ISIS (Islamic State) plan to spread bubonic plague is found on laptop

Islamic State militants are trying to get hold of biological weapons and are studying ways of developing bubonic plague, raising fears that they are planning devastating attacks on civilians.

Documents found on a laptop belonging to an Isis fighter appear to show that the group has explored options to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Just as al-Qaeda spent years trying to get such weapons, it appears that Isis, now the world’s richest terrorist organisation, has followed suit.

The computer was found at a former Isis hideout by fighters from a moderate Syrian rebel group.

Unusual respiratory virus strikes hundreds of metro kids

An unusual respiratory virus is striking children in the metro in big numbers. Children’s Mercy Hospital is hospitalizing 20 to 30 kids a day with the virus. The hospital is as full now as it is at the height of flu season.

This is not the same virus we told you about several weeks ago that can cause meningitis. This one can cause severe breathing trouble. Children’s Mercy has seen more than 300 cases in recent days in kids of all ages.

Preston Sheldon’s mom says he seemed fine when she took him to pre-school Tuesday. But minutes later, the Grain Valley mom got the call. Her three-year-old son was having trouble breathing.

“You could see his ribs, and his stomach was pushing out really hard… I thought it was an asthma attack,” said Pam Sheldon.

But it was a virus that is inundating Children’s Mercy with patients.

“To be at winter census is quite unusual in August obviously. To see a virus we’ve not seen before is unusual, too,” said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, an infectious disease specialist.

It is enterovirus 68. The doctor says it’s well-known around the world, but cases have not been seen in Kansas City before.

“We have about 10 to 15 percent who have severe illness from this virus which actually acts like asthma exacerbations,” said Dr. Jackson.

She says about two-thirds of the hospitalized cases are in children like Preston who have a history of asthma or wheezing. But others are having trouble breathing, too. She says the virus will produce an ordinary cold in many kids. What should parents watch for?

“The difficulty breathing is a very obvious tip-off sign they need to come into the hospital,” said Dr. Jackson.

To try to stop the spread, Children’s Mercy has posted signs at security entrances saying children 12 or younger should not visit in-patients. Nor should those with symptoms visit.

Dr. Jackson says good hand washing, covering your cough and not sending your child to school if he or she appears sick can help control the spread.

There’s no anti-viral medicine for enterovirus 68 and no vaccine. Supportive care, including oxygen, has helped Preston. His mom is glad they didn’t wait to go to the emergency room.

“Cause it can hit really fast. And without medical treatment, it could get really bad,” she said. FOX


Ebola Is Rapidly Mutating

For the first time, scientists have been able to follow the spread of an Ebola outbreak almost in real time, by sequencing the virus' genome from people in Sierra Leone.

The findings, published Thursday in the journal Science, offer new insights into how the outbreak started in West Africa and how fast the virus is mutating.

An international team of researchers sequenced 99 Ebola genomes, with extremely high accuracy, from 78 people diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone in June.

The Ebola genome is incredibly simple. It has just seven genes. By comparison, we humans have about 20,000 genes.

"In general, these viruses are amazing because they are these tiny things that can do a lot of damage," says Pardis Sabeti, a computational biologist at Harvard University and the lead author of the study.

The team helped to find the first Ebola cases in Sierra Leone. They also immediately shipped diagnostic samples from the patients back to the U.S. and started sequencing the viruses' genomes.

"We had 20 people in my lab working around-the-clock," Sabeti says.

Their furious pace paid off. After just a week or so, the team had decoded gene sequences from 99 Ebola viruses. The data offered a treasure-trove of information about the outbreak.

For starters, the data show that the virus is rapidly accumulating new mutations as it spreads through people. "We've found over 250 mutations that are changing in real time as we're watching," Sabeti says.

While moving through the human population in West Africa, she says, the virus has been collecting mutations about twice as quickly as it did while circulating among animals in the past decade or so.

"The more time you give a virus to mutate and the more human-to-human transmission you see," she says, "the more opportunities you give it to fall upon some [mutation] that could make it more easily transmissible or more pathogenic."

Sabeti says she doesn't know if that's happening yet. But the rapid change in the virus' genome could weaken the tools researchers have to detect Ebola or, potentially, to treat patients.

Diagnostic tests, experimental vaccines and drugs for Ebola — like the one recently used to treat two American patients — are all based on the gene sequences of the virus, Sabeti says. "If the virus is mutating away from the known sequence, that could be important to how these things work."

The new genomic data also indicate that the outbreak started when just one person caught Ebola from an animal. Since then the virus has been spreading through human-to-human transmission — not through humans eating infected bush meat (wild game) as was first thought. NPR


Police Searching for a California Man With Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

This man’s illness is so serious that there was a warrant issued for his arrest. The young man, age 24, named Agustin Zeferino recently decided to stop treatment for his highly contagious disease. What are we talking about, a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

He hadn’t been seen at treatment for two weeks according to Santa Barbara County Public Health Officials. He has the most dangerous form of tuberculosis, which can be fatal if not treated. It is unclear at this time why he decided to discontinue his medical treatment.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a very rare form the disease and is highly contagious. It is easily spread by coughing and sneezing. This is the second time a warrant has been issued for a tuberculosis patient refusing their treatment. In fact just last month Eduardo Rosas Cruz, 25 years of age, was arrested in Fresno.

Public Health officials said it is common for patients to disappear for a short time, but said they generally return before any legal action is taken. If an extended period of time has gone by, than Public Health Officials work with District Attorneys when deciding whether to press criminal charges or not.

The drug-resistant form of tuberculosis generally takes 18-24 months of treatment, but is curable. Treatment cannot be forced upon a patient by law. The only power Health Officials have is to use the courts to try and isolate the patient from the public.

Up to this point they have not been locate the missing 24 year old man. They are doing everything they can to find him and ensure the health and safety of the public. This disease is very serious and Public Health official hope to find him before anyone else has a chance to get infected. DUMB OUT

City of Veszprem in Hungary haunted by Mysterious Specter in the Sky

The city of Veszprem, Hungary was only briefly haunted by this mysterious spectre.

On the morning of August 11, its monstrous form hovered in the mist above municipal buildings near the town center.

A clue to its true identity is offered by the photographer, though, who reports he took the picture from the top of a twenty story building with the rising Sun directly at his back.

That special geometry suggests this is an example of an atmospheric phenomenon called the Glory or sometimes "the Spectre of the Brocken". Also seen from mountain tops and airplanes when looking opposite the Sun, the dramatic apparition is the observer's shadow on clouds or fog, the small droplets of water scattering light back towards the Sun through complex internal reflections.

Careful night sky watchers can also encounter this spectre's analog in astronomy, a brightening of zodiacal light opposite the Sun known as the gegenschein. NASA - Astronomy Picture of the Day


Ozone-Depleting Compound Persists, NASA Research Shows

NASA research shows Earth's atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide.

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.
However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect.

"We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."

As of 2008, CCl4 accounted for about 11 percent of chlorine available for ozone depletion, which is not enough to alter the decreasing trend of ozone-depleting substances. Still, scientists and regulators want to know the source of the unexplained emissions.

For almost a decade, scientists have debated why the observed levels of CCl4 in the atmosphere have declined slower than expectations, which are based on what is known about how the compound is destroyed by solar radiation and other natural processes.

"Is there a physical CCl4 loss process we don't understand, or are there emission sources that go unreported or are not identified?" Liang said.

With zero CCl4 emissions reported between 2007-2012, atmospheric concentrations of the compound should have declined at an expected rate of 4 percent per year. Observations from the ground showed atmospheric concentrations were only declining by 1 percent per year.

To investigate the discrepancy, Liang and colleagues used NASA's 3-D GEOS Chemistry Climate Model and data from global networks of ground-based observations.

The CCl4 measurements used in the study were made by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Earth System Research Laboratory and NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Model simulations of global atmospheric chemistry and the losses of CCl4 due to interactions with soil and the oceans pointed to an unidentified ongoing current source of CCl4. The results produced the first quantitative estimate of average global CCl4 emissions from 2000-2012.

In addition to unexplained sources of CCl4, the model results showed the chemical stays in the atmosphere 40 percent longer than previously thought. The research was published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

"People believe the emissions of ozone-depleting substances have stopped because of the Montreal Protocol," said Paul Newman, chief scientist for atmospheres at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a co-author of the study. "Unfortunately, there is still a major source of CCl4 out in the world."

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns.

NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing.

The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet. NASA

'Terrifying' sinkhole 100ft wide appears overnight in Pennines

A 100ft-wide sinkhole that is so deep the bottom cannot be seen at one end has appeared overnight just yards from a farmer's house in County Durham.

John Hensby, 71, says his partner Sam Hillyard, 39, first discovered the hole on Thursday morning, adding that it has been growing ever since.
And Mr Hensby now fears that heavy rain forecast for the coming days could be about to make the situation even worse.

Mr Hensby, 71, who lives in Cowshill, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said: 'I am not sure where this will end.

'The hole is still growing. It is astonishing. If you could have heard the bangs, crashes and rumbles when it first happened you would understand how terrifying it was.

'My partner Sam had been walking one of our dogs when she she found it on our land around 80 metres away from our house.

'The land is surrounded by a sheep farm and there are two or three around at the moment. If a sheep was to fall down the hole then that would be the end of it. It would be the same for our two dogs. You wouldn't be able to get to them or even see them.'

Mr Hensby believes the collapse could be linked to 19th-century iron or lead mining in the area, though he has been unable to find evidence of a shaft that may have collapsed.

While lead mining started in the Pennines around 2,000 years ago, commercial operations didn't start until the mid-1800s and continued until the early 1900s, starting up again for a few years during the First World War.

Around this time the landscape was littered with chimneys and huge waterwheels that were used to sort useful ore from soil and other scrap, though only a few remain today.

The mines also produced zinc ore, iron ores, and fluorite also known as fluorspar, though the areas is less well-known for these.

Mr Hensby, who lives with partner Sam, an academic at Durham University, added: 'From time to to time small holes do open up on our land, but we have never known them to be so big before.

'Some council experts came to inspect the hole yesterday but we are not sure what can be done. We are crossing our fingers it doesn't get much bigger, but it is approaching a public footpath now.'

He added that he is working to increase the wild bird population on his land, and hopes that the sink hole will not have a negative impact. Daily Mail


Crack Appears Over a Kilometer in Mexico

[Google Translate]

The opening of a crack in a little over a mile long and up to eight feet deep became trending on Twitter, including users of this social network in Hermosillo.

The Friday evening event was recorded in the Suaqui Ejido Candelaria, located 81.3 km west of the city of Hermosillo, two hours away by car, and is 90 meters above sea level.

Alan Hernandez was the person who posted the images, finding the place the length and depth of the crack, which opened on a road leading to the aforementioned ejido The Jojobal vineyard near the Poblado Miguel Aleman. 

Inhabitants of the area surrounding ranches said they had no record of an event of this kind in recent years. Photographs received dozens of comments and 50 retweets between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Among the comments made by users of this social network is argued that the movement of earth could have been the result of abundant rainfall previous hours, 68 mm, or caused by an earthquake in the area was recorded. Expreso


Space Station Covered With Living Plankton — Bizarre Discovery Baffles Scientists

Plankton have been found living on the exterior of the International Space Station (pictured), according to Russian space officials. They think the microorganisms could have been blown there by air currents on Earth. Daily Mail

A strange discovery on the International Space Station has left scientists baffled. It turns out that the space station has traces of living sea plankton on the surface of the spacecraft that orbits more than 200 miles above the Earth’s surface, and well above the planet’s atmosphere.

“The results of the experiment are absolutely unique,” said Russia’s chef Space Station scientist Vladimir Solovyev. “We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator surface. This should be studied further.”

Solovyev said that the plankton is not a form of alien or extraterrestrial life. In fact. the organisms are native to oceans right here on Planet Earth. But how they got on the Space Station is total mystery.

The organisms were discovered during a routine polishing of the Space Station illuminators, the type of housekeeping that is “particularly needed during long space flights,” Solovyev said.

Scientists believe that the organisms could have been living on the outside of the International Space Station for many years. The first components of the space station were launched in 1998 and the station has been occupied by different crews of astronauts for almost 14 full years now.

But not until Russian astronauts Olek Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov discovered the plankton during recent spacewalk were scientists aware that the living organisms had attached themselves to the Space Station — somehow.

The Russian science chief said he was in the dark as to “how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station.”

While the plankton are of a type that typically live on the surface of large bodies of water, the type found on the Space Station are not native to Baikonur, Khazakstan, which is the area from which the space station was launched.

“Plankton in these stages of development could be found on the surface of the oceans.

“This is not typical for Baikonur. It means that there are some uplifting air currents which reach the station and settle on its surface,” Solovyev said.

Certain microscopic organisms can not only survive but thrive even in extremely hostile environments, such as outer space where there is no oxygen and where temperatures are extreme.

But the real mystery remains how the plankton got onto the surface of the International Space Station in the first place.  Inquisitr

Panspermia - Wikipedia

Panspermia (from Greek πᾶν (pan), meaning "all", and σπέρμα (sperma), meaning "seed") is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and also by spacecraft, in the form of unintended contamination by microbes.

Panspermia is the proposal that microscopic life forms that can survive the effects of space, such as extremophiles, become trapped in debris that is ejected into space after collisions between planets and small Solar System bodies that harbor life. Some organisms may travel dormant for an extended amount of time before colliding randomly with other planets or intermingling with protoplanetary disks. If met with ideal conditions on a new planet's surfaces, the organisms become active and the process of evolution begins. 

Ebola Virus Reaches Germany, Vietnam, Myanmar

The Ebola virus came a little bit closer to home today after a woman was tested for the deadly disease in the German capital of Berlin.

The 20-year-old woman, who collapsed while working at a Job Centre in Berlin's Pankow district was taken to hospital after showing symptoms of the virus.

According to Berliner Zeitung the woman, who is originally from West Africa, said she had had contact with victims of Ebola in her homeland.

The job centre was immediately cordoned off and around 600 people have now been quarantined inside, according to reports.

Police have not confirmed the case was Ebola but said they were testing for the disease.

The deadly virus can only be determined after a blood test is carried out.

Early symptoms include fever and circulation issues and mucus.

There have already been cases of Ebola found in Spain and Austria.

A Spanish priest became the first person in Europe to be treated for the disease.

Miguel Pajares suffered a fatal heart attack less than 48 hours after being diagnosed with the disease. Express

Two Nigerians are sent to Ho Chi Minh City's Tropical Diseases Hospital for isolation after they arrived in the city by plane, having no symptoms other than fever

HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnam and Myanmar are testing 3 patients for the deadly Ebola virus after they arrived in the Southeast Asian nations from Africa while suffering from fever, health officials said.

Two Nigerians were sent to Ho Chi Minh City's Tropical Diseases Hospital for isolation after they arrived in the city by plane, Vietnam's health ministry said, adding that they did not have symptoms other than fever.

Airline passengers sitting next to the pair – who travelled to Vietnam on Monday, August 18, from Nigeria via Qatar – have been advised to monitor their own health.

In Myanmar a 22-year-old local man was taken to hospital in Yangon after arriving at the city's main airport on Tuesday, the Myanmar Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement on its official Facebook page late Tuesday.

It said he is believed to have returned from Guinea, having also travelled to Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the Ebola outbreak.

Four people who accompanied the man to hospital were also being kept under observation, although they have not shown signs of illness.

"We have to send the samples to India for laboratory testing to see whether it is Ebola or not. The process will take 3 to 4 days," Tun Tin, deputy director of the ministry of health, told the Agence France-Presse.

He added that authorities were working closely with the World Health Organisation.

Myanmar, which began emerging from harsh junta rule in 2011, has one of the world's worst funded and poorly equipped healthcare systems, with many people cut off from even basic medical help.

The global death toll from Ebola stands at 1,229, with the bulk of cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The medical charity MSF has said the outbreak is moving faster than aid organisations can handle, while the World Health Organisation said the scale of the epidemic had been vastly underestimated.

Vietnam has introduced mandatory temperature checks at its two major international airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to try to prevent passengers bringing the deadly virus into the country.  Rappler


Mystery Fish Baffles Experts After Washing Up in Tathra, Australia

There is something fishy happening in the waters off Tathra.

A random find on a morning stroll has sparked an international scientific mystery as a fish of unknown origins continues to leave experts baffled.

Tathra local Don Cotterill became involved in this fishy tale when a friend asked him for help identifying a fish.

“A mate John Chapman found this fish washed up on Tathra Beach one morning,” Mr Cotterill said.

“I know a bit about fish so he asked me to have a search in my books, but I couldn’t find a match and I’d never seen anything like it.

“It was pretty odd looking and about 300mm by 100mm.

“My first thought was because of the fishing hook type line that naturally protrudes from near its eyes that it must be some sort of deep-sea fish.

“John put it in metho to preserve it and I sent some pictures to Taronga Zoo in Sydney.”

Mr Cotterill was told by marine experts at the zoo they had no idea what it was and encouraged him to send the pictures to Mark McGrouther, ichthyology collection manager at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

“The first email I got back from him started with ‘Wow!’, he hadn’t seen anything like it.

“He suggested a few things it might be, including a Pacific flounder, but it’s not.

“I agree that it might be from the flounder family, but it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen – or anybody else for that matter!”

In May, Mr Cotterill took the specimen up to Sydney at the request of the museum.

However, being up close to the specimen couldn’t assist any further with identification so Mr McGrouther took a sample for DNA, but is yet to get a match.

“He also showed it to everyone he could think of and basically they were all baffled.

“He’s now sent it off to an expert in Japan, but I haven’t heard anything back yet.”

Neither Mr Chapman nor Mr Cotterill have stumbled across another member of this strange fish’s family, but are keen to hear from anyone else who might know of other sightings of this true mystery from the deep.

Museum website listing

The mystery fish now appears listed on the Australian Museum website.

“The 'underside' of a larval flounder found washed up on Tathra Beach, New South Wales, 28 February 2014. The long 'filament' is an elongate dorsal fin ray.

The fish is most likely a species of Laeops. This conclusion was based on the dorsal ray count, the elongated dorsal ray and the fact that it is 9 cm in length and still has larval characteristics.

Two species in the genus are currently known from Australian waters; the Smallhead Flounder, Laeops parviceps and Kitahara's Flounder, L. kitaharae. The fish has been sent on loan to an expert for his examination.”

Narooma News


Significant Earthquake Swarm Hits Iceland’s Barðarbunga

Icelandic Met Office

It has been over 3 years since the last eruption in Iceland. However, there are signs that an eruption might be in the works near remote Barðarbunga. The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) is reporting two major earthquake swarms that started up on the morning on August 16 and continues to roll into August 17. Right it seems that there are two separate earthquake swarms producing small earthquakes and has now eclipsed the May 2014 swarm in terms of number of earthquakes.

There are no indications that an eruption has started at Barðarbunga, but some roads have been closed as a precaution because any eruption would likely produce a jökulhlaup (glacial outburst flood) as both swarms are occurring underneath Vatnajökull. This ice cap is also the home of the last Icelandic volcano to erupt, Grímvötn.

There was some foreshadowing of that eruption before the explosive event, but many earthquake swarms in Iceland don’t directly lead to an eruption. An overflight of the area performed today doesn’t suggest much in the way of eruption either but the IMO has put Barðarbunga and the area around it on elevated alert.

The last confirmed eruption from Barðarbunga was back in 1910 (Author’s note: As Jon Frimann in the comments below correctly points out, this 1910 eruption was from Loki-Fögrufjöll, which is near Barðarbunga but not the same edifice. However, these two eruptions are likely linked to the same subvolcanic system. 

The last confirmed eruption from the Barðarbunga edifice was in 1794), although since then there have been numerous unconfirmed eruptions that may not have breached the surface of the ice cap under which the volcano resides. 

Complicating matters, the earthquake swarms are not occurring directly underneath Barðarbunga, but rather to the east. Now, this is also not unexpected in Iceland where fissure eruptions of basalt have occurred in places away from known volcanoes (such as Laki in 1783) and we don’t have a great idea of exactly what lies underneath some of these massive ice caps. 

If the eruption is related to the Barðarbunga system, it could be interesting as the 1910 eruption was a mix of both basalt and rhyolite. Not only that, but Barðarbunga was the source of the Thjorsa lavas that erupted 25 cubic kilometers of basalt ~8,500 years ago – the largest basaltic eruption in the Holocene. 

There is no signs that would suggest that anything remotely close to this is in the works at Barðarbunga right now, but the volcano has quite a storied history of eruptions.


Mystery of the Nazca Lines deepens: Gales and sandstorms reveal geoglyphs of a 'snake and llama' in the Peruvian desert

The new lines were revealed following gales and sandstorms in the region and researchers believe this geoglyph shows a camelid (outlined left) above an unidentified bird (outlined right). Some 700 geoglyphs are thought to have been drawn by the ancient Nazca people between the first and sixth centuries

The mysteries of the Nazca Lines carved into the Peruvian desert have intensified after gales and sandstorms revealed previously unseen ancient designs.

A pilot discovered a geoglyph of what appears to be a 196ft-long (60 metre) snake, as well as a type of camelid - such as a llama - above an unidentified bird.

These new lines join existing geoglyphs of a dog, hummingbird, condor and a monkey, thought to have been drawn by the ancient Nazca people between the first and sixth centuries.

The discovery was made by pilot Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre as he flew over the hills of El Ingenio Valley and Pampas de Jumana, as reported by El Comercio.

Archaeologists are now working to confirm the authenticity of the lines.
The geoglyphs, more commonly known as the Nazca Lines, were first spotted from the air in 1939 when a pilot flew over the Nazca region of the Peruvian coastal highlands.

They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, and the area stretches more than 50 miles (80km) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, 248 miles (400km) south of Lima.

The mystery about why they were created has been debated for decades.
One theory is that the geoglyphs are connected in some way to water.

For example, a triangular geoglyph at the bottom of the Cerro Blanco mountain runs along the water veins inside the mountain, while the condor geoglyph is linked to local legend, which states that when the condor flies over the mountain, ‘great rains follow’.

Similarly, the ‘hummingbird’ geoglyph only appears in the summer following heavy rainfall.

All of the drawings were said to have been drawn using a single line, that never crosses itself, and were believed to be an appeal to the gods to bring rain.

Another previously unseen geoglyph (pictured) appears to reveal a 196ft-long (60 metre) snake. The discovery was made by pilot Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre as he flew over the hills of Pampas de Jumana
Experts believe the Nazca used to dance along the lines of the geoglyphs when they prayed for rain - and many of the same images appear on Nazca pottery.

In December 2012, Professor Clive Ruggles, of the University of Leicester, said one of the shapes - a spiral motif traced in the Peruvian desert - is likely to have been a labyrinth, created as a ‘spiritual path’.

The huge images, which include hundreds of animals and complex mazes in the Nazca desert, can only clearly be seen for the air giving rise to a number of explanations as to who they were intended for.

The Nazca Lines are drawn into lighter coloured strata which contrasts with darker gravels on the plain.

‘They are one of the most impenetrable enigmas of archaeology by virtue of their quantity, nature and size, as well as their continuity,’ said UNESCO.
‘The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines, as well as their cultural continuity, demonstrate that this was an important and long-lasting activity.’

In general terms, the geoglyphs fall into two categories: the first group, of which about 70 have been identified, are said to represent natural objects, such as animals, birds and insects.

Many of the images also appeared on pottery and textiles of the region. Other drawings represent flowers, plants, and trees.

A second is made from lines and more basic shapes such as spirals, triangle and rectangles.


Mystery Beast in Norwalk Caught on Video

A mysterious animal was caught on camera roaming the streets of Norwalk, causing concerns among some neighbors about a lion in their midst.

"It looks like a big cat, but then when you look at it again, it could be a dog. The gait, the way the animal is walking, it kind of has the characteristics of a cat, but we really don't know at this point," Norwalk Mayor Marcel Rodarte said.

While the experts work to identify the mystery animal, the mayor is trying to get the word out to the people living in this neighborhood to keep an eye out for small pets.

"We want to make sure that if this is a wild animal or if this is maybe a pet that someone kept illegally that people are aware to keep an eye out for it, because our goal is really to capture the animal and put it in the safe place," Rodarte said.

Many of the neighbors said they're scared for their pets. Others wondered what the animal might be and how it got here.

"It doesn't belong here. What's it doing here? There's no mountains in the back or anything like that," neighbor Vivian Romero said.

But others said they've seen it before and think it's something far less ominous.

"It's a big, gray dog. It looks kind of like a Rottweiler or a Pit bull and it just kind of goes through the neighborhood digging up trees and goes on about its business," neighbor Chai Harter said.

August 1, 2014


The fungus “Coffee Rust” Could Permanently End Our Love Affair With Coffee

In Guatemala, a new fungus is spreading like wildfire, destroying the coffee bean crop and severely impacting the lives of farmers who grow it.

The fungus, called “coffee rust” — roya, in Spanish — takes no prisoners. It destroys every coffee plant it touches, and it’s ravaged its way through Central America. Which is terrible news for coffee lovers worldwide, as two of the top 10 exporters of coffee are in Central America: Guatemala and Honduras.

Coffee rust covers 70 percent of Guatemala’s crop and has resulted in a loss of 100,000 jobs and a 15 percent drop in coffee output, ultimately costing Central America $1 billion in monetary damages.

The rust fungus has been in the region a long time, but recently it’s been more aggressive, according to NPR. The fungus thrives in warmer temperatures, attacking leaves of the coffee plant and choking off nutrients.

Fortunately, assistance is on the way — coffee companies like Starbucks and Green Mountain are teaming up with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help farmers learn how to fight off rust. They’re also bringing them financial help.

So far, they’ve pooled $23 million.

And it’s a good thing, because help is needed ASAP. According to Mark Visocky, director of USAID’s economic growth office in Guatemala, if the rust isn’t dealt with soon, coffee prices will spike and illegal immigration to the U.S. will rise.

August 3, 2014


Thousands of Blue Sea Creatures Wash Up on Local California Beaches

Social media is teeming with pictures of small bright blue sea creatures washing up all over California beaches, with sightings reported in Humboldt County, Monterey and Ocean Beach.

Despite being described as "strange," "bizarre," "mysterious," and even "aliens," it turns out these creatures have a name.

Marine researchers are calling it Velella velella, a name the Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote sounds "like a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film."

"Some people call them jellyfish, but they are in fact only distantly related and only superficially similar," said Rich Mooi of the California Academy of Sciences.

The small delicate-looking marine invertibrates are commonly called "by-the-wind sailor." They are 40 to 80 millimeters long as adults and are characterized by a clear, chitinous semicircular sail sticking above water.

Velella can be found floating at the sea surface. They feed on zooplankton and fish and their predators are snails. They generally float offshore but can be blown onshore in large numbers.

Nobody knows for sure why so many are washing up this late in summer.

Although they are related to the Portugese man-o'-war -- notorious for its stinging ability -- Mooi said the creatures are completely harmless to humans, though he doesn't recommend eating them.


Mysterious Lake Discovered in Drought-Stricken Tunisia Could be 'Radioactive'

Hundreds of swimmers have been flocking to a mysterious new lake in the Gafsa region of southern Tunisia, but the sudden appearance of the body of water in the drought-stricken area has raised concerns about its origin and quality.

Hailed as a miracle by locals, authorities have warned the lake could actually be radioactive.

Shepherds discovered Gafsa beach or "Lac de Gafsa", which is between 10m and 18m deep and spread over a surface of around one hectare, around 25km from Gafsalongside Om Larayes road.

Since it was discovered three weeks ago, more than 600 people have been swimming, diving and scuba diving in the water, according to Au News.

"Some say that it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse," journalist Lakhdar Souid told France24.

There is no official explanation for the lake's origins, but local geologists believe seismic activity may have disrupted the water table and caused groundwater to rise to the surface.

Gafsa's Office of Public Safety warned Tunisians that the water may be dangerous to swim in, as the region is rich in phosphate.

Tunisia is the fifth largest exporter of the chemical in the world and the Gafsa is home to one of the largest phosphate mines.

 According to officials, the water may be contaminated or even radioactive.

Regardless, locals have continued to swim in the lake as no official ban has been put in place. Gafsa beach even has its own Facebook page.

"News of the lake's appearance has spread like wildfire and now hundreds of people, eager to escape a heatwave, go there to swim. While the origins of this lake remains a mystery, our biggest concern right now is the quality of the water," Souid added.

"This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that this water is contaminated and carcinogenic (but) there is no security of any kind."

Over the past weeks, the colour of the lake has changed from a clear turquoise to a murky green.

"The site is certainly stunning and there are many large rocks perfect for diving but it has become infested with green algae, meaning that the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases," Mr Souid said.

"Despite the warnings issued by the Office of Public Safety, hundreds of swimmers have visited the lake. The site is certainly stunning and there are many large rocks perfect for diving. So to truly dissuade people from coming, we'll need something more convincing than a little warning."

Flesh-Eating Bacteria in Florida Ocean Hospitalizes 32, kills 10

ABC Action News has confirmed that there was a death in Sarasota County from the flesh-eating bacteria. The Sarasota Health Department apologized for not reporting it sooner.

New warnings issued Monday surrounding a bacteria found in the ocean that has already killed several people in Florida.

It is called Vibrio vulnificus, a cousin of the bacterium that causes Cholera and it thrives in warm saltwater. "Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater," the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.

The Florida Department of Health reports 32 people have contracted the bacteria and 10 have died from the strain. Last year, 41 people were infected and 11 died. Florida isn't the only state to report Vibrio vulnificus infections. Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi have also recorded cases.

"It's quite discouraging because the beach is one of the more popular hobbies in Florida," said Tracy Brown of West Palm Beach.

Brown, who was enjoying a day at the beach with her daughter, had not really heard about the Vibrio bacterium.

She was stunned to hear someone could become sick by simply entering the water.

"The last thing you want to think about is going to the beach and leaving with something you least expect," said Brown.

Florida Department of Health experts said anyone with a compromised immune system or anyone with an open cut should not go into the water. Those who do jump into the ocean should wash off before heading home .

"It's definitely something to take serious, but there are a number of other bacteria, that you could run into," said Tim O'Connor, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health.

O'Connor said the state is closely monitoring the Vibrio bacteria. So far, he said the situation is not severe.

No cases have yet to be reported in Palm Beach County.

"It's definitely something we need to be more wary of especially if it's going to affect us sooner than later, it needs to be known," said Brown.

The deadly bacteria can also be contracted from consuming raw seafood like oysters.

Steve Gyland, owner of Cod and Cappers Fish Market, is all too familiar with the impact the Vibrio bacteria can have on someone, he survived it.

"It was like you were on fire. Like a burn-blister from a fire. It was weeks before I could walk on that leg," said Gyland.

On a scuba diving trip to the Bahamas, Gyland came into contact with the bacteria through a blister on his left foot.

Had he waited, Gyland believes it could have been worse.

"You could just watch the red, blistery skin just grow and expand and move up your leg," said Gyland.

But Gyland also sells an item at his market that the state health department warns is a leading cause of contracting the Vibrio bacteria, raw oysters.

"If we eat raw foods, there's always a risk, absolutely there's a risk," said Gyland.

Gyland said he posts warning all over his store and suggests people who are worried should buy oysters from cooler climates to the north.

The state health department said it is monitoring the situation and is telling consumers to cook their oysters before eating the shellfish.

30 Jul 2014


Thousands of Bees Die Suddenly in Southern Colorado

Beekeepers in the region are seeing a dramatic drop-off in the number of bees in their hives, just in the past few days.

Kimberly Randall and Jonathan Geurin are beekeepers in Colorado Springs. They told News 5 this season started out well for them, but recently, they could tell something wasn't right. It turns out more than 60 percent of their hive died in just three days.

"By the time we got to the bottom of the hive, we found a pile of dead bees that was two to three inches thick," said Randall.

Geurin and Randall have raised a combined six hives of honeybees in both Colorado Springs and Canon City. With 50,000 to 70,000 bees per hive, and half of their hives affected, they estimate well over 100,000 bees have died.

"That hive is completely gone," Geurin said. "When I opened it up a few days ago, there was no queen in it. There was probably only a dozen bees."

But what could be killing hundreds of thousands of bees across Southern Colorado?

"There's a lot of theories," Randall said. "We're going to be sending our bees off to have testing done through the state, and notify them in case there's something going on."

Randall and Geurin think pesticides and other chemicals used to treat lawns and weeds could be making their way into the water table

"Read what you're putting into your yard," Randall said. "Read what you're putting into your garden, because it all circles back."

Fruits and vegetables thrive on pollination from honeybees, making them vital to sustain our food sources.

"One in three bites of food that you eat is directly related to a honeybee," Randall says.

Not to mention the sweet honey bees produce from collecting nectar. In it's lifetime, one bee only collects a fraction of a tablespoon of honey. Luckily, the hives are beginning to recover.

"We need to be careful so we have something to pass on to the generations after us," says Geurin.

22 Jul 2014