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Archive for May 21st, 2015

Major Evacuation Order for Wichita Falls, TX

Posted by feww on May 21, 2015

Evacuation order issued for parts of Wichita Falls, as Wichita River floods

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for hundreds of residents in Wichita Falls, located about 200km NE of Dallas, amid rising water levels on the Wichita River caused by extreme rain events.

Residents in several neighborhoods have been ordered to evacuate by early morning on Thursday, as the city prepares to shut off electricity to those areas to minimize the risk of electrical fires.

Parched by drought last year, Wichita Falls has been deluged by 52.2cm of rain so far in 2015, more than twice the average for this time of year.

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Rapacious Rich and Pitiful Poor Drifting Further Apart

Posted by feww on May 21, 2015

10% Wealthiest households hold half the total wealth, the bottom 40% have only 3%

The gap between rich and poor has risen to its highest levels since the 1980s, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says.

In most countries, the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level since 30 years. Today, in OECD countries [34 nations,] the richest 10% of the population earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10%. In the 1980s, this ratio stood at 7:1 rising to 8:1 in the 1990s and 9:1 in the 2000s. In several emerging economies, particularly in Latin America, income inequality has narrowed, but income gaps remain generally higher than in OECD countries. During the crisis, income inequality continued to increase, mainly due to the fall in employment; redistribution through taxes and transfer partly offset inequality. However, at the lower end of the income distribution, real household incomes fell substantially in countries hit hardest by the crisis.
[OECD (2015), In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All, OECD Publishing, Paris.

The average Gini coefficient across OECD was 0.32, according to the report. The US and UK had high rankings with coefficients of 0.40 and 0.35 respectively. Chile scored highest at 0.50, the most unequal wealth distribution, while Denmark scored the lowest at 0.25, meaning closer to equal income distribution across the 34-nation OECD club.

[The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution, for example, a measure of how well income is distributed across a nation. A coefficient of zero means perfect equality, where all values are the same, e.g., everyone has the same income, while one, or 100%, would mean maximal inequality among values, e.g., only one person has all the income, and all others have nothing.]

Higher wealth inequality limits opportunities

“Wealth is much more concentrated than income,” says OECD. About 10% of wealthiest households in rich countries hold half of total wealth, “the next 50% hold almost the other half, while the 40% least wealthy own little over 3%. At the same time, high levels of indebtedness and/or low asset holdings affect the ability of the lower middle class to undertake investments in human capital or others.”

The report suggests the widening gap in education leads to a less effective workforce in the most unequal countries.

However, Joe Stiglitz of Cloumbia Business School told BBC News that the problem goes beyond lack of training and education.

“What we’ve seen, particularly in the last 15 years, is that even those who are college graduates have seen their incomes stagnate. The real problem is the rules of the game are stacked for the monopolists, the CEOs of corporations.”

“CEOs today get pay that’s roughly 300 times that of ordinary workers – it used to be 20 or 30 times. No increase in productivity justifies this change in relative compensation.”

“Injustice: Why social inequality persists”

According to a report published by a geographer at UK’s Sheffield University, in 2010, “of all the 25 richest countries in the world (excluding very small states), the US and the UK rank as second and fourth most unequal respectively when the annual income of the best-off tenth of their population is compared with that of the poorest tenth.”

Starting with the most unequal, the income ratios of the top five 10% richest to 10% poorest were:

  • 17.7 Singapore
  • 15.9 US
  • 15 Portugal
  • 13.8 UK
  • 13.4 Israel

And the most equal were:

  • 6.9 Germany
  • 6.2 Sweden
  • 6.1 Norway
  • 5.6 Finland
  • 4.5 Japan.

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Crop Disasters Declared in 4 States

Posted by feww on May 21, 2015

Drought and freeze destroy crops in 27 counties across four states

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 27 additional counties across four states—Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma and Utah—as crop disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by drought and freeze.

Crop disasters caused by drought occurred in the following areas:

  • Kansas. Chautauqua, Crowley, Elk and Montgomery counties.
  • Oklahoma. Osage and Washington counties.
  • Utah. Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevie, Utah, Uintah and Wayne counties.

Crop disasters caused by freeze occurred in the following areas:

  • Georgia. Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Peach, Schley, Talbot, Taylor and Upson counties.

Crop Disasters 2015

Beginning January 7, 2015 USDA has declared crop disasters in at least an 1,198 counties across 20 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Majority of the 2015 crop disaster designations so far are due to drought.

Crop Disasters 2014

In 2014, USDA declared crop disasters in at least 2,904 counties across 44 states. Most of the designations were due to drought.

Those states were:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan. Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. [FIRE-EARTH has documented all of the above listings. See blog content.]

i. USDA trigger point for a countywide disaster declaration is 30 percent crop loss on at least one crop.

ii. The counties designated as agricultural disaster areas, as listed above, include both primary and contiguous disaster areas.

iii. Some counties may have been designated as crop disaster areas more than once due to multiple disasters.

iv. The U.S. has a total of 3,143 counties and county-equivalents.

v. The disaster designations posted above were approved by USDA on May 20, 2015 and posted on their website in three separate declarations.

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M6.8 Quake Strikes Solomon Islands

Posted by feww on May 21, 2015

Strong quake occurs in South Solomon Trench

Centered at 10.889°S, 164.158°E, about 184km W of Lata, Solomon Islands, the quake occurred at a depth of 12.0km (7.5 mi), USGS/EHP reported.

Tsunami Evaluation
NO destructive Pacific-wide tsunami has occurred.

EQ Details
Magnitude: 6.8Mw
Location: 10.889°S, 164.158°E
Depth: 12.0 km
Time: 2015-05-20 22:48:53 UTC

At least three aftershocks measuring 4.9, 4.6 and 4.5Mw have occurred as of posting.

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