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The Big Wobble Headlines: Quick Read



World Pandemic: Coronavirus

A team led by immunologist Ester Sabino collected genomic data from COVID-19 tests in Manaus that indicated 42% of the confirmed cases were infected by the new variant, which has mutations similar to the British and South African variants. "That was the frequency that appeared in our December data. We are finishing January now and it is increasing," said Sabino, a University of Sao Paulo professor whose team's preliminary results have been published on the Virological.org forum.

She said it was quite likely the new Brazilian variant is more transmissible than the current dominant strain, although it has not been proven definitively, because it has mutations shown to have that effect in other variants.

Police in Belgium made 116 arrests after a demonstration in Brussels over the death of a young Black man who collapsed while in police custody turned violent. Police said most of the violence took place after a largely peaceful demonstration Wednesday of about 500 protesters - some holding Black Lives Matter signs - ended in downtown Brussels. "A group of demonstrators (50-100 people) remained on the spot and caused various incidents and degradations," police said, adding that several police officers were injured in the clashes.


The Somali Regional State has announced that locust invasions are causing widespread destruction to crops and grazing lands in all but one of the region's administrative zones.

The infestation, which has affected 10 zones in the region, is spreading quickly to border areas, according to Abdullahi Yusuf Adem, deputy head of the bureau. The swarms have formed as a result of favourable environmental conditions brought on at the end of November 2020 by cyclone Gati in the Indian Ocean, the strongest tropical cyclone to have ever made landfall in Somalia.


Volcanoes
Mount Etna had suffered a dramatic rupture after a "new cut-up" opened up alongside its energetic crater. Footage from the scene exhibits lava rocks flying into the air and orange streams oozing down Mount Etna's slopes.

The brand new cut up within the crater seems to have bisected the well-known volcano. The risky volcano started erupting final Sunday, in keeping with an area volcanologist. Boris Behncke, from the INGV-Osservatorio Etneo in Catania, Sicily, stated that lava started "oozing" from the Etna's southeast crater and towards the east final weekend.

Major Quakes
A  very powerful, shallow magnitude 7.1 major quake, reduced to a mag 7.0 by USGS has rocked the South Shetland Islands during the night causing panic in Chile with a mistaken tsunami warning calling for people to get out of coastal areas. The mag 7.0 quake is the 2nd mag 7 quake since Thursday when a powerful magnitude 7.0 rocked the Philippine Islands region. Last nights quake was the 12th major quake, mag 6 or higher to be recorded in just the first 24 days of 2021, with 11 of them being along The Ring Of Fire. At the same stage in 2020, 10 major quakes had been reported, in 2019, 10, 2018, 7, 2017, 8, 2016, 9 and 2015, just 2.
If we go further, 2014 saw just 4 at the same stage, 2013, 3, 2012, 9, 2011, 10, 2010, 11, 2009, 14. 


Extreme Weather
Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes overnight as Storm Christoph caused widespread flooding across the UK. Some 2,000 properties in the East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden areas of Manchester were due to be evacuated on Wednesday night because of rising water levels, the city council said.

Elsewhere people were also asked to leave their homes in parts of Ruthin and Bangor on Dee in North Wales, and Maghull in Merseyside. Authorities have been monitoring water levels at the River Mersey overnight.

Hurricanes and cyclones

Category 5 Monster! Cyclone Yasa has intensified to a top-of-the-scale Category Five storm, with devastating gusts of up to 280 kilometres per hour (174 miles per hour) and is on track to hit Fiji late Thursday: Around two-thirds of the island nation's population of 900,000 are in its path.

17 Dec 2020

Fijians living in the path of an approaching super cyclone were told to hunker down at home or flee to emergency shelters immediately on Wednesday, as authorities warned the storm has the potential to uproot buildings and cause mass destruction. The Fiji Meteorological Service said Cyclone Yasa had intensified to a top-of-the-scale Category Five storm, with devastating gusts of up to 280 kilometres per hour (174 miles per hour). It was on track to hit Fiji late Thursday and the National Disaster Management Office said around two-thirds of the island nation's population of 900,000 are in its path. 


Spaceweather

Tuesday, 12 January 2021 The mysterious year of 1957 which recorded the largest number of major quakes and sunspots in one year and started our planets incredible warming and increase in natural disasters draws an incredible resemblance to 2011 which broke the 1957 major quake record by just 3

In 1957 our star produced by far the largest number of sunspots ever recorded in one year, no other year has ever come close, however, something else happened in 1957, our planet suddenly and unexpectedly produces the record total of major quakes, mag 6 or higher when a total of 204 were recorded.

Incredibly, something else coincided with the mass testing of nuclear bombs in the 50s, not realised at that time and not mentioned even now, surprisingly enough. During the Second World War, major earthquakes, (magnitude 6 or higher) began to dwindle to just 29 in the whole year of 1947, the lowest yearly total since the 27 recorded way back in 1921.


Manmade disasters

30 Dec 2020

Thousands of Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs are snorting and squealing their way across Puerto Rico in what many fear has become an unstoppable quest to eat and reproduce on an island struggling to stop them. They forage through gardens and farms, knock over trash cans and leave pungent trails of urine and excrement, stopping occasionally to bathe if they find potholes full of rainwater. The former pets - or descendants of former pets - have reproduced at such an alarming rate that the U.S. territory declared a health emergency last year so federal officials could start eradicating them.

It's the latest non-native species to invade communities in Puerto Rico like iguanas and caimans did before them, although these are proving particularly hard to control and can't be killed for food because they carry so many diseases.


Climate Change 

Authorities in Indonesia say the country has seen 185 disasters since the start of the year, including earthquakes, tornadoes, landslides and floods. According to the National Disaster Management Agency, BNPB, hydrometeorological disasters dominate the list, with 127 flood events and 30 landslides recorded in several regions of the country during the period 01 to 21 January 2021.


Disease
PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic recorded an H5N8 bird flu outbreak at a small farm in the south of the country, killing around half of a 30-bird flock, the State Veterinary Administration said on Friday. The infection was at a farm 99 km (61 miles) south of the capital Prague and was likely caused by wild ducks from a nearby pond, the office said.

 HELSINKI, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The first-ever cases of the easily transmittable bird flu type H5N8 have been detected in Finland, the Finnish Food Authority confirmed on Friday to national broadcaster Yle.


Animal Die-Offs

A mass stranding on the Chatham Islands, New Zealand has resulted in the deaths of more than 120 whales: Solar storms may trigger sperm whale strandings: On Sunday the day of the beachings, our magnetosphere was enduring stormy conditions from powerful solar winds ejected from a coronal hole on our sun.

Nov 25 2020

A mass stranding on the far-flung Chatham Islands in the Pacific Ocean has resulted in the deaths of more than 120 whales. Ninety-seven pilot whales and three dolphins have died in the stranding, with 28 pilot whales and three dolphins having to be euthanised, said staff from New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DoC). Nov 25 2020

The Chatham Islands is part of New Zealand but lies 800km to the east, delaying the mission to rescue the animals. The DoC said the mass-stranding occurred on a "remote beach" over the weekend and it was alerted to the event on Sunday. 


Environment
For the residents of Mead, Nebraska, the first sign of something amiss was the stench, the smell of something rotting. People reported eye and throat irritation and nosebleeds. Then colonies of bees started dying, birds and butterflies appeared disoriented and pet dogs grew ill, staggering about with dilated pupils. There is no mystery as to the cause of the concerns in Mead, a farming community so small that its 500 residents refer to it as a village and not a town. After multiple complaints to state and federal officials and an inquiry by a researcher from the University of Nebraska, all evidence points to what should be an unlikely culprit - an ethanol plant that, like many others around the United States, turns corn into biofuel.

Wildfires

Nov 25 2020

After last year's record-busting heatwaves and wildfire season, Australia was hoping for a rather wet summer season this year with the onset of La Niña. La Niña typically increases the likelihood of above-average rainfall across much of Australia during spring and early summer. However, with Summer still a while away, Sydney temperatures are set to soar over the weekend as NSW is headed for an early heatwave with temperatures inching toward the 50 deg C, (122 deg F) mark bringing with it the threat of another early start to another wildfire season.

Meanwhile, a bushfire, coined as "the biggest one in living memory" has scorched a third of the World Heritage Area of Queensland's idyllic Fraser Island, six weeks after being sparked by an illegal campfire. Nov 25 2020


Religion

15 Dec 2020 

Recently, it has become apparent our world leaders, politicians and even our religious leaders have become “de-franchised” from the people they serve. A Mr Norval Cunningham, a friend of mine once wrote they are showing an "Incompetence Syndrome” and are struck with blindness! This "blindness", or inability to comprehend, can be easily recognised in our leaders who are making astonishingly misguided decisions or comments, on TV or social media. Another way of recognising world leaders are struggling with the "Incompetence Syndrome"; struck with blindness, are the questions that they ask, or fail to ask. Our politicians and religious leaders are being exposed by doing and saying what they shouldn’t be and not doing and saying what they should be. 


Photo of the day
A letter from Holland: Unusual skies this week in the Amsterdam region as the world enters lockdown: Libertine, tolerant and free Amsterdam is at this moment just like the rest of the world, empty as the Covid-19 threat takes hold
This time of the year where I live, just north of Amsterdam on the Dutch West Coast we are usually inundated with tourists from all over Europe but not this year. Libertine, tolerant and free Amsterdam is at this moment just like the rest of the world, empty. The cannabis selling coffee shops, sex-shops and bars have all been closed down due to the coronavirus, these places are only used by tourists anyway.

As I walk my dog every day I come across only occasional other dog walkers or runners who are only too ready to distance themselves from me, eying me with caution. Empty busses pass me by as do the occasional automobile, however, Holland wouldn't be Holland without bicycles and scooters and, this is the mode of transport at the moment, especially for the kids.