New Zealand hit by freak snow storm

A freak snow storm has left hundreds of people stranded and unable to return to their homes in New Zealand’s central North Island.

A state of emergency was declared after heavy snow trapped around 700 people in their vehicles on two of the country’s major roads.

Read moreNew Zealand hit by freak snow storm

The great drought in East Africa; No rainfall for three years

Rotting carcasses testify to the scale of the disaster looming in East Africa.

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No rainfall for three years has left the Kenyan landscape strewn with animal carcasses

On the plains of Marsabit the heat is so intense the bush seems to shiver. The leafless scrub, bleached white by the sun, looks like a forest of fake Christmas trees. Carcasses of cattle and camels are strewn about the burnt red dirt in every direction. Siridwa Baseli walks out of the haze along a path of the dead and dying. He passes a skeletal cow that has given up and collapsed under a thorn tree. A nomad from the Rendille people, he is driving his herd in search of water.

He marks time in seasons but knows that it has not rained for three years: “Since it is not raining there is no pasture,” he says. Only 40 of his herd of sheep and goats that once numbered 200 have survived. Those that remain are dying at a rate of 10 every day.

Already a herder before Kenya’s independence he has never seen a drought like this.

“If I was young I would go to look for cash work. I am old. I may just die with my animals.”

Across East Africa an extraordinary drought is drying up rivers, and grasslands, scorching crops and threatening millions of people with starvation. In Kenya, the biggest and most robust economy in the region, the rivers that feed its great game reserves have run dry and since the country relies on hydropower, electricity is now rationed in the cities.

And yet, it is in the semi-desert on the southern fringe of the Sahel zone where the most dramatic changes are being felt. Droughts are nothing new here and the nomadic way of life where herders follow patchy rains across the seasons developed centuries ago as a response to precarious natural resources. The herds of cattle, sheep, goats and camels – which are venerated by the nomads – were built up in the good years to pad the margins of life when the rains failed. But this way of life is being overwhelmed, even the camels are dying of thirst.

Read moreThe great drought in East Africa; No rainfall for three years

Philippines ‘state of calamity’: Tens of thousands flee new typhoon

This is another picture after typhoon Ketsana hit:

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People wade in the chest deep floodwater Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 in suburban Cainta, east of Manila, Philippines

Source: Time


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Residents go on with their normal life amidst floodwaters in Taytay township, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines Friday Oct. 2, 2009. Tropical storm Ketsana brought the worst flooding in metropolitan Manila and neighboring provinces in more than 40 years that left more than 250 people dead and dozens more missing. The Philippines is bracing for the super typhoon Parma which is expected to hit the northern part of the country Saturday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — Tens of thousands of villagers fled the likely path of a powerful typhoon bearing down Friday on the Philippines, as the government braced for the possibility of a second disaster just days after a storm killed more than 400.

Heavy rain drenched mountainous coastal regions in the northeast as Typhoon Parma tracked ominously toward heavily populated areas still saturated from the worst flooding in 40 years.

Parma was forecast to hit the east coast Saturday, packing sustained winds of up to 120 mph (195 kph) and gusts up to 140 mph (230 kph). Officials fear it may develop into a “super-typhoon,” the government’s weather bureau said.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a nationwide “state of calamity” and ordered six provincial governments to evacuate residents from flood- and landslide-prone areas in the path of the storm.

The “state of calamity” extends the one applied to Manila and 25 provinces hit by the earlier storm. The declaration frees up funds to respond to emergencies.

Read morePhilippines ‘state of calamity’: Tens of thousands flee new typhoon

Typhoon kills at least 41 in Vietnam; Floods could reach the historic highs of 1964

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Typhoon Ketsana headed west toward Laos Wednesday after battering central Vietnam with powerful winds and heavy rain, leaving behind blue and sunny skies but dangerously rising flood waters. The official death toll was placed at 41, but officials said that number was expected to rise as more reports came in and as floodwaters threatened further destruction.

“The rain was heavy and the wind was like crazy,” said Nguyen Trong Tung, a photographer, describing the scene in a telephone call from Danang. “Right now the sun is beautiful, there are white clouds and the sky is blue and the streets are already clear.”

The clear weather is deceptive and the danger has not passed, said Andrew Wells-Dang, a representative of Catholic Relief Services, who called Ketsana “the most serious typhoon that’s hit here in four or five years.”

“The casualty figures will get worse over the next days as more reports come in and also as the river levels rise from rain up in the mountains that will cause more flooding,” he said in a telephone call from the capital, Hanoi. The floods could reach the historic highs of 1964, said Le Van Duong, a relief and disaster mitigation coordinator for World Vision, speaking by telephone from Danang.

Read moreTyphoon kills at least 41 in Vietnam; Floods could reach the historic highs of 1964

Tsunami Hits Samoa Islands, Dozens Die

Update:
Samoa Tsunami Kills 141 Before Quake Prompts Indian Ocean Watch (Bloomberg)


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The downtown of Fagatoga was flooded when a tsunami hit American Samoa early on Tuesday. (AP)

SYDNEY, Australia — A powerful tsunami generated by an undersea earthquake killed more than two dozen people and wiped out several villages in the tropical islands of American Samoa and Samoa early on Tuesday there, according to officials and local residents who were working to assess the damage.

The earthquake struck around dawn, as many residents were preparing for work and getting their children ready for school. Officials said they expected heavy damage in the southern parts of Samoa and American Samoa, a United States territory with about 60,000 residents.

Damaged telephone lines on both islands hampered efforts to count the casualties and assess the destruction from the earthquake, with a magnitude of 8.0. It struck below the ocean about 120 miles southwest of American Samoa and 125 miles south of Samoa, and it was centered only 11 miles below the seabed, according to the United States Geological Survey.

At least 14 people were killed in American Samoa, the territory’s governor, Togiola T. A. Tulafono, said at a news conference in Hawaii. The toll could rise as emergency workers gain access to damaged areas, he and other officials said.

Read moreTsunami Hits Samoa Islands, Dozens Die

Philippines: At least 140 die in tropical storm, toll expected to rise

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A military truck loaded with evacuees braves the flooded street after the water subsides allowing big trucks to enter the area Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 in suburban Cainta, east of Manila, Philippines. Weary victims of a tropical storm that unleashed worst flooding in more than a decades begun cleaning up their damaged homes as rescue workers plucked more dead bodies from muddy floodwaters. (AP Photo/ Pat Roque)

MANILA, Philippines — Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers Monday as residents started to dig out their homes from under carpets of mud after flooding left 140 people dead in the Philippine capital and surrounding towns.

Overwhelmed officials called for international help, warning they may not have sufficient resources to withstand another storm that forecasters said was brewing east of the island nation and could hit as early as Friday.

Authorities expected the death toll from Tropical Storm Ketsana, which scythed across the northern Philippines on Saturday, to rise as rescuers penetrate villages blocked off by floating cars and other debris. The storm dumped more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, fueling the worst flooding to hit the country in more than 40 years. At least 140 people died, and 32 are missing.

Read morePhilippines: At least 140 die in tropical storm, toll expected to rise

Study: Dangerous Mercury Contamination of Human Body Increasing

(NaturalNews) It’s no secret mercury is a dangerous toxin that accumulates in the human body and can produce disastrous health problems involving multiple organ systems. It’s known to be a risk to unborn babies, too. Unfortunately, as NaturalNews has reported, mercury contamination of our environment and food sources is rampant. For example, scientists have found that fish(http://www.naturalnews.com/025935_m…) and high fructose corn syrup (http://www.naturalnews.com/026528_m…) are often loaded with the dangerous heavy metal. Now comes this worrisome news: deposits of mercury in the bodies of Americans are increasing at an alarming rate and the health repercussions could be staggering.

Mercury especially targets the liver, the immune system and the pituitary gland. Numerous studies have associated chronic mercury exposure with elevated risks for autism, mental impairment and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research by U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) researchers estimated that chronic mercury exposure caused between 300,000 and 600,000 American children to be born with elevated risks of neurodevelopmental disorders between 1999 and 2000.

A new University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) study of government data on more than 6,000 women in the US found not only that mercury loads in bodies are increasing but it also identified significant associations between chronic mercury exposure and immune and endocrine system functions. The research specifically revealed that levels of the pituitary hormone, lutropin (also called luteinizing hormone) are significantly associated with chronic mercury exposure. This could explain a mechanism for how mercury causes or contributes to degenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases.

“My study found compelling evidence that inorganic mercury deposition within the human body is a cumulative process, increasing with age and overall in the population over time,” study author Dan R. Laks, a neuroscience researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a statement to the media.”My findings also suggest a rise in risks for disease associated with mercury over time.”

Read moreStudy: Dangerous Mercury Contamination of Human Body Increasing

US Pharmaceutical Factories Dumping Huge Quantities of Drugs Into Public Sewers, Rivers and Waterways

(NaturalNews) In spite of claims by pharmaceutical companies that they do not discharge their products into the water supply, federal researchers have discovered that waters downstream of pharmaceutical plants are more heavily contaminated with drug residue than waters elsewhere in the country.

In one study, conducted by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), researchers tested the water entering two water treatment plants down the sewer line of several pharmaceutical factories, as well as at other plants not receiving sewage from drug plants. Researchers discovered drugs at “much higher detection frequencies and concentrations” at the plants receiving effluent from pharmaceutical factories. Drugs detected included opiates, a barbiturate and a tranquilizer.

In a second study, researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency tested the water entering a wastewater treatment plant in the city of Kalamazoo, Mich., down the sewage line from a Pfizer drug factory. They found that the water entering the plant was exceptionally high in levels of the antibiotic lincomycin, which the factory was producing at that time.

“There’s some product going down the drain,” said Bruce Merchant, the city’s public services director.

Prior studies have shown that lincomycin can cause genetic mutations, and that it encourages the growth of cancer cells when combined with minute concentrations of a number of other drugs that are common in surface water.

Read moreUS Pharmaceutical Factories Dumping Huge Quantities of Drugs Into Public Sewers, Rivers and Waterways

Global Warming Expert Prof. Latif: Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

Scientists pull an about face on global warming

Imagine if Pope Benedict gave a speech saying the Catholic Church has had it wrong all these centuries; there is no reason priests shouldn’t marry. That might generate the odd headline, no?

Or if Don Cherry claimed suddenly to like European hockey players who wear visors and float around the ice, never bodychecking opponents.

Or Jack Layton insisted that unions are ruining the economy by distorting wages and protecting unproductive workers.

Or Stephen Harper began arguing that it makes good economic sense for Ottawa to own a car company. (Oh, wait, that one happened.) But at least, the Tories-buy-GM aberration made all the papers and newscasts.

When a leading proponent for one point of view suddenly starts batting for the other side, it’s usually newsworthy.

So why was a speech last week by Prof. Mojib Latif of Germany’s Leibniz Institute not given more prominence?

Latif is one of the leading climate modellers in the world. He is the recipient of several international climate-study prizes and a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has contributed significantly to the IPCC’s last two five-year reports that have stated unequivocally that man-made greenhouse emissions are causing the planet to warm dangerously.

Yet last week in Geneva, at the UN’s World Climate Conference–an annual gathering of the so-called “scientific consensus” on man-made climate change –Latif conceded the Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

The global warming theory has been based all along on the idea that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would absorb much of the greenhouse warming caused by a rise in man-made carbon dioxide, then they would let off that heat and warm the atmosphere and the land.

But as Latif pointed out, the Atlantic, and particularly the North Atlantic, has been cooling instead. And it looks set to continue a cooling phase for 10 to 20 more years.

“How much?” he wondered before the assembled delegates. “The jury is still out.”

Read moreGlobal Warming Expert Prof. Latif: Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

China’s ‘cancer villages’ bear witness to economic boom

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A lake near Da Bao Shan in the northern part of China’s Guangdong province turns reddish brown after the water was contaminated for years August 27, 2009. It is highly unusual for people to contract cancer at tender ages, but not in the villages around Da Bao Shan, one of China’s largest mine that produces lead, zine, cadmium and other heavy metals. (REUTERS)

HONG KONG (Reuters) – One needs to look no further then the river that runs through Shangba to understand the extent of the heavy metals pollution that experts say has turned the hamlets in this region of southern China into cancer villages.

The river’s flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance.

“All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you’ll get rashes and a terrible itch,” said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life.

“Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s.”

Read moreChina’s ‘cancer villages’ bear witness to economic boom