Clown fish living in a sea anemone photographed against the sun

Climate contrarian uncovers math error: Researchers with University of California-San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Princeton University recently walked back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans heating up much faster than previously thought because of climate change. Nevertheless, scientists say the novel approach detailed in the report has the potential to revolutionize measurement of ocean temperatures. READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Roraima hard-hit by Venezuelan refugee crisis: Over the last three years, some 1.6 million Venezuelans, suffering from recession, repression, and lacking access to basic amenities such as foodstuffs and medicine, have fled the country. This has caused crises in countries bordering Venezuela, including Brazil. This represents a significant problem for the small Brazilian border state of Roraima. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

How will consumers react to gene-edited food? The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Yet governments are wrestling with how to regulate this powerful new tool. And after years of confusion and rancor, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods or view them as GMOs in disguise? READ MORE

Port of Oakland expects record year, but there are doubts about next year: The port of Oakland is expected to hit a record year for cargo volume, however, it’s unclear if the momentum will continue into 2019. Seasonal demand for holiday shopping and a strong economy is helping drive growth at ports, though, shippers are reportedly accelerating orders to avoid the impact of tariffs before they go into effect in January. It is unclear if imports will take a hit early on in the new year. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

A bad year for foodborne illness: This year, Salmonella outbreaks hit chicken, shell eggs, ground beef, pre-cut melon, dried and frozen coconut, pasta salad, chicken salad, turkey, ground beef, raw sprouts and breakfast cereal. Cyclospora infections were linked to salads sold at McDonalds as well as vegetable trays. A Listeria outbreak was linked to deli ham, and ground beef was affected by E. coli O26. The most notable outbreak was the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Ebola may be ‘beyond control’: Ebola is one of those scourges where the mere mention of its name strikes fear; the virus, which kills about half of those it infects and gets passed on through body fluids, is notoriously hard to contain, and prevention relies on tracking and treating victims. Now, the CDC has suggested an alarming possibility: The current Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be beyond control and may become persistently entrenched in the population, with major implications for travel and trade. Read more HERE and HERE.

But FDA authorizes emergency use of detection test: FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a rapid, single-use test for the detection of Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus). This is the second Ebola rapid antigen fingerstick test available under EUA but the first using a portable battery-operated reader, which can help provide clear diagnostic results outside of laboratories and in areas where patients are likely to be treated. READ MORE

TERRORISM

ISIS didn’t do it…this time: To be clear, there are no indications at this time that the current California fires are the result of arson, but ISIS has in the past advocated “incendiary attacks.” The terrorist group has encouraged followers to try arson as a terror tactic, and last year included a report on California wildfires in the news briefs section of its weekly newsletter (without taking credit). ISIS’ Rumiyah magazine has stressed to would-be jihadists that “incendiary attacks have played a significant role in modern and guerrilla warfare, as well as in ‘lone wolf’ terrorism.” Read more HERE and HERE.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Electric utility shares plummet on fire reports: Shares of utility PG&E fell 25 percent on Wednesday after the company said that if its equipment is responsible for the “Camp Fire” burning in Northern California, the cost of the damage would exceed its insurance coverage and harm its financial health. READ MORE

Californians wearing smoke masks: Phil Powell was more 163 miles from the massive blaze burning in Northern California and about 350 miles from one ravaging the southern part of the state, yet he and scores of other people walking around San Francisco this week were wearing masks to protect their lungs from smoky conditions. READ MORE

And the death toll soars: Authorities searching through the blackened aftermath of California’s deadliest wildfire have released the names of about 100 people who are still missing, including many in their 80s and 90s, and dozens more could still be unaccounted for. READ MORE

JUST INTERESTING

No, you can’t copyright taste (in the EU, at least): The European Union’s highest court hasn’t fallen under the spell of Dutch witches’ cheese. The European Court of Justice said Tuesday that “the taste of a food product cannot be identified with precision of objectivity” and ruled that it is “not eligible for copyright protection.” It was asked for a ruling by a Dutch court seeking advice in a case where Levola, the producer of “Heksenkaas,” or witches’ cheese, wanted its spreadable dip protected from copycats. READ MORE