Florida Freeze Destroys Estimated 70% of Southwest Vegetable Crop

See also: Deep freeze kills millions of fish in Florida


Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — At least 70 percent of southwest Florida’s winter crop of vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, were destroyed by freezing weather, said Gene McAvoy, the director of the Hendry County extension office for the University of Florida.

Losses will be more than $100 million, McAvoy said today in a telephone interview. Tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers are the major crops in the estimate, he said. In the U.S. winter, Florida provides about 70 percent of the tomatoes sold in the nation, McAvoy said from LaBelle, Florida.

Read moreFlorida Freeze Destroys Estimated 70% of Southwest Vegetable Crop

Haiti Hit by Strong 6.1 Magnitude Quake, Shaking Buildings

haiti-earhquake
French rescuers work on a victim in a collapsed building, one week after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 19, 2010. Photographer: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) — An earthquake measuring 6.1 struck Haiti today, eight days after the devastating temblor that may have killed more than 200,000 people, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake was centered 59 kilometers (36 miles) to the west-southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince at a depth of 9 kilometers, the USGS said in a preliminary e-mailed report. It struck at 6:03 a.m. local time, the USGS said.

Rescue workers with the New York police and fire departments reported “violent shaking” from the tremor yet were able to continue working, according to an e-mailed statement from the police department. The 76-member team, which includes four police dogs, pulled two children alive from the rubble of a brick building last night.

Buildings shook in Port-au-Prince and people fled to the streets, the Associated Press reported. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the earthquake was located too far inland to generate any tidal waves in the Caribbean, AP said.

“We felt the quake but it wasn’t too bad,” said Tamar Hahn, an aid worker with the United Nations Children’s Fund, in an interview on Argentina’s C5N television. “They say it was a 6.1 but it didn’t feel so strong.”

Read moreHaiti Hit by Strong 6.1 Magnitude Quake, Shaking Buildings

Yellowstone National Park hit by swarm of earthquakes

yellowstone-old-faithful-from-observation-point
Old Faithful from Observation Point

Yellowstone National Park has been rattled by more than 250 earthquakes in the past two days following a period of 11 months of quiet seismic activity in the park.

The quakes have been gaining strength, with a 3.1 tremor recorded at 11:03 a.m. today. A 2.9 quake was recorded at 12:38 p.m.

Prof. Robert B. Smith, a geophysicist at the University of Utah and one of the leading experts on earthquake and volcanic activity at Yellowstone, said that the activity is a “notable swarm.”

“The swarm is located about 10 miles northwest of Old Faithful, Wyo., and nine miles southeast of West Yellowstone, Montana,” said Smith.

Read moreYellowstone National Park hit by swarm of earthquakes

Deep freeze kills millions of fish in Florida

See also: Florida Freeze Destroys Estimated 70% of Southwest Vegetable Crop


A deep freeze in the shallow waters of Florida Bay and Everglades took a heavy toll on snook and other native fish.

Everywhere he steered his skiff last week, Pete Frezza saw dead fish.

From Ponce de Leon Bay on the Southwest Coast down across Florida Bay to Lower Matecumbe in the Florida Keys — day after day, dead fish. Floating in the marina at Flamingo in Everglades National Park alone he counted more than 400 snook and 400 tarpon.

“I was so shook up, I couldn’t sleep,” said Frezza, an ecologist for Audubon of Florida and an expert flats fisherman. “Millions and millions of pilchards, threadfin herring, mullet. Ladyfish took it really bad. Whitewater Bay is just a graveyard.”

Fish in every part of the state were hammered by this month’s record-setting cold snap. The toll in South Florida, a haven for warm-water species, was particularly extensive, too large to even venture a guess at numbers. And despite the subsequent warm-up, scientists warn that the big bad chill of 2010 will continue to claim victims for weeks.

“Based on what I saw in 1977 and 1989, there is a good chance we’ll have a second wave,” said William Loftus, a longtime aquatic ecologist for Everglades National Park.

During those last two major cold fronts, weakened survivors succumbed to infections from common bacteria, such as aeromonas, that they would normally ward off, he said.

“It’s a nasty-looking thing,” he said. “It’s a tissue eater. It creates open ulcers on the side of the fish.”

In response, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Friday ordered an emergency statewide closure of the snook fishery until at least September, and imposed temporary closures for bonefish and tarpon until April. Catch-and-release is still allowed for all three species.

Veteran Everglades fishing guide Benny Blanco believes the die-off was so severe — particularly for snook, a prized game and eating fish particularly sensitive to cold — that he would support taking them off the dinner table for years.

“I haven’t see a swimming snook in 10 days,” Blanco said Monday, after returning from a charter trip to the Glades. “All I have seen is floating snook.”

Read moreDeep freeze kills millions of fish in Florida

Haiti Earthquake: Law And Order Breaks Down; Who’s Running Haiti? No One, Say The People

Who’s running Haiti? No one, say the people (Reuters):

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Desperate Haitians turned rubble-strewn streets and parks into makeshift hospitals and refugee camps on Thursday in the absence of any noticeable response from authorities in Haiti after Tuesday’s earthquake.

With the 7.0 magnitude earthquake collapsing the presidential palace, a string of ministries and the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country, Haiti faces a dangerous vacuum in security and government.

The Caribbean nation of 9 million people, the poorest in the western hemisphere, has a turbulent history of conflict, social turmoil, dictatorship, fragile institutions and devastating natural catastrophes.

Many in the capital Port-au-Prince picked away at shattered buildings with bare hands, sticks and hammers hoping to find loved-ones alive. Thousands of homeless people began to set up their own camps anywhere they could, the biggest right opposite the collapsed presidential palace.

“Look at us. Who is helping us? Right now, nobody,” said Jean Malesta, a 19-year-old student who was the only survivor when her apartment building collapsed from the powerful quake that has killed thousands, possibly tens of thousands.

She and a dozen others lay under a tent they had set up in the park opposite President Rene Preval’s palace. His weak and under-resourced government appears totally unequipped to handle the crisis, its officials in disarray and nowhere to be seen.

‘WE ARE ON OUR OWN’

“So far, they have brought us nothing. We need water, food, shelter, everything, but we are on our own,” Malesta added, to cries of agreement from women sitting and lying around her.


Law and order began to break down in Haiti yesterday as “constant” gunshots were heard across the capital and shops were looted.

haiti-earthquake-law-and-order-breaks-down-01
A resident loots food from the Caribbean supermarket in downtown Port-au-Prince after a major earthquake hit Haitian capital. REUTERS

haiti-earthquake-law-and-order-breaks-down-02
Aid groups in Port-au-Prince said the relief effort could be hampered by the deteriorating security situation as criminals and desperate locals fought for the scarce resources. AFP

More than 3,500 US troops are due to arrive in the country by the end of the week to bolster around 3,000 police and international peacekeepers who were said to have been deployed to secure the airport, port and main buildings.

But charity workers said they had seen little evidence of the security measures and warned of widespread looting and fights breaking out over dwindling water supplies.

Inmates escaped from the damaged main prison in Port au Prince on Tuesday when it collapsed in the earthquake.

Thieves were blamed for starting at least one mass panic in the city’s central square during the night, spreading rumours that a tidal wave was coming so they could steal the belongings left behind by hundreds of fleeing people.

Thieves also descended on a half-collapsed supermarket in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, carrying out electronics and bags of rice. Others siphoned gasoline from a wrecked tanker.

“All the policemen are busy rescuing and burying their own families,” said tile factory owner Manuel Deheusch. “They don’t have the time to patrol the streets.”

With law enforcement stretched thin even before the earthquake and the UN’s 9,000 peacekeepers distracted by the collapse of their headquarters and the loss of up to 100 staff, the country is ill-equipped to deal with major unrest.

Read moreHaiti Earthquake: Law And Order Breaks Down; Who’s Running Haiti? No One, Say The People

Haiti President René Préval: Earthquake Devastation ‘Unimaginable’

• Tens of thousands lose homes in 7.0 magnitude quake

• UN headquarters, schools and hospitals collapse


Footage of the earthquake’s aftermath. Contains disturbing images Link to this video

René Préval, the president of Haiti, has described the devastation after last night’s earthquake as “unimaginable” as governments and aid agencies around the world rushed into action.

Préval described how he had been forced to step over dead bodies and heard the cries of those trapped under the rubble of the national parliament. “Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,” he told the Miami Herald. “There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.” Préval said he thought thousands of people had died in the quake.

A 7.0 magnitude quake – the biggest recorded in this part of the Caribbean and the largest to hit Haiti in more than 200 years – rocked Port-au-Prince, destroying a hospital and sending houses tumbling into ravines.

Read moreHaiti President René Préval: Earthquake Devastation ‘Unimaginable’

Winter Chaos Around The World

winter-chaos-shangdu-inner-mongolia
A train stranded in Shangdu, Inner Mongolia

World:

Now that really IS the wrong type of snow on the line! Winter brings travel chaos around the world (Daily Mail)

US:

Midwest bracing for heavy snow, wind chills of -50; South freezes too (AP)

Colorado Becomes Country’s Cold Spot (ABC News)

South struggles with record-setting freeze (USA Today)

Europe:

Airport chaos as icy weather grips northern Europe (BBC News)

Temperatures across Europe plunge to near record lows (CNN)

Europe shivers as Britain braces for brutal winter (AFP)

With the UK being hit hard:

Weather-related death toll rises to 22 as Britain braces for coldest night yet (Times):

The death toll from Britain’s biggest freeze for decades reached 22 today as the country prepared for its coldest night so far, bringing the promise of even more treacherous conditions.

UK gas supply dwindles as country experiences sub-zero weather (Electric):

The UK faces the possibility of gas supply crisis as the worst cold season in 30 years hit the country.

UK’s only got enough gas to last eight days, say Tories (Daily Mail)

U.K. Gas Market No Laughing Matter (Wall Street Journal)

UK’s only got enough gas to last eight days, say Tories (Daily Mail)

Some parts of the country have just ONE day’s supply of grit left (Daily Mail)

Panic buying at supermarkets as Britain braces itself for the big freeze (Daily Mail)

As a sidenote: Met Office chief receives 25 pc pay rise (Telegraph):

The head of the Met Office, the national weather service which has been heavily criticised for getting its forecasts wrong, is now paid more than the Prime Minister, after receiving a 25 per cent pay rise.

China:

China freeze to continue as power use, food prices rise (AFP)

Chinese cities not ready for harsh winter (Xinhua)

China tells factories to cut power use amid cold (BusinessWeek)

Central China power supply in jeopardy on coal,weather (Reuters)

Cold wave in India:

Cold waves in northern India claim 195 lives (Indian Express)



Army rescues 1,000 drivers stranded in cars for 12 HOURS as UK is paralysed by heavy snow

winter-chaos
Going nowhere: The A3 in Horndean, Hampshire was closed this morning after 1,000 motorists were stuck in their cars overnight and hundreds of vehicles were abandoned

Up to 1,000 stranded motorists had to be rescued by the Army today after some of the heaviest snowfalls in 20 years left drivers trapped in their cars overnight.
Among those stranded without food and water on the A3 in Hampshire was a heavily-pregnant woman and her baby daughter.

Millions of people across Britain were unable to get to work this morning as snowstorms caused massive disruptions on the roads and railways.

Thousands of schools remain closed, while major airports have been forced to ground flights as snow ploughs try desperately to clear runways of snow and ice.

More than 16 inches (40cm) of snow has fallen in the hills of north east England and the Scottish borders, while 12 inches (30.5cm) was recorded in Berkshire. Parts of the Northern Highlands recorded 18.5 inches (47cm).

The Met Office said southern England could see another six inches (15cm) this afternoon, with the ‘treacherous’ weather lasting for up to ten more days.

The Army, drafted in to save 1,000 drivers stranded on the A3, used military trucks and Land Rovers to rescue those trapped in a ten-mile jam on the trunk road at Waterlooville.

But some of the trapped motorists claimed they received no help at all and that ‘no one knew what was going on’.

Carla Holt said she and her 13-month-old daughter Lily-May were stuck for 12 hours in the freezing conditions. She said she received no support from the police overnight and was only able to leave the road when it was partially cleared at 6.30am today.

The 23-year-old said: ‘We went through hell. I am eight months pregnant, I couldn’t go to the toilet all night, I couldn’t warm the bottle up for my baby daughter. It was very frightening.

Read moreWinter Chaos Around The World

US: 17,000 potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under obscure law

All is well. You can fully trust corporations that have only one interest: Profit!


dow-chemical-plant-midland-michigan
Dow Chemical plant, Midland, Michigan

Of some 84,000 chemicals being used commercially in the United States, some 20 percent — or 17,000 — are kept secret not only from the public, but from medical professionals, state regulators and even emergency responders, according to a report at the Washington Post.

And the reason for this potentially harmful lack of openness? Profit.

A 1976 law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, mandates that manufacturers report to the Environmental Protection Agency any new chemicals they intend to market, but manufacturers can request that a chemical be kept secret if disclosure “could harm their bottom line,” the Washington Post reports.

Because they are secret, it’s impossible to tell how many of the 17,000 chemicals are potentially harmful to people. But the Post notes that, in March of last year, more than half of the “substantial risk” reports filed with the EPA involved secret chemicals.

And chemical makers may be abusing their privilege under the law. According to the EPA, in recent years 95 percent of manufacturers’ reports of new chemicals have made some request for secrecy. Ten of the secret chemicals are used in children’s products.

Read moreUS: 17,000 potentially harmful chemicals kept secret under obscure law

Climategate: Michael Mann’s Very Unhappy ‘Whistleblower’ New Year

michael-mann
Michael Mann

As I said yesterday, one of our jobs this year is to wipe the complacent smiles off the smug faces of the lobbyists, “experts”, “scientists”, politicians and activists pushing AGW.

This is why I am so glad to report that Michael Mann – creator of the incredible Hockey Stick curve and one of the scientists most heavily implicated in the Climategate scandal – is about to get a very nasty shock. When he turns up to work on Monday, he’ll find that all 27 of his colleagues at the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University have received a rather tempting email inviting them to blow the whistle on anyone they know who may have been fraudulently misusing federal grant funds for climate research.

Under US law, regardless of whether or not a prosecution results, the whistleblower stands to make very large sums of money: it is based on a percentage of the total government funds which have been misused, in this case perhaps as much as $50 million. (Hat tip: John O’Sullivan of the wonderful new campaigning site www.climategate.com)

Here’s that email in full:

Hi,

Greetings and best wishes for a prosperous New Year.

National Search
After the recent whistleblower revelations of emails between climate researchers and data from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, there are on-going investigations into potential fraudulent use of grant funds in Climate Research in the US.  I am assisting interested parties who may have details of fraud in climate research to make contact with the proper authorities, and to share in the rewards paid when the funds are recovered.

Whistleblower Rewards Program
The federal government has established vigorous programs to identify and prosecute fraudulent grant applications and administration.  The US Department of Justice (DOJ) administers the False Claims Act.  It allows rewards for those who come forward with details of grant fraud to share in the recovery of federal funds.  This reward can be as much as 30% of the total amount reclaimed.  The program is almost completely reliant on insiders to report their knowledge of the fraud in their institutions.

Read moreClimategate: Michael Mann’s Very Unhappy ‘Whistleblower’ New Year

Beijing and Seoul Hit by Heaviest Snow in More Than Half Century

forbidden-city-in-beijing-on-jan-4-2010
A worker de-ices a walkway at the Forbidden City in Beijing on Jan. 4, 2010. (Bloomberg)

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — The heaviest snowfall to hit Beijing and Seoul in more than half a century grounded hundreds of planes in the two capitals as temperatures in northern China were set to fall to the lowest in 50 years.

Beijing Capital International Airport canceled more than 500 flights today as of 2 p.m. local time, China Central Television reported. Gimpo Airport in western Seoul grounded 187 flights as of 2 p.m. local time, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said in a statement.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called on local authorities to ensure food supplies, agricultural production and the safety of transportation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. South Korea mobilized 5,000 soldiers to remove snow from blocked roads, Yonhap News reported today.

Suburban areas of Beijing received more than 33 centimeters (13 inches) of snow yesterday, the Beijing Daily reported. It was the capital’s heaviest daily snowfall since 1951, Xinhua reported.

Among those affected by the weather were Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang and Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan. Their flight to Beijing last night was delayed by heavy snow and the visit was canceled this morning, Patrick Wong, Tsang’s press officer, said by telephone.

About 90 percent of Beijing’s more than 1,300 flights yesterday were canceled or delayed, according to state broadcaster CCTV. At least three airports in China’s Shandong province were closed today due to the blizzards, it reported.

Schools Closed

Read moreBeijing and Seoul Hit by Heaviest Snow in More Than Half Century