shinkansen bullet trains stopped when the quake struck.

HEAVY RAINS / FLOODING / LANDSLIDES / UNUSUAL & OUT-OF-SEASON WEATHER –

AUSTRALIA – First it was locusts, then floods, now millions of crickets have invaded northern Victoria, shutting shops (to fumigate in a bid to control the masses of crickets) and devouring newspapers. The summer’s RECORD-BREAKING WET WEATHER has prompted an insect invasion with a plague of crickets sweeping into towns such as Mildura, Yarrawonga and Wodonga. Grasshoppers and spiders are also in abundance while mosquitoes are posing a health risk as cases of Ross River virus increase more than five-fold. The invasion has forced the closure of shops. The early months of summer had been particularly good for mosquitoes, dragonflies and locusts and now it is the crickets turn. ‘‘We’ve had lots of rain and that promotes plant growth so there’s lot of food around for crickets but it’s been a good year for a lot of different insects and spiders. ‘We’ve had 10 years of drought, which is not good for insects so everyone’s really taking advantage of the conditions this year.’’ It was THE FIRST TIME a plague of mottled field crickets had hit Victoria with the chirpy critters widespread across the state, including in Melbourne.

The crickets eat plants but not agricultural crops and pose more of a threat to retailers than farmers. ‘‘Crickets are certainly in their millions in some areas of Victoria. ‘Shopkeepers are often having to sweep out large piles of crickets in the morning because most crickets are attracted to lights at night so in shopping strips where there are lots of lights the crickets are attracted and a lot of them will die overnight and leave large piles of bodies in the morning.’’ The insect-boom has in turn led to an increase in spiders, which are feasting on the dead. The crickets live for about two weeks but as the weather cools their life-span will shorten and most will die out. 7000 copies of the newspaper were destroyed on Sunday night when crickets poured into the printing press attracted by the bright lights. ‘‘The paper still came out, we basically printed about double what we normally print and about half of them were ruined and it took quite a bit of effort to get the paper out.” The insect invasion had been making front-page news as crickets make themselves at home in motel rooms, block shop fronts and set off store security sensors. ‘‘It’s pretty awful. We’ve dealt with quite a lot in recent times – locusts and floods and this is just another thing.”

Rural Queensland on flash flood alert – Rural towns across Queensland are on flood alert following heavy downpours which have cut roads and isolated communities. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has issued flash flooding and severe weather warnings for Channel Country, the Peninsula, north tropical coast and the Herbert and Lower Burdekin. A weak tropical low is set to dump more heavy rain on Sunday. The low was off the coast of Cape Melville, on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. “It’s likely to continue moving west. We do expect the rainfall to increase markedly in the latter part of Sunday and on Monday.”

The bureau was closely monitoring the weak low on the off chance it crossed over into water on the Gulf and developed into a cyclone. The bureau says a strong southeast wind change moving northwards over the east coast is likely to bring heavy rainfall to the tropical coast between Cooktown and Bowen . Since 9am Saturday Murray Flats recorded 104mm rain and Kowanyama had 82mm. A flood warning is current for the Nicholson and Lower Norman Rivers.

Asecond low was also producing soggy conditions and flooding in western Queensland. “It produced excessively heavy rainfall over parts of the Channel Country overnight. The highest reading we have is … 313mm at Bedourie. THAT’S A RECORD for Bedourie.” The bureau warns major flood levels are expected at Bedourie today. All roads were closed in the Diamantina Shire which covers the towns of Birdsville and Bedourie. “The water is really slow moving and (Bedourie) is protected by a levee bank (while Birdsville is on higher ground). Every road in the shire is cut, all the main access roads are dirt. Normal rain usually closes them off.”

It could be a long wait for residents in the area. “I expect the roads to be closed for two to four weeks.” There were enough supplies in the shire to last that long. “They got trucks in before this came. They’ll have enough food for probably the next month and then after that we can fly more in if we need to. They’re quite well versed at that, it’s not an unusual occurrence.”

LOUISIANA – One dead, dozens hurt as US tornado hits. Severe weather and tornadoes have hit southern Louisiana overnight, leaving one young mother dead, several people injured and dozens of homes and businesses destroyed.

AUSTRALIA records SECOND WETTEST SUMMER IN 111 YEARS, its second wettest summer on record and above average rainfall is expected to continue. “Nationally we averaged 354.7mm – 70 per cent above normal and second only behind the infamous summer of 1973-74 when 419.8mm was recorded.” One of the strongest La Nina events on record was to blame and all states and territories recorded above average falls. Victoria has NEVER SEEN A WETTER SUMMER since records began 111 years ago and it was Western Australia’s second wettest. South Australia had its third wettest summer, NSW its 5th, Queensland its 6th and the Northern Territory it’s 8th. But in Tasmania, the summer just gone was well off record levels (17th). “After a decade of drought, the Murray-Darling Basin also recorded its third wettest summer on record. Looking ahead into autumn, the La Nina is now past its peak and has been weakening since early January. However, until the Pacific Ocean returns to neutral in winter we can expect above average rain to continue over most of the country.”

Evacuation alert for drenched far north – Residents in low-lying parts of the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, have been told to consider evacuating their homes amid torrential rain. The areas were at risk from heavy rainfall which was causing localised flooding and flash flooding. There had been rapid river rises in the Barron River and Granite Creek. Some Tableland communities had seen falls of about 200mm since 9am (AEST) yesterday, and more heavy rain is forecast over the next 24 hours.

AUSTRALIA – Adelaide drenched in unseasonal downpour. The city has been drenched with MORE THAN ITS MARCH AVERAGE RAINFALL in just FOUR-AND-ONE-HALF HOURS, thanks to an unseasonal tropical downpour. Adelaide recorded 30mm of rainfall, more than the monthly average for March of 25mm. The unseasonable March rain, THE HEAVIEST SINCE MARCH 1985, is due to tropical air from the north interacting with a trough of low-pressure, a pattern typical in La Nia years. Heavy rain will continue over the eastern half of South Australia today.

Rain turns west Queensland into inland sea – Parts of far western Queensland have turned into an inland sea with floodwaters spreading 20 kilometres wide. RECORD RAIN fell on the Channel Country over the weekend, causing major flooding around Bedourie, Windorah and moderate flooding at Birdsville – flood warnings are current for the Diamantina River as well as Georgina and Eyre Creek. In Bedourie a record 319mm fell on Sunday, BEATING the average ANNUAL RAINFALL in just 24 hours. The floodwaters are slowly moving through Eyre Creek, after peaking at Bedourie at 5.68 metres overnight, the HIGHEST LEVEL IN 40 YEARS. It could take about a week for the heavy rain to drain away from the region. “With it being so flat out there, it could take a while.”

A massive rain band in north Queensland across the Townsville area dumped up to 265mm in 24 hours, causing flash flooding and keeping emergency crews busy overnight. They will be closely watching as the massive rainband over Townsville moves north to areas that were hardest hit by Cyclone Yasi. Overnight, Tully had already received 86mm and Innisfail 129mm, but falls could increase over the coming days. Some minor to moderate flooding is expected during today in the coastal rivers and streams along the North Tropical Coast. A severe weather warning is current for heavy rain leading to flash flooding. “All those coastal streams are going to receive those rainfalls.”

AUSTRALIA – More floods likely in cyclone-hit towns. Torrential rain is continuing to pound cyclone-ravaged north Queensland. The massive rain band began soaking Cardwell, Mission Beach and Tully on Monday and it won’t leave until Saturday. An upper level trough will possibly move into the area today and work with the rain band to worsen rainfalls and increase the risk of flash flooding. The situation is expected to get worse before it gets better. “Today and tomorrow will be the worst for those townships. Because the catchment is saturated, flooding is very easy and when we have heavy rain, flooding is more likely.” In the 24 hours since 9am (AEST) yesterday, South Mission Beach received 241mm of rain, Euramo 102mm and Cardwell Gap 58mm. About 20 homes were known to be flooded in Cardwell and the township is cut off to the north and south.

The massive monsoon trough that’s causing the torrential rain is almost stationary, and spans from the Gulf Country to the northeast tropical coast. Fast rises are likely in the areas of heaviest rainfall, with major flooding expected in the Tully, Murray and Herbert Rivers and minor flooding expected in the Barron River.

Tully could face BIGGEST-EVER FLOOD. Continued rain in Tully in Queensland could see a repeat of the 1967 floods. Monsoonal rain in Tully is adding to damage done by Cyclone Yasi as well as halting the recovery process. “If it keeps raining like this it’ll be compared to ’67. The ground’s been saturated that much that now that we’ve got this monsoon trough here the water’s got nowhere to go but up. The town’s isolated just about. You can’t get to the beach but you can get through to Cairns with four wheel drive.” In 1967 the Tully River at Euramo peaked at 9.37m. During the 2009 flood the river peaked at 9.04m. “We took a bashing in Yasi, and now this bloody rain – it’s a bit hard to take actually.” But cyclone victims in Tully Heads and Cardwell were much worse off.

U.S. – Tornadoes hit Alabama, Louisiana as severe weather sweeps through south-eastern United States. Nasty weather, including tornadoes, tore through the Gulf coasts of Alabama and Louisiana Thursday as heavy rains and whipping winds ripped roofs from houses, overturned cars and wrought havoc among residents. At least two tornadoes touched down in the southern Alabama towns of Silverhill and Theodore. Witnesses said that the sky quickly grew black and increased winds pulled shopping trolleys “a hundred miles an hour” across parking lots. At least three tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana, and at least one injury was reported. A Tornado Watch remained in effect for several Gulf Coast municipalities, including nine counties in north-west Florida and 11 counties in Georgia. Flash flood warnings remained in effect in southeast Mississippi.

AUSTRALIA – No end in sight for drenched north Queensland. Two Queensland towns are isolated, homes inundated and food supplies dwindling after days of torrential rain in the area dubbed “ground zero” for Cyclone Yasi. The Cassowary Coast has been pounded by a massive monsoon for the past five days and it’s not expected to let up for the next few days. Tully Heads and Hull Heads were isolated with water 80cm deep across the road in some parts. Mission Beach, Bingle Bay and Cardwell were isolated overnight but police advised that roads re-opened this morning.

Police considered evacuating Tully Heads yesterday but a decision was made to drop 1000 sandbags instead so locals could protect their homes. “A number of houses have been flooded from drains and small creeks that had backed up. They have a lot of debris in them and the water couldn’t escape.” An EMQ helicopter is being used to drop medical supplies to residents in rural properties in Ellerbeck and in the Aboriginal community of Jumbun.

Locals in cut-off areas in the Cassowary Coast Council were calling for food and fuel. The Bruce Highway is cut in several places in the region and the Department of Transport has urged that all non-essential travel south of Innisfail be delayed until floodwaters recede. The heavy rain is not expected to let up until next week.

The monsoon trough, that spans hundreds of kilometres from the Gulf Country to the tropical coast, had been near to stationary since Monday. It is working with a tropical low and an upper level trough to bring the massive rainfalls. The weather systems will keep dumping rain on the areas worst-affected from Cyclone Yasi until next Tuesday. Since 9am (AEST) yesterday, South Mission Beach received 139mm of rain, Cardwell 97mm and Tully 69mm.

FOOD SUPPLY-

Climate change takes toll on coffee growers, drinkers – The fate of coffee in Costa Rica could be a bellwether for food production — and prices — globally, as farmers around the world cope with mudslides, droughts and creeping changes in temperature.

A mile above a rural Costa Rica mountain town, coffee trees have produced some of the world’s best arabica beans for more than a century. Now farmers are planting even higher – at nearly 7,000 feet – thanks to warmer temperatures. “We noticed about six years ago, the weather changed.” Most of the growers have found themselves on the losing end of the shifting weather pattern.

Yields in Costa Rica have dropped dramatically in the last decade, with farmers and scientists blaming climate change for a significant portion of the troubles. Many long-established plantation owners have seen trees wither or flower too early. Some have given up. Others are trying to outwit changes in temperature, wind and rain with new farming techniques and hardier tree varieties.

Like many tropical crops, coffee cannot tolerate extreme high and low temperatures, and it needs dry and wet seasons. Costa Rica and other countries, such as Colombia, with sophisticated coffee farms and mills appear to be noticing the impact of climate change first. These problems are helping push up the price of a latte or espresso at coffee shops everywhere.

Almost all coffee grows in the tropics, and in general, tropical species are more sensitive to climate change. There are more species there, but they can withstand only a narrow band of temperatures, and they are not likely to adapt well to change. Heavy rains in Colombia recently helped drive coffee beans to prices not seen in more than a decade, and coffee companies are watching closely. Global warming – more accurately called climate change – poses “a direct business threat to our company,” a Starbucks executive said in 2009. “It’s very difficult to see coffee businesses that went from generation to generation to generation, closing.”

Costa Rica has 25 percent fewer acres planted in coffee than it did a decade ago. Roughly 10,000 farmers have quit coffee, some converting their land to pasture for cattle or dairy businesses. The remaining coffee farms produce less, with YIELDS DOWN 26% IN A DECADE.

Weather is only one problem. Costa Rica also has too many old coffee trees, and farmers’ costs have risen because of a labor shortage and devalued currency. Still, climate change represents about a quarter of the problem and is expected to worsen. Only arabica beans are grown in Costa Rica, taking advantage of the volcanic soil at high elevations to produce some of the world’s most sought-after coffee. Farmers learned long ago to negotiate the country’s microclimates. Now they must adapt to new changes. On the slopes of Volcano Poás, the biggest threats are COLDER NIGHTS, FIERCER WINDS and RAIN THAT FALLS TOO HARD and AT THE WRONG TIMES. Temperatures at coffee farms on Poás used to stay above 60 degrees at night, but now are dropping to 52 degrees. Many young coffee plants that should be lush and preparing to burst with fruit remain withered and unproductive. Just a couple of miles away are healthy coffee trees that have escaped the wind and cold. Some are still producing robustly at the ripe old age of 30 years.

Rainfall also has become more erratic. Farmers constantly watch the sky during the harvest, fearful it might rain and cause their trees to flower early.Growers are dismayed to find blooms on some coffee trees in January. The trees are not supposed to flower until April. Many of these January blooms will dry up from lack of water before the true rainy season arrives. “Last night we had rain, so for next year we will lose coffee.” It first rained during the harvest on Poás in 1997, something NOT SEEN IN FIVE GENERATIONS OF COFFEE FARMING. “We were scared about it.” Rain also means higher humidity and more fungus.

Then there are the mudslides. Although climate change is expected to bring a net drop in rainfall over the long term, some places — including Costa Rica — have experienced deluges. In recent years, mudslides have wiped out swaths of coffee farms, blocked roadways and demolished at least two processing mills. “Farmers are scared. They are having to alter their daily routines a lot.”

Researchers are developing hardier varieties of coffee that can withstand changes in the weather. A major snag is that they cost twice as much as regular coffee trees because there are so few available. But they produce about 25 percent more coffee and should become affordable once volume picks up. Starbucks and others are working to distribute thermometers to farmers so they can monitor exactly how the temperature is changing. In many regions there are not very many alternatives to growing coffee. Worth about $400 million a year, coffee is Costa Rica’s third-largest agricultural export, after pineapples and bananas.

Growers are not sure what to do about the increasing wind. “It used to be, if you saw clouds coming at the top of the mountains, two hours later you would have rain. Now, it’s five minutes later.” Planting at higher elevations might not be a good solution for many farmers, because of the different soil and because the heavier clouds there could invite fungus. “Some people do not know what we are suffering. They can go shopping and buy a bunch of items and throw them all away, and they can sit in their cars for six hours and think it’s not affecting anybody. It’s affecting somebody.”

Rising food prices could spark riots in the UK, senior economist warns. She has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar. The UK is not immune to the kind of “food riots” seen in other countries around the world. “Even in the developed world I think we have very, very low wage growth, so people aren’t getting more in their pay packet to compensate them for food and energy, and I think we could see social unrest certainly in parts of the developed world and the UK as well.”

She went on to highlight the link between high food prices and the escalating cost of crude oil. “More and more we are seeing that some of these foodstuffs are actually substitutes for energy itself, particularly biofuels. So I think the energy markets are a significant contributor to these food price gain.” The comments came as the United Nations warned the COST OF FOOD IS NOW AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL FOR 21 YEARS and SET TO RISE FURTHER. Food costs have gone up for eight months in a row, with the UK’s National Farmers Union forecasting the trend will continue for the rest of 2011. The cost of basic foodstuffs has been caused by increasing demand and extreme weather destroying crops – and has been partly to blame for the unrest sweeping the Arab world, which in turn is putting pressure on oil prices.

EXTREME HEAT / WILDFIRES / DROUGHT / CLIMATE CHANGE-

Polar ice melt accelerating rapidly. The pace at which the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting is “accelerating rapidly” and raising the global sea level, according to findings of a study financed by NASA. The findings suggest that the ice sheets – more so than ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps – have become “the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, MUCH SOONER than model forecasts have predicted”.

This study, published yesterday, combined two decades of monthly satellite measurements with regional atmospheric climate model data to study changes in mass. “That ice sheets will dominate future sea level rise is not surprising – they hold a lot more ice mass than mountain glaciers. What is surprising is this increased contribution by the ice sheets is already happening.” Under the current trends, sea level is likely to be “significantly higher” than levels projected by the United Nations climate change panel in 2007.

The ice sheets lose mass by melting or by breaking apart in blocks of ice, which float into the ocean. “It’s related to the warming of the planet but that was not the point of the paper. We just observed the changes. It’s losing mass – much more than was expected many years ago.” The study showed that in 2006, a year in which comparable results for loss from mountain glaciers and ice caps are available, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets lost enough mass to raise global sea level by an average of 1.3mm per year. The year-on-year acceleration rate of loss on mountain glaciers and ice caps was three times smaller than that of the ice sheets.

“The authors conclude that, if current ice sheet melting rates continue for the next four decades, their cumulative loss could raise sea level by 15cm by 2050. When this is added to the predicted sea level contribution of 8cm from glacial ice caps and 9cm from ocean thermal expansion, total sea level rise could reach 12.6 inches (32 centimeters).

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD

NEW MEXICO – Winter Storm Caused At Least $3 Million In Damage. The RECORD-BREAKING LOW TEMPERATURES brought by the storm left tens of thousands of homes and businesses throughout New Mexico without electricity, water or gas for days. “The temperatures were extreme.”

U.S. – It seems like RECORD-BREAKING SNOWFALLS are becoming old hat in Vermont these days. As of mid-afternoon Monday, the National Weather Service office in South Burlington measured 24.3 inches of new snow, making the storm that began Sunday THE LARGEST MARCH SNOWSTORM ON RECORD.

In recent years, there have been a lot more records around the area:

— Burlington’s biggest snowstorm, 33.1 inches, was recorded in January, 2010.

— The city’s biggest 24 hour snowfall, 24 inches, came during the Valentine’s Day blizzard of 2007.

— Eight of the city’s biggest 20 snowstorms have happened since 2000.

— Three of Burlington’s snowiest five winters, including this one, have happened since 2000.

— Fifteen of the past 20 winters in Burlington had above average snowfall.

Believe it or not, there’s the chance that all this snow here and elsewhere in the nation is related to global warming, according to the New York Times and other media sources. That sounds ludicrous, I know. How could frigid, heavy snowstorms have anything to do with global warming? As the world warms up, the atmosphere can hold more water. Warmer air can hold on to more moisture than cold air. All that moisture stuck up in the air has to come down to earth eventually, and it does so during storms. If there’s more moisture in the air than there used to be, it’s possible that in some parts of the world, the storms would tend to be bigger and produce more precipitation than they used to. Many climatologists say the northeastern United States would get wetter in a warming world. It can still get plenty cold in Vermont, with or without global warming, so some of that heavier precipitation can come down as snow. This also might be true for recent snowy winters in the eastern United States.

Though almost all climate scientists say the world is warming, there is definitely less agreement on whether there is a connection between snowstorms and climate change. After all, a few snowstorms in Burlington, Vermont tell you almost nothing about what’s going on with the whole world’s climate. The scientists who say there might be a snowstorm/warming connection say the situation just loads the dice. It makes big snowstorms more likely here, but not guaranteed. Other scientists say they think the snowstorms have nothing to do with global warming. It might be related to shifts in weather patterns brought on by natural cycles, or just flukes.

SPACE NEWS-

In a fortnight Earth will experience the biggest moon it has seen in nearly two decades. One astronomer is predicting it may bring more worrying disruptions to the Earth’s climate patterns. On March 19th the moon will be at its CLOSEST POINT TO EARTH IN 18 YEARS, an event that is known as a “lunar perigee”, or the much more exciting “SuperMoon”, as one astrologer called it. On March 19, the moon will be just 356,577km away from Earth, an event that has internet theorists a-quiver with the possibility of extreme weather, earthquakes and volcanoes. Not all scientists are convinced, however.

Though throughout the last year the world may have seen birds falling from the sky and schools of dead fish washing up on the shore, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy says we shouldn’t be running to our bomb shelters just yet. “There will be no earthquakes or volcanoes, unless they are to happen anyway. (The Earth will experience) just a lower than usual low tide and a higher than usual high tide around the time of the event, but nothing to get excited about.” But try telling that to anyone who suffered through the New England hurricane in 1938, or the Hunter Valley floods of 1955. Both happened during lunar perigrees. Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and Hurricance Katrina in 2005 also coincided with distances that were close to SuperMoons.

But an astronomer says, “If you try hard enough you can chronologically associate almost any natural disaster/event to anything in the night sky … comet, planet, sun. Remember in the past, planetary alignments were going to pull the sun apart. It didn’t. Astrologers draw a very long bow most times. Normal king tides are about all I would expect out of this SuperMoon prediction.”

But a Planetary and Environmental Geoscientist at Adelaide University says the predictions of weather and earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters based on planetary configurations have not been successful, but there may be some correlation between near-equatorial large scale earthquakes and new and full moon situations. “This is because the Earth-tides (analogous to ocean tides) may be the final trigger that sets off the earthquake.”

EQUINOX SUN OUTAGES: Many people reported an intermittent loss of satellite TV reception over the weekend. Was the sun to blame? Yes and no. “It is likely that the sun caused the problem, but not because of solar flares. Now is the time of year for the ‘equinox conjunction,’ when the sun lines up with the satellite and the receiving satellite dish. When this happens, radio interference from the sun competes with signals from the satellite and can create noise levels several decibels higher than normal. The problem, which typically persists for 5 to 15 minutes, is referred to as a ‘sun outage’ and is often confused with sunspot or solar flare activity.”

The magnetic canopy of big sunspot 1166 erupted on March 7th around 1400 UT, producing an M2-class solar flare and a bright coronal mass ejection (CME). The CME was not squarely directed at Earth. Nevertheless, the cloud will probably deliver a glancing blow to our planet’s magnetic field on March 9th or 10th, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms.

FAST CORONAL MASS EJECTION: A coronal mass ejection (CME) exploded from the vicinity of sunspot 1164 during the late hours of March 7th. It leapt away from the sun traveling ~2200 km/s, making it THE FASTEST CME SINCE Sept. 2005. A movie of the cloud prepared by the Naval Research Lab shows a POSSIBLY SUBSTANTIAL EARTH-DIRECTED component. This CME and at least one other could brush against Earth’s magnetic field on March 9th or 10th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

Mold Mystery Surrounds SF Bird Deaths

By JOHN UPTON on March 10, 2011 – 7:56 p.m. PST

The Bay Citizen

Western gulls have been dying at an alarming rate over the past decade at San Francisco’s industrial Pier 94, and preliminary results of a state investigation that found deadly mold inside the bird’s lungs are only deepening the mystery surrounding the carnage.

Bird rescuers who recover sick and dying gulls every other day or so from a small industrial patch of waterfront land have long blamed a Darling International-run rendering operation for the deaths.

But, in new findings that are disputed by the bird rescuers, a preliminary California Department of Fish and Game investigation cleared the facility of responsibility for most of the deaths.

The department found 15 to 20 dead or dying gulls monthly, according to California Fish and Game Warden William O’Brien. It performed autopsies on a number of dead gulls and found that growing inside their lungs was a mold called aspergillus, which suffocated the birds.

The source of the mold, which occurs naturally at lower concentrations, remains under investigation.

O’Brien told the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare Thursday that the mold is suspected of coming from one of the many industrial operations in the vicinity of Pier 94. The wide territory covered by western gulls, which nest at Alcatraz and other shoreline areas and famously flock to AT&T Park during the bottom of ninth innings, makes it difficult to locate the source of the mold.

A recycling sorting operation operated nearby by Recology and dirt-hauling business Waste Solutions Group were named in a San Francisco Examiner report as potential sources of the mold. O’Brien said Thursday that other operations in the area are also being investigated.

The birds are likely dying because they are eating or inhaling the mold in unnatural quantities, according to O’Brien.

“It seems like for all the birds coming back with aspergillus, it’s all in their respiratory tracts,” said O’Brien.

Officials at Recology and Waste Solutions Group said they were surprised by the findings and said they doubted that their operations were to blame.

“Everything we do is containerized, so it’s either in bags or containers; nothing hits the atmosphere and nothing hits the ground,” said David Gavrich, president of Waste Solutions Group, which hauls contaminated dirt.

“We’re handling dry materials — just bottles, cans and paper,” Recology spokesman Robert Reed said. “There’s no odor, there’s no food and we move the materials through every day very quickly so we don’t have any mold.”

Bird rescuers and local environmentalists on Thursday said it was too simplistic to rule out the possibility that the Darling International rendering facility may have played a role in the deaths.

About 10 percent of the birds studied by the department were sickened by oil on their feathers, which can cause hypothermia and could have come from the rendering plant, according to O’Brien.

The gulls feast on discarded kitchen oil and rotting meat in trucks that deliver waste to the facility, where it is turned into ingredients for cosmetics and animal feed. The bird rescuers say the gulls die from hypothermia after their feathers are covered with grease or from diseases after eating rotten food.

O’Brien, however, praised the company’s efforts to enclose its operations as thoroughly as possible to keep the gulls out of the rotting waste.

“When a living organism like mold is killing wild animals, there are almost always one or more underlying problems in the ecosystem which are making the animals susceptible to the mold or other organism,” environmentalist Eric Brooks said in an e-mail.

“The basic reality here is that it is unacceptable that any gulls at all are able to get into Darling’s waste fats and become contaminated by them, and the Port and Board of Supervisors should step in immediately to demand that Darling clean up its act,” Brooks said.

Bird rescuer Kelle Kacmarcik said she has seen a spike in the number of gulls near the Darling facility with oil-covered feathers.

“Since Feb. 23, I’ve caught three oiled birds, found one freshly dead and am tracking one medium to lightly oiled bird,” Kacmarcik said in an e-mail.

Darling International has not returned phone messages regarding gull deaths in its neighborhood left by The Bay Citizen since November.

Keeping an eye on H1N1

Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

today’s news

March 9, 2011

In the fall of 1917, a new strain of influenza swirled around the globe. At first, it resembled a typical flu epidemic: Most deaths occurred among the elderly, while younger people recovered quickly. However, in the summer of 1918, a deadlier version of the same virus began spreading, with disastrous consequence. In total, the pandemic killed at least 50 million people — about 3 percent of the world’s population at the time.

That two-wave pattern is typical of pandemic flu viruses, which is why many scientists worry that the 2009 H1N1 (“swine”) flu virus might evolve into a deadlier form.

H1N1, first reported in March 2009 in Mexico, contains a mix of human, swine and avian flu genes, which prompted fears that it could prove deadlier than typical seasonal flu viruses. However, the death toll was much lower than initially feared, in large part because the virus turned out to be relatively inefficient at spreading from person to person.

In a new study from MIT, researchers have identified a single mutation in the H1N1 genetic makeup that would allow it to be much more easily transmitted between people. The finding, reported in the March 2 edition of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One, should give the World Health Organization, which tracks influenza evolution, something to watch out for, says Ram Sasisekharan, senior author of the paper.

“There is a constant need to monitor the evolution of these viruses,” says Sasisekharan, the Edward Hood Taplin Professor and director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Some new H1N1 strains have already emerged, and the key question, Sasisekharan adds, is whether those strains will have greater ability to infect humans.

WHO labs around the world are collecting samples of human and avian flu strains, whose DNA is sequenced and analyzed for potential significant mutations. However, it’s difficult, with current technology, to predict how a particular DNA sequence change will alter the structure of influenza proteins, including hemagglutinin (HA), which binds to receptors displayed by cells in the human respiratory tract. Now that this specific HA mutation has been identified as a potentially dangerous one, the WHO should be able to immediately flag any viruses with that mutation, if they appear.

Identifying this mutation is an important step because it is usually very difficult to identify which of the many possible mutations of the HA protein will have any impact on human health, says Qinghua Wang, assistant professor of biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine. “These are exactly the types of mutations that we need to watch out for in order to safeguard humans from future disastrous flu pandemics,” he says.

Pandemic

On June 11, 2009, about three months after the H1N1 virus first appeared, the World Health Organization declared a level 6 pandemic alert (the highest level). Nearly 5,000 H1N1 deaths were reported to the WHO, and more than 400,000 cases were confirmed, though the true number of cases is significantly higher because many countries stopped counting cases after the first few months of the outbreak, according to the WHO.

In July 2009, a team of researchers from MIT, led by Sasisekharan, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the journal Science that the H1N1 virus was much less easily passed from person to person than seasonal flu viruses and earlier pandemic flu viruses such as the second wave of the 1918 strain.

Sasisekharan and CDC senior microbiologist Terrence Tumpey had previously shown that a major factor in flu-virus transmissibility is the structure of the HA protein, which is found on the viral surface. The tightness of fit between HA and the respiratory cell receptor determines how effectively the virus infects a host.

The 2009 H1N1 strain, like the first wave of 1918 (known as the NY18 strain), does not bind efficiently. However, it took only one mutation of the NY18 virus’ HA protein to become the much more virulent SC18 strain, which caused the second wave.

Viral evolution

In the new PLoS study, the MIT researchers focused on a segment of the HA protein that they have shown affects its ability to bind to respiratory cells. They created a virus with a single mutation in that region, which replaced the amino acid isoleucine with another amino acid, lysine. That switch greatly increased the HA protein’s binding strength. They also found that the new virus spread more rapidly in ferrets, which are commonly used to model human influenza infection.

If such a mutant virus evolved, it could generate a “second wave” like the ones seen in 1918 and in 1957 (known as the “Asian flu”). “If you look at the history, it takes a very small change to these viruses to have a dramatic effect,” Sasisekharan says.

The amino acid in question is located in a part of the viral genome prone to mutate frequently, because it is near the so-called antigenic site — the part of the HA protein that interacts with human antibodies. Antigenic sites tend to evolve rapidly to escape such antibodies, which is why flu vaccine makers have to use new formulas every year. This year’s vaccine included a strain of H1N1, which is still circulating around the world.

UN alarmed at huge decline in bee numbers

by Peter Capella – Thu Mar 10, 7:48 am ET

GENEVA (AFP) – The UN on Thursday expressed alarm at a huge decline in bee colonies under a multiple onslaught of pests and pollution, urging an international effort to save the pollinators that are vital for food crops.

Much of the decline, ranging up to 85 percent in some areas, is taking place in the industrialised northern hemisphere due to more than a dozen factors, according to a report by the UN’s environmental agency.

They include pesticides, air pollution, a lethal pinhead-sized parasite that only affects bee species in the northern hemisphere, mismanagement of the countryside, the loss of flowering plants and a decline in beekeepers in Europe.

“The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

“The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees,” he added.

Wild bees and especially honey bee colonies from hives are regarded as the most prolific pollinators of large fields or crops.

Overall, pollinators are estimated to contribute 153 billion euros ($212 billion) worldwide or 9.5 percent of the total value of food production, especially fruit and vegetables, according to the report.

Honey bee colony declines in recent years have reached 10 to 30 percent in Europe, 30 percent in the United States,and up to 85 percent in Middle East, said scientist Peter Neumann, one of the authors of the first ever UN report on the issue.

But in South America, Africa and Australia there were no reports of high losses.

“It is a very complex issue. There are a lot of interactive factors and one country alone is not able to solve the problem, that’s for sure. We need to have an international network, global approaches,” added Neumann of the Swiss government’s Bee Research Centre.

Some of the mechanisms behind the four-decades-old trend, which appears to have intensified in the late 1990s, are not understood. UNEP warned that the broad issue of countryside management and conservation was involved.

“The bees will get the headlines in this story,” UNEP spokesman Nick Nuttall told journalists.

“But in a sense they are an indicator of the wider changes that are happening in the countryside but also urban environments, in terms of whether nature can continue to provide the services as it has been doing for thousands or millions of years in the face of acute environmental change,” he added.

Nonetheless, scientists have been unable so far to quantify the direct impact of bee decline on crops or plants, and Neumann insisted that some of the impact was qualitative.

Citing British research, the report estimated that pollination by managed honey bees is worth 22.8 billion to 57 billion euros in terms of crop yields, and that some fruit, seed and nut crops would decrease by more than 90 percent without them.

One key driving force behind bee destruction in Europe and North America has been a type of mite, the varroa destructor pest, which attacks bees and that beekeepers struggle to control, Neumann said.

“It’s quite shocking how little we know about this essential pest of honey bees although it has caused havoc in agriculture for more than 20 years.”

“African bees are tolerant, we don’t know why,” he added.

Meanwhile, frequent changes in land use, degradation and fragmentation of fields, trade carrying hostile species such as the Asian hornet into France or virulent fungi, chemical spraying and gardening insecticides as well as changing seasons due to climate change have added to the hostile environment for bees.

Millions of dead fish blanket Redondo’s King Harbor Marina

By Larry Altman

Staff Writer

Posted: 03/08/2011

Millions of sardines created a massive stink and an even bigger cleanup effort in Redondo Beach’s King Harbor Marina on Tuesday after they swam inside overnight, became trapped and died.

Twelve to 18 inches of dead sardines blanketed the water’s bottom in Basin 1 off Marina Way. Another thick layer of dead fish coated the surface from the breakwall to the inner docks, surrounding boats and walkways.

Authorities with the California Department of Fish and Game, along with other ocean biologists at the scene, declared the mass death a natural event. The fish, they said, sucked every drop of oxygen from the water and couldn’t breathe.

“They are in every slip and every dock,” said Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan. “It’s a whole lot of fish.”

Hughan said authorities believe the huge school of sardines, perhaps blown in by the night’s 40-mph winds and crashing waves, swam into King Harbor and became disoriented.

Those who chose other basins were fine, but the schools that headed into Basin 1 “backed themselves into a corner” and were unable to find their way out, he said.

They quickly depleted the oxygen in the water and died.

“If they turned right instead of left, they’d be fine,” Hughan said. “It’s just bad luck.”

Brent Scheiwe, director of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps’ SEA Lab on Harbor Drive, said tests revealed the water contained virtually no oxygen.

“Someone reported it this morning at 7:30. We were astounded when we went down there,” he said.

The aquarium received reports that there was a large number of fish in the harbor Monday night, “numbers we had not seen before,” Scheiwe said.

He said the spike could have occurred for several reasons – one being rough ocean currents that could have driven the fish to one place.

King Harbor residents said they noticed the increase in fish the night before, swimming among their boats and bouncing off their hulls.

Dayn Schultz, who lives in a houseboat on the marina, said it is typical for fish to spawn in the evening, the action roiling the surface in small patches and giving the water the appearance of boiling.

At about 9:30 Monday night, Schultz jumped on deck after hearing a noisy racket. He discovered the entire marina “boiling” around him.

“It was the most I have ever seen,” Schultz said.

When the sun came up, residents found the marina’s ocean surface coated with dead fish.

“There were millions and millions of them floating everywhere,” said Walter Waite, who lives aboard his boat at the harbor.

Waite said he was struck by the fact that birds weren’t feeding. Apparently, they had already gorged.

Onlookers were stunned by the spectacle. Hundreds of people arrived to gawk at the scene.

“It’s just incredible,” said Gene Wilson, who was vacationing in Redondo Beach from Kansas City. “We’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t know how they’re going to remove their carcasses.”

In addition to testing the water’s oxygen level, biologists also checked to make sure no pollutants, oils or other chemicals could have killed the fish. Hughan said the water was clean, but sea gull droppings washed off the breakwall by the strong waves could have contributed to erasing the water’s oxygen level.

Fish and Game authorities collected some of the dead fish and packaged them for express delivery to their laboratory in Rancho Cordova. Necropsies will be performed to determine if any other factors beyond the water’s oxygen level contributed to their deaths.

David Caron, a professor of biological sciences at USC, has for the past few years monitored sensors that were placed in the harbor waters following a 2005 red tide that killed thousands of fish.

The plankton that caused that phenomenon – Lingulodinium polyedrum – isn’t poisonous, but cast a red-brown tinge over the harbor. The fish died when the blanket of algae starved the water of oxygen.

Caron, whose students took water samples Tuesday, said they found “very little in the water in terms of phytoplankton,” leaving him, like others, to believe the low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water caused the massive kill. But he said they plan to examine some of the fish to determine whether they had ingested any toxins.

By midmorning, Redondo Beach officials hatched a plan to begin cleaning up the fish. Public works employees and firefighters on docks, and lifeguards and firefighters in boats began skimming the fish into nets and filling buckets and wheelbarrows.

The labor-intensive work was expected to take hours. One public works employee, sweat dripping from his face, stood on the dock taking a swig of water, as he stared at the carpet of fish in front of him.

He nodded when asked if he was tired.

The fish were taken in large trash containers to a landfill that accepts organic material to be used for fertilizer.

Redondo Beach City Manager Bill Workman estimated the cleanup cost at $100,000, which would come from a tidelands fund that pays for waterfront projects and emergencies.

About 50 city employees worked on the cleanup, assisted by about 100 volunteers. They planned to work into the evening, and return today.

Workman and Mayor Mike Gin said the city had prepared for such an event after the 2005 red tide.

Gin said the harbor was cleaned up through a massive effort by volunteers, marina representatives and city staff.

“Through that … we were able to form a red-tide response task force to handle situations like this one,” Gin said.

Thousands of dead fish have been washing up on WA beaches

From: PerthNow March 09, 2011 7:17PM

EXPERTS say that record temperatures and low oxygen levels are to blame for dead fish being washed up on riverbanks and beaches across WA.

Dead fish, eels and crayfish have been found on shores – with the coastline of Green Head, some 290km north of Perth, covered in now-rotting carcasses.

Green Head resident Rod Wilson said: “It’s very heartbreaking. I’ve been here for 28 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. To us it’s a local ecological disaster.”

Reports state that in a cleanup operation at Green Head, 20km north of Jurien Bay, more than 15,000 dead fish were collected.

“Our biggest concern is how long is this going to take to right itself,” Mr Wilson added.

With fish carcasses washing up for more than a week, local residents are being urged to stay out of the water for fears of harmful bacteria.

Experts say WA’s coastal waters have seen the highest rise in temperature in the world with up to 4C rise than normally seen this summer.

Dr Brian Jones from the Department of Fisheries said: “Anybody who as sat in Perth for the last few months without air conditioning knows what heat does.

“Fish are the same. They are cold blooded so they feel the heat.”

It follows a similar case in the US where millions of dead anchovies were found floating in a Los Angeles marina.

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