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40 Million Chinese Farmers Live in Poverty Making Less Than $175 per Year

BEIJING, Dec. 29 (UPI) — China has the world’s third largest economy but a report says 40 million of its farmers live in poverty, making less than $175 annually.

Fan Xiaojian, head of China’s national poverty and development office, told the Web portal the global financial crisis has hit the poor hard in China.

“China has invested 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) to reduce poverty this year, an increase of 3 billion yuan ($439 million) from last year, and the largest investment in poverty-relief in the last ten years,” he said, China Daily reported.

Fan, however, said the income of the most poverty-stricken counties in the country rose 9.6 percent in the first three quarters of this year.

The report said China, the third-largest economy after the United States and Japan, is the first developing country under the U.N. Millennium Development Goal to reduce the number of its people living in poverty by half.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Farming & Ranching, Office0 Comments

California Boy Charged with Arson in Wildfires

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., Dec. 23 (UPI) — A 16-year-old boy was charged with arson Wednesday in a pair of destructive California wildfires.

Ricky Sean Lukacs was charged as adult by the San Bernardino, Calif., County District Attorney’s Office after being linked to up to 14 fires, the Victorville (Calif.) Daily Press reported.

Prosecutors allege Lukacs was responsible for starting the Aug. 30 Oak Glen fire and the Aug. 31 Pendleton fire, which together with other fires he is suspected of starting, burned about four square miles in California’s High Desert country.

The Daily Press said Lukacs is scheduled for arraignment Monday in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Office, Other, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Department of Energy Must Upgrade Computer Security, Says Inspector

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) — An Inspector General’s report finds the U.S. Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on computer security, ABC News reported Tuesday.

Delays in upgrading security on computer systems at the department’s Office of Science could be both dangerous and costly, the report said. The office is responsible for research in a number of areas and manages nuclear facilities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

“Any system that is not as secure as it should be could be subject to compromise,” said Rickey Hass, deputy inspector general for audit services. “There are literally thousands of people who scan systems to try to gain access.”

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Energy reviewed the office’s spending on computer security in 2008, $287 million for the year. The report said the seven field offices have not upgraded security to a high enough level.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Nuclear, Office, People, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

Alabama Foundry Guilty on Pollution Counts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec. 19 (UPI) — An Alabama cast iron manufacturer has pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act, U.S. officials say.

McWane Inc., one of the largest foundries in the country, pleaded guilty Friday in federal district court in Birmingham, Ala., for environmental crimes that occurred at its Birmingham, Ala., facility, McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, Justice Department officials said.

James Delk, the former general manager and vice president of the Birmingham plant, pleaded guilty to eight counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. Additionally, former plant manager Michael Devine pleaded guilty to five counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act.

Under the plea agreement, McWane was sentenced to pay a $4 million criminal fine and serve a five-year term of probation.

“This is the fifth time that the McWane corporation, a McWane facility, or a company manager has been sentenced for committing environmental crimes,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement. “McWane’s multiple violations of the nation’s environmental laws is inexcusable, and McWane needs to take immediate steps to ensure that it fully complies with the law.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Office, On-Site Wastewater Treatment, Wastewater & Runoff, Water Pollution0 Comments

U.S. President Obama Departs Washington for 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

U.S. President Obama Departs Washington for 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen

U.S. President Barack Obama exits the Oval Office of the White House to board Marine One in Washington on December 17, 2009. President Obama is traveling to Copenhagen for the 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn

Date Taken: December 17, 2009

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Office, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Dixie Govs Push Lake Lanier Water Deal

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Dec. 16 (UPI) — The governors of three Southern states say they want to have a deal ending a long-running water dispute ready by early next year.

The governors of Georgia, Florida and Alabama met Tuesday in Montgomery to strike an agreement on dividing up the water output of Lake Lanier, which is being reduced by a federal judge.

“I think there was a will to resolve this,” Perdue told reporters after the conference. “We have agreed that frankly the time for a resolution is now and really the time for rhetoric is over.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Wednesday that the governors agreed to direct their negotiators to come up with a water-sharing plan that can be presented to their respective legislators in the coming months.

The Journal-Constitution noted Perdue and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley are on the verge of leaving office due to term limits, while Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is running for the U.S. Senate.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Office0 Comments

50,000 to Be Evacuated from Volcano Area

LEGAZPI, Philippines, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated Tuesday from areas near the Philippines’ Mayon Volcano, local reports indicated.

The Philippine News Agency said that authorities were evacuating 50,000 residents from the area after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology predicted Monday night that a “full-blown eruption” was likely within weeks or even days, CNN said.

The Institute’s Alex Baloloy reportedly told PNA that the alert level for Mayon was raised to “level 3,” meaning an eruption was imminent, after seismic instruments had detected 83 volcanic quakes.

CNN said residents of Albay province had flocked to the area to observe the lava flows from Mayon, a perfectly-shaped volcano rising to a height of 8,077 feet. It has erupted 49 times since the year 1616, volcanologists say.

The Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office told PNA that 9,946 families, or 47,285 people, would be taken out of harm’s way over the next three days.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Office0 Comments

Obama to Discuss Energy's Economic Impact at Home Depot Store in Northern Virginia

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Obama’s Main Street tour of U.S. cities for discussions about economic issues heads to a Home Depot hardware store in northern Virginia Tuesday.

Obama was to discuss the economic impact of energy saving home retrofitting with representatives of small business, labor and manufacturing, the White House said.

Obama also was scheduled to meet with business leaders in the White House.

Later in the afternoon, the Senate Democratic Caucus and Obama will meet at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Office0 Comments

Blizzard Traps Hunters in Northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Dec. 11 (UPI) — Rescuers said they likely would resume searches in Conconio County, Ariz., Friday, to find any remaining hunters who hadn’t been contacted after a blizzard.

By Thursday, the sheriff’s office had located nearly 50 elk hunters across the county’s 18,000-plus square miles of rugged terrain, The Arizona Republic reported. The rescue effort included several agencies that mobilized 40 rescuers, helicopters, fixed-wing airplanes and a fleet of snowmobiles.

Officials said they had two open rescue missions Thursday night. They had contacted both hunting parties, and were told they could wait until morning to be rescued.

One firefighter died when a tree snapped in the storm, the newspaper said.

The hunters were socked in by a blizzard that dumped nearly 3 feet of snow in and around Flagstaff, Ariz., Conconio County’s county seat.

“It came in pretty quick. We thought we would be able to get out,” said Colin Piburn, 59, one of the rescued hunters.

Weather forecasters indicated a second storm would move into the area, possibly by early Friday afternoon, making more urgent the need to ensure people are accounted for, officials said.

The areas saw an uptick of hunters because of a week-long elk hunt that ended Thursday, the Republic said. The state Game and Fish Department said elk hunting licenses are issued once a decade.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Fish, Nature & Ecosystems, Office, People0 Comments

Americans Brace for Second Strong Snow Storm on Heels of Last

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 11 (UPI) — As one major storm cleared out of the United States and moved into Canada, another snow event was percolating over the Sierra Nevadas, forecasters said Friday.

The Sierra Nevada storm should last several days, eventually moving east across the nation, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. The Sierras got more than 3 feet of snow in the last few days.

Officials in several states reported deaths from the storm that created blizzard conditions over much of the nation’s midsection earlier this week.

Utility crews in El Dorado County, Calif., near Lake Tahoe, have been working this week to restore power to residents who have been without since Sunday, KXTV, Sacramento, Calif., reported. The county received more than 30 inches of snow.

Most of the nation braced for another day of low temperatures Friday, the National Weather Service said.

“Almost the entire Lower 48 is below normal as far as temperatures. In some cases, 20, 30 degrees,” CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said.

Western Michigan and the state’s Upper Peninsula were under lake-effect snow warnings and advisories, NWS said.

Wind gusts created near whiteout conditions, as well as tossed snow around, making clearing the white stuff difficult. Gusts reached 50 mph in Omaha, 58 mph in Fort Wayne, Ind; and 60 mph in Toledo, Ohio.

In northern Arizona, deep snow socked in dozens of elk hunters, officials said. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said it helped or offered assistance to about 50 hunters Wednesday and Thursday.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Office, Wind0 Comments

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