World Papua New Guinea deploys army to help volcano emergency
Paris (AFP) – Europe sweltered Saturday on the sixth day of a widespread, deadly heatwave that has fuelled record-breaking temperatures, huge blazes and pollution peaks.
With France, Italy, Spain and some central European nations posting all-time high temperatures, officials pleaded with people to take precautions, with promise of reprieve from Sunday.
The heat has officially claimed four lives in France, two in Italy and another two in Spain, including a 17-year-old harvest worker, a 33-year-old roofer and a 72-year-old homeless man.
The hot spell sparked several blazes, including in Spain where firefighters were again battling high flames in strong winds and blistering heat Saturday just after they managed to contain another inferno after nearly 72 hours.
A fire that started Friday in the central Spanish town of Almorox burnt at least 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres), spilling over into the Madrid region and forcing the evacuation of a village, emergency services said.
In France, about 40 fires were reported, razing about 600 hectares and dozens of houses in the Gard department in the country’s south.
– Like a ‘blowtorch’ –
This is the same region where a new French record of 45.9 degrees Celsius (114.6 degrees Fahrenheit) was set Friday, prompting the Meteo France weather service to issue its highest alert level of red for the first time.
It is not only humans struggling in the heat.
Winegrowers in the south of France said their precious crops have been badly burnt.
„Some vines seem to have been hit with a blowtorch,” Jerome Despey said, while Catherine Bernard likened it to the effects of a hairdryer.
„I’ve been a winegrower for 30 years. I have never seen a vine burnt by a sudden onset of heat like yesterday,” Despey added.
France is the seventh European country to ever register a plus 45-degree temperature, along with Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia, Meteo France said.
– ‘Avoidable deaths’ –
France remains haunted by the memory of the devastating heatwave of August 2003 in which nearly 15,000 people were estimated to have died.
Firefighters in Spain battled high flames in strong winds and blistering heat just after they managed to contain another inferno after nearly 72 hours
Madrid (AFP) – Spain was hit by more wildfires as temperatures remained sky-high in the Europe-wide heatwave, authorities said Saturday, just as firefighters finally managed to contain another blaze.
More than 700 soldiers, hundreds of firefighters, water-dropping planes, helicopters and vehicles battled four wildfires in the sizzling-hot centre of Spain and its northeast, parts of which were due to reach temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
A fire that started Friday evening in the central town of Almorox had already burnt more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres), spilling over into the Madrid region and forcing the evacuation of a village, emergency services said.
Another blaze near the city of Toledo some 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the southeast also forced the evacuation of 22 residents, as water-dropping aircraft assisted firefighters on the ground, according to the regional government.
And some 60 kilometres to the west of Almorox, another fire raged.
Meanwhile, a major blaze in the northeastern region of Catalonia had finally been contained and „was in the process of being stabilised,” the regional government said in a statement.
But it warned that a small part of the blaze remained of concern.
„Today the weather conditions continue to be extreme and the next hours will be critical and decisive, not just for this fire, but also for the rest of the territory,” it said.
The fires come as Europe is hit by a major heatwave, with temperatures in some parts of France reaching record highs.
Spain’s weather agency said temperatures on Saturday would be above 36 degrees Celsius in a large part of the country, and would likely reach or go over 40 degrees C in the centre including Madrid and south.
Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for scorching temperatures early in the European summer, but the heatwave is due to die down from Sunday.
France Europe Weather
PARIS (AP) — Thousands of schools were closed, outdoor events canceled and volunteers were visiting the elderly at home as France and other nations battle a record-setting heat wave baking much of Europe.
Several people have died around the continent in incidents that authorities are linking to the weather. A major wildfire raged Friday in Spain, sparked when a pile of chicken dung spontaneously combusted in the heat.
Several countries have reported record temperatures this week, and France hit its all-time heat record Friday: 45.9 C (114.6 F) in the small southern town of Gallargues-le-Montueux, according to French media.
The French national weather service activated its highest-level heat danger alert for the first time, putting four regions around Marseille and Montpellier in the south of the country under special watch Friday.
About 4,000 schools were closed because they couldn’t ensure safe conditions.
Local authorities canceled several cultural and sport events and many end-of-school-year carnivals.
City halls were also sending volunteers to visit elderly people at home to ensure they had fans and water.
In Issy-Les-Moulineaux, a southwest Paris suburb, Jean-Jacques Emerjian, 87, and his wife Marie-France, 80 were relieved to see the Red Cross volunteers.
Marie-France Emerjian said „with my handicapped husband I am worried because I don’t have someone who can come right away (to help). He fell the other night and I couldn’t get him up and I was scared. He had a malaise, he fainted.”
In the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the Salvation Army day center, which allows migrants living in the streets to take showers, also provided them with lots of bottled water.
Paris city hall estimates that about 1,000-2,000 migrants currently live in makeshift camps, which are particularly exposed to the heat.
Some criticized the government for going overboard, but Prime Minister Edouard Philippe defended the efforts after 15,000 people died in a heat wave in 2003 that woke up France to the risks.
„This heat wave is exceptional by its intensity and its earliness,” he told reporters.
We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
A massive hammerhead shark was spotted near a popular Florida beach on Tuesday, sparking fear and awe among visitors.
Photos of the shark shared by the Navarre Beach Fire Department show the approximately 13-foot creature swimming just a few feet away from the shore as beachgoers peer at its fin looming just above the surface.
Christina Reinholt, who lives in Navarre, shared footage of the encounter on her Facebook page, showing the large hammerhead swimming through a pool of blood, just after it reportedly attacked and killed a tarpon, a large species of fish known to inhabit the Atlantic Ocean.
„Lifeguards evacuated the water and some beach goers [sic] got the experience of a freaking lifetime,” Reinholt wrote.
According to the International Shark Attack File, humans have been subject to just 17 documented attacks by hammerhead sharks in recent history, with no human fatalities attributed to the species.
National Geographic reports that about 50 to 70 confirmed shark attacks occur around the world each year, with about 5 to 15 proving fatal.
Although the numbers have steadily risen over the past several decades, researchers attribute the growing trend to the increasing number of humans flocking to coastal waters rather than to escalating shark aggression.
However, while sharks on average kill fewer than 15 people annually, it is estimated that between 20 and 100 million sharks die each year due to human fishing activity.This article was initially published on AOL.com: Massive 13-foot shark spotted alarmingly close to Florida beach
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A United flight heading from New York to Houston diverted to Newark Liberty Airport and made an emergency landing.
Inflatable slides were used to deplane passengers on the runway Saturday morning. No major injuries were reported.
United said Flight 2098 heading from LaGuardia Airport experienced problems upon takeoff just before 8 a.m. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it was „hydraulics problems.”
The Port Authority said the plane blew a tire on landing. It said there was also other structural damage that forced closure of the runway.
Spokeswoman Andrea Hiller said the pilots „reacted quickly to ensure the safety of the aircraft and our customers.”
The airport grounded arriving and departing flights at about 8:45 a.m. Flights resumed shortly after 9:30 a.m.
Netherlands Floating Farm
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Peter van Wingerden’s dairy farm smells just like any other farm — the rich aroma of cow manure and grass hangs in the air around the unusual stable housing the cattle. The farm itself is far from traditional.
Moored in a small harbor in Rotterdam’s busy port, the farm is a futuristic three-story floating structure where one robot milks the cows and another automatically scoops up the manure that gives the enterprise its familiar smell.
Its roof collects rainwater and a raft of solar panels floating alongside produces 40% of the energy the farm needs.
The cows, gazing out over ships transporting gas and yellow cranes unloading ships, eat a mixture of grass cut from a local golf course and the field used by Rotterdam’s top soccer team, grain used by a local brewer to make beer and potato peelings — all automatically cut, mixed and transported to food troughs by conveyer belts.
As countries around the world seek to meet the challenge of feeding growing populations in a sustainable way, Van Wingerden believes the farm, which opened in May and cost about 3 million euros ($3.4 million), demonstrates a new sustainable way of producing food close to where most of it is consumed — in the world’s cities.
„Transporting all this food all over the world is really polluting the world. It’s doing damage to food quality, it creates food losses,” he said in a recent interview. „So we have to find a different model. We have to bring it much closer to the citizens. And that’s what we’re showing over here.”
The fully functioning showcase of circular-economy farming combines Dutch expertise in recycling, building on water and automated agriculture is drawing interest from around the world. Van Wingerden said he is already discussing floating farms in Singapore and China. A group is looking into locating one in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
„We should stop exporting food, but we should start exporting knowledge and technology,” Van Wingerden said.
When the herd reaches its target capacity of 40 cows — there are currently 35 — it will produce 800 liters (211 gallons) of milk each day. The brown and white cows are a breed called Maas-Rijn-Ijssel — named for three rivers that flow through the Dutch region they originate from.
Japan’s decision in December to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission sparked a firestorm of criticism from environmentalists
Tokyo (AFP) – Japanese fishermen set sail on Monday to hunt whales commercially for the first time in more than three decades after Tokyo’s controversial withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) triggered outrage from environmental groups.
The planned hunts, while small and far from internationally protected waters, have also sparked anger in countries where whaling is considered outdated and harmful.
But in Japan, whaling communities hailed the return of the practice, with Tokyo defending it as a tradition that should not be subject to outside interference.
For years, the issue of whaling was a diplomatic headache for Japan, which came under attack for exploiting an IWC loophole to hunt whales for „scientific” purposes.
Critics accused Japan of effectively carrying out stealth whaling, saying the hunts had no scientific value, while Tokyo continued to push for permission to resume commercial whaling outright.
But last year it announced it would simply withdraw from the IWC and no longer comply with its decades-old ban on commercial killing of the ocean giants.
The decision comes into effect from July 1, when a flotilla of ships that once carried out whaling for „scientific research” will set sail from the Shimonoseki port in western Japan.
Elsewhere, five small whaling boats from across the country will gather in Kushiro port in northern Japan and start hunting minkes for about a week in a symbolic event celebrating the resumption of the practice.
– ‘Heart full of hope’ –
„We are very excited at the resumption of commercial whaling,” Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association, told AFP ahead of the departure.
„My heart is full of hope,” added Kai, who belongs to a fisheries cooperative in Taiji in Wakayama prefecture, an area known for both whale and dolphin hunting.
Japan’s decision in December to withdraw from the IWC sparked a firestorm of criticism from environmentalists and anti-whaling countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
It came after years of failed attempts by Tokyo to convince the IWC to allow it to resume commercial whaling, arguing that stocks of certain species were now sufficient to support renewed hunting.
Forget about the moon: Donald Trump says NASA should focus on ‘much bigger things’ … like Mars•Moon landing conspiracy theories, exposed WASHINGTON – To the moon?Been there, done that, President Donald Trump says.Trump tweeted Friday that NASA should forget about going back to the moon and should focus on other things, like Mars.“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” he wrote. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”Trump’s comments came one day after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstinesaid the agency won’t be able to meet a 2024 deadline to land astronauts on the moon unless Congress approves the Trump administration’s request for an additional $1.6 billion in next year’s budget.”It takes this off the table,” Bridenstine told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview Thursday. Without the extra funding, „we’re going to be back looking at 2028.”It was the NASA chief’s strongest statement to date that the fate of a lunar return five years from now depends almost entirely on congressional action in the coming months. America’s last walk on the moon was in 1972.Donald J. Trump
Trump’s tweet appeared to undercut Vice President Mike Pence, who has been spearheading the administration’s lunar policy as head of the National Space Council.
„We will return Americans astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence said at the October 2017 inaugural meeting of the council, which Trump revived.
Trump last month tweeted his full support for a moon mission, saying the U.S. was going to „return to space in a BIG WAY!”
For its next mission in our solar system, NASA plans to fly a drone copter to Saturn’s largest moon Titan in search of the building blocks of life, the space agency said Thursday.
The Dragonfly mission, which will launch in 2026 and land in 2034, will send a rotorcraft to fly to dozens of locations across the icy moon, which has a substantial atmosphere and is viewed by scientists as an equivalent of very early-era Earth.
It is the only celestial body besides our planet known to have liquid rivers, lakes and seas on its surface, though these contain hydrocarbons like methane and ethane, not water.
„Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe, ” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
„This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we’re now ready for Dragonfly’s amazing flight.”
NASA said the vehicle would have eight rotors and fly like a large drone.
„During its 2.7-year baseline mission, Dragonfly will explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years,” NASA said in a statement.
„Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs.
„Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life.”
The craft will land first at the equatorial „Shangri-La” dune, exploring the region in short trips before building up to longer „leapfrog” flights of five miles (8 kilometers).
It will stop along compelling areas to collect samples before finally reaching the moon’s Selk impact crater, where there is evidence of past liquid water, organic materials and energy: a potential primordial stew.
The hope is the lander will eventually fly more than 108 miles (175 kilometers).
Titan’s atmosphere is made mostly of nitrogen, like Earth’s, but is four times denser. Its clouds and rains are methane.