Monday, April 23, 2012

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Scientists and State Officials Warns the U.S. Congress - Sea-Level Rise Looms as a Major Threat for Coastal Cities & Infrastructure!

Sea-level rise driven by climate change threatens key components of the nation's energy infrastructure such as power plants and oil and gas operations, a panel of state officials and scientists warned Congress Thursday.

In New York City, 10 of 17 power plants sit in a floodplain that could become more saturated in the next half-century, city official Adam Freed told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In south Florida, a rise of 6 inches of seawater could cripple half of the area's flood-control capacity, said Florida Center for Environmental Studies director Leonard Berry. And in Louisiana, lawmakers are worried about Highway 1 -- a thin roadway vulnerable to inundation that links to some of the nation's richest oil and gas resources.  "The key problem is that rising seas raise the launchpad for coastal storm surges and tilt the odds towards disaster," said Ben Strauss, a scientist at Climate Central, at the committee hearing. "Just a few extra inches could mean the difference to flood a family's basement -- or New York City's subway system, disabling it for months."
Much of the hearing focused on previously released scientific studies on sea-level rise, a phenomenon where warming temperatures expand the ocean's volume through thermal expansion and the melting of ice sheets. Current projections indicate that the global sea average could rise from 0.2 meter to a high of 2 meters by the end of the century. But effects could be felt long before that -- Strauss said that levels could increase by 8 inches or more by 2050, on top of 8 inches of rise already occurring since 1880. He outlined research last month showing that what are now once-a-century flood events could become one-in-20-year events along the New Jersey shore and annual events in Los Angeles (ClimateWire, March 15). At more than half the 55 sites Strauss studied, storm surges on top of sea rise have "better than even chances" of rising 4 feet above the high tide line by 2030.

$500B in real estate at risk
"Yet nearly 5 million U.S. residents live in 2.6 million homes on land below this level. Multiplied by the national average sales price of existing homes in 2010, this stock comes to more than $500 billion of residential real estate," he said. The challenge for city and state planners is that the scientific projections are so wide, making it difficult to determine what roads need to be raised and which building codes altered in a municipality. In the meantime, there are a lot of things the federal government can do to help local officials, the panel said. Chief among those is ensuring funding for scientific research that illuminates how global models of sea-level rise could play out in a specific location. Federal agencies could provide LiDAR data -- which provide topographical details of the Earth's surface -- to give communities a better sense of which infrastructure is vulnerable, said Freed of New York.

Federal help needed
In another example, the U.S. Geological Survey is working with Broward County, Fla., officials to try and determine the degree that sea-level rise speeds up an underground creep of saltwater toward drinking water supplies. "The U.S. Geological Survey, in coordination with other local agencies, will need to establish a regionwide, formal saltwater intrusion monitoring network," said Berry of Florida Atlantic University.
Additionally, the federal government could help tremendously by changing how it finances certain programs and implements regulations, several panelists said. The most critical action the federal action could take is updating flood insurance rate maps from the Federal Agency Management Agency that have not been revised since 1983, Freed said. The maps inform city and state planning such as building codes. He urged Congress to restore funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Sustainable Communities Program -- which he said helped his city evaluate flood resilience strategies. The program was zeroed out for fiscal 2012, he said. "We cannot do this alone," he said. - AccuWeather.

EXTREME WEATHER: Las Vegas Hits Record High as Heat Wave Continues Unabated - Highest Temperatures Since the 1930s!

High temperatures will be flirting with the record books again today in Las Vegas, with the afternoon high soaring close to the 100-degree mark.

Las Vegas hit a high of 99 degrees at 3:37 p.m. Sunday, breaking the old record for that date of 98 degrees, set in 1939, according to the National Weather Service.  Today’s high is expected to be 98, which would tie the old high temperature record for today’s date set 18 years ago.  The strong ridge of high pressure bringing the hot weather will move east today, with a weak weather system crossing through the ridge, the weather service said. That weather system might bring isolated thunderstorms to the Spring Mountains and Sheep Range this afternoon, forecasters said.

Temperatures will cool a bit on Tuesday as the ridge moves farther east and a low pressure system approaches the coast, they said.  The low will bring much cooler air, clouds and a chance for showers Wednesday through Thursday, they said. Highs will reach 90 on Tuesday, 82 on Wednesday and 73 on Thursday, they said.  This morning’s low at McCarran was expected to be 71 degrees. The normal low for today's date is 58 degrees. The record low was 36 degrees, set in 1937.  Temperatures at McCarran were to rise today to 83 degrees by 9 a.m., to 92 degrees by noon and reach a high of 97 degrees by 3 p.m., forecasters said. The normal high for today's date is 81 degrees and the record high was 98 degrees, set in 1994.  Temperatures are expected to drop to 96 degrees by 6 p.m., to 89 degrees by 9 p.m. and to 78 degrees by midnight, forecasters said.  Tuesday's morning low will be 67 degrees and Tuesday's high will climb to 90 degrees, they said. - Las Vegas Sun.

PLANETARY TREMORS: The California Seismic Watch - Eight Small Tremors Rattle Santa Clara County and Nearby Quake Shakes Borrego Springs Area!

Eight tiny quakes shoot Santa Clara County over the last week, with the largest one hitting six miles from Morgan Hill and San Martin and 10 miles from Gilroy at 1:46 p.m., Tuesday.

Eight quakes shook Santa Clara County over the last week.
The South County area saw three additional quakes, but none came close to topping Tuesday's 2.2 tremor, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website. A tremor registering in at 1.2 on the Richter scale hit Gilroy Saturday morning, and another quake registering at 1.2 sent ripples through the Morgan Hill area at 10:29 p.m. the night before. On Sunday, April 15, a 1.0 temblor struck 10 miles north of Morgan Hill at 10:45 a.m. The closest quake to hit near Campbell, Los Gatos and Cupertino came from Los Altos, which had a whopping 1.7 tremor hit Thursday at 4:32 p.m. A 1.4 quake struck three miles south of Los Altos and four miles west of Cupertino that same day at 9:52 a.m. On Tuesday, two quakes registering in at 1.3 hit three miles from both Los Altos and Cupertino and occurred just a few hours apart. - Campbell Patch.
Meanwhile, a magnitude-3.5 earthquake was recorded Sunday about 6 miles north-northwest of Borrego Springs.
According to automated seismographs and computers operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was recorded at 9:18 a.m. The epicenter was about 35 miles south of Palm Springs and 56 miles northeast of San Diego, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was felt in Borrego Springs, according to the USGS website. - MyDesert.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rare Tornado Hits the Netherlands?!

A small tornado has been caught on video on the ground in the Netherlands.  The twister was stirring up dust over tilled land in southeastern Netherlands, near the Germany border, late last Friday, local time.

Although the video did not clearly show a funnel, it did reveal dark cloud bases, confirming that it was more than a mere "dust devil."  Weather observations from nearby Maastricht, seen by meteorologists at, indicated that a thunderstorm was in the area at the reported time of the tornado. 

Even so, temperature and dew point, key markers used in forecasting tornadoes, were relatively low, suggesting that the phenomenon was an example of a "cold air funnel."  Dutch-language text accompanying the video seemed to indicate that it showed a "confirmed" EF0-rated tornado.  Tornadoes are not unheard-of in western Europe. For instance, "weak" tornadoes are occasionally sighted in the United Kingdom. - AccuWeather.
WATCH: Small Tornado in the Netherlands.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Ecuador’s Tungurahua Volcano Explodes Violently - Loud "Cannon Ball Shot;" "High Energy" Pulsation;" Raining Down Gravel Onto Nearby Town!

Over the weekend, the Tungurahua’s volcanic eruption had a strong explosion that caused gravel to fall down in the nearby town of Pillate, Ecuador.

Tungurahua's recent eruption makes gravel fall on local town.
The explosion, characterized by its loud “cannon ball shot”, was immediately detected by locals and scientists observing the volcano’s progress. The explosion was later followed by a slight tremor and a constant pulsation of “high energy” said reports. The constant cloud coverage surrounding the volcano has caused scientists, from the Geophysical Institute branch of the National Polytechnic School to have trouble determining its current state.

Most of the direct observations are conducted in the Guadalupe Observatory, the closest in the vicinity. Tungurahua, located in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, is 5,016 meters high and its eruptions began in 1999. Since then, the volcano has transitioned from times of high activity and those of calm. However, Tungurahua is not the only volcano causing extreme damage and concern in the Hispanic world. Popocatépetl, located in Mexico City, has also been under close watch due to its recent activity which included ash blasts. - HST.

WILD & EXTREME WEATHER: Spring Nor'Easter Cuts Power to Over 75,000 - Hits Town With Over 10 Inches of Snow!

A powerful spring storm dumped snow across parts of the Northeast overnight -- including 10 inches in one town -- and cut power to more than 75,000 customers in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, with more snow expected during the day.

"Winter storm warnings are in effect from the higher elevations of West Virginia northward to western New York," the National Weather Service stated. Most of the snow was falling across upstate New York, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, where the weather service was predicting the heaviest snowfall "of over an inch per hour" would occur through midday Monday. In addition, flood watches were in effect in parts of eastern New York and northern Maine, the weather service stated. Strong winds accompanied the storm overnight, with LaGuardia Airport in New York City recording a 54 mph gust. Winds hit 40 mph in Boston and 44 in Groton, Conn. By early Monday morning, 10 inches of snow was reported in Newfield, in western New York near Ithaca, while 5 inches had fallen in Boswell, Pa., reported. "Snowfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches with localized amounts as high as 15 inches will be possible across areas from the higher terrain of West Virginia and western Maryland northward to the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in New York," the weather service stated. The heavy snow was weighing down trees, some of which snapped and cut power lines. Leaves on trees are "three to four weeks ahead of schedule because of the exceptionally warm winter and spring" prior to the storm, the Weather Channel's Eric Fisher reported for NBC's TODAY show. "That acts like a net to collect this heavy, wet snow."

Some 25,000 power outages were reported in New York state by noon. "Outage numbers are likely to continue climb as the storm is moving slowly," Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said in a statement. Pennsylvannia reported 50,000 outages. In western Pennsylvania, some schools were closed Monday morning, the Associated Press reported. noted that while Northeast snow in the past has "fallen well into the month of May in many locations from western New York to West Virginia, snowfall this heavy, so late in the season is rare." Buffalo, N.Y., for example, has seen 10 calendar days of an inch or more snow after April 22, according to records that date back to 1884. But it has seen only three calendar days after April 22 with at least four inches of snow. On Sunday, the storm moved in with heavy rain, prompting the Boston Red Sox to postpone a night game against the New York Yankees. In New York City, the scheduled arrival of the space shuttle Enterprise for museum display there was pushed back.
The precipitation should help ease what was a spreading drought in the Northeast. "We're down 7 or 8 inches," weather service forecaster Charlie Foley told the Associated Press. "This won't completely wipe out the deficit but it will certainly help." - MSNBC.
WATCH: Nor'easter creates massive power outage.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Iran Imposes Blockade on Unauthorized Ships in the Strait of Hormuz as Israel Army Chief Declare IDF Prepared For Iran Strike!

In the first such claim, Iran said it was imposing a blockade on unauthorized ships in the Strait of Hormuz.

A senior commander for Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said all ships, including those from the U.S. Navy, must undergo inspection before proceeding through the strait. “The alien vessels which enter the Persian Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz always provide the needed answers and information to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps units,” IRGC deputy navy commander Rear Adm. Alireza Tangsiri said. In a statement on April 18, Tangsiri said IRGC was already enforcing the blockade of Hormuz. The officer said the U.S. Navy was submitting information before its ships, including an aircraft carrier, enter Hormuz. “This vessel, similar to the other warships, answered all the questions asked by the IRGC Navy without any problem or making any particular move and then continued the path to its specified destination,” Tangsiri said. In mid-April, the U.S. Navy deployed a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf. The USS Enterprise, based in the Gulf Cooperation Council sheikdom of  Bahrain, joined the Abraham Lincoln in what the navy termed a routine deployment in the region. - World News Tribune.
Meanwhile, Israel's Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is ready to attack Tehran’s nuclear facilities if needed and that the military is constantly engaging in covert, high-risk operations beyond Israel’s borders.
Should Israel decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, the IDF will be prepared to carry out the mission, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz told Yedioth Ahronoth in remarks published Sunday. "In principle, we are ready to act," the army chief told the newspaper in a special interview ahead of Israel’s upcoming Independence Day. In respect to the Iranian threat, 2012 will be a critical year, Gantz said, adding that "the State of Israel believes that nuclear arms in Iran’s possession are a very bad thing, which the world should stop and Israel should stop."    "We are preparing our plan accordingly," he said.    Israel is the only country in the world facing open destruction threats by another state, which is also producing the means to do carry them out, the army chief said. However, he noted, this does not mean that he will be ordering the army’s Air Force chief to strike Iran "now."    When asked whether Israel faces an existential threat at this time, Gantz said: "The potential exists. At this time, in my estimate, this is not the case."

During the interview, Gantz also addressed special operations carried out by the IDF beyond Israel’s borders, revealing that the scope of such activities has increased significantly compared to the past.    "I don’t think you will find a point in time where something isn’t happening somewhere in the world," he said. "The level of risk has increased as well. This is not something invented by Benny Gantz. I’m not taking the credit here. I’m simply accelerating all those special operations."    Regarding the likelihood of a war breaking out this year, Gantz said: "Our intelligence assessment asserts that given the strategic reality and instability in the region, the chance of deteriorating to a war is higher than in the past. There are no indications of war, but the chances of the situation deteriorating into one are higher than in the past."    The army chief added that in case of a regional war, the IDF will be able to cope with the rocket threat from Lebanon and from the Gaza Strip. "I can’t promise no missiles will be landing here. They will be falling; many of them. It won’t be a simple war, neither on the frontlines nor ion the home front,” he said. “However, I don’t advice anyone to test us on this front."     "When (Hezbollah leader Hassan) Nasrallah comes out of his bunker, he’s concerned – and rightfully so. He saw what happened to Lebanon last time, and it won’t be close to what will happen to Lebanon next time," the army chief said. "I think they understand it well." - YNET News.

DELUGE: "Power Showers" - A Month's Worth of Rain to Fall in 72 Hours in the United Kingdom!

Forecasters said "power showers" hammered many parts over the weekend, with lightning and mid-air tornadoes - narrow funnel clouds stretching below thunderstorms - reported in Lincolnshire and East Anglia.  The Met Office forecast heavy rain today and torrential downpours and gales on Wednesday and Thursday.  There were warnings of localised flooding in the south and more than an inch of rain today, with close to an inch on Wednesday. Parts face two inches' rain, their usual total for the whole of April, in just 72 hours.

The Environment Agency will consider flood warnings, but said downpours have no impact on the drought. Experts say rain has been sucked up by thirsty plants, evaporated or run off rock-hard soil.  April, set to be the wettest since 2000, has already seen 55mm of rain - more than the 54mm average for the whole month.  Temperatures are several degrees below the 10-13C average in parts, peaking at only 8C in eastern England on Saturday, with yesterday a degree or two milder but tomorrow seeing 8C again. Scotland is colder in places.  Chilly nights are falling close to freezing in some regions, with Scotland due more snow over higher ground. Around 1,000 out-of-season skiers hit the slopes at the weekend at Glencoe and Cairngorm, staging slalom races.  Met Office figures show this month's central England temperature has averaged just 7.0C - with a miserable forecast putting the month on course for the coldest April since 1989's 6.6C.  This month is on track to be one of the coldest Aprils since records began in 1659 - colder than four out of five Aprils since then. It is 4C colder than April 2011, the hottest ever at 11.8C, and 0.4C colder than average. Central England covers the area between London, Manchester and Bristol.  The Met Office warned most parts will not see above-average temperatures during the next two weeks, with mid-May cooler than average for most. Independent forecasters WeatherAction predict the coldest May in a century. 

Netweather forecaster Paul Michaelwhite said: "April is living up to its reputation - with 'power showers' meaning anyone leaving home has needed waterproofs.  "Monday will see more persistent rain, with more showers or longer spells of rain throughout the week."  Netweather forecaster Nick Finnis said: "Weekend thunderstorms saw hail up to marble-size, lightning, torrential downpours and funnel clouds, with even weak tornadoes possible."  Weather Channel forecaster Leon Brown said: "Monday will be very wet, with as much as 30mm of rain - more than half the monthly average - from Devon to West Sussex, with a localised flood risk.  "Another band of heavy rain on Wednesday will see another 10-20mm fall, with the risk of further localised flooding in southern England."  The Met Office said: "Sunday saw heavier showers with longer outbreaks of rain and a risk of hail and thunder.  "The next week will continue unsettled with showers and longer periods of rain affecting most places. It will become windy on Wednesday, with persistent rain across many areas on Wednesday and Thursday, particularly the south."  Environment Agency head of water resources Trevor Bishop said: "It will take more than two weeks' rain to undo effects of two years' below-average rainfall.  "Soil is dry so most rain is soaked up used up by plants, evaporates or runs off, causing flash floods. Rain won't soak down to top up groundwater, which is what we really need." - Telegraph.

WORLD WAR III: The Syrian Passage to Iran and the Countdown to Armageddon - China Steps Back From Supporting Assad, Parts Ways With Russia!

Beijing has decided to distance itself from the Assad regime of Syria. Notice of this policy shift came about in a secret exchange of messages with the Obama administration, revealed here exclusively by debkafile’s Washington sources. The latest message received in the latter half of last week said: China will no longer be a problem for America in dealing with Assad. That leaves only Russia.

This change of face surfaced at the UN Security Council on Saturday, April 21, when after voting for another 300 observers for Syria, the Chinese delegate Li Baodong made an unusual speech: “We also call upon the international community to continue its firm support for Mr. Annan’s good offices’ efforts and consolidate the results achieved, and we strongly oppose any word and act aimed at creating difficulties for Mr. Annan’s good offices.” Li went on to say: “China always maintained that the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the choice and the will of the Syrian people should be respected.” Western sources stress that, with this speech, the Chinese ambassador stepped aside from Russia’s uncompromising backing for the Syrian ruler. Moscow remained the only world power acting to limit the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s powers and the effectiveness of the UN monitors by denying them proper equipment and authority for overseeing an end to the violence in Syria. The shift in Chinese policy was noted by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on April 10 when, after visiting Beijing, he remarked: “China is not in the same position as it was before. It is shifting away from full support for Assad’s regime.”

file’s Washington sources believe that the Obama administration can count this change of face as a return on its policy of nuclear appeasement of - and rapprochement with - Tehran. A senior US official said that what concerns Beijing most is the US oil embargo on Iran and its effect on the Chinese economy. Now that the Chinese see signs of a possible loosening up of sanctions especially in relation to Iranian oil exports in the wake of evolving US-Iranian deals, they are breathing a deep sigh of relief and prepared to be more accommodating to the US in its policy on Syria. The approaching easing of sanctions against Iranian oil was signaled Saturday, April 21, by an announcement in Tehran that new purchasing contracts for the whole of 2012 had come in from the Asian refineries which were in trade relations with Iran. Beijing is reported by our sources as having turned down an appeal from the Assad regime to purchase tens of billons of dollars worth of Syrian government bonds to tide it over its economic distress for the duration of the war. Last week, Assad was revealed to be so cash-strapped as to start dipping into the national gold reserves held in the Syrian state bank and selling the precious metal on financial markets in Dubai. China’s defection will not immediately bring Bashar Assad crashing down, but it is a vote of no-confidence by a key world power in his survivability. It leaves Tehran and Moscow as the only props of his regime and may well inspire second thoughts in either or both of his champions. - DEBKA.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursor - Freak American Red Admiral Butterfly Migration to Canada; the Biggest in History?!

Dandelion patches in Ottawa and across Eastern Canada have been playing host to hundreds of thousands of butterflies in recent days due to an unusually large spring migration.

Many of the butterflies are red admirals, which look like smaller versions of monarch butterflies. Laura Drover was walking along the Rideau Canal Thursday, where hundreds of the butterflies were looking for dandelions.  "They're all over the dandelions, they're flittering all around, it's absolutely remarkable," Drover said. "(I don't usually see) this many at this time of the year in Ottawa.  "It's wonderful," she said. "It gives you something to chat about and to really enjoy the leisurely walk and see nature at its best all around you." 

High temperatures in northern U.S. states combined with powerful winds are thought to have contributed to this spring's mass migration, said Edward Bruggink, Carleton University's greenhouse manager.  "It's a bit of a shock," Bruggink said. "Everything's out of whack. Things are not the way they should be at the moment.  I hear next week it's going to be very cold, so it could be detrimental to the butterflies," Bruggink added. - CBC.
WATCH: Freak butterfly migration hits Ottawa.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Bat-Killing Disease Continues Deadly Spread in America - Over 6.7 Million Deaths; Could Lead to the Extinction of Some Species!

More than six million bats are dead, and millions more are expected to fall victim to a disease known as White-nose Syndrome, or WNS. First identified in the northeastern United States, WNS has wiped out an estimated 95% of Pennsylvania’s bat population and is quickly spreading across the country. It was most recently discovered in Missouri, Delaware and Alabama.

This photo from October 2008, provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation,
shows a brown bat with white nose fungus in New York.
“This is like bringing small pox to the New World. It is surely an unprecedented wildlife disaster for North America,” said Bucknell University professor Dr. DeeAnn Reeder. Reeder is one of the country’s leading experts on WNS, and one of the researchers responsible for identifying the cause of the disease in 2011. “We can’t stop this thing. It’s marching across the country and we’re going to see some extinction.” Reeder has been studying the disease since shortly after it was discovered in a New York cave in 2006.

Since then it was been detected in at least 17 other states. Few bats exposed to the fungus that causes WNS survive. “I was recently in a mine where I should’ve seen 10,000 or so bats. There were 150,” Reeder recalled. “We don’t know if the survivors have some immunity, or are lucky. If they’re just lucky, we’re in trouble.” While Reeder and other scientists are turning their attention to surviving bats, and the clues they may provide in slowing the spread of WNS, the impact of the devastation to the country’s bat population could be severe. Reeder says for every one million bats that die, 692 tons of insects that would have been eaten by the bats, survive the summer months. That includes mosquitoes and agricultural pests. Recent studies show bats provide billions of dollars worth of agricultural and pest-killing services. - PR Web.
WATCH: Mass bat die-off in America.

DELUGE: Heavy Rains and Widespread Flooding Kills 33 People in Afghanistan!

At least 33 more people were killed and dozens of houses and large areas of standing crops destroyed as flash floods and heavy rains continued to play havoc in Balkh, Baghlan and Faryab provinces, officials said Sunday.

In Sholgara district, nine people were killed while in Kishindeh district six persons, including two minors and as many women, lost their lives due to floods and heavy showers over the past 24 hours, the Balkh provincial assembly speaker, Dr Muhammad Afzal Hadeed, told media. Floodwaters also damaged hundreds of houses and large areas of standing crops, he added. Meanwhile, the in-charge of the Balkh provincial natural disasters management authority, Rehmatullah Zahid, told the Afghan Islamic Press they had dispatched four teams to the districts. He urged the government to extend assistance to the affected people forthwith. In Ali Chaman area in Mazar-i-Sharif, flash floods and torrential rains damaged several houses.

However, there was no report of casualties so far. In Dehna Ghori, Borka and Nahrain districts in Baglhan province, 17 people including women and children were killed and houses and roads damaged due to floodwaters, the Baghlan police spokesman, Ahmad Javed Basharat, told AIP. In Faryab's capital Maimana and other five districts of the province, floodwaters caused heavy losses to people, the Faryab Governor's spokesman, Javed Baidar, said. However, an official told media that body of a person drowned in floodwaters was retrieved in Garezwan district in Faryab province. In Imam Sahib district in Kunduz province, floods and heavy rains forced over 1500 families in seven villages to leave their houses for safer areas. Officials told the Afghan Islamic Press the displaced people were facing tough conditions and are in dire need of urgent assistance. In Nangarhar province, floodwaters damaged roads and houses and swept away standing crops. - The Frontier Post.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - South Korea Unveil Missiles Capable of Striking Target in North Korea, as the North Threatens to Reduce the South's Government to "Ashes"!

The South Korean military on Thursday unveiled two indigenous strategic missiles in a show of force against North Korea, which has increased its military threats through its ongoing pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

In a 40-second video clip, it showed the successful flight and intercepting performance of a cruise missile and a ballistic missile, but did not elaborate on their names and technical specifications, citing security policies.  The video presentation came after the communist state’s botched rocket launch last Friday and its display of a new intercontinental ballistic missile last Sunday during a ceremony marking the centennial of the birth of its national founder Kim Il-sung.  “Now, our military has indigenously developed and deployed a cruise missile with the world’s top precision and striking capabilities that is capable of hitting all areas of North Korea in promptly,” Major Gen. Shin Won-sik, the Defense Ministry’s policy planning director general, said during a press conference.  “With the missile capabilities, our military will maintain the robust preparedness and sternly retaliate should the North launch another reckless provocation.” The military has completed all filed tests of the two missiles successfully, Shin stressed.  “We unveiled the clip and revealed the fact that we have deployed them because we want to show our strong resolve not to be swayed by North Korea’s missile threats and other provocative schemes,” he said.  Highlighting its precision attack capability, Shin explained that the cruise missile can hit a window hundreds of kilometers away, and that it can cover all areas in the North with the capability to “hit the right target at the right time with the desired level of lethality.” 

South Korea’s military is said to have deployed two Hyunmoo-series cruise missiles ― Hyunmoo-3A with a range of 500 kilometers and Hyunmoo-3B with a range of 1,000 km. It has also been developing Hyunmoo-3C missile with a range of some 1,500 km.  Observers say that the cruise missile appears to have a range of more than 1,000 km to bring all core targets in the North in striking range.  The video clip also showed that the ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers accurately hit a ground target. Shin explained that it is capable of devastating an area tens of times larger than a soccer field.  “The ballistic missile is fired from a mobile vehicle. It is stronger than the U.S.-made ATACMS guided missiles” he said.  The ATACMS missile with a range of 300 kilometers is capable of destroying an area about four times larger than a soccer field.  President Lee Myung-bak also watched the clip as he visited the state-run Agency for Defense Development for policy briefing earlier in the day. Observers said that his visit to the agency sends a warning message to the North, which has hinted in recent weeks at the possibility of a third nuclear test.  “Korea is the only divided country in the world and faces the most bellicose force. Whatever North Korea says, our people believe that we surpass them in various aspects,” Lee told ADD officials.  “When we have strength, we can deter the enemy’s provocations. Then, (North Korea) can not behave thoughtlessly (towards the South).”  The North has continuously hardened its bellicose rhetoric. Its military’s supreme command issued a statement on Wednesday, threatening to “blow away everything in Seoul.” - Korea Herald.
North Korea's military has threatened to reduce South Korea’s conservative government "to ashes" in "three of four minutes" – an escalation of its recent belligerent language. 
It vowed Monday to launch unspecified "special actions" of "unprecedented peculiar means," an unusually specific warning.  North Korea regularly criticizes Seoul and just last week renewed its promise to wage a "sacred war," saying South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had insulted the North's April 15 celebrations of the birth centennial of national founder Kim Il Sung. Its latest threat follows U.N. condemnation of North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that exploded shortly after liftoff April 13. Washington, Seoul and others called the launch a cover for testing long-range missile technology. Pyongyang said the launch was meant to put a satellite into orbit. The North's special actions "will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, (or) in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style," according to the statement by the special operation action group of the Korean People's Army's Supreme Command. - MSNBC.

DELUGE: Epidemiological Alert in Flooded Chaco, Paraguay - Major Crisis Developing; 6 Killed; Thousands Affected!

The Paraguayan Ministry of Health issued an epidemiological alert for the department of Chaco, which faces floods due to the heavy rains over the past few weeks, and deviation, by farmers, of the waters of local rivers.

The Ministry said the measure aims to prevent the transmission of diseases as a result of the crisis, ensure health assistance and prevent epidemics from the displacement of people, wildlife and even vectors.  Ivan Allente, from the Directorate for Health Surveillance, recalled that at present, the country has reported an increase in dengue cases with thousands of patients registered and treated to prevent the situation from worsening, especifically in El Chaco.  At the same time, there is concern about the appearance of gastrointestinal diseases and the proven existence of cholera cases there, amid the isolation maintained by the waters in many peasant and indigenous villages.  At the same time, authorities continue evacuating residents from the affected areas and providing food and medicine, some of which arrived from neighboring Argentina, which expressed its solidarity with the flood-hit people.  Meanwhile, the government warned of the impending expiration of 48 hours given to breeders and owners of large ranches that illegally built dams and dikes to divert the waters of the Pilcomayo River and to meet the needs from their properties. - Prensa Latina.
Continuing heavy rainfall across the whole country this week has worsened the already critical flooding in the Chaco region of Western Paraguay.  After relentless downpours on Friday and Saturday, the small town of Fortín General Diaz registered 70 millimetres of rain. The town is the area most affected by the floods and as a result, it can only be accessed by air.  Residents were evacuated before the latest storms, which left their small town completely submerged in water.  Other casualties of the recent downpours include indigenous communities in the President Hayes region of the Chaco, who have become victims of flooding.  Meanwhile, the Secretaria de Emergencia Nacional (Department of National Emergencies- SEN) continues to work hard to deliver emergency aid and rescue victims using helicopters. They have set up a base camp in the office of Radio Pa’i Puku in President Hayes  from which they are organising the rescue operation.  Head of SEN, Gladys Cardozo announced on Saturday that the organisation had successfully managed to deliver supplies to all of affected areas. She went on to say that they were waiting for the downfall to stop in order to continue with their rescue mission, adding that ‘nothing can be done when it’s like this.’  As the situation continued to intensify, reported that the floods had claimed their 6th victim: a one-year-old baby. The news came as ABC reported the birth of a child in the rescue camp of General Diaz on Sunday morning. A doctor was transported to the scene by the Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya (Paraguayan Air Force). - Pulse America.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sea Level Near Jeju Island Rises Sharply - Nearly 4 Times Higher Than the Global Average?!

The sea level near Jeju Island has risen at a pace faster than the global average, data showed on Thursday.

The Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration said the mean sea level surrounding the southern resort island has gone up by 5.97 millimeters on average per year, far higher than the world average of 1.8 millimeters. The agency began to collect the sea level data involving the island in 1978. The broader sea level for South Korea increased by 2.48 millimeters per year, also higher than the world average.

The agency said the bigger change is due to the change in temperature, which affected the routes and shapes of sea currents circling around the island. High sea levels are expected to bring in ecological and environmental transformations such as flash floods and shifting of wetlands. The state-run institute said it will designate Jeju Island and its surrounding region as a special monitoring zone to conduct tighter observations and detailed research and in the long term. - Korea Herald.