The San Francisco area was hit with the strongest quake in 25 years. The 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The power was out in Napa, only 6 miles away from the earthquakes epicentre, affecting over 10,000 households, and some cellphone networks were down. California’s Highway 12 was also damaged, with areas of the highway buckled by the quake. There was damage to buildings in Napa. There were no fatalities in the quake.
Ebola victim who sparked global panic had been travelling back to his home in Minnesota when he became ill in Nigeria, where he died. Patrick Sawyer worked for the Liberian government, but lived in the US with his wife and three children. Mr Sawyer, had been caring for his sick sister, in Liberia, (who he did not know to be suffering the Ebola virus) before travelling to Lagos, Nigeria for a conference. Whilst on the plane Mr Sawyer became ill, on arrival in Nigeria he booked himself into a private hospital, where he later died.
Ebola virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days, and first looks like any other virus: fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The virus then causes internal bleeding, and can be 90% fatal.
Had Mr Sawyer reached the States he could have become patient zero in a US epidemic.
A small boy riding his bike outside his home in Bakersfield, California, was suddenly attacked by a neighbours dog. The Labrador Chow cross pulled the 4-year old off his bike before biting him several times. The family cat them rushed to the boys rescue, scaring the dog off. The attack was captured on the family surveillance camera.
The parents of the child believe the cat has saved their son’s life. The owner’s of the dog volunterily brought the dog to the local police station and the animal has now been destroyed.
Gene Robinson the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopalian Church has announced via The Daily Beast that he is to divorce his partner of 25 years. The couple controversaly married in 2010 after gay marriage was legalized in the State of New Hampshire. Later Robinson was voted by the General Convention of the US Episcopalian church to become a bishop a move which shocked and angered the global Anglican community.
In his announcement Robinson writes: “Recently, my partner and husband of 25-plus years and I decided to get divorced. While the details of our situation will remain appropriately private, I am seeking to be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life—coming out in 1986, falling in love, and accepting the challenge of becoming Christendom’s first openly gay priest to be elected a Bishop in the historic succession of bishops stretching back to the apostles.”
Within the next few weeks the Sun’s magnetic field will complete it’s process of flipping. This is an event which takes place every 11 years and is accompanied by intense solar activity.
This solar activity could have serious implications for us, as the solar flares thrown out by the sun at this time have the potential to damage satellites and take out power grids on earth. In this age where we are dependent upon telecommunications, and the blackout of vast areas of the country could have catastrophic consequences. In 1859 the solar maximum caused, the then new technology of telegraphs, to be damaged, resulted in telegraph operators to be electrocuted, the auroras caused were seen as far south as the Caribbean; and in 1989 a solar flare resulted in the blackout of Quebec, and melted power transformers in New Jersey. Scientists will be closely monitoring the sun hoping this solar maximum will pass without incident.
The Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan was severely damaged by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011. Since then scientists have been battling with the damaged pant to keep the rectors cool and avoid a more serious incident.
Next month will see work beginning to remove the fuel rods from the damaged rector. This work will be the most technical and dangerous since the 2011 disaster. This year’s World Nuclear Report says the operations have the potential to cause: “by far the most serious radiological disaster to date” if it goes wrong. And warns of possible apocalyptic scenarios, including the evacuation of Tokyo.
The operations involve the removal of the spent fuel from one of the reactors. This reactor is in the most unstable condition, and scientists do not fully know the extent of damage within the reactor core. Since the disaster the reactor has had to be constantly cooled to stop a full meltdown of the plant. Every day gallons of irradiated water from this process escape the plant into the surrounding environment and into the Pacific Ocean. Once these fuel rods are removed, they will then begin work on removing the fuel rods from the other three reactors, which were also damaged. The whole process of decommissioning the site is likely to take 40 years.
Althoug the removal of fuel rods from a nuclear power station is a standard procedure the damaged Fukushima plant has so many dangers and unknowns it makes it a highly dangerous and technical procedure. Nuclear expert Professor Neil Hyatt says, “This is probably a world first in terms of the engineering challenge.”
Monday afternoon a gunman went on a shooting rampage at the US Navy Yard in Washington, at least 13 are believed to have been killed. The FBI have said the gunman has been killed and has been named as 34 year old Aaron Alexis, from Fort Worth Texas. Alexis served in the US military from 2007-11.
The FBI do not have a motive for the attack.
The US Navy Yard, Washington, is the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, purchases, builds and maintains ships and submarines for the Navy.
Reports out of Syria suggest that they have accepted the Russian proposal to place their chemical weapons arsenal under international control. President Obama has responded saying that if the reports are true the deal would be a “significant breakthrough”.
The UK Prime Minister, responded saying the plan must be “serious and genuine”.