Thursday, February 9, 2012

THE GREAT DELUGE: Queensland Premier Anna Bligh Says "No End in Sight" to the Flood Crisis in St George - New South Wales Farmers Could Lose $750 Million From Floods!

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says there is "no end in sight" to the flood crisis in St George, as the town deals with a rising river, a damaged weir and inoperable sewerage systems.

The Balonne River continued to rise on Wednesday, reaching a record 13.95 metres, defying earlier predictions it would peak on Tuesday. Around 2500 residents have been evacuated from the town, which is being protected by a hastily built earthen levee. Ms Bligh said the flood situation would likely continue for days, if not weeks. "(These are) very tough circumstances in St George, very grim times for this little town," she told reporters in Townsville. "Third time in two years, hundreds of people out of their homes and no end in sight." The premier said engineers were inspecting the town's flood-damaged weir. "I should say that if part or all of the weir failed, it wouldn't so much affect the town, but it would see a very big flood surge go down to the properties south of the town," she said. - Yahoo Australia.

Meanwhile, the agricultural industry is expected to suffer losses of at least $750 million as a result of the devastating NSW floods, with tens of thousands of livestock at risk.
As floodwaters from Queensland and northern NSW slowly flow towards western NSW townships such as Walgett and Bourke, farmers are already counting the cost of flooding around Moree and in the Brewarrina district. Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Flood Incident Controller, Simon Oliver, said up 10,000 sheep had most likely been lost to the floodwaters, while extensive damage to crops, pastures and infrastructure was also being recorded. A further 100,000 livestock in areas downstream were also at risk, and the DPI was now working to help farmers relocate animals to higher ground. - Yahoo Australia.

WATCH: Flood peak passes in St George.

WATCH: Sewage system under pressure in flooded town.

EXTREME WEATHER: "Perfect Storm" of Freezing Rain and Thick Ice Wrecks Havoc in Cumbria, England - Causing 97 Road Accidents in Just a Few Hours!

A 'perfect storm' of rain falling on freezing ground creating roads like ice rinks has caused dozens of crashes - and drivers are warned that grit will not work. More than 97 road accidents were reported since 5am across Cumbria as police issued an urgent warning for motorists to take care.

Cumbria County Council warned gritting was less effective in rainy conditions as salt can be washed away before it clears the ice. Its fleet of gritters was increasing the 'spread rate' of rock salt and putting the maximum amount on to the roads. It comes as Professor John Ashton, Cumbria's director of public health, said the region was suffering some of the worst icy conditions for years and urged older people to stay indoors until the weather improves.

The latest band of wintry showers sweeping across the country today is expected to bring up to three inches of snow and freezing rain which could bring down power lines. Forecasters are predicting snow for central and southern England as a weather front moves in from the North West. Up to four inches of snow are expected to fall this evening on the Midlands, Lincolnshire and East Anglia. London, the South and parts of Yorkshire are due to get up to 1.5inches. Of the 97 accidents across Cumbria today none have resulted in any serious injuries. Among the collisions were a number of cars skidding off the A684 in Kendal at 7.05am and multiple cars involved in a collision on the A66 eastbound at Penrith at 8.05am.

A spokeswoman for the Cumbria Constabulary said: 'The A66 from Stainmore remains closed, the M6 between junction 36 and 38 is only passable with care and a 20mph speed limit has been issued. The A590 is passable with extreme care but there have been wagons which have jack-knifed at Lindale Hill, which is blocking traffic. She added: 'Rainfall overnight and into this morning has caused thick ice on the county's roads. 'Police are urging drivers to slow down, drive with extreme care and, if possible, delay journeys. Professor Ashton said: 'We are seeing some of the worst icy conditions in Cumbria for many years. 'Older people are particularly vulnerable to slips and falls and I would strongly encourage that they stay indoors until conditions improve. It is not worth taking the risk and ending up in hospital.'

Meanwhile, five cars and a double-decker bus collided in freezing conditions on the Felling bypass in Gateshead, Tyneside, at around 8.20am, leaving several drivers with minor injuries. A man was also severely injured after getting out of his car following a multiple car crash in Blaydon, Gateshead. He was struck by another vehicle and knocked over the road's barrier, shortly before 7am. In London, a car skidded on ice crashing into the front of a butchers shop in Wapping. Lancashire Constabulary warned motorists to slow down as officers were called out to 10 accidents between junctions 33 and 36 on both carriageways of the M6. There were no injuries. Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police's operations command, said: 'Rain is falling but freezing as soon as it hits the road surface. 'This is leading to very icy conditions and we would advise motorists to drive slowly and be mindful of this, even on roads that have been gritted.' A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: 'A 'perfect storm' of rain falling on freezing ground has caused extremely hazardous road conditions in Cumbria this morning. - Daily Mail.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Mass Stranding on Cape Cod - Dolphin Beachings Rise to 192 With More Expected?!

Crews were working to rescue three more dolphins that stranded along Cape Cod beaches on Wednesday.

The stranded animals were found inside Wellfleet Harbor at the Herring River. One of the animals was on the shore, and the other two were in shallow water nearby, according to International Fund for Animal Welfare. Wildlife teams found several dead dolphins on Tuesday.

In the past few weeks, 146 dolphins have stranded off the Cape. Of those animals, 92 were found dead. Of the 54 found alive, 37 have been successfully released, IFAW said. IFAW's Katie Moore said earlier this week that scientists have not been able to pinpoint what is causing the recent spate of strandings.

Experts speculate the mild winter is one possible cause, and another is that the dolphins travel in groups. "It serves them well in the wild, but when it comes to animals coming close to shore, they stick in those large groups and strand. That's when it becomes a problem," Moore said earlier this week. Since getting to the stranded dolphins quickly is the best chance of helping them live and return to the wild, mammal rescuers are setting up staging areas near beaches at low tide. - Boston Channel.
WATCH: More dolphin strandings on Cape Cod.

DELUGE: Cyclone Floods Hit Malawi - 6,000 Persons Have Been Displaced!

Thousands of villagers have been forced to flee their homes after cyclone rains lashed a remote region of Malawi.

Aid is being flown into Nsanje District, on the border with Mozambique after roads were cut-off during the deluge. Further rain is forecast as more than 6,000 people are housed in temporary shelters after their homes were swamped. Children’s charity Plan International is looking to raise £125,000 to help families with food, shelter and school kits.

“Floods have disrupted livelihoods, displaced people, caused damage to infrastructure and brought misery to children and the community at large,” says Plan’s country director in Malawi, Bolaji Akinboro. “The government is getting overwhelmed by the ever-increasing numbers and magnitude of different emergencies that the country is facing.” A severe outbreak of malaria is a real fear for aid workers, prompting Plan to distribute 1,000 nets to families.

The charity will also look to provide cereal, bed mats and school equipment in a bid to minimize disruption to children’s lives. “It’s a swampy area, thereby exposing children to various diseases, mainly malaria, as they have no insecticide treated nets for protection,” says Mr Akinboro. “Unfortunately, the medical supply is also low which might lead to an increase in diseases within the area.” For more information visit - Trust.

EXTREME WEATHER: Snow Everywhere - Japan Snow Death Toll Rises to 82!

The death toll from the heavy snow that has blanketed large parts of Japan rises to over 80.

It may look picturesque, but this deluge of snow is wreaking havoc in Japan. The death toll from the blizzard this winter is now at least 82. Many of the casualties were crushed to death by snow falling on them from buildings, while some slipped from rooftops while trying to clear the snow. Here in Niigata prefecture, around 65 centimetres has fallen in last 24 hours alone.

Some cities are recording over three metres of snow piled up. The severe weather has taken its toll on residents who say they are exhausted from clearing snow every day for at least month. Prefectural governments encouraged officials to take leave and will ask companies to encourage staff to take holidays to assist with snow removal. The Japanese weather agency has forecast more heavy snow through until at least Friday, with the possibility of more in the coming days
. - Reuters.
WATCH: Simon Hanna reports.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Extreme Weather - January Was USA's 4th-Warmest on Record!

The warmth last month wasn't a mirage: January 2012 was the USA's 4th-warmest January on record, federal climate scientists announced on Tuesday. The national average temperature in January was 36.3 degrees F, which is 5.5 degrees F above the long-term average and the warmest since 2006, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. The other warmer Januarys were in 1990 and 1953. The data is based on records dating back to 1895.

Nine states — Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming — had January temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Florida and Washington were the only states in the lower 48 with temperatures near average, and no state was cooler than average. Cities across the Northern Plains, Midwest and Northeast had below-average snowfall during the month as a result of the warm, dry weather. According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average snow cover in January was 1 million square miles, which was 329,000 square miles below average. This marked the 3rd-smallest January snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was less than 50 percent of average by the end of the month.

Several cities in the Northern Plains set all-time monthly record high temperatures on Jan. 5. Mitchell, S.D., for example, soared to a record high of 68 degrees that day. The average high on Jan. 5 in Mitchell is 27 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. One of the causes of the unusual warmth in the Plains, and across much of the country, was due to the Arctic Oscillation (AO), a climate pattern over the polar regions that affects weather here in the USA. "The AO moves between a positive phase and a negative phase and when the AO is in a positive mode, the High Plains Region tends to have warmer than normal temperatures," the High Plains Regional Climate Center reports. "For much of this winter the AO has been in a positive phase. In addition, the effects of the AO are strong enough to override the effects of ENSO (El Niño and La Niña)."

While the lower 48 basked in relative warmth, Alaska endured an unusually cold month, even by its frigid standards. Final monthly temperature data for the state is not yet available, but several locations shivered through their coldest January on record. January's monthly temperature in Bettles, Alaska, was -35.6 degrees F. A typical January sees an average temperature in Bettles of -10 degrees F. The first two months of the winter season, December and January, have been much warmer than average for the lower 48. This two-month period was the fourth warmest on record, with a season-to-date temperature 3.8 degrees F above average. Climatological winter runs from Dec. 1 until the last day of February. - USA Today.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - UK Report Suggests Soldiers Could One Day Plug Their Weapons Right Into Their Brains!

A group of forward-thinking military scientists want to plug soldiers’ weapons directly into their brains, and this time DARPA is nowhere to be found.

Where the Metal Meets the Mind A new report from the UK's Royal Society suggest
several ways neuroscience can be leveraged to enhance defense technologies--
including via weapons that meld with the mind.
The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of scientific thought, issued a report today on the applications of neuroscience in the military and law enforcement contexts. Discussed therein: new performance-enhancing designer drugs, brain stimulation to boost brain function, and weapons systems that plug directly into the brain. The wide-ranging document reportedly covers a lot of ground, including the ethical issues surrounding the use of neuroscience in defense. It seems to focus less on ways to impact the enemy directly, and more on the enhancement of soldiers’ fighting abilities--though neurological drugs that make enemy captives more talkative or perhaps cause enemy troops fall asleep or become disoriented also get a mention.

Of particular interest in the document: transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. The idea of passing electrical signals through the skull to the brain to boost performance isn’t new to U.S. defense dreamers, as the U.S. military has already done tests on the technology (and found it helpful in improving soldiers’ abilities to detect threats). A battle helmet that can pass weak electrical pulses through the brain could sharpen a soldier’s mind, the report suggests, upping attention spans and memory as well as attention to detail. Similarly, electroencephalogram (EEG) could work to turn the human brain into a more efficient tool, although in a somewhat backwards fashion from tDCS. Using an array of electrodes, EEG can record brainwaves through the skull, detecting things that may not be conscious but that the brain nonetheless registers. For instance, the report cites DARPA research in which subjects looking at satellite photos were monitored with EEG. Even when the subjects missed some of the targets they were looking for in the images, the brain detected them, and that was evident in their brain waves even though it was never converted to conscious thought.

Such tools could also be used to screen recruits and identify certain mental traits, helping fighting forces more efficiently organize their ranks into fast learners, decision-makers, peacekeepers, and hardened, battle-ready special ops types. But none of these ideas is as far-out as using brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) to plug soldiers’ brains directly into weapons systems. This is based on the same kind of research that has shown that disabled individuals can move prostheses with nerve signals from the brain, but in this context such BMI technology would be used to plug the fast processing power of the brain into drone technology and other weapons technologies for faster target identification and, presumably, termination. Let’s hope the soldiers mind-melding with the killer drones aced their EEG decision-making exams. - POPSCI.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Purple Squirrel Found in Pennsylvania?!

A purple squirrel was found in Jersey Shore, Pa., on Sunday, by Percy and Connie Emert. "We have bird feeders out in our yard, and the squirrels are constantly into them," said Jersey Shore resident Connie Emert. "My husband traps them and then sets them free elsewhere so they don't get into your bird feeders."

Emert said she had spotted a purple squirrel on her property but no one believed her. "I kept telling my husband I saw a purple one out in the yard. 'Oh sure you did' he kept telling me," said Emert. "Well, he checked the trap around noon on Sunday and sure enough, there it was." It was a warm and sunny day in Jersey Shore, Pa., on Sunday. "The squirrel's been eating peanuts. That's what we used in the trap," she continued. The Emerts currently do not know why the squirrel is purple. "We have no idea whatsoever. It's really purple. People think we dyed it, but honestly, we just found it and it was purple." The Emerts plan to release the squirrel back into the wild in the next few days.

"We put him in an extra big cage so he has room to run around, and we'll release him soon. In the meantime, all the neighbors have been by to see him. No one can believe we have a purple squirrel!" The team is currently investigating why this squirrel is purple. Stay with for more developments. Some employees have their own theories. Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity said, "The squirrel could have been looking for somewhere warm and fallen into a port-a-potty or something similar." Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski has a different idea. "Squirrels get into all kinds of stuff. He could have gotten into some purple ink or purple paint at some point." Local squirrel enthusiast Erik Stewart said, "If it has white hair on it at all, it's probably not dyed. I've had multiple squirrels as pets, though, and I've certainly never seen a purple one. I've seen dark red, light red, gray and brown, but never purple. Also, I've tried to dye my dog before, and trust me it didn't look like this. Though, I've only seen a picture, so your guess is as good as mine." - Accu Weather.
WATCH: Purple Squirrel Found in Pennsylvania.


ICE AGE NOW: Cold Snap Grips Northern China - Coldest Average Temperatures for January in 27 Years!

A strong cold snap has swept China, with regions north of the Yangze River experiencing drastic drops in temperature.

On Tuesday morning, temperatures in parts of the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region plunged to below minus 40 degrees Celsius. Beijing also saw temperatures drop by 8 degrees, hitting a record low of minus 22 in the city’s northwest. As the cold front sweeps southwards, a wide range of provinces, including Shandong, Chongqing and Hubei, are also experiencing sharp drops in temperature. Weather authorities report that 42 cities across the country have experienced extreme cold weather this winter, with the worst of it being faced by several northern regions. - CNTV.

Shanghai's dry and cold weather, with low temperatures below freezing, should continue for two more days, forecasters said yesterday.
The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said temperatures will drop to about 2 degrees below zero Celsius in urban areas both days. It will be colder in the suburbs, with the mercury dropping to minus 5 degrees, with serious frost, the observatory warned. Today is forecast cloudy with a high of 4 degrees, while it should reach about 6 degrees tomorrow afternoon. The strong cold front will then gradually leave the city, the observatory said, and temperatures will rise starting Friday. The weather conditions should turn overcast and drizzly by then, said Zhu Jiehua, a chief service officer of the observatory. The observatory issued a blue frost alert, lowest of the three-tier system, at 4:30 yesterday afternoon warning the cold in the morning could harm crops. The blue cold wave alert and the blue gale alert issued earlier were lifted yesterday. Snow appeared in many parts of the city in the afternoon but was not strong enough to accumulate. Freezing weather in the early morning yesterday slowed the pace for many schoolchildren who were on the first day of their new spring semester. Shanghai traffic police intensified patrols and sent more officers around schools across the city to aid the students flow. Nearly 600 traffic officers and assistants were sent to 466 schools, and the campaign worked well as the traffic around schools was little affected by the overall homecoming volume, police said. - Shanghai Daily.
WATCH: Record Low Temperatures in North China

BIGFOOT: Does the Ape-Like Cryptid Live in Bexar County - Texas is a Top 10 State For Bigfoot Sightings?!

It is one of the most elusive creatures on earth and it is one of the most hunted creatures on earth if for no other reason than to prove its existence. According to cryptozoologists, it roams the forests of the great Northwest to the brush land of Southwest Texas, it is known to the world as Bigfoot.

Frame 352 from the Patterson-Gimlin film, alleged by Roger Patterson
and Robert Gimlin to show a bigfoot, and by some others to show a man in an ape suit.
"I'm very convinced by all the evidence that I've studied for years and years. There's got to be something to it," said Ken Gerhard a local cryptozoologist who has written numerous books on the subject. Gerhard has spent half of his life years in search of the creature that stands from 6 feet to 9 and-a-half feet tall. The body is covered with hair and the face has man-like features. Texas is in the top 10 when it comes to states with Bigfoot sightings, which is why Gerhard is in area. He said there have been numerous sightings in South Texas and even in Bexar and surrounding counties.

"In a Big Foot report on the West Side of San Antonio here a couple of years ago, it was described that a Big Foot creature came out and took a road kill deer and dragged it off to the woods," Gerhard said. The abundance of wilderness in South Texas is one reason Big Foot could be in our midst. With an abundance of food and hiding places, it's just the way Big Foot likes it. "To avoid human beings, they have chosen these remote and inaccessible areas," Gerhard said. Structures in woods, alleged hair samples and talk of soon-to-be released DNA lend credibility to Big Foot's existence.

But some of the most compelling evidence are casts of footprints, much larger and flatter than a human foot. Gerhard said he has never laid eyes on Big Foot, but felt he was in its presence one time while on a hunt in North Texas. "I believe I was within 50 yards of Big Foot creature that was making these loud noises or vocalizations," he said. Even coming that close, Gerhard says as a scientist, he has to remain somewhat skeptical; however, he will keep looking for definitive proof. "Seeing is believing. That's for sure," he said. - KSAT.
WATCH: Bigfoot in Bexar County?

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Strombolian Explosions From the New SE Crater at the Mount Etna Volcano in Italy - Increasing Tremors, A New Paroxysm Underway?!

According to the Volcano Discovery, vigorous strombolian activity, and/or start of low fountains and possibly a lava flow is occurring at the Mount Etna volcano in Italy. A process that could be related to a new paroxysm. Here are the latest updates:

Vigorous strombolian activity, the start of a new paroxysm.
Update 20h15 GMT:
Tremor continues to rise (now at 13), from the webcam image, it seems a lava flow is starting to issue from the SE fracture.

Update 19h GMT:
All indicators point towards we are having the 2nd paroxysm in 2012 during the next hours! The volcanic tremor is now steeply rising (at 8) and vigorous strombolian activity can be seen on the various webcams, possibly a lava flow has started as well.

While strombolian activity continues from the New SE crater of Etna volcano, volcanic tremor has started to rise, suggesting a new paroxysm could be in the making in the next hours, although it is still early to be certain. The photo from Boris Behncke was taken during the night of 7-8 February 2012, whe the continuing Strombolian activity of the New Southeast Crater on Etna was finally widely visible, after about one week of essentially bad weather. Some explosions threw incandescent lava bombs outside the crater, although most were rather weak and all material fell back into the crater. This is a view of one of the stronger explosions observed on the late evening of 7 February 2012, taken from Trecastagni village on the southeast flank of Etna. The activity continued, sometimes vigorously, sometimes more subdued, through the night and morning of 8 February. - Volcano Discovery.
Mount Etna on the island of Sicily, Italy's most active volcano, is in an eruptive phase again, with explosions occurring minute to minute. The webcam shows many explosive events occurring, with lava appearing quite brightly on the images. The image refreshes about twice a minute, and is not a live 'stream' so it is unfortunately difficult to get a real great picture of what's going on there. The eruptions seem to be emanating from a large cone/fissure system near the summit.

Etna has more or less been continuously active throughout human history, with frequent lava flows, cone building episodes, and paroxysmal events that keep residents on their toes. Eruptions are frequent, and occasionally dangerous, although by and large this volcano poses no threat to the surrounding community, which occasionally has to deal with "vog" (volcanic gas fog) and light ash fall on surrounding towns. - Volcano Science.

WATCH: Daytime view of Etna.

WATCH: Nighttime view of Etna.

View webcam HERE.

ICE AGE NOW: Venice Freezes As Deadly Chill Grips Europe!

More than 30 more deaths have been reported as a result of the bitterly freezing weather that has swept across Europe.

A dam wall broke and flooded an entire village in southern Bulgaria when snow melted rapidly as a result of heavy rain. Four residents drowned and four others died when their cars were swept away by the torrent of water. "There are demolished houses and people in distress," the interior ministry said in a statement. Bulgaria warned neighbouring Greece and Turkey that two other dams were also in danger of overflowing. Nine people have died in the past 24 hours in Poland, where temperatures fell to -24C in northeastern parts of the country.

In the Dalmatian region of Croatia, more than 100 villages have been cut off by snow. In one, a woman gave birth at home with the help of a neighbour and a midwife from a nearby town giving them instructions on the phone. "The baby girl is fine and beautiful and I'll probably name her Snow White, given the circumstances," the relieved mother said later. In Serbia, 11,000 people are still cut off and a state of emergency has been declared. In Bosnia, where the weather has claimed eight lives, helicopters have been delivering baby food and aid packages to isolated villages in the east of the country.

In the Czech Republic, temperatures of -39.4C were recorded in the south west along the German border. Forecasters said they expected them to fall even lower overnight. At least 20 people have died in the Czech Republic since the onset of the freezing weather. Elsewhere, parts of the Black Sea have frozen over, as have the canals of Venice, the city's lifeblood. But in the Netherlands, which is suffering its coldest spell in 15 years, the snow has been welcomed by some. Ice skaters swarmed onto frozen ponds and canals and there are hopes of holding the Elfstedentocht - a 200km race on ice - for the first time in 15 years. - SKY News.

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.

This bright disc-shaped UFO was seen and recorded in the night sky above Aveley in Essex, United Kingdom in early February, 2012.

WATCH: UFO over Aveley.

TV report about the UFO phenomenon in a small Ural town in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. This happened in late January 2012.

WATCH: Strange UFO over Chelyabinsk.

This slow unidentified flying object was flying across the night sky over Midlothian in Scotland on Monday, the 6th of February, 2012 at 6:47 pm.

WATCH: UFO flying across the Midlothian.

This strange unknown object was filmed over Thames Estuary in London, UK on Sunday, the 5th of February, 2012.

WATCH: Strange UFO over London.

Large UFO was recorded with infrared camera over Minto in New South Wales, Australia on the 5th of February, 2012 at 10:45 am.

WATCH: Huge UFO flying above the plane over Minto.

Some strange bright object was seen and recorded in the night sky above Northern Illinois on the 5th of February, 2012.

WATCH: UFO over Northern Illinois.

This strange unknown object was seen and recorded in the night sky over Santa Ana in Californa on the 28th of January, 2012 between 7 pm and 10 pm.

WATCH: UFO activity over Santa Ana.

This huge fireball was recorded over Tokyo, Japan on Thursday, the 2nd of February 2012. The video includes clips from different cameras.

WATCH: Huge fireball over Tokyo.

This footage of UFO activity was filmed over St Helens in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, the 1st of February, 2012.

WATCH: UFO over St Helens.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Continued Volcanic Rumblings from Pagan in the Mariana Islands!

Pagan Island seen on January 11, 2007, with a small ash plume. North and
South Pagan are labelled, along with the caldera rims for both modern composite volcanoes.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are a protectorate of the United States and as such, the volcanoes in this active arc in the Pacific Ocean are under the watch of the USGS. However, they don’t really fall under any specific observatory (see update below), but rather the lonely “USGS Northern Marianas Duty Scientist”. This nameless individual provides weekly (or more) reports when something is rumbling in the Northern Mariana Islands, mostly for the benefit of people living on the islands and any air traffic in the region. The population of the CNMI is fairly low, ~53,000 people, and dispersed across many islands, so the volcanoes are not a threat to any large population center, but they are definitely active and potentially dangerous.

One of the more active volcanoes in the Mariana Islands chain is Pagan on the island of the same name (see above). The island itself is actually two volcanoes – North and South Pagan – both of which were built inside calderas. Most of the recent activity has been from North Pagan, although eruptions from South Pagan occurred in 1864 (and possibly in 1929). Although most of the activity from North Pagan is fairly minor – VEI 1-2 explosive events – 1981 did see an VEI 4 eruption that produced explosions and lava flows. This means that keeping an eye on the current activity on Pagan is well worth our time. The latest report from Pagan notes a ~3 km/10,000 foot plume from the volcano that is mostly steam, although various reports suggest there might be small amounts of ash mixed in. As mentioned in the report, Pagan has no permanent ground monitoring, so all the reports are from either remote sensing via satellite or pilot’s reports as they pass near the island. Due to these plumes, Pagan has been on Yellow Alert status (Advisory) since October 2011. The largest eruption in the recent past in the Northern Mariana Islands was from Anatahan in 2003, the first historic eruption of that volcano, showing that even the quieter volcanoes need to be watched. - WIRED.

GLOBAL PANDEMIC: U.S. Bioterrorism Expert Warns Against Publishing Mutation Research of the H5N1 Bird Flu - Could Lead to a Deadly, Devastating and Unstoppable Worldwide Pandemic!

US biosecurity board expert warns against details of H5N1 bird flu getting into wrong hands. The bioterrorism expert responsible for censoring scientific research which could lead to the creation of a devastating pandemic has admitted the information "is going to get out" eventually.

Professor Paul Keim, chairman of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, controversially recommended that researchers be stopped from publishing the precise mutations needed to transform the H5N1 strain of birdflu virus into a human-transmissible version. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, he argued it had been necessary to limit the release of the scientific details because of fears that terrorists may use the information to create their own H5N1 virus that could be spread easily between people. Professor Keim said that it was necessary to slow down the release of scientific information because it was clear that the world is not yet prepared for a strain of highly lethal H5N1 influenza that can be transmitted by coughs and sneezes. - Independent.
Speaking of outbreak, here are several of the latest updates on the bird flu:

38,000 birds have been culled in India.

At least 38,000 poultry birds were killed in three days in the capital city following detection of the H5N1 virus at the Government of India’s Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO). The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and Khurda district administration pressed in seven teams to cull the birds at the farm, which boasts of huge parent stock of poultry and is a major supplier to eastern Indian states. The CPDO has a total stock of 29,000 poultry birds. On other hand, the Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) also destroyed an estimated 2.18 lakh eggs on the third day on Tuesday. While 1.11 lakh eggs were destroyed at the CPDO, around 5,000 were destroyed at the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT). Besides, a truckload of eggs numbering over 93,000 were also seized and destroyed by the RRTs in the affected area here. - Orissa Diary.
Chinese poultry markets linked to human H5N1 avian influenza‎.
A Mississippi State University researcher has uncovered the first molecular evidence linking live poultry markets in China to human H5N1 avian influenza. Henry Wan, an assistant professor in systems biology at MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, collaborated with scientists in the World Health Organization Collaborative Centers for Influenza in China and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to investigate the connection. “Although conceptually we knew live bird markets posed a risk for human H5N1 infection, there had previously not been any direct evidence, especially molecular evidence, supporting this hypothesis,” Wan said. - WFP.
Bird flu outbreak threatens Vietnam.
Vietnam’s Department of Animal Health has warned that there is a high risk of a large-scale outbreak of bird flu without drastic preventive measures in the near future. Bird flu has been reported in four communes in three provinces of Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa and Soc Trang over the past month, affecting nearly 1,700 poultry and forcing the killing of more than 4,000 domestic fowls, said the department’s deputy head Pham Van Dong at a meeting of the Steering Committee for Bird Flu Prevention and Control Tuesday. - Brunei News.

WATCH: CNN reports on bird flu mutation as a "terror threat".

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 3.3 Temblor Rattles Oklahoma - 15 Minutes After Quake Drill!

A small earthquake was recorded Tuesday, just about 15 minutes after thousands of Oklahomans participated in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 3.3 earthquake at 10:29 a.m. with an epicenter 21 miles northeast of Shawnee. Earthquakes of this size are among the smallest generally felt by people. No damage was reported. Keli Cain, state Emergency Management Department spokeswoman, said about 68,000 Oklahomans signed up for the 10:15 a.m. drill.

During the ShakeOut, participants were encouraged to drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to the table for about 60 seconds until the exercise ended. “Experts say this is the best method of protection during an earthquake, since the primary threat for injury during an earthquake in the U.S. is falling debris and toppling objects, like bookcases and heavy electronics, rather than structural collapse,” Cain said.

Last year there were fewer than 10,000 Oklahomans who registered to participate in the drill held in April. “We expected that we would see an increased number of participants this year because of the earthquakes we had in 2011, but I think the turnout exceeded our expectations,” she said. The earthquake activity in 2011 included a 5.6. - News OK.
WATCH: 3.3 Quake in Oklahoma.