Okay. I say that a lot these days. But some mornings are so surreal I feel like I've gone to sleep in one world and woken in another. This is what I get for watching the news first thing in the morning. I should probably start with the coffee and work my way up to the news. Tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes...
We're having "the stormiest New Years Eve in 60 years." I just heard that on MSNBC. With the Northeast still digging out from under the massive, Christmas snowfall, and the political fallout from same, fresh blizzards are now burying other parts of the country. All sorts of fun events are occurring, such as this hundred car pile-up on North Dakota. Snow, at least, is seasonal. Tornadoes, however, are not. But a freakish warm front has wreaked havoc down south, with confirmed tornadoes in Arkansas and Missouri. At least three people have been killed.
A tornado fueled by an unusually warm winter air sliced through parts of northwestern Arkansas early on New Year's Eve, killing three people, injuring several others and knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses.
The dead were killed at Cincinnati, a hamlet of about 100 about three miles from the Oklahoma border. Washington County sheriff's dispatcher Josh Howerton said the storm touched down near the center of the community. He said "lots of injuries" were reported, and officials in nearby Benton County said the storm injured two people and damaged five homes there.
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"In the winter you don't always have the instability" that would allow tornadoes to develop, Buonanno said. "This time, we have the instability."
And speaking of freak events, a substantial earthquake hit Northern Indiana. Why freakish? Because earthquakes in Northern Indiana are extremely rare; and in this particular part of the state, unprecedented.
Although earthquakes are fairly common in the southwestern part of Indiana and occasionally happen along the edge of Lake Michigan, earth scientists say there has never been an earthquake confirmed in north central Indiana.
"Unprecedented," said Walter Gray, an official with the Indiana Geological Survey, a research group at Indiana University. "There is no historical evidence of quakes in that area. We have no events that have been recorded."
And apparently, it's spring here. My husband woke up to the sound of birds chirping. He looked out the window and saw four or five squirrels... and they were merry. Or married. I'm never sure of that line. Shouldn't they be hibernating or something?
We're capping off a banner year of endless tumult with a freaky-deaky New Years. But as I tool around Google News, it's the human behavior -- not the weather -- that I find truly alarming. Two of the more juicy bits that shocked me out of any possible reverie come from across the pond, where encroaching tyranny seems to have taken a quantum leap. In a shockingly draconian move, Europe has made hundreds of herbal remedies illegal.
Hundreds of herbal medicinal products will be banned from sale in Britain next year under what campaigners say is a "discriminatory and disproportionate" European law.
With four months to go before the EU-wide ban is implemented, thousands of patients face the loss of herbal remedies that have been used in the UK for decades.
But don't worry about the EU. This year, leadership will go to Hungary... which just did away with freedom of the press!!!
Hungary is introducing on Saturday a controversial media law that critics say will turn the clock back and re-introduce totalitarian rule in the former Communist nation. Under the legislation, journalists can face huge fines if their coverage is deemed unbalanced. The controversy comes as Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union on Saturday.
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There also is international concern that the legislation will lead to censorship. But Andras Koltay, a member of the new media council, strongly disagrees.
Koltay said he doesn't think there is a danger this legislation will force journalists into self censorship. Instead, he said, the law will ensure more balanced media. He adds that it also will bring order in the media, because they are currently having to work on the basis of confusing laws from the 1980s and 1990s. He argues the law is to the advantage of both the media and the public.
How's that for Orwellian doublespeak? Nah, journalists won't self-censor. Why would they when they'll have a government agency to do it for them?
None of this fills me with optimism about the coming year. Indeed, it reminds that the world is going off the rails; something I've been keenly aware of all year. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold...
So I just keep looking to the pyramids and saying "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home."