“The first gunshot was the easiest. Dave Bouziden squeezed the trigger—to put the first cow out of her misery. In all he would fire more than 150 more rounds, each more difficult than the one before. With each shot, the herd he spent years developing and nurturing decreased by one. Bouziden was merely finishing the job Mother Nature started on March 6, when wildfires roared through Clark and Comanche (Kansas) counties.” –High Plains Journal
Communities are now coming together to donate hay and feed to ranchers devastated by last week’s wildfires in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and southwestern Kansas. At least 811,000 acres of land in Kansas and Oklahoma and another 750,000 in the Texas panhandle have were incinerated, and the fires claimed the lives of six people and uncounted thousands of livestock. In addition to cattle, thousands of pigs died at a Smithfield Foods Inc. hog farm in Oklahoma, in addition to hogs that died at two Seaboard Foods farms in Texas. The massive, historic fires are a catastrophic blow to the ranchers in the 1.5 million acre fire zone. Not only have some lost entire herds, but their grass and stored hay are completely burned away in the middle of a major beef production area. Hay will have to be trucked in until the grass grows again. There is as yet no word about the potential effect on beef prices or the cause of the blazes. Read more HERE, HERE and HERE.
Watch out for toxic tea: Two people are critically ill and remain hospitalized after consuming a toxic herbal tea bought on Grant Avenue in Chinatown, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Both victims rapidly developed weakness, followed by life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms that required resuscitation and intensive hospital care. A plant-based toxin, aconite, was found in lab tests of the patients and the tea samples they provided. Aconite, also known as monkshood, helmet flower and wolfsbane, is used in Asian herbal medicines. But it must be processed properly to be safe. More than 100 different plants contain aconitine and a large number of hybrids also contain the toxin, so it will take some detective work to determine the correct plant in the tea. Health officials are working to find the original source of the tea leaves. READ MORE
Did terrorist mastermind send bomb-making instructions via online chat? The Limbecker Platz shopping mall in Essen, Germany, shut down on Saturday after police received what they said was a credible evidence of a terror attack. The German tabloid newspaper Bild described the threat as a potential multiple suicide bombing. The German Press Agency and Bild both quoted security sources as saying the plot was believed to be the work of the self-styled “Islamic State” militia, adding that a German man who traveled to Syria to fight alongside the group was the suspected mastermind. He had reportedly been in contact with a number of people in the Essen area to organize the attack and had also sent them bomb-making instructions via an online chat. This is exactly the kind of scenario security experts have been warning about as ISIS sees its “caliphate” in the Middle East shrink. READ MORE
Death toll from garbage landslide rises: The death toll from a garbage landslide in Ethiopia rose to at least 60 people on Monday, and authorities say they feared more fatalities. A resident of the area said there were about 150 people there when the landslide occurred on Saturday, and dozens of people remained missing Sunday as rescuers continue to search the scene on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the East African nation’s capital. Hundreds of people scavenge the landfill to make a living, and several makeshift homes were buried in the landslide. READ MORE