Thousands of Hong Kongers march for democracy

Thousands of pro-democracy activists take part in a democracy march to Central, demanding for universal suffrage in Hong Kong Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. The march is the first large-scale demonstration since the Occupy Central protest ended last year as the government started a second round of public consultation on democratic reform. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

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Oregon Agency Blames Pesticide for Bumble Bee Kill

 

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials say a pesticide is to blame for the deaths of tens of thousands of bumble bees in a shopping center parking lot southwest of Portland.

The state Department of Agriculture said Friday that tests on bees and foliage showed the deaths are “directly related to a pesticide application on linden trees” that was meant to control aphids.

It said an investigation is under way to see if the application of the pesticide Safari, done last Saturday, violated the law.

The Oregonian reports that the Agriculture Department, the City of Wilsonville, neighboring towns and some local landscape contractors have covered the sprayed trees with netting in an effort to prevent further insect deaths.

The Xerces (ZERK’-zees) Society for Invertebrate Conservation has upped its estimate of the bee kill to 50,000. Spokesman Scott Black calls that a very conservative number.

 

Colorado Wildfires Force Thousands From Homes

Dramatic aerial footage shows the raging wildfires that have sparked the evacuation of thousands of homes in Colorado.

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At least four major wildfires have broken out along the front of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, burning up to 60 houses and chasing people from thousands more homes.

Thick smoke plumes visible for miles billowed from fires near Colorado Springs, in southern Colorado, and in Rocky Mountain National Park to the north.

A wildfire in a residential area northeast of Colorado Springs forced mandatory evacuations of 2,530 homes, including some worth more than $1 million.

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Thousands of Australians stranded by floodwaters

Image provided by Chris Hadfield shows flooding in Maryborough in Queensland, Australia on January 29, 2013 via AFP

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Thousands of people on Australia’s east coast were cut off by floodwaters on Sunday, with the heavy rain claiming two lives as extreme thunderstorms damaged homes and brought down trees in Sydney.

State Emergency Services said the Macleay River peaked lower than had been forecast in the northern New South Wales town of Kempsey, 350 kilometres (215 miles) north of Sydney, and the town appeared to have escaped major flooding.

But the north coast region, including the towns of Port Macquarie and Taree, remained under close watch along with the Hawkesbury-Nepean area west of Sydney.

 

“In most other areas floodwaters are falling,” State Emergency Services said in a statement.

“Isolation remains a concern with around 20,000 (people) cut off across the north and mid-north coasts. The New South Wales SES is monitoring isolated areas and will provide resupply or medical evacuation if required.”

The SES said it had undertaken 66 flood rescues, including from stranded cars, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged the public to avoid the floodwaters if possible.

“Water is a dangerous thing. Deceptively dangerous. Even very low levels of water, if it’s fast moving, can sweep people away,” she said.

A 17-year-old boy was swept into a drainpipe on Friday as he stood in waist-high water in Kew, near Port Macquarie, to collect golf balls.

On Saturday the body of a man was found in his submerged car on a road about 20 kilometres northwest of Grafton, also on the New South Wales north coast.

 Intense storms bringing high winds and heavy rain also tore through eastern Sydney and other areas overnight, ripping off roofs and bringing down trees.

“Local intense storms with reported ‘mini-tornados’ in some locations caused… significant damage,” the SES said, adding the worst-hit areas were Sydney’s east, the southern fringe suburb of Narellan and Kiama further south.

“Damage included a trampoline blown into powerlines, trees and branches down and roof damage,” the SES said.

The latest deluge comes just weeks after torrential rains in the wake of tropical cyclone Oswald flooded parts of Queensland and neighbouring New South Wales.

Those floodwaters prompted scores of helicopter rescues and isolated tens of thousands of people at their peak.

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