Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tribe of secluded Amazon Indians growing in pupulation


Brazil - Brazil's government agreed to release stunning photos of Amazon Indians firing arrows at an airplane so that the world can better understand the threats facing one of the few tribes still living in near-total isolation from civilization, officials said Friday.


Anthropologists have known about the group for some 20 years but released the images now to call attention to fast-encroaching development near the Indians' home in the dense jungles near Peru.


"We put the photos out because if things continue the way they are going, these people are going to disappear," said Jose Carlos Meirelles, who co-ordinates government efforts to protect four "uncontacted" tribes for Brazil's National Indian Foundation.


Shot in late April and early May, the foundation's photos show about a dozen Indians, mostly naked and painted red, wielding bows and arrows outside six grass-thatched huts.


Meirelles told The Associated Press in a phone interview that anthropologists know next to nothing about the group, but suspect it is related to the Tano and Aruak tribes.


Brazil's National Indian Foundation believes there may be as many as 68 "uncontacted" groups around Brazil, although only 24 have been officially confirmed.


Anthropologists say almost all of these tribes know about western civilization and have sporadic contact with prospectors, rubber tappers and loggers, but choose to turn their backs on civilization, usually because they have been attacked.


"It's a choice they made to remain isolated or maintain only occasional contacts, but these tribes usually obtain some modern goods through trading with other Indians," said Bernardo Beronde, an anthropologist who works in the region.


Brazilian officials once tried to contact such groups. Now they try to protectively isolate them.


The four tribes monitored by Meirelles include perhaps 500 people who roam over an area of about 630,000 hectares.


He said that over the 20 years he has been working in the area, the number of "malocas," or grass-roofed huts, has doubled, suggesting that the policy of isolation is working and that populations are growing.


Remaining isolated, however, gets more complicated by the day.


Loggers are closing in on the Indians' homeland. Brazil's environmental protection agency said Friday it had shut down 28 illegal sawmills in Acre state, where these tribes are located. And logging on the Peruvian border has sent many Indians fleeing into Brazil, Meirelles said.


"On the Brazilian side we don't have logging yet, but I'd like to emphasize the 'yet,"' he said.


A new road being paved from Acre into Peru will likely bring in hordes of poor settlers. Other Amazon roads have led to 50 kilometres of rain forest being cut down on each side, scientists say.


While "uncontacted" Indians often respond violently to contact - Meirelles caught an arrow in the face from some of the same Indians in 2004 - the greater threat is to the Indians.


"First contact is often completely catastrophic for "uncontacted" tribes. It's not unusual for 50 per cent of the tribe to die in months after first contact," said Miriam Ross, a campaigner with the Indian rights group Survival International. "They don't generally have immunity to diseases common to outside society. Colds and flu that aren't usually fatal to us can completely wipe them out."

Survival International estimates about 100 tribes worldwide have chosen to avoid contact, but said the only truly uncontacted tribe is the Sentinelese, who live on North Sentinel island off the coast of India and shoot arrows at anyone who comes near.

Last year, the Metyktire tribe, with about 87 members, was discovered in a densely jungled portion of the 49,000-square-kilometre Menkregnoti Indian reservation in the Brazilian Amazon, when two of its members showed up at another tribe's village.

CHARLIE SHEEN Marries BROOKE MUELLER


Actor CHARLIE SHEEN has married his fiancee BROOKE MUELLER in a small, private ceremony in Los Angeles.

The couple, who has been dating for two years, exchanged vows in front of just 60 friends and family members on Friday (30May08).

Grey's Anatomy star Eric Dane and his actress wife Rebecca Gayheart were among the guests at the wedding. Dane and Gayheart first introduced Sheen to real estate investor Brooke Mueller in 2006.

According to People.com, Sheen, 42, persuaded his 30-year-old bride to scale down her wedding plans.

A source tells the website, "Brooke really wanted to walk down the aisle in a big way, but Charlie insisted they keep it simple and small."

The newlyweds requested guests make donations to the Chrysalis: Changing Lives Through Jobs charity instead of bringing wedding gifts.

It is the third time up the aisle for Sheen; he was previously married to Donna Peele and former Bond girl Denise Richards.

His two young daughters with Richards, Lola and Sam, were also present at the ceremony.

For more on BROOKE MUELLER

Friday, May 30, 2008

Plot in AUSTRALIAN DIVE SCANDAL Thickens

A few weeks back Richard Neeley and Allison Dalton went on a dive tour in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Quite a normal thing for tourists to do. The news came when these to divers were apparently "left behind in shark infested waters" by the operator of the Dive Boat.

Now this is where the water starts to get a little murky. The couplle had or obtained an agent who then secured them exlusive interviews from several news sources who paid hansomly for the right to the story.

Since the story broke, a few holes have surfaced in their story.

According to the couple, they said they surfaced within 200 Meters of the dive boat. The dive boat operator, on the other hand said it was more like a mile away. In addition, the Couple Claims their diapearance was not reported for three hours, when in fact it was reported within an hour.

For safety reasons, the dive boat operators tell divers to inflate their safety balloon as soon as they realise they are lost. The couple, on the other hand, did not decide to inflate theirs until after dark.

To add to the mystery, the couple also opted for unseasonably thick full length dive suits and came prepared with extra bottles of water. Almost as if they were planning for an extended visit. In fact, the story is starting to sound so suspicious, Anna Bligh, Queensland State Premier, is saying the couple should help pay for the massive costs involved in their rescue.

FATHER MIKE PFLEGER brings US Race Relations back a step

Has free speach gone too far? Last Sunday a Catholic Preist, Father Mike PFLEGER, did a sermon at Barack Obama's church. Honestly, I found his dememor a little humourous. After all, we are talking about a honkey preacher trying to fit into a gospel type church. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with embracing the culture and "performing" there. It just seems a little like when Vanilla Ice got into the whole rap scene.

The humour aside, on needs to contemplate the effects of such a white hate filled sermon has on social relations in the USA. Also, the whole giving it up thing seems a little much. PFLEGER knows this will never happen, therfor his speach will always have relivance in the minds of those who choose to use the stupid actions of some of the founders of America against anyone white person trying to move forward.

I understand this is a difficult topic, and there are many sides to it. It is apparent affirmative action has failed, and in fact has brought "black white" relations to a bit of a point of tension. The thing is, why bring up the colour difference in the first place. People are people.

Really, people, us honkey's do not have a problem with people of other colours. Asians have been accepted, as have African American's and recent imigrants from Africa. This whole race war thing is a media frenzy created to sell newspapers. Just as Mike PFLEGER said what he said to get attention and bring people to his church.

So here is the video of FATHER MIKE PFLEGER for you to make your own decision. At least it is good for a chuckle.



Tornado's Explode over Kearney Nebraska

Tornadoes exploded over central Nebraska late Thursday afternoon, causing extensive damage in Kearney.

The storms destroyed the sprawling Expo Building at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, home of rodeos and demolition derbies. Copeland Hall at the University of Nebraska at Kearney lost its roof.

At least 50 to 60 houses were reported damaged and more reports were pouring in.


There were no immediate reports of serious injuries, authorities said.

Much of Kearney, with a population of nearly 30,000, was without electricity. More than 1,400 customers in Aurora and York also were in the dark. Interstate 80 between Aurora and York was closed Thursday evening due to downed power lines.

Several cars from a Union Pacific train derailed.

Gov. Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency. He plans to visit Kearney in a National Guard helicopter this morning.

Later storms also hit western Iowa, where a Monona County sheriff's deputy spotted a tornado that touched down briefly about a mile east of Turin, Iowa, about 7:15 p.m.

Dave Roseberry, manager of the Kearney fairgrounds, said the Expo Building was destroyed.

"It's completely gone," he said.

Adam Eickman and fiancee Stacy Ostdiek, both 25, said they watched from the basement of a neighbor's residence as the tornado flattened their small apartment building.

"I'll never forget that sound, you could hear it doing all kinds of damage," Eickman said. "It was scary and I'm still shaken. Everything is a blur right now."

Ostdiek said debris swirled everywhere.

"We heard the windows shattering in the basement apartment and that's when we knew it wasn't going to be good," he said.

Kelly Barnes watched from his basement apartment as a car parked next to his spun around and landed on his Buick.

"The wind hit suddenly and then it was all over," he said. "It only lasted eight to 10 seconds, but that's all it took to destroy everything. Everything just turned black. Sand and dirt were flying everywhere. It was very eerie."

Carroll Sheldon, who lives on a hill in northeast Kearney, watched from the deck on his house as the storm gathered about 15 miles southwest of town. He saw four or five funnel clouds form.

The funnels "formed and formed, and then they sort of blended together when they came toward town. Then the wind and rain hit and you couldn't see anything," Sheldon said.

He estimated winds at 100 mph.

Several semi-trailer trucks overturned on I-80.

Mark Becker, a Nebraska Public Power District spokesman, said a power line wrapped around a toppled semi. Officials told the driver to stay inside the truck until the line could be de-energized.

Darren Lewis, the emergency management director for Buffalo County, said the northeast area of Kearney appeared to sustain the most damage. The UNK campus is in west Kearney.

Laura Larsen, 22, who recently graduated from UNK and lives nearby, said the roof was missing from a building in the Stratford apartments in the northeast part of town. The clubhouse roof collapsed, and cars were piled on one another in the parking lot.

At the fairgrounds, Roseberry and co-worker Marc Zelzany were inside the Expo Building when the storm demolished it. Neither man was hurt.

Wind took Roseberry's pickup and threw it into the building. "A corner of the building is laying on the truck now," he said.

Tornado researchers expect the 2008 tornado season to join 1998, 1974 and 1953 as among the busiest and deadliest years the country has seen.

The number of tornadoes so far in 2008 - 1,191 - is nearly double what it was for the same period in 2007, said Harold Brooks, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.

At this time in 2007, 659 tornadoes had been reported. In the past 10 years, the average number of tornadoes has been 1,254.

Tornadoes in 2008 also have proved to be deadlier than those in previous years - 111 people already had died this year from U.S. tornadoes as of Sunday. By the end of May 2007, 74 people had been killed by U.S. tornadoes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chris Cagle and his Girlfriend Jennifer Tant arrested for a drunken fight they had with each other

Country music singer Chris Cagle has been arrested for domestic assault in Nashville after police said he and his girlfriend got into a drunken fight.

Corrections officials say Cagle and his girlfriend, Jennifer Tant, have been jailed on misdemeanor domestic assault charges. A police affidavit says both were intoxicated and an argument turned physical early Wednesday.

The Davidson County Sheriff's Department says there is a mandatory 12-hour stay in jail before Cagle and Tant can post $1,500 bonds.

1800's Jail for Sale only 200K

Somerset County has placed a 14,000-square-foot county jail on the market with a price tag of $200,000.

In its marketing ad, the county advertises the property as a "roomy brick-and-stone Victorian, complete with security system and razor-wire fencing."

Somerset County Commissioner Philip Roy said the county decided to sell the former lockup after it was shut down when a new county jail was opened in Madison, Maine, with a capacity of 200 beds.

The county has already received proposals to turn the 111-year-old county jail into a restaurant, art gallery, a gift shop or bus station.

Right now, Roy said, the county just wants the property back on the tax rolls.

Linda Hogan Slanders family of the near Fatal Car Crash caused by her son Nick Hogan

Recorded tapes of Hulk and Linda Hogan talking to their jailed son have angered the family of John Graziano.

The Grazianos are suing the Hogans over the crash involving their son Nick that left John permanently mentally disabled.

On the tapes, Linda Hogan says the Grazianos are only after money, and she cared for John more than his mother did.

"She's not sad. She's just acting angry like she just wants the money," said Linda Hogan on the recording. "John never meant anything to her or Ed. It's just sad because I really appreciated you kids, and I just miss John. I miss you, too. She's not suffering. I am. I have the loss."
John Graziano suffered a severe head injury when Nick Hogan lost control of his car on a Clearwater street last year and slammed backwards into a tree. Graziano is in a semiconscious state at the Haley VA Center.

Nick Hogan is serving an eight-month sentence in the Pinellas County Jail after pleading no contest to reckless driving charges.

In a statement released Tuesday by the lawyers representing the Graziano's, the family accused the Hogans of already planning a reality TV show around Nick's release from prison.

"They don't care a bit about my son, all they are doing is planning a party," said Debra Graziano in the statement.

Ed Graziano defended his wife.

"My wife lives for her children and nobody new my son better than my wife did," he said.

About Nick, he said: "The reason he was put in jail is to think about my son. That's the last thing on his mind."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Scandle from the St. Lucie Florida School District

You may recognise the name from the now famous Tiffany Shepherd firing. This time another St. Lucie School district Kindegarten teacher is in trouble for staging a classroom vote for the removal of an Autistic Student. Strange, Tiffany gets fired, while Wendy Portillo gets "re-assigned"

Morningside Elementary kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo has been reassigned until further action may be determined, according to St. Lucie County School district spokesman Janice Karst.

Karst said in a statement this morning Portillo had been reassigned out of the classroom at the district offices.

Last week, Portillo held a vote in her classroom in which kindergarten students "voted out" 5-year-old Alex Barton, who is in the process of being tested for Asperger's Disorder, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex's mother, Melissa Barton, said the vote was taken after classmates were allowed to tell Alex what they didn't like about him .

Monday, May 26, 2008

Costco Sales Soar

Costco Wholesale Corp., the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain, said April sales at stores open at least a year rose 8 percent as shoppers contending with higher fuel costs sought less expensive clothing and food.

Sales for the four-week period through May 4 increased to $5.54 billion, the Issaquah, Washington-based retailer said today in a Market Wire statement. U.S. same-store sales gained 7 percent in the U.S. and 14 percent at international locations. Seventeen analysts estimated an average gain of 6.2 percent, according to Retail Metrics LLC in Swampscott, Massachusetts.

Consumers are gravitating to Costco and discount retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as they face record U.S. gasoline prices and higher food expenses. Costco's customers, who pay an annual membership fee, also visit for bargains on luxury items such as a 1-ounce bottle of Shalimar perfume for $225.

``They are benefiting from people who are trying to save money,'' said Patricia Edwards, a Seattle-based portfolio manager at Wentworth, Hauser & Violich, with $14.8 billion in assets including Costco shares.

Costco, which runs more than 530 warehouses, fell 88 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $71.20 at 4:30 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. The retailer has gained 2.1 percent this year, compared with a 3.6 percent decline for the Standard & Poor's 500 Retailing Index.

Same-store sales at U.S. retailers rose 3.6 percent, beating the International Council of Shopping Center's forecast of as much as 2 percent, chief economist Michael Niemira said today in an interview. The New York trade group tracked 35 chains. Warehouse clubs and teen retailers led the gains.

Wal-Mart's Increase

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said its April same-store sales rose 3.8 percent in the U.S., including a 9.5 percent gain at its Sam's Club warehouse division. Those figures include gasoline sales.

Costco, which also sells gasoline, has benefited from the rising costs of fuel. According to AAA, gasoline averaged $3.62 a gallon on May 6, just below the record and 19 percent more than a year earlier.

Rice has almost doubled in the past year before today on the futures markets, while wheat has surged 67 percent. That's led foodmakers Sara Lee Corp., Kellogg Co. and Kraft Foods Inc. to boost prices.

Ashley Harkleroad agree'd to Pose for Playboy


America's Ashley Harkleroad was knocked out of the French Open by Serena Williams on Sunday but stole the headlines from her publicity-conscious compatriot by announcing she has posed for Playboy.

The blonde 22-year-old, who has endured a mediocre career on the women's tour and sits at 61 in the world, revealed she had agreed to the photoshoot while she lay in a hospital bed recovering from surgery to remove a cyst on her ovaries.

Harkleroad, who lost her first round match 6-2, 6-1, believes she is the first tennis player to pose for the magazine and follows American swimmer Amanda Beard in baring all for the cameras.

"I was just lying there in hospital for three weeks, and an offer came to me. I thought about it and it was something that I did. I'm proud of my body," said the Florida native whose pictures will appear in the August edition.





"I stay in shape and try to stay fit. I'm just trying to represent a female athlete and her body. That can be sexy too. It's no big deal."

Williams said she backed Harkleroad's decision to pose for the magazine.

"I do appreciate that magazine. I think Hugh Hefner is a great businessman, and he has a niche that he just did really amazing in," said Williams.

"I'm happy for her if that's what she wanted to do. It takes a lot of courage. And whether I'm courageous enough, I don't know, but it's great for someone to be so courageous and tough."

NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Reports Good Health After Mars Landing and sends back PICTURES OF MARS

A NASA spacecraft today sent pictures showing itself in good condition after making the first successful landing in a polar region of Mars.

The images from NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander also provided a glimpse of the flat valley floor expected to have water-rich permafrost within reach of the lander's robotic arm. The landing ends a 422-million-mile journey from Earth and begins a three-month mission that will use instruments to taste and sniff the northern polar site's soil and ice.

"We see the lack of rocks that we expected, we see the polygons that we saw from space, we don't see ice on the surface, but we think we will see it beneath the surface. It looks great to me," said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for the Phoenix mission.

Radio signals received at 4:53:44 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53:44 p.m. Eastern Time) confirmed that the Phoenix Mars Lander had survived its difficult final descent and touchdown 15 minutes earlier. In the intervening time, those signals crossed the distance from Mars to Earth at the speed of light. The confirmation ignited cheers by mission team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver; and the University of Arizona.

As planned, Phoenix stopped transmitting one minute after landing and focused its limited battery power on opening its solar arrays, and other critical activities. About two hours after touchdown, it sent more good news. The first pictures confirmed that the solar arrays needed for the mission's energy supply had unfolded properly, and masts for the stereo camera and weather station had swung into vertical position.
"Seeing these images after a successful landing reaffirmed the thorough work over the past five years by a great team," said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein of JPL. A key milestone still ahead is the first use of the lander's 7.7-foot-long robotic arm, not planned before Tuesday.


"Only five of our planet's 11 previous attempts to land on the Red Planet have succeeded. In exploring the universe, we accept some risk in exchange for the potential of great scientific rewards," said Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Phoenix carries science instruments to assess whether ice just below the surface ever thaws and whether some chemical ingredients of life are preserved in the icy soil. These are key questions in evaluating whether the environment has ever been favorable for microbial life. Phoenix will also study other aspects of the soil and atmosphere with instrument capabilities never before used on Mars. Canada supplied the lander's weather station.

Transmissions from Phoenix have reported results after a check of several components and systems on the spacecraft. "Phoenix is an amazing machine, and it was built and flown by an amazing team. Through the entire entry, descent and landing phase, it performed flawlessly," said Ed Sedivy, Phoenix program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "The spacecraft stayed in contact with Earth during that critical period, and we received a lot of data about its health and performance. I'm happy to report it's in great shape."

Phoenix uses hardware from a spacecraft built for a 2001 launch that was canceled in response to the loss of a similar Mars spacecraft during a 1999 landing attempt. Researchers who proposed the Phoenix mission in 2002 saw the unused spacecraft as a resource for pursuing a new science opportunity. A few months earlier, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter discovered that plentiful water ice lies just beneath the surface throughout much of high-latitude Mars. NASA chose the Phoenix proposal over 24 other proposals to become the first endeavor in the Mars Scout program of competitively selected missions.

The signal confirming that Phoenix had survived touchdown and the transmission of the first pictures were relayed via Mars Odyssey and received on Earth at the Goldstone, Calif., antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network.

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith at the University of Arizona with project management at JPL and development partnership at Lockheed Martin. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

7 People Die in Iowa Tornado centered around HUGO and PARKERSBURG

Seven people died in tornadoes that blew through the Midwestern United States on Sunday, with six reported dead in Iowa and a toddler in Minnesota, authorities said Monday.

Authorities in Iowa had reported that seven people died in Sunday's storm but lowered that total to six on Monday, said Bret Voorhees, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

A tornado touched down at about 6 p.m. Sunday in the north-central Iowa town of Parkersburg before moving 10 miles east to New Hartford, Voorhees said.

Spotters also reported a tornado near Dunkerton -- about 40 miles east of Parkersburg -- that they said caused considerable damage and flung debris as the storm moved at 23 mph. Marble-size hail fell in Waterloo, where authorities reported significant damage to homes, trees and power lines.

"Early reports indicate that these communities have suffered severe and widespread damage, and I plan to visit the region very soon to offer my support to those affected," Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said in a statement. He declared disaster areas in three counties.

Meanwhile, a Minnesota twister killed a 2-year-old and seriously injured nine others -- including another child -- in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The tornado struck Hugo, about 25 miles north of the Twin Cities, destroying 50 homes and damaging another 150, city manager Mike Ericson said.

The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado in Hugo that touched down just after 5:30 p.m. Sunday, and authorities reported twisters in nearby Coon Rapids and Blaine.

Video footage from the scene showed chairs, televisions, shingles and other debris tossed into the streets of Hugo. Nickel-size hail and larger pelted the suburb.
Sgt. Rick Boone of the Coon Rapids Police Department said a twister cut through the middle of town, downing trees and causing minor damage to several homes. No fatalities or injuries were immediately reported.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty planned to meet with local authorities Monday afternoon and tour the affected areas. Also Sunday, authorities in Moore County, Texas, reported sightings of three twisters.

On Saturday, tornadoes formed over northern Oklahoma, skipping across the rural landscape and severely damaging a hog farm about an hour northwest of Oklahoma City. There were no reports of injuries, officials said. However, two people were found dead Saturday in south-central Kansas in a car accident that authorities said a tornado caused.

As a storm roared over his head, shaking his house and sending the family belongings flying all over the place, all Jason Akins could do was put his arms over his wife, two sons and two neighbor kids and hope for the best.

"I was worried something was going to fall on us," said Akins, a Hugo resident who went from a carefree Sunday barbecue to holding on for dear life in his basement in a matter of seconds.

Akins' house was severely damaged when severe thunderstorms packing large hail and a possible tornado swept through the small St. Paul suburb, killing at least one person and destroying dozens more homes during a devastating tear through the north metro area.

A 2-year-old child was killed and the child's sibling was critically injured and taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton said. The children's parents also were hospitalized with injuries sustained in the family home.

At least eight others were injured and taken to area hospitals and some community residents who were out of town for the long holiday weekend will be coming home to a disaster zone.

Town officials said they were confident that Hugo will be declared a disaster zone after Gov. Tim Pawlenty surveys the damage Monday. City Administrator Mike Ericson said municipal department heads planned to meet Monday morning to make cleanup plans, and an emergency City Council meeting was scheduled.

The two-storm system started in the northwest corner of the metro area, pelting Monticello, Albertville and Maple Lake with baseball-sized hail that shattered windows and car windshields. Rolling one right after the other, the first storm front carried a tornado through Coon Rapids that sent trees toppling into houses and power lines crashing to the ground. The second storm dumped more heavy hail and drenching rain on the landscape just minutes behind the first.

The Hugo area appeared to be the hardest hit, with homes wiped out and debris scattered throughout neighborhood. Residents reported a tornado in the area, but the National Weather Service was waiting on damage reports before confirming that.

"It certainly looks awfully likely," meteorologist Todd Krause said.

Twenty more residents were initially listed as missing, but most of them were out of town at the time of the storms. When Akins, his wife Georgia and the four children emerged from the basement of his home, they saw a neighbor's house completely leveled and the washing machine in the Akins' front yard.

The top level of Hugo Public Works Director Chris Petree's home was completely ripped off and the storm lifted his house off the foundation and slammed it back to the ground as the family huddled in the basement.

"All you hear is glass breaking and wood tearing and breaking in half," Petree said. "I put my daughter down first, my wife on top of her and then I bear-hugged on top of them."

Through it all, Petree's wife kept screaming for the family dog to join them, but it would not follow. Once the storms passed, the family returned to ground level and were joined by one happy pooch about 15 minutes later.

Hugo Mayor Fran Miron estimated about 50 homes were destroyed. Another 300 to 400 homes were evacuated because of safety concerns created by downed power lines and leaky gas lines. The American Red Cross set up a shelter for displaced families at a local elementary school, but most were able to find friends and family to stay with, spokeswoman Courtney Johnson said.

"It's horrible," Hugo City Administrator Mike Ericson said. "The citizens are very shook and scared."

Emergency crews descended on the scene to help the injured and assess the damage. Sen. Norm Coleman planned to visit the area Monday morning and Gov. Tim Pawlenty was scheduled to assess the damage on Monday afternoon.

Power has been restored to most of those who lost it during Sunday's severe storms.

Xcel Energy spokeswoman Patti Nystuen says fewer than 700 customers are without power in the east Twin Cities area, including the hardest hit city of Hugo.

And fewer than 80 customers remain without electricity in the west metro area.

Nystuen says about 20,000 lost power Sunday during the worst of it.

Crews are expected to restore power on Monday to the remaining customers affected by the storms.

Temperatures reached into the 80s during the day and mixed with cooler temperatures higher up in the air to create "an unstable atmosphere," Krause said. Forecasts called for cooler temperatures and calmer weather on Monday as the cleanup effort gets under way.

About 100 people have died in U.S. twisters so far this year, the worst toll in a decade, according to the weather service, and the danger has not passed yet. Tornado season typically peaks in the spring and early summer, then again in the late fall.

The Red Cross is accepting financial donations to help the victims of the Hugo tornado and other local disasters. Anyone who is interested can call 612-460-3700.

The city of Hugo is also looking for people to assist with the clean-up effort. If you're interested in volunteering call the Hugo City Hall at 651-761-6300.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NASA PHOENIX MARS LANDER - Exploring MARS

Mission Overview

Overview
 


Mars is a cold desert planet with no liquid water on its surface. But in the Martian arctic, water ice lurks just below ground level. Discoveries made by the Mars Odyssey Orbiter in 2002 show large amounts of subsurface water ice in the northern arctic plain. The Phoenix lander targets this circumpolar region using a robotic arm to dig through the protective top soil layer to the water ice below and ultimately, to bring both soil and water ice to the lander platform for sophisticated scientific analysis.





Mars north pole map


Image right: This map centered on the north pole of Mars is based on gamma rays from the element hydrogen -- mainly in the form of water ice. Regions of high ice content are shown in violet and blue and those low in ice content are shown in red. The very ice-rich region at the north pole is due to a permanent polar cap of water ice on the surface. Elsewhere in this region, the ice is buried under several to a few tens of centimeters of dry soil. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/UA


The complement of the Phoenix spacecraft and its scientific instruments are ideally suited to uncover clues to the geologic history and biological potential of the Martian arctic. Phoenix will be the first mission to return data from either polar region providing an important contribution to the overall Mars science strategy "Follow the Water" and will be instrumental in achieving the four science goals of NASA's long-term Mars Exploration Program.





--Determine whether Life ever arose on Mars





--Characterize the Climate of Mars





--Characterize the Geology of Mars





--Prepare for Human Exploration





The Phoenix Mission has two bold objectives to support these goals, which are to (1) study the history of water in the Martian arctic and (2) search for evidence of a habitable zone and assess the biological potential of the ice-soil boundary.



Objectives
 


Objective 1: Study the History of Water in All its Phases




Currently, water on Mars' surface and atmosphere exists in two states: gas and solid. At the poles, the interaction between the solid water ice at and just below the surface and the gaseous water vapor in the atmosphere is believed to be critical to the weather and climate of Mars. Phoenix will be the first mission to collect meteorological data in the Martian arctic needed by scientists to accurately model Mars' past climate and predict future weather processes.





Liquid water does not currently exist on the surface of Mars, but evidence from Mars Global Surveyor, Odyssey and Exploration Rover missions suggest that water once flowed in canyons and persisted in shallow lakes billions of years ago. However, Phoenix will probe the history of liquid water that may have existed in the arctic as recently as 100,000 years ago. Scientists will better understand the history of the Martian arctic after analyzing the chemistry and mineralogy of the soil and ice using robust instruments.





3d view of martian arcticImage right: Three-dimensional image of the Martian arctic created using data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) aboard Global Surveyor. Image credit: NASA

Objective 2: Search for Evidence of Habitable Zone and Assess the Biological Potential of the Ice-Soil Boundary




Recent discoveries have shown that life can exist in the most extreme conditions. Indeed, it is possible that bacterial spores can lie dormant in bitterly cold, dry, and airless conditions for millions of years and become activated once conditions become favorable. Such dormant microbial colonies may exist in the Martian arctic, where due to the periodic wobbling of the planet, liquid water may exist for brief periods about every 100,000 years making the soil environment habitable.





Phoenix will assess the habitability of the Martian northern environment by using sophisticated chemical experiments to assess the soil's composition of life-giving elements such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and hydrogen. Identified by chemical analysis, Phoenix will also look at reduction-oxidation (redox) molecular pairs that may determine whether the potential chemical energy of the soil can sustain life, as well as other soil properties critical to determine habitability such as pH and saltiness.





Despite having the proper ingredients to sustain life, the Martian soil may also contain hazards that prevent biological growth, such as powerful oxidants that break apart organic molecules. Powerful oxidants that can break apart organic molecules are expected in dry environments bathed in UV light, such as the surface of Mars. But a few inches below the surface, the soil could protect organisms from the harmful solar radiation. Phoenix will dig deep enough into the soil to analyze the soil environment potentially protected from UV looking for organic signatures and potential habitability.



Two hit by gunfire at Seattle's Folklife Festival

An argument that became a physical fight left at least two people wounded by a single gunshot Saturday evening at the Northwest Folklife Festival, as thousands of people listened to music and danced at Seattle Center.

Police quickly apprehended an adult male suspect. It is not known whether the shooting was deliberate, said Greg Schmidt, Seattle Police director of communications.


Schmidt said one round was fired from a Glock semiautomatic. The round passed through a woman's leg and a man's arm before possibly striking another man.

The woman and the man with the arm injury were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, Schmidt said. Police were interviewing the other man who may have been shot; he left the Center grounds but later returned, Schmidt said. The names of the victims were not released.

The incident occurred in a grassy area north of the International Fountain, near the Mercer Street entrance to the Center.

Although people nearby scattered when the shooting occurred about 6:30 p.m., police said, many at the festival were unaware of what had happened.

Schmidt said three police officers were nearby and immediately "jumped in and secured the firearm."

Schmidt said the man they arrested had a license for the weapon, which he was carrying in an ankle holster.

By 7:30, except for a police tape barrier around the scene of the gunfire and a lot of "guys in blue" around, as one onlooker noted, the festival appeared to be back to normal. Parents toted children and plates of food, teens in shorts giggled with their friends, and women wearing long, colorful skirts floated by, swaying to the insistent rhythms of Folklife.

"The festival, as you can see and hear, is going on," Schmidt said. "It's a beautiful day."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some Memorial Day Trivia

"TOMORROW begins our Memorial Day weekend. So today I was remembering: Harvey Keitel, a Marine at 16 who served in Lebanon: Everyone should serve. I don't be lieve in a volunteer armed forces. We shouldn't leave it for the other guy to fight America's wars. It robs our young men of vital experience. They can't have an identity they can respect without being aware it's necessary to stand up and defend the liberties they cherish."

Kirk Douglas, WWII communications officer on a sub in the Pacific, was wounded in a depth-charge attack by a Japanese destroyer . . . Ed McMahon, Marine fighter pilot in 1944, flew 85 combat missions, remained in the Reserve as a test pilot, and retired as a colonel . . . Michael Caine, then Michael Micklewhite, served with the British Commonwealth Division in the Korean War . . . Kris Kristofferson, helicopter pilot in Vietnam; MPs were Chuck Norris and Rip Torn . . . After his Army plane crashed in the Pacific, Clint Eastwood had to swim three miles to safety through jellyfish . . . Sean Connery still receives nine shillings a week disability allowance from the British Royal Navy.

And it was Capt. Ronald Reagan who signed the discharge papers for Major Clark Gable in June 1944 . . . And it was naval officer Richard Nixon who set up WWII's only hamburger stand in the South Pacific. Nixon's Snack Shack served free burgers and Australian beer to flight crews . . . And it was at West Point that Dwight Eisenhower was demoted from sergeant to private for "wild dancing."

Walter Cronkite flew World War II bomber missions over Germany and survived a glider crash landing . . . Roger Moore was in military intelligence; Gene Hackman a Marine Corps radio operator . . . Six years as a Marine helped Drew Carey overcome severe depression and suicide attempts . . . Ralph Nader? An Army cook (who subsequently always worried that germs could be transmitted during large dinner assemblies) . . . Shoeshine boy/high school dropout Bill Cosby never appreciated the value of education until the Navy, where he earned a high school diploma through correspondence courses . . . Morgan Freeman joined the Air Force after high school: "I wanted to be a fighter pilot like those I saw in war movies. But after napalm and rockets and realizing whoever you kill is going to stay dead, I realized this is not what I want for life."

Alan Alda: "At boot camp in Fort Bening, Ga., I'd go AWOL weekends to see my then-fiancée Arlene, who worked 800 miles away in Houston's symphony orchestra. We'd meet halfway at a motel in New Orleans. It was high-risk, and I could have been thrown in solitary. The military doesn't care about romance."

Dr. Ruth Westheimer: "As a teenager in the Israeli army, I was a lethal sniper who could hit a target farther away than anyone and was accurate with hand grenades. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in one minute blindfolded. On my 20th birthday in 1948 in Jerusalem, my legs were almost ripped off from a Jordanian cannonball that threw me 20 feet. All I could think about was would there be blood on the brand-new shoes I'd just gotten for my birthday that morning."

Tony Curtis: "I was on a submarine in Guam and got hit at the base of my spine. Doctors thought I'd be paralyzed for life. I prayed in English, Hungarian, every language I could think of. I was terrified I'd never walk again. I was mostly afraid my penis was dead. That area was completely numb. I had a good body, handsome face, and sex was all I thought about. Then one morning I felt a tingling. As the swelling at the base of my spine lessened, my nerves came back. As did everything else. Boy, was I afraid it mightn't."

Soldier Tony Bennett's duty was digging out Nazi mass burial sites . . . Military combat engineer Mel Brooks' duty was deactivating land mines. And when Germans broadcast propaganda to GIs via loudspeakers, Brooks responded with an Al Jolson rendition of "Toot, Toot, Tootsie" . . . Dennis Franz, in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, "heard bullets whizzing over my head and got as close to being shot as I care to" . . . Paul Newman enlisted in the Navy. Rejected from being a pilot because of colorblindness, he became a radioman third class . . . Oliver Stone, who won the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster: "I can't even walk a straight line in daytime. I've no sense of balance. I lost my hearing in Vietnam."

Griffin Dunne: "At 18, my father, Dominick Dunne, fought in the Battle of the Bulge. As he was retreating, he saw a very wounded guy, moaning, legs broken, lying by the road under a car. Remembering the terrain, he snuck back after dark, crawled past Nazi sentries and, terrified he'd be shot on the spot because the Nazis were taking no prisoners, carried this guy for hours back to the company." Dominick Dunne was awarded the Bronze Star."

Folk Singer Bruce "Utah" Phillips Dead at 73

Folk singer and activist Bruce "Utah" Phillips, whose songs included tales of the state's working class and tragedies, died Friday of congestive heart failure.
Phillips, 73, died in Nevada City, Calif., where he resided. While not among the biggest names in folk music, Phillips described himself as the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest" and was an influence for artists such as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Tom Waits, who have recorded his songs. An album Phillips recorded with Ani DiFranco received a Grammy nomination.
"Many artists extract from working and poor people for authenticity," friend and environmental writer Jordan Fisher Smith said. "He also gave it back ... he extracted the meaning and gave it back to the people experiencing it."
Phillips songs included "John D. Lee," a recounting of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Another song, "Scofield Mine Disaster" recalled the 1900 central Utah coal mine explosion that killed 200 people.
"A miner's life is hard I know," Phillips wrote and sang. "His world is dark and far below/While he starves and goes in rags/He's cheaper than the coal he digs."
Phillips son, Duncan Phillips, who lives in Salt Lake City, said his father was enthralled with Utah's working class, particularly Mormons and their folklore.
"They were kind of put aside and chased off like a lot of other people in the world are," Daman Phillips said. "He tried to look at both sides of things and understand people and bring some common ground."
Born May 15, 1935, in Cleveland to labor organizer parents, Bruce Phillips and his family came to Utah in 1947. His parents became distributors for Paramount movie studio and owned the Capitol Theatre and Tower Theatre until their deaths, Duncan Phillips said.
Bruce Phillips served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Disturbed by the fighting, Bruce Phillips returned to the states and was drinking and "bumming" on freight trains when he ended up in the Joe Hill House, a Salt Lake City homeless shelter named for a labor organizer.
He went on to work as an archivist for the state, where he learned much of Utah's history.
Ken Sanders, owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City, met Phillips in the 1960s.
"He was always working on the rights of others," he said. "He spent an awful lot of his life bumming around the country, spent a little of his life as a hobo. He was never in one city for a long time."
Bruce Phillips left Salt Lake City in 1969, believing that a failed run for the U.S. Senate with the Peace and Freedom party left him blacklisted.
"He tried to get work and everywhere turned him down," Duncan Phillips said.
A short time later, he released his first album. After years of touring, Bruce Phillips settled in Nevada City, Calif., with his fourth wife Joanna Robinson.
He used his music and notoriety to remain an activist. In 2005, he told The Tribune, "When I go play a town I haven't been to in a while, I want them to send me the newspaper so I can get caught up on the local issues. Then I go to the library and read up on the history and economic base and economic distribution so I know the right questions to ask."
Phillips played in Utah as recently as January 2007 at a folk revival at Highland High School.
Phillips' other survivors include another son and a daughter, several stepchildren, brothers and sisters and a grandchild. The family requests memorial donations go to Hospitality House, a homeless shelter founded by Phillips in Grass Valley, Calif. Additional information is available at www.hospitalityhouseshelter.org.

Harry Potter actor killed in Sidcup knife attack while coming to the aid of his younger Brother

It seems many are thinking it was Daniel Radcliffe that was killed. Relax tweenies, it was not DANIEL RADCLIFFE that was STABBED.

Friends said the murder victim, who they named as 18-year-old Robert Knox, worked as a film extra and was due to appear in the new Harry Potter film coming out in November.

He died after intervening on behalf of his younger brother Jamie Knox, 16, when two men, including one said to be armed with two knives, came into the bar.

A fight erupted inside the Metro bar, next to Sidcup train station, on the south-east London-north Kent border, before spilling outside onto the pavement and into the road.
Robert - who went to the same Sidcup Rugby Club as 'gentle giant' teenager Jimmy Mizen, who was murdered in nearby Lee two weeks ago - was pronounced dead shortly after the incident at around 12.07am.

The stabbing happened just yards from the shoe shop owned by Jimmy's parents in Sidcup High Street.

Scotland Yard confirmed a young man died from knife wounds, a 21-year-old man suffered stab wounds to his chest and a 16-year-old youth also had knife wounds to his chest.

A police spokesman said: "A man aged 21 has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He is being held in custody."

Robert, who lived with his family in nearby Swanley, Kent, used to be a student at Hurstmere School, Sidcup.

Friends and family were leaving floral tributes in Station Road, Sidcup, today.

Robbie Knievel successfully jumps 24 trucks in Ohio

Robbie "Kaptain" Knievel successfully jumped over 24 delivery trucks at the site of one of his father's most famous stunts.

Knievel had said he would be going 95 miles per hour during the jump, which he completed Saturday night to wild cheers at Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati.

Evel Knievel jumped 14 buses there in 1975. He died last year after suffering from failing health for many years. He was 69.

Missouri car dealer Free Gun Promotion a hit with the red necks

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A Missouri car dealer said on Thursday sales have soared at his auto and truck business since launching a promotion this week that promises buyers a free handgun or a $250 gas card with every purchase.

Max Motors, a small Butler, Missouri dealership that has as its logo a grimacing cowboy wielding a pistol, has sold more than 30 cars and trucks in the last three days, far more than its normal volume. And owner Mark Muller credits his decision to start offering buyers their choice of a $250 gas card or a $250 credit at a gun shop.

"This thing has taken off. Sales have quadrupled," said Muller. The store sells both used and new vehicles including General Motors and Ford products.

Every buyer so far "except one guy from Canada and one old guy" has elected to take the gun, Muller said. Muller recommends his customers select a Kel-Tec .380 pistol.

"It's a nice little handgun that fits in your pocket," he said.

Muller said the promotion was inspired by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is vying with Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee for the presidential election in November.

"We did it because of Barack Obama. He said all those people in the Midwest, you've got to have compassion for them because they're clinging to their guns and their Bibles. I found that quite offensive."

"We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns," said Muller. "I've got a gun in my pocket right now. I have a rifle in my truck. We've got to shoot the coyotes out here, they're attacking our cows, our chickens. We're not clinging to nothing. We're just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want. This is the way it ought to be."

Disney Products Caught in China Lead Paint recall

SOURCE: http://consimerreportsblog.blogspot.com

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced seven recalls of children's toys or products due to excessivel levels of lead paint...in one day. Even sleeping bags made the list.



Here they are:



1. Disney Store Recalls Pirates of the Caribbean Sleeping Bags



LeadpirateProduct: Pirates of the Caribbean Sleeping Bags



Units: About 4,100



Retailer: Disney Store, of Pasadena, Calif.



Importer: Hoop Retail Stores LLC, of Secaucus, N.J.



Hazard: The surface paint on the sleeping bag's zipper pull contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: The recalled Pirates of the Caribbean sleeping bags have a cartoon pirate design of Davey Jones and Jack Sparrow on the front. Style number F1652B0003 is printed on the logo label inside the sleeping bags. The sleeping bag with the skull art design is not included in this recall.



Sold exclusively at: Disney stores nationwide from April 2007 through October 2007 for about $25.



Manufactured in: China



Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled sleeping bags away from children and return them to any Disney Store for a full refund.



Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Disney Store toll-free at (866) 902-2798 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT, or visit the firm's Web site.




2.  United Scientific Recalls Magnets



Leadmagnet Product: Various magnets (go to the CPSC Web site for all the pictures.)



Units: About 2.35 million



Importer: United Scientific, of Waukegan, Ill.



Hazard: Surface paint on the magnets contains high levels of lead, which violates the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: This recall involves magnets listed in the chart below. The model numbers are located on the magnets packaging. Only painted magnets are included in this recall.



Sold by: Independent distributors nationwide from October 1996 through September 2007 for between 50 cents and $15. Distributors sold the products to schools for use in science classes.



Manufactured in: India



Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled magnets and contact United Scientific to receive a free replacement magnet.



Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact United Scientific toll-free at (888) 284-8570 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or email the firm at consumeraffairs@unitedsci.com



Model Number (Number of Magnets in Package): Description



MGTKIT (4): 3 red ring magnets 38mm x 8 mm, 1 four inch red horseshoe magnet



MSET4 (4): 2 red bar magnets 80x15x10mm, 1 small red horseshoe magnet 25mm x 8mm, 1 large red horseshoe magnet 35mm x 15 mm



CBM050 (2):  Red bar magnet pair 50mm



CM7907-R (1):  ceramic ring magnets 38mm x 8 mm



CM7907-B (blue) (1):  ceramic ring magnets 38mm x 8 mm



CM7907-W (white) (1):  ceramic ring magnets 38mm x 8 mm



CM7907-PK/2 (red or blue) (1):  ceramic ring magnets 38mm x 8 mm



CM7912-R (2):  Red ceramic disc magnet 25mm x 5 mm



MBSET6 (6): 75mm long, scored in two places like a candy bar, sold in six different colors



AUM020 (1): Red 2 inch U-shaped magnets



AUM025 (1): Red 1 inch U-shaped magnets



ACM020 (1): Pair of red cylindrical magnets 50mm x 5 mm



ACM050 (2): Pair of red cylindrical magnets 125mm x 10mm



ABM030 (2): Pair of red and blue bar magnets with North (N) & South (S) Poles marked. 3 inches long x 1/2 inch wide



ABM015-E, ABM020, ABM040, ABM060, ABM040, ABM060, ABM010, ABM015 (2): Red bar magnets, lengths range from 1 1/2 inches to 6 inches, some have N & S marking



MNSB04 (1): 4 inch magnetic needle on plastic support. One end of needle is painted red.



MHS020 (1): Red U-shaped magnet, two inches tall



MHS030 (1): Red U-shaped magnet, three inches tall



CMSET1 (6): Ceramic disc magnets, 25mm x 5 mm, sold in six different colors



3.  West Music Recalls Shaker Guiro Instruments



Lead_shakerProduct: Basic Beat Shaker Guiro Instruments



Units: About 6,500



Importer/Distributor: Antigua Winds Inc., of San Antonio, Texas



Hazard: Surface paint on the recalled shaker guiro instrument contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: The recalled shaker guiro is a ridged, cylinder-shaped percussion instrument that contains beads and is played by scraping a stick along the surface. The shaker guiro measures about 2" wide x 5" long. One end of the instrument is painted red and the other end is painted blue. The center section and stick are natural wood. "Basic Beat 5" Guiro/Shaker," "SHBB5," and "Recommended for Ages 6+" are printed on the packaging.



Sold by: West Music retail stores in Iowa and Illinois, the West Music catalog, and West Music booths at conventions and workshops nationwide, the Music Together Catalog, from November 2001 through March 2008 for between $9 and $11.



Manufactured in: Taiwan



Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled shaker guiro instrument away from children and contact West Music to arrange to receive a replacement instrument.



Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact West Music at (800) 397-9378 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, or email the firm at service@westmusic.com



4. Disney Store Recalls Tinker Bell Wands



Lead_tinker_wand1Product: Tinker Bell Wands



Units: About 8,000



Retailer: Disney Store, of Pasadena, Calif.



Importer: Hoop Retail Stores LLC, of Secaucus, N.J.



Hazard: The paint on the pearl beads in the flowers of the wands contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: The recalled Tinker Bell wands are green and light up and sound when a button in the handle is pressed. The top of the wand has white plastic flowers, a green bow, and a pin with Tinker Bell's face on it.



Sold at: Disney stores nationwide from April 2007 through October 2007 for about $13.



Manufactured in: China



Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled toy away from children and return it to a Disney Store for a full refund.



5. Sure Grip Paint Brushes Recalled by Early Childhood Resources



Leadpaint Product: Yellow Sure Grip Paint Brushes



Units: About 900



Importer: Early Childhood Resources LLC, of Mt. Laurel, N.J.



Hazard: Surface paint on the handle of the yellow paint brushes contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: The paint brushes were sold in multi-color packages of four. Only the yellow brushes are included in the recall. The paint brushes have a rounded cylinder body with tan bristle tip brushes and measure about 4 inches in height.



Sold by: Early Childhood Resource distributors, including teacher supply stores nationwide from May 2007 through December 2007 for about $4.



Manufactured in: China



Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled paint brushes and contact Early Childhood resources to receive a free replacement product.



Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Early Childhood Resources (888) 227-9028 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, or visit the firm's Web site.



6. American Scientific Recalls Magnets



Magnet Product: Magnets



Units: About 87,000



Importer: American Scientific LLC, of Columbus, Ohio



Hazard: Surface paint on the magnets can contain high levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: This recall involves horseshoe, rectangular bar and U-shaped magnets sold primarily to schools for use in science classes. The magnets have red and blue paint on the surface of the magnet. Item numbers included in the recall are:



Item Number: Description (Sizes)



3101-01, 02, 20: Bar-shaped Steel (75mm x 12mm x 5mm, 100mm x 12mm x 5mm, 150mm x 19mm x 7mm, 200mm, 150mm X 15mm X 10mm)



3102-01, 02, 03, 04: Horseshoe-shaped Steel (50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 150mm)



3106-04, 06: Pair of Bar-shaped Aluminum/Nickel/Cobalt (100mm X 10mm X 7mm, 150mm X 19mm X 7mm)



3108-01: Horseshoe-shaped Aluminum/Nickel/Cobalt



3126-06: Pair of Economy, Bar-shaped Aluminum/Nickel/Cobalt



AR-110: U-shaped (3.5 inches)



N38 (3126-07): Bar-shaped (37mm)



The item numbers are located on the product's packaging.



Sold to: Independent distributors nationwide from October 2006 through February 2008 for between $1 and $4.



Manufactured in: India



Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using these products and contact American Scientific to receive a free replacement.



Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact American Scientific toll-free at (866) 518-1665 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, e-mail the firm at recall@american-scientific.com, or visit the firm's Web site.



7. Floppy Friends Horse Toys Recalled by Toy Investments



Lead_floopy_horse Product: Floppy Friends Horse Toys



Units: About 300



Importer: Toy Investments Inc., d/b/a Toysmith, of Auburn, Wash.



Hazard: Surface paint on the toy horse contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.



Incidents/Injuries: None reported.



Description: The recalled horse toy has a push up base. When the base is pushed up, the toy horse is floppy. When released, the toy horse stands up straight. The horse is brown and white and the base is green with orange, red flowers and dark blue flowers.



Sold at: Hobby stores, gas stations, gift shops and toy stores nationwide from February 2008 through April 2008 for about $4.



Manufactured in: China



Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled toy away from children and return it to the store where purchased for a full refund.



Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Toy Investments Inc. at (800) 356-0474 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site.

More than a dozen tornadoes cause injuries, damage across western and central Kansas




Forecasters said Saturday that at least a dozen tornadoes spun across western and central Kansas a day earlier, destroying numerous homes, downing trees and injuring several people.

The National Weather Service in Dodge City said there were at least 10 twisters that touched down in central Kansas, while the Goodland office reported seven or eight in the western part of the state.

At least four people were hurt in Stafford County, including one person who was taken to a Wichita hospital with serious injuries, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General's Department.

Meanwhile in Colorado, where a large tornado devastated the northern farm town of Windsor, residents were expected to return to their homes in an area of town that officials had earlier deemed unsafe following Thursday's twister.

Natural gas leaks and the threat of explosions had kept hundreds of residents from their homes on Friday.

Officials were meeting with residents to plan their return, incident management team spokesman Dan Hatlestad said. "With no power, it may be an unpleasant place to live, but it's up to the homeowners," Hatlestad said.

The tornado, with wind speeds between 111 mph to 165 mph, tore through a 35-mile stretch of northern Colorado, killing one person and injuring dozens. It tipped 15 rail cars off the tracks in Windsor, about 70 miles north of Denver.

In Kansas, the weather service sent out survey teams Saturday morning to determine the size of the twisters. Ed Berry, science operations officer in the Dodge City office, said many of the twisters appear to be significant in size.

In Stafford County, at least seven homes suffered major damage, along with damage to several other structures, power lines and trees, Watson said Saturday.

A man in Gove County suffered minor injuries after his car was blown across Interstate 70 into a ditch, according to George Lies, emergency management director for Logan and Gove Counties.

Lies said two tornadoes hit in Gove County, with at least a dozen homes sustaining major damage.

One twister was on the ground south of Quinter, went back into the clouds as it went over the town, then dropped back down on the other side, damaging four rural houses.

Portions of Kansas also have been hit hard by flooding, with as much as 8 inches of rain falling in a 48-hour period, according to Chris Foltz, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Goodland.

Krista Dwyer gives away her monkey

Two-time NASCAR champ Tony Stewart and his girlfriend Krista Dwyer have given their pet patas monkey, Mojo, to the Louisville Zoo.

When Stewart and Dwyer noticed that Mojo was maturing and becoming aggressive, they sought help from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which recommended the Louisville Zoo, said zoo spokeswoman Kara Bussabarger.

Bussabarger said the association was aware that the Louisville zoo already had three female patas monkeys, and was looking for a male. She said a check of Mojo’s genetics showed he’s a good potential mate for Louisville’s monkeys.

Kelly went on to say that it is not a good idea to have a wild animal as a pet. I believe everyone I know who has ever attempted to own a monkey or wild animal has said the same thing after giving it up. Props to Tony and Kelly for finding the monkey a good and safe home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

20 homes, 3100 acres destroyed by Summit Fire

Fire investigators, after slavishly combing the Santa Cruz Mountains, believe they have pinpointed the spot where the treacherous Summit fire was sparked: an empty lot in the woods along Summit Road, near where it becomes Loma Prieta Road, at mile marker 7.53.
Planting red, blue and yellow markers two Cal Fire investigators on Friday tracked the direction of the conflagration to a clearing, closed off by a rusted chain slung between two trees. No other information is available about the site, which is being treated as a crime scene.

"This is the only area where we are looking," said Cal Fire spokesman Jim Pope.

The agency, however, still has not identified a cause in the blaze, but they have ruled out lightning and downed power lines. Held in check most of its second day by a change in winds, the fire has chewed through more than 3,100 acres and destroyed at least 28 structures, including 17 residences. By Friday afternoon, it remained only 20 percent contained.

Still the mercurial nature of those gusts remained the central actor in a drama playing out across the charred mountainsides, where hundreds of residents faced yet another sleepless night of worry, and down into the smoky Santa Clara Valley, where the acrid stink of burning wood promises to linger throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

Near tiny Corralitos, many residents were keeping up their desperate vigil as firefighters beat back the fire's once-fierce southern edge. On the blaze's northern edge, firefighters were digging deep to protect homes once deemed safe. Down in Santa Clara County, schoolchildren were being kept inside to escape the ever-expanding billows of smoke.
"There is still an awful lot work to do," Cal Fire spokesman David Shew said Friday evening, "but the weather is in our favor and we are pretty confident that we will be able to keep it to its current size and it will be 100 percent contained within a few days."

A crew of firefighters stood ready before 2 p.m. at Summit and Pole Line roads at the northeast corner of the fire. The wind, no longer pushing the fire south, was instead threatening to send the flames their way.

"It all depends on the wind," said strike team leader Mike Virden with Fresno's 5101 Alpha Unit, as he stood on the porch of one of about six homes in the area. "If the wind picks up, it's headed this way and we will have a fight on our hands."

His team had been cutting fire lines by hand. The thick smoke made it too difficult for helicopters to fly through dumping water and fire retardant.

Homeowner Norma Nohrden, who returned Friday was relieved to find her house still standing in the South Summit community. Her home includes a hot tub overlooking the canyons and a view of the bay. She bought it in 2002, one month before the Croy fire ravaged 34 homes.

"It's a beautiful place, it's very calm," said Nohrden, who evacuated Thursday morning, "but it's not for the faint-of-heart."

By afternoon the winds around Corralitos had increased, said Santa Cruz County Sgt. Fred Plageman. Instead of the soft eastern wind that had helped firefighters, air began moving to the south and the west, propelling flames over one fire line at Ramsey Gulch.

Officials were starting to notify residents along Hazeldell, Green Valley Road, Old Mt. Madonna Road, the top of Smith road; and Casserly Road, calling those streets "threatened." No evacuations were in place, but anyone with livestock was urged to make plans to move it.

Friday also brought fresh anxiety for dozens of displaced residents of Corralitos. Many had gathered around a sheriff's deputy at noon, shouting out their addresses, wanting to know whether their houses were saved.

"What about Buzzard's Lagoon," one woman called out.

"Know anything about Tindall Ranch?"

"Anything on Upper Highland?"

The fire was spotty at Buzzard's Lagoon, said Sgt. Plageman. Some houses were affected, Tindall Ranch and Upper Highland were hit.

But gave no specifics, except this: "We're not letting anyone in."

For a second day, the evacuees gathered in the Little Corralitos Plaza, across from the market, commiserating about what's left of their lives.

Marissa Miranda, 22, whose mom lives on Dove Lane in Corralitos was feeling optimistic early in the day that her home would be OK. But by 1 p.m., Miranda said through tears that she thinks her mother's street is on fire and her mom's house is lost. Authorities won't let her family up there, though, for safety reasons, to find out for sure.

"We're struggling," she said. "This is really hard."

Expressing sympathy for the approximately 1,000 evacuees left to worry and watch as the fire rages, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made an hourlong appearance at base camp in Gilroy's Christmas Hill Park on Friday morning.

He nodded and asked questions about the shifting wind during a quick briefing and then held an equally brief news conference. Before leaving, he greeted some of the dozens of firefighters streaming back into camp, their faces blackened by soot.

"Our hearts go out to anyone who lost property," Schwarzenegger said, "a home, or animals or anything else. "

When the governor was driven to the south end of the camp, toward the chow lines, dozens of weary firefighters were grabbing their first sit-down meals in more than a day. He shook hands with several of them, filing through the rows of picnic tables laden with Pop-Tarts, scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and salsa, bacon and sausages.

One firefighter impressed the governor with his muscles. "I think he's taking his dumbbells up there and doing a few curls," the former Mr. Universe replied.

"It was a long night," said Woodside firefighter Don Bullard, who sat down to eat with Menlo park firefighter, Tony Eggimann. "We call it billy goat country, because it's so steep and rocky. I'm ready for a nap."

Neither of them had seen this kind of fire this early in the year and in this location. Bullard was resigned to a long firefighting season:

"We're going to be out a lot this year," he said. "Hold onto your hats."

With winds so unpredictable, they weren't even sure what the weekend would hold, let alone the rest of the long, dry summer.

"We could even go back out tonight," Eggimann said. "You never know."

Indeed, those winds blew ash and smoke away from Santa Cruz County and toward the summit and into northwestern Santa Clara County, where residents reported smelling smoke. Santa Clara County public health authorities were advising people who can see or smell smoke to stay inside and keep windows and doors shut.

"When heavy smoke is visible outside, it's important to take steps to reduce the chance the having breathing problems," said Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County health officer. "If you have one, it is a good idea to run your air-conditioner."

School districts including Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Mountain View-Los Altos and Palo Alto kept children inside during recess and physical education classes. Some also did the same for lunch.

More than 20 people spent Thursday night at an American Red Cross shelter at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, which will remain open until evacuated residents may return to their homes or until they find alternative housing.

Their best hope Friday was the weather - calm, overcast skies and patchy fog.

"There's no wind. It's foggy, cold and drizzly. It's nice," said Chris Morgan, a fire protection specialist with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

About 500 firefighters worked through the night, and were joined by 200 more firefighters from throughout the state this morning. This afternoon, about 1,100 firefighters had been tapped from across the state to fight the blaze. State fire officials using more accurate mapping techniques this morning revised down previous estimates of the fire's acreage.

"We have to strike now while we have the advantage," Morgan said. With the fire 20 percent contained, crews continued clearing a perimeter ring. The fire was still threatening 500 homes and 20 commercial buildings. No injuries have been reported.

More than 160 engines, with one posted to each threatened home, have been dispatched, Morgan said. So far, the fire has cost to fight, Morgan said.

Matt McElhinny, a 16-year firefighting veteran from Mendocino County who'd spent the last 20 hours battling the blaze was expecting to work through the Memorial Day weekend.

"Someone has it off," he said, "but it's not us."

Tornado's and May Flash Floodings in Southern California

Source: http://Globalclimatewatch.blogspot.com


Sierra Madre police and fire officials are clearing debris from mudslides today on the heels of a wild spring thunderstorm that wreaked havoc across Southern California on Thursday.

Minor mudslides repeatedly shut down parts of two streets in the area of Sierra Madre known as the Canyon, along Little Santa Anita Canyon on Skyland Drive and Woodland Drive, said James Carlson, a city spokesman. No homes have been damaged and no injuries reported, he said.
"Thursday evening we had our first mudflow and started voluntary evacuations -- and after the rain subsided, we ended cleanup efforts at 1 a.m. today," Carlson said. "But then we got new reports before 7 a.m. again that new flows had occurred at the same two locations. So we decided to open an emergency operations center, ask for voluntary evacuations and close the roads."

Voluntary evacuations are still in effect this afternoon on Skyland and on Woodland north of Mary's Market and non-resident traffic is not allowed in the area, Carlson said. The evacuation center is Sierra Vista Park, 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., and sandbags are being provided to residents.

Sierra Madre's City Council held an impromptu meeting at 1 p.m. today, voting to declare the mudslide area in a "state of local emergency," Carlson said.

"What it does is allows us to get aid for manpower and equipment from surrounding areas, and may allow us to receive reimbursement for the costs from the state and federal government," he said.

Plows were brought in to clear the muck, mostly on Woodland, but there is no immediate danger to the homes, he said, adding, "We're still keeping an eye on the situation."

The weather conditions were very different from those nearly a month ago, when about 1,000 residents were evacuated from 200 homes in the upper part of Sierra Madre during a wildfire as Southern California broiled in record-breaking heat. The Sierra Madre fire ended up scorching more than 580 acres over a week and primed the area for mudslides.

While rain will be widespread throughout the region today, it is not expected be as severe as Thursday's wet weather, the National Weather Service reported. Still, authorities are watching out for flooding and mudslides.

Rain was heaviest in the San Gabriel Mountains in the Sierra Madre area -- about half an inch on Thursday alone, the highest total in the region.

Los Angeles County has a 20% chance of thunderstorms for most of the day, said National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto. In Orange County, there is a 30% chance of daytime showers, rising to 40% tonight and Saturday during the day, falling back to 30% Saturday night.

"The low pressure in Nevada is now moving into Southern California, so that means more showers would spread westward -- toward Ventura and Santa Barbara counties," Seto said. "For us, we will see more activity today but we don't know how severe. There'll be more showers over a larger area, though."

Seto said temperatures along the coast and inland would be in the mid-60s to low-70s, and the region would remain blanketed by clouds with a 20% chance of showers through Saturday evening.

A snow advisory is in effect for Southland mountains, except the Santa Monica range, until after 8 p.m. tonight in areas above 5,500 feet, the National Weather Service said. The service also issued a flash flood warning for the Antelope Valley until 7 tonight. That area could get an additional one to two inches of rain.

As of this afternoon, there are no major road or freeway closures related to the weather in the Los Angeles region, said California Highway Patrol spokesman David Porter. In Arcadia, the Baldwin Avenue onramp to the westbound 210 Freeway was closed after it flooded this morning. CalTrans is working to remove the water and has partially opened the ramp, Porter said.

Los Angeles County health officials are cautioning beachgoers about ocean water quality around storm drains, creeks and rivers.

Bacteria, debris and trash are likely to be carried by these outlets, said Dr. Jonathan Fielding of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

"Fortunately, discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers only comprises a small portion of the beach, and therefore, anybody who wants to go to the beach this Memorial Day weekend will be able to enjoy their outing," he said.

Areas of the beach away from storm drains, creeks and rivers are exempt from the advisory, which will be in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday.

The storm system's most severe damage Thursday was reported in Riverside County, where dark, towering funnel clouds spun across communities east and west of the 215 Freeway corridor.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, one of two funnel clouds tossed a line of 30-ton rail cars off their tracks and overturned a tractor-trailer truck, blocking the northbound lanes of the 215 Freeway.

Rush-hour traffic backed up for at least eight miles, according to the Highway Patrol. The truck driver was pulled from the wreckage and taken to a hospital with minor to moderate injuries.

The tornado then headed toward Perris, where it caused power outages and minor damage before dissipating.

"I drove through it and have never seen weather like this," said Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez, spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Hail turned neighborhoods white in Baldwin Park and Irwindale, drawing crowds of children into the streets to play with the ice. Snow dusted higher elevations and lightning strikes were reported in Mira Loma and other inland areas as the storm drifted south and west.

Flooding and rockslides closed sections of Interstate 10 in central Los Angeles County and the 60 Freeway east of Riverside.

With the possibility of even more thunderstorms today, motorists were being cautioned to avoid entering flooded intersections where their vehicles could become trapped.

In Irwindale in the San Gabriel Valley, police Thursday had to rescue motorists stranded in three feet of flood water, said police Sgt. George Zendejas. Five vehicles had to be towed out of the intersection of Irwindale Avenue and East Adelante Street.

In Orange County, walls of water, mud and debris -- some 8 feet high -- battered eastern canyons that had burned in last year's wildfires, leaving behind a muddy mess but little damage and no injuries.

The county's eastern canyons saw an inch and a half of rain in a half-hour period, authorities said.

Officials closed the roads to mud-swept Modjeska, Silverado and Williams canyons and worked to rescue residents stranded in two homes near the back of Williams Canyon. They were not hurt and were waiting for roads to clear so they could leave, said Mike Blawn, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority.

Authorities dispatched bulldozers and other heavy equipment to clear the roadways and stand by in the event of more heavy rains. By late Thursday afternoon, canyon residents started to clear mud, dead trees and hundreds of rocks the size of basketballs from their properties.

Two canyon residents barely escaped the avalanche of boulders, mud and tree trunks that went roaring at them in Modjeska Canyon.

"It was out of control," said Tim Adams, 56, a resident of nearby Silverado Canyon who went to help his brother-in-law, Bill LaBar. "It was like big chunks of chocolate ice cream melting, with trees and rocks flowing through it."

Adams and LaBar got into four-wheel drive vehicles and sped away, going around and over boulders and downed trees.

"I have always said when it got bad, I would get out," said LaBar, who usually ignored mandatory evacuation orders. "It's the baddest I've ever seen it."

Billy Ray Cyrus stands up for his Slutty Daughter Miley Cyrus

BILLY RAY CYRUS says he's "amazed" by his daughter MILEY's perseverance in the face of the recent controversy over her Vanity Fair shoot, in which she appeared to be topless underneath a sheet.

"I can't imagine being her age and going through what she went through," he tells OK! magazine. "I'm amazed she kept on."

"I know the business can eat you alive, but I'm a calloused old veteran, and she's a young, teenage girl," he says. "It's a heck of a storm to survive even with maturity."






Currently, his only advice is for the busy Miley to slow down. "I tell her to get some sleep," he says. "I swear I would try to protect her as far as sleep goes."

Easier said than done! Billy Ray is having a hard time taking his own advice, while working on the new 'Hannah Montana' movie, a new album and hosting the CBS reality show "Nashville Star," sleep is not on the calendar.

"I'm going to fit that into next year's schedule," he says jokingly. "My motto is 'Sleep when you're dead.'"

Update on Colorado TORNADO - 1 Dead, Dozens Injured in Possible Class 5

Residents awoke Friday to find debris-strewn neighborhoods, houses torn to pieces and trees stripped bare of their spring leaves after a tornado swept through northern Colorado, killing one person and injuring dozens.

The twister skipped through several towns in Weld County on Thursday, damaging or destroying dozens of homes, businesses, dairies and farms. The storm system pelted the region with golf-ball-size hail, swept vehicles off roads and tipped 15 rail cars off the tracks in Windsor, a farm town about 70 miles north of Denver.

"I dreamed about it last night and I was really groggy, so I thought it had just been a dream. But then I looked outside and I saw that it was real," said Ellen Jenkins, 45, who was sitting in a nearly empty coffee shop.

Jenkins said her home suffered only minor damage to a fence and a couple of trees, but some neighbors lost roofs.

Thirteen people were treated at hospitals, and more than 100 others received medical attention for minor injuries at a Windsor community center, said Jim Shires, a spokesman for emergency responders.

No one is believed to be trapped or missing, he said.

Gov. Bill Ritter toured the area and declared a local state of emergency, but an inventory of damaged homes had to wait until daylight Friday. Federal, state and local officials were assembling damage assessment teams overnight.

Severe storms, some including tornadoes, also ripped through parts of Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and California on Thursday. In northwestern Oklahoma, a truck ran off a road that had been washed away by heavy rain, killing a 14-year-old boy, state troopers said Friday.

Heavy equipment cleared trees, utility poles, and mangled wood and metal from the streets of the east Windsor neighborhood where the most damage occurred. Police enforced an overnight curfew to deter looting and ensure residents' safety in case of natural gas leaks, while officers with search dogs went door to door to look for anyone missing.

Resident Loree Wilkinson, 39, and her children, ages 6 and 9, huddled in a basement and prayed as the tornado passed overhead. She said her youngest child, Kazden, prayed: "Please don't let me die because I just graduated from kindergarten."

The large storm cloud descended nearly without warning, touching down near Platteville, about 50 miles north of Denver. Over the next hour, it moved northwest past several towns along a 35-mile-long track and into Wyoming.

Oscar Michael Manchester, 52, was killed at a campground west of Greeley, about 60 miles north of Denver, said Weld County Deputy Coroner Chris Robillard. Pete Ambrose, caretaker at the Missile Park campground, said Manchester was in a recreational vehicle that was destroyed by the storm.

Nine people were hospitalized with various injuries at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, spokesman Alex Stuessie said. In Greeley, four people were treated for minor injuries at North Colorado Medical Center, administrative representative Laurie Hamit said.

The Red Cross served food to about 130 people in Windsor who were displaced by the storm, but by nightfall only one family was staying at a shelter at a fairground outside town.

The tornado overturned 15 railroad cars and destroyed a lumber car on the Great Western Railway of Colorado, said Mike Ogburn, managing director of Denver-based Omnitrax Inc., which manages the railroad. Fourteen of the overturned cars were tankers, but they were empty.

The twister toppled tractor-trailers across Highway 85 and cut power to 60,000 customers. Electricity was restored to all but 15,000 early Friday.

"We can't find poles, wires, transformers" where the tornado went through, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said Friday. "Stuff is gone. There's nothing there."

The utility also responded to a handful of natural gas leaks at homes that were ripped off their foundations, spokesman Tom Henley said.

Jim Kalina, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said two or three major storm cells affected the area and officials were trying to confirm how many tornadoes touched down.

Weld County is known as a prolific tornado spawning ground, with about seven typically reported there each year, according to the weather service.

In Kansas, early reports indicated that about 10 tornadoes passed through the western part of the state Thursday evening, said Scott Mentzer, a weather service meteorologist in Goodland.

He said a few barely touched down, but a couple moved along 30 to 50 miles on the ground in Sheridan and Decatur counties. Authorities said the tornadoes destroyed one home and damaged several others.

Officials were trying to verify whether a tornado touched down in Laramie, Wyo., where a storm packing strong winds damaged several buildings, overturned vehicles and knocked out power Thursday afternoon.

Later, a tornado touched down in a rural area near the town of Burns, Wyo., about 10 miles east of Cheyenne, said Rob Cleveland, director of Laramie County Emergency Management. The storm did minor damage to two homes and destroyed a barn, but there were no injuries, Cleveland said.

Elsewhere, a storm system that lashed Southern California on Thursday unleashed mudslides in wildfire-scarred canyons, spawned at least two tornadoes and dusted mountains and even low-lying communities with snow and hail.

Powerful wind or a funnel cloud toppled a tractor-trailer and freight cars, said Riverside County fire spokeswoman Jody Hageman.

California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Santos was watching the wild weather from a highway overpass in Moreno Valley, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, when he saw two tornadoes closing in.

"There was so much dust you couldn't see. Next thing I know I see this big rig getting toppled over," Santos said. He said the driver had to be cut free from the cab and suffered head and back injuries.

About 100 people have died in U.S. twisters so far this year, the worst toll in a decade, according to the weather service, and the danger has not passed yet. Tornado season typically peaks in the spring and early summer, then again in the late fall.