We open with a potential outbreak from the Guardian:
Texas nurse assistant may have exposed tuberculosis to 750 infants
- El Paso hospital assistant showed symptoms of TB long before going on leave, meaning hundreds of babies must be tested
An official at a Texas hospital where a nurse assistant potentially exposed more than 750 infants to tuberculosis said Tuesday that her symptoms were discovered in July but that more than a month passed before she was tested for the infectious lung disease.
The administration of the Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso “should have done more” when the employee’s symptoms were revealed during her annual screening, Sierra Providence Health Network CEO Eric Evans said at a news conference. Sierra Providence is the parent company of a network of hospitals that includes Providence Memorial.
The hospital submitted a corrective action plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday and expects its approval, Evans said.
TheLocal.dk covers flesh-eating bacteria on aisle four:
Every fifth pack of pork carries MRSA
An analysis of pork products in Denmark’s supermarkets found that every fifth pack is contaminated with MRSA. Just five years ago, a similar analysis found the bacteria in just five percent of products.
TV Syd asked the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and the Techinical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute to analyze 100 packages of pork chops, roast pork, tenderloins and other pork products. The MRSA 398 bacteria was found in 21 of the 100 packages.
All of the pork was produced in Denmark and the samples also included organic pork products.
From the Daily Climate, linking disease spread to climate:
Lyme disease surges north, and Canada moves out of denial
Canada should have seen this coming. In the United States, reported cases of Lyme disease have increased from fewer than 10,000 reported cases in 1991 to more than 27,000 cases by 2013. Canada was well-positioned to be affected by the spread of the disease. As early as 2005, modeling published by researcher Nicholas Ogden, then at the University of Montreal, indicated that the geographic range of the Lyme-carrying tick could expand northward significantly due to climate change in this century.
Scientists long have anticipated that global warming would harm human health, and the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlights the risk for poor populations that don’t have access to quality health care or other public services. For example, the risk of heat stroke is greatest in areas without access to power for air conditioning, and water-borne illnesses like cholera and intestinal viruses flourish in areas without safe drinking water.
But one of the clearest signs of the changing health risks in a warming world has emerged in two of the world’s most advanced economies, the United States and Canada, as Lyme disease spreads in North America.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year added Lyme disease to its list of climate change indicators, a report meant to aid in public understanding of the effects of warming that scientists have been able to document.
From the Guardian, a California Burning update:
California King fire destroys 12 homes as states issue smoke warning
- Crews of more than 7,000 firefighters extend their lines around huge fire in northern California as smoke shrouds Nevada
More than 7,000 firefighters in better than expected conditions managed to extend their lines around a huge and unwieldy wildfire, which threatens thousands of homes for well over a week and fouled the air in two states.
The King fire east of Sacramento was 35% contained Tuesday after burning about 140 square miles and destroying a dozen homes, said the California department of forestry and fire protection.
Expected high winds up to 35mph that could stoke the flames and send embers flying ahead of the blaze failed to materialize Tuesday but could still come Wednesday.
From the Los Angeles Times, a preview of coming attractions:
Northern California fires may offer a grim preview for Southland
Northern California is bearing the brunt of wildfires that have destroyed scores of homes and consumed huge swaths of land. The state has seen 1,000 more wildfires so far this year compared to the average, many of them in northern forest areas left bone-dry by the drought.
But Southern California is about to enter its traditional fire season, and officials worry that the destruction to the north offers a grim preview of what’s ahead.
“Conditions are ripe, and it only takes one day of hot, dry weather with Santa Ana winds for a large wildfire to cause destruction,” said Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The latest forecast from the National Weather Service released Wednesday only added to the concern. Northern California typically gets 30% to 40% of its rain in the next three months, but meteorologists said they see largely dry conditions ahead. The drought outlook is similar for the south.
Next up, from NASA Goddard, a video with a dramatic animation of the extent of the loss of arctic sea ice in the past five decades:
NASA | Arctic Sea Ice Reaches 2014 Minimum Extent
Sea ice acts as an air conditioner for the planet, reflecting energy from the sun. On September 17, the Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for 2014. At 1.94 million square miles (5.02 million square kilometers), it’s the sixth lowest extent of the satellite record. With warmer temperatures and thinner, less resilient ice, the Arctic sea ice is on a downward trend.
BBC News covers tragic rejection:
Brazil refuses to join pledge to end deforestation
Brazil has refused to sign up to a pact setting a deadline for ending deforestation entirely by 2030.
The US, Canada and European Union nations were among 30 states that agreed to halve forest loss by 2020 and work towards a 2030 goal.
But Brazil, which owns the largest continuous rainforest on the planet, refused to sign because it could contravene national law.
UN officials said they hoped the pact would be adopted in 2015.
From ABC Australia via Journeyman Pictures — and do note the helmet cams worn by the marine cops:
Last Chance For Pacific Tuna Stocks?
Net Loss: How over-fishing has driven Pacific Bluefin Tuna stocks to the brink of extinction
Pacific Bluefin tuna have been fished to within an inch of existence. Stocks are at an all time low, but demand has never been higher and the trawlers pursuing them have never been more powerful or relentless.
East of the Philippines, well north of Indonesia and with nothing but hundreds of kilometres of wide blue ocean for a neighbour, Palau is determined to protect its own subsistence fishing interests and its pristine reefs; waters and wildlife that make it an international eco-tourist hotspot. Now the president is drawing up plans to make the 200 nautical miles of ocean surrounding it – about 630 thousand square kilometers – a no-go zone for international fishing fleets. According to Tommy Remengasau Jnr. President, Palau, “Palau is so fragile and so beautiful that you just have to take the responsible action and minimise the risk that would destroy all of this for our children and future children”. Remengesau admits that this will be a tough fight against powerful forces, both locally and internationally. But Palau has established an international reputation for taking a brave lead on conservation.
The Yomiuri Shimbun covers hands across the border:
U.S., Canada tribes sign bison treaty
Native tribes from the United States and Canada signed a treaty Tuesday establishing an inter-tribal alliance to restore bison to areas of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains where millions of the animals once roamed.
Leaders of 11 tribes from Montana and Alberta signed the pact during a daylong ceremony on Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation, organizers said.
It marks the first treaty among the tribes and First Nations since a series of agreements governing hunting rights in the 1800s. That was when their ancestors still roamed the border region hunting bison, also called buffalo.
From the Guardian, Big Oil gets a rejection slip:
Judge orders BP to stick by Deepwater Horizon payouts agreement
- BP had argued in court that flawed formula gives money to businesses for questionable claims relating to 2010 spill
A federal judge has ruled that BP must stick by an agreement with companies that received payouts after claiming the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill hurt their business, ruling against the oil company’s argument hundreds of millions of dollars should be returned.
BP argued on Wednesday that a flawed funding formula in the settlement is giving money to businesses for questionable claims, and they should be forced to return it.
But US district judge Carl Barbier says a deal is a deal. Barbier had ordered the formula changed several weeks ago.
Pueblo Lands covers the climate-warmer hired to handle investments for Global Corporate University:
UC’s Chief Investment Officer Envisions Coal-Fired Power, Cement Factories as “Green” Investment Opportunities
The news this week that the University of California’s chief investment officer (CIO) will not be recommending divestment from fossil fuel companies to the university’s governing board of regents isn’t a surprise.
A coalition of UC students, faculty, staff and alumni have pressed the UC regents to divest from fossil fuel stocks and bonds. On Tuesday, the UC’s CIO released a recommendation that regents not pursue divestment, and instead develop “a framework for the management of environmental, social , and governance considerations.”
UC’s CIO, Jagdeep Singh Bachher was recently hired by the regents to run the university’s finances, more than $90 billion in funds. Bachher previously helped run the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the sovereign wealth fund of Alberta, Canada. While helping pick investments for AIMCo, Bachher steered the province’s money into coal, oil, and gas companies and projects in North America, China and beyond. He also prioritized renewable energy and clean tech investments. But nothing in his record indicates that he would support divestment from fossil fuel companies. Instead it appears that Bachher sees clean tech as simply one part of a diversified investment portfolio which includes fossil fuels.
On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with this from NHK WORLD:
System to remove cesium at plant stops
Apparent human error has resulted in stoppage of a system for removing cesium from radioactively contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The firm says the stoppage is thought to have resulted from mistaken closing of a pump valve. It adds that a pump for sending tainted water to the system stopped with an alarm around 8:30 AM on Wednesday. The operator later shut down the system.
Officials of the firm say the error lowered power to siphon off contaminated water, stopping the pump.
The system can treat 30 tons of tainted water per hour.
The Japan Times covers the big picture:
Fukushima cleanup going painfully slow
- Opposition to waste storage complicates project
Three and a half years after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air and water, decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture has yet to draw to an end.
The government initially hoped to complete the decontamination by the end of last March, but the process continues to lag far behind, prompting the government to push back the goal by three years to 2017.
Due to the slow progress, huge bags filled with contaminated soil can still be seen piled up at hundreds of temporary storage sites across the prefecture, and many residents are in limbo, unable to make up their minds about whether to return home in the near future or to relocate for good.
From NHK WORLD, filling in:
Regulator: Cementing radioactive water unavoidable
The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority says tunnels containing radioactive water may have to be blocked off by cement at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Acting chief Toyoshi Fuketa expressed his opinion at a news conference on Wednesday.
Highly radioactive water flowing into tunnels at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is believed to be mixing with groundwater and leaking into the ocean. Tokyo Electric Power Company initially planned to freeze some of the contaminated water to stop the flow and allow its removal.
Fuketa said work to freeze the water has been unsuccessful and there may be no choice but to fill the tunnels with concrete.
The Asahi Shimbun takes it to the streets:
16,000 activists turn out in Tokyo in outcry against nuclear power plants
Even though reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant have cleared final safety checks, more than 10,000 anti-nuclear activists at a park in Tokyo’s Koto Ward on Sept. 23 pledged to continue their opposition.
According to Citizens’ Committee for the 10 Million People’s Petition to say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants, which organized the protest, about 16,000 activists rallied at Kameido Chuo Park on the autumn equinox national holiday.
“I want Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pledge that the central government will abandon nuclear power plants in the nation,” said writer Hisae Sawachi, who is a member of the group along with Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe.
And for our final item, opposition across the English Channel from TheLocal.at:
Austria challenges UK’s nuclear ambitions
Austria will launch a legal challenge if the European Commission approves Britain’s ambitious plan to build its first new nuclear plant in a generation, Vienna’s environment minister said Wednesday.
To the alarm of environmentalists, a spokesman for EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Monday that Brussels will “recommend a positive decision” on the Hinkley Point project, reported Agence France-Presse.
“This scandal has to be fought by all legal means possible,” Andra Rupprechter told the Kurier daily, adding that he would apply to the European Court of Justice to have the decision annulled.