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Archive for January 29, 2011

Storms hit Western Australia southwest as cyclone nears

January 29, 2011 Comments off

Saturday afternoon’s storms caused damage in parts of Perth and regional towns to the east, including Toodyay, Northam, York and Wongan Hills.

State Emergency Service volunteers have responded to 20 calls for assistance in Perth for rain damage, localised flooding and roof collapses, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) said.

In Northam and York, east of Perth, around 30 buildings were badly damaged, many with roofs torn off, and powerlines and other structures were also hammered, it said.

Between Northampton and Jurien Bay, north of Perth, there had been 18 calls for assistance for damaged roofs.

The stormy weather cut power to around 55,000 homes in WA’s south on Saturday as the category three cyclone Bianca approached across the Indian Ocean. Read more…

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Lake Vostok drilling in Antarctic ‘running out of time’

January 29, 2011 Comments off
Lake Vostok
The first satellite images of Lake Vostok were obtained in the 1990s

With only about 50m left to drill, time is running out for the Russian scientists hoping to drill into Vostok – the world’s most enigmatic lake.

Vostok is a sub-glacial lake in Antarctica, hidden some 4,000m (13,000ft) beneath the ice sheet.

With the Antarctic summer almost over, temperatures will soon begin to plummet; they can go as low as -80C.

Scientists will leave the remote base on 6 February, when conditions are still mild enough for a plane to land.

The team has been drilling non-stop for weeks. Read more…

South Africa: Floods kill 120 and destroy crops

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa is reeling from unusually heavy rainfall that has caused flooding in many parts of the country, wiping out crops in what is the continent’s main breadbasket.

More than 120 people have been killed in the thunderstorms and flooding since mid-December, and some 20,000 people are in need of assistance. The South African government has declared disaster areas in eight of its nine provinces.

And it’s not over yet. Above-average rainfall is forecast for South Africa and neighboring countries for the next few months.

Much of southern Africa is now on flood alert, including Mozambique, where at least 13 people have died from floods and thousands have fled their homes for higher ground. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia are also on alert for flooding.

While this is the annual rainy season in southern Africa, the heavier than usual rainfall has been blamed on La Nina, the weather pattern behind the severe flooding in other southern hemisphere countries including Australia, Brazil and the Philippines.

In South Africa, the government has put the flood damage at $211 million, but this is an early estimate and expected to rise. At least Read more…

The African Chinese Connection

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Shu Yunguo & James Shikwati

China and Africa had established relations as early as 2,000 years ago, during which, there were no wars, aggression or looting but only exchanges of trade between China and Africa. The history and tradition of China-Africa relations not only exerted positive and enormous influence, but also laid a solid foundation on the relationship development between countries in modern times.

Secondly, developing countries have common qualities. Both China and African countries are developing countries meaning they have not only common history, but also share similar targets for development. Developing countries’ common qualities determine that there is no conflict of interest between them, and also that the countries have the same or similar opinions on many major international issues (such as the establishment of a new international political and economic system).

Thirdly, they are all eager to develop themselves. Currently, developing countries are still weak compared with the strong developed countries. When dialogue between developing and developed countries is progressing slowly, the cooperation between developing countries becomes especially important. Both China and African countries are developing countries, and strengthening cooperation is the request of the era and the common need to develop.

Fourthly, the countries stood the test of practice. The establishment of the People’s Republic of China and African countries gaining independence proved that the equal, reciprocal and win-win relationship between China and Africa has strong vitality and the prospect of sustainable development. Fifthly, the relationship can be guaranteed by a system and mechanism. China and Africa launched the Read more…

United States of Shame…Where does YOUR State Rank?

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After compiling various census and US health figures, pop culture blog Pleated-Jeans constructed a surprisingly informative map to illustrate the acts for which each of our fifty great states came in dead last.
While some stats fit in with a common stereotype, others are a bit more enlightening.
1. Alabama: highest rate of stroke (3.8 percent) (tied with Oklahoma)
2. Alaska: highest suicide rate (23.6 suicides per 100,000 people in 2004)
4. Arkansas: worst average credit score (636) Read more…

Economist: United States Worse Off than Greece

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Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com

Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff is an economics professor at Boston University. He says the Treasury and the government are fudging the national debt numbers. Kotlikoff says the United States is bankrupt and we don’t even know it.

During his SOTU address, Obama called for a freeze on discretionary spending. He called for a five-year freeze on non-mandatory domestic spending, a proposal he estimated would save $400 billion over the next decade.

He said entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will need to be reformed without mentioning specifics. In other words, the government is thinking about cutting these programs to the bone. Boomers will be eating dog food after their pensions are stolen and the entitlement Ponzi scheme breaks down. Read more…

Mysterious Night-Shining Clouds Getting Brighter

January 29, 2011 Comments off
Night-shining clouds, or noctilucent clouds, photo from Denmark
After the sun sets on a summer evening and the sky fades to black, you may be lucky enough to see thin, wavy clouds illuminating the night, such as these seen over Billund, Denmark, on July 15, 2010.
Jan Erik Paulsen/ NASA Earth Observatory. 

Clouds bright enough to see at night are not as hard to find as they once were.

These so-called night-shining clouds are still rare — rare enough that Matthew DeLand, who has been studying them for 11 years, has seen them only once. But his odds are increasing. [Related: In Images: Reading the Clouds.]

These mysterious clouds form between 50 and 53 miles (80 and 85 kilometers) up in the atmosphere, altitudes so high that they reflect light long after the sun has dropped below the horizon.

DeLand, an atmospheric scientist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has found that night-shining clouds — technically known as polar mesospheric or noctilucent clouds — are forming more frequently and becoming brighter. He has been observing the clouds in data from instruments that have been flown on satellites since 1978.

For reasons not fully understood, the clouds’ Read more…