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25 February, 2011

Rivers In The Sky: Atmospheric Bands of Water Vapor Can Cause Flooding and Extreme Weather

Rivers In The Sky - Science News: "... Like freight trains loaded with water vapor, atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands whose winds funnel huge amounts of moisture through the sky. When they hit coasts, these rivers can drop their moisture as rain and cause destructive flooding, as in January 2005 when more than 20 inches of rain soaked southern California, killing 14 people and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Scientists (and San Francisco) managed to escape December’s atmospheric river without such harm, but the storm dumped more than 10 feet of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada, putting the mountains on track for their wettest recorded season. That sort of impact underscores why researchers have recently become fascinated with atmospheric rivers. Completely unknown just over a decade ago, these rivers turn out to be not only a key factor in Western flooding and water supply, but also a major player in the planet’s water cycle..."


23 February, 2011

Scientists Warn of $2 Trillion Solar 'Katrina'

Scientists warn of $2 trillion solar 'Katrina' - CNN.com: "The sun is waking up from a long quiet spell. Last week it sent out the strongest flare for four years -- and scientists are warning that earth should prepare for an intense electromagnetic storm that, in the worst case, could be a 'global Katrina' costing the world economy $2,000bn.

Senior officials responsible for policy on solar storms -- also known as space weather -- in the US, UK and Sweden urged more preparedness at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington..."


Planet Could Be 'Unrecognizable' By 2050, Experts Say

Planet could be 'unrecognizable' by 2050, experts say - Yahoo! News: "A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an 'unrecognizable' world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, 'with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia,' said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, 'we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000,' said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)..."


17 February, 2011

The Worst Hyperinflation Situations of All Time

The Worst Hyperinflation Situations of All Time - CNBC: "Imagine that during the time it took to drink a cup of coffee, the price of that cup of coffee doubled. Although extreme, this becomes the reality of hyperinflation, where prices change so rapidly that everyday items rise exponentially and money becomes worthless, virtually overnight or even in the course of a working day.

Today, inflation has become a major topic of debate in the United States, and although many are concerned about the effects of a devalued dollar on the economy, history shows us examples of how inflation has been much, much worse..."


Home Invasions: Side Effects of the Drug War

Home Invasions: Side Effects of the Drug War - Article - POLICE Magazine: "... The Tucson PD reported 150 home invasions in 2008 and another 115 in 2009... Statistics for the rest of the nation are hard to come by. The crime isn't tracked by many law enforcement agencies or nationally by the FBI, which lumps them in with burglaries or assaults. But one thing is sure, law enforcement officials say the incidence of home invasion robbery is on the rise nationwide, in large part due to the activities of Mexican drug cartels.

The incidence of home invasions may even be higher than law enforcement officials think. Home invasions often go unreported because the mid- or higher-level dealer 'victim' won't report the crime to police. Single ransoms have exceeded $1 million in Phoenix, where exchanges are often arranged without the involvement of law enforcement.

Drug-related home invasions are especially prevalent in the Sunbelt. Southern Arizona, Texas, and Atlanta serve as distribution points for traffickers delivering narcotic loads from Mexican drug trafficking organizations to distribution points where dealers and street gangs wait for their arrival..."


16 February, 2011

Man, 84, Survives Five Days Lost in Desert

FoxNews.com - Man, 84, Survives Five Days Lost in Desert: "An 84-year-old man who survived five days in the Arizona desert without food and water is explaining how he survived, MyFoxPhoenix reported Tuesday...

... Morello had no water with him, but did have a little bit of pasta left over from Harold's. He chose not to eat it because it made him thirsty.

Morello said he used car mats to stay warm and even read a car manual from cover to cover to pass time. Nights were hardest because he would get scared, he said.

“I got scared, panicky, a little bit,” Morello said. “I didn't know if they were going to find me or not.”

Overnight temperatures the week he was missing were in the upper 30s F to the mid-40s F (3-7 C), the National Weather Service said.

On day five, he was spotted by some campers. Morello heard a knock on a window from a hiker, and suddenly his long, painful ordeal was over..."


Climate Change May Cause ‘Massive’ Food Disruptions

Climate Change May Cause ‘Massive’ Food Disruptions - Bloomberg: "Global food supplies will face “massive disruptions” from climate change, Olam International Ltd. predicted, as Agrocorp International Pte. said corn will gain to a record, stoking food inflation and increasing hunger.

'The fact is that climate around the world is changing and that will cause massive disruptions,' Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer at Olam, among the world’s three biggest suppliers of rice and cotton, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today...

... Shrinking global food supplies helped push the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization’s World Food Price Index to a record for a second month in January. As food becomes less available and more expensive, 'hoarding becomes widespread,' Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at FAO, said Feb. 9, predicting prices of wheat and other grains are more likely to rise than decline in the next six months..."


15 February, 2011

Drug Expiration Dates — Do They Mean Anything?

Drug Expiration Dates — Do They Mean Anything?—The Family Health Guide: "With a splitting headache you reach into your medicine cabinet for some aspirin only to find the stamped expiration date on the bottle has passed - two years ago. So, do you take it or don't you? If you decide to take the aspirin will it be a fatal mistake or will you simply continue to suffer from the headache?

This is a dilemma many people face in some way or another. A column published in Pyschopharmacology Today offers some advice.

It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date..."


IMF Discusses Plan to Replace Dollar As Reserve Currency

IMF discusses plan to replace dollar as reserve currency - Feb. 10, 2011: "The International Monetary Fund issued a report Thursday on a possible replacement for the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

The IMF said Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, could help stabilize the global financial system.

SDRs represent potential claims on the currencies of IMF members. They were created by the IMF in 1969 and can be converted into whatever currency a borrower requires at exchange rates based on a weighted basket of international currencies. The IMF typically lends countries funds denominated in SDRs

While they are not a tangible currency, some economists argue that SDRs could be used as a less volatile alternative to the U.S. dollar..."


10 February, 2011

Saudi Arabia Cannot Pump Enough Oil to Keep a Lid on Prices

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices | Business | The Guardian: "The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached..."


07 February, 2011

Supermarket Surprise: Smaller Servings, Same Price

Supermarket surprise: smaller servings, same price - Yahoo! News: "Out of toilet paper so soon? Who the heck ate all of the Haagen Dazs? Why is this grilled cheese sandwich less cheesy than before?

Complaints like these household staples getting used up faster; food not lasting as long -- are becoming more common.

No, members of your household aren't being wasteful or taking extra helpings of dessert. Those boxes of pasta, rolls of paper towels, jars of pesto and packages of hot dogs really are getting smaller. But manufacturers hope that you haven't noticed..."


03 February, 2011

10 Things We Can Learn From Egypt About Preparing for Economic and Societal Collapse

10 Things We Can Learn From Egypt About Preparing for Economic and Societal Collapse: "As riots spread across the world, having started first in Europe and now engulfing the Middle East, most people in the U.S. outright reject the possibility that the same could happen right here at home. But the fact of the matter is that we remain in economic crisis and there is a real possibility of a total collapse of the system we have come to know.

If the system does happen to collapse, be it because of a hyperinflationary currency meltdown, political uprising or anything in between, here are ten things you can expect to happen, just as they are happening in the Middle East today..."


The Real Life Civilization-Building Kit

The Real Life Civilization-Building Kit: "For two years, a group of engineers has been working on the Global Village Construction Set, a collection of 40 DIY machines that can build a small, modern civilization anywhere with sun, soil, and water. Sounds like hard work.

Making these machines, the group explains, is 8 times cheaper than buying them from manufacturers, on average. And in a world where resources might be scarcer than we anticipate more quickly than we anticipate, their ambitious project could prove to be a vital one. They're publishing the full schematics and diagrams on their Wiki, so anyone can use them once shit goes Mad Max. If the internet still works, that is. OK, maybe you should print them out now just to be safe..."


02 February, 2011

10 Things That The Egypt Riots Can Teach Us About What Happens When Society Breaks Down

10 Things That The Egypt Riots Can Teach Us About What Happens When Society Breaks Down: "The rioting in Egypt is perhaps the biggest single news story so far in 2011. The pace at which Egyptian society has been transformed over the past week has been absolutely breathtaking. A few months ago, nobody would have ever dreamed that there would be huge riots in the streets of major Egyptian cities calling for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. But it has happened, and now Egypt will never be the same again. So what does the future hold for Egypt? Well, many are hopeful that this revolution will bring about a better government in Egypt and a better way of life for average Egyptians. Personally, I am not nearly so optimistic. In fact, I believe that there is a great danger that an even more repressive government could take the place of the current regime. But in any event, there are important lessons that the Egypt riots can teach all of us about what happens when society breaks down. Societal collapse is often a very messy, very violent affair. Someday if the global economy completely implodes, we may see economic riots erupt all over the world (including inside the United States) and we all need to get prepared for that.

So far more than 100 people have died during the rioting that has rocked Egypt over the past week. Other reports put the true number of dead much higher. Scores of shops and businesses have been looted. There have been dozens of rapes. Groups of citizens have formed vigilante groups to protect their own homes. These are the kinds of things that happen when society breaks down..."


New Legislation Would Require All S.D. Citizens To Buy A Gun

Bill would require all S.D. citizens to buy a gun | The Argus Leader | argusleader.com: "Five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.”

The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2012, would give people six months to acquire a firearm after turning 21. The provision does not apply to people who are barred from owning a firearm.

Nor does the measure specify what type of firearm. Instead, residents would pick one 'suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference.'

The measure is known as an act 'to provide for an individual mandate to adult citizens to provide for the self defense of themselves and others'..."


01 February, 2011

Egyptians Stock Up On Food, Water As Protests Rage

Egyptians stock up on food, water as protests rage - Yahoo! News: "After 24 years in Canada, Rafik and Leila Baladi moved back to Cairo two weeks ago to settle down.

Now, like many other residents of the Egyptian capital, they're stocking up on bottled water and essential foodstuffs as chaos engulfs this sprawling city of some 18 million.

'We just don't know what is going to happen,' said Leila, who along with her husband was pushing a shopping cart loaded with frozen chicken breasts, fava beans, milk and other items at a grocery store in central Cairo. 'People are terrified to death.'

Everyday life in Cairo has been turned upside down by the largest anti-government protests in decades in Egypt, which began last Tuesday and have surged since.

Schools are closed and businesses boarded up; the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic is now little more than a trickle; and the capital's famed nightlife has been snuffed out by a 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew. For Monday, the military extended the hours, saying curfew would start at 3 p.m..."


'Death by GPS' in Desert

'Death by GPS' in desert - Sacramento News - Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee: "Five harrowing days after becoming stuck on a remote backcountry road in Death Valley National Park in August 2009, Alicia Sanchez lay down next to her Jeep Cherokee and prepared to die.

Then she heard a voice.

'I called as I approached, asking if she was okay,' wrote Ranger Amber Nattrass in a park report. 'She was waving frantically and screaming, 'My baby is dead, my baby is dead.' '

In the SUV, Nattrass found Sanchez's lifeless 6-year-old son Carlos on the front seat. 'She told me they walked 10 miles but couldn't find any help (and) … had run out of water and had been drinking their own urine,' Nattrass wrote...

... Danger has long stalked those who venture into California's desert in the heat of summer. But today, with more people pouring into the region, technology and tragedy are mixing in new and unexpected ways.

'It's what I'm beginning to call death by GPS,' said Death Valley wilderness coordinator Charlie Callagan. 'People are renting vehicles with GPS and they have no idea how it works and they are willing to trust the GPS to lead them into the middle of nowhere.'

The number of people visiting Death Valley in the summer, when temperatures often exceed 120 degrees, has soared from 97,000 in 1985 to 257,500 in 2009. That pattern holds at Joshua Tree as well, which recorded 128,000 visitors in the summer of 1988. Last year: 230,000.

With another potentially deadly summer season approaching, Death Valley managers now are adding heat danger warnings to dozens of new wayside exhibits and working with technology companies to remove closed and hazardous roads from GPS units. They also have posted warnings on the park's website, telling visitors not to rely on cell phones or GPS units..."