Friday, February 10, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: ICE AGE NOW - Cold Snap Forces Hungary to Literally Burn Money to Keep Their Citizens Warm; the Danube Freezes Over; as the Death Toll Across Europe Rise to 460!

This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "burning money". The Hungarian Central Bank has begun recycling bank notes withdrawn from circulation by turning them into fire briquettes and donating them to the poor who can use them for burning.

The Hungarian Central Bank is issuing stacks of old currency notes to its impoverished citizens across the country, so as to allow its citizens to burn the notes in order to keep warm during one of Europe’s deadliest cold snaps. For the past four years, the Hungarian government has been recycling nearly $1 billion worth of unusable notes into briquettes, which are then sent to several charities as a form of heating fuel. According to AFP, the donation help save charities nearly 50,000 to 60,000 forints ($238-$265) a month in electricity bills, which is a "considerable sum in this time of crisis," said Krisztina Haraszti, the head of a centre for autistic children in the impoverished northeastern town of Miskolc.
   "It's a very useful charitable act, a vital aid for our foundation because we can save part of our heating costs," added Haraszt, whose centre has received nearly four tonnes of compressed old notes from the Hungarian Central Bank every month since September.
In addition, examinations done by the central bank's cash logistics centre discovered that the heating properties of the shredded currency briquettes were similar to those brown coal – meaning that they were essentially a like-for-like substitute and could be used in boilers that use mixed fuel as well. According to The Telegraph, the notes were simply burnt in the past. But the cash logistic centre decided to invest in a machine that could allow them to compress the notes into briquettes for better heating efficiency. "For the central bank, corporate social responsibility is an important thing,” said Barnabas Ferenczi, the head of the cash logistics centre.
   “That's why we thought that since we destroy approximately 40 or 50 tons of currency every year, this thing can be useful for charities that have a problem finding fuel for burning."
Every year, the central bank takes a quarter of its notes out of circulation and print new money to replace the unusable and old currency. The old notes are then converted into briquettes under a tight security procedure, where the people working on the process are made to wear pocket-less clothes. The institutions are chosen they make bids for the briquettes. This year, some 20 organisations made a pitch. The central bank then issues the briquettes to chosen institutions, which must make a pitch in order to receive the notes. The central bank only has one criterion: that the organisations chosen have no public debt. - Economy Watch.
WATCH: Hungarians Burning Through Their Cash.

Europe's Danube freezes over, cold snap toll at 460.

Meanwhile, thick ice closed vast swathes of the Danube on Thursday, crippling shipping on Europe's busiest waterway, as the death toll from bitter cold across the continent rose to at least 460.

As it has every day for nearly two weeks, the brutal cold claimed lives in several countries and killed dozens more in weather-related accidents. The 2,860-kilometre Danube, which flows through 10 countries and is vital for transport, power, irrigation, industry and fishing, was wholly or partially blocked from Austria to its mouth on the Black Sea. Navigation was impossible or restricted in Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, as ice covered the river or formed dangerous floes in shipping lanes. An official from the Serbian economy ministry yesterday said the commercial repercussions "could be very bad", while Infrastructure Ministry official Pavle Galico said shipping would not resume for 10 days. Bulgarian authorities, who have banned all navigation on the river, reported 224 vessels stuck in ports, and Ukrainian rescuers in Croatia reached three crew members on a ship trapped in the ice since last Friday.

Temperatures in Bulgaria dropped to a new record low on Thursday of minus 28.6 degrees Celsius in the northwestern town of Vidin. The country has halted all power exports due to the cold snap. So far, 28 people have been killed in Bulgaria as a result of the weather, including eight who drowned when the icy waters of a small dam swept through their village of Biser in the southeast. Serbian railways, meanwhile, said the famed Balkan Express train that runs from Belgrade to Istanbul would only go as far as Sofia for now because of the flooding in Bulgaria. In the Czech Republic, another homeless man froze to death in Kolin, bringing the country's toll to 25, and forecasters said temperatures could plunge to minus 40 Celsius in the mountains and minus 25 Celsius in Prague on Saturday night. Another blast of freezing weather was also predicted for Italy, even as soldiers worked to free villages trapped in three metres of snow and with the death toll from the cold snap already at 43. Forecasts said freezing winds would pick up and bring more snow today and tomorrow to Rome, just recovering from its biggest snowfall in decades
. - Zee News.

NOTE: Special thanks to Jacqui Chasson for contributing to this post.

POLE SHIFT: Precursors of Geological Upheavals and Planetary Tremors - Monumental Timeline Vizualization Map of the 2011 Global Earthquakes!

Several days ago, I showcased the following video, which features a visualization map from Monoroch of the timeline of all the magnitude 3.0 and greater earthquakes that hit Japan in 2011.

WATCH: Japan Earthquakes 2011 Timeline.

Today, the company has produced a timeline of all the earthquakes that hit across the entire planet last year.

Worldwide Earthquakes 2011 Timeline.

THE MARK OF THE BEAST: Towards the New World Order and the Coming Cashless Society - England Signal Plans to Microchip All Dogs!

"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." - Revelations 13:16-18.

Several weeks ago, India launched the world's biggest and most advanced biometric database of personal identities, by giving its 1.2 billion citizens a "unique identity" in a networked technological grid. Today, British authorities expressed plans to further the grand plan to create a global totalitarian state by micro-chipping all dogs.

Ministers signalled plans to make microchips compulsory in response to growing concern about dog attacks. Last year, a survey suggested there are about 8.30million dogs in Britain. More than half have microchips implanted in their bodies, allowing them to be electronically identified and their owners traced. England’s laws on dogs are coming under growing pressure because of concern about unchipped and dangerous dogs being used as weapons and status symbols. Groups including the RSPCA have called for compulsory microchipping to create a clear link between all dogs and their owners.

Chips hold an owner’s details as well as a unique identity number. Installing one can cost as little as £5. Ministers have been accused of dithering on reforming dog laws, but Lord Taylor of Holbeach, an environment minister, yesterday promised an announcement soon. “We are close to finalising a package of measures to tackle irresponsible dog owners,” he told the Lords. “We see microchipping as part of the measures we can do to address an increasing problem.” At any given moment, there are about 125,000 strays, the Government estimates. About 6,000 healthy animals are destroyed each year because they have no permanent home. Lord Taylor told peers that dealing with strays was costing charities and local councils more than £57.5 million a year.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry, a former Conservative minister, urged the Government to think carefully before insisting on compulsory microchipping because many dogs “took badly” to having a chip inserted. “Surely anyone who cannot control their dog should not have one,” he said. Animal welfare groups say the number of pets being abandoned has risen in the recent economic downturn. The RSPCA received more than 28,000 calls about abandoned animals last year, a rise of a third in five years. A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We have been working on a package of measures to tackle irresponsible dog owners. “We have considered the benefits of compulsory microchipping of dogs and extending the current law to cover private property. “The final package will cover future government handling of these issues as well as other plans to improve the standards of dog ownership.” - Telegraph.

PETRUS ROMANUS 2012: Priest Class of the Magi Prepares for the Final Pope - Vatican Fears Assassins May Target Pope Benedict XVI in 2012?!

An assassination attempt against Pope Benedict XVI may be carried out before November 2012, Italian Il Fatto Quotidiano daily reported on Friday, citing a confidential document that was delivered to the Holy See in January by Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos.

The letter, written in German, cites Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the Archbishop of Palermo, who said during his visit to China in November 2011 that “the Pope will die” in the next 12 months, Il Fatto Quotidiano said.

It is not known who stands behind the letter, the daily said.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Director of the Holy See Press Office on Friday denounced the media report, calling it “ramblings that cannot be taken seriously.”

The previous Pope, John Paul II, survived a 1981 assassination attempt, although he was shot and gravely wounded by his attacker, Turkish national Mehmet Ali Agca.

In 2006 an Italian parliamentary commission accused former Soviet leaders and the Bulgarian secret service of being behind the assassination plot.

Ali Agca was released in 2010 from jail after almost 30 years in Italian and Turkish prisons. - RIA Novosti.

WATCH: Tom Horn's "Petrus Romanus - The Final Pope Is Here".

EXTRATERRESTRIAL & UFO MEMES: Russia's X-Files: Mass Sightings of UFOs and Aerial Anomalies Over Russia; Police Discovers Dead Rabbits and Huge Crop Circles After Witnessing Mysterious Lights?!

Series of bizarre incidents are happening in Russia, that can only be categorized under the X-Files. Firstly, a huge crop circle appeared in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in July, 2011.

WATCH: Huge crop circle in Chelyabinsk.

Second, strange objects descended on the same are on December 21st, 2011.

WATCH: UFO descends on Chelyabinsk.

Third, villagers witnessed mystery lights and a UFO near the village of Ashirov in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia in late January.
Residents in the remote village of Chelyabinsk, Russia, were interviewed on national TV about a UFO they'd witnessed recently. The footage does show a circular, unidentified flying object ringed by flashing lights which doesn't look like any known aircraft.

The remoteness of the area makes the possibility of some kind of private advertising service, or sky writing, unlikely. What is the object which has the citizens of the village too scared to sleep at night? In the TV news piece, naturally in Russian, it's clear what the witnesses are saying to the reporter, even without translation. A news crew films the area in which the UFO was flying at night and shows that, in the daylight, it's obviously a frozen wilderness and not any kind of an airfield.

The witnesses (an elderly farmer and a worried husband and wife with several children) appear to be remarking how the object was circular and that they feel a bit spooked by the incident. In the description written by the YouTube poster, there is the comment that the villagers are losing sleep over the encounter. It's obviously a big enough story, with some unanswered questions, to be taken seriously by a Russian news organization. What is it? - Gather.
“In Kunashakskom region (Chelyabinsk region), an alien has landed “saucer.” Alien observed recently in the South Ural village Ashirov. For the first time an unusual object in the village saw four days ago, when witnesses were four. Today saw a UFO over half of the villagers.

The great object is still at a distance of about ten kilometers from the village. The dimensions “saucer” like a train. Residents tried to get closer to the object, but it is in the swamps, the machine can not reach it. According to witnesses, on the opposite side of the village is seen a great white light, which then turns off, then reappears. At first thought it was a plane, but no audible hum from the engines did not exist. The facility is absolutely silent.” - 1OBL.
WATCH: Strange UFO over Russia, the TV report.

Video info: In the Urals in the swamps, where there are no settlements in the tens of kilometers around, goes hunting for UFOs , which appears in these places, every night. A team of researchers headed by foot to the place where the lights were visible. As they approached, the lights were gone, and the snow lay the dead carcasses of hares around. No traces of external injuries, and, except for singed hair on his forehead. - NTV.
Fourth, another eye-witness report of more aerial anomalies over the city of Ufa.
Eye-witness Report: Halit Safin, a famous photographer in Ufa (the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia), January 23, took video of an unusual glow. He phoned a friend and said that in the sky above the street in the Green Grove Kuvykina hours from eight in the evening flickers something unusual. Halit, a child fascinated by UFO, arrived at the place at midnight and filmed on camera lights with shirokofokusnym lens.

As the photographs drew attention to the colors of the object: blue, green, red. A friend stayed in his car to follow the object, and I went home for a long lens to look at what it is. The lens I bought to watch the stars four years ago, here's the first time there is a need to use it in practice. When Halit returned to his seat, glow in the sky is still maintained, but declined slightly. "I looked through the lens of the neighboring stars, they shone like the object," said Halit. - BuzzzBoxxx.
 WATCH: Unusual glow over Bashkortostan on January 23, 2012.

Fifth, another video filmed on January 4th, but uploaded to Youtube on February 4th, of a glowing UFO, falling from the sky into the village Novobureysky.

 WATCH: UFO over Novobureysky.

Several weeks ago, I highlighted the strange case  in Russia's Ural Mountains in 1959, where five skiers were found frozen to death near their tent, four more bearing mysterious injuries - a smashed head, a missing tongue - buried in the snow some distance away; seemingly fleeing in sudden terror their camps from a most deadly force.

 WATCH: The Dyatlov Pass incident.

THE AGE OF OBAMA: The Global Police State - Congress Launches "Attack of the Drones"; Bill Clears Path For 30,000 Pilot-less Surveillance Drones To Keep Robotic Watch Over Americans!

Get ready to look up at the sky and see drones hovering above. As of now the unmanned aircraft can only be used in the air by the military and certain law enforcement agencies. But this week Congress passed a bill that would allow for commercial and private use of drones. And these aircraft typically carry surveillance equipment and even weapons sometimes. 

Once again, another shocking story that threatens the personal privacy of US citizens has been kept from us by our politicians and the mainstream media. Did you know that a bill, HR 658, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, has just passed both the House and the Senate which authorizes the use of 30,000 spy drones over America by the year 2015? Like the anti-Posse Comitatus NDAA legislation that passed in November, this bill was not widely reported by the mainstream corporate media.

Do not feel bad for not knowing about this, because, similar to the anti-Constitutional NDAA legislation, they purposefully tried to hide this from the American public. The corporate controlled mainstream media was once again complicit and was an integral accessory in this crime against “We the People.” The corporate mainstream media failed us all miserably once again. Think about the enormity of this for a second… 30-THOUSAND drones flying overhead, surveying the US. If you divide that by 50 states, that is 600 drones per state! Most states don’t have even one-third of that in counties, so 600 drones, or more per state is a bit overwhelming. And considering that some state are very small, such as Rhode Island and Connecticut, it won’t take that many to spy on those diminutive territories, leaving far more drones to cover the larger states. This is an outrage, plain and simple. If you’re not pissed off about this, you’ve got shit for brains. There is no good reason why we should have 24/7 surveillance of American citizens. - The Intel Hub.
WATCH: Drones in the U.S.A.

Similar/Related Articles from Alex Jones' Infowars:
  1. Bill Clears Path For 30,000 Surveillance Drones Over US In Next Ten Years
  2. UAV Remote Video Warfare: U.S. has Opened A Pandora’s Box with Drones
  3. U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies Provoke Outrage in Iraq
  4. US admits flying drones out of Ethiopia
  5. Video: Pentagon Drones Now Targeting Rural Americans
  6. Drones over U.S. may pose security risks
  7. Congress Welcomes Drones Into American Skies ASAP
  8. Is The NYPD Experimenting With Drones Over The City? Evidence Points To Yes
  9. Drones could patrol in U.S., FAA says
  10. Report: North Korea Using US-Made Drones
  11. The Future Expansion of Unmanned Drones Over The U.S.
  12. Surveillance Drones To Zap Protesters Into Submission
The EU is Considering Using Drones to Police Farm Subsidies, Enforce Environmental Rules.
When European farmers turn their eyes skyward, they soon may have more than the weather to worry about. The more progressive aviation framework in Europe means that government monitors potentially have a new weapon in their arsenals--unmanned aerial drones--to enforce regulations, and they’re starting with agriculture. EU regulators are exploring potential aerial systems that can help them spot farm subsidy cheats and violators of Common Agricultural Policy rules. Farm subsidies in the EU cost taxpayers billions of euros each year, and so it’s naturally in the best interests of regulators to maintain tight oversight over who gets how much. For years now, regulators have relied on satellite imagery to help them keep an eye on those claiming subsidies, photographing farmland from above and looking for the telltale signs of subsidy cheats or breaches of environmental rules. But satellite images are unreliable. In some places, mountainous terrain makes for long shadows that obscure features on the ground. In places like Scotland, it’s overcast all the time. Enter the drones. Flying under cloud cover, their cameras can get detailed imagery of the ground below, snapping angled views that complement the straight-down imagery gathered by orbiting satellites. They are quick to deploy and can be used to investigate specific cases rather than huge swaths of countryside. And they could help the EU keep from bleeding millions of euros to subsidy fraud. - POPSCI.
UK Report Blames The Internet For Terrorism, Says ISPs Should Take Down Content.
It appears that technologically clueless, reactionary politicians blaming the internet for terrorism and demanding ways to censor content are not just limited to US Senators named Lieberman. Nope, it appears that some elected officials over in the UK have similarly allergic reactions to the internet. The Home Affairs Committee in the UK Parliament has released this fear mongering report about how the internet is somehow radicalizing the youth into being terrorists, and how ISPs need to pull down content. All of these reports seem to assume that because some kids used the internet to learn about terrorism, that it's the internet's fault they became terrorists. There's no thought to the idea that these disenfranchised kids were likely to seek out whatever way they could to join a terrorism organization. That would involve actually understanding the root causes of terrorism, though, and it's much, much easier to just point a finger and blame the internet. Of course, since it appears these luddites don't understand the internet at all, it's no surprise that they confused ISPs with hosting companies -- and demanded that the ISPs "take down" content, when the only thing they really could do would be to block content. Hosting companies would be able to remove it. David Meyer, the ZDnet UK reporter who wrote the story linked above, asked a spokesperson for the committee to explain this rather glaring error, and the person "was unable to explain." That should tell you just about everything you need to know about this report, and it should be laughed out of any further discussion should it ever be brought up again. - Information Liberation.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Brazil Soy Forecast Cut After Drought Parched Crops!

Soybean growers in Brazil, the world’s second-largest producer after the U.S., will harvest less than previously estimated after a drought in the country’s south parched crops, the government said.

Growers will harvest 69.2 million metric tons of soybeans in the crop year that started Sept. 1, less than the 71.8 million tons estimated on Jan. 10, Conab, the government’s crop- forecasting agency, said in an e-mailed statement today.

The La Nina weather pattern has triggered excessive heat and dryness in parts of Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, in past months, damaging crops.

Corn producers in Brazil, the world’s third-largest grower, will harvest 60.8 million tons of the grain in the current crop year. The forecast was raised from 59.2 million estimated previously.

Brazil produced 57.4 million tons of corn and 75.3 million tons of soybeans in the previous crop year.

The South American country’s corn output trails production in the U.S. and China. - Bloomberg.

MONSTROUS WAVES: Giant 15 Metres Rogue Wave Hammers and Wallops Huge Cargo Ship Off British Columbia Coast!

The 186-metre cargo ship Dry Beam is moored at Ogden Point, its massive vertical support beams bent like matchsticks and its load of logs shoved askew by a rogue wave on the North Pacific.

The vessel was en route to Japan from Longview, Washington, when it ran into trouble, lost some logs and issued a mayday call Thursday night about 480 kilometres off northern Vancouver Island. A rogue wave had pummelled the ship's left, or port, side and caused many of the raw logs on the deck to shift toward the starboard side. None of the 23 Filipino crew aboard the 26,000-ton vessel was hurt. The damaged vessel limped into port at Ogden Point in Victoria on Sunday, escorted from the high seas by U.S. and Canadian coast guard vessels. The wave that slammed into the port side was 10-to-15 metres high, said Capt. Jostein Hoddevik, principal surveyor with IMS Marine Surveyors of Burnaby.

"It would have a lot of water behind it, a lot of force," Hoddevik said at Ogden Point on Monday. He was aboard the vessel to assess the damage and review the incident on behalf of the ship's insurers. A qualified captain with experience crossing the Atlantic, Hoddevik said there is little the crew could have done to avoid the wave. The incident occurred in an area of the north Pacific that's notorious for monstrous waves and punishing seas, he said. The currents and wave patterns combine to make this a highly dangerous area. "Several of the accidents I've been investigating have come from the same general location — a small area."

The vessel was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he said. "The timing of the wave would be crucial." Cargo vessels are damaged by waves like this off the West Coast once or twice a year, he said. Sometimes the damage is relatively minor and the vessel can continue on to its destination. At times, the vessel must return to port for repairs. The cargo ship lost a few of its logs and others were dangling off the starboard side as it arrived in Victoria. The vessel will need extensive repairs before it is seaworthy again, Hoddevik added. The bent stanchions on the port side will be cut off, and the logs removed and put on another ship or barge. - Vancouver Sun.

EXTREME WEATHER: Dust-Clogged Air Sends Hundreds to Emergency Rooms in Israel - Murky, Dusty Weather Took People’s Breath Away!

The dust-filled air that has greatly reduced visibility in the last few days has also sent hundreds of patients to hospital emergency rooms around Israel.

Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera reported on Wednesday dozens of children and adults coming to its emergency department since Tuesday complaining of breathing difficulties. Eight patients were sent to the wards with cases of moderate to serious respiratory problems. One of those who was admitted was 80-year-old Peter Paschiansky, the father of the deputy director of the emergency department, Dr. Pavel Paschiansky. The octogenarian suffers from chronic respiratory problems that were worsened by the weather. “I examined dozens of people with such complaints recently, but I never dreamed that I would have to treat my own father. We decided to hospitalize him and give him inhalation treatment,” the emergency physician said. Dr. Jalal Ashkar, director of the emergency room in Hadera, said there was no doubt that the weather was to blame. “When muscles are stimulated by dust particles, they contract, causing the narrowing of the airways in the lungs. This also creates a cough and shortness of breath,” he explained.

“Adults who suffer from asthma and chronic respiratory disease, and of course children whose lungs are not well developed, suffer in such weather, and some come to us for treatment,” he said. Dr. Adi Klein, head of the pediatrics department, said that of the dozens of children who arrived in the last few days, at least three became sick from the weather. She stressed that when the air is very dusty, one should take notice whether a child over the age of one breathes more than 40 times a minute. If so, go for medical diagnosis and treatment. If the child turns blue, is apathetic or less alert, then rush to the emergency room, Klein advised. Conventional treatment is the use of an inhalation device to expand the bronchi to help restore regular breathing. Ashkar and Klein advised that in such weather, people with lung diseases and weak immune systems, as well as children, babies, the elderly and pregnant women, should leave windows closed and stay at home until the dust lifts. - The Jerusalem Post.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Over 200 Dolphins Found Dead in Northern Peru - Authorities Are Puzzled by the Deaths?! UPDATE: Shocking Video as Hundreds of Dolphins Wash Ashore in Peru!

This week more than 200 dolphins were found dead along a 106-kilometer stretch at the beaches of Lambayeque. Authorities have not yet been able to determine the cause of the deaths.

According to El Comercio, Edward Barriga, head of Peru’s Ocean Institute (Imarpe) in Lambayeque, ordered samples be sent to Lima, for further analysis. “Soon we will announce the root causes," Barriga said.

Barriga said he had also found considerable quantities of dead anchovies on the beaches between the district of San jose and Palo Parado, in Morrope. Jorge Torres Cabrejos, head of the Lambayeque’s Association of Maritime Growers, said the dolphins might have eaten the dead anchovies, who had died from decomposing plankton, caused by heavy pollution.

According to El Comercio, Torres denied that local fisherman were to blame for the dolphins’ deaths. Last month Imarpe investigated the death of several dolphins and sea lions in the beaches of Piura. Local media said the deaths could have been the result of oil spills in the area. - Peru This Week.
UPDATE: Shocking Video as Hundreds of Dolphins Wash Ashore in Peru!

More than 200 dolphins have washed ashore in Chiclayo. Officials haven't ruled out hunting. Warning, some may find pictures disturbing.

WATCH: Dolphins wash ashore in Peru.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Record US Crop Losses in 2011 - Farmers Worried About Warmest Winter in 117 Years; January Freeze Kills Up to 20% of California Orange Crops; Rapidly-Maturing Wheat Crop Faces Multiple Threats as Global Food Prices Rises in January!

Crop insurance companies already have paid $9.1 billion in indemnity payments to U.S. farmers for 2011. That's a new record and actually the largest loss claims in the history of the program according to USDA's Risk Management Agency. And only 81% of claims have been finalized.

Former USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins says during the past four years more than $27 billion in private-backed crop insurance has been paid to farmers affected by market drops or natural disasters. At the same time, however, Collins says Congress has reduced the federal investment in crop insurance by more than $12 billion. "With those large loss claims, with the funding cuts in the program, we now have a program that's being delivered probably more efficiently and effectively than ever," Collins said. "I think we have to be very careful in the 2012 Farm Bill to not do damage to the heart of this program and that is the delivery and the infrastructure. Farmers say this is their most important program, they want this program and without a sound crop insurance program with a capable and effective delivery structure there could be big problems in agriculture if we don't have this effective protection in place." Collins says producers are doing anything and everything they can to meet domestic and global needs for food, feed and fuel. This year Collins says there are 264 million acres covered by crop insurance. The growing demand has caused commodity prices and land values to continually spike and he says increased planting means a higher demand for crop insurance. - Farm Futures.
Farmers Worried About Warmest Winter in 117 Years.
Illinois, a key farm state in the heart of the Corn Belt, is basking in its sixth warmest winter in 117 years -- good news for residents who have not had to shovel snow but a red flag for some of the state's most productive businesses: farms. Illinois and neighboring Iowa - also in the midst of a balmy winter - produce about a third of all the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, the world's largest exporter of both crops. Farmers in both states feel more comfortable when there is a substantial snow cover to ensure adequate soil moisture that can nurture crops through the region's hot dry summers. Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel said soil moisture, thanks to autumn rains, remained in good shape compared to pockets of drought in nearby areas of the Corn Belt, notably the high-yielding northern Iowa/southern Minnesota border area. But this winter in Illinois has been a polar opposite of last year's snowy, frigid season, Angel told Reuters on Tuesday. Angel said the average temperature in Illinois for December and January was 33.4 degrees Fahrenheit, much warmer than the historical average of 27.2 degrees. For January, typically the coldest month of the year, the average temperature was 31.4 degrees, or 6.6 degrees above normal, making it the 13th warmest January on record. Several southern Illinois locations hit a balmy 69 last month, including Belleville, Kaskaskia and Cairo. "It's just odd not to deal with much snow and it feels like we are in this continuous late fall pattern," Angel said. "A big contrast to last winter." This winter, the usual arctic blasts have stayed north of the central Midwest crop belt, affecting areas like Canada, Alaska and parts of Europe most intensely, he said. Chicago snowfall for December and January totaled just 13.9 inches, half of the 27.3 inches that fell in December and January a year ago. - MSNBC.
January Freeze Kills Up to 20% of California Orange Crops.
Two nights of frigid temperatures in mid January across portions of California’s Fresno and Madera counties nipped the 2011-2012 Navel and mandarin citrus crops by an estimated 10 percent to 25 percent. The Jan. 16-18 freeze event hit northern Fresno County and Madera County the hardest with as much as a 40 percent to 100 percent crop loss in the coldest locations in those counties. “We estimate 10 percent of the Navel crop and 15 to 20 percent of the mandarin crop have been affected by the freezing temperatures,” said Bob Blakely, director of grower services with California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, Calif. These percentages are for the entire industry — the cumulative effect of 22 to 25 nights in December which required growers to implement frost protection measures and culminating with the Jan. 16-18 freezing temperatures. Through mid-January, Blakely says California citrus growers had spent about $100 million protecting citrus crops from cold temperatures this winter. - Western Farm Press.
Warm winter having impact on crops, azaleas.
The relatively warm winter has many people saying, "This is why I live in the south." But that weather raises some concerns among farmers, who say some of their crops are now at risk. "If you'd have come out here last year, this time of a year, you would have never seen this," Cal Lewis said today walking through his Rocky Point farm. "This is a blossom that's 30 days from harvest." Lewis says a few of his major crops are ahead of schedule because of the warm winter. He says his main concern is with his blueberries. "There's a very high level of concern for blueberries mainly because if we continue with this warm weather they will bloom out, and the big concern will be, continuing with moderate weather, they bloom out and then we have a really late cold," Lewis said. - WWAYTV3.
Southern wheat crop facing early stripe rust, leaf rust.
On Jan. 30, stripe rust was found in Mississippi’s Bolivar County, usually one of the state’s top wheat counties. The discovery followed a similar find in northeast Arkansas, days earlier. These are the first incidents of stripe rust west of the Rockies in 2012.  “That’s the earliest we’ve ever seen stripe rust,” says Erick Larson, Mississippi State University wheat specialist. Most of the varieties grown in Mississippi are resistant to the fungal disease. “But stripe rust is a cool weather disease and the growing conditions lately are quite conducive to its development.” - Delta Farm Press.
Global food prices up in Jan, snap 6-month downtrend.
Global food prices rose in January for the first time in six months and may show another rise for February, as concern about bad weather in main growing regions boosted grain and vegetable oil values, the United Nations' food agency said on Thursday. January's increase was not expected to heap as much inflationary pressure on economies as a year ago, when prices were climbing towards record highs, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said ahead of the European Central Bank's decision on interest rates. Global food prices, which have been falling since July 2011, rose nearly 2 percent in January from the previous month, with the FAO food price index averaging 214 points. - Financial Mirror.
Global food prices rose 1.9 percent in January, the biggest gain in 11 months as dairy, oilseed and grain costs increased, and may climb further in February, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said. An index of 55 food items increased to 214.3 points from a revised 210.3 points in December, the Rome-based FAO said on its website today. Prices may post a “slight” gain this month amid uncertainty about crop prospects this year, Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the FAO, said by phone. Costlier food is driving up living costs in China, home to about a fifth of the world population. Chinese inflation unexpectedly accelerated in January on the back of food prices, which rose 10.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier, up from 9.1 percent in December, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported today. “It would not surprise me to see a slight price increase in February,” Abbassian said from Rome. “Prices are going to probably remain within this range until there is more certainty about production and the supply situation in 2012.” - Business Week.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Large Cracks Found Near Mount Kanlaon Volcano - Summit Has Been Closed in the Philippines, in the Wake of Tremors!

Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano, has been declared temporarily closed to mountaineers after large cracks believed to have been caused by Monday’s 6.9-magnitude earthquake were observed at its crater and land surfaces, a local official said Friday.

Kanlaon straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. It has an elevation of 2,435 meters (7,989 feet) and a base diameter of 30 kilometers. Cecil Cañada, Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park (MKNP) superintendent, said at least three 50-meter long cracks have been noted near the crater, while other cracks and a landslide have been noted within the MKNP. A landslide was also seen at the Margaha Valley, the old crater of the volcano, he added. An assessment was conducted by accredited trained guides and members of the rescue group based in Guintubdan, La Carlota City, in coordination with the MKNP Eco-tourism Officer and Biologist Angelo Bibar, Cañada said.

Their report revealed that some portions of the volcano’s crater were affected, and land surfaces had cracks and evidences of landslides, he said. Cañada also maintained that the aftershocks from Monday’s earthquake and occasional heavy rainfall could pose danger to the life of mountain trekkers and tourists in the park. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has been informed of the quake damage to the volcano and they were trying to arrange for an aerial survey of the area, he added. However, it is difficult to get a helicopter as they are being used for relief operations in Negros Oriental, Cañada said. The volcano continues to be under observation amid the continuing aftershocks, he said. On the other hand, Ma. Antonia Bornas, chief of the Phivolcs Science Research Specialist Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, said they need to verify the report if they could get an aerial survey. - Inquirer News.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - DARPA's Legged Squad Support System (a.k.a. Big Dog) Goes Outside to Play!

The LS3, in Outdoor Tests.
Here at PopSci, we’ve been fascinated by Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog ever since it was an adorable robotic puppy that couldn’t even open its eyes. Now that the technology is all grown up, repackaged, and rechristened the Legged Squad Support System (or LS3), its eyes are very much open--and fixed firmly on the soldier in front of it. The new LS3 prototype has just undergone its first outdoor exercise, demonstrating the ability to “see” its surroundings and distinguish between objects and humans.

Over the next year-and-a-half, DARPA plans to prove out LS3’s technology and get it ready to support warfighters in the field. Its main battlefield role will be little more than that of a robotic pack mule, carrying hundreds of pounds of gear so that dismounted Marines and soldiers won’t have to. These days, a lot of that weight is batteries, and here LS3 provides a two-fer: Not only can it carry troops’ various batteries and battery powered handheld devices, but it also serves as a mobile power source that can recharge them on the move.

The idea here is to create an animal analog--something that can haul lots of gear over rough terrain and interact with personnel naturally, in a way that is intuitive to the soldiers and Marines around it. In addition to its “eyes,” DARPA wants to give it auditory sensors that can respond to simple voice commands like “come” or “stay.” And ongoing tests aim to refine the vision system so it can distinguish between humans and learn to track specific individuals. At the end of the 18-month proving period, LS3 will embed with Marines conducting field exercises to see how it gets along in real maneuvers. Here’s hoping those Marines don’t require the element of surprise. As you can see below, LS3 can see and move better than ever, but it is still very, very loud.

WATCH: DARPA Legged Squad Support System (LS3).

WATCH: DARPA Legged Squad Support System (LS3)

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Mount Lokon Erupts - Hurling Ash Cloud into the Sky!

A restless volcano in northern Indonesia erupted Friday, spewing clouds of ash as high as 2 kilometers into the sky, the country's National Disaster Management Agency said.

The authorities are warning residents to stay away from the volcano, Mt. Lokon, in North Sulawesi, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster management agency.

A 2.5 kilometer exclusion zone had already been set up around Mt. Lokon, which had been showing signs of activity in recent days.

A series of eruptions by Mt. Lokon in July prompted the evacuation of thousands of local residents. The volcano also erupted in October and December.

Indonesia is located on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. - CNN.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Wetland Bird Death Toll Hits 800 - Investigations Underway in Christchurch, New Zealand!

Up to 800 birds have been found dead at wetlands in Christchurch's eastern suburbs and the oxidation ponds.

The Christchurch City Council said yesterday that during the past few weeks dead birds have been found on the banks of the oxidation ponds in Bromley. Dead birds have also been found in the Bexley area and the Travis Wetland.

Council ornithologist Andrew Crossland said between 600 and 800 dead birds had been found. "The earthquakes in Christchurch have caused a lot of changes to water quality but also to effluent levels at the oxidation ponds," he said.

"It's got nothing to do with anything physical such as liquefaction but more to do with the fluctuating water levels and changes like that." Investigations were underway but the initial diagnosis was avian botulism, a paralysing disease caused by a toxin which thrives in shallow, warm water.

Avian botulism can not be transferred to people. However, the council was urging people and animals to avoid infected or dead birds until specialist testing was complete. - Stuff.

RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds Of the Apocalypse" - Mysterious Noises Reported in Hartlepool!

Police have confirmed they are not investigating any reports of “loud banging” noises which have been reported across the Tees Valley.

A number of people reported hearing loud noises throughout the day, though it was unclear where they were coming from.

One reader contacted the Mail to say: “I was walking along the front at Seaton Carew and the banging was really loud.

“A lot of people were commenting on it, we were wondering if it was an earthquake or some sort of tremor.”

Cleveland Police had similar reports, but were not carrying out any form of investigation.

Similar calls were made from people across east Cleveland, and it is thought the noises could be linked to work being carried out on the new offshore wind farm near Redcar. - Hartlepool Mail.

PARADISE LOST: "Public Health and Human Rights Catastrophe" - Smoke From Riverton Dump Fire Blankets Jamaica's Capital!

Acrid smoke from a fire at a sprawling trash dump blanketed swaths of Jamaica's capital Thursday, and officials warned people to stay indoors to avoid exposure to potentially dangerous pollutants.

Firefighters try to extinguish blaze at the Riverton landfill.
Jamaica's emergency management office said it would likely take three more days to bring the fire under control and five days after that before the foul-smelling smoke stopped billowing from the Riverton City solid waste dump.

Firefighters have struggled to extinguish the blaze at the seaside dump since it erupted Monday night. On Thursday, the waste management authority appealed for help to people with water trucks and heavy-duty equipment.

Officials in the control tower at Norman Manley International Airport on the outskirts of Kingston said no flights had been delayed or rerouted, but air traffic controllers and pilots struggled in the hazy conditions.

Shantytowns ring the open-air landfill, and government housing complexes and middle class neighborhoods have been built nearby. Smoke also hung over the southern city of Portmore, just west of Kingston and downwind from the dump.

The Jamaica Environment Trust said the health of all Kingston residents was being threatened by the gray smoke wafting from the dump, calling the fire an "environmental, human rights and public health catastrophe."

There has been virtually no control over what is unloaded at the site so fluorescent bulbs containing mercury, car batteries, tires and all manner of industrial, commercial and animal waste are burning there, the group said. - The Associated Press.