Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PLANETARY TREMORS: Los Angeles Area Jolted by Magnitude 4.1 Earthquake!

A small earthquake has given a jolt to the Southern California coast but there are no reports of damages or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey says in a preliminary report that the magnitude-4.1 quake struck in the Channel Islands region at 10:14 p.m. Tuesday.
The USGS says the earthquake was centered 30 miles southwest of Malibu, about 35 miles southeast of Oxnard and about 50 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.
Sheriff's and fire officials say there have been no calls about damages or injuries from the quake. Brandon David Wilson, a school teacher who lives in the Culver City area, said on his Twitter account that he felt the earthquake, but it was "just a sharp jolt. No big whoop."  - FOX News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Mount Soputan Volcano Status Raised to Standby - Increasing Levels of Volcanic Activity!

The Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) has raised the alert status of Mt. Soputan in Minahasa and Southeast Minahasa regencies in North Sulawesi to level 3 -- meaning "standby" -- from the previous level 2 (alert), following increasing levels of volcanic activity.

"Based on our observations, as of 3 p.m. on Monday, Mt. Soputan's alert status was raised to level 3," center head Surono said on Monday evening.  According to Surono, increasing activity had been detected since May 25, when the volcano spew out white smoke to heights of between 50 meters and 75 meters above the mountain's peak.  The center has recorded dozens of different types of activity since then.

The center's highest alert status for volcanoes is level 4 (on guard).  Surono has called on local residents to stay beyond a radius of six kilometers from the volcano's summit.  The center has also warned residents of the threat of a cold lava flood, urging people living near Ranowangko, Pentu, Lawian and Popang rivers to remain alert and aware.  The volcano's last eruption occurred on July 3, 2011. It erupted 10 hours after its status was raised to alert, forcing local officials to close Sam Ratulangi Airport for a day. - Asia One News.

RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Mysterious Booms and Violent Shaking Frightens Residents in West Michigan?!

People are buzzing over what could have possibly caused a loud boom and violent shaking last night and this morning throughout West Michigan

The reports came in from people in Calhoun, Branch and Kalamazoo Counties.  People from all over say they felt and heard it, but Newschannel Three has only heard of one case of actual damage happening during the same time.  John Nieuwenhuis, who lives in Oshtemo, says that he felt and heard the explosion, which shook his entire house.  "Where the two trees are parallel and something completely scrapped both trees off at the same height and laid them to the west," said Nieuwenhuis. 

Nieuwenhuis called the fire department but after extensively searching, they couldn't find the source of an explosion.    "I've never seen anything like this, we cut down trees, we log trees and what could have taken this down I have no idea," said Nieuwenhuis.  Newschannel Three tried to search into what might have caused the explosions but, it was a clear night and there was no earthquake activity reported anywhere in the Midwest.  Air Traffic Control in Kalamazoo says no planes were in the area that might have broken the sound barrier. - WWMT.
WATCH: Mysterious booms in West Michigan.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Israel Throws the "Flame," the Most Sophisticated and Unprecedented Spyware Virus, at Iran!

An unprecedented cyber espionage worm considered the most sophisticated spyware virus yet may have been unleashed by Israel to hit Iran and other West Asian countries, with the possible aim of crippling Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Security experts discovered the new data-stealing virus dubbed 'Flame' which they say has lurked inside thousands of computers across West Asia for as long as five years.  Russia-based internet security company Kaspersky Lab that uncovered the virus said it has attacked computers in Iran and elsewhere in the region and may have been designed to collect and delete sensitive information. Israeli Vice-PM Moshe Ya'alon's comments justifying such a measure triggered speculations that Flame may have originated from his country.  'Anyone who sees the Iranian threat as significant… it's reasonable (to assume) he'll take various steps, including these, to harm it,' Ya'alon told the army radio in an interview on Tuesday. 

In Tehran, Iranian authorities admitted the malicious software dubbed Flame has attacked its systems and instructed to run an urgent inspection of all cyber systems in the country.  Iran's MAHER Centre, which is part of the Islamic Republic's communication ministry, said the virus has caused substantial damage and that massive amounts of data have been lost, Ynetnews reported.  But Iran's telecommunications ministry also claimed it had developed software to clean this malware. Kaspersky, one of the world's biggest producers of anti-virus softwares, said the bug had infected computers in Iran, West Bank, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  Flame is actively being used as a cyber weapon attacking entities in several countries, Kaspersky said in a statement, describing its purpose as cyber espionage.  The complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious programme exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date, the statement said.

DECODING THE VIRUS:   The virus contains about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which attacked an Iranian uranium enrichment facility, causing centrifuges to fail  It has about 100 times as much code as a typical virus designed to steal financial information, Kaspersky Labs said  Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats  There is evidence to suggest the code was commissioned by the same nation/nations that were behind Stuxnet and Duqu, which were built on a common platform. - Daily Mail.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: American Trypanosomiasis - The Chagas Disease, Stubborn Infection, Spread by Insects, is Called "The New AIDS of the Americas"; Impossible to Cure!

Chagas disease, caused by parasites transmitted to humans by blood-sucking insects, has been named “the new AIDS of the Americas” in a lengthy editorial published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The authors, several of whom are tropical disease experts from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, argue that the dangerous spread of Chagas through this hemisphere somewhat resembles the early spread of H.I.V. Chagas is also known as American trypanosomiasis, because the bugs carry single-celled parasites called trypanosomes. (Their best-known relative, spread by tsetse flies in Africa, causes sleeping sickness.) Like AIDS, the authors say, Chagas disease has a long incubation time and is hard or impossible to cure.
Chagas infects up to eight million people in the hemisphere, mostly in Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia and Central America. But more than 300,000 of the infected live in the United States, many of them immigrants. The disease can be transmitted from mother to child or by blood transfusion. About a quarter of its victims eventually will develop enlarged hearts or intestines, which can fail or burst, causing sudden death. Treatment involves harsh drugs taken for up to three months and works only if the disease is caught early. The drugs are not as expensive as AIDS drugs, but there are shortages in poor countries. Because it is a disease of the poor, little money is spent on finding new treatments. “Both diseases are highly stigmatizing,” the editorial noted. Immigrants may not get medical treatment, making Chagas more likely to spread. - NY Times.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Chain of Seismic Events and Powerful Outburst - Russia's Shiveluch Volcano Belches Column of Ash 7,000 Meters Into the Sky!

The Shiveluch volcano in Russia's Far East spewed ash high into the sky on Tuesday following a series of tremors, local media reported.

New ejections of volcanic ash to an elevation of up to 7,000 meters above sea level have been registered over the crater of Kamchatka’s Sheveluch volcano, the Kamchatkan affiliation of the Geophysical Service of the  Russian Academy of Sciences said.  Gauges detected a chain of seismic events at the volcano and they were accompanied by a powerful belching-out of ash to the elevations varying from 4.3 kilometers to 7.3 kilometers.  For the greater part of the period, over which the ejections continued, the summit of the volcano was enveloped by thick clouds but residents of the town of Klyuchi, the closest population center located some 50 kilometers away from the Shiveluch’s piedmont, could see a huge column of dust rise into the sky. 

There have been no reports on any ashfall in the townships located in the Shiveluch area and the situation does not pose any danger for local residents, seismic surveyors say.  The Geophysical Service has sent out reports on the situation to the services supporting domestic and international flights on the risks that volcanic ash may pose for aircraft engines.  The Shiveluch is the northernmost active volcano in Kamchatka. It is located some 450 to the northeast of the regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and erupts in a blast-like manner.  The surges of the Shiveluch’s activity that occurred in 1864 and 1864 were classified by scientists as disasters.  The highest point of the volcano’s active zone, also known as the Young Sheveluch, is located at 2,500 meters above sea level, and the crater has a diameter of 1.5 kilomters.  Young Shiveluch went active in September 1980 and researchers keep it under permanent watch.
- ITAR-TASS News Agency.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: The Euro Zone Crisis - Greece to Leave Euro Zone on June 18?!

Greece will leave the euro zone on June 18 if the populist government wins the country’s elections on the 17 as the rest of the euro zone rounds on "cheaters," Nick Dewhirst, director at wealth management firm Integral Asset Management, told CNBC.com Monday.

“The euro zone is a club but you get cheaters who get away with it until everyone finds out and at that point you need to remove them otherwise everyone will cheat. It’s better for Greece to leave,” Dewhirst said.  He added that Greek society was built on cheating and scheming, saying “everyone does it” but that voters elsewhere in the euro zone were now calling Greece to account.  “The basic question is that a German has to increase working from 65 to 67 and that is to pay for Greeks retiring at 50. The 17th of June is the perfect opportunity to say either 'we’ll behave' or 'we’ll carry on cheating,'" he said.  Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sparked criticism in Greece after saying that Greeks needed to start paying their taxes, with Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos accusing her of "insulting the Greek people." Greece was forced to call for a new round of elections, which will take place on June 17 after the country failed to pick a decisive winner in elections earlier this month. Far left parties against the country’s bailout agreement received strong support from the electorate disheartened by harsh austerity measures in a country now in its fifth year of recession. However, polls at the weekend showed support for the pro euro bailout parties increasing enough to form a coalition.  Dewhirst said that there had been a significant amount of "scaremongering" from the euro elite about the ramifications of a "Grexit" but that it would be feasible and even orderly. 

“It’s a bit like Y2K, [also known as the Millennium bug, the much- hyped problems that would affect computers globally as the year changed to 2000] there would be a lot less to it then everyone thinks. "The Greek banking system would close for a week and there’ll be a new currency. Not the drachma but ideally it would be two Geuros (the name given to a possible Greek parallel currency) to one euro so they devalue and fix to the euro,” Dewhirst said.  He added that this would transform Greece and the rest of the euro zone for the better.  “Greeks would no longer be able to afford German cars and Germans would be able to buy Greek villas and the young unemployed in Greece would have jobs as tourism booms. The best thing would be that they [Greeks] could blame the foreigners,” Dewhirst said.  He said suggestions of a bank run and contagion have been overplayed by some quarters.  “Yes, the banks would run dry but it can be done, there is a lot more money electronically than there is cash. In Argentina they closed everyone’s bank account and then they were reopened using Pesos. The club would rally round the rest so the weaker members - Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal -would receive a massive support mechanism. The Germans would provide support to the rest of the euro but not to the Greeks,” he said.  Kit Juckes, global head of foreign exchange at Societe Generale, told CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” that the best outcome was “the status quo.” “A Greek economy in depression, austerity that guarantees they’ll stay in depression and living on life support from the rest of Europe is the best,” he said
. - CNBC.
WATCH: Wealth Manager - Greece to Leave Euro Zone on June 18.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: High Hydrothermal Pressure - Minor Earthquake Swarm at Iceland's Katla Volcano!

Here's the latest update on the Katla volcano in Iceland, from Jón Frímann Jónsson.

Today (28.05.2012) at 11:22 UTC an small earthquake swarm did start in Katla volcano. This earthquake swarm did end at 12:28 UTC. This is small earthquake swarm, both in numbers of earthquakes and in the magnitude of the earthquakes in the swarm. With the largest earthquake having the magnitude of ML1.4. The depth of this earthquake swarm was around 0.1 km, but that gives the depth around 100 meters or so. Following this earthquake there has been some minor disturbance at Álftagróf SIL station. But because it only appears on one SIL station. This change might have its origin in something else. Like human traffic, local wind etc. For the moment I cannot rule that out.
The change in tremor at Álftagróf SIL station. This change in tremor might not be because of Katla volcano. But something else. Please keep that in mind. If the tremor changes at Álftagróf SIL station where from Katla volcano. They where highly local and did not show up on other SIL stations for some unknown reason. That has happened before, but the SIL network was not as dense around Katla volcano back then. I find it most likely reason for this earthquake swarm where some changes in hydrothermal areas inside Katla volcano caldera. All hydrothermal areas in Katla volcano are under high pressure due to the glacier that is on top of them. So changes might not happen without some earthquake activity as did happen few hours ago. This is also not in any way a sign that Katla volcano might be about to erupt. This is far too low earthquake activity for such event to be starting. There is an chance of small glacier flood following this earthquake swarm in next 8 to 24 hours. But it is far from certain that is going to happen. - Iceland Earthquake and Volcano Blog.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Extreme Weather - New Mexico Fire Close to Becoming the Largest Ever in State History!

"Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire." - Isaiah 29:6

Two lightning-sparked blazes that merged in a mountainous southwestern New Mexico forest are close to becoming the largest wildfire in state history, fire officials said Tuesday. 

This photo provided by InciWeb Incident Information System shows the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in Mogollon,
N.M., a privately owned ghost town which was ordered to evacuate. Fire officials in New Mexico said Saturday, May 26,
2012, that the blaze has shrunk slightly to 82,000 acres but is still 0 percent contained because of weather conditions.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/29/2822280/nm-fire-close-to-becoming-largest.html#storylink=cpy
The U.S. Forest Service said the erratic blaze in Gila National Forest had grown to about 152,000 acres by Tuesday - just 5,000 acres from breaking the state record. It is about 15 miles east of Glenwood, N.M., a small town with a few hundred residents.  More than 1,100 firefighters and nine helicopters from around the state were fighting the blaze. But officials said extremely low humidity will keep making efforts against the fire difficult.  The two lightning-sparked fires merged last week to form the giant blaze, which has destroyed 12 cabins and seven small outbuildings. One fire was first spotted May 9 and the second blaze was sparked May 16, but nearly all of the growth has come in recent days due to relentless winds. 

Those winds forced crews to the sidelines last week as the fire rapidly spread in an isolated area and charred several homes in the community of Willow Creek, which remains under evacuation. Smoke has spread across New Mexico and parts of Arizona, putting cities as far away as Albuquerque under health alerts.  Officials said areas around some of New Mexico's largest cities, including Albuquerque and as far southeast as Roswell, will see smoke by late Tuesday.  A fire last year that burned about 244 square miles was the state's largest. That blaze threatened property around Las Alamos National Laboratory, the nation's premier nuclear facility.  Dry and hot conditions in the Southwest have also fueled wildfires in other states, including Colorado. Hundreds of firefighters were at an 8-square-mile fire in western Colorado near that state's border with Utah, and a separate 4-square-mile blaze about 200 miles southwest of Denver.  - Miami Herald.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Tracking the Kilauea Volcano - Coastal Flows Pause, Pressure Retreats to Rift Zone!

After a week-long deflation on Kīlauea, lava flows which had reached within 0.5mi/750m of the ocean finally felt the pressure relief and came to a pause.

Sunset light on the lava flows on May 6, 2012.
At the time of this writing there is still low pressure on the volcano, and the longer this continues the more likely that the plumbing system will be disrupted and that lava will re-emerge in a new location -- whether on a new point up the lava tube, or even all the way back to Pu`u `O`o crater on the east rift zone.

Magma continues to come into the volcano, as evidenced by continued extension, and without an outlet, sooner or later something will have to give! While there is no red lava visible on the coast today, there is still bright glow from the newest summit vent in the National Park. This is a crucial period of change for the volcano, and we all await what will happen next! - Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Disturbance Continues in Italy - Powerful 5.8 and 5.6 Earthquakes Strikes the Northern Region; at Least 10 Dead and Many Buildings Destroyed! UPDATE: Massive Aftershocks Shake Italy - Death Toll Rises to 15!

A 5.8 and a 5.6 magnitude earthquakes have struck northern Italy with local media reporting ten dead. The depth of the 5.8 earthquake was 9.6 kilometres or 6.0 miles. It comes a week after a 6.0 magnitude tremor hit the same region, killing seven and destroying hundreds of buildings.

The 5.8 quake hit 51 kilometres northeast of the city of Parma at a depth of 9.6 kilometres in the province of Ferrara at 09:03 GMT. The latest reports indicate that at least ten people have died when buildings collapsed in the municipality of Modena, according to Italian media reports. Some train services have been suspended and phone lines are down in areas of the north.

Two hours later, the area was again rattled by two 4.7 magnitude tremors. Two hours from that, a stronger 5.6 rattled the region, at 49 kilometres northwest of Bologna and 52 kilometres east of Parma. The depth was 9.9 kilometres or 6.2 miles.

Hit again: It is the second earthquake to strike northern Italy in little over a week.
This clock tower at Finale Emilia was torn apart in the tremor on May 20.
Twitter reports say the quakes were felt throughout the north and buildings and schools have been evacuated. The mayor of San Felice sul Panaro, a town 40 kilometers northwest of Bologna, told Sky News Italy that “people were trapped under the rubble” there. A 6.0-magnitude quake hit the region on May 20, killing seven people and causing havoc. The tremor brought downs many historic buildings across the North of the country and was followed by several powerful aftershocks. Italy experiences frequent seismic activity on a small scale, although large tremors are comparatively rare. 

WATCH: Powerful quake rattles northern Italy.

UPDATE: Massive aftershocks shake Italy - Death toll rises to 15.
Several powerful aftershocks have struck Modena in northern Italy, just hours after a 5.8-magnitude devastating quake killed 15 people in the region. Many buildings already damaged in the previous quake have collapsed.  The new tremors, the strongest ones of 5.6 and 5.1 magnitude, have been felt throughout northern Italy in Brescia, Milan and Modena, and even as far afield as central Austria.  The first 5.8 quake struck the province of Ferrara at 09:03 GMT around 50 kilometers north-east of the city of Parma.  The region is still recovering from a powerful 6.0 quake that shook Italy on May 20, killing seven. The tremor was followed by numerous massive aftershocks as strong as 5.1 magnitude.  Last week, the authorities declared 60 days of state of emergency throughout the regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. - RT.
WATCH: Collapsing building caught on tape.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Orange Alert - Eruption Alert Increased For Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz Volcano; Nearby Airports Have Been Closed!

Colombian volcanologists indicated that the likelihood of an eruption at the Nevado del Ruiz volcano has increased, after an earthquake Tuesday morning in cental Colombia, reported local media. 

Local authorities have raised the alert level from yellow to orange following a report issued by the Manizales Volcanological and Seismological Observatory. An orange alert does not mean an eruption is imminent.  Web cameras in the area “show the emission of ash,” which “has been felt in the area surrounding the volcano,” according to Seismologic and Volcanic Observation director Gloria Patricia Cortes, who also noted the impact on city of Manizales and municipality of Villamaria.  Cortes said that relief agencies in the area are prepped for immediate action, in case of emergency. “The recommendation now is to use masks in the city of Manizales because of the persistent rain of ashes,” said Cortes, who also said that she did not expect a lava flow but did not rule out that the emission of ash could continue for some time.  According to officials, small amounts of ash could be dispersed from the volcano to remote areas depending on wind direction and strength. The volcano has been fluctuating at high activity levels for the past several months and was lowered to alert level yellow earlier this month.  The last eruption of the volcano in 1985 killed an estimated 25,000 people and destroyed the town of Armero. - Colombia Reports.
Colombia warned Tuesday of a possible eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano after it began rumbling and spewing gas, sending ashes onto cities and towns in the nearby coffee-growing region.  The government's geology and mining oversight institute Ingeominas said in a statement it raised the warning level to orange from yellow, which means an eruption is possible in days or weeks. The increased seismic activity began at around 3 a.m. local time (4 a.m. EDT).  Civil aviation authority Aerocivil said operations have been suspended at the Manizales, Armenia, Cartago and Pereira airports, all in Colombia's central-western coffee-growing region, due to visibility problems and concerns over aircraft engines getting clogged.  This is the second time this year the warning level has been set at orange. It was raised to orange March 31, but brought back to yellow several days later as seismic activity declined.  The 17,800-foot volcano, located west of Bogota, hasn't erupted since the 1980s.  An official at the Volcanology Observatory in Manizales, 16 miles northwest of the crater, said the city's 360,000 residents have been able to see ash falling on the city since before dawn.  In 1985, an eruption caused hot volcanic flows to melt the ice- and snow-covered summit area. This unleashed a cascade of debris down the volcano's eastern slope, which wiped the town of Armero off the map, killing 25,000 people. Another 2,000 people were killed in nearby areas. - Wall Street Journal.

THE SYRIAN CRISIS: Prelude to a Military Invasion - Western Powers Expel Syrian Diplomats Over Houla Massacre!

The US, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and France are expelling Syrian ambassadors due to outrage over the massacre of 49 children in Houla following similar moves by the UK, Australia and Canada.

People gather at a mass burial for the victims of the Houla massacre.
Foreign secretary William Hague earlier formally announced the expulsion of the Syrian charge d'affaires - the country's most senior diplomat in the UK - over the 'horror' of the Houla killings last Friday in which 34 women also died out of a total of 108.  Britain's allies all gave Syria's ambassadors 72 hours to leave as the west ups diplomatic pressure on president Bashar al-Assad's regime.  'We have been speaking in recent days to increase the pressure on the Assad regime and get the message across to them the world, the international community, is appalled by the violence that has continued, by the behaviour of the regime, by the murder of so many innocent people, including in the terrible massacre at Houla reported at the end of last week,' Mr Hague said.  The Syrian government has denied responsibility over the Houla massacre, which activists fighting a 15-month uprising have blamed on Damascus-backed shabiba militiamen.  

While the west has presented a united diplomatic front on Syria, Russia - the country's only major foreign ally - has refused to back regime change and suggested rebels were also partly responsible for recent deaths while calling for an end to violence.  Mr Hague, who held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov yesterday on the issue, continued: 'We will seek other ways to increase the pressure as well, a further tightening of sanctions on Syria, the discussions with Russia I had yesterday. We will go on trying to increase international pressure on the regime, this is part of that tightening of pressure.'  The diplomatic manoeuvres came as UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan held talks with President al-Assad in Damascus over his six-point peace plan, technically already introduced, which calls for a truce, the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from urban areas and the beginning of a dialogue between opposing factions. Mr Hague added: 'I have often pointed out this is a far more complex situation than the one in Libya last year. We always have to bear that in mind.  'All our efforts are going into supporting the Annan plan to try and bring about a peaceful transition and increasing the pressure on the Assad regime to implement that plan.  'These expulsions express our horror at the behaviour of the regime and increase international pressure to implement the commitments they have entered into.'  The UN estimates at least 9,000 people have died since the Syrian government responded to democratic protests with a brutal crackdown that spawned the current uprising. - Metro.
WATCH: Annans holds talks with Syria's Assad.

WORLD WAR III: Nuclear Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula - U.S. Commandos Alleged to Have Parachuted Into North Korea!

The US military has vehemently denied a media report that special forces have parachuted into North Korea on intelligence-gathering missions, saying a source had been misquoted.

Current affairs magazine The Diplomat quoted Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of special forces in South Korea, as saying soldiers from the US and South Korea had been dropped across the border for "special reconnaissance" missions.  But Colonel Jonathan Withington, public affairs officer for US Forces Korea, said some reporting of the conference had taken Tolley "completely out of context".  "Quotes have been made up and attributed to him," he said, denying that any US or South Korean forces had parachuted into the North. 

"Though special reconnaissance is a core special operations force (SOF) mission, at no time have SOF forces been sent to the north to conduct special reconnaissance," he said.  The Diplomat quoted Tolley as saying that the North had built thousands of tunnels since the 1950-53 Korean War.  "The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites," the magazine reported him as saying at a press conference in Florida last week. "So we send (South Korean) soldiers and US soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance."  According to the magazine, he said commandos parachute in with minimal supplies to watch the tunnels undetected.  At least four of the tunnels built by Pyongyang go under the Demilitarised Zone separating North and South Korea, Brig-Gen Tolley was reported as saying.  "We don't know how many we don't know about." - Herald Sun.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Critical Alert - Groundwater Depletion in Semiarid Regions of California and Texas Threatens America's Food Security!

The nation's food supply may be vulnerable to rapid groundwater depletion from irrigated agriculture, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere.

Groundwater depletion has been most severe in the purple areas indicated on these maps of (A) the High Plains
and (B) California's Central Valley. These heavily affected areas are concentrated in parts of the Texas Panhandle,
western Kansas, and the Tulare Basin in California's Central Valley. Changes in groundwater levels in (A) are
adapted from a 2009 report by the US Geological Survey and in (B) from a 1989 report by the USGS.
The study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, paints the highest resolution picture yet of how groundwater depletion varies across space and time in California's Central Valley and the High Plains of the central U.S. Researchers hope this information will enable more sustainable use of water in these areas, although they think irrigated agriculture may be unsustainable in some parts.  "We're already seeing changes in both areas," said Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology and lead author of the study. "We're seeing decreases in rural populations in the High Plains. Increasing urbanization is replacing farms in the Central Valley. And during droughts some farmers are forced to fallow their land.

These trends will only accelerate as water scarcity issues become more severe."  Three results of the new study are particularly striking: First, during the most recent drought in California's Central Valley, from 2006 to 2009, farmers in the south depleted enough groundwater to fill the nation's largest human-made reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas -- a level of groundwater depletion that is unsustainable at current recharge rates.  Second, a third of the groundwater depletion in the High Plains occurs in just 4% of the land area. And third, the researchers project that if current trends continue some parts of the southern High Plains that currently support irrigated agriculture, mostly in the Texas Panhandle and western Kansas, will be unable to do so within a few decades.  California's Central Valley is sometimes called the nation's "fruit and vegetable basket." The High Plains, which run from northwest Texas to southern Wyoming and South Dakota, are sometimes called the country's "grain basket." Combined, these two regions produced agricultural products worth $56 billion in 2007, accounting for much of the nation's food production. They also account for half of all groundwater depletion in the U.S., mainly as a result of irrigating crops. - Science Daily.
WATCH: This visualization reveals the freshwater stores that NASA's GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite detects from space and shows how that data can be used to evaluate groundwater gains and losses, critical information in the effort to conserve the water that people depend upon.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far and Wide - Fukushima Radiation Found in American West Coast Tuna; Radioactive Cesium at 10 Times Higher Levels!

Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan's crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away - the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.  "We were frankly kind of startled," said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Workers harvesting bluefin tuna from Maricultura's tuna pens near Ensenada, Mexico in March 2007.
The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that's still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.  Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.  But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.  One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico.  Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances - ceisum-134 and cesium-137 - that were higher than in previous catches. 

To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.  The results "are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source," said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who had no role in the research.  Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid, the scientists said. As the predators made the journey east, they shed some of the radiation through metabolism and as they grew larger. Even so, they weren't able to completely flush out all the contamination from their system.  "That's a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing," Fisher said.  Pacific bluefin tuna are prized in Japan where a thin slice of the tender red meat prepared as sushi can fetch $24 per piece at top Tokyo restaurants. Japanese consume 80 percent of the world's Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tuna.  The real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples. Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.  Now that scientists know that bluefin tuna can transport radiation, they also want to track the movements of other migratory species including sea turtles, sharks and seabirds. - NY Daily News.