A Litoria frog, which uses a loud ringing song to call for a mate, was discovered in a rainforest during a Conservation International (CI) led Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition of Papua New Guinea's highlands wilderness in 2008 is pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Steve Richards/Conservation International/Handout


"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)
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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The World's Saddest Cat Is Up For Adoption (Video)

Opposing Views, Dominic Kelly, Sat, August 30, 2014

A Washington animal adoption center is actively trying to find a new home for Tucker, the world’s saddest cat.

Tucker has a number of genetic abnormalities that have caused various health issues, including thin skin, easy bruising, and chronic shedding that requires her to wear a protective shirt. Due to her genetic issues, Tucker has a droopy face, and as a result, she’s become known as the “world’s saddest cat.”

“Tucker enjoys sitting on laps and playing with string toys!” said the adoption center Purrfect Pals, according to Metro. “She also loves to be pet under the chin and behind the ears and is great with children.”


Purrfect Pals posted information about Tucker on their website, and since, people from all over the world have expressed interest in adopting the one-year-old feline.

Although Tucker looks incredibly sad all the time, the center says that she is actually really loveable.

Sources: Metro, Gawker, NY Daily News

Heroic pit bull saves 8-year-old boy from deadly bee attack by dragging him to safety

Mirror, Kara O'Neill, Aug 31, 2014

The dog pulled the boy to safety after the swarm of stinging insects were released into a group of unsuspecting kids


A pit bull saved an eight-year-old boy from a deadly bee attack by dragging him to safety by his trouser leg.

Jesse-Cole Shaver, from Oregon, was playing with a group of 10 friends in a local wood behind his house when one of the kids stepped on a rotten log, unleashing a swarm of bees.

The children were at the bottom of a steep embankment near their apartment building on Tuesday evening when the bees were released, stinging Jesse at least 24 times.

Most of the children managed to scramble back up the hill away from danger but Jesse was unable to get a secure footing.

Hero: Pit bull Hades saves Jesse-Cole from bee attack

But luckily, the boy's pit bull, Hades, was on hand to help and grabbed his trouser leg in order to pull him up the steep incline.

After the attack, Jesse told KPTV in Oregon: "Hades saw me and came and she dragged me up to the grass and then stopped and let me crawl on her back and then took me to mom."

Jesse's older sister, Jasmine Jones, was stung five times in what, for her, could have been a fatal attack.

The 14-year-old is allergic to bee stings and had to have two injections from an EpiPen to prevent her body from swelling.

The frightened mother, who did not wish to be named, said: "A couple of these kids could have got really sick or died."

Stung: Jesse and his sister Jasmine were taken to hospital after the bee attack

Both children were taken to Williamette Falls Hospital for treatment after the attack where doctors were still attempting to remove bee stings from the children's hair.

They were released from the hospital a few hours later. Hades was also stung but is also now fine.

Jesse's mom said that her son couldn't wait to get home and thank his dog for saving him.

The children have vowed never to go back down to the embankment again.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dramatic Papua New Guinea volcano quietens

Yahoo – AFP, 30 Aug 2014

Mount Tavurvur erupting in eastern Papua New Guinea, Aug 29 2014.
(AFP Photo: Oliver Bluett)

A volcano which has erupted in Papua New Guinea was Saturday spewing fragments from its crater and rumbling loudly, but its activity appeared to be subsiding, a seismologist said.

Mount Tavurvur, which destroyed the town of Rabaul when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan in 1994, came to life again early Friday, with rocks and ash erupting from its centre.

Security officials man a check-point to alert 
residents following the eruption of Mount 
Tavurvur in eastern Papua New Guinea on 
August 30, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ness Kerton)
The eruptions on the remote island of New Britain in eastern PNG thrust plumes of ash into the air, prompting local evacuations and international flights to modify their routes.

"At the moment we are getting only discrete explosions," Jonathan Kuduon, a senior seismologist at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory, told AFP.

"The activity has subsided," he said, adding that the fragments were reaching less than 200 metres (600 feet) above the crater.

"These small explosions are usually accompanied by noise."

So far there have been no reports of injuries or damage, but the volcano continued to boom and spew lava overnight and parts of Rabaul are blanketed in ash and pumice stone.

Kuduon said Mount Tavurvur remained a concern, saying officials were worried about the amount of ash in parts of Rabaul, but the kind of eruption -- Strombolian (low-level) -- meant it could subside quickly.

"I think from Tavurvur you can expect small eruptions to go on yet. You can still expect eruptions from that volcano but not from Vulcan," he said.

"Looking at past eruptions, I think the eruptions are getting less and less. Which simply means that the volcano is dying out."

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in the northern Australian city of Darwin said it was keeping a close eye on the situation after Friday's eruption which saw ash reach 60,000 feet (18,000 metres) which is flight level.

"The last two big eruptions at Rabaul, you've had the Tavurvur eruptions first and then one in a fairly close time period you've had Vulcan erupt," official Cyndee Seals told AFP.

But Kuduon said he was not overly concerned about Mount Vulcan erupting.

Youths wearing masks plays among ash
 spewed after the eruption of Mount 
Tavurvur in eastern Papua New Guinea on
August 30, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ness Kerton)
This crater rumbled to life with Tavurvur in 1994, with the eruptions destroying much of Rabaul, with falling ash causing buildings to collapse. While loss of life was minimal, looters ransacked the evacuated town.

"In 1994 you had eruptions from Vulcan that went (on) for nearly two weeks and then the volcano just shut of," Kuduon said.

The seismologist said the people of Rabaul were now waiting for the eruptions from the 688-metre (2,270-foot) Tavurvur crater to stop completely.

"We need to go back to our normal life. So long as we have eruptions going it will affect our normal life. We only wish that the volcano can go back to sleep now," he said.

PNG sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where high volcanic and seismic activity is the norm.

The Post-Courier reported that Rabaul port was temporarily closed Friday as a precautionary measure.

Leave that iguana in the jungle, expert tells Costa Rica

Yahoo – AFP, Oscar Nunez, 30 Aug 2014

A nurse at the Simon Bolivar Zoo's veterinary surgery gives a medicine to a
squirrel in San Jose on August 28, 2014, Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)

San Jose (Costa Rica) (AFP) - Thousands of parrots, monkeys, iguanas, toucans, turtles and other rainforest animals are kept as exotic pets in Costa Rica, a practice putting some species at risk, according to experts.

The Central American country, famous for its rich biodiversity, won plaudits from conservationists two years ago for banning sport hunting in a pioneering move to protect wild animals.

A macaw eats at the Simon Bolivar Zoo's
 veterinary surgery, in San Jose on August 28,
 2014, Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)
But scientists and activists -- gathered this week for the country's first-ever conference on the issue of captive wildlife -- say tropical animals face another major threat in Costa Ricans' long-time love of exotic pets.

"There are no precise figures, but we know it's a problem of great magnitude, because a study by the environment ministry found that 25 percent of households have a parrot or a parakeet as a pet," said Andrea Aguilar of the Instituto Asis, a key figure behind the conference.

That would add up to nearly 400,000 exotic birds in cages, she said.

Aguilar's institute runs a shelter for wild animals in La Fortuna de San Carlos, a lush region in northern Costa Rica that draws large numbers of foreign tourists with its famous wildlife and tropical vegetation.

The shelter takes in wild animals kept as pets that fall sick or are wounded by people, cars or electric shocks.

It gives them veterinary care and, when possible, prepares them for an eventual return to the wild.

Cindy Rivera, a nurse at the Simon Bolivar 
Zoo's veterinary surgery, weighs a turtle
 in San Jose on August 28, 2014 Costa
Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)
"Costa Rican law forbids keeping wild species as pets, but the law isn't enough because there's a very deep-rooted custom. People don't realize that wild animals are not and cannot be pets," Aguilar told AFP in an interview ahead of the First Congress on Wildlife Rescue, Recovery and Freedom in San Jose.

She said people have a range of reasons for keeping pets such as white-faced capuchin monkeys, green iguanas or songbirds. They are drawn to the animals' beauty, they want to entertain their children or they feel it brings them social status.

But the underlying problem is that people are largely ignorant of the animals' diets, growth, life span, habitat, diseases and behavior.

"A family falls in love with a baby white-faced capuchin because it's funny and affectionate, but when it reaches two years old its behavior will change. It will become aggressive, bite and pull people's hair. That's when it becomes a problem at home," she said.

Such animals often end up being mistreated or killed, or, with luck, in a shelter, she said.

By that point returning them to their native environment is difficult. They lack survival skills and are unlikely to be accepted by other members of their species.

Traffic in exotic animals

The international traffic in exotic animals exacerbates the problem.

A Spider Monkey sits in an enclosure at the
 Simon Bolivar Zoo in San Jose, Costa Rica 
on July 28, 2013 (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)
The illegal $20-billion-a-year trade has taken a major toll on Costa Rica's biodiversity, as animals are captured and sold abroad, Aguilar said.

One of the goals of the three-day conference is to prod the Costa Rican government to expand environmental education programs for locals, foreign visitors and ecotourism operators.

"It's important to make people understand that wild animals have to live in the forest, because they have different needs from domesticated animals," said Aguilar.

Protecting the environment is also key for the Costa Rican economy, which depends heavily on tourism and attracted 2.4 million visitors last year -- many of them drawn by the country's tropical wildlife and forests.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pandering to the crowd: panda accused of faking pregnancy in bun fraud case

Ai Hin showed all the signs she was expecting but only wanted extra food and the trappings of celebrity, say keepers

theguardian.com, AFP, Beijing, Thursday 28 August 2014

Giant panda Ai Hin put on a ‘phantom pregnancy’, possibly because she wanted
special treatment, her Chinese keepers say. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Hopes that tiny panda paws would be seen in the world’s first live-broadcast cub delivery have been dashed after Chinese experts suggested the “mother” may have been focusing more on extra bun rations than giving birth.

The slated star of the show, giant panda Ai Hin, had shown signs of pregnancy at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre, according to state news agency Xinhua.

A live broadcast of the event was planned but Xinhua said her “behaviours and physiological indexes returned to normal”, citing experts saying she experienced a “phantom pregnancy”.

The breeding centre, in China’s south-western province of Sichuan, commonly moves pandas that are thought to be pregnant into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care.

“They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” Wu Kongju, an expert at the base told Xinhua.

Phantom pregnancy is said to be common among the endangered animals. Many continued to display pregnant behaviour after noticing the difference in treatment they received, Xinhua said.

Six-year-old Ai Hin showed reduced appetite, less mobility and a surge in hormones when her “pregnancy” was first detected, the news agency said, before further observations concluded it was fake.

The giant panda’s natural habitat is in the mountainous south-west of China. But they have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.

China has about 1,600 pandas living in the wild and another 300 held in captivity.

“Only 24% of females in captivity give birth, posing a serious threat to the survival of the species,” Xinhua said.

Giant wasps' nest found growing on single bed in spare bedroom

Nest in Winchester home measured 3ft x 1.5ft and housed 5,000 wasps, which had chewed through mattress and pillows to build it

theguardian.com, Agency, Wednesday 27 August 2014

Giant wasps' nest found in Winchester home. Pest controller John Birkett said: 'In 45
 years I have never seen anything like it.' Photograph: John Birkett/Longwood
Services Pest Control

A man who went into a rarely-used spare room in his mother's home was shocked to discover that 5,000 wasps had made a giant nest in the bed.

The nest, 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep, was still expanding and the insects had chewed through the mattress and pillows to build it.

When pest controller John Birkett was called to the scene he realised it had been growing for several months. His client, who lives alone in the five-bedroom house in Winchester, Hampshire, had not been in the spare bedroom for months. When her son opened the door and discovered the nest in the single bed he realised a window had been left open the whole time.

Birkett, of Longwood Services, said: "We got a call as we normally do … but a bedroom – I thought that was unusual. I opened the door and I just couldn't believe it. The pillow was covered in this 3ft wasps' nest and the workers were still busy building the nest.

"In 45 years I have never seen anything like it. There must have been 5,000 wasps. It's amazing that the woman didn't realise she was living with them.

"I got dressed up like a spaceman and tried to destroy as many as I could with the workers flying around the room. In that nest there must have been up to 700 queen wasps."

He said the only nest he had previously found in a room was about the size of a tennis ball.

Birkett finally managed to clear the area using a spray to kill the wasps. He was even able to rescue the beloved blanket on the bed.

Though he got the job done, Birkett was saddened at the death of so many wasps. "It was a work of art and they had worked so hard, but she looked at it and said, 'No, no, no - you've got to get rid of it.' If they did that in three-and-a-half months, that's amazing, isn't it? They're just little things."

Indian woman kills leopard with sickle after it attacks her

Kamla Devi, 56, says she battled with the animal for half an hour after it attacked her while she was tending her fields

theguardian.com, Agence France-Presse in Dehradun, Wednesday 27 August 2014

Kamla Devi suffered several injuries after she fought off a leopard. Photograph: Europics

A 56-year-old Indian woman is recovering in hospital after killing a leopard that attacked her, as she tended her fields armed only with a sickle.

The woman told Indian broadcaster CNN-IBN that she battled with the leopard for half an hour on Sunday morning before finally delivering a killer blow with her sickle.

"The leopard lunged at me many times and we fought for a long time," she told the channel from her hospital bed in the northern state of Uttarakhand, her arms bandaged and a big scar across her right cheek.

"I got hold of my sickle and fought with it. That's when the leopard was killed," said the woman, named as Kamla Devi.

Devi, who was widowed a few years ago, told the Hindustan Times she was terrified when the leopard attacked, but was determined not to succumb.

"I gathered my courage to fight back. I promised myself that this is not my last day here," she told the paper.

She told AFP that she grabbed the ear of the attacking leopard with her right hand and kept swinging at the animal with the sickle in her left. Hearing Devi's screams for help, villagers in the Rudraprayag district came running but the leopard was dead by the time they reached her, a witness, Jagdish Singh, said.

Dr Rakesh Rawat said Devi's injuries, which include fractured hands and deep cuts on her body, were not life threatening and she was recovering.

Leopard attacks are relatively common in rural areas of India, although it is rare for the leopard to come off worse. In 2009 a nine-year-old boy in the same state fought off a leopard that had attacked his sister.

The animals are increasingly venturing into populated areas as their habitat becomes depleted. Video footage from Mumbai last year showed a leopard creeping into an apartment block complex and snatching a small dog.

Conservation group WWF called for better management of forests and other habitats for India's leopard population, which numbered 1,150 in a 2011 census.



Herd mentality: 'Sheepdog mystery' solved at last

Yahoo – AFP, Richard Ingham, 27 Aug 2014

A sheepdog herds a flock in Lowther, northwest England, on September 13, 
2009 (AFP Photo/Paul Ellis)

Paris (AFP) - There is the riddle of the Bermuda Triangle. The unresolved identity of Jack the Ripper. The enigma of how the Universe developed beyond a quark-gluon soup following the Big Bang.

And then there is the Sheepdog Mystery.

A puzzle that has niggled mathematical minds for years, the Mystery is this: how does a single dog get so many selfish sheep to move so efficiently in the same direction?

The answer, revealed on Tuesday in a journal published by Britain's prestigious Royal Society, is that sheepdogs cleverly follow a simple rulebook.

Researchers fitted highly accurate GPS tracking devices into backpacks that were then placed on a trained Australian Kelpie sheepdog and on a flock of 46 female merino sheep in a five-hectare (12-acre) field.

They then used the GPS data to build a computer model of what prompted the dog to move, and how it responded.

Sheep cohesiveness is the big clue.

The dog's first rule is to bind the sheep together by weaving around side-to-side at their backs, and once this has been achieved, it drives the group forward.

"It basically sees white, fluffy things in front of it," said Andrew King of Swansea University in Wales.

"If the dog sees gaps between the sheep, or the gaps are getting bigger, the dog needs to bring them together."

Daniel Stroembom of Uppsala University in Sweden explained: "At every step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not.

"If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it's already cohesive, the dog will push the herd towards the target."

Single sheep dogs can successfully herd flocks of 80 or more sheep in their everyday work and in competitive herding trials.

But the model suggests that, in theory, a dog could herd more than 100 by following the two simple rules.

In contrast, other attempts at resolving the Sheepdog Mystery are more pessimistic. They say that 50 sheep would be the limit -- beyond this, another dog (or a human) would be needed to close up the gaps.

The study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, comes with an intimidatingly geeky headline: "Solving the Shepherding Problem: Heuristics for Herding Autonomous, Interacting Agents."

But the work goes beyond scientific curiosity, said the authors.

"There are numerous applications for this knowledge, such as crowd control, cleaning up the environment, herding of livestock, keeping animals away from sensitive areas and collective or guiding groups of exploring robots," said King.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sofia zoo closes after unexplained deaths of animals

Zoo is temporarily shut as experts try to discover why three Indian bison, two yaks and a camel have died

theguardian.com – AFP, Sofia, Tuesday 26 August 2014

Three Indian bison have died at the zoo since Friday; two yaks and a camel
have also died. Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images

The zoo in Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, has been temporarily shut to visitors after several animals died for unknown reasons over the weekend, the city's mayor, Yordanka Fandakova, said on Tuesday.

Three Indian bison, two yaks and a camel have died since Friday, with authorities still unable to say why.

"We ordered checks of the food they were given, the water they drank, the space they lived in," Fandakova said.

"What worries me most is the condition of some animals which are still unwell … The most important thing is to save the sick animals so that there is no danger for people," she said, without saying how many animals were sick.

The zoo would only reopen when it is definitely safe, she added.

Bulgaria reported an outbreak of blue tongue disease recently, but veterinarians said the dead zoo animals did not display symptoms of the viral sickness, which affects sheep and cattle. Sofia's zoo is the largest and oldest on the Balkan peninsula.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Strong 6.0-magnitude quake hits northern California

Yahoo – AFP, Glenn Chapman, 24 Aug 2014

Bricks from a damaged building sit on a car following a reported 6.0 earthquake
on August 24, 2014 in Napa, California (AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan)

San Francisco (AFP) - California's governor declared a state of emergency Sunday following a strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake that seriously injured three people including a child and ignited fires in the scenic Napa valley wine region.

The US Geological Service said that the quake was the most powerful to hit the San Francisco Bay area since the 1989 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake.

The quake sent at least a top corner of a brick building tumbling into the street in Napa. Elsewhere it ignited fires, burst water mains and cracked roads in the area.

A building is destroyed following a
reported 6.0 earthquake on August 24, 
2014 in Napa, California (AFP Photo/
Justin Sullivan)
No deaths were reported but Napa city officials said three people suffered serious injuries after the quake struck at 3:20 am.

Among them was a child who was critically injured by a fallen fireplace and had been flown to a hospital for neurological care.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa told AFP it had treated 89 patients for minor injuries such as cuts and bruises and that all were "non-life-threatening."

Meanwhile fire destroyed four mobile homes and damaged two others at a trailer park in the area, and officials said a fire broke out at another mobile home park as well.

The city of Napa told AFP that a family home had also caught fire.

Issuing a state of emergency, Governor Edmund Brown said that "the circumstances of the earthquake, by reason of their magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single local government."

Damage reports

Napa city officials said they had had more than 100 phone calls from people reporting gas leaks.

However, city public works director Jack LaRochelle said "the big thing we're looking at from a public works infrastructure standpoint is the water main system."

The Napa city official said there had been around 30 reports of water main leaks or breaks following the quake, which struck near American Canyon some 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, according to USGS.

It roused people from sleep as far away as San Francisco, and was felt as far east as Sacramento and as far south as Santa Cruz.

Dorothy Roberts, Napa city clerk, told AFP multiple reports of structural damage had come in and that brick buildings in particular had been hard-hit.

USGS issued an "orange alert" for possible damage, a rating which means "significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread."

The California Highway Patrol closed several off-ramps to highways and at least two roads in Napa Valley because of "significant roadway damage."

Drivers were cautioned to be careful at an intersection of two state roads in Napa Valley.

"Cracks in road may cause flat tires," it said on its Twitter account.

Meanwhile sections of streets were closed in Napa due to glass on the road.

And power was still knocked out to around 20,000 customers in the area, home to California's most celebrated wine producing regions, according to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Brown said 69,000 people lost power in all.

The power company said it had sent crews out to assess the damage and restore power, and estimated electricity would be back up within several hours.

'Earthquake country'

USGS expert Jessica Turner told KCBS radio that aftershocks of up to 5.0 are likely in the next week.

A handful of small aftershocks had already been recorded by USGS.

A victorian home stands next to the San
 Francisco skyline on February 18, 2014
 in San Francisco, California (AFP Photo/
Justin Sullivan)
"Anytime we have an earthquake, whether it's magnitude 6.0 or smaller, they serve as a good reminder that we do live in earthquake country and need to be prepared," USGS spokeswoman Susan Garcia told AFP.

Ceebee Thompson and Jack Fairchild were shaken from slumber to see chandeliers swinging and cabinets flung open in their house in the Wine County town of Calistoga about 30 miles from the quake's epicenter.

"That was pretty scary," Thompson said. "I've been in an earthquake in Oakland and a nasty one on Guam, and this was right up there with the one in Guam."

She described the quake as a long rolling shudder of the earth's crust, marked by jolts.

Napa's historic downtown featuring vintage brick buildings was hard-hit, with facades breaking and windows shattering.

Residents in the quake zone, including as far away as San Francisco and Davis, just more than 40 miles northeast, quickly took to Twitter.

One user Tyson Winter wrote: "Shook violently here in Napa. Power's out."

And in San Francisco, Om Malik posted "Damn, woke me up. Was super long."

Further north, Tim Kerbavaz tweeted: "Felt it in Davis too. Quite long."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Death toll rises in Hiroshima landslide

Rescuers and volunteers in western Japan are continuing efforts to find survivors amid mud and debris after Wednesday's devastating landslides. More that 40 people are confirmed dead, with dozens still missing.

Deutsche Welle, 23 Aug 2014


Emergency officials combing through destroyed houses on the northern outskirts of the city of Hiroshima, 700 km (435 miles) from the capital, Tokyo, found two more bodies on Saturday, bringing the death toll from Wednesday's landslides to 42, a police spokesman said.

Police said at least 43 people were still missing, and that this number could rise, according to the Kyodo news agency.

More than 3,000 rescuers and volunteers were stepping up efforts to find bodies and survivors on Saturday amid a break in the weather, reports said. However, meteorologists were predicting a heavy downpour by evening.

Rescue workers suspended operations for hours on Friday afternoon when a change in the shape of the surrounding mountains seemed to presage more landslides.

More than 2,400 residents of the northern part of Hiroshima took shelter in emergency refuges after authorities issued evacuation orders for some areas.

Among those killed was a 53-year-old rescue worker, Noriyoshi Masaoka, who was swept away by sliding land on Wednesday while trying to rescue a 3-year-old boy, who also died.

Landslides are a constant risk in Japan where many homes are built on or near steep slopes. Experts say that the highly water-retentive soil in Hiroshima makes the city particularly prone.

tj/shs (AFP, dpa)

Friday, August 22, 2014

French baby's head bitten by circus camel

Yahoo – AFP, 21 Aug 2014

A baby suffered multiple fractures after being bitten on the head by a camel
 (AFP Photo/Roberto Schmidt)

Lyon (AFP) - A four-month-old baby boy is in hospital after a circus camel bit him on the head, French police said on Thursday.

The incident happened on Saturday as the baby boy and his mother visited the circus in the southeastern French town of Megeve.

The mother was carrying the boy in a front sling and was looking at the camel in its enclosure when suddenly it bit the baby on the head.

"We weren't feeding it or stroking it," the mother told the local Dauphine Libere newspaper.

She said the bottom lip of the camel clamped onto her son's forehead, with the top lip at the back of his head.

The baby's life is not however in danger.

The mother told Dauphine Libere that he had sustained "multiple fractures" but "should not suffer any after-effects."

Hearing the mother scream, police rushed to the scene and called the emergency services.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life's a beach for Italy's dogs

Yahoo – AFP, Marc Henri Maisonhaute, 21 Aug 2014

Dogs play at Baubeach in Maccarese, near Rome, on August 12, 2014 (Photo: 
Gabriel Bouys/AFP)

The sun brollies are up, the beach loungers full and the water is full of daytrippers splashing about.

It is a classic Italian scene but with one crucial difference: the beach bums frolicking in the waves at Maccarese are nearly all dogs, revelling in a rare chance to romp by the seaside.

Welcome to BauBeach, a canine-friendly stretch of sand on the outskirts of Rome that has pioneered a nationwide trend towards providing space for dogs and owners to enjoy the delights of summer together.

A man arrives with his dogs at Baubeach
in Maccarese, near Rome, on August 12,
2014 (Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP)
"This is a beach for dogs, we humans are only here as their guests," says Jose Luis, a regular visitor with his Labrador, Morena.

He is only half joking. Every dog that turns up is provided with a parasol and a water bowl: the humans have to stump up for their brollies and loungers.

BauBeach, which takes its name from the Italian word for 'woof', is the only beach in the area that allows dogs off the leash -- as long as they and their owners obey the key house rules (no aggressive behaviour for the dogs and don't forget to scoop the poop for the owners).

With the exception of the odd leg being cocked over a Gucci handbag, it works well.

As the dogs run themselves to exhaustion amid the excitement of making lots of new friends, owners can kick back.

"It is great, my dog has fun and I get to relax, so it kills two birds with one stone," says Roberta, a day tripper from Rome, as her dog Melissa rests between her legs.

No go area

All of which raises the question as to why there are not many more beaches like this one in what is a dog-loving country.

A population of 60 million has some six million officially registered canines, who are largely welcome in the nation's bars and restaurants.


Yet the vast majority of the country's beaches have long been a no-go area for man's best friend.

"Which is an aberration really, when you think that they are not closed to goats and horses," says Patrizia Daffina, who set up BauBeach in 1998.

"At the end of World War II, the development policies in the tourist resorts led to our dogs being chased off the beaches, to give them an image of cleanliness," says Daffina, who has swapped a career in Italian cinema for life as a champion of the nation's pooches.

A 30-minute drive from central Rome, BauBeach Maccarese covers 7,000 square metres (75,000 square feet) of ocean front, a big enough space to welcome more than 100 dogs, and their owners, at a time.

Owners pay an annual membership of 13 euros ($17) and four euros entrance on each visit. For that, the beach provides lifeguards, a vet and doggy showers for a hose-down before getting back in the car.

Happy dog, happy owner

"Apart from those on heat, all dogs can enjoy this beach, from Rottweilers to poodles, there is no discrimination here," says Daffina. More than 7,000 dogs visited last summer and that record is certain to be smashed this year.

Dogs play at Baubeach in Maccarese,
 near Rome, on August 12, 2014 (Photo: 
Gabriel Bouys/AFP)
The happy atmosphere is maintained by screening at the entrance, where new members are given a quick once-over by a member of the BauBeach team before being allowed off the leash, a process a bit like being eyed up by a bouncer at a nightclub.

Once in, dogs must be let off their leads and allowed to socialise.

Smaller and older pooches paddle in a shallow lagoon at the back of the beach, while the water-loving breeds head straight for the waves.

Others, like a Jack Russell terrier, opted just to sit and gaze watchfully out to sea while "handbag" dogs were carried across the hot sand by doting owners.

"Seeing your dog swimming, and having fun with other dogs, that makes you happy. Whenever your animal is happy, you are too," says Jose Luis, as Morena amuses herself digging another hole.


Five monkeys found as stowaways on ship heading for Rotterdam

DutchNews.nl, Wednesday 20 August 2014

The crab-eating macaque is highly adaptable. Photo waza.com

Five monkeys have been found on board a container ship heading for Rotterdam port, primate charity Stichting Aap said on Wednesday.

The five primates, said to be wild crab-eating macaques, were caught by the crew and will be handed over to the foundation when the Maersk freighter arrives in the Dutch port city on Wednesday.

The primates are thought to have climbed aboard the ship in Malaysia. It is not yet clear if they will be returned, news agency ANP reports.

‘In practical terms, they could be sent back but it will be decided later whether to do this or send them to a zoo,’ a spokeswoman for the foundation said. ‘They will first be given a health check.’

Crate

The monkeys were first running wild on the ship but were eventually all caught and put in a crate. ‘It is not a big crate but you have to do the best with what you have,’ a spokesman for Maersk told ANP.

The crab-eating macaque is regarded as one of the world's 100 most invasive alien species because it is so adaptable and a generalist feeder. The males can reach up to 55 cm in length.