Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Tsunami warnings canceled after magnitude-7.9 earthquake off Alaska

Forecasters canceled tsunami warnings for Alaska and the US and Canadian west coasts Tuesday after an earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska stoked fears of damaging waves.

The tsunami alerts were canceled "because additional information and analysis have better defined the threat," said the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.

Small tsunami waves of less than 1 foot were reported in Alaska, the center said.

The minor tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-7.9 earthquake that struck the Gulf of Alaska shortly after midnight. It was centered about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak, Alaska, at a depth of 15 miles, the US Geological Survey said.

Although the tsunami warnings were canceled, San Francisco officials warned residents to stay away from coastlines for 12 hours.

Shoreline areas, marinas and harbors may have "dangerous, strong & unpredictable currents," the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management tweeted.

'Whole town is evacuating'
Nathaniel Moore was on a commercial fishing boat in Kodiak when the quake hit. He said he felt it "shake really good for a minute." He and others on the vessel quickly got to shore and headed for higher ground amid the tsunami warning.

"The whole town is evacuating," he told CNN early Tuesday.

Tsunami sirens sounded in Kodiak, and police warned: "This is not a drill."

Though the tsunami warnings and evacuation calls were canceled, schools in Kodiak canceled classes Tuesday after campuses opened overnight as emergency shelters, the district announced via Facebook.

Wendy Bliss Snipes described the quake as "a slow roller, so it was felt for at least a minute before the real rolling started. Nothing fell off the walls, and I didn't have to wake my kiddo."

Heather Rand, who was in Anchorage, Alaska, told CNN that the earthquake felt like the longest she had ever experienced.

"It was a very long, slow build up. Creepy, more than anything. Definitely the longest, and I was born here," Rand said. She reported no damage besides cracks in the drywall.

Why this wasn't a lot worse
Both the earthquake and tsunami could have been much worse. But two key factors helped minimize damage.

First, the quake was centered out in the water, helping prevent catastrophic damage to structures on land.

Second, this quake resulted from a strike-slip fault -- meaning pressure built up as two plates moved horizontally, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

That's a lot less dangerous than a thrust fault, which happens when a plate displaces vertically.

"These are the quakes that produce the large tsunamis," Hennen said, such as the devastating 2011 quake and tsunami that killed more than 20,000 people in Japan.

(Source: CNN)

Massive 8.2 magnitude quake in Alaska sparks tsunami warnings across US

The earthquake struck 157 miles southeast of Chiniak, Alaska at a depth of 6.2 miles at 9.31 GMT, the US Geological Survey said

A HUGE 8.2-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Alaska sparked tsunami warnings down the whole West Coast of the US and Canada today.

Residents in coastal towns close to the epicentre were woken in the night by warning sirens and urged to flee their homes for ground at least 100ft above sea level amid warnings of an “extraordinary threat to life”.

The 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck out at sea in the Gulf of Alaska

British Columbia in Canada, along with Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii were all put on tsunami watch – with San Franciscans told to prepare for a possible evacuation – although they have now been stood down.

And a tsunami warning for Alaska has now been downgraded – although locals who had fled were warned not to return home until the all-clear could be given.

Residents living close to the epicentre of the quake spoke of being woken in the dead of night by warning sirens.

Tsunami alarms rang out out across Kodiak, located about 157 miles north-west of where the tremor struck, prompting a massive evacuation.

What we know so far:
  • An earthquake of 8.2 magnitude struck off the coast of Alaska at 9.30am GMT
  • The quake triggered tsunami alerts along the whole US West Coast
  • Residents living near the epicentre were woken by warning sirens in the dead of night
  • Locals in towns like Kodiak were urged to flee their homes and head for higher ground at least 100ft above sea level
  • A buoy out at sea near the epicentre detected a 32ft wave soon after the tremor
  • Tsunami watches for British Columbia in Canada, along with Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii have been cancelled
  • A tsunami warning for Alaska has been downgraded, although residents were told not to return to their homes until the all-clear had been given

Locals were seen fleeing the city in their cars as authorities ordered them to head to higher ground after a 32ft wave was detected out at sea.

Kodiak cop Sgt Beaver told social media users in the town: “This is not a drill, this is a tsunami warning. Everybody get at least 100ft above sea level.”

The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management warned those living in coastal areas of Alaska and British Columbia: "If you are located in this coastal area, move inland to higher ground.

"Tsunami warnings mean that a tsunami with significant inundation is possible or is already occurring.

"Tsunamis are a series of waves dangerous many hours after initial arrival time. The first wave may not be the largest."

This advice was earlier issued to people in the warning areas

Authorities sent out text message warnings urging people to flee to high ground

This chart explains the difference between tsunami watches and warnings
Meanwhile, Alaskans took to social media to tell of their terror at being forced to flee their homes in the night.

One Twitter user wrote: “Tsunami sirens going off in Kodiak after the earthquake, I usually only ever hear the weekly siren test at 2pm on Wednesdays so hearing it at 1am on Tuesday is actually terrifying!!”

Residents of Anchorage - Alaska's largest city located around 500 miles from the epicentre - said they were alerted to it by text messages.

"Shook the house pretty good and just kept going. Hope the people down south are alright."

Shaun Dyess wrote: "I’m here in anchorage Alaska. It was shaking for along time. Hope no one got hurt."

And JoLynn Lund tweeted: The #earthquake was enough to wake you. The #tsunami alert alarm gets you out of bed."

A map shows the estimated times a wave would take to reach different regions
Alaska Governor Bill Walker said: “We are closely monitoring the earthquake and tsunami warnings affecting many coastal communities this morning.

“I have been in contact with local officials, resident, and Major General Hummel and will remain in close communication with them throughout the day.

“Please heed local warnings to move inland or to higher ground.

“My thanks to first responders and media outlets across the state for going beyond the call of duty to keep Alaskans safe.”

What happens next?
People close to the epicentre of the quake were ordered to flee their homes and head to higher ground at least 100ft above sea level.

In Alaska, people packed into high schools and other evacuation centres after the quake hit shortly after midnight local time (9am GMT).

People have been asked to remain there and refrain from returning to their homes until the all-clear is given.

Has this happened before?
The infamous Good Friday Earthquake which hit Alaska in 1964 sparked numerous tsunamis inflicting heavy damage on Kodiak, along with Valdez, Whittier and Seward.

Anchorage – the biggest city in Alaska – was hit by multiple landslides, destroying city blocks and neighbourhoods.

An estimated 139 people were killed, most by tsunamis – including 16 deaths in Oregon and California.

(Source: The Sun)

People accept that I’m gay, but not that I’m disabled

When Jessica Kellgren-Fozard tells people she is gay, they generally smile and certainly don’t challenge her. But they are far less accepting of her, often invisible, disabilities – and sometimes even hostile

I am not sure that I had a true moment of realisation when it comes to being gay; it is just something I have always been.

I assumed that what I felt for certain girls was just what every other girl felt for her special friends … and didn’t we all want to marry Pocahontas? My parents teased me mildly about having “intense” friendships with a different girl every few months, but they are incredibly liberal and have enough gay people in their lives that it never felt that special when I hit my early teens and started wanting to kiss girls.

I don’t think my family expected me to be one way or the other, so being an out lesbian was probably the least interesting part of my teenage years.

Being aware of my disabilities was also gradual – I had a lot of problems with my hearing as a baby, including my eardrums bursting on a number of occasions. After a few operations on my ears and eardrums, I was able to hear relatively well from the ages of five to 15 – so the songs I know best are, sadly, very late-90s/early 00s – although adults often complained that I was “dreamy” and “not listening” when I realise now I just couldn’t hear them. I started to lose my hearing again at 16, but didn’t realise it until I began university three years later.

It seems funny to think that I didn’t realise, but I was struggling with a lot of other health problems at the time and as I spent most of my time in bed – either at home or in hospital – the only thing that noticeably changed was the volume at which I watched TV.

When I finally managed to make it to university and started interacting with people who were not my immediate family, it was painfully obvious that I couldn’t hear what they were saying and that, when it came to conversation, I had pretty much been operating on guesswork for quite a while.

I am not profoundly deaf and, obviously, can hear more with my hearing aids in, although they only make things louder, not clearer. I can’t hear any high-pitched sounds and, with my hearing aids in, I only properly catch one word in three.

When I was 17, I was diagnosed with hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP), which results in extreme palsy in my arms as well as patches of skin being numb, difficulty gripping things, weakness in limbs and severe fatigue. I also have mixed connective tissue disorder (MCTD), an autoimmune disease in which the body’s defence system attacks itself. MCTD causes chronic joint pain, muscle inflammation, hypermobility and pulmonary hypertension alongside a long list of other symptoms.

My disabilities can hamper everything I do, but they are often invisible, although I don’t think the days I have to use a wheelchair or wrist splints make them visible – they are just my aids.

I often have to explain myself when strangers think I am just being difficult. I get scoffed at in the street when I don’t hear someone behind me or I walk into them because they are on my blind slide. I have been called out loudly by non-disabled people for using disabled toilets or parking spaces, challenged for being a picky eater when I cannot eat an ingredient in their food and yelled at for being inconsiderate. It doesn’t matter when I explain that I am not just dozy or silly, but have a disability, because they have already worked themselves up into a self-righteous rage and nothing I can say will stop that.

It also hurts to have to explain painful, long and complicated reasons behind injuries when people expect a light-hearted story. “What happened to your hand? Accident while out on the town?”

“No.” Deep breath … “I have a disability that affects my nerves and …” Although, to be honest, often I just lie.

When someone confronts you, asking what right you have to use a disabled toilet or why you were so stupid you didn’t hear them asking you to get out of the way, your only options are to stand there and let them yell at you (plus points of being deaf: turn your hearing aids off and you only have to see the yelling) or you attempt to explain that you are disabled, which can be a pretty personal thing to share with a mean stranger who might not believe you anyway.

I understand that I look fine, but when most of the difficulties in my life come from the very fact that I look fine while actually needing help, that is not really a bonus.

Telling someone I am gay is instantly accepted, no questions asked, generally with a smile. Telling someone I am disabled comes with, “No, really? You don’t look it”, and a scrutinising look. Nobody has ever accused every single gay person of “scrounging off the state”, but people have openly said that about disabled people, in front of me.

I definitely feel that there is a desexualisation of disabled people. When I was still dating, I could see the moment in my date’s eyes when I explained my condition and suddenly stopped being an interesting potential prospect. I think disabled people are not just taboo when it comes to sex, but also dating, relationships and life in general. My wife is often told that she is a saint for marrying me or that she must be such a good person – as if I am a terrible burden and not the woman she loves. Businesses, the media and politicians need to start seeing disabled people for what we are: useful members of society who have something to bring to others.

I have always been an out-there dresser. I have probably toned it down now – I am less eccentric than I was. It has always felt important to spend time on my style because it is one thing about my body that I can control.

I believe in soft activism rather than shoving a message in people’s faces and telling them they should change their opinion. I think it is better to subtly insert small changes into our everyday lives, such as having more disabled characters featured in the media – and in instances where being disabled is not the main story. We should have more disabled MPs, because although almost one in five people in the UK are disabled, we are underrepresented, especially since the Conservatives shut down the access to the elected office fund, which helped people with disabilites to go into political jobs.

I missed most of my teenage milestones because I was either in hospital or lying in the dark. I was too ill to open my eyes, to sit up or to eat, and I was made to feel like a burden, as if my presence was a hindrance to other people’s lives.

I was never a problem to my parents or brother, but they would be told, “How good you are to look after her” while I was in the room. But there were some amazing people who stepped into my lonely space, took my hand and helped me through those rough years. They didn’t mind helping out physically or spending time making me laugh and always let me know it was no big deal. I was never a burden to them.

I am so much better than I was but I still need help and I know the best way to repay that help is to live the best life I can – to be brave, to be bright, to be happy. I am proud of everything I have achieved and where I am now.

(Source: The Guardian)

The eight cancers that could be diagnosed with a single blood test

A single blood test detects cancers with up to 98 percent accuracy in patients without any symptoms, new research suggests.

The assessment, known as CancerSEEK, picks up on DNA shed by mutating cells into the blood.

The test can diagnose at least eight different types of cancer from ovarian to breast.

Although the test's accuracy varies according to the type of cancer, it averages at around 70 percent, which is better than any available early-diagnosis method, according to the researchers.

It is also able to detect the origins in around 80 percent of cases, the study found.

If given as part of a routine-screening programme, the researchers believe the test could catch tumors early, maximizing patients' chances of surviving.

Study author Professor Bert Vogelstein from John Hopkins University, said: 'This test represents the next step in changing the focus of cancer research from late-stage disease to early disease, which I believe will be critical to reducing cancer deaths in the long term.'

In the US, around 39 percent of adults will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

'Critical to reducing cancer deaths'  
The researchers analyzed blood samples from 1,005 cancer patients suffering from early-stage ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, esophageal, colorectum, lung or breast forms of the disease.

None of the participants' cancers appeared to have spread.

Results reveal CancerSEEK accurately detects more than 90 percent of ovarian and liver cancers.

It also reliably picks up on ovarian, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancers in at least 69 percent of cases. These forms of the disease are typically difficult to detect.

CancerSEEK only wrongly detects tumors in healthy people less than one percent of the time.

Professor Vogelstein said: 'This test represents the next step in changing the focus of cancer research from late-stage disease to early disease, which I believe will be critical to reducing cancer deaths in the long term.'

The test, known as CancerSEEK, picks up on DNA shed by mutating cells into the blood (stock)
If available, the test is estimated to cost less than $500 per batch, which is in line with other cancer detectors, such as colonoscopies, and was described by Dr Anirban Maitra from the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, as 'a very attractive number'.

Dr Maitra, who was not involved in the study, added, however, cancer-like proteins can be shed in patients with inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, and therefore the test may be less accurate when given to sufferers of other conditions.

Yet, lead author Dr Nickolas Papadopoulos argued: 'A test does not have to be perfect to be useful.'

'Exciting progress'  
The scientists plan to conduct a five-year study of up to 50,000 women to assess CancerSEEK's accuracy in people who have seemingly never had cancer.

It is still unclear whether the test will pick up small tumors that may never grow large enough to cause symptoms, however, Dr Papadopoulos added: 'The issue is not overdiagnosis, but overtreatment,'

Although it is uncertain when CancerSEEK may become available for real-life use, cancer researcher Nitzan Rosenfeld, from the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study, said: 'If people expect to suddenly catch all cancers, they'll be disappointed.

'This is exciting progress but evaluating it in the real world will be a long process. 

The findings were published in the journal Science. 

A cancer drug is in development that could stop the disease in its tracks.

The unnamed medication targets a specific enzyme that fuels the spread of tumours, research reveals.

It does this by binding to the membrane of rapidly multiplying cells, a European study, which included Uppsala University, found yesterday.

This hijacks cancer's 'survival mechanism' and prevents tumours from attaching to the protein they need to thrive.

Around 357,000 people get diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK.

(Source: Daily Mail)

Indian students in US dwarf America’s FDI in India, spend whopping $6.54 bn

Indian students spent a massive $6.54 billion in the US in 2016-17, up 30% from the previous year, dwarfing the North American country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.37 billion in India.

Indian students spent a massive $6.54 billion in the US in 2016-17, up 30% from the previous year, dwarfing the North American country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) of $2.37 billion in India. Of course, a large part of US FDI routed through low-tax jurisdictions like Mauritius is not counted here, although recent changes in tax treaties have made the route a bit less attractive.

Indian students spent a massive .54 billion in the US in 2016-17, up 30% from the previous year, dwarfing the North American country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) of .37 billion in India. (Image: Reuters)
Among large countries, India was outstripped by China in 2009-10 to become the largest place of origin of students coming to the US, with correspondingly high spending. However, in recent years India has been bridging the gap with a scorching pace of growth in students it sends to the US — 29% in 2014-15, 25% in 2015-16 and 12.3% in 2016-17. Between 2010-11 to 2012-13, when the global financial meltdown hit the US economy badly, there was negative growth in Indian students going to that country. Chinese students spent $12.55 billion in the US in 2016-17, up about 10%.

“The American higher education system introduces international students to networks and contacts that provide benefits and advantages over a lifetime,” said Karl M Adam, deputy cultural affairs officer at the US embassy in India. Most of the Indian students in the US pursue graduation courses in mathematics, computer science and engineering.

For the record, the US was the fifth largest source of FDI for India in 2016-17, behind Mauritius, Singapore, Japan and Netherlands. Though services FDI fared better, US investments in India’s manufacturing sector needs to grow, officials here feel.

According to Open Doors, a study by the Institute of International Education along with the US government’s education department, students from India and China now represent approximately 50% of the total enrolment of 1.08 million international students in the US. Indian students comprise 17.3% of all international students in the US, it added.

The continued growth in international students coming to the US for higher education has had a significant positive impact on its economy. About 1.08 million international students studying at US colleges and universities contributed $36.9 billion and supported more than 450,000 jobs to its economy during 2016-2017, said NAFSA, an association of international educators.

Open Doors reported that about two-thirds of all international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the US, including personal and family sources as well as assistance from their home country governments or universities.

Interestingly, the number of US students coming to India to study for academic credit at their home university has been on the decline since 2013-14 and it fell by 5.8% to 4,181 in 2015-16, as they increasingly prefer European countries. India’s rank in terms of outbound destination for US students also declined to 15 from 13.

(Source: Financial Express)