Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MASS SHOOTINGS: "Senseless Murder" - Nine People Dead In Mass Killing Spree In Canada, Including Killer?!

Flowers and stuffed animals lay on the sidewalk as police continue to investigate the scene of multiple shooting deaths at a home
in Edmonton, Canada.
Photograph: Jason Franson/AP/The Canadian Press

December 31, 2014 - EDMONTON, CANADA
- The suspected killer of eight people in Edmonton, Canada, had a criminal record dating back to 1987 and used a stolen handgun in the murders before killing himself in domestic violence that was “planned, deliberate and targeted,” police said.

Police found one victim’s body on Monday and the remaining seven at a house elsewhere early on Tuesday. The killer committed suicide in a Vietnamese restaurant 19 miles northeast of Edmonton, the capital of Alberta.

Authorities disclosed the name of the first victim, Cyndi Duong, 37, but said no other identities would be made public until autopsies were carried out on New Year’s Day. The dead included two children.

Investigators have identified the suspected killer as 53-year-old Phu Lam, the Edmonton Journal reported, quoting unidentified sources. It said he was the co-owner of the house where the seven victims died.

Local media quoted neighbors as saying the gunman worked as a maintenance man at the restaurant where he died and had a history of being confrontational. Police said the weapon, a 9-mm pistol, was legally registered in British Columbia in 1987 and stolen in 2006.

Police said on Wednesday the eight murders and one suicide made the mass killing the deadliest in the history of the city, incorporated in 1904. Edmonton, population 878,000, recorded 27 homicides in 2013 and 27 in 2014 prior to the killings.

Police Chief Rod Knecht characterized the murders as premeditated domestic violence – he used the words “planned, deliberate and targeted” to describe the attack – and said there was no apparent link to drugs or gang activity.

“This is a horrific event for the city, and in my 39 years of policing I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told a news conference late on Tuesday.

Thanh Le, senior pastor at the Edmonton Vietnamese Alliance Church attended by Duong, her three children and parents, said her death had devastated the congregation. “It has shocked us”, he said. “There have been a lot of tears.”

There are about 220,000 Vietnamese Canadians, according to the federal government, many of whom arrived as refugees in 1979 and 1980. Edmonton’s Vietnamese community is one of the five largest in Canada. - Guardian.



SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Shocking Chaos - 35 People Killed And 42 Injured In Shanghai New Year's Stampede After Crowd Rushes For Fake Money!



December 31, 2014 - SHANGHAI, CHINA
- At least 35 people have been killed and 42 injured during a New Year’s celebration in central Shanghai. The tragedy might have been caused by people rushing to pick up fake money thrown in the crowd.

The stampede happened shortly before midnight local time as a massive crowd was celebrating New Year in Chen Yi Square in Shanghai's Huangpu district, CCTV reports.

The injured, many of them students, have been rushed to a number of hospitals in Shanghai, including Changzheng Hospital, the First People's Hospital, Ruijin Hospital, and Huangpu District Central Hospital.


These fake $ bills rained down on a New Year's event in Shanghai, causing a stampede that killed 35

More scenes from the stampede via social media

Rescuers and first responders were deployed to the scene to help those wounded. The authorities have set up a working group to investigate the cause of the incident.

Although the cause of the incident is still being investigated, state media and a witness said the stampede began when people tried picking up fake money thrown from a building overlooking the festivities.

Fake money had been thrown down from a bar above the street as a part of New Year celebrations, a man who declined to be identified told Reuters.

President Xi Jinping has ordered the Shanghai government investigate the incident as soon as possible and all other governments to ensure a similar disaster never happens again.


Security personnel (front) and policemen stand next to an entrance to a hospital where injured people of a stampede incident
are treated, in Shanghai, January 1, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song)

Screenshot from Google Maps

One week before the New Year celebrations, Shanghai authorities cancelled the annual New Year’s eve 3D laser display which attracted nearly 300,000 people last year, according to Shanghai Daily. The reason behind cancellation was allegedly concern about crowd control issues.

A number of photos of the chaos in the aftermath of the stampede were posted on Chinese social media site Weibo.

Photos showed large crowds of people gathered at Shanghai’s waterfront area, The Bund, with a lot of police securing the area while the injured were receiving first aid on the road. - RT.



KALI YUGA 2015: The Age Of Destruction And Creation - The World's Most Powerful Atom Smasher, CERN's Large Hadron Collider, Will Renew Hunt For Strange Particles In 2015; Can Generate A Magnetic Field MORE THAN 100,000 Times More Powerful Than Earth's!



December 31, 2014 - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
- In 2015, the world's most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, will restart. The particle accelerator has already discovered the Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle," and when it comes back online after two years spent on upgrades, researchers suggest it could discover other kinds of these God particles, as well as extra dimensions of reality and the identity of the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the mass in the universe.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest particle collider in the world, with a ring about 16 miles in circumference. It accelerates particles to nearly the speed of light using close to 9,600 magnets, comprised of about 10,000 tons of iron, more than in the Eiffel Tower. These magnets are made up of coils of filaments that, if they were unraveled, would stretch to the sun and back five times with enough left over for a few trips to the moon.

The largest of the LHC's magnets weigh 35 tons, and are about 50 feet long. They can generate a magnetic field more than 100,000 times more powerful than Earth's. These magnets require cooling from liquid helium, making the LHC the largest refrigerator in the world the magnets operate at temperatures of minus 271.3 degrees Celsius, colder than outer space.

In 2012, the atom smasher helped scientists discover the long-sought Higgs boson, which helps grant mass to all particles that have mass, such as protons and electrons. The Higgs boson itself has a mass of 125 billion electron-volts, or more than 130 times the mass of the proton.

Still, as rich as the harvest of results surrounding the Higgs was, the LHC was designed to be even more powerful than it has yet been. Just nine days after it first went live in 2008, a faulty electrical connection between two of its magnets led to several tons of helium escaping with explosive force, damaging dozens of magnets.


Large Hadron Collider tunnel photograph by Maximilien Brice. (CERN)

Now, the LHC is set to return in 2015 nearly twice as powerful as its first run from 2010 to 2013.

"Doubling the energy will have a huge impact on the search for new particles at LHC," said experimental particle physicist Gabriella Sciolla, of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, who works on the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. "The higher the energy, the heavier the particle one can possibly produce."

One breakthrough the LHC could make after it restarts is discovering what particles make up dark matter, one of the greatest mysteries in the universe. Dark matter is thought to be an invisible, enigmatic substance that makes up about five-sixths of all matter in the cosmos.

"By going to larger energies at the LHC, we increase the range of masses of potential dark matter particles that we can examine," said experimental particle physicist Andrew Lankford at the University of California, Irvine, who also works on the ATLAS experiment.

The consensus among physicists so far is that dark matter is made up of new kinds of particles that interact only very weakly with ordinary matter. Dark matter cannot be explained by any of the particles in the Standard Model of particle physics, the best description there currently is of the subatomic world. They must therefore arise from a new understanding of physics that goes beyond the Standard Model. One possibility lies in an idea known as supersymmetry, which suggests all known kinds of particles in the Standard Model have as-yet-undiscovered partners. For example, electrons would have similar cousins known as selectrons.

"All searches for supersymmetric particles depend on high-energy collisions between particles," Sciolla said.

Scientists say that the LHC cannot directly detect any dark matter particles. However, after the LHC smashes protons together, any energy missing from the aftermath might hint at the creation and existence of dark matter particles, Sciolla explained.


A statue of Shiva engaging in the Nataraja dance at CERN, the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy
a weary universe and make preparations for the god Brahma to start the process of creation.

Another discovery the LHC could make are more kinds of Higgs bosons. "The LHC proved one kind of Higgs boson exist no one says there can't be a second or third or fourth," Sciolla said. "They could be more Higgs bosons with different masses, and maybe even charge, as is predicted by supersymmetry."

Learning more about how Higgs bosons interact with other particles could also illuminate the nature of dark matter. "There could be very, very rare interactions between Higgs and dark matter particles that could shed light on what dark matter is," Lankford said. "Higgs could be a portal into the dark sector."

And last, the LHC may discover the so-called Z-prime or Z' boson. This particle is theoretically a heavier version of the Z boson, a particle linked with the weak nuclear force that underlies both nuclear fusion and radioactive decay.

Nearly any grand unified theory a theory in physics that could explain all known forces would suggest that Z-prime exists. This includes theories that also suggest the existence of extra dimensions of reality beyond the three spatial dimensions of length, width and depth and the fourth dimension of time.

"Z-prime is much heavier than a Z particle, something like tens of times the mass," Sciolla said. "Z-prime can decay in a very simple way that yields two very energetic muons, which are basically heavier versions of electrons. If we can detect the muon signature of Z-prime, that would support models that predict the existence of Z-prime."

With all this in mind, researchers at the LHC are greatly looking forward to 2015.

"As the LHC is waking up, a lot of people are excited right now," Sciolla said. "There's a lot of enthusiasm here." - FOX News.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Severe Flu Strain Infects The United States - 36 States See High Levels Of Illness, Vaccine May NOT Fully Protect!

Tyler Day Nursery teacher Jacqueline Dade-Mack holds her 3-year-old son as he gets a flu vaccination shot in October in Tyler, Texas. Associated Press

December 31, 2014 - UNITED STATES
- This year’s influenza season started earlier than expected and is sending more patients to the hospital, raising concerns this could be a more severe outbreak than in recent years.

Thirty-six states are now experiencing high levels of flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, as this year’s flu vaccine may not fully protect against a strain known as influenza A H3N2 that is currently circulating and tends to be more severe.

Fifteen children age 18 and under have died from the flu as of Dec. 20, compared with four such deaths around the same time last year, according to the CDC. A number of hospitals are outpacing previous years, with some restricting visitors to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Our medical director said that in his eight years at the hospital, he had never seen double digits” in the number of patients hospitalized, said Jill Chadwick, a spokeswoman at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. It had a record 25 flu cases admitted as of Monday and two deaths.

Dr. Anna-Kathryn Rye, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia, S.C., said the hospital is seeing two to three times the number of flu patients as in a normal season. “We are hoping this week will be the peak,” she said.

Common Symptoms
  • Fever, chills
  • Cough, sore throat, runny nose
  • Muscle aches, headache, fatigue
  • Nausea (more common in children)
Source: CDC


Distribution problems may be making it harder for some consumers to gain access to antiviral drugs given early in the illness. The CDC alerted pharmacies last week that there may be greater demand for these drugs earlier in the season. Agency officials said they have heard of anecdotal reports of a shortage of Tamiflu, a common antiviral medication.

CVS Caremark Corp. said some of its pharmacies may have intermittent shortages of the liquid version of Tamiflu, due to the supplier’s challenges meeting demand. But CVS said there has been no shortage of the capsule version of Tamiflu, and patients can ask their pharmacist about having the capsule versions compounded into a liquid, spokesman Michael DeAngelis said.

For patients of all ages, the hospitalization rate of flu patients so far is 9.7 people per 100,000 people in the general population, compared with 4.3 people per 100,000 last year and 5.5 people per 100,000 in the 2012-13 flu season.

Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the CDC’s flu division, cautioned that it was too soon to say whether this will be worse than recent years. “We never know how this season compares to the previous season until the end of the year,” he said.

This flu season has been dominated by the H3N2 virus, according to CDC. Vaccines configured in early February typically protect against three to four flu viruses, and this year’s included H3N2. However, the virus showed substantial changes, or mutations, in March. That means the vaccine, while still conferring some immunity, doesn’t work as well. H3N2 is associated with more hospitalizations and deaths.

The last time the H3N2 strain of flu was widespread was two years ago, and this season’s rate of hospitalizations for people age 65 and older is already outpacing the rate for 2012-2013. CDC officials said that suggests this flu season might be more severe, although it may mean the flu is simply striking earlier.

About 40% of Americans have been vaccinated for the flu, with 140 million vaccine doses distributed, said Dr. Jhung. Children under the age of 2, people age 65 and over, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma are most at risk of severe illness from the flu. Between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu, with 15 million to 60 million people afflicted each year.

The CDC is still recommending that unvaccinated people get flu vaccines because they might provide protection and reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death, officials said.

Joel Sawyer, a 38-year-old political consultant in Columbia, S.C., was diagnosed with the H3N2 strain of flu last week and said he’d rarely felt so sick.

“It’s like a hybrid between a terrible cold and strep,” he said. “You alternate between hot and cold, hot and cold. You can’t get comfortable.”

At Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, hospital officials on Christmas Eve began limiting flu patients’ visitors to immediate family. “It’s more significant than we’ve seen over the past two years,” spokesman Gregg Lagan said. “It’s even catching individuals who have the flu shot.”

David Weber, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said what differentiates this year is the spike in cases in mid-December and the flu’s relative severity.

The UNC Health Care system, which includes the 800-bed UNC hospital complex in Chapel Hill and dozens of doctors’ offices and clinics, has had 323 patients test positive for flu so far this season. The majority are H3N2, the strain for which this year’s flu shot has proved “less than a perfect match,” Dr. Weber said. Patients, particularly very old or very young ones, are showing up more sick than they might be in an average year, he added. - WSJ.



SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Suicide Attack Near Cultural Center In Southwest Yemen - At Least 33, Including Children, Were Killed By The "Strong Explosion"!

Reuters / Khaled Abdullah


December 31, 2014 - YEMEN
- A suicide attack targeting Shiite rebels has killed at least 33 people who had gathered in a cultural center in the Yemeni city of Ibb.

The rebels, known as Houthis, had reportedly gathered at the cultural center to prepare for celebrations of the prophet Muhammad’s birthday over the weekend, AP reports. Witnesses said a strong explosion targeted the area.

Medical sources and residents told Reuters that at least 20 bodies, including women and children, were rushed to Ibb’s al-Thawra hospital. Another 13 bodies were taken to another hospital called al-Manar.

The provincial governor was reportedly among those wounded in the blast.


DETAILS: Suicide attack targeting Shiite rebels kills at least 33 in Yemeni city of Ibb http://on.rt.com/ynplvn 


No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has a strong presence in Yemen, has carried out similar bombings against the Shiite rebels in the past.

At least 34 people, including 25 Houthis, six tribesmen and three AQAP fighters, were also killed on Tuesday and Wednesday morning when fighting broke out in the Khubza and Almanaseh villages in Radaa district of central Yemen, Al Jazeera reports.

According to the Doha-based broadcaster, the violence erupted after Houthi rebels tried to seize the villages from local tribesmen.

Since September, the Houthis have captured large swaths of Yemen, including parts of the Yemen capital Sanaa in a protracted battle against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Hadi had previously warned that Yemen is facing “three undeclared wars” against Al-Qaeda, pirates in the Gulf of Aden, and the Houthi rebels, which he claims are being supported by Iran. - RT.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Popocatepetl Volcano Explodes In Mexico With Towering Eruption - Emitting Gas And Ash Some Two Miles In The Sky! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]



December 31, 2014 - MEXICO
- Authorities say the Popocatepetl volcano located just southeast of Mexico City has registered an explosion that spewed a mix of steam, gas and ashes about 3.5 kilometres (2.1748 miles) into the air.

Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention says that the flare up occurred on Friday afternoon and that the amount of ash mix released was “moderate.”

Popocatepetl is an active volcano, and the second tallest volcano in the country. It is located 72 kilometres from the capital, and close to Morelos, Puebla and Mexico states. - Global News.


A series of small to moderate explosions occurred during December 26-27 at the volcano. The largest one, at 17:07 local time Friday, produced an ash plume that rose 3.5 km above the crater.

Yesterday, CENAPRED recorded 6 explosions. Night-time incandescence is visible at the crater where a cake-like lava dome is growing, confirmed also during a recent overflight.

This type of activity is still well within the normal range of the current state of semi-persistent mild activity at the volcano, and the alert level remains unchanged at "Yellow Phase 2". - Volcano Discovery.


Ash plume from a moderately strong explosion at Popocatépetl on Friday

Aerial view of the crater of Popocatépetl during a recent overflight 19 Dec, showing the flat lava dome in the inner crater (CENAPRED)

Steam plume from Popocatépetl (CENAPRED webcam)

SO2 plume from Popo yesterday (NOAA)

WATCH: Popocatepetl's towering eruption.




CONTAGION: Ebola Scare In The United Kingdom - British Nurse Who Tested Positive For The Deadly Virus Was Cleared To Fly By Officials At Heathrow Airport, Sparking Concerns Over Screening Effectiveness!

Reuters / Tami Chappell

December 31, 2014 - UNITED KINGDOM
- The British nurse who tested positive for Ebola was cleared to fly by authorities at Heathrow Airport, despite concerns about her health. The incident has sparked concerns over the effectiveness of the airport’s screening.

Pauline Cafferkey, a community nurse originally from South Lanarkshire, was returning from five weeks volunteering in Sierra Leone with Save the Children when she raised concerns about her health at Heathrow.
However, the 39-year-old was still given the all-clear to board the British Airways flight to Glasgow on December 28, according to Public Health England (PHE).

It was revealed Tuesday that the nurse was being treated for Ebola in an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London after being transferred from Glasgow following a positive test for the virus.

Health officials said despite raising concerns about her health, Cafferkey passed six health checks at the airport before being allowed to board the plane.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies justified the decision to let Cafferkey fly, but said the incident may prompt questions about whether the airport should have been “more precautionary.

When questioned about Heathrow’s decision, Davies said the nurse “was cleared to travel because she did not have a significantly raised temperature. It does raise a question about whether we should be more precautionary.”

Cafferkey was returning from Sierra Leone on Sunday evening on a flight from Freetown, via Casablanca. While at the London airport she was screened for the Ebola virus, but requested a second temperature test as she was worried about her symptoms.


Reuters / Andrew Winning


Officials are attempting to contact all other passengers on the same flight as Cafferkey. Roughly 100 passengers are still unaccounted for.

Davies maintains the risk to public health is extremely low, but the nurse’s co-workers, who were traveling with her, said the screening process at Heathrow was “totally inadequate.” 

Dr Martin Deahl, who sat next to Cafferkey on a flight to the UK from Sierra Leone, told The Guardian that public health was being put at risk by “totally inadequate” screening facilities at the airport.

He further condemned PHE guidelines for those returning from Ebola-hit zones, which allow those who have been in close proximity to the virus to travel home on public transport.

Cafferkey was part of a group of 30 NHS volunteers helping tackle the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

She has been described by colleagues as “terribly committed,” and previously told BBC Scotland she “couldn’t think of any reason not to go” to help fight the virus.

PHE has responded to the criticism and confirmed it will review its screening procedures, but insisted they were in line with other international organizations that have sent volunteers to west Africa. - RT.


Tracking the EBOLA Virus Outbreak


ICE AGE NOW: Death Toll Exceeds 150 In India Cold Wave - Dense Fog And Low Visibility Leads To Widespread Transportation Disruptions!



December 31, 2014 - INDIA
- More than 150 people have died in a cold wave sweeping across northern and eastern India and dense fog disrupted air and rail services, reports said on Tuesday.


Sixteen more people died in intense cold or fog-related accidents in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Monday, taking the region's death toll for the month to 140, the Times of India said.

Temperatures reached a low of 0.5 degrees Celsius in the state's Sonbhadra district.


Twelve more cold-related deaths were reported from the eastern state of Bihar, national capital Delhi and neighbouring Haryana state, reports said.

Thick fog at the Delhi airport led to delays of about 100 flights and cancellations of 16 more, broadcaster NDTV reported. About 100 trains were running late due to low visibility.

Winters in India are brief, beginning in December and ending by February, but cause many deaths in the country that is better prepared for its long, hot summers.

Weather bureau officials say cold weather is likely to persist over the next few weeks in most of the northern regions. - News24.



DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

December 31, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.


New Species Of Dolphin Filmed Venturing On Land To Eat



Australian humpback dolphins were just identified as a distinct species last month, but scientists are already discovering just how impressive they really are. For the first time, footage has been captured of the dolphins employing a remarkable hunting technique — venturing onto land where their prey can be easily gobbled up.
A team from Southern Cross University had been following a pod of humpback dolphins up the Fitzroy River estuary, near Queensland, when they heard some strange splashing sounds off in the distance. When they looked closer, they discovered the animals were actually thrusting themselves onto the shoreline in a behavior known as “strand-feeding”.

Researcher Daniele Cagnazzi described it to Business Insider Australia as “an incredible event.” Fortunately, a camera was able to collect video of the rare sighting, which had only been observed in these dolphins once before. “The humpback dolphins were observed swimming a few metres away from and parallel to the shoreline. This behaviour probably allows dolphins to concentrate fish against the mud bank before charging at them at high speed,” said Cagnazzi.

“On some occasions the fish were washed onto the shoreline by the wave of water associated with the dolphin’s beaching, resulting in a full body exposed beaching.”

Australian humpback dolphins aren’t the only ones to use this remarkable foraging method. Both bottlenose dolphins and killer whales have also been known to strand-feed, often working in unison with their pods to push a school of fish ashore.

While this technique seems indicative of dolphin’s intelligent approach to scoring a meal, it’s not without its dangers, writes biologist Todd Pusser from the National Wildlife Federation:
Occasionally, a hunting dolphin will become overeager and strand itself completely out of water. By thrashing hard, it can usually work its way backward into the water. If stranded for a long period of time, a dolphin can suffer internal injuries as well as potentially lethal exposure to the sun.
And Australian humpback dolphins in particular would be well-advised to avoid becoming permanently stranded. Although they are the latest species of dolphin to be identified by science, biologists say that they may already be endangered due to various threats in their environment.  - The Dodo.


Monarch butterfly eyed for possible U.S. endangered species protection


Monarch butterflies fly at the El Rosario butterfly sanctuary on a mountain in the Mexican state of Michoacan in this November 27, 2013 file photo.
Credit: REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files



Monarch butterflies may warrant U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because of farm-related habitat loss blamed for sharp declines in cross-country migrations of the orange-and-black insects, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday.


Monarch populations are estimated to have fallen by as much as 90 percent during the past two decades because of destruction of milkweed plants they depend on to lay their eggs and nourish hatching larvae, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The loss of the plant is tied to factors such as increased cultivation of crops genetically engineered to withstand herbicides that kill native vegetation, including milkweed, the conservation group says.

Monarchs, unique among butterflies for the regularity and breadth of their annual migration, are also threatened by widespread pesticide use and logging of mountain forests in central Mexico and coastal California where some of them winter, said biologist Karen Oberhauser at the University of Minnesota.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday a petition requesting federal protections for monarchs – filed by the Xerces Society and others – “presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted.”

The agency's initial review will take about a year to complete.

The butterflies, revered for their delicate beauty after emerging from a jade green chrysalis ornamented by gold stitching, are roughly divided into two populations in the United States according to their fall migration patterns.

Monarchs from east of the Continental Divide wing across 3,000 miles to Mexico, while those from west of the Divide in Rocky Mountain states like Idaho make a relatively shorter journey to California.

An estimated 1 billion monarchs migrated to Mexico in 1996 compared with just 35 million last year, according to Marcus Kronforst, a University of Chicago ecologist who has studied monarchs.

Monarch populations are tracked by an extensive network of professional and citizen scientists who make up part of the butterfly’s vast and loyal following.

“Almost every person I’ve talked to about monarchs has expressed a deep love and admiration for them that was often formed in childhood,” said Beth Waterbury, regional wildlife biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.The monarchs' navigation remains mysterious. While they are known to orient themselves by the sun's position, and by the Earth's magnetic field on cloudy days, it is unclear how new generations find their way to wintering sites they have never seen, Oberhauser said. - Reuters.


Another completely lost avian species: Couch's Kingbird flies from southern Texas to New York, United States

© Splash News


 A lost tourist is bringing crowds of admirers to the West Village.

The Couch's Kingbird, a bright yellow bird usually not seen in the USA north of Texas and Louisiana, has been perching in Abingdon Square Park and other spots in the neighborhood, watched by dozens of bird watchers.

It's thought to be the first of its species to come to New York, according to Phil Jeffrey, a scientist in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton who photographed the visitor at the weekend.

On Monday morning, more than a dozen bird enthusiasts waited with cameras on the corner of Washington and Jane Streets - one of the spots where it's been seen.

WATCH: A rare Couch's Kingbird sighting in New York City.




Noa and Mayra Cruz, 47- and 46- year old sisters from the Bronx, came to try to catch a glimpse of the Kingbird. They've been into bird watching since seeing a pair a mourning doves as they got off a Number 12 bus several years ago.

"There's a lot of nature," said Noa, "but no one noticed it. We didn't notice it for years."

Alex Burdo, 18, woke up at 3:40 a.m. in Fairfield, Connecticut and commuted into the city to try and see the bird.

A senior in high school, Burdo toted a camera with a large telephoto lens - a gift, he said, from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"I'm a cancer patient," Burdo explained. "And birding has really got me through it."


Couch's Kingbird Range Map

Passers-by thought the crowd was looking for a celebrity. David Danesh, 30, of Manhattan, asked some bird watchers who they were staking out, and was surprised and amused at the answer.

"I mean, whatever makes them happy," said Danesh. "If they enjoy watching birds, God bless them."

New York City is not a hospitable place for the Kingbird, though he is a welcome visitor. The bird survives on a diet of insects, which are not plentiful at this time of year.

"The bird's probably not going to survive," said Jeffrey.  - DNA Info.


Family dog mauls baby in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada

A two-week-old B.C. girl is being treated in hospital for significant injuries she sustained in a dog attack by her family's Pitbull-Rottweiler cross-breed on Sunday.

The 16-day-old infant was rushed to hospital with significant head and facial injuries after the dog attack early Sunday, police said.

The incident happened in Saanich, B.C., where police say the dog had lived with the family for about 17 years. It's not known why the dog attacked the child.


WATCH: Newborn mauled by family dog.




The dog's owners agreed to euthanize the animal, but police say they are still mulling whether to lay criminal negligence charges in the case.

"Any time an attack like this happens, we have to look at the criminal side," said Const. Nawid Akbar of Saanich Police. "However, all accounts are leading to it just being an unfortunate accident. A very tragic event."

Investigators have contacted child protective services. - CTV News.


More Fish Found Dead in Sparks Marina, Nevada, United States



More fish are dying in Sparks Marina, a year after a massive die-off led to 100,000 fish dying and being replaced.

Sparks spokesman Adam Mayberry says due to an unforeseen unique biological anomaly, the marina has lost between 400 and 500 fish since Saturday, December 27, 2014. He says it's likely attributed to a “turnover” of the lake’s water due to the current cold snap.

Lake turnover can occur when there is a drastic change in weather and the layers of water with noted temperature differences begin to mix together, and when water that has been sitting at the bottom of the lake begins to mix with the layers of water above it. This can have an effect on a fishery such as the Sparks Marina, and it's what happened with the previous die-off.

The weather can cause dissolved oxygen levels to dip too low to sustain fish life, similar to what the Marina experienced in December 2013 when there was a complete die-off of trout, catfish and bass caused from low oxygen levels in the water.

The city is working with Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) officials to monitor oxygen levels. Initial testing by NDOW has concluded low oxygen levels in some areas of the marina. Sparks says the impact of the low oxygen levels is dangerous to fish only. The water continues to be safe for dogs and people and there are no public health or safety concerns at the Marina.Sparks says the water in the Sparks Marina is tested routinely. The body of water is a 77-acre fresh water lake and is replenished daily from groundwater. The city pumps on average 2.5 million gallons of water from the lake on a daily basis. - KOLO.


Skunks Overrun Upscale Neighborhood Of  Granite Bay, California, United States

It’s a stinky situation. A pest invasion in a Granite Bay neighborhood is causing some to take matters into their own hands.


“When you think you catch them all then another wave of skunks come in,” said Vince Matranga, a resident who is battling the skunks.

CBS13 went to see the damage the foul four-legged creatures are doing to the Granite Bay neighborhood.

The homeowner who lives here tells us it looks like someone took a golf club and practiced his swing on his front lawn. But he soon realized the problem is way stinker than that…literally.

“They’re digging up my grass,” said Matranga. “They’re looking for grubs and insects and making a big mess.”

WATCH: One Granite Bay Neighborhood Experiencing Skunk Invasion.


Matranga never thought he’d lose sleep over the small, striped species. But he says skunks are running amok in his upscale Granite Bay neighborhood. He trapped two overnight using eggs and peanut butter as bait.

“There’s one here looking right at me,” he said.

It’s the ninth and tenth he’s caught in the last few months.

And they’re not just targeting his house, the neighbor has trapped 10 himself. Brandt Jordan with Spiderman Pest Control says the problem is more spread out around the Sacramento area.

“Folsom, Granite Bay — a lot of outlying areas, Loomis, anywhere where there’s open pastures, we’re getting calls for that,” said Jordan.

So why skunks, and why now? Jordan blames it on extreme weather. Our dry summer followed by heavy rainfall brought out skunks in search of food.

“A lot of the dryer weather too got rid of the food supply,” said Jordan.

The skunks are now attracting visitors. They keep a distance, but can’t resist.

For Vince, it’s torture.

“I got a little too close a few times and got sprayed…just threw those clothes away,” said Matranga.

As for those skunks in the cages, animal control will pick them up this week. Experts recommend anyone with a similar problem to keep pet food and water out of skunks’ reach.And if you’re in need, most animal-control services provide traps for skunks, which are typically also used for other wildlife like raccoons. - CBS Sacramento.



INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Ferry Death Toll Off Coast Of Greece Rises To 13 - Prosecutors Said The Number Could Rise Due To Stowaways!

Marko Gondolo, second from left, and his daughter, Serafina, who were rescued from the stricken Norman Atlantic,
arrived at Elefsina Air Base outside Athens on Monday. Pool photo by Yannis Kolesidis

December 31, 2014 - VERBANIA, ITALY
- The death toll in a ferry fire off the Greek coast rose to 13 on Tuesday, including two Albanian workers who died while trying to connect a cable to the stricken ship. But prosecutors said that the number could rise because of fear that passengers who boarded illegally might have been trapped in the hold, where the fire raged.

Exhausted passengers from the ferry, the Norman Atlantic, continued to arrive by ship at various Mediterranean ports on Tuesday, but the authorities were unable to say with certainty how many people had been rescued in a 30-hour-plus operation that involved ships, planes and helicopters from Albania, Greece and Italy. High winds and stormy seas slowed ships carrying survivors.


Giuseppe Volpe, the prosecutor in Bari, Italy, whose office was given jurisdiction over the criminal investigation into Sunday’s fire, said the discovery of at least three stowaways — two Afghans and a Syrian — among the survivors suggested that there could be others who boarded illegally.

“The ship was transporting stowaways, hidden in the hold,” Mr. Volpe said at a news conference in Bari. “Our fear is that once we have recovered the wreck we will find other dead people on board.”

It remained unclear how many passengers had been on the boat, and how many had been rescued. Mr. Volpe said as many as 499 people may have been on board, not including any possible stowaways, but his office could verify only those who were rescued by Italian ships. The count was complicated after survivors were distributed among various vessels flying different national flags.

WATCH: Huge plumes of black smoke billow from burning Norman Atlantic ferry.




Mr. Volpe said his figures indicated that 179 people remained missing, but he said he hoped those passengers were on ships that had taken survivors to Greece. An Italian Navy ship remained off the Albanian coast to look for bodies.

The Italian Navy said Tuesday evening that the San Giorgio, a military ship carrying the highest number of survivors, was arriving in Brindisi, Italy.

Mr. Volpe’s office, in conjunction with the Albanian authorities, on Tuesday took legal custody of the Norman Atlantic, which will be towed to Brindisi. There, investigators will search the ship for evidence of other stowaways and try to determine the cause of the fire, which began early Sunday morning after the ferry left a Greek port en route to Ancona, Italy. The ship’s captain and owner are under investigation.

Mr. Volpe said that law enforcement officers had already interviewed dozens of passengers, and that passengers’ cellphone images would be examined.

Survivors interviewed by the Italian news media described confusion and fear onboard, and braving cold winds and high waves as they waited rescue. The Norman Atlantic flies an Italian flag but had been leased by a Greek company, with crew members from both countries. - NY Times.