May 3, 2009
In which I present, the REAL cause of the swine ‘flu outbreak…
… express doubts about the current risk analysis …
… and point out that all the protective measures in the world still wont be much help unless you read the instruction leaflet.
There is no evidence of the swine flu virus spreading in a sustained way outside North America, a top World Health Organization official says.
Dr Michael Ryan, WHO Director of Global Alert and Response, praised European nations’ handling of cases and said events did not seem out of control.
Mexico has cut its suspected death toll by 75 to 101, indicating the outbreak may not be as bad as initially feared. The country has ordered a five-day shutdown in a bid to contain the virus.
Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told the BBC that, based on samples tested, the mortality rate was comparable with that of seasonal flu.
- BBC News
Apologies to Dr Phil.
April 18, 2009
Where’s Samuel L Jackson when you need him?
An Australian airliner was grounded after four baby pythons escaped from their container in the aircraft’s hold.
The snakes, just six inches long, were among 12 Stimson’s pythons being flown from Alice Springs to Melbourne.
At first it was thought the reptiles may have been eaten by the other snakes, but this was discounted after they were weighed on landing.
Passengers were transferred to other aircraft. The jet was fumigated but the snakes’ bodies are yet to be found.
“They’re not endangered so a decision was made to fumigate…if these snakes turn up they will be very much dead snakes,” David Epstein of Qantas said.
- BBC News
April 13, 2009
An egg collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage on HMS Beagle has been rediscovered at Cambridge University.
The small dark brown egg, with Darwin’s name written on it, was found by a retired volunteer at the university’s zoology museum. It bears a large crack, caused after the great naturalist put it in a box that was too small for it.
The egg is the only one known to exist from Darwin’s Beagle collection…
It was the collections manager, Mathew Lowe, who first realised the importance of the specimen. “There are so many historical treasures in the collection, Liz did not realise this was a new discovery,” Mr Lowe told BBC News.
“To have rediscovered a Beagle specimen in the 200th year of Darwin’s birth is special enough, but to have evidence that Darwin himself broke it is a wonderful twist.”
Dr Mike Brooke, the museum’s curator of ornithology, traced the specimen’s origin in the notebook of Professor Alfred Newton, a friend of Darwin’s and a professor of zoology in the late 19th century. Newton had written: “One egg, received through Frank Darwin, having been sent to me by his father who said he got it at Maldonado (Uruguay) and that it belonged to the Common Tinamou of those parts.
“The great man put it into too small a box and hence its unhappy state.”
- BBC News
March 26, 2009
Mount Redoubt volcano in the US state of Alaska has erupted for the sixth time in 24 hours, spewing ash and steam 15km (9.3 miles) into the air.
The volcano, 166km (103 miles) south-west of the state’s biggest city, Anchorage, began erupting late on Sunday after a 20-year lull.
Ash has fallen on towns north of Anchorage, but the city itself has not been affected by the eruption.
Alaskan Airlines has cancelled a number of flights because of the ash.
Officials at the Alaska Volcano Observatory were able to monitor the latest eruption live via a webcam.
“We were able to see mudflows, pyroclastic flows and a nice ash column shooting out of the summit,” geologist Janet Schaefer told the BBC. “It was quite spectacular.”
- BBC News
March 16, 2009
…you just have to outswim the other competitors!
Swimmers competing in a race in Sydney, Australia have had a close encounter with two sharks, one of which is believed to have swam directly beneath them.
The 700 swimmers were competing in a Surf Lifesaving race off Cronulla Beach when the two sharks, a hammerhead and a smaller shark, were spotted.
Lifeboats chased the hammerhead in an effort to force it out to sea. It is thought the smaller shark swam away.
This close encounter follows three other shark attacks that have taken place in Sydney waters over the recent weeks.
- BBC News
March 12, 2009
I’ve heard they can predict a social predisposition for criminal behaviour pretty early, but under a year-old seems to be pushing it.
A baby had its details held on the controversial DNA police database, Jacqui Smith has confirmed.
The home secretary said the youngest person to have a DNA profile held on the database was less than a year old and the oldest was over 90.
It is understood the sample would have been taken to eliminate the baby’s DNA from a crime scene…
In December the European Court of Human Rights ruled the UK should not indefinitely retain the DNA and fingerprint records of people who were not convicted of a crime.
Following that ruling, Ms Smith announced changes to the way the database operated – and said the government would take “immediate steps” to remove the DNA profiles of children under 10 from the database.
The baby’s profile is understood to have been taken before the changes were announced.
Since then DNA profiles of children under 10, taken with consent for “elimination purposes” – to compare with samples taken at crime scenes – are deleted, the government says.
- BBC News
March 11, 2009
A rugby club in the sport’s Scottish heartland is aiming to become the most eco-friendly in the world.
Hawick Rugby Club hopes to live up to its nickname “the Greens” with a new environmental strategy. It is carrying out a study with a view to meeting all its energy needs by harnessing the nearby River Teviot.
Club president Donnie McLeod said they hoped to cut their carbon emissions and generate extra income by selling surplus energy to the national grid.
The environmental plans are being launched at a “Green Day” being held in Hawick.
- BBC News
March 8, 2009
[Melbourne] City residents reported tremors across the metropolitan area and beyond, just days after being hit by wildfires which killed 210 people.
The United States Geological Survey said the 4.7 magnitude quake struck about 59 miles (96km) southeast of Melbourne shortly before 9pm local time at a depth of six miles (10km)
Resident Kate Bruce said: “Being so close to the fire areas and having been on alert the last two to three weeks, our only thought was ‘oh my God, what now?
“My kids thought that the roof was coming off, that’s how loud it was here.”…
Seismologist Phil Cummins at Geoscience Australia, which monitors earthquake activity, said the quake “is unlikely to have caused any damage, except possibly some minor damage near the epicentre.”
Victorian State Emergency Service spokesman Allen Briggs said the service had been inundated with phone calls from the public but there had been no reports of any damage immediately after the tremor.
“It was certainly enough to rattle windows and we’ve had reports it was felt in metropolitan Melbourne and as far down as Warragul and Leongatha in Gippsland,” Briggs said.
Hat-tip to the Hoydens.
March 7, 2009
Former red ‘goes green’, says Brown.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has had green custard thrown over him by a protester as he arrived at the launch of a low-carbon summit in London.
The protester, Leila Deen, is a member of the Plane Stupid group campaigning against a third runway at Heathrow…
The government approved a new runway last month despite opposition by MPs, local residents and green campaigners.
She justified the “direct action” as the best way of bringing about change, claiming she and others were excluded from the democratic process…
“I suppose in a democracy people are entitled to have their say but I would rather people said it to my face rather than throw it,” he joked…
Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought to make light of the incident, saying it demonstrated the “greening” of his business secretary.
“If anyone doubted Peter Mandelson’s willingness to take the green agenda on his shoulders we have seen it in practice on our television screens this morning,” he said.
The Conservatives said the incident did not “advance the cause” of environmental campaigners and they should seek to influence the democratic process in other ways.
- BBC News
February 21, 2009
A lamb was seen head-butting a golden eagle, one of Scotland’s largest birds of prey, according to a new report on island birdlife.
The incident is included in the 10th Outer Hebrides Bird Report, which was funded by Scottish Natural Heritage.
The incident involving the lamb and the bird of prey was recorded at Baile Ailean on the Western Isles…
SNH said the book revealed “fascinating insights” into the struggle for survival between birds and animals throughout the islands.
The lamb head-butt incident was recorded in 2006.
- BBC News