HAITI AFTERSHOCK: Still in shambles after last week's magnitude-7.0 earthquake, Haiti was jolted awake at 6:03 this morning by a powerful aftershock that measured 6.1 on the Richter scale. Screams were heard in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the earth suddenly began to sway, the [skipwords]Washington[/skipwords] Post reports, with a "rolling, side-to-side motion that lasted several seconds." In less than a minute, the audible boom of a collapsing building somewhere in the city reportedly was soon followed by more screams. Today's aftershock was the strongest since the original quake on Jan. 12, and was the first significant tremor in at least four days. Haiti has suffered more than 30 aftershocks with a magnitude above 4.0 in the past week, aggravating already-frayed nerves all across the poor Caribbean country. Aid is still slowly trickling through Port-au-Prince as the U.S. military, U.N. peacekeepers and a patchwork of relief agencies press into the devastated city, but many Haitians are still wandering the streets without food, water, shelter or medical treatment. (Sources: Washington Post, Associated Press)


CARP DIEM: The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will not immediately shut down shipping locks near Chicago that link the [skipwords]Mississippi[/skipwords] River to the Great Lakes, denying a request by Michigan that was aimed at keeping away invasive Asian carp. The court's one-sentence ruling didn't explain its decision, but conservationists were quick to point out that all is not yet lost. "[This] does not mean that no action will be taken in the case," a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council says. "There is still a significant possibility that the court will issue a decision regarding Michigan's broader requests for action on this issue." Asian carp are big, voracious fish that were brought to America in the '70s and have been snaking up the [skipwords]Mississippi[/skipwords] River ever since, now threatening the Great Lakes' $7 billion-a-year fishing industry. Just hours after the Supreme Court's ruling, state and federal officials announced that Asian carp DNA has been found in Lake Michigan, raising the possibility that the fish have already broken in. But the DNA samples could be anything from scales to feces, and don't necessarily indicate the invasion has begun just yet. "Even if we have a live carp get into Lake Michigan," an EPA official says, "that does not mean they have established a self-sustaining population there." (Sources: AP, Detroit News)


RAIN OF TERROR: Southern California enjoyed warm, sunny weather in recent weeks while the rest of the country endured a brutal Arctic chill, but it couldn't last forever. A parade of heavy rainstorms is battering Southern California this week, as the second of four storms forecast to strike the region blasted through on Tuesday evening with gale-force winds, severe flooding and at least one tornado. The rains are especially troubling in areas around Los Angeles that were scorched by wildfires last summer, since the loss of vegetation has left soil loose and prone to mudslides. L.A. County fire officials began mandatory evacuations this morning for about 600 homes as meteorologists say the looming storms could be even worse. Nearly 5 inches of rain have already fallen since Sunday, and a storm this evening could dump another 4 to 8 inches. "Wednesday could be horrendous," a climatologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tells the L.A. Times. "Monday we got the right jab. Tuesday we got the left jab. Wednesday we could get the haymaker to the chin." (Sources: AP, Los Angeles Times)


SUPER GROUPERS: Red groupers may not seem like very enterprising fish as they lazily putter around the warm waters off Florida's coast, but they're "the Frank Lloyd Wrights of the sea floor," according to a new study from Florida State marine biologists. While their slow pace looks lackadaisical, red groupers are actually prolific architects and ecosystem engineers, FSU researchers report online in the Open Fish Science Journal. The fish excavate and maintain convoluted structures in the ocean floor, lairs that help them attract potential mates, potential meals, and even other, beneficial species like cleaner shrimp that pick parasites off their bodies. In addition to red grouper being a crucial ecological cornerstone by creating this habitat for themselves and other animals, the study's authors point out how impressive such engineering skills are for fish. "[I]t is no surprise that the fish are remarkably sedentary," says one of the researchers. "Why move if you are clever enough to make everything you need come to you?" (Source: e! Science News)


SPREADING SEEDS: As agriculture grew out from the Fertile Crescent some 10,000 years ago, the world's first farmers were planting more than just crops, a new genetic analysis has found. Like rock stars shaking up the hunting-and-gathering establishment, these touring agrarians took land and wives away from native hunters as they traveled, spreading their own seed while spreading fruit and vegetable crops across Europe. They were so successful, researchers reported Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology, that most of today's European and American men can be genetically linked back to them. The researchers suggest these early farmers likely intermarried with hunter-gatherer women they met as they migrated. "Maybe back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer," says the study's lead author. (Source: USA Today)


Russell McLendon


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Photo (earthquake damage in Port-au-Prince): ZUMA Press

Photo (tow boat in Chicago Shipping and Sanitary Canal): Scott Olson/Getty Images

Photo (flooding in Southern California): Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Photo (red grouper): NOAA

Photo (farmer): Sunset Avenue Productions/Jupiter Images

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