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Tag Archive: environmental pollution


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Global Research

Poisoned Agriculture: Depopulation and Human Extinction

Agricultural-Engineer-On-Field-Examining-Ripe-Ears-Of-Grain-GMO-Test-Crop

There is a global depopulation agenda. The plan is to remove the ‘undesirables’, ‘the poor’ and others deemed to be ‘unworthy’ and a drain on finite resources. However, according to Rosemary Mason, the plan isn’t going to work because an anthropogenic mass extinction is already underway that will affect all life on the planet and both rich and poor alike. Humans will struggle to survive the phenomenon.

A new paper by Rosemary A Mason in the ‘Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry’, indicates that a ‘sixth extinction’ is under way (the Holocene extinction, sometimes called the Sixth Extinction, is a name describing the ongoing extinction of species during the present Holocene epoch – since around 10,000 BCE). In her paper, ‘The sixth mass extinction and chemicals in the environment: our environmental deficit is now beyond nature’s ability to regenerate’, she argues that loss of biodiversity is the most urgent of the environmental problems, as biodiversity is critical to ecosystem services and human health. And the main culprit is the modern chemical-intensive industrialised system of food and agriculture.

Mason asserts there is a growing threat from the release of hormone-disrupting chemicals that could even be shifting the human sex ratio and reducing sperm counts. An industrial agricultural revolution has created a technology-dependent global food system, but it has also created serious long-run vulnerabilities, especially in its dependence on stable climates, crop monocultures and industrially produced chemical inputs. In effect, farming is a principal source of global toxification and soil degradation.

Without significant pressure from the public demanding action, Mason argues there could little chance of changing course fast enough to forestall disaster. The ‘free’ market is driving the impending disaster and blind faith in corporate-backed technology will not save us. Indeed, such faith in this technology is actually killing us.

Since the late 1990s, US scientists have written in increasingly desperate tones regarding an unprecedented number of fungal and fungal-like diseases, which have recently caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species and which are jeopardizing food security. Only one paper dared to mention pesticides as being a primary cause, however.

Mason cites a good deal of evidence to show how the widespread use on agricultural crops of the systemic neonicotinoid insecticides and the herbicide glyphosate, both of which cause immune suppression, make species vulnerable to emerging infectious pathogens, driving large-scale wildlife extinctions, including essential pollinators.

Providing evidence to show how human disease patterns correlate remarkably well with the rate of glyphosate usage on corn, soy and wheat crops, which has increased due to ‘Roundup Ready’ crops, Mason goes on to present more sources to show how our over-reliance on chemicals in agriculture is causing irreparable harm to all beings on this planet. Most of these chemicals are known to cause illness, and they have likely been causing illnesses for many years. But until recently, the herbicides have never been sprayed directly on food crops and never in this massive quantity.

The depopulation agenda

Mason discusses how agriculture and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) fit into a wider agenda for depopulating the planet. She notes that on the initiative of Gates, in May 2009 some of the richest people in the US met at the home of Nurse, a British Nobel prize-winning biochemist and President (2003–10) of Rockefeller University in Manhattan, to discuss ways of tackling a ‘disastrous’ environmental, social and industrial threat of overpopulation. The meeting was hosted by David Rockefeller Jr. These same individuals have met several times since to develop a strategy in which population growth would be tackled.

The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) was involved in extensive financing of eugenics research  in league with some of the US’s most respected scientists from such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. The explicit aim of the eugenics lobby funded by wealthy élite families, such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harriman and others since the 1920s, has embodied what they termed ‘negative eugenics’, the systematic killing off of ‘undesired bloodlines’.

RF funded the earliest research on GMOs, which Mason regards as part of the depopulation agenda. The RF funded the earliest research on GMOs in the 1940s and effectively founded the science of molecular biology.

Mason cites Steven Druker to show the fraud behind GMOs and how governments and leading scientific institutions have systematically misrepresented the facts about GMOs and the scientific research that casts doubt on their safety. Druker has shown that GMOs can have severe health impacts, which have been covered up.

The Royal Society is the preeminent scientific body within the UK that advises the government. It has misrepresented the facts about GMOs and has engaged in various highly dubious and deceptive tactics to promote the technology.

Druker wrote an open letter to RS as it has an obligation to the British public to provide a public response and ‘put the record straight’ on GMOs. Although Sir Paul Nurse’s presidency of Rockefeller University terminated in 2010, after he assumed the Royal Society presidency, Mason notes that Nurse is said to have maintained a laboratory on the Rockefeller campus and has an ongoing relationship with the university.

She asks: is that why Sir Paul was unable (or unwilling) even to discuss GMOs with Steven Druker? Was he sent to London by the Rockefeller Foundation to support the UK Government in their attempt to bring in GM crops? The UK Government and the GM industry have after all been shown to be working together to promote GM crops and foods, undermine consumer choice and ignore environmental harm.

Mason then goes on to discuss the impact of glyphosate residues (herbicide-tolerant GM crops are designed to work with glyphosate), which are found in the organs of animals, human urine and human breast milk as well as in the air and rivers. She documents its widespread use and contamination of soil and water and notes that the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer’s assessment of glyphosate being a 2A carcinogen (probably carcinogenic in humans) is unwelcome news for the agrochemical industry. She also notes that Roundup usage has led to a depletion of biodiversity and that loss of biodiversity is also correlated with neonicotinoids. However, despite the evidence, the blatant disregard concerning the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

To provide some insight into the impact on health of the chemical-intensive model of agriculture, Mason shows that in the US increases in Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, breast cancer, oesophageal cancer, congenital anomalies and a growing burden of disability, particularly from mental disorders are all acknowledged.

She claims that plans are under way to depopulate the planet’s seven million plus people to a more manageable level of between 500–2000 million by a combination of means, including the poisoning and contamination of the planet’s food and water supplies via chemical-intensive industrialised agriculture. Mason also notes that health-damaging GMOs are being made available to the masses (under the guise of ‘feeding the poor’), while elites are more prone to eat organic food.

We may be gone before planned depopulation takes hold

Although Mason cites evidence to show that a section of the US elite has a depopulation agenda, given the amount of poisons being pumped into the environment and into humans, the thrust of her argument is that we could all be extinct before this comes to fruition – both rich and poor alike.

In concluding, she states that the global pesticides industry has been allowed to dominate the regulatory agencies and have created chemicals of mass destruction that can no longer be controlled. She has some faith in systems biology coming to the fore and being able to understand the complexity of the whole organism as a system, rather than just studying its parts in a reductionist manner. But Mason believes that ultimately the public must place pressure on governments and hold agribusiness to account.

However, that in itself may not be enough.

It is correct to highlight the poisonous impacts of the Rockefeller-sponsored petrochemical ‘green revolution’. It has uprooted indigenous/traditional agriculture and local economies and has recast them in a model that suits global agribusiness. It is poisoning life and the environment, threatening food security across the globe and is unsustainable. The ‘green revolution’ was ultimately a tool of US foreign policy that has been used in conjunction with various institutions like the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation. GMOs represent more of the same.

In this respect, Mason follows the line of argument in William F Engdahl’s book ‘Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation’, which locates the GM issue and the ‘green revolution’ firmly within the context of empire. Engdahl also sees the Rockefeller-Gates hand behind the great GMO project to a sinister eugenicist strategy of depopulation.

Mason’s concerns about depopulation therefore should not be dismissed, particularly given the record of the likes of the Gates and Rockefeller clans, the various covert sterility programmes that have been instituted by the US over the decades and the way agriculture has and continues to be used as a geopolitical tool to further the agendas of rich interests in the US.

To understand the processes that have led to modern farming and the role of entities like Monsanto, we must appreciate the geopolitics of food and agriculture, which benefits an increasingly integrated global cartel of finance, oil, military and agribusiness concerns. This cartel seeks to gain from war, debt bondage and the control of resources, regardless of any notions relating to food security, good health and nutrition, biodiversity, food democracy, etc.

Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma notes the impacts in India:

“India is on fast track to bring agriculture under corporate control… Amending the existing laws on land acquisition, water resources, seed, fertilizer, pesticides and food processing, the government is in overdrive to usher in contract farming and encourage organized retail. This is exactly as per the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as the international financial institutes.”

In Punjab, India, pesticides have turned the state into a ‘cancer epicentre‘. Moreover, Indian soils are being depleted as a result of the application of ‘green revolution’ ideology and chemical inputs. India is losing 5,334 million tonnes of soil every year due to soil erosion because of the indiscreet and excessive use of fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research reports that soil is become deficient in nutrients and fertility.

And now, there is an attempt to push GM food crops into India in a secretive, non-transparent manner that smacks of regulatory delinquency underpinned by corrupt practices, which suggests officials are working hand in glove with US agribusiness.

As smallholders the world over are being driven from their land and the GMO/chemical-industrial farming model takes over, the problems continue to mount.

The environment, the quality of our food and our health are being sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit and a type of looting based on something we can loosely regard as ‘capitalism’. The solution involves a shift to organic farming and investment in and reaffirmation of indigenous models of agriculture. But ultimately it entails what Daniel Maingi of Growth Partners for Africa says what we must do: “… take capitalism and business out of farming.”

It must also entail, according to Maingi, investing in  “… indigenous knowledge and agroecology, education and infrastructure and stand(ing) in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement.”

In other words, both farmers and consumers must organise to challenge governments, corrupt regulatory bodies and big agribusiness at every available opportunity. If we don’t do this, what Mason outlines may come to pass.

 

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First Ever Map of Floating Plastic Aims to Save Baby Sea Turtles


jemasmith/CC BY 2.0

A PhD student at The University of Western Australia is working on an ambitious project. Julia Reisser, who has studied sea turtles for the last nine years, wants to create the first map that shows distribution of floating marine plastics in Australian waters. That map will be overlapped with information about pathways of sea turtle hatchlings, and hopefully will shed light on where the most dangerous areas for growing sea turtles may exist.

“The early life of sea turtles occurs at the ocean’s surface, where there’s an increasing amount of floating plastics that are proving fatal to hatchlings,” PhD student Julia Reisser says in an article from University of Western Australia. “My work is identifying the places contributing most to the increase in plastics in Australia’s oceans and how this links to sea turtle life cycles.”

The problem of plastic pollution in our oceans cannot be understated. Many marine species mistake the plastic for food, which can be lethal. As you can see, a bit of floating plastic could look a lot like these jellyfish a Green sea turtle is munching on:


© Jaymi Heimbuch

Mistaking plastics for food has devastating consequences, causing internal damage or starvation:

The idea of creating a map of floating plastic is exciting, but also extremely challenging. One of the biggest issues behind marine plastic pollution is that it is extremely hard to quantify and understand because the ocean is so vast and forever moving, carrying plastics with it. Luckily, though, researchers like Reisser are not giving up, and her research could mean a lot of saving sea turtles. Six of the seven sea turtle species on earth are listed as threatened or endangered, so the more we can do to help hatchlings reach adulthood, the better.

Four years ago, undercover video recorded workers on forklifts forcing “downer” cows into slaughter at the Hallmark and Westland meat plant in Chino, CA, which at the time was a top supplier to the USDA
The sting, by the Humane Society of the United States, put Hallmark and Westland out of business. When USDA saw the undercover video, it demanded the largest beef recall in U.S. history and it immediately cut off Hallmark and Westland from the lucrative school lunch business.
The damaged meat going to the National School Lunch program was also the subject of a $150 million lawsuit against Hallmark and Westland.
Other animal rights organizations have pulled off their own stings since the big one at Chino.   These undercover investigations usually involve sending someone in to get a job with the company being targeted.
Until now, whenever one of these undercover videos was released, it usually meant whoever owned the animal facility where abuses were filmed was in big trouble.
But not any more in Iowa. Within a few hours on Wednesday, the Iowa Senate took up an “ag-gag” bill, made some amendments, and passed it on a 40-10 vote. The House then immediately took up the Senate changes and approved them without debate on a 69-28 vote.
The bill, House File 589, now on Iowa House File 589‘s desk, is all but certain to be signed into law, and it will be the first “ag-gag” law in America, says Nathan Runkle, executive director of Chicago-based Mercy for Animals (MFA), an animal rights group that has been active in Iowa.
The new law, if it passes constitutional muster, could turn the tables on animal rights groups doing these undercover investigations. It gives Iowa’s county sheriffs a long list of possible violations to charge once it is disclosed that any filming or recording was done without the permission of the animal facility owner.
If the Iowa law had been in effect in California in 2008, Hallmark and Westland would have been able to go to court claiming status as victims of “animal facility tampering” for an “amount equaling three times all the actual and consequential damages” against “the person causing the damages.”
“This flawed and misdirected legislation could set a dangerous precedent nationwide by throwing shut the doors to industrial factory farms and allowing animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination issues to flourish undetected, unchallenged and unaddressed,” says Runkle.  “This bill is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in production of their food.”
Some of the more likely unconstitutional language was removed from the bill, but Runkle told Food Safety News the intent of the legislation remains exactly the same – “to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and prosecute investigators who dare to expose animal cruelty, environmental violations, dangerous working conditions or food safety concerns.”
Animal rights organizations like HSUS and MFA – working with investigators to expose violations – could themselves be prosecuted under the new Iowa law.  And, the law does not just apply to animal facilities but also any “crop operation.”
Recent investigations by MFA in Iowa are certainly among those getting the attention of lawmakers. In 2011, the Chicago animal rights group turned its cameras on a large Iowa egg farm owned by Sparboe, and an Iowa Select Farms pig operation.
It found over-crowding in battery cages, some containing dead hens, on the egg farm, and at the pig operation sows being penned in confinement cages and testicles being removed from piglets without painkillers.
 And in 2009, MFA exposed the Iowa-based Hy-Line Hatchery’s practice of throwing more than 150,000 live male chicks into grinding machines every day.
Runkle says passage of the  “ag-gag” law proves Iowa agriculture “has a lot to hide.”
“This law is un-American and a broad government overreach. It seeks to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny and prosecute the brave whistleblowers who dare to speak out against animal cruelty, environmental pollution and corporate corruption.”
The new law shields animal abusers from public scrutiny, makes criminals out of those who dare to expose cruelty to farm animals and threatens the consumers’ right to know, according to the MFA.
Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of HSUS, has written Gov. Branstad, urging the Republican governor to veto HF 589.
 “The intent of this bill is simple: shield animal agribusiness from public scrutiny by punishing whistleblowers and protecting animal abusers,” wrote Pacelle. “By signing this bill into law, animal agribusiness will have unbridled and unchecked power over worker safety, public health and animal welfare.”
Pacelle said the Iowa Senate and House rushed the bill through at a speed rarely found in the legislative process. Normally, he said, deliberations of such consequence take weeks, or at least several days.
Iowa’s sudden passage of an “ag-gag” law has brought together opposition to these state measures by a broad spectrum of national organizations, including animal rights, civil liberties, public health, food safety, public health, environmental and other groups.
Many see HF589 as an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights.
Ag-gag bills were introduced in four states last year, including Iowa. None of those passed.  This year, ag-gag bills have been introduced in Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Florida and New York.
The Florida bill was defeated.  Except for Iowa, the others are pending.
The Wednesday night passage of the Iowa ag-gag bill came with support from some of the state’s most powerful agricultural lobbyists including: The Institute for Cooperatives, The Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Iowa Select Farms, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Dairy Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers Association and Monsanto Co.
Under the new law, anyone making “a false statement or representation” as part of an application of employment at an animal facility could, after a first conviction, be charged with a class D felony.
To produce a record of image or sound without the owner’s permission is defined as the new crime of “animal facility interference.”

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/iowa-approves-nations-first-ag-gag-law/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=120301

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

 Ancient plants back to life after 30,000 frozen years – Scientists in Russia have grown plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago. The fruit was found in the banks of the Kolmya River in Siberia, a top site for people looking for mammoth bones. The Institute of Cell Biophysics team raised plants of Silene stenophylla – of the campion family – from the fruit. This is the oldest plant material by far to have been brought to life.
Prior to this, the record lay with date palm seeds stored for 2,000 years at Masada in Israel.
The team found about 70 squirrel hibernation burrows in the river bank. “All burrows were found at depths of 20-40m from the present day surface and located in layers containing bones of large mammals such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse, deer, and other representatives of fauna from the age of mammoths, as well as plant remains.” The squirrels appear to have stashed their store in the coldest part of their burrow, which subsequently froze permanently, presumably due to a cooling of the local climate.
Back in the lab, near Moscow, the team’s attempts to germinate mature seeds failed. Eventually they found success using elements of the fruit itself, which they refer to as “placental tissue” and propagated in laboratory dishes. The fruits grew into healthy plants, though subtly different from modern examples of the species. Silene stenophylla still grows on the Siberian tundra; and when the researchers compared modern-day plants against their resurrected cousins, they found subtle differences in the shape of petals and the sex of flowers, for reasons that are not evident. “This is by far the most extraordinary example of extreme longevity for material from higher plants… it is a surprise to me that they’re finding viable material from this placental tissue rather than mature seeds.”
The Russian team’s theory is that the tissue cells are full of sucrose that would have formed food for the growing plants. Sugars are preservatives; they are even being researched as a way of keeping vaccines fresh in the hot climates of Africa without the need for refrigeration. So it may be that the sugar-rich cells were able to survive in a potentially viable state for so long.
Perhaps the most enticing suggestion is that it might be possible, using the same techniques, to raise plants that are now extinct – provided that Arctic ground squirrels or some other creatures secreted away the fruit and seeds. “We’d predict that seeds would stay viable for thousands, possibly tens of thousands of years – I don’t think anyone would expect hundreds of thousands of years. [So] there is an opportunity to resurrect flowering plants that have gone extinct in the same way that we talk about bringing mammoths back to life, the Jurassic Park kind of idea.”

**Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.**
George Washington

LARGEST QUAKES –
This morning –
5.2 FIJI REGION

Yesterday –
2/20/12 –
5.2 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.1 TONGA REGION
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO
5.1 XINJIANG-XIZANG BORDER REGION
5.0 KASHMIR-XINJIANG BORDER REGION
5.0 KYRGYZSTAN

VOLCANOES –

Bolivian volcano Uturuncu is now an object of international scientific fascination. Satellite measurements show that the hill has been rising more than half an inch a year for almost 20 years, suggesting that the volcano, which last erupted more than 300,000 years ago, is steadily inflating. “The size and longevity of the uplift is UNPRECEDENTED.” Taken together with other new research, the inflation means “we COULD BE WITNESSING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW SUPERVOLCANO.” [The potential hazard is perhaps tens of thousands of years away.]
Such a volcano could produce an eruption of ash, rock and pumice 1,000 times the strength of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, the worst volcanic event in modern American history, and 10,000 times that of the Icelandic eruptions in 2010 that paralyzed global air traffic for weeks. Luckily, while the planet has 30 to 40 supervolcanoes — 10 of them potentially active — supereruptions occur only every 100,000 years or so. The last one, that of the Toba Volcano in Sumatra about 74,000 years ago, is thought to have spewed enough ash to cause a 6- to 10-year “volcanic winter,” a 1,000-year global cooling period and a loss of life so vast that it may have changed the course of human evolution.
“We see no evidence for an imminent supervolcanic eruption anywhere on Earth,” said a research geologist and geochemist with the United States Geological Survey, who specializes in one of the best-known of the world’s supervolcanoes — Yellowstone, in Wyoming. About Uturuncu, he said that while “its rise over 20 years is certainly significant,” there wasn’t enough evidence to call it a supervolcano in the making. Other researchers agree. But they say Uturuncu’s steady inflation makes it fertile ground for study. “It’s like a tumor growing within the earth, and we have to understand whether it is benign or malignant.” Uturuncu was already considered potentially active. Eighteen thousand feet up its slopes small holes in the ground called fumaroles leak scorching sulfur gases. These may date 10,000 years and are evidence of a heat source close to the surface. Also telling is the white soil near the summit (from a distance it looks deceptively like snow) that results from thermal changes below. Data from 20 days of fieldwork in November using magnetotellurics, a remote radio-wave-sensing method similar to CT scanning in the human body suggested a zone of low electrical resistance far below the surface “that is likely a magma chamber.” The magma chamber is growing by one cubic meter (35 cubic feet) per second, though its total volume is not known.
Uturuncu is nestled in one of the planet’s largest supervolcanic regions, which has six supervolcanoes across Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Though it was long thought to be separate from those supervolcanoes, new Plutons findings reveal that magma from Uturuncu’s last eruption is more similar to the supervolcanoes’ than to that of the region’s more common volcanoes. Bolivia has 198 recognized volcanoes; 18 are considered potentially active. The country’s last volcanic eruption was 10,000 years ago.

Scientists believe they’ve discovered why the moon has no active volcanoes, despite containing plenty of liquid magma. The answer, they say, is that the magma is so dense that it’s simply too heavy to bubble to the surface. The European scientists copied the composition of moon rocks collected by the Apollo missions, and melted them at the extremely high pressures and temperatures found inside the moon. They then measured their densities using X-rays. “We had to use the most brilliant X-ray beam in the world for this experiment because the magma sample is so tiny and confined in a massive, highly absorbing container. Without a bright beam of X-rays, you cannot measure these density variations.” Nearly all the lunar magmas were found to be less dense than their solid surroundings, similar to the situation on Earth. However, there was one important exception: small droplets of titanium-rich glass first found in Apollo 14 mission samples produced liquid magma as dense as the rocks found in the deepest parts of the lunar mantle today. This magma would be too heavy to move towards the surface, says the team.
Previous research has shown that titanium-rich rocks were formed soon after the formation of the Moon at shallow levels, close to the surface. It now seems that, early in the history of the moon, such titanium-rich rocks descended from near the surface all the way to the core-mantle boundary. “After descending, magma formed from these near-surface rocks, very rich in titanium, and accumulated at the bottom of the mantle – a bit like an upside-down volcano. Today, the Moon is still cooling down, as are the melts in its interior. In the distant future, the cooler and therefore solidifying melt will change in composition, likely making it less dense than its surroundings. This lighter magma could make its way again up to the surface forming an active volcano on the moon – what a sight that would be! – but for the time being, this is just a hypothesis to stimulate more experiments.”

TROPICAL STORMS
In the Indian Ocean –
– Tropical cyclone 12s (Giovanna) was located approximately 410 nm southeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar. This is the final warning on this system by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.
– Tropical cyclone 13s (Hilwa) was located approximately 410 nm east of port Louis, Mauritius.

Deadly Cyclone Giovanna Likely to Hit Again. – The powerful cyclone that hit the Madagascar was again threatening to touch down, just days after killing eight people and displacing about 40,000 others. The cyclone made landfall Monday in the sugar-producing district of Brickaville in eastern Madagascar, causing massive damage there before going through the central islands and exiting in the south-west. Humanitarian efforts have since been under way and a new storm would further complicate ongoing relief efforts being co-ordinated by the National Office for Disaster Preparedness.
Meteorologists have since issued further warnings of a second landfall. The cyclone is said to have intensified in severity after heading towards southern Mozambique.
The category four storm was first sighted nine days ago at 1,650 kilometres in the Indian Ocean and was 1,000 kilometres in diameter. Strong winds and heavy rainfall destroyed about 8,475 houses, with 4,230 completely crushed. Over 100 schools, hospitals, churches and offices were also damaged. Landslides ripped trees.
Damaged bridges, especially those on the road serving linking the capital city Antananarivo and the eastern port city of Toamasina, have paralysed transport.
Madagascar is one of Africa’s most exposed countries to tropical cyclones, being hit by around 60 per cent of the storms formed in the Indian Ocean basin. An annual average of 3-4 intense tropical cyclones with winds of up to 200 kilometres have made landfall since the 1990s. Computer modelling shows around 263 cyclones are expected to hit the island nation by 2100. Cyclone Geralda, one of the worst to hit the island, touched down in 1994.
Cyclone Giovanna Struck With Little Warning – In a cyclone-prone country like Madagascar being prepared for disaster makes all the difference. The Malagasy National Disaster Office organizes annual simulation exercises in vulnerable areas to test the preparedness of local authorities and communities. However, in Brickaville, on the east coast of Madagascar, power lines had been down for two weeks – a regular occurrence in the island’s outlying provinces – and news that the town lay directly in the path of Cyclone Giovanna, a category-four tropical storm, could not reach the people in time. The cyclone destroyed and damaged thousands of homes and killed at least 23 people, but this number is expected to rise as more remote locations are reached.
“By the time the administrator of the district came to warn us about the cyclone, it was already here. All we could do was run to the church for cover.” Nearly a week after Giovanna struck on 14 February, esidents are trying to rebuild their houses, which were among the 70 percent damaged by the storm. The water pump was damaged and people have resorted to drinking water from an untreated well. Food is also in short supply. “We need rice, oil and soap. On the other side of town, aid workers have given out supplies, but we didn’t get any yet.” “The [aid] supplies come in waves. We managed to get drinking water to the first 2,000 flood victims, but it’s not enough. We have materials for 5,000 people, but after our evaluation there might be as many as 50,000 victims who need supplies.” “We thought we needed food rations for 4,000 people, but by now we have discovered that it is much closer to 6,000, so we have new rations coming in.” Giovanna was much worse than Geralda, the 1994 cyclone, which all but destroyed the town. “My house is completely broken and I’ll need to raise about 100,000 Ariary (US$50) to rebuild it.”
In neighbouring Manambato, villagers did not believe reports about an impending cyclone, even after the village leader received a cellphone text message. “The day of the cyclone it was very hot and sunny, so we didn’t think there would be a storm. When we came out in the morning, everything was destroyed.”
There was much less damage in places where schoolteachers had been trained in disaster preparedness. “We saw how the [trained] school teachers told children how to prepare for the cyclone. They had some very simple, but important messages like, ‘Weigh down the roofs with sandbags, reinforce the walls, put important belongings in plastic bags, and store water’. When people don’t have this knowledge they will sit and wait for the disaster to come, and afterwards they’ll wait for help to arrive…We went through one village where they had weighted down the roofs and reinforced the walls, but apart from this you saw that there was an empowerment, an increased awareness. People were able to mitigate the damage.”
In Brickaville the storm would have come as a complete surprise if aid workers from neighbouring towns had not travelled there to warn people. “I showed local officials the [satellite] pictures of Giovanna. We had just a few hours left, so from three o’clock in the afternoon until the storm hit at 8 p.m. we went around warning people, cutting trees, and setting up shelters. We contacted all the district heads in the surroundings towns and told them to get their post-storm reports to us as soon as possible. Then we turned off the electricity and waited.” Giovanna raged all night. “I’ve been through three cyclones so far, and this is the worst one yet. It went on the whole night. When we came out in the morning, everything was flooded, our shelters were filled with people, and there was no communication. The UNICEF team is now headquartered in Vatomandry, another coastal town hard hit by the storm, trying to collect data from the surrounding communities. “There are 19 communes surrounding this town, and right now we have news from four of them. Some are as far as 85km away, and there is no road.” A local education official said there was a total of 774 classrooms in the area and so far he had counted 275 that had been destroyed, and 107 that had been damaged. “We don’t have a budget for reconstruction at all.”

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD –

Serbia – Boats sink in Belgrade as thaw causes Danube ice chaos. A rapid thaw has brought chaos to the River Danube in the Serbian capital Belgrade, where ice damaged boats, pontoons and floating restaurants. The thick ice covered one of Europe’s busiest waterways during the recent freeze, but began to break up on Sunday as temperatures rose.
In Belgrade, boats crashed into each other but there were no immediate reports of casualties. One boat owner said the ice had moved so fast, boats could not be saved. “The damage will be hundreds of thousands of euros for sure.” Only a “handful” of boats remained intact out of about 100 moored in the Serbian capital’s Kapetanija marina.
Debris was scattered among the breaking ice for hundreds of metres along the river, and several floating restaurants, barges and boats were beached on river banks after the ice snapped anchor lines. Belgrade emergency services said there was no ice risk to bridges and other infrastructure in the city, and there was no threat of flooding. The Danube flows 2,860km (1,777 miles) through nine countries and is vital for transport, power and industry. It has been almost entirely frozen from Austria to the Black Sea. Ice more than 30cm (11in) thick in places broke up over the weekend as temperatures rose.
Belgrade river officials advised boat owners to constantly monitor their property but not to try to recover it from the water as of Monday morning. “We have not seen weather like this in a long time. People were relaxed, the boats stayed there, the icebreakers did not remove the ice on time.” At least 20 people have died from the cold in Serbia in recent weeks and economists say damage from the cold snap may cost Serbia as much as 500m euros (£415m; $660m). Some 3,300 people remain stranded by snow and ice in rural areas, where they can only be reached by helicopter.

4.0 magnitude Missouri, New Madrid region, earthquake rattles 9 states

by The Extinction Protocol

February 21, 2012EAST PRAIRIE, Mo. — Residents got an early morning jolt Tuesday after an earthquake rumbled at least nine states, causing minor damage and a big stir in the town of East Prairie, near the quake’s epicenter. “I live on a main highway and five miles from the reported epicenter,” Rhonda Brack, a manager at Tasters Restaurant in East Prairie, told msnbc.com. “It sounded like a semi-truck and it rattled my windows and it rattled my house.” She said the magnitude 4.0 earthquake has been the hot topic of conversation since the popular breakfast and coffee house opened up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.  “We’re no strangers to quakes, but this one was different,” Brack said. “We had one four years ago and that one rolled. This one was straight underneath us and lasted for 30 seconds or so. It reminded you of lightning.” U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellini said the rural farming community of East Prairie is known for its seismic activity. “It’s a normal event that occurs from time to time,” Bellini told msnbc.com. “It happens every two years or so. They have many that are small but no one can really feel them. Once in a while you will get one like this one that is wider and stronger.” Bellini said several people in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee also reported being awakened by the temblor that happened at 3:58 a.m. GMT. A few residents of North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Georgia also experienced some shaking. East Prairie City Administrator Lonnie Thurmond told The Associated Press he’s heard reports of cracks in sidewalks and walls, some broken windows, and minor household damage such as rattled shelves and things falling from cabinets. Adam Rhodes said he was awakened by the earth’s trembling and then carried on with this morning routine before heading into work at Creative School Zone in East Prairie. –MSNBC

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