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End Time News – Updated 6 July - 6 stories
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earthquake headlines             6.0 quakes            7.0 quakes            quakes in diverse places          quake map

Earthquake Hits Alaska Coast
ABC News

A strong earthquake of 6.7 magnitude today rattled coastal Alaska, authorities said, but no significant damage or tidal wave threat was reported.

The quake struck at 7:03 a.m. local time, centered 65 miles southwest of Kodiak Island, Alaska, or 330 miles southwest of Anchorage, and was felt across the region, according to the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

The West Coast & Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, measured the quake at 6.9, and pinpointed it at 20 miles below the sea floor.

Residents reported homes shaking as far away as Anchorage as well as in smaller coastal cities like Perryville and King Salmon.

"The ground trembled. I was still at home at the time and the blinds rattled and windows shook," said Paul Smith, assistant to the chief of police in Kodiak city, on the sparsely populated island in the Gulf of Alaska.

Alaska typically sees a half dozen quakes each year above magnitude 6. Today's tremor was the strongest since a magnitude 7 in the same waters off Kodiak in December 1999, said geophysicist Paul Whitmore at the tsunami warning center.

"We did not feel it here, but there were reports in Anchorage and down in Seward," Whitmore said.

The tsunami center issues tidal wave warnings after coastal quakes measuring 7.1 or higher, Whitmore said. Today's quake was expected to produce aftershocks, most likely within 30 miles of the epicenter.

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Worst US bird flu outbreak in history expands to Michigan

Michigan on Monday said Canadian geese in the state tested positive for a lethal strain of bird flu, bringing the worst outbreak of the disease in U.S. history to a 21st state.

Three young geese collected in Sterling Heights, Michigan, about 20 miles (30 km) north of Detroit, were infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 flu strain, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The state is now focusing on preventing the spread of the disease to poultry, Director Keith Creagh said.

Nationwide, more than 46 million chickens and turkeys have been killed by the disease or culled to prevent its spread. Most are in Iowa, the top U.S. egg-producing state, and Minnesota, the nation's top turkey-producing state.

Michigan is the 21st state to confirm a case of bird flu since late 2014 and the sixth to detect it only in wild or free-ranging bids, according to the department. Fifteen states have found the virus in poultry flocks.

The discovery of the disease in Michigan was "not unexpected given avian influenza has been found in a number of our neighboring states and Ontario," said Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Wild birds are thought to be carriers of the virus, which also can be tracked onto poultry farms by people or trucks that come into contact with contaminated feces. It may also be carried into poultry barns by wind blowing in contaminated dirt or dust.


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Bird flu crimps Minnesota economy by $310 million, estimate shows
by Adam Belz Star Tribune

Outbreak has killed millions of birds and created economic ripple effects.

The bird flu that has swept across the Midwest in recent weeks is taking a sharp toll on rural economies, with University of Minnesota researchers estimating losses in the state at $310 million and counting.

An analysis released Monday shows that the outbreak is having a significant impact on the state’s $3 billion poultry industry and on several counties and small towns. After farmers themselves, suppliers and trucking companies are getting hurt the most, the U’s extension service found in data collected up to the start of last week.

“If the virus affects more farms, as we have seen since May 11, the impact levels will rise,” said Brigid Tuck, the analyst who led the study. “If barns stay empty for another cycle of poultry production, these numbers could potentially double.”

Bird flu has doomed more than 33 million birds in 15 states, with Iowa and Minnesota the hardest-hit. On Saturday, Rembrandt Enterprises, one of the nation’s largest egg producers with farms in Minnesota and Iowa, announced that it would destroy 2 million egg-laying chickens after a barn holding 200,000 hens was infected in Renville County.

The economic impact analysis sticks to Minnesota and focuses on the state’s 80 non-metro counties. The study put direct losses in the state — from the deaths of turkeys and egg-laying chickens — at $113 million by the start of last week.

For every $1 million in direct losses, the report said the ripple effect leads to an estimated $1.8 million in overall economic losses, including $450,000 in wages.

“There’s an interconnectedness here,” said Steve Olson, director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “There’s an impact statewide.”

The feed industry will be the hardest-hit related business. For every $1 million in direct losses, nearly $230,000 of poultry feed demand is also lost.

“A dead turkey doesn’t eat,” said Greg Langmo, a turkey farmer near Litchfield who lost the birds at one of his farms. “Feed mills and their vendors, the farmers who sell them corn and of course the soybean meal plants, will be impacted.”

John Nelson at Schlauderaff Implement in Litchfield said corn prices in west central Minnesota have taken a hit relative to prices on the Chicago Board of Trade thanks to avian flu. The price to local end-users — turkey farms, ethanol plants, Cargill — is now 31 cents per bushel below the price in Chicago. That discrepancy can equal about $70 an acre in lost revenue for a farmer.

“That’s big money,” Nelson said.

In the meantime, sales of agriculture equipment, which have been slowing as grain farmers adjust to lower prices for crops, are being dampened further by bird flu.

“You’ll get the grain farmer who’s pulled back on his purchases because he’s lost that much revenue,” Nelson said. “Used equipment is still moving, but not the new equipment.”

Researchers noted that insurance and government compensation for producers will alleviate losses for poultry producers, even though the effect on other industries will not be offset.

Each $1 million loss also means an estimated three jobs at farms will be affected. If farmers are able to return to full production within a few months, it’s possible these jobs will not be lost.

“We keep people around even though we don’t have any work for them,” said Kim Gorans, a farmer near Willmar who has lost birds to the flu.

His family also grows crops and owns a feed mill. He said they are composting dead turkeys and cleaning barns.

Large amounts of corn and other feed ingredients slated for turkey and chicken farms will have to find other markets, he said.

“There’s a lot of corn that will have to be exported,” he said.

Tuck, the lead author of the study, said the model she and her colleagues created will be valuable in assessing losses in the future.

“It’s important that we continue to watch how this progresses,” she said.


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Bill Gates has revealed what frightens him most: An epidemic so great, it would rapidly wipe out millions worldwide

BILL Gates isn’t worried about a nuclear war devastating the world during his lifetime.

He doesn’t much think about a meteorite hitting the Earth, or a giant earthquake sending the globe into ruin.

But he does believe that we haven’t learnt anything from the recent Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 10,000 people and panicked the world.

“The Ebola epidemic showed me that we're not ready for a serious epidemic, an epidemic that would be more infectious and that would spread faster than Ebola did,” the billionaire and Microsoft founder has told Vox News.

“This is the greatest risk of a huge tragedy, this is the most likely thing by far to kill over 10 million excess people in a year.”

Mr Gates, who has invested much of his $80 billion fortune in global health, says that unlike “some big volcanic explosion, a gigantic earthquake or asteroid ... the chance of a widespread epidemic far worse than Ebola in my lifetime is well over 50 per cent”.

“If we look at the 20th century and we look at the death chart, I think everybody would say yeah, there must have been a spike for WW1, and sure enough there it is: 25 million,” he says.

“And then everybody would stay there must a spike for World War II and sure it is, there’s like 65 million.

“But then you’ll see this other spike that is as large as WWII right after WWI, and most people will say, what was that?”

That, Mr Gates says, is Spanish Influenza: a disease so deadly, it killed more than 65 million people. No one knows where it came from or when it began: “It’s called the Spanish flu because the Spanish press were there first to report openly about it. And so in the annals of epidemic history, that’s the big event”.

In his interview, Mr Gates explains the two types of flu variations in the world: there is the flu that spreads effectively between humans, and there is the flu that kills “lots of people”.

“And those two properties have only been combined into a widespread flu once in history. Well that is Spanish Influenza, where an estimated 65 million people died”.

Worldwide, nations don’t invest nearly enough in medical aid and prevention, choosing to pump money into the military — Vox News has counted the US spent $560 billion in the last financial year on defence — instead of global health and epidemic preparation, Mr Gates says.

“We don’t need to invest nearly what we do in military preparedness ... This is something where less than a billion a year [is spent] on medical surveillance, standby personnel, cross training the military so they can play a role in terms of the logistics,” Mr Gates says.

“At least with the nuclear case, you've got to say we take it quite seriously. We budget a lot of money and we have a lot of people who think about nuclear deterrents. I read the probably of nuclear war happening in my lifetime as very low.”

The billionaire, who funded a disease modelling group to fight polio, says they have looked into the effects a modern-day, Spanish Influenza-type flu would have on the world.

The results were frightening.

“And so, if you get something like the flu, you look at that map in how within days it's basically in all urban centres on the entire globe that is every eye opening — that didn't happen with Spanish flu in the past,” Mr Gates says.

Despite today’s advanced health care, modern modes and rate of transport would ensure that any disease would spread rapidly through the globe, infecting 50 times as many people than in 1918 within the same space of time.

Mr Gates says that “today, the idea that somebody says, oh, here’s an antibody, make a lot of it, make it very quickly” is “right on the cutting edge” — and cannot yet be effectively done to counteract a massive disease outbreak.

“We saw that with Ebola,” he says.

What remains is investment: investment in the Earth’s future and an investment in prevention techniques that would enable nations to produce enough drugs and antibodies to fight a devastating outbreak.

“This can be done, and we may not get any more warning like this one [Ebola] to say OK, it’s a pretty modest investment to avoid something that really, in terms of the human condition, would be a gigantic setback.”

In his 2014 letter, Bill Gates debunks a commonly perpetuated 'myth' that 'poor countries are doomed to stay poor'.


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Wars and Rumors of Wars

Al-Qaeda-linked militia declares holy war on Isis in Libya
by Jack Moore

An al-Qaeda-linked militia in the eastern Libyan city of Derna has declared a holy war on the Isis affiliate who control the majority of the coastal city, after the death of one of their senior leaders threatened to spark a violent conflict between the two groups.

In clashes between Isis and the Mujahideen Shura Council of Derna on Wednesday, at least 20 fighters from both sides were killed, sources confirmed to Reuters. The fighting came after a leader in an allied group, Majlis al-Shura, was killed by Isis for refusing to pledge allegiance to the group's caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The Shura Council released a statement after the death of Nasser al-Aker, a senior leader in the Abu-slim Martyr's Brigade, the armed faction of the Shura Council, which said that a "holy war" would be waged against Isis "until none of them are left".

An activist within Derna, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Newsweek that Derna is "on fire" after the biggest-ever clashes between the two rival groups.

"Abu-slim [Martyr's Brigade] is fighting outside the city. They are trying to seize Isis' one or two places in the city, that's what is happening now," the activist reveals.

"[Abu-slim] want to have a normal life but they want to do it with Sharia, in a more Islamic way, not an extremist one," the anonymous source says of the rival militia.

The activist adds that some within the city are attempting to mediate a truce between the two groups but that Isis are virtually impossible to negotiate with.

"If [the Shura Council] has any kind of agreement to end the war, Isis will target them and kill them in some way," the activist says. "So, there is no chance to have an agreement with those people."

The Shura Council has approximately 3,000 fighters while Isis is believed to have between 1,500 and 2,000 members in the city.

A member of the Shura Council's brigade, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said that the militia are "searching for the Wali", in reference to the Yemeni member of Isis, Abu al-Baraa el-Azdia, who has been sent to eastern Libya to oversee the creation and growth of the affiliate.

In April, it was revealed that the terror group were to force residents of the city to pledge allegiance to them or face death. In the same month, three members of the same family were crucifixed near Isis's Islamic court while earlier this month a man with alleged links to the Libyan army was beheaded outside the city's oldest mosque as the group seeks to tighten its grip on the coastal city.

Derna, situated between the coastal cities of Tobruk and Benghazi, has become the terror group's operational hub, with foreign fighters flocking to a number of training camps on its outskirts.

Last year, Isis created its affiliate in eastern Libya when the radical Islamic Youth Shura Council declared the city an "Islamic emirate" called Wilyat Barqa (the ancient province of Barqa), an extension of the group's caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

The city has a population of 100,000 and has a reputation within Libya as a conservative bosom of Islamism with hundreds of its residents fighting for al-Qaeda during the US occupation of Iraq from 2003 onwards. Out of 112 Libyan fighters named and 606 documented overall in 2007, 52 emanated from Derna.


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North Korea Drought to Aggravate Food Shortage

Seoul: North Korea's food production is forecast to fall by up to 10 per cent this year due to a prolonged drought, which has battered its traditional rice belt, a South Korean government report showed Tuesday.

According to the South's Unification Ministry, if the shortage of rainfall lasts until early July, the North's crop production could decline by as much as 20 per cent from last year.

North Korea has suffered regular chronic food shortages - thousands are believed to have died during a famine in the mid- to late-1990's - with the situation exacerbated by floods, droughts and mismanagement.

UN figures show up to 70 per cent of the country remains food insecure and 28 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted.

Partial agricultural reforms have improved crop yields, and were cited in the ministry's report as the main reason food production slipped only 10,000 tonnes last year, to 4.8 million tonnes, despite a damaging spring drought.

Kim Jong-Un, who became leader after the death of his father, Kim Jong-II, in December 2011, allowed farmers to keep 30 percent of their production quota, plus any excess. This was later raised to 60 percent in the coming year according to the ministry.

But the prospects for this year are distinctly gloomy, given a prolonged drought and lack of fertilizer, the ministry said.

In May, precipitation across North Korea reached 56.7 percent of the average rainfall recorded between 1981 and 2010.


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