Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 DOOMSDAY: "It is 5 Minutes to Midnight" - Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Moves "Doomsday Clock" One Minute Closer to Midnight!

It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.

The world tiptoed closer to the apocalypse on Tuesday as scientists moved the Doomsday Clock one minute closer to the zero hour. The symbolic clock now stands at five minutes to midnight, the scientists said, because of a collective failure to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, act on climate change, or find safe and sustainable sources of energy – as exemplified by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The rare bright points the scientists noted were the Arab spring and movement in Russia for greater democracy. The clock, maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, has been gauging our proximity to global disaster since 1947, using the potent image of a clock counting down the minutes to destruction. Until Tuesday afternoon, the clock had been set at six minutes to midnight.

"It is five minutes to midnight," the scientists said. "Two years ago it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed." The Bulletin was founded by the scientists who helped build America's atomic bomb, and the primary focus of their concerns remains the danger of a nuclear conflagration. But a number of the scientists who took part in the deliberations said they were also dismayed by a growing trend to disregard science. "A cross-cutting issue through the entire discussion is the worrisome trend to reject or diminish the significance of what science says is the characteristic of a problem," said Robert Socolow of Princeton's Environmental Institute. "There is a general judgement among us that we need the political leadership to affirm the primacy of science."

The scientists also noted how Republicans seeking the GOP nomination were trying to outdo each other in denying climate science. Their greatest disappointment, however, was the failure of international leaders to rid the world of nuclear weapons, exemplified by what they called "ambiguity about Iran's nuclear power program." Even when Russia and America ratified a new nuclear treaty in 2010, there were still nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world. They warned that the Fukushima meltdown once more exposed the dangers of nuclear power – not just because of technology but because of management failures. After Fukushima, governments also need to think far more carefully about siting nuclear power plants. The stricken plant was too close to the coast and in a seismically active region.

"A major question needs to be addressed: "How can complex systems like nuclear power stations be made less susceptible to accidents and errors in judgment," the scientists said in their statement. On climate change, the scientists warned the global community may be reaching a point of no-return unless there is a push to begin building alternatives to carbon-heavy technologies within the next five years. The Fukushima disaster, the painfully slow pace of the UN's international climate negotiations, and the growing hostility to science punctured the optimism of earlier pronouncements from the Bulletin scientists. In 2010, the scientists set the clock back from five minutes to six minutes to midnight, amid hopes that the international community was prepared to act on nuclear weapons and climate change. "We all had a sense when we moved the clock in 2010 that we might have a breakthrough," said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the bulletin. "Today there was a real sense that we really need new thinking and we don't have new thinking." Twenty years ago, with the break-up of the Soviet Union bringing the end of the Cold war, the scientists moved the clock back father than ever to 17 minutes to midnight. But the scientists have also set the clock as close as two minutes to midnight in 1953, after America tested its first hydrogen device. - Guardian.
WATCH: Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight.

Meanwhile, people are getting ready for "Doomsday," buying up asteroid-proof bunkers, killing their pets and planning mass suicide, as many families convinced the ancient Mayan calendar predicts the world will end in 2012.

Deep inside a secret room buried for eons within an ancient stone temple in Mexico, something dark and terrible has finally stirred. Or so the doomsayers, with their vivid imaginations, would have you believe. The sands of time are running out for the world and not even Indiana Jones can save us now. The astrological alignments and numerological formulae cannot be wrong: on December 21 this year, the apocalypse foretold 5,125 years ago by the ancient Mayans will come to pass and the world will end. Of course, it’s fair to say predictions of Armageddon are two a penny. Harold Camping, an American radio preacher, got thousands of followers worked up when he predicted the Second Coming of Jesus Christ on May 21 last year. When that didn’t happen, he said the world would end on October 21. And then he quietly retired from his radio show. But the ‘2012 phenomenon’ — as it is commonly known to its legions of internet followers — is different. For the Mayans, a famously wise and advanced civilisation which was at its height between 250 and 900AD in the present-day Mexican state of Yucatan and Guatemala, have grabbed everyone’s attention. The evidence boils down to one simple fact: their 5,125-year calendar — the one used across Central America before the arrival of Europeans — runs out on December 21 this year. The point is that the Mayans were noted for their extraordinary astronomical observations and mathematical powers. And if they didn’t think it worth taking their calendar beyond December 2012, they must have had a reason.

Public concern is so high that NASA, the U.S. space agency, even has a section debunking the theories of impending doom on its website. The agency says it has taken more than 5,000 questions from people, some asking if they should kill themselves, their families or their pets. Archaeologists who have studied the Mayans have been downplaying the apocalypse theories, insisting that the only surviving Mayan reference to any dreadful significance attached to December 21, 2012, was contained on a single ancient stone tablet found at ruins in Tortuguero, southern Mexico, in the 1960s. According to an inscription on the tablet, a fearsome Mayan god of war and creation may ‘descend’ from the sky on the appointed day. But then, a few weeks ago, archaeologists had to admit they had found a second piece of evidence — a 1,300-year-old carved brick fragment at a temple ruin in nearby Comalcalco. The brick, now kept in a vault at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, has an inscription on its face which also refers to the date. The fact that the face of the brick was probably laid facing inward or covered with stucco — suggesting it was not meant to be seen by the Mayan population who visited the temple — has only added to the hysteria of modern doom-mongers. Scientists insist there is no dire threat on the horizon, while Mayan experts stress that the ancient civilisation’s legacy has simply been misinterpreted. ‘Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012,’ says NASA on its website in the reassuring tones of a parent dealing with a frightened toddler. ‘Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.’ Of course in these conspiracy-obsessed times, there are thousands of cynics who are not convinced.

David Morrison, senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, said he had been receiving about ten emails a day from worried members of the public who are ‘seriously, seriously upset’. A young woman from Denmark wrote to him saying: ‘Mother of one daughter and another coming. Yesterday I was considering killing myself, the baby in my stomach and my beloved two-year-old daughter before December 2012 for fear of having to experience the Earth’s destruction.’ Another, a 13-year-old American, wrote: ‘I am considering suicide. I am scared to tears . . . I don’t want to live any more, I deserve an explanation.’ A third wrote: ‘I am so scared. My only friend is my little dog. When should I put her to sleep so she won’t suffer when the Earth is destroyed?’ Worried Americans are rushing to buy everything from £17 survival guides to £32,000-per-person places in bunkers that are marketed as being both nuclear bomb and asteroid-proof. Robert Vicino is a Californian businessman who is building the luxury bunkers in secret locations. His website asks: ‘What if the prophecies are true? Which side of the door do you want to be on?’ He says that he has more than 5,000 Americans booking places, and is now building bunkers in Europe. Steve Cramer, one man who has reserved his place, insists: ‘We’re not crazy people: these are fearful times. My family wants to survive. You have to be prepared.’ Jason Hodge, a father-of-four who also counts himself a ‘future survivor’, to use the jargon of the apocalypse industry, adds: ‘It’s an investment in life.

'I want to make sure I have a place I can take me and my family if that worst-case scenario were to happen.’ But it’s not just America. Mayan apocalypse converts have started flocking to Bugarach, a tiny hilltop town in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The 200-strong local community has had to contend with 20,000 visitors since the start of last year, and the French government is worried about the threat of mass suicides. Believers say a magnetic force surrounds the town’s ‘mystical’ mountain where the top layers of rock are older than the lower ones. (Geologists say that soon after the mountain was formed, it exploded and the top flew into the air, before landing upside-down). People claim the magnetic force will protect them from the apocalypse to come. Others who have flocked to Bugarach insist the mountain is a gateway to another dimension and may contain a secret alien base. Unhelpfully, the Mayans did not specify exactly what would happen when the world ends. But that hasn’t stopped believers from letting their imaginations run riot. Many of their 2012 doomsday scenarios involve astronomical phenomena — a rogue planet hitting Earth, fierce solar storms, a galactic alignment in which the Sun’s gravitational effect combines with that of a huge black hole to create havoc. The gloomiest think we may get all three. A particularly popular theory is that a rogue planet called Nibiru is lurking behind the Sun and will collide with the Earth next December, destroying it. Some believe this rogue body is Eris, a dwarf planet orbiting beyond Neptune. The idea of a planet creeping out from behind the Sun and smashing into Earth provided the depressing backdrop to last year’s Lars von Trier film Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland. Another theory, also involving the Sun, predicts that a huge solar flare — called a ‘solar max’ — will destroy the Earth. This notion has already inspired Hollywood in the 2009 disaster blockbuster 2012, in which the flare caused catastrophic earthquakes. The film also made reference to the Mayan calendar.

Finally, no apocalypse would be complete without at least one alien invasion. This time last year, reports emerged suggesting the U.S. Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) had detected three large spacecraft due to arrive at Earth in 2012. SETI rejected the claims, to which those who wanted to believe the reports replied: ‘Well they would, wouldn’t they?’ Another alien theory doing the rounds among conspiracy theorists is that the authorities will stage a fake extra-terrestrial invasion at next year’s closing ceremony for the London Olympic Games so they can declare martial law and introduce a new world order. Academics and scientists dismiss all of these theories as wild hysteria, of course. But the fact is that Mayan scholars have been bickering for years over what the end of the Long Count Calendar actually signifies. The Mayan calendar began in 3,114  BC — believed by Mayans to be when the current ‘world order’ was created — and progresses in 144,000-day cycles (a little more than 394 years) known as baktuns. The 13th (a sacred number for Mayans) baktun runs out on the 2012 winter solstice, December 21. After that date, the ‘Great Cycle’ is completed and the calendar sequence simply ends. In 1957, respected Mayan scholar and astronomer Maud Worcester Makemson wrote that the completion of a ‘Great Period’ of 13 baktuns would have been ‘of the utmost significance to the Maya’. Nine years later, in 1966, Michael Coe, another prominent Mayan anthropologist and a former CIA agent, went much further and concluded there was a ‘suggestion’ among the Mayans that the final day of the Great Cycle would see ‘Armageddon overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation’ and ‘thus . . . our present universe would be annihilated’.

Experts had tended to agree with Coe’s interpretation until about a decade ago when the academic world started to insist the Mayans had meant nothing of the sort. The Mayans believed the end of the 13th baktun would indeed be significant, say academics now, but in a good way. There will simply be another cycle and it will be a cause for celebration not desperation. This optimistic message has been championed by many in the New Age movement, which is obsessed by the idea that cultures such as the Mayans had a secret spiritual knowledge that we might tap into if only we knew where to look. Whatever the truth, hundreds of books have already been published on the subject, not to mention dozens of television programmes and films. For the most reliable indication of the future, we should perhaps head for the heart of Mayan territory in south-eastern Mexico. There, locals aren’t running for the hills at all, and don’t seem worried. In fact, quite the reverse. After suffering years of a tourist industry badly hit by the violence of warring drug cartels, they are looking forward to an economic boom. Mexico’s tourism agency hopes the 2012 phenomenon will draw 52 million visitors to the region — more than twice the number the whole country normally receives. And the town of Tapachula, on the Guatemalan border, has already started a countdown to December 21 on a giant digital clock in its main park. Quite what will happen on the day it runs out remains the subject of feverish debate around the world. - Daily Mail.
WATCH: Countdown to "Doomsday".

WEATHER ANOMALIES: "Off The Scale" Smog Grounds China Flights - Over 150 Beijing Flights Have Been Cancelled or Delayed Due to "Beyond Index" Particles!

More than 150 flights to and from Beijing have been cancelled or delayed as a thick cloud of acrid smog shrouded the city, with US figures saying the pollution was so bad it was off the scale.

The national meteorological centre said the Chinese capital had been hit by thick fog that reduced visibility to as little as 200 metres in some parts of the city, while official data judged air quality to be "good". But the US embassy, which has its own pollution measuring system, said on its Twitter feed that the concentration of the smallest, most dangerous particles in the air was "beyond index" for most of the morning.

The US system measures particles in the air of 2.5 micrometers or less, known as PM2.5, considered the most dangerous for people's health. Today's reading on its air quality index, which rates anything over 150 as unhealthy, over 200 as very unhealthy and over 300 as hazardous, breached the upper limit of 500, at which it stops giving figures. Meanwhile, the Beijing Environmental Bureau, which currently bases its air quality information on particles of 10 micrometres or larger, known as PM10, said the air quality in the capital was "good".

A spokesman for the bureau would not comment when contacted by AFP. According to Beijing International Airport's website, 155 flights were delayed or cancelled today. Air France and Lufthansa flights coming from Paris and Tokyo respectively were among those grounded. The frequent discrepancy between US embassy readings and official data on pollution in Beijing has caused huge public anger as more and more residents worry about their health.

In apparent response to public concern, authorities last week said they would start publishing hourly updates of the PM2.5 measure before the Lunar New Year starting on January 23, but those measurements have not yet begun. International organisations including the United Nations list Beijing as one of the most polluted cities in the world, mainly due to its growing energy consumption, much of which is still fueled by coal, and car usage.

Authorities in Beijing said last month they had met their target of "blue sky" days for 2011, with 274 days of "grade one or two" air quality compared with 252 days in 2010. But the state-run China Daily has said that if PM2.5 were used as China's main standard, only 20 per cent of Chinese cities would be rated as having satisfactory air quality, against the current 80 per cent. - News Australia.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: More Unnatural Deaths on a Government-Run Farm in Meghalaya, India - 2,000 in One Week, Authorities Are Puzzled?!

Another 40 birds died Tuesday on a government-run farm in western Meghalaya, even as the state government awaited the test reports on earlier deaths to know whether they were due to bird flu, officials said.

"Forty more birds have died an unnatural death in the same farm at Williamnagar and we are yet to establish the cause of their death," Animal and Husbandry Director D. Lyngwa told IANS. In the past few weeks, around 2,000 poultry birds have died on the farm at Williamnagar, the district headquarter of East Garo Hills, 312 km west of Shillong.

Samples have been sent to the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory and the results are awaited. "We have not decided to impose any restriction on consumption as we are yet to confirm exact cause of deaths of the birds in the area, but if the test proves positive, we will impose restrictions," Lyngwa said. Moreover, he said that a rapid response team has been kept on standby in the district to deal with the unnatural deaths of thousands of birds.

Chief Secretary W.M.S. Pariat has directed district authorities in the three districts of Garo Hills to monitor the health of all the poultry birds following their unnatural deaths. "The district administration has taken all precautionary measures and rapid response team has been geared up to take action in case the laboratory confirms bird flu," East Garo Hills district magistrate Praveen Bakshi told IANS. He said a seven-kilometre radius of the area where the birds died has been kept under surveillance. "There is nothing panic and the district authorities are all geared up to meet any eventuality," Bakshi said. - Zee News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Landslide Collapse in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - At Least Eight Dead!

A landslide triggered by torrential rains killed at least eight people in Rio de Janeiro state Monday and 14 others may still be buried in the rubble, local officials told Globo television.

Colonel Sergio Simoes, the head of the local fire department, said six adults and two children perished and 14 were still missing after nine house collapsed in the northern Sapucaia munipality. Civil Defense officials said a family of five who took refuge in a car may also have died after the vehicle was buried by the mud. Simoes said the priority for rescue workers was "to find the bodies." Earlier in the day, Sergio Murilo, a spokesman for the Sapucaia municipality, put the death toll at three. He told Globo by telephone that the landslide "occurred at 3:30 am (0530 GMT) after 12 hours of nonstop rain." The road leading to the area is completely cut off which means that rescue teams can reach the area only by helicopter.

"The mayor and an entire team went to the scene but there are huge communications and transport problems, no telephone," Murilo said. Late Sunday, authorities began evacuating 900 people in Rio de Janeiro state's northern town of Outeiro after a local dike gave way. Hernique Oliveira, a local civil defense official, said the town was expected to be flooded later Monday. The evacuees were being sheltered in schools, tents or by relatives. The incident occurred in the same area where on Thursday 4,000 people were evacuated after floodwaters fed by torrential rains caused another dike to burst. Monday, authorities meanwhile launched an emergency plan to deal with the torrential rains hitting mainly the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo and Rio de Janeiro. The rains and ensuing flooding caused 23 fatalities, including 15 in Minas Gerais. Only a year ago, floods and landslides left more than 1,300 people dead or unaccounted for in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state. - GMA Network.

LIVESTREAM: A Project Camelot Event - Re-Opening of NC2 on the Giza Plateau in the Shadow of an Ancient Civilization, In Pursuit of an Alien Birthright!

In the following visual presentation, Kerry Cassidy of Project Camelot interviews Richard Gabriel and Judith Elter about the latest happenings on the Giza Plateau in Egypt and the monumental revelations that would give a clearer insight into the origins, evolution and history of the human race.

WATCH: Project Camelot Livestream.

If you join the interview late, please browse through the Project Camelot playlist for this video entry.

For more on the Giza Plateau, visit the The Khufu Project HERE and the Giza Geomatrix HERE.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake Strikes Off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra!

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake rattled the off the west coast of Northern Sumatra on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 12:37:01 AM (local time).

The tremor was located at 2.396°N, 93.175°E, with a depth of 29.1 kilometres (km) or 18.1 miles.

The epicentre was at a distance of 423 km (262 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia; 537 km (333 miles) southwest of Lhokseumawe, Sumatra, Indonesia; 951 km (590 miles) west of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and 1789 km (1111 miles) northwest of Jakarta, Java, Indonesia.

A tsunami warning has been issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. An official at Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said it also had put out a tsunami alert, but that there were no immediate reports of casualties. "The quake was in the sea and a tsunami warning is in force, but so far we have no reports of casualties or damage," Suharjono, the agency's technical chief, told the Associated Press.

The estimated population within 60km: none or few people. There are no nuclear power plants within 150km. No dams within 60km. No airports within 60km. No seaports within 60km.

A powerful earthquake hit off the coast of western Indonesia early Wednesday, prompting officials to briefly issue a tsunami warning. Panicked residents ran from their homes, some fleeing to high ground by car or motorcycle, but there were no reports of injuries or serious damage. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-7.3 quake struck 260 miles (420 kilometers) off the coast of Aceh province just after midnight. It was centered 18 miles (30 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor. People in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh - still deeply traumatized by the 2004 monster quake and tsunami - poured into the streets as sirens blared from local mosques. Some headed to the hills, choking roads with traffic.

"I'm afraid," said Fera, a resident, who skidded off on her motorbike with her two children and her mother. In the town of Simeulue, patients were evacuated from a hospital. Officials contacted by The Associated Press in several coastal cities, however, had not received any reports about injuries or significant damage. Nearly two hours after the quake, the local geological agency lifted its tsunami warning. Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Aceh. - Yahoo.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Earth Crust Displacement - Sinkholes Across the Globe!

A massive sinkhole suddenly appeared overnight on January 1 in Gelik district of Zonguldak city in Turkey. The sinkhole is about 30 meter deep and 15 meter wide. Residents were shocked when they woke up and saw huge sinkhole.

Gelik district of Zonguldak, home to tens of around 30 meters deep, consisting of the vacant lot, 15 feet wide pits in the environment caused by fear. Around the giant pit and to analyze the Karaelmas University (ZKU) Associate Vice Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Department of Geodesy and Photogrammetry Engineering. Dr. H Kutoglu, said that the chance formation of a land-Hole empty. Asst. Assoc. The DR. Kutoglu, "if there are spaces that you continue under the buildings, this is how the buildings collapsed in the crash," he said.

Monthly neighborhood vacant lot the night of January 1 was a giant pits. The noise woke up out of the neighborhood residents, about 30 meters deep and 15 meters wide, was surprised to see pit. Give residents of the neighborhood on the morning news Gelik Municipality officials from the pit, took security measures around the tape pulling. Activities of the underground mines or caves that are caused by gaps in the pits due to the predicted, frightened residents of the neighborhood. Citizens, 5-10 meters away from their homes because of the huge pit could not sleep at night came to a state, he said.
Obruga 5 feet away, sitting at home mother of 2 children aged 40 Nuray Dincer, adequate security measures taken around the pit, he said. Dincer, "are in doubt. The road pass by a car, but here right now looking at a noise. I wonder whether the pit grew, the house is approached, are in fear. Around him were not in sufficient measure. Here you have a school. Children eagerly looking at here. God forbid, into the One of the fall, "he said.

Vice Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Department of Geodesy and Photogrammetry Engineering ZKU Assoc. Dr. H Kutoglu, öretim member of the Yard. Assoc. Dr. Hulya Keskin and a research assistant in the pit and around the examination worked with Serdar seen. Measuring devices, together with his team-Hole area that constitutes the Assoc. Dr. H Kutoglu, they will map the area of ??risk, he said. -Hole, the region of the karst underground mines because of activities that may be caused by gaps in the Assoc. Dr. Kutoglu, said they have identified a lot of situations like this place. - DHA [Translated].
A russian toddler dies in Bryansk pavement collapse.

A toddler in Bryansk in western Russia has died after falling through a hole that opened up as his mother took him for a walk. The pavement gave way because of a burst hot-water pipe, emergency officials said. The boy's mother, 26, was pulled alive from the hole by her traffic police officer husband, reports say. But he was unable to rescue his son, who was thrown from his pushchair and fell into the sewer below. "The woman managed to grab on to the edge of the collapsed pavement, which saved her life," a Bryansk official was quoted as saying. Her husband had apparently been on duty in the area on Sunday afternoon and rushed to the scene, climbing down into the hole with the aid of a rope to pull his wife to safety. Named by Russian media as Tatyana Didenko, she was taken to hospital in shock.

Although remnants of the one-and-a-half-year-old boy's clothing were found by search teams, it was not until late on Monday afternoon that his body was discovered. The toddler, named by reports as Kirill, was found 6km (3.5mi) from the spot where he disappeared, according to police. The cause of the pavement collapse is unclear but investigators are looking at problems with the construction of a local sewage plant. Bryansk regional governor Nikolai Denin told Russia 24 TV that recent mild weather could have caused a pipe to rupture, leading to sand below the pavement being washed away. Investigators have opened a criminal manslaughter case. Mr Denin said a large proportion of the city's infrastructure was not in top condition: "We have to start rebuilding things because otherwise this could happen again." - BBC.
A teenager was safe after a sinkhole suddenly swallowed him ,as he was standing on the Louetta street corner.
Giovanni Long, 16, said he was on his way to the gym and was waiting at the corner of Louetta and Lyons School Roads around 4 p.m. when it happened. "The ground was completely dry and I was there, waiting for my friend to cross the street. And then everything beneath me just crumbled," he said. "I didn’t know what to do." The Klein High School junior said he fell several feet and was under water for roughly 15 seconds as he tried to lift himself to safety. "I was trying to dig my way out of the hole, but the ground kept breaking back into me," Long said. "It’s funny now that I think about it, now that I’m safe and everything. But when it happened, it was actually scary."

Long managed to walk away with just a few scratches on his back and a twisted ankle. The teen’s mother is just glad school was out this week. "I was terrified," Rolanda Long said. "I think the main concern that I had was that kids walk through this walkway every morning. Thank God it was holiday time. Unfortunately, he was the one who fell in it, but (that’s) better than five or six kids falling in that huge hole." A contractor at the scene Tuesday said a 12-inch water line had broken. It’s not clear why, but the recent moisture in the area after months of drought may have caused the ground to shift. Long and his mother said the hole was at least 6 feet deep and 10 feet wide on Monday. It has since been partially filled in. That contractor roped off the hole and said he plans to clean it up soon – possibly by Wednesday. - KHOU.
WATCH: Teen safe after sinkhole swallows him.

Residents in Beckham County near Sayre say a massive sinkhole suddenly appeared overnight. They say it's so big a small house can fit inside it. Jack Damron cares for the property and says the hole formed just two days after Oklahoma's last earthquake about two weeks ago.
Experts say it most likely isn't related. Either way, the hole is still growing day by day. "Kind of spooky. You don't want to mess with it today," Damron said. Because whatever lies beneath the flat Oklahoma soil, isn't quite finished. "We've got to let it finish settling, because we don't know how deep it's going to get. It's still growing," he said "When it first formed you could actually sit here for 30 minutes and see stuff just move." Damron has been farming the land where the sinkhole formed for nearly 20 years, but overnight he says the hole suddenly appeared. It's a pretty scary scenario considering he's been driving tractors over this exact spot, never dreaming the ground beneath him could give way and collapse.

"You can see the tractor went right over it. It would have swallowed the tractor," he said. "We had a lot of onlookers." The sinkhole is about 40 feet deep and 40 feet wide. "Glad my house wasn't over it," neighbor Tony Bills said.  Sinkholes are not uncommon in western Oklahoma, but how this one got here is still unknown.  "Man, I don't know," Damron said. Geologists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey say several things could have caused the sinkhole including salt or rock formations dissolving or a drought. They also say old coal mines are often full of water and when that water drains, there is no support causing the soil above it to collapse. - KFOR.
WATCH: Massive sinkhole appears overnight.

Village officials are concerned that a sinkhole in the RiverWalk Park may mean problems in the bulkhead beneath it.

A sinkhole in the RiverWalk Park alongside Ichabod's Landing has village officials concerned about the retaining wall underneath the property. “We're concerned that the sinkhole is a sign of a bigger problem,” Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio said. Trustees recently voted to sign a contract with McLaren Engineering to examine the bulkhead for the cost of $5,700. The sinkhole has been developing for a few months just before the gazebo on the RiverWalk park. Engineers will be diving underwater to look at the bulkhead from the General Motors site to where the sinkhole is. Giaccio noted that the engineers specialize in this kind of work, having done a lot in Tarrytown and Dobbs Ferry. McLaren Engineering is also working on the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse as part of the county's restoration project. Engineers could “get out there now as long as the weather holds,” Giaccio noted. - Sleep Hollow.

A police car fell into a sinkhole in South-Central El Paso.
The break left about 40 homes without water service for part of the day. The incident was reported about 2 a.m. at Rusk and Pecos streets, said Christina Montoya, a spokeswoman for El Paso Water Utilities. The police car fell into the sinkhole while El Paso police officers were looking for the source of the leak, said Darrel Petry, a spokesman for El Paso Police Department. "The officer had parked his vehicle at the intersection of Rusk and Pecos streets when the officer felt the vehicle moving into a sinkhole that was beginning to open up," Petry said in a written statement.

The officer was in the car at the time of the incident, but he was able to get out of the car unharmed, Petry said. The police car, a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria, received slight damage, he said. Water service in the area was shut down for repairs several hours Thursday, Montoya said. Resident Elizabeth Ballesteros said workers were able to control the break quickly. The incident did not cause her or her family any inconvenience, she said, because "it happened too early." Workers with the water utility provided Ballesteros six gallons of water to use while they repaired a line, she said. - Waterworld.
A sinkhole opened up in the parking lot of the Polk City.

All sides of the large sinkhole at an I-4 rest stop in Polk County continued to cave Friday. FDOT officials said the hole grew in depth by as much as 4 feet, bringing the hole's depth to around 16 feet. The sinkhole opened up in the parking lot of the Polk City rest stop along westbound I-4 around 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Crews ran tests Friday to determine what will be required to repair the sinkhole. Officials have also shut off the back part of the rest area until the hole is repaired. "We will have security here 24-7, to make sure someone is always in this area that works for [FDOT]," FDOT spokesperson Cindy Clemmons said. "Public safety is number one and we want to make sure no one is going to get hurt, because we do have an active sinkhole here."

Clemmons said the FDOT is hiring a contractor to repair the sinkhole. Repair work is scheduled to begin Tuesday. The rest stop is located near mile marker 46, near the Fantasy of Flight attraction. Couple's vehicles swallowed by sinkhole. Gigi Wilkins and her husband were headed home to Northport after vacationing in Orlando. The couple says they stopped at the rest area for a quick bathroom break. They left one parking space in between their cars. They were only gone for a few minutes when the ground opened up. Wilkins’ Ford Escape was swallowed by the sinkhole.

"I came out sort of heard a loud cracking noise and kind of saw my car sinking into the ground," she said, "and then a little bit later there was a louder cracking noise and his car went sideways." It's something she says that still has her shaking her head. "This is a Christmas, New Years to remember," she said. "We’ll remember this story for a while." Wilkins said they just bought the SUV after moving to Florida a few months ago. Both vehicles were towed to a local garage for repairs. No injuries were reported. - 13 News.
A sinkhole measuring 0.6m wide and 2m deep in Kuala Lumpur was filled and patched up by City Hall as soon as it received the complaint.
When Streets checked out the site at  Jalan 6/42A, Taman Sejahtera, off Jalan Kuching, after we were alerted by a reader,  we found City Hall workers had arrived at the spot  15 minutes earlier to patch up the hole. Sandra Sakran, a resident of Taman Sejahtera, said  the hole had been  there for  six days, posing a threat to many motorists.

"I am thankful that  City Hall has come to patch up this hole as it would have grown bigger by the day," he said, adding that as the area was a former mining area, the roads were susceptible to  sinking. A supervisor from City Hall, J. Subramaniam, who was there with his workers, said City Hall upon   receiving the complaint from a resident had  dispatched its workers to fill up the hole immediately. "We will patch the hole in less than an hour," he said. - New Strait Times.
Utility crews have finished repairing a water main break that has caused problems for the second time in nearly two months on Queens Road West.

The eight-inch main broke shortly after midnight Thursday along Queens Road West near East Boulevard, officials said. It caused the roads in the area to close for hours. Officers were called to the exact same spot on November 15 after a water main broke along the road. The water caused damage to the road Queens Road West, blocking the outbound lanes near Radcliffe Avenue.  This is on the same street as Myers Park Traditional Elementary School.

Jack McNeary and his dog Bear have lived through the inconvenience on several occasions. He recalls three other water main breaks along the same stretch of Queens Road. "I didn't realize that the water was out until this morning," McNeary said. On Thursday, crews could be seen using heavy duty equipment to reach the main. A spokesperson for CharMeck Utilities said investigators have not determined what caused the break, but were looking at the possibility of low temperatures being a factor. Toni Simerville lives across the street from the latest leak, and is frustrated with city work crews. "They're driving us crazy, because they don't get it right," she said. According to the City of Charlotte, repairs were finished and all lanes of traffic were open by 6 a.m. on Friday. - WBTV.
No one was injured and a worst-case scenario was averted after a sinkhole sucked up the back-end of a fully-loaded propane truck in the yard of a rural Cambridge, Nebraska, home Wednesday afternoon.

Roger Powell, Furnas County's emergency manager, said this morning that the situation could have been so much worse. But there was no propane leak, no fire and "everyone went home safe. That's what we like." Powell said the truck, from Ag Valley Co-Op and loaded with 2,500 gallons of propane, backed into the farmyard to fill a tank close to the house, when the back end dropped into a sinkhole, believed to have been an old septic system.

The driver got out without incident, but the truck was stuck and sinking. Powell said firefighters and trucks arrived from Cambridge, Wilsonville, Bartley and Red Willow Western, "mainly as a precaution. If something had happened, we would have needed lots of water." Powell said two wreckers from Randy's and Brian's Towing in Lexington were able to lift the back end of the truck up and pull the front end forward at the same time. The incident was reported about 12:30 p.m., Powell said, and the clean-up was completed by late afternoon. Powell declined to release the name of the homeowner. - McCook Gazette.
According to the Kansas City Star, the Trolley Track Trail between Troost and Woodland avenues is closed until further notice because of concern over sinkholes.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, which maintains the trail, is asking pedestrians and bicyclists to use 85th Street as a detour. A large sinkhole opened in that section in 2010, and the ATA hired consultants and geologists to investigate and repair it. But officials remain concerned because of abandoned mining operations in the area. “There is no evidence of imminent collapse,” the ATA said. “However, until the area can be more thoroughly assessed, KCATA has created a detour and closed this section of trail in the interest of public safety.” - Kansas City Star.
In New Zealand, sinkholes have been enveloping places like Christchurch, where liquefaction is occurring from a seismic swarm of earthquakes.

Residents try to free a car stuck in a liquefaction sink hole in the Christchurch suburb of Parklands after the earthquake-devastated New Zealand city was struck by a fresh swarm of powerful tremors on December 23, 2011, sending terrified residents fleeing on to the streets and forcing the airport to close. The earthquake-devastated New Zealand city of Christchurch was rattled Monday by a 5.0-magnitude tremor, geologists said, although there were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 19 kilometres (12 miles), around 18 kilometres (12 miles) east of Christchurch at 5:45 am on Monday (1645 GMT), according to the US Geological Survey. Christchurch, New Zealand's second most populous city, was battered by a powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake in February last year that left 181 people dead and destroyed much of its centre. The city has been hit by a series of strong aftershocks since causing fear among residents and further damage to property, reports AFP. New Zealand sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire", the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year. - Emirates247.
No graves are expected to be exhumed from the Union and West End Cemetery, a portion of which was affected by the sinkhole and water main break in Allentown last week.

None of the graves in an Allentown cemetery affected by last week's sinkhole and water main break is expected to be exhumed in the near future. A court order was issued last week giving the Lehigh County Coroner's Office the authority to exhume graves if necessary, but that order was vacated this morning, according to officials. If any such exhumation is needed in the future, the Union and West End Cemetery Association would need to seek a new court order, but they do not expect that will be necessary. The sinkhole that displaced 25 residents in the 300 block of North 10th Street from their homes last week was originally expected to have affected as many as 54 graves in the adjacent cemetery. But while the soil in that affected area has been "rippled," most of the ground that has shifted was in an area along the entrance road, and only two graves are believed to have actually sunk, association President Everette Carr said today.

While the association hopes to bring in engineers to take a closer look, he does not believe any of the graves were severely affected or damaged. "The ground has shifted, but no grave is open, we don't have coffins that can be seen, there are no open cavities or holes anywhere near the graves," Carr said. "Anyone not familiar with the cemetery would probably even overlook the spot where the depression is." Carr said he has received numerous calls from as far as California from people with family buried in the cemetery, asking whether those graves have been affected. So far, he said, none of them were. Eight houses were damaged by the sinkhole, and several others were evacuated as a precaution. Some families have been able to return to their homes, while others are still waiting to learn whether or not their houses will have to be condemned.

Engineers determined today that 337 and 347 N. 10th St. are stable and occupants are allowed to come back, city spokesman Mike Moore said. Moore could not comment on the houses from 339 to 345, the most affected area, because the residents of those homes had not been notified yet. Fire officials previously said 345 saw a shift in its foundation, and that 341 and 343 were so shifted that they were physically leaning against each other. Those latter two houses will likely have to be condemned, officials have said. Road work is still ongoing along the 300 block of North 10th Street and is expected to last several more days, at least. After a second, smaller sinkhole was discovered in the vicinity of the first, crews began digging another 50 feet north of the main sinkhole to make sure the area is stabilized, Moore said. That work concluded today, and Friday those crews will conduct the same digging 50 feet south of the sinkhole, he said.

Depending on when that work is done, the crews will excavate any loose material, then start filling the sinkhole with grout, replace the damaged water line, reinforce the gas line and reconstruct the road, Moore said. Residents from 325 to 335 returned to their homes late last week. While 337 and 347 can now return, they still need water and electrical service restored, which could take several days due to the ongoing street work, Moore said. The Union and West End Cemetery remains closed to the public until further notice due to liability concerns, Carr said. The cemetery association will be asking the city to bring engineers into the cemetery to survey the affected area and get a better idea of the damage, he said. The association is a nonprofit run by volunteers, he said, and they cannot afford such engineers themselves. "Our attitude is the water main belonged to the city, therefore the city is responsible," Carr said. - Lehigh Valley Live.
A sinkhole opened Friday around 1 a.m. in the 2200 block of Scottwood near Bancroft in the Old West End. The hole is about 6' wide and 8' long. It's about 4' deep.

Jared Steele discovered the hole when he tried to back his 1999 Ford F-250 into the driveway and a tire fell in. He does not live at the home but was visiting a friend. Steele said he was backing up and a section of the street gave way. He could not open the driver's side door so he crawled out the passenger side. The sinkhole is also under a portion of the road that did not cave in. Therefore, if cars drive on the road, there is no support beneath the surface. Kelly Debruyn is with the city's Sewer Department and said a 24-inch sanitary sewer line that runs from the houses out to the main sewer in the street collapsed and probably had been eroding for quite some time. The truck has been removed. Steele does not know how much damage was done to the frame of his truck or what broke underneath and started leaking.

"I'm kind of worried about the frame because the truck is sitting on the frame right now. Luckily, it's just the truck that's damaged. That can be replaced. Obviously, passengers and drivers can't," said Steele. Debruyn explained that sinkholes are common, but ones this size are rare. "We have an aging infrastructure. This is going to happen, especially in the older parts of town like the Old West End. This is going to happen. We have no way of determining where or when," said Debruyn. Debruyn said usually it is visible when a sinkhole is forming. "You would look for a depression in the street. You would look for a depression in your driveway. That's the first indication that there's a problem," explained Debruyn. - WTOL.

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.

These bright crafts were caught in the sky, heading north on the Monte Bisbino, a mountain of Lombardy, Italy. The film was recorded on Saturday, the 7th of January, 2012 around 5:20 pm.

WATCH: UFO over Mount Bisbino.

Interesting daytime video of bright spheres hovering in the sky above San Antonio in Texas on Saturday, the 7th of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFO activity over San Antonio.

These two bright objects were recorded on film, as they slowly flew across the night sky above Minsk, the capital and largest city in Belarus on Saturday, the 7th of January, 2012 at 10:36 pm.

WATCH: Glowing orbs over Minsk.

These UFOs were seen and recorded in the skies above Tijuana in Mexico on Friday, the 6th of January, 2012.

WATCH: Bright UFO recorded over Tijuana.

This footage of several unknown bright objects were recorded in the sky above Mesa in Arizona on Thursday, the 5th of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFO activity recorded over Mesa.

This UFO over China, was captured on film by Beijing resident Li Xiu Ying less than one week after he captured a UFO on the first day of January 2012.

WATCH: UFO filmed over Beijing.

A strange spike-shaped UFO, over Santiage, Chile. This was filmed on the 3rd of January, 2011.

WATCH: UFO over Chile.

UFOs seen in a triangular-shaped formation was seen over Peru during New Year's Eve celebrations on the 1st of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFO over Peru.

These bright unidentified flying objects were seen and recorded in the sky above Sinaloa in Mexico on Tuesday, the 3rd of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFOs hovering above Sinaloa.

Jaime Maussan reports on another triangle UFO sighting which occurred over Bergen, Norway on the night of November 14, 2011. These orbs of light in triangle formation are appearing all over the world. These are not chance sightings. These are intentional appearances. So what is their purpose?

WATCH: Triangle UFO over Bergen.

The following video is a compilation of several UFO sightings since the start of 2012.

WATCH: 2012 UFOs.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Large Numbers of Fish in the Xijiang River, Jiangmen City, China - Cause Unknown, Local Authorities Initiates Emergency Response!

A large number of fish were found dead Monday in a major river in the southern province of Guangdong, local authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Floating fish were reported in a three-kilometer section of the Xijiang River in the Jiangmen City on Monday morning, but the situation improved Tuesday with no more dead fish found, said Zhao Yanqiang, spokesman for the city's publicity department.

An initial probe has ruled out a lack of oxygen or low water temperatures as the cause of the death.

Local authorities initiated an emergency response Monday for disposal of the dead fish, Zhao said.

A further investigation by local environmental and fishery authorities is under way.

Xijiang River is a major tributary of the Pearl River, the third longest river in China and a pivotal waterway that runs across the economic heartland of Guangdong. - Global Times.

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Memes of a Second Sun/Binary Star System - Scientists Searching for Earth-type Planets Should Consider Two-Star System, Researchers Say!

A group of astrophysicists from The University of Texas at Arlington plans to expand the discussion about a newly discovered planet orbiting two stars by presenting a study suggesting where an Earth-type planet could exist in the system.

NASA spots a Star Wars-like a planet that orbits two stars.
The Kepler-16 System made headlines in September when researchers at NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission revealed the discovery of Kepler-16b, a cold, gaseous planet orbiting both stars, like Star Wars’ fictional Tatooine. The UT Arlington team, using data from the Kepler and previous research, have concluded that an Earth-type planet could exist in the system’s “habitable zone” as an exomoon orbiting Kepler-16b.  They also think an “extended habitable zone” exists outside the orbit of the gaseous planet, under certain conditions. To host life in that zone, a terrestrial planet orbiting the two stars would need to have high levels of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere such as carbon monoxide or methane, they said.

An illustration of the habitable zone and extended habitable zone in the Kepler-16 System.
The axes are given in Astronomical Units.
Billy Quarles, a doctoral student in the UT Arlington College of Science, will present the findings at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Jan. 9 in Austin. Co-authors on the work are UT Arlington Department of Physics professor Zdzislaw Musielak and associate professor Manfred Cuntz. “This is an assessment of the possibilities,” said Musielak, a two-time winner of the prestigious Humboldt Prize for his work in astrophysics. “We’re telling them where a planet has to be in the system to be habitable. We’re hoping they will look there.”

The Kepler Mission is a space telescope launched by NASA in 2009 that measures light from 150,000 stars. Scientists working with Kepler data look for changes in stellar brightness that suggest a transit, or a planet passing in front of a star. They use measurements of the star’s luminosity to determine whether the planet is in a “habitable zone,” an area where the planet would be orbitally stable and where conditions hospitable to the formation and sustainment of life could exist. The UT Arlington team based their conclusions about an “extended habitable zone” outside the orbit of Kepler-16b on work by scientists such as NASA’s Michael A. Mischna. That research says life could be found outside the traditional habitable zone, but it requires a more extreme planetary atmosphere, one in which chemicals in the atmosphere create a strong back-warming effect, Quarles said.

“There is less light from the star, so the planet itself has to maintain more heat,” he said. In addition to their presentation at the AAS meeting, the UT Arlington team hopes to publish its findings soon. Cuntz said the work demonstrates how the search for habitable planets requires both the development of theory and observations. “This work is informed by observations and it has the potential to trigger more observations,” he said. Pamela Jansma, dean of the UT Arlington College of Science, said the University is proud to have the team of researchers selected from scientists across the country to present at the American Astronomical Society meeting. “This is the type of work that captures the imaginations of students and gets them excited about exploring a career in science. It’s certain to catch the attention of other researchers and spark even more examination,” she said. - PHYSORG.
WATCH: A look back at NASA's discovery of the Kepler-16 star system.

EXTREME WEATHER: Sudden, Severe and Powerful Thunderstorms Wreck Havoc in Houston - Flash Flooding and Possible Tornado Left Over 7,000 People Without Power!

Houston roads were flooded and thousands of residents lost power on Monday after powerful thunderstorms plowed through the area, with a possible tornado damaging and shutting down a nearby mall. Several inches of rain fell in the drought-stricken area over a two-hour period. Roads rapidly flooded and drivers became stranded on major arteries that connect the city’s sprawling neighborhoods and suburbs. In Texas City, about 40 miles southeast of Houston, a possible tornado damaged the roof and wall of the Mall of the Mainland. The building was evacuated and shut. In North and West Texas, the National Weather Service said, a steady downpour will drop an inch or two of much-needed rain. Texas got an estimated 14.89 inches of rain in 2011, compared with a normal average of 29.39 inches.

Severe weather hit the Houston area Monday, flooding streets and homes and leaving thousands of people without power, emergency officials said. Torrential rain fell across the area, causing flash flooding that left streets and highways impassable and submerged some vehicles. "We have a lot of roadways closed, and some evacuations are going on," said Alan Spears of the Fort Bend County office of emergency management. In the city of Richmond, rescues were conducted by boat and on foot. Spears said he believes a tornado touched down in the area. "We had 7,000 people without power in the county," he said. Sixty miles southeast, in Texas City, a law enforcement officer witnessed what appeared to be a tornado strike near the Mall of Midland, the National Weather Service reported.

The Houston/Galveston weather forecast office will examine the area and two other reported areas on Tuesday to confirm reported strikes, said Timothy Oram, an emergency response meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. As many as 6.3 inches of rain had fallen in the past day, nearly all of it during the previous 12 hours, Oram said late Monday afternoon. Though flash flood warnings were still in effect for Chambers County and Galveston County, the worst was over, he said. "It's moved off to the northeast, things should be improving here," he told CNN in a telephone interview.

Video from Fort Bend County showed wind damage, including debris from building roofs and broken glass, and people trapped by the storm described terrifying moments. One resident said he felt the wind pushing into his home just before the garage door fell in and the front door of his home was blown open. "It just kept getting louder and louder and louder," Umair Sayyed told CNN affiliate KPRC. Sayyed said he and his mother and sister sheltered inside a closet moments before the roof fell and rain poured into his home. Michael Walter, spokesman for the Houston's Office of Emergency Management, said the city conducted 20 to 30 high-water rescues. The rain was falling so hard and fast in Houston that the weather service recorded 1.6 inches in just 10 minutes. No injuries were reported. - CNN.
WATCH: Texas Residents Flee Flooded Homes.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Texas' Record Drought is the Driest and Second Hottest Ever - Destroys Over 500 Million Trees and Threatens Only Surviving Whooping Cranes, Scientists Are Alarmed by the Severe Conditions and the Dead Birds so Early in the Season!

Raising its slim, white neck out of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, one of the world's last surviving whooping cranes hungrily searches a Texas marsh for the blue crabs and berries it devours during its annual migration to the Gulf Coast.

The high-protein diet is supposed to sustain North America's tallest bird through the winter and prepare it for the nesting season in Canada. But this year, the state's devastating drought has made food and water scarce, raising worries that the parched conditions could threaten the only self-sustaining flock of cranes left in the wild. The lack of rain has made estuaries and marshlands too salty for blue crabs to thrive and destroyed a usually plentiful supply of wolf berries. In addition, a long-lasting "red tide" — a toxic algae that blooms in salty water — has made it dangerous for the birds to eat clams, which retain the algae's toxin and can pass it along the food chain. "We're very apprehensive, very concerned, monitoring the population very closely to see what it is the reaction might be," said Dan Alonso, manager of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of about half of the 300 cranes in the flock.

In 2009, when Texas last suffered a severe drought, an estimated 23 whooping cranes died between November and March, when they typically head north to nest in Canada's Wood Buffalo National Park. Tests indicated some had contracted rare diseases and were undernourished. Scientists believe some died of starvation. This year, at least one crane has already died, Alonso said. Scientists are alarmed because they don't normally see dead birds so early in the season. Usually, only 1 percent — or about three birds — die over the winter. "I think we're going to lose a bunch again this year," said Tommy Moore, captain of a skimmer boat that takes tourists and bird lovers to view the cranes in Texas' shallow wetlands. "The only thing I've seen them eat, period, is dead fish off the side of the channel ... there's just nothing here to eat," said Moore, who observes the birds nearly every day.

A century ago, the whooping cranes' majestic 5-foot (1.5-meter) frame and mournful call were common across the Texas shoreline and as far away as the East and West coasts. But by the 1940s, the pesticide DDT and disappearing habitat decimated the population, leaving only 14 birds in America. The eventual ban of DDT and efforts by scientists and Gulf Coast residents who view the cranes as a part of the tranquil landscape helped rebuild a small population. In addition to the Texas flock, a smaller group cared for by conservationists migrates between Wisconsin and Florida by following an ultralight aircraft. The birds are trained to think of the aircraft as their mother. There have also been attempts to rebuild the population in Louisiana. Eventually, Alonso said, scientists hope to grow the population to 1,000 nesting birds and then list the species as threatened — a more secure status than endangered.

Drought can have long-lasting effects on a species' recovery. For example, if the birds don't get enough protein during the winter months, more of them could die on the 2,500-mile (4,025-kilometer) journey back to their summer nesting grounds, said Lee Ann Linam, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who grew up near the Aransas refuge and has spent most of her adult life working on the species' recovery. Unlike other birds, the cranes don't stop to eat while flying back to Canada so the nutrition they get in Texas is especially important. In addition, Linam said, the high-protein diet is key to a successful nesting season. The cranes only produce one chick per season, so there is little room for failure.

Another concern is water. When the birds are in Texas, they normally survey a 1 square-mile (2.59 square kilometer) area on foot for crabs, berries, acorns, worms and insects. But if there is no water, they will fly to drink. That uses up precious energy and potentially makes it easier for predators to nab them. "The whooping cranes don't do as well when there are lower amounts of freshwater coming into the bay systems," Linam said. Still, scientists hesitate to interfere with the workings of nature. After the drought of 2009 caused some cranes to die, the refuge looked into raising blue crabs to feed the birds. But they quickly discovered that crabs are difficult to farm because they are cannibalistic. And it would cost some $2 a crab if they were successful — too expensive for a cash-strapped program. So instead, the reserve has taken other steps to help, including trying to capture rain to replenish water holes, revitalizing windmills and burning hundreds of acres of refuge land to make it easier for cranes to forage. "We need every bird," Alonso said, to help the species recover. - AP.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has officially declared last year as the driest on record in Texas and the second hottest. Meteorologists predict the situation won't improve much this year. That means water restrictions will continue, and we'll lose millions of trees.

Record-setting heat and little rain in 2011 has left North Texas in a severe drought. The water level at Lake Lavon is down 12 feet. “It is a challenging time, especially to bring awareness to our consumers and businesses how critical our drought has impacted our reservoirs,” said Denise Hickey, spokesperson for the North Texas Municipal Water District. “As we're planning to move through this drought period, we're also planning and initiating additional strategies to bring additional sources online.”

The diminished water supply forced many counties to put residents under water restrictions indefinitely. The Texas Forest Service says the drought may have killed as much as 10 percent of the state's trees. That's 500 million trees. Some trees in your yard might look dead, but tree experts say don't cut them down yet. They still might come back in the spring and you should continue watering them. “A lot of trees are dormant and a lot of trees go dormant early when there's a drought situation. And they kind of do that for a defense mechanism,” said Matt Grubisich, urban forester for the Texas Trees Foundation. “Most municipalities still let you use a soaker hose, and that is a very adequate way to be able to still water your trees.” Forecasters expect the drought to last through at least June. “It's going to get worse before it gets better,” said Grubisich. - MSNBC.

MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky - UFO TV Classics Presents The Best UFO Videos of the 90s!

UFO TV Studios. presents the most spectacular UFO film footage ever caught on camera during the 10 year period that is the 1990s, which has been hailed as the greatest decade ever for videotaped evidence and proof of an Alien presence in our skies. See the details of each filmed event as it occurred, bringing you face to face with those who witnessed and captured these UFO events on film and video tape for all the world to see. Includes an unprecedented collection of film and video footage of UFOs in flight, and interviews with researchers, and eyewitnesses. This Awarding film was produced by Italian UFO Researcher Giorgio Bongiovanni. - UFO TV Studios.
WATCH: The Best UFO Videos of the 90s.

EXTREME WEATHER, The New Normal: Rampaging Bushfire Devours 1600 Hectares of Moreton, Brisbane, Australia - Fanned by Strong Winds and High Temperatures!

Strong winds and high temperatures have fanned the flames of a bushfire on an island off Brisbane. An emergency warning has been extended to people, as the out-of-control bushfire threatens lives and homes.

A bushfire that has been burning for several days on an island off Brisbane has been escalated by strong winds and high temperatures and is threatening several campsites. Campers on northeast Moreton Island are on alert as the blaze burns towards the eastern beach, fanned by strong, variable northerlies. The bushfire has burned 1600 hectares of the popular tourist destination since Thursday, when a vehicle fire sparked the blaze.

Rain subdued the flames over the weekend but Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) acting regional manager Anthony Contarino said Monday's conditions, including hot, gusty winds, had fanned the flames. "QPWS and Queensland Police are notifying campers in northeastern campsites that they may need to relocate," he said in a statement. Mr Contarino said there was no immediate threat to property but that Tangalooma Resort was likely to be affected by smoke. - Yahoo Australia.

As I watch from my summer subtropical perch in Brisbane, Queensland, the somewhat unprecedented rains that deluged parts of Australia during the summer of 2010/11 have been replaced by sizzling heat waves this summer. These raise some pertinent lessons on climate and risk management for New Zealand. Firstly, let's look at some figures and ask the question of what are the climate mechanisms behind the heat waves. Figures from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology figures show that the highest temperatures of 2011 occurred in the third Australian heat wave of the year. This affected the Pilbara region in the north west of Western Australia. Multiple sites broke the previous Western Australian December record of 48.8 degrees Celsius. This month incessant heat has struck the interior with daytime highs soaring to the mid forties. As I pen this there are a few more days of this heat wave left with temperatures averaging between 35C and 40C in central Australia. Places have been recording daily lows of 30C and daily highs of close to 45C. Mean temperatures have been running over 6C above average.

Meteorologists measure the warmth of the air lying above one spot as the 500-1000 hPa thickness. The "thickness" is a measure of how warm or cold a layer of the atmosphere is. High values mean warm air, and low values mean cold air. Summer 500-1000 hPa thickness values lie between 5600 and 5700 metres over Australia. It was values of around 5760 metres that brought New Zealand's highest temperatures, in the low forties, in February 1973. And what has been happening in late December and early January? An incredibly hot blob of air has sat over parts of inland Australia with thickness values of 5850 metres or more. It is a simple law of physics that with more greenhouse gases in a layer of atmosphere the warmer surface temperatures get. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 now are at 392 parts per million compared with 280ppm in 1750. This means that the lower atmosphere is thicker and retains more warmth, as more CO2 in the atmosphere traps extra heat. The consequence is that global warming leads to an increase in the magnitude and incidence of heat waves.

The first lesson from the sizzling continental heat wave is that global warming has arrived for some time now, and the climate has warmed. Global warming is no longer a theory based on abstract calculations of what the climate is very likely to do in future decades. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded: "It is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent." The second lesson - the canary in the coal mine - is that because of global warming, the frequency of these extreme weather events will increase. Thus the century old high temperature extremes will be exceeded more often in the future.

The third lesson is that there needs to be better preparation for these events by civil society. Heat waves can have debilitating effects on the elderly who are not so healthy. The 2003 European heat wave caused at least 40,000 deaths and the 2010 western Russian heat wave 55,000 deaths. Heat waves also increase the fire risk when there is little rain, as occurred in the Black Saturday heat wave and bushfires in February 2009 in Victoria. At least New Zealand is the lucky country in this respect, surrounded by oceans which dampen down any high temperatures. However Niwa future climate scenarios show a large increase in days above 30C and 35C in eastern districts with more frequent very hot nor'westers as the 21st century progresses. Global warming is here, now - and not a phenomenon for future generations to deal with. We must embark on a course of emissions reductions targets as soon as possible. If we do not act now the severity of such heat waves and the subsequent damage to life and property will increase. There is no time like the present to invest in our future wellbeing. - Stuff.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Arizona Earthquake Rattles Winslow Near Dormant Volcanoes - Sinkhole Swarm Near the Epicentre!

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude 3.1 earthquake in Arizona Sunday afternoon. According to the USGS, the quake hit at 12:11 p.m. about 21 miles southwest of Winslow and about 113 miles northeast of Phoenix. (Winslow is about a 3-hour drive from Phoenix.) With a depth of just over 3 miles, the temblor was a relatively shallow one.

Google Earth shows the epicenter to be between what appear to be small dormant volcanoes. The volcano to the south of the epicenter is on the Colorado Plateau between the Mogollon Rim and Winslow. The remnants of the two cones to the north appeared to have been weathered away, leaving a plateau behind.

Google Earth also showed a sinkhole swarm not far from the epicentre. Meteor Crater, one of the best-known meteorite impact craters on the planet, is 20 miles west of Winslow, putting it in the circumference of the quake.

USGS data indicates that pockets of residents in the Payson and Prescott areas might have felt the quake, but it would have been very weak. Chances are if it was felt at all, it was simply a subtle, gentle shake that people might have noticed unless they were still or sitting down. No damage has been reported.  - AZ Family.