Unrest in Mexico, Seismic Uptic, and Record Heat

Unrest in Mexico, Seismic Uptic, and Record Heat

by Kiril Krastanoff

This week, at MIRA Safety SHTF recap, we have much to unpack: On the environmental front, there are some new major updates regarding EPA regulations that aim to limit our exposure to harmful chemicals in drinking water.

More developments have emerged regarding the Norfolk Southern toxic spill. Recent findings uncover a massive heist in Los Angeles that has everyone talking – it's straight out of a Hollywood movie!

Moving on to the international scene with more and increasing record-breaking weather events, such as high temperatures that have caused a furry of wildfires in Venezuela and droughts in Zimbabwe. 

In a recent development, protests and potential unrest are erupting in Mexico following the arrest of a former Ecuadorian Vice-President. Lastly, we have some positive coverage of the solar eclipse, with new stunning images from the ISS station and more.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    EPA Implements New Rules to Limit Chemicals In Drinking Water

  • 02

    People Protest in Mexico After Former Ecuadorian Vice-President Arrested

  • 03

    4.7 Earthquake Rattles Northeast New Jersey and Pennsylvania

  • 04

    Norfolk Southern $600 Million Settlement Toxic Chemicals Spilled as Train Derails

  • 05

    Record Wildfires in Venezuela and Droughts in Zimbabwe, Along with Record Temperatures

  • 06

    $30 Million Stolen in One of the Largest L.A. Money Heists in History

  • 07

    International Space Station Reveals Stunning Images of the Eclipse


EPA Implements New Rules to Limit Chemicals In Drinking Water

Scientists are next to a treatment plant, testing water for chemicals (Image courtesy of Envato).

Forever chemicals, or otherwise chemicals that are difficult for our bodies to breakdown and also resilient to filtration, are finally getting some more strict regulations. 

Although these chemicals are regularly present in our everyday lives, it doesn't make them less dangerous, as even small concentrations of these substances can have long-lasting negative health benefits.

These new regulations from the EPA aim to combat or reduce the presence of substances that are very hard to deal with.

What is Changing?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is establishing the first-ever national drinking water standard for certain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are often referred to as “forever chemicals.”

These human-made chemicals are incredibly persistent in the environment and can accumulate in our bodies over time, with some being linked to chronic diseases and even cancer. 

To start off, in technical terms, as per the EPA report, the new standard applies to five specific PFAS chemicals: PFOA, PFOS, GenX, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFBA), and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFHxA). 

So you might ask yourself what the goal is: in their own metrics, the EPA estimates this will significantly reduce PFAS exposure for millions of Americans who obtain their drinking water from public systems.

Note: You could consider investing in a high-quality water filtration system, which is a great starting point for protecting yourself and your family from these chemicals in the water supply.

What Are Forever Chemicals, and What Threat Do They Pose?


Water treatment plant scientist takes sample (Image courtesy of Envato).

According to the EPA, the exact risks can vary depending on the specific type of PFAS, the level and duration of exposure, and individual factors.  However, the pervasiveness of PFAS in our environment and their potential health impacts raise significant concerns.

PFAS chemicals have been linked to a number of serious health problems, including:

  • Certain cancers
  • Liver damage
  • Thyroid issues
  • Immune system problems
  • Developmental problems in children

These chemicals not only pose a threat to and affect humans, but they also affect the entire environment. As water is also used for irrigation and agriculture, it also finds its way into the soil, which winds up in the crops and other livestock. 

Why Doesn't the Government Filter the Water Better?

It's easy to start pointing fingers and blaming others for the presence of such chemicals in the water supply, but the facts are we are already doing our best to filter our water as much as possible.

It's just that due to the small nature and non-stick properties of “forever chemicals,” they easily get past various filters. 

Furthermore, the chemical bond of PFAS molecules contains incredibly strong carbon-fluorine bonds. These bonds are some of the strongest in chemistry, making them resistant to breakdown by typical water treatment processes like chlorine disinfection or biological treatment.

The bottom line is that traditional water treatment plants rely on a combination of processes like coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection; they struggle with the unique properties of PFAS. 

Perhaps this should change as we shed more light on this recent phenomenon and take more action, with more bills and legislation making it harder for these chemicals to spread.

People Protest in Mexico After Former Ecuadorian Vice-President Arrested

People protesting against an arrest (Image courtesy of Envato).

Last week, we covered a similar case, where an arrest of an Indian opposition figure caused widespread protest. This week, however, an even more abrupt development occurred in the Mexican embassy.

To this date, tensions are running high between Mexico and Ecuador following the dramatic arrest of former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas.

Here are more details on the event:

  • Protests erupted in Mexico City following the news of Glas' arrest.  
  • Glas, who had been convicted on corruption charges, sought asylum in the Mexican embassy in Quito, Ecuador's capital, in December 2023.  
  • However, on April 5th, 2024, Ecuadorian police stormed the embassy, breaching diplomatic norms, and arrested Glas.

The Aftermath of the Arrest of the Former Vice President

Policemen in Riot gear (Image courtesy of Envato).

This audacious move by Ecuadorian authorities sparked outrage in Mexico. The Mexican government condemned the embassy raid as a violation of international law and a breach of Mexico's sovereignty.  

President López Obrador announced the suspension of diplomatic relations with Ecuador in response.  The action has also drawn criticism from other Latin American countries, with many expressing concerns about the violation of diplomatic protocols.

Currently, we see demonstrators gathered outside the Ecuadorian embassy, chanting slogans against the Ecuadorean government and expressing solidarity with Glas.  

Some protestors believe Glas is a political prisoner targeted by the current Ecuadorian administration. Right now, the situation remains fluid, and it's unclear how long the diplomatic tensions between the two countries will last.

Meanwhile, Glas himself has gone on a hunger strike to protest his arrest.  His lawyer alleges he was mistreated during the apprehension.

4.7 Earthquake Rattles Northeast New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Seismograph gauging an earthquake (Image courtesy of Weston Observatory in Massachusetts).

More news from the U.S. where a strong jolt surprised residents of the northeastern region. The epicenter of the quake originated near Lebanon, New Jersey, and sent tremors that rippled all the way through major cities like Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

Damage Report of Earthquake 

  • Office workers and residents alike felt the ground shake, prompting many to evacuate buildings as a precaution.  
  • Social media feeds exploded with videos of swaying buildings, overflowing cabinets, and startled pets. 
  • Thankfully, initial reports indicate no major injuries or widespread structural damage.  However, some localized reports mention cracks in plaster and fallen objects from shelves.

Should This Recent Quake Cause Worry?

Child in the aftermath of a natural disaster  (Image courtesy of Envato).

Geologists are expressing surprise at the tremor's strength. Earthquakes are relatively uncommon in the Northeast, and this is the strongest quake to hit the region in nearly 250 years.  

Scientists are currently investigating the cause of the earthquake and assessing the potential for aftershocks.  

Note: While the initial quake appears to have caused minimal damage, the event serves as a reminder of the importance of earthquake preparedness, even in low-risk areas.

What's the Best Way to Prepare for an Earthquake?

Here are some ways to prepare for an earthquake according to official US government sources, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

Before an Earthquake:

Image of a woman preparing her emergency kit and supplies (Image courtesy of Envato).

One of the best things you can do if you live in an earthquake-prone area is to prepare for when a potential earthquake strikes. 

Here are some key considerations that can potentially save you: 

  • Create a disaster plan: Discuss your plan with your family and practice what to do in case of an earthquake. This includes designating a meeting place and escape routes.
  • Assemble an emergency kit: This kit should include essentials like non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, and a whistle. Aim for a kit that can sustain you for the last three days at a bare minimum.
  • Secure your home: Identify and secure potential hazards in your home, such as bookshelves, cabinets, and mirrors. 
  • Learn how to shut off utilities: This is very important if your home uses gas for the stove or heating! If you have time, please also shut off any utilities or appliances that could be potential causes of electrical fires.

Note: Never use an elevator during an earthquake, and always utilize the emergency exit if you are at an office, mall, or other large building.

During an Earthquake:

It's hard to remember what to do during a moment of a strong earthquake, and even if you have a plan, it is incredibly easy to skip something (this lesson was learned based by yours truly on personal experience during the Zagreb earthquake of 2020).

However, the more you practice the steps and memorize the best practices during a quake, the more likely you will not forgo any part: 

  • Drop, Cover, and Hold On: If you are indoors, drop to the ground, take cover under sturdy furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops.
  • Stay away from windows and glass: Falling glass can cause serious injuries.
  • Evacuate only if safe to do so: If you are in a building with significant damage or near a coastline (potential for tsunami), evacuate to a safe area once the shaking stops.

Contrary to popular belief, making a run for it could be more dangerous and cause more injuries as you expose yourself to falling debris and objects outside your home. Always use your best judgment, however, and remember that these safety tips are guidelines. 

After an Earthquake:

Post-earthquake recovery efforts (Image courtesy of Envato).

It's crucial to remember that even after the initial tremors have subsided, this doesn't fully clear you out of harm's way. 

Immediately following an earthquake, here is what you should do:

  • Check for injuries: Attend to yourself and others who may be injured.
  • Be aware of aftershocks: Expect smaller tremors after the main earthquake.
  • Listen to the radio for instructions: Local authorities will provide updates and instructions on how to stay safe.

Note: Use your phone carefully: Only use your phone for emergencies to avoid overloading the network.

Norfolk Southern $600 Million Settlement Toxic Chemicals Spilled as Train Derails

Aftermath of Train Spill (Image courtesy of National Transportation Safety Board).

The February 2023 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, continues to cast a long shadow. Even today, concerns still linger about the long-term health effects of exposure to the spilled chemicals on residents. 

While the environmental damage is substantial and the cleanup process is still ongoing, some recent developments regarding the lawsuit will see a significant allocation of funds going toward the remediation efforts.

Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, can breathe a sigh of relief as Norfolk Southern, the railway company responsible for a February 2023 train derailment, has agreed to a hefty $600 million settlement.

The Fallout Following the Toxic Spill: 

The derailment caused a major environmental disaster, spilling toxic chemicals and raising serious health concerns for the surrounding community.

Lawsuit Developments


Image courtesy of Envato

The lawsuit, filed as a class action on behalf of residents and businesses impacted by the derailment, alleged negligence on the part of Norfolk Southern.  

The settlement, reached after months of negotiations, aims to compensate residents for property damage, potential health problems, and the disruption to their lives caused by the incident.

Here is what we know so far:

  • The $600 million will be divided into two main components.  
  • A portion will be used to create a fund for individuals who can demonstrate injury or property damage resulting from the derailment.
  • The settlement includes a voluntary program offering compensation for future health issues potentially linked to exposure to the spilled chemicals.

Note: If you are in the affected area and experience any health-related symptoms, please seek medical attention!

Record Wildfires in Venezuela and Droughts in Zimbabwe, Along with Record Temperatures

Firefighters try to stop wildfires (Image courtesy of Envato).

The climate crisis continues to grip the world, with several worrying trends emerging this week. Venezuela is grappling with record-breaking wildfires, a stark reminder of the growing threat of extreme weather events in South America.  

  • These fires are fueled by a combination of factors, including prolonged drought conditions exacerbated by climate change.
  • The situation in Venezuela is particularly concerning as the country lacks the resources and infrastructure to effectively combat large-scale wildfires.  
  • The fires are not only causing widespread ecological damage but also posing a significant health risk to nearby communities due to smoke and air pollution.

Extreme Weather, Sadly not an Isolated Incident:

Drought in the land (Image courtesy of Envato).

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Zimbabwe, another worrying sign: extreme drought.  The country is experiencing its worst drought in decades, with devastating consequences for agriculture and food security.  These dry conditions are not only impacting crop yields but also contributing to water shortages and exacerbating poverty in the region.

The co-occurrence of record wildfires in Venezuela and extreme drought in Zimbabwe highlights this alarming trend of temperature extremes culminating in regional disasters.

In the future, if we continue to see this trend of rising global temperatures leading to more extreme weather events, with both droughts and wildfires like we saw in the US and Europe just the last few years becoming more frequent and severe. 

How Can Someone Prepare for Escaping A Wildfire?

Wildfires can strike quickly and leave little time for escape. Here are some crucial steps to take to ensure you're ready:

  1. Have an Evacuation Plan: Discuss escape routes with your family and practice them regularly. Identify multiple exits in case your primary route is blocked.
  1. Assemble an Emergency Kit:  This should include essentials like non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, and a flashlight.  Don't forget a critical element for surviving smoke inhalation: 

We can only survive a few minutes without clean and non-toxic air: The MIRA Safety EvakPak includes a specialized VK-530 filter for your gas mask, effectively filtering smoke, soot, and harmful particles during fire escapes.

  1. Prepare Your Vehicle:  Keep your car fueled and ready to go.  Have a map readily available, and consider packing essentials like blankets and water in your car.

$30 Million Stolen in One of the Largest L.A. Money Heists in History

Los Angeles is no stranger to daring crimes, but this week's heist has tongues wagging and security experts scratching their heads.  GardaWorld, a multinational security firm,  reported a staggering $30 million stolen from their Southern California storage facility over the Easter weekend.

Some emerging details on the heist:

  • The audacity of the crime has captured the public's imagination, with comparisons being drawn to classic Hollywood heist movies.  
  • Authorities are tight-lipped about the details, but initial reports suggest the thieves gained entry through the roof, bypassing the facility's alarm system.  
  • Exactly how they managed this feat and how they transported such a massive amount of cash remains a mystery.

The FBI and LAPD are investigating the incident, and the potential for an inside job is not being ruled out.  This loss is a major blow to GardaWorld's reputation, and the company is surely facing intense scrutiny as the investigation unfolds.  One thing is certain: the hunt for the perpetrators of this audacious heist is on, and this story is far from over.

International Space Station Reveals Stunning Images of the Eclipse

The breathtaking moment captured on camera from the ISS (Image courtesy of NASA)

While skywatchers on Earth were treated to a breathtaking solar eclipse on April 8th, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) had a truly unique perspective.  

Orbiting 250 miles above the planet, they witnessed the moon's shadow sweep across the Earth's surface, offering a glimpse of the phenomenon from a whole new vantage point.

  • The ISS team has now shared some of the stunning images captured during the eclipse. 
  • These pictures showcase the incredible contrast between the moon's dark shadow and the brilliant light of the sun's corona, the outermost layer of the sun's atmosphere.  
  • The Earth itself appears as a vibrant blue marble against the blackness of space, further emphasizing the awe-inspiring scale of the celestial event.

These images aren't just beautiful; they also hold scientific value.  Scientists can use them to study the sun's corona, which is typically obscured by the sun's intense light.  

The eclipse provides a rare opportunity to observe this region in detail, helping us gain a better understanding of the sun's behavior and its impact on Earth.

The shadow cast on Earth (Image courtesy of NASA)

So, while we earthbound observers marveled at the eclipse from the ground, the ISS astronauts provided us with a truly out-of-this-world perspective.  These captivating images serve as a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the universe that surrounds us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the new regulation on drinking water?
Why are wildfires and droughts becoming more common?
What happened in the big LA heist?