They could expand from the Carolinas to Texas: A group of South American lizards that can grow up to four feet long (1.2 meters) has established a home in the Florida wild after being brought to the United States as pets, and the reptiles could begin a voracious march across the U.S. South, according to a new study. Tegu lizards, which currently live in two large colonies in Florida, could expand into an area from the Carolinas to Central Texas, according to the scientific report published in July on the website for the journal Nature. READ MORE

WEATHER EMERGENCIES

Drought in Europe: The damage is visible from space: Farm fields in Europe that were lush and green a month ago are now patches of dusty barren dirt. In some places, more than half the harvest could be lost as farmers in a dozen or so countries deal with a once-in-a-generation drought and devastating heatwave, NBC News reports. READ MORE

Drought in Iran: Iran’s Caspian Sea regions have always had abundant water resources, but they face a new threat as drought forces residents in the interior of the country to move north. The Alborz Mountains stretching along the Caspian coast are covered in dense woods that meet low coastal lands in northern Iran. Paddies are everywhere, along with tea farms and gardens for many other water-intensive crops that are typically grown in the rainy provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran. But how long will this heaven last? READ MORE

A fire ‘tornado’: As authorities sifted the rubble from the fire that burned more than 1,000 residences in Shasta County, they were startled by what they encountered. A soaring transmission tower was tipped over. Tiles were torn off the roofs of homes. Massive trees were uprooted. Vehicles were moved. In one spot, a fence post was bent around a tree, with the bark on one side sheared off. This wasn’t typical fire damage. This looked like a tornado and was a phenomenon so rare it doesn’t even have a name. Read more HERE and HERE.

And a failing dam: More than 100 residences were evacuated in Lynchburg, Virginia, amid fears that a dam there could fail as water overtopped the dam and barreled across local roads. By midday, water levels had receded but more forecast rain could result in more flooding. If the dam were to completely fail, it would send enough water into the area to reach a depth of 17 feet in seven minutes. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY.

Information warfare: Foreign adversaries have stepped up the use of information warfare to control populations since 2011, and the operations are one of the new threats in the digital age, according to the NSA director, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone. The Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, which were fueled by social media and the internet, toppled governments in the Middle East and North Africa, and our adversaries paid attention, seeing the free flow of information as an existential that and seeing the value of disinformation. READ MORE.

SUSTAINABILITY

One problem with limiting antibiotics: Eliminating metaphylaxis in the U.S. cattle industry without suitable health management alternatives could cost that industry as much as $1.8 billion annually, according to Kansas State University agricultural economists and veterinary medicine faculty. According to USDA, metaphylaxis, or the mass treatment of a pen of high health-risk cattle to eliminate or minimize the onset of disease, is used selectively by 59 percent of U.S. feedlots on 20.5 percent of all cattle placed on feed. READ MORE
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Farmland values increase: While crop groups have sounded the alarm over U.S. trade wars, one measure shows part of the agricultural economy is still vibrant: U.S. farmland values just rose to a record. Average farmland values nationwide have increased 1.9 percent to $3,140 an acre so far this year from 2017, according to a new USDA report. READ MORE
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Have you thought about a cricket farm? Now that crickets, and cricket-based foods, are on the shelves of Whole Foods, Publix, and other national grocers, the idea of home cricket production is slowly moving from a novelty idea to reality. Cricket-raising enthusiasts have even produced a fun video game to spread the word—and likely to make you forget about “ick” factor as they preach the virtues of eating insects. READ MORE..

PUBLIC HEALTH 

The good news about anti-dengue mosquitos: Dengue virus has effectively been wiped out in Townsville, Australia, following the release of anti-dengue mosquitoes in 2014. The Queensland city has recorded zero cases of locally-transmitted dengue in the four years since the modified mosquitoes were released, compared to 54 cases in the previous four years. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

French McD’s identify Listeria in chicken salad: McDonald’s has revealed it detected Listeria in a chicken salad sold in restaurants throughout France. The fast food giant said an internal control found the pathogen in one lot of chicken Caesar salad sold from July 9 to 14. It was removed from sale July 15. READ MORE