Tuesday, December 6, 2011

THE AGE OF OBAMA & WORLD WAR III: Gathering Alignments - CELAC Launch Underlines Regional Cohesion Against the United States, Chinese President Hu Jintao Orders Navy Ready For Military Combat!

As the secret "Cold War" from the West and Israel against Iran escalates towards a imminent and monumental Middle East conflict, a largely hidden alignment of forces is converging with China and Russia, in an obvious strategic pivot in preparation for when Israel launches first strike on Iran's nuclear program. On Saturday, Latin America and Caribbean countries on approved 22 documents, officially signing into effect the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as a new leading regional bloc.

The recent formalization of a new regional cooperation bloc that includes every country in the Americas except Canada and the United States has been largely dismissed in the English-language media as little more than a new soap-box from which the region’s more flamboyant leftists, namely Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, will now spew anti-American rhetoric. To some extent, the potential for such an outcome exists. But it is also worth noting that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC by its Spanish acronym, has now been given an official stamp of approval from not just left-leaning heads of state, but from leaders across the Latin American political spectrum. Alexander Main, a Latin America specialist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington,  contends that the “two biggest factors in CELAC so far have been Brazil and Mexico taking the key initiatives in the process that led to its creation.” Neither country represents the region’s far left. “So, the two countries that are the biggest in terms of their economic weight and their populations have been key promoters of CELAC,” Main told Trend Lines on Monday. “It’s not just Chávez’s baby.” Indeed, backing from Brazil and Mexico, coupled with the participation of every one of the region’s other major players -- including Colombia and Chile, both also notably not pro-Chávez -- signals a level of unprecedented regional cohesion.

CELAC so far lacks a headquarters or a formalized funding mechanism. But last weekend saw heads of state and high-level representatives from every Latin American and Caribbean nation gather in Caracas to sign the “Caracas Declaration,” establishing the group as a forum for adopting common international positions and calling for a deepening of regional integration. They also signed the “Caracas Action Plan,” outlining an initial agenda focused on such initiatives as establishing transnational energy relationships, addressing hunger and literacy issues and deepening regional trade. While it remains to be seen whether CELAC will emerge as an aggressive geopolitical counterweight to the Organization of American States -- of which both Canada and the United States are members -- a quick read between the lines seems to suggest a collective desire for something like that to occur. The “Caracas Action Plan,” according to Main, explicitly calls for an agreement among member countries on how the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Inter-American Development Bank should be reformed and restructured. “The document implies that members countries should try to come together as a group and agree on how to promote larger quotas for developing countries in the decision-making process for those international financial institutions,” he said. Also included in the formation documents are strong statements calling for an end to the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba and supporting the legalized chewing of coca in Bolivia and Peru. “What’s really interesting,” said Main, "is that there’s no way that the U.S. would ever subscribe to any of this. So it demonstrates what the whole region is thinking when the U.S. and Canada aren’t there -- and that these countries of the region have a lot in common that the U.S. and Canada don’t share.” “The U.S. has been overlooking the deep changes that have been occurring in the region for the past 12 years or so,” he added. “You now have a very different region politically than you had back in the 1990s, and the U.S. hasn’t come to terms with that. They don’t understand it, and they don’t want to see it, but CELAC is a manifestation of it.” - WPR.
In perfect unison, Chinese President Hu Jintao extended congratulations on the establishment of the new grouping.
In a telegram to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Hu Jintao said that the founding of the bloc is an important milestone in the region’s integration process, and will help enhance regional unity and better cope with common challenges. Hu expressed China’s willingness to boost cooperation with member countries and work for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership in pursuit of common development. - CNTV.
China, for its part has increased its trade with Latin America and the Caribbean substantially over the last few years. It initially contributed 350 million U.S. dollars to various investment programs organized by the Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to support investment in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Last October, the Export-Import Bank of China and the IDB committed to finance up to 200 million U.S. dollars worth of trade activities between China and Latin American and the Caribbean region over the next two years. In my homeland of Jamaica, our entire road program is run by China, under the multi-million dollar investment by China Harbour Engineering Company.

With so much investment, these forces are now gathering behind China's deceptive "peaceful and prosperity" rosy-colored vision outlined in its recent white paper on "Peaceful Development", opposing Secretary Hillary Clinton's aggressively-toned "America's Pacific Century". With assertive adminstrations throughout the Middle East from Cairo to Tel Aviv, expressing little interest in abiding by the American dictates, China is slowly burying its friendship with the West, as President Obama, in tandem, creates and imposes a graveyard on the spirit, authority, dominance and economy of America. In a recent news report, Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor from the Chinese National Defense University, said China would not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War. Russia, recently declared that it is preparing to retaliate against NATO and has put radar stations on combat alert.

In a move, in concert with the aforementioned, President Jintao urged the Chinese navy, today, to prepare for military combat amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.
The navy should "accelerate its transformation and modernisation in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security," he said. Addressing the powerful Central Military Commission, Hu said: "Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defence and military building." His remarks, which were posted on a statement on a government website, come amid growing US and regional concerns over China's naval ambitions, particularly in the South China Sea. China claims all of the maritime area, as does Taiwan, while four Southeast Asian countries declare ownership of parts of it, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing Chinese forces of increasing aggression there. In a translation of Hu's comments, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the president as saying China's navy should "make extended preparations for warfare." But the Pentagon on Tuesday downplayed Hu's speech, saying that Beijing had the right to develop its military, although it should do so transparently. "They have a right to develop military capabilities and to plan, just as we do," said Pentagon spokesman George Little, but he added "we have repeatedly called for transparency from the Chinese and that's part of the relationship we're continuing to build with the Chinese military." "Nobody's looking for a scrap here," insisted another spokesman Admiral John Kirby. "Certainly we wouldn't begrudge any other nation the opportunity, the right to develop naval forces to be ready. "Our naval forces are ready and they'll stay ready." US undersecretary of defence Michelle Flournoy is due to meet in Beijing with her Chinese counterparts on Wednesday for military-to-military talks. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month warned against interference by "external forces" in regional territorial disputes including in the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich area where several nations have overlapping claims.

And China said late last month it would conduct naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean, after Obama, who has dubbed himself America's first Pacific president, said the US would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to Australia. China's People's Liberation Army, the largest military in the world, is primarily a land force, but its navy is playing an increasingly important role as Beijing grows more assertive about its territorial claims.  Earlier this year, the Pentagon warned that Beijing was increasingly focused on its naval power and had invested in high-tech weaponry that would extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond. China's first aircraft carrier began its second sea trial last week after undergoing refurbishments and testing, the government said. The 300-metre (990-foot) ship, a refitted former Soviet carrier, underwent five days of trials in August that sparked international concern about China's widening naval reach. Beijing only confirmed this year that it was revamping the old Soviet ship and has repeatedly insisted that the carrier poses no threat to its neighbours and will be used mainly for training and research purposes. But the August sea trials were met with concern from regional powers including Japan and the United States, which called on Beijing to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier. China, which publicly announced around 50 separate naval exercises in the seas off its coast over the past two years -- usually after the event -- says its military is only focused on defending the country's territory. - Yahoo.

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Undersea Mountains March into the Abyss - The Destruction of Massive Underwater Mountains in the Pacific Ocean!

Startling new images from the depths of the Pacific Ocean reveal one of Earth's most violent processes: the destruction of massive underwater mountains.

The pictures were created by sonar in waters up to 6km (4mi) deep. They expose how tectonic action is dragging giant volcanoes into a chasm in the seabed. The volcanoes are strung across several thousand kilometres of ocean floor and are moving westward on the Pacific tectonic plate at up to 6cm per year. The extraordinary scene was captured along the Tonga Trench during a research expedition last summer. The trench is a highly active fault line running north from New Zealand towards Tonga and Samoa. The first images have been released to BBC News as the findings are presented to the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union. They are the result of a joint project by the universities of Oxford and Durham, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. Where the Pacific plate collides with the Indo-Australian plate, it is forced downwards into the trench, a subduction zone, and the volcanoes are carried with it. The trench, reaching a depth of 10.9km, forms the second deepest stretch of seabed anywhere in the world - easily large enough to hold Mount Everest.

One image shows the volcano nearest the edge of the abyss - the next to be destroyed - already starting to collapse. With frequent earthquakes, the region is vulnerable to tsunamis and one aim of the research is to understand whether the destruction of the volcanoes adds to the risk. One theory is that the volcanoes add friction to the movement of the two plates which leads to a greater build-up of tension and consequently to a more explosive quake. Another is that by shearing into blocks as they collapse, the volcanoes provide a kind of buffer easing the subduction process. Professor Tony Watts of Oxford University, joint leader of the project, says that earthquakes are less frequent at the precise point where the volcanoes enter the trench. "When you see size of these features you'd think they'd cause massive earthquakes and disruption - and that was our starting hypothesis." "But we found that the volcanoes were highly fractured before they entered the trench - which is very important for what happens after they enter the system. Analysis so far has not determined the precise impact of this process. - BBC.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Landslides Hit Northern Trinidad!

Over 13 early-morning landslides cut off parts of the Paria Main Road from Sans Souci to Grande Riviere, in north east Trinidad after heavier-than-usual rainfall over the weekend.

Lines of Toco-bound beach enthusiasts and weekend limers were forced to turn their vehicles around after several landslips of rocks, trees and other natural debris left the road impassible. One of the landslides claimed the life of Sans Souci resident Joseph Hagley. Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner, who was called out of church just before 6 a.m., was on the scene with trucks and heavy equipment from his Ministry trying to clear the muddied road. Warner, who has been busy dealing with natural disasters along the East-West Corridor, Diego Martin, Maraval and surrounding areas, in the past few weeks, said the “mountains were angry”. “Look around, what are you seeing? People are cutting the hills for planting here in the country and cutting the hill for development in the city. These mountains are angry,” Warner said as he walked through the devastated areas and paused to talk to the family of the landslide victim. “The mountains have been denuded in several places and wherever that has happened you can actually see the landslips taking place,” he said. “This cannot continue. As it is now we have to reforest the mountains. We also have to clear the water courses and would have to ‘bench’ the mountains as well,” he said.
“Whether is Maraval, whether it’s Alyce Glen whether it’s here in Toco, the mountains are saying enough is enough. We cannot fight against nature all the time. We could have the best will in the world, build as many retaining walls as we want at the end of the day we have to keep the mountains,” he said. “But this too is an area that has been neglected and I am not assigning blame but this area has been neglected over the years and we are paying the price for that. The area has not been given the attention it deserves and we are reaping that right now,” he said. Warner said the financial losses of devastation were hard to calculate at this time. “But based on my experience in the Ministry of Works, TT$20 million would be a conservative figure,” he said. Warner also delivered a message of sympathy to the Hagley family from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. While Warner said the Government would pay the cost of funeral expenses, he also gave the family his personal contact number and told the widow to call him if she needed help.

Other homeowners were also affected, but while their homes remained intact, piles of sludge and mud were packed up against the back of several homes and others were inundated with the muddy mess as well. Martin Terry Rondon, councillor for the area, said 10 power-saw crews and three backhoe crews were working on clearing the trees and other debris from the affected areas. An official at the Meteorological Office in Piarco said between Friday and yesterday there was more than two inches of rain. He said while the natural conditions that created the weather patterns were normal, the amount of rainfall was unusually high and caused the soil to become too saturated. The weather also affected parts of Tobago as a landslide cut off parts of the Charlotteville link road, but Allan Stewart, director of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), said cadets and protective services were out already clearing the blockage. He said there was no severe damage to residential areas. - Stabroek News.

ICE AGE NOW: The Big Freeze - Snow as Far South as Birmingham, as the Big Freeze Moves South with Blizzards and 80mph Winds; Met Office Issues Severe Weather Warnings for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland!

The Big Freeze is set to sweep south into England tomorrow with snow expected as far down as Birmingham accompanied by icy 80mph winds.

 The Met Office said another 10cm of snow is set to fall overnight in Scotland, with widespread black ice expected to turn roads and pavements in central Scotland into dangerous skating rinks tomorrow. Forecasters issued warnings for England to be hit by snow Thursday evening and through Friday, predicting up to two inches of snow at lower levels in the Midlands and north west. Scotland will be hit by up to 30cms. At the same time, hurricane-force wind gusts up to 70mph will batter the east coast as far south as East Anglia. England's northern Midlands and north west face 60mph winds, with 80mph in Scotland - bringing blizzard conditions and drifting to those areas, which could halt transport on roads and affect train lines. Temperatures are set to rise over the next couple of days, reaching a mild 12C to 13C on Thursday, before plummeting to as low as -4C in London on Friday night.

Night-time temperatures, which dropped to -8C at Cairngorm, Scotland, early this morning, will be sub-zero across many parts of the UK by Friday night, bringing widespread ice on Saturday with more snow and sleet falling through the weekend. Met Office forecaster Dan Williams said: 'We're expecting up to 10cm of snow overnight in Scotland, more likely on higher ground, with snow and sleet at lower levels and overnight temperatures in minuses. 'There is an amber warning for central Scotland on Wednesday as we could see widespread ice, including black ice, so people should take care. 'From Thursday evening, there is a snow risk as far south as Birmingham - the furthest south snow has been forecast this winter. 'The guidance is for perhaps 20cm-30cm on hills and 5-10cm at lower levels. Snow which falls overnight is more likely to settle. 'With strong winds and possible heavy snow showers, people should be aware of very difficult weather conditions including potential blizzards and transport impacts including drifting.
'Winds will be strong through Wednesday in Scotland and on Thursday and Friday morning as far south as East Anglia, with 60-70mph gusts and 80mph in exposed areas, more likely in Scotland. 'North-westerly winds are pulling fairly cold air down from the polar regions. 'Saturday will see frost and widespread road ice on untreated roads, with wintry showers for the whole of the UK apart from the south-east. 'Sunday will be slightly milder but could still see wintry showers on ground over 400m in the north.' The freezing weather claimed two lives on the roads yesterday as two truck drivers died in separate incidents. One 43-year-old driver was killed when his 40-tonne lorry crashed on the M73, forcing police to close shut a busy stretch of the motorway at Baillieston, Glasgow. Diesel spilled across the road forcing a second lorry to jackknife. A second truck driver died in a separate incident when his vehicle skidded off a trunk road in north Lincolnshire after driving conditions turned treacherous. Humberside Police said the white Scania lorry, which was fully loaded with meat, left the westbound carriageway of the A160 in South Killingholme at about 4.14am. Another driver was suffered chest injuries in an accident on the A9 near Dalguise in Perthshire, Scotland, as temperatures plunged as low as -7.7C as up to six inches of snow fell north of the border. Police across the north of England and Scotland are warning motorists to take extra care due to sleet and snow.

As 120 gritters distributed 3,000 tonnes of salt, Scotland's Transport Minister warned of the ongoing danger facing motorists up and down the country. 'We have seen a few incidents that have caused some disruption,' he said. 'That is why the Multi Agency Response Team and SGoRR remain operational. 'Our operating companies have also worked through the night, with over 120 gritters out on the trunk roads and motorways to treat every route at least once. 'We are all working hard to keep Scotland moving and get back to normal where disruption does occur, particularly in the North West where conditions are the most difficult. 'We urge the public to continue to exercise care; plan your journey, listen to police advice and check available travel updates.'

Assistant Chief Constable Allan Moffat, of Central Scotland Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), said: 'I would ask people to remember that both damp and snow-affected roads can hide the hidden danger of black ice, particularly in shaded areas. 'Our message is very much aimed at asking motorists to be aware of the dangers and travel with extra caution.' The severe conditions also forced airports to close at Inverness, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Kirkwall. It caused chaos on the roads throughout the country with road closures on the A77, the B7038 at the Kilmarnock junction and the westbound carriageway of the Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow. The weather also forced school closures in South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands. Billy Payne, a forecaster with MeteoGroup weather service, said: 'The snow will ease off later this morning with longer spells of rain, but that will turn back into snow. 'Cold air temperatures, which will be below zero reaching around minus three and minus four degrees, means that ice is also a risk. 'There will be significant accumulations of snow over higher ground and the rest of the week will continue to be quite unsettled with wintry showers of hail, sleet and more snow.' - Daily Mail.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far And Wide - 45 Tons Of Highly Radioactive Water Leak Poisons Ocean!

About 45 tons of radioactive water has reportedly leaked out of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, that was badly damaged in March's earthquake and tsunami. Some of the toxic water may have found its way into the ocean during the weekend.

As much as 45,000 liters (11,870 gallons) of highly radioactive water leaked from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear station at the weekend and some may have reached the sea, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) said. The leakage shows the company known as Tepco is still struggling to control the disaster nine months after an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant. The water contained 1.8 millisieverts per hour of gamma radiation and 110 millisieverts of beta radiation, Tepco said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “The source of the beta radiation in the water is likely to include strontium 90, which if absorbed in the body through eating tainted seaweed or fish, accumulates in bone and can cause cancer,” said Tetsuo Ito, the head of Kinki University’s Atomic Energy Research Institute. Since the March 11 disaster, the utility has reported several leaks of radiated water into the sea, though its estimates of their size have been disputed. In October, a French nuclear research institute said the Fukushima plant was responsible for the biggest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history.

The water leaked from a desalination unit and through a cracked concrete wall into a gutter that drains into the Pacific Ocean, spokeswoman Chie Hosoda said by phone. Radiated water has now been pumped out of the building where it was leaking from. As much as 300 liters leaked through the crack, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility, told reporters in Tokyo today. The utility is still checking how much contaminated water has reached the sea and the effects on the environment, Matsumoto said. Tepco said the leaked water contained 16,000 becquerels and 29,000 becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium 134 and 137 respectively. Those levels exceed government safety limits by 267 and 322 times, according to Bloomberg calculations. The water may have contained one million times as much radioactive strontium as the government limit, the Asahi newspaper reported today. Matsumoto said Tepco may take three weeks to analyze the strontium level in the water. The study by the French government-funded Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety said radioactive cesium that flowed into the sea from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant was 20 times the amount estimated by Tepco. Prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation can cause leukemia and other forms of cancer, according to the World Nuclear Association. - Bloomberg.
WATCH: RT talks to David Wagner from Country Risk Solutions in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, a German Scientist has declared that there is no way to stop the melted fuel at Fukushima.
Dr. Sebastian Pflugbeil, the chairman of German Society of Radiation Protection had a lecture in Berlin,and talked about Tokyo. To the question about what we can do to minimize the damage of the accident, he answered: “Nothing. There is no way to stop the nuclear fuel that has melted-through leaking. All we could do is to pray for the fuel not to touch the underground water vein. We must avoid internal exposure from contaminated food. Authorities are trying to make Japanese eat polluted food for their twisted patriotism, but on the other hand, citizens are setting up independent labs around Japan. This is very important. However, lab facility costs are huge. Maintenance, recording the data costs too. Now, the best thing Germans can do is to support those independent facilities financially.”

To another question “How dangerous Tokyo is now?” He answered: “Tokyo is not the safe area. Now Tokyo is in the similar situation to Kiev in Chernobyl. Ukrainian Government couldn’t define that densely populated area, Kiev, as evacuating area so they did not admit Kiev was threatened and manipulated the radiation map to look like Plutonium stopped just before Kiev.” Around in Kiev, there were 11 million children in 1990, and now there are 8 million. However, the number of deformed babies is the same, which means the ratio of deformation is increasing. Low dose exposure obviously affects DNA. Only 10 % of babies sent to Kiev hospital can live longer than 1 year. - Fukushima Diary.
WATCH: Chernobyl 25 years later - Kiev Children's Hospital.

EXTREME WEATHER: Mexico Drought is the Worst in 70 Years!

The sun-baked northern states of Mexico are suffering under the worst drought since the government began recording rainfall 70 years ago. Crops of corn, beans and oats are withering in the fields. About 1.7 million cattle have died of starvation and thirst.

Hardest hit are five states in Mexico's north, a region that is being parched by the same drought that has dried out the southwest United States. The government is trucking water to 1,500 villages scattered across the nation's northern expanse, and sending food to poor farmers who have lost all their crops.Life probably won't improve soon. The next rainy season isn't due until June, and there's no guarantee normal rains will come then. Most years, Guillermo Marin harvests 10 tons of corn and beans from his fields in this harsh corner of Mexico. This year, he got just a single ton of beans. And most of the 82-year-old farmer's fellow growers in this part of Durango state weren't able to harvest anything at all.

The family has five plots of 20 acres each in the town of San Juan del Rio, an area at the foot of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains dotted with farming and ranching villages whose only water comes from seasonal rains. Those have been lacking for more than a year in much of Mexico. It has been the country's worst dry spell since 1941, when the government began recording rainfall. "This is the most severe drought the country has registered," President Felipe Calderon said Thursday at a meeting with governors from the hardest hit states of Durango, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi. Those states average about 21 inches of rain annually. This year they got 12 inches, according to Mexico's National Weather Service. Mexican farmers have lost 2.2 million acres of crops to dry conditions and 1.7 million farm animals have died this year from lack of water or forage, according to the nation's Agriculture Department. - SF Gate.

MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around The World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Scientists in Hessdalen, Norway, track strange lights in the night sky moving at speeds of up to 30,000 kilometers per hour, while local residents tell of seeing brightly lit flying craft. This circumstance is called the "Hessdalen Phenomenon."

WATCH: Stunning UFOs over Hessdalen,Norway.

UFO emerges from behind a dark cloud bank, with a rotating and revolving light display, as it glides through the air over the Florida Panhandle.

WATCH: Enhanced video of UFO over Florida Panhandle.

TV report about transflucent daytime unidentified flying object in the skies above Cinisello Balsamo in Italy. This strange UFO was recorded on the 13th of November, 2011 by Antonio Urzi.

WATCH: UFO over Cinisello Balsamo, Italy.

TV report from Jaime Maussan and Yohanan Diaz about UFO activities and crop circles in Tlapanaloya, Mexico on the 23rd of November, 2011.

WATCH: UFOs and Crop Circles in Tlapanaloya, Mexico.

Interesting footage of a triangular-shaped UFO, was recorded in a Dover, a city in Stewart County, Tennessee on the 21st of September, 2011 around 9:30 pm.

WATCH: Triangle UFO over Dover, Tennessee.

This bright unidentified flying object was recorded in the night sky above Switzerland near Lake Constanze on Sunday, the 4th of December, 2011.

WATCH: UFO over Lake Constanze in Switzerland.

These unknown bright objects were recorded in the sky above Bergsjon in Sweden on Friday, the 2nd of December, 2011.

WATCH: UFOs over Bergsjon in Sweden.

Some kind of triangle formation was recorded in the night sky above Philadelphia on Thursday, the 1st of December, 2011.

WATCH: UFO formation over Philadelphia.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Earthquake Shakes Cyclone-Proof Towns - The Largest Tremor to Hit Western Australia This Year!

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake has struck off Western Australia's Gascoyne coast according to the US Geological Survey. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck near the Muiron Islands nature reserve, north-east of Exmouth, at a depth of 9.8 kilometers, just after 3am (WST). Geoscience Australia had the quake at 5.4 at the time of writing. There were no immediate reports of injury or damage, and no tsunami warnings. The Seven Network reported the quake was felt up to 270km away.

The largest earthquake to hit Western Australia this year struck off the coast this morning reverberating more than 100km inland, according Geoscience Australia. Residents in the Pilbara town of Onslow told the ABC they felt their houses shake this morning when the earthquake struck shortly after 3am. The epicentre was about 40km north east of Exmouth and 80km west of Onslow, according to a Geoscience Australia seismologist. Geoscience Australia has estimated the quake was quite shallow but could have caused damage up to 15km from it's epicentre. A Horizon Power spokesman said there had been no power outages in Exmouth or Onslow as a result of the quake.

A spokesman for the Exmouth District High School said the school had not been affected. Shire of Ashburton executive assistant for strategic and economic development Darlene Bodanski said there had been no reports of injury or damage to property. She said the lack of damage was largely due to Onslow's "cyclone alley" location, which meant most of the town's buildings are built to category D cyclone rated conditions and can take a good "shake". But Ms Bodanski said the tremor came in two bursts and was "quite an experience". "It sounded like a banging," she said. "Then the bed started to shake and I wasn't sure what it was. "It's like an energy that comes up from the ground - it's a weird feeling." She said the first tremor lasted about four seconds, ebbing into a slight rumble, then flared again. - SMH.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Merapi Danger Zone - Mount Merapi Residents Refuse to Leave Volcano Zone!

Hundreds of people left homeless by a volcano eruption in Mount Merapi, Indonesia last year are insisting on returning to the danger zone.

Mount Merapi is considered Indonesia's most active volcano and last year's violent eruption killed more than 300 people. Some villagers are refusing to accept a government ban on rebuilding in the area because the volcano is expected to erupt again in a few years. The United Nations says it's a common problem around the world, because people won't abandon their land. - Radio Australia.
In the following audio, presenter George Roberts speaks with Wiwik Setiyawati, a local resident; Sri Ponomo, regent of Mount Merapi area; and Margareta Wahlstrom, United Nations Chief of Disaster Management.  Listen HERE.

ROBERTS: The imposing crater of Mount Merapi peacefully pokes above the morning cloud.

It's sleeping for now but locals like Wiwik Setiawati know what it's capable of.

SETIYAWATI (translated): We lost everything. I went back and couldn't find where my house was. I tried to find any remains, but could not find any.

ROBERTS: In November and December last year the cauldron threw out tonnes of lava, ash and boulders, killing more than 300 people and pummelling thousands of homes to pieces.

But more than 500 families, like Wiwik Setiawati's have ignored a ban and returned to the most dangerous zone.

SETIYAWATI (translated): Our economy is from up here, our livestock is up here. If we live down there, we can't earn a living anymore.

ROBERTS: The government's offered them land and 30 million rupiah - or about $3,000 - to build in a safer area.

But those refusing the government's hospitality think there's another motivation behind the offer.

SETIYAWATI (translated): We were asked to move to a land further down because they are going to turn it into a national park.

ROBERTS: The regent of the area, Sri Ponomo says that's not the case and it's about keeping people safe.

PONOMO (translated): The place they build with their hard-earned money will be destroyed again by the eruption.

ROBERTS: Another 2,680 families are still homeless from the disaster and most of them are staying in temporary government villages made of bamboo and corrugated tin.

PONOMO (translated): This year, 2011, we are building - as the first phase - 546 units of permanent housings for those families.

After the people relocate to a new place, which is far more comfortable and more enjoyable, these people who refuse will reconsider.

ROBERTS: But even those who've accepted the government's hospitality are growing weary of the three years it may take to get a permanent house.

The United Nations chief of disaster management is Margareta Wahlstrom.

She says it's common for people to be unhappy or to refuse to leave a disaster zone despite being in the path of danger.

WAHLSTROM: Even when you try to prevent a disaster from happening this is one of the toughest issues. You know, you and I may not believe it but most people don't want to leave their home.

ROBERTS: Mount Merapi's been active for thousands of years and erupted eight times since 1984. Exactly when the next one will be is anyone's guess.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: How climate Change Has Affected Your Favorite Landscapes!

This week, world leaders have been at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Durban, South Africa, to discuss climate change.

While climate change is predicted to get worse, it is not a hypothetical problem that will occur in the distant future. The U.N. recently said it is confident that increased greenhouse gas emissions have already increased maximum global temperatures. In some areas of the world, climate change has begun to threaten natural habitats, such as the village of Shishmaref, Alaska, where rising temperatures have been melting away ice on the coast, threatening wildlife and livelihoods. We asked you to send us photographs of your favorite local landscape, telling us what that place means to you and why protecting it from climate change is so important.

You sent us images of lakes, parks, mountains and waterfalls, from Indonesia to Austria, and New Zealand to the United States. Many of you said there were signs that climate change was already taking its toll, and that action must be taken to protect these special locations. Michael Goodling sent a picture of zebras at the Mlilwane Game Reserve, in Ezulwini, Swaziland -- a country he says has been hit by late seasonal rains. "Water holes that should be filling for the animals are just thick dry mud," he said. "If climate change continues to affect Africa it will also change migratory patterns due to food availability. This applies to humans as well. Without the rains, crops will also be later. He added: "I worry that the next generation will not enjoy the zebra, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, impala, etc. that I am enjoying now. We must act fast to protect these beautiful creatures, the beautiful children and the vast pristine landscape of this amazing continent." - CNN.

DELUGE: Flash Flood Washes Out Sigi, Killing Five in Indonesia!

Five people were killed, one person missing and 412 villagers have been evacuated from flash floods in Sigi, Indonesia.

Flash flood swept Kulawi District, Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi on Saturday, Dec 3. The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) recorded that five locals died from the flood. “Five people died, one person is missing, and 412 villagers are evacuated,” said BNPB’s spokesperson, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, today, Dec 5. The flash flood also destroyed 36 houses, seriously damaged 147 houses, one school and one village hall, and slightly ruined 46 houses. Sutopo explained that to anticipate the flood, the disaster management agency has coordinated with related parties for emergency actions. Also, they have evacuated the affected villagers to a secure location. BNPB’s quick response team has also arrived at the scene to provide assistance to the disaster management agency for any further actions. - VIVA News.