Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: 16 Animals Killed in Mysterious Anthrax Outbreak in Northern Colombia?!

One person has skin lesions and 16 animals have died in an anthrax outbreak in northern Colombia, near the Venezuelan border.  A notification on the website for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said the outbreak has affected two farms in the department of La Guajira.

Colombia's Agriculture Ministry sent the information to the OIE on May 28.  The source of the deadly bacteria has not yet been determined, the report said. One of the affected populations "belongs to an indigenous community in the department of La Guajira," the notice states.  "The community has been informed of the protocol to be applied to dispose of the carcasses, mainly the fact that, under no circumstances, the dead animals must be neither manipulated nor consumed," the report said.  Humans commonly contract anthrax through close contact with infected animals or eating ones that have died from the disease.  "Susceptible species are being vaccinated. An intense epidemiological surveillance is being conducted in the area together with the public health authorities," the notification continued. 

The animals will be also be quarantined in response to the outbreak.  Three goats, three sheep and two pigs have died from the outbreak on one farm. Another five goats and two pigs have died on a separate farm.  Anthrax, also used as a biological weapon, is caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracia, the OIE website states. The disease causes dark ulcers on the skin of infected people when contracted from exposure to infected animals, and it occurs on all the continents.  "Anthrax spores in the soil are very resistant and can cause disease when ingested even years after an outbreak," the OIE stated. "The bacteria produce extremely potent toxins which are responsible for the ill effects, causing a high mortality rate."  The last anthrax outbreak in Colombia was in April 2011. An outbreak in 2010 caused the government to declare a state of emergency in La Guajira after 77 people developed lesions, a common symptom of the disease. - Colombia Reports.

BIG BROTHER NOW: The Emerging Global Police State - The New Cyber Weapon, "Flame," Can Turn on Your Computer's Microphone, Take Screenshots, Copy Data and Record Communications!

Evidence suggest that the virus, dubbed Flame, may have been built on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software maker that took credit for discovering the infections. Kaspersky researchers said they have yet to determine whether Flame had a specific mission like Stuxnet, and declined to say who they think built it.

Cyber security experts said the discovery publicly demonstrates what experts privy to classified information have long known: that nations have been using pieces of malicious computer code as weapons to promote their security interests for several years... Symantec Security Response manager Vikram Thakur said that his company’s experts believed there was a “high” probability that Flame was among the most complex pieces of malicious software ever discovered... Kaspersky’s research shows the largest number of infected machines are in Iran, followed by Israel and the Palestinian territories, then Sudan and Syria.
The virus contains about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which caused centrifuges to fail at the Iranian enrichment facility it attacked. It has about 100 times as much code as a typical virus designed to steal financial information, said Kaspersky Lab senior researcher Roel Schouwenberg. 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. Kaspersky Lab said Flame and Stuxnet appear to infect machines by exploiting the same flaw in the Windows operating system and that both viruses employ a similar way of spreading... “The scary thing for me is: if this is what they were capable of five years ago, I can only think what they are developing now,” Mohan Koo, managing director of British-based Dtex Systems cyber security company. - Reuters.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Preventive Alert Declared For Three Costa Rican Volcanoes - Significant and Seismic Activity!

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) on Wednesday declared a preventive “green alert” due to recent seismic activity at three volcanoes: Rincón de la Vieja, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, Poás, northwest of San José in the province of Alajuela, and Turrialba, in the eastern province of Cartago.

Rincon de la Vieja volcano is showing activity at significant levels experts from the RSN said. 
Courtesy of National Seismological Network
“The CNE’s alert is supported by reports from technical and scientific agencies that note the volcanoes are in constant activity,” the commission stated. Turrialba Volcano, 70 kilometers east of the capital, has seen significant volcanic and seismic activity in recent months, prompting the National Seismological Network to upgraded its own color threat level to yellow.

Emissions of gas at Poás Volcano are expected to increase, and Rincón de la Vieja Volcano has also seen significant volcanic activity, the CNE noted. Despite the warning, access to the volcanoes will remain open to the public, but visitors must follow guidelines issued at each national park’s entrance.
- Tico Times.

WORLD WAR III: The Syrian Passage to Iran and the Countdown to Armageddon - It's Official, Senior Iranian Officer Confirms That Tehran Sent Troops to Syria!

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has admitted that Iran has sent its troops to help the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight opposition forces. 

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has admitted that Iran has sent its troops to help the
regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight opposition forces.
“Before our presence in Syria, too many people were killed by the opposition but with the physical and non-physical presence of the Islamic republic, big massacres in Syria were prevented,” Ismail Gha’ani, the deputy head of Iran’s Quds force, a shadowy branch of the Revolutionary Guards in charge of overseas operations, said in an interview with the semi-official Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA), according to a report by the Persian-language GozaraNews website.  ISNA published the interview on Sunday night, but subsequently removed it from its website “under pressure,” the report said.  Syria is Iran’s most important regional ally, and Tehran has long used its neighbor’s territory as a base for operations to maintain a lifeline to militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran’s proxies in southern Lebanon and Gaza. 

Rumors that Iran has provided military support to Assad, to assist his crackdown on the popular uprising that has challenged his family’s 40-year grip on power, have circulated since the outbreak of protests in Syria in March 2011.  The Gha’ani remarks followed the weekend massacre of more than 100 civilians, including dozens of children, in the Houla township in western Syria, which has triggered an international outcry, including a Sunday statement by the UN Security Council describing the massacre as an “outrageous use of force against civilian population.”  Syrian opposition activists have blamed the killings on pro-government fighters, an accusation categorically denied by the Syrian authorities, who said the tragedy was a terrorist plot aimed at undermining the regime.  UN observers working in Syria have confirmed that tanks and artillery were used in the weekend attacks on Houla, as well as that many of those killed were stabbed or shot at point-blank range, raising questions among observers about who could benefit from the tragedy. - Ria Novosti.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Nevado del Ruiz Volcano in Colombia, Rumbles With Intense Seismic Activity - 500 People Evacuated, Airport Flights Briefly Suspended!

A light spewing of ash amid renewed rumblings in the Nevado del Ruiz volcano prompted Colombian authorities to evacuate 500 people from beneath its flanks and briefly suspend flights at four airports.
The volcano's seismic activity was more intense than episodes in April and early May, when it emitted columns of steam, said the government geological agency Ingeominas. The 17,160ft volcano spouted ash that fell on population centres including the western city of Manizales. - Herald.
WATCH: Volcano covers Colombian cities in ash.

DELUGE: Montreal Floods Are "Exceptional" Says Major - Flash Flooding Overwhelms Low-Lying Neighbourhoods!

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay says the "exceptional" rain that fell Tuesday overwhelmed the city's sewer system.  "No sewer collector network would have been able to manage the quantity of water that we saw yesterday evening," Tremblay told a news conference today. 

Several boroughs that reported record rainfall saw widespread basement flooding.  Tremblay said city crews were sent out to repair sewer pipe covers and handle the overflow.  Efforts are underway to mop up flooding after Tuesday’s massive downpour caused water accumulation in basements, on highways and streets, in city buses and in the underground subway system.  Environment Canada said up to 80 mm of rain fell in some areas in less than an hour. Streets became rivers, metro tunnels were flooded and the Ville Marie tunnel was shut.  Jacques-Alain Lavallée, spokesman for the City of Montreal, said they are still evaluating the property damage.  He said sewers overflowed and the flooding was widespread. Four boroughs were hit the hardest: Ville-Marie, Lasalle, the Southwest and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.  Lavallée said the problem wasn’t the city’s aging infrastructure – it was the sheer amount of rain. Downtown universities and public institutions were also hit hard.  Part of the lower level of the Grande Bibliothèque flooded. 

Students writing an exam at Dawson College were ushered out of the building as the water started to rise. Donna Varrica, spokeswoman for the college, said placement exams for incoming students scheduled for late this afternoon have been cancelled and will be rescheduled.  The gym where the exams were to take place needs to dry out, she said.  Concordia University’s library remains closed due to water damage and some classes had to be moved. The University of Quebec in Montreal also closed several pavilions and parking lots.  Several schools on Montreal’s South Shore were also forced to close because of water issues. In many parts of the island, hundreds of people will continue to clean up flooded basements.  Michael Murray said his son called him during the storm and said water was gushing up from the toilet and shower drain.  This morning he had windows open and fans going at his home on Percival Avenue to try and dry out some of the water. However, he said much of his finished basement will need to be ripped out and redone.  The old sewer system in Montreal West just couldn’t keep up with the deluge of rain, he said.  “Probably everyone’s sump pumps were working, flowing into the sewers and that just overflowed the whole system so it came back,” he said.  Other residents said even people with specially installed back-up systems saw those systems fail and ended up with flooded basements. - CBC.
WATCH: "Exceptional" floods in Montreal.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: The Euro Zone Crisis - Spain Faces "Total Emergency" as Fear Grips Markets!

Spain is facing the gravest danger since the end of the Franco dictatorship as the country is frozen out of global capital markets and slides towards an epic showdown with Europe.  “We’re in a situation of total emergency, the worst crisis we have ever lived through” said ex-premier Felipe Gonzalez, the country’s elder statesman. 

A screen displays the IBEX 35 at Madrid's stock exchange on Wednesday. Photo: AFP
The warning came as the yields on Spanish 10-year bonds spiked to 6.7pc, pushing the “risk premium” over German Bunds to a post-euro high of 540 basis points. The IBEX index of stocks in Madrid fell 2.6pc, the lowest since the dotcom bust in 2003.  Chaos over the €23.5bn rescue of crippled lender Bankia has led to the abrupt resignation of central bank governor Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, who testified to the senate that he had been muzzled to avoid enflaming events as confidence in the country drains away.  Markets are on tenterhooks as Spanish yields test levels that forced the European Central Bank to respond last November with its €1 trillion liquidity blitz. “Nobody is short Spanish debt right now because they are expecting ECB intervention,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS. “If it doesn’t come -- if we take out 6.8pc -- we’re going to see a hyberbolic sell-off,” he said.  Italy felt the full brunt of contagion from Spain on Wednesday, with 10-year yileds back near 6pc.

The euro fell to a 2-year low of $1.239 against the dollar. Crude oil and metal prices plummeted and save-haven flight pushed rates on 2-year German debt to zero. Gilt yields fell to 1.64pc, the lowest in history. Mr Roberts said the collapse in Spanish tax revenues is replicating the pattern in Greece. Fiscal revenues have fallen 4.8pc over the last year, and VAT returns have slumped 14.6pc. Debt service costs have risen by 18pc.  The country is caught in a classic deflationary vice: a rising debt burden on a shrinking economic base. “Once you get into such a negative feedback loop, you can move beyond the point of no return quickly,” he said. The European Commission has softened its stance, giving Madrid an extra year until 2014 to cuts its budget deficit from 8.9pc to 3pc of GDP, though this still amounts to a fiscal shock. Brussels told premier Mariano Rajoy to widen the VAT base and speed retirement at 67.  There is no sign so far that the ECB is ready to relent as Frankfurt and Madrid cross swords in an escalting test of will. The ECB has scotched Mr Rajoy’s tentative plans to recapitalize Bankia by drawing on ECB funds.  “It is dangerous to play chicken when you are driving a Seat and the ECB is driving a tank,” said professor Luis Garicano from the London School of Economics (LSE). - Telegraph.

EXTREME WEATHER: "State of Natural Catastrophe" - Hailstorm Wrecks Havoc With French Vineyards!

Nearly 6,000 hectares of Cotes-de-Provence and Coteaux-Varois vineyards (between 70% to 100%) were destroyed after a heavy hail storm hit southeastern France last Sunday, writes Elizabeth Gabay MW.

The vineyards around the villages of Pignans, Carnoules, Flassans-sur-Issole, Carcès, Besse-sur-Issole, Brignoles, Correns, Cotignac and Le Val et Montfort-sur-Argens in the central Var were at the centre of the storm.  For some vineyards, the hail was violent enough to not only destroy this year’s harvest but also those of next year and possibly even 2014.  In a primary survey, around ten co-operatives and between thirty to forty independent domains have been affected. 

A special committee has been set up to evaluate the damage to the individual wine domaines and for compensation to be available. Local mayors have asked for a state of natural catastrophe to be declared.  The President of the ‘Syndicat des Vignerons du Var’ said he had never seen a hail storm of this violence. The minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, is looking into the extent of the damage, promising support for those hit by the hail. - TDB.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL & UFO MEMES: The Baltic Anomaly - "The Truth is Out There About UFO in the Baltic Sea, Swedish Scientists Say?!

Swedish scientists plan to explore a mystery ripped straight from the “The X-Files.”  Rather than Mulder and Scully, this adventure features Swedish researchers Peter Lindberg and Dennis Asberg. They too know the truth is out there -- and in mere days plan to visit what they call the “Baltic Anomaly.”  Last summer, while on a treasure hunt between Sweden and Finland, the pair and their research associates made headlines worldwide with the discovery of a 200-foot wide unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Now a team of oceanographers, engineers and deep sea divers will return to the site Friday, June 1, for a 6 to 10 day trip. 

Team Ocean Explorer said this image shows 300m "drag marks" around an unidentified --
possibly flying -- object. (Ocean Explorer/Peter Lindberg)
They want to find out once and for all what it really is.  “We don’t know whether it is a natural phenomenon, or an object,” Lindberg, captain of the Ocean Explorer, told “We saw it on sonar when we were searching for a wreck from World War I. This circular object just turned up on the monitor.”  The discovery was a worldwide news event, covered in the popular press, the scientific press and in the blogosphere. Many speculated that the discovery was of a long-lost unidentified flying object (UFO), that crashed into the sea -- evoking Duchovny’s alien-hunting character on the TV show.  Lindberg is clearly aware of the connection: The logo for his “OceanX Team” is clearly meant to evoke the X-Files logo. But is the truth out there this time? He aims to find out.  “We’ll be searching the area in a number of ways,” Lindberg explained. “We’ll use sonar to make 3D images of the bottom, the clay bottom, of that part of the sea. We’ll send down deep-sea divers too. And a camera robot. We’ll also take samples from the sea bed and measure them for toxicities and radiation.”  At this point, Lindberg said, he and his colleagues “don’t know more than anyone else what it is” down there for certain.  But he’s willing to speculate as to the possibilities. The crash debris could be from a meteor, he told

It could a naturally occurring gas well discovery -- located interestingly enough in international waters, he added. Or, he muses, it could be the remains of a Russian warship from the late 19th century.  “I don’t think it’s an ordinary stone formation, or cargo dropped from a ship,” Lindberg said. “But it can be a lot of things. If it’s not manmade, and was made by another form of intelligent life, it would be very lucky. I’ve never won the lottery before!”  His colleague, Dennis Asberg, agreed. “If this were a UFO, that would indeed be a strange thing.” He too speculates that it could be a gas well finding, or the remains of a meteor. “I’m just not sure,” he said. “But we’ll see soon.”  Others claim that the object, located 300 feet beneath the surface of the Baltic Sea, may be a natural formation, or even an emerging volcano.  Earlier this year, Lindberg told the media he thought this discovery might be a “new Stonehenge.”  The Ocean Explorer crew includes 13 researchers, including a sonar expert, and a camera crew from Swedish TV that will document the event. Lindberg said he is in negotiations with Microsoft to see if the event can be carried live on the Internet, from the remote location in international waters via video streaming.  “We’re working with Microsoft on that, but nothing is final yet. Tell them we want to do a deal,” he joked.  The exploration is funded by private investors and bank notes that Ocean Explorer has secured, said Lindberg. The initial discovery of the unidentified sea object was made during a trek to find Swedish commercial ships sunk by the German Navy during World War I last summer. - FOX News.
WATCH: Baltic Sea anomaly.

EXTREME WEATHER: Memorial Day Holiday Weather Anomalies - Record Daily Highs; Hottest May Day on Record; "Exceptionally Rare" Storms Before June; Record Southwest Wildfires and Powerful Complex of Thunderstorms!

The Memorial Day Weekend brought a rare combination of extreme weather events to much of the U.S., with everything from record heat to wildfires, plus the most intense tropical storm on record to make landfall prior to June 1. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most notable extreme weather events:

Record temperatures set or tied on May 28. Credit: Climate Central.
Heat: At Chicago's O’Hare International Airport, the temperature hit 97°F on May 27 — the earliest date on record that the mercury has gone this high (it hit 98°F on May 31, 1931). Chicago is on track to have its warmest spring season on record.  Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport set a record high for May 28 of 92°F, surpassing the old record of 89°F, which had stood since 1991, while Toledo hit 96°F.  In Detroit, the temperature soared to 95°F during the weekend, another record. On May 26, at least nine airports in the Midwest had their hottest May day on record, and 58 out of 456 U.S. observing stations set daily high temperature records.  Early season heat waves such as this one are a more significant public health risk compared to heat waves that take place during the middle of the summer, in large part because people have not yet become used to warmer weather. This graphic published in the Washington Post provides useful insight into how the human body adapts to the heat, and why people respond in different ways.  Nationwide, 884 daily record highs were set over the past week, compare with just 97 record lows. For the month to date, the nation has seen 127 all-time highs for any day in May, and just 18 all-time lows. In recent years, including 2012 so far, record daily highs have been outpacing record daily lows in a pattern that can't be explained by natural variability alone; something else must be involved, and human-caused global warming is an obvious culprit. The picture is even more lopsided when you look at monthly record highs compared with record lows. If the climate weren't warming overall, you'd expect these longer-term ratios to be closer to 1-to-1, on average. The picture was very different in the northern Rockies, where a late winter storm hit the mountains on May 26. Daytime highs on Monday were 10 degrees below average in Boise, Idaho; and 6°F below average in Laramie, Wyo. Both the record heat and cold weather were tied to the same dip in the jet stream, as a low pressure area drove cold air into Montana and Idaho, while at the same time drawing hot and humid air northward into the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

Tropical Storm Beryl: Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., on May 28. With maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, Beryl was close to hurricane strength when it struck land. Meteorologist Brian McNoldy posted a fascinating radar animation showing Beryl as the storm approached Florida, and the images make clear that the storm was intensifying in the hours prior to landfall. Beryl is the second tropical storm to form in the Atlantic during May, which is extremely rare. As McNoldy noted on his blog, "It is exceptionally rare to have two storms form prior to June 1 . . . this is only the third time in known history (back to 1851). The actual hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasting a near normal season, with between nine and 15 named storms, of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane with top winds of 74 mph or higher.  Beryl has brought beneficial rainfall to northern Florida, southeast Georgia, and parts of South Carolina. These areas have been suffering from severe drought conditions, and widespread 5-to-8 inches of rain have made a dent, although they have not completely alleviated the drought. During the next two days the remnants of Beryl is forecast to drop several inches of rain in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina before heading out to sea.

Southwest Wildfires: Wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona continued to burn out of control during the weekend. Two lightning-sparked fires that had merged last week in Gila National Forest grew dramatically in steep terrain that is difficult for firefighters to access. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire has now burned152,012 acres — just 5,000 acres shy of the total acreage burned in New Mexico’s largest-ever wildfire, which occurred just last year. Firefighters are battling low humidity levels, drought conditions, and erratic and strong winds, making it very difficult to gain the upper hand over the fire. Smoke from the fire is reducing air quality throughout much of the Southwest and beyond.
Severe Weather: The weekend also featured several rounds of severe thunderstorms from the U.S.-Canadian border southwestward to Texas. Drenching rains repeatedly doused the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with flash flooding a key concern. The Twin Cities received so much rain during the past two weeks that they’ve now had the second-wettest May on record, according to meteorologist Paul Douglas' blog. On May 27, a powerful complex of thunderstorms barreled across Pennsylvania toward Maryland and Washington, D.C. Extensive damage in the form of downed trees and power lines occurred in Franklin County, Pa., where a wind gust to 87 mph was recorded by a trained weather spotter. - Climate Central.
WATCH: Record heat fuels wildfires across US.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Pandora's Box at Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone -New "Hidden Danger" In Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Found?!

The following transcript was taken from a conversation on Japan TV, where it was disclosed that a new and hidden danger lurks at Fukushima's Nuclear Reactor 4

We have been thoroughly investigating the hidden danger which lies with the reactor 4. And we have discovered a new fact. When it reached the latter part of 700 degree C, what has happened to the fuel rod?      This is the new hidden danger of the fuel rods. During the heat test, a change has occurred when the temperature of the fuel rod reached latter part of 700 degree C. The fuel cladding has ruptured now. When it ruptured, the temperature was at 780 degree C. You can see the rod is red hot. The fuel cladding is supposed to contain the radioactive fuels but it has expanded and a hole has appeared. This is the ruptured hole after it has been heated. In reality, other than meltdown, there was another way in which the fuel rods could be damaged.

Furthermore, when fuel rods are subjected to a rapid temperature change, not only it creates holes, the whole fuel rod could disintegrate completely. When the temperature rises, the strength of the fuel cladding, which holds the fuel pellets, is reduced. At the same time, internal pressure rises so generally the fuel cladding ruptures when the temperature reaches over 700 degree C. According to the previous experiment conducted by the JAEA, most of the fuel cladding ruptured when the temperature reached between 700 to 900 degree C.  If the spent fuel pool or the reactor 4 building collapses for whatever the reasons, and if spent fuel rods pile up in one place, cooling becomes impossible, which means that even before meltdown occurs, it is possible that the fuel rods could rupture, as a result, there is a possibility that gradual release of the radioactive materials could occur.  What would TEPCO says?     

Q: We’ve obtained an experiment result which shows that the fuel rods rupture above 700 degree C.      Did you know about this?     

TEPCO: Did you say rupture?     

Q: Yes. 

TEPCO: I have no knowledge about it. I think it is possible that cracks or rupture could occur due to weakened fuel rods.
WATCH: New danger at Fukushima.

English subtitles are available. Click ‘CC’ button in toolbar of the YouTube player.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: New Yorkers Get Second Chance to See Monumental Manhattanhenge!

The first night of this year's Manhattanhenge season was a washout, due to cloudy weather, but there's another chance to see the sunset turn the streets of New York aglow tonight.  Manhattanhenge refers to the perfectly placed alignment of the setting sun amid the canyons of midtown Manhattan's east-west streets. The phenomenon, sometimes known as the Manhattan solstice, occurs every year around Memorial Day and major-league baseball's All-Star break.
The sun shines down 42nd Street below the
landmark Chrysler Building at sunset on
July 12, 2009, during Manhattanhenge.
The Hayden Planetarium's director, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, says future archaeologists might well conclude that these spots on the calendar marked important rites of summer for New Yorkers. (And they wouldn't be far wrong.)  Tyson's the one who came up with the term "Manhattanhenge." Think of it as a modern-day, unintentional version of Stonehenge, with New York skyscrapers standing in for the stones of the 5,000-year-old monument in England. Stonehenge was constructed to have its stones line up with the rays of the sun on important astronomical dates such as the summer solstice. Manhattan's street grid, however, doesn't line up with the solstice or the equinox. The relevant streets, which reflect the Commissioner's Plan of 1811, are offset 29 degrees from east and west. That would spoil the sunset view on an equinox or a solstice — but on the proper dates, the sun reaches the cleft between skyscrapers just in time to set the streets aglow.

This year's first opportunity for seeing Manhattanhenge's glory came Tuesday night at 8:17 p.m. ET. Under ideal conditions, a pretty half-setting sun could have been seen centered in the gap between the buildings. Unfortunately, conditions were not ideal. In disappointed Twitter tweets, the sight quickly came to be termed "Cloudhenge." "A cloudy and stormy night, so no sun," reported Andrew Dallos, a producer for "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC who camped out on 42nd Street.  Tonight, on Wednesday night, New Yorkers could get a chance to see the sun's full disk just touching the horizon in the gap at 8:16 p.m. ET. It all depends on the weather: The current forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a slight chance of thunderstorms — which at least sounds more promising than last night's weather.  Even if tonight's opportunity is clouded out, there'll be a Manhattanhenge replay after the summer solstice, with a full-sun viewing at 8:24 p.m. on July 11 and a half-sun opportunity at 8:25 p.m. July 12.  To enhance your Manhattanhenge viewing experience, Tyson suggests positioning yourself as far east as possible, while still making sure you can see New Jersey when you look west across the avenues. "Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th and several streets adjacent to them," he writes in his viewing guide. "The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building render 34th Street and 42nd Street especially striking vistas.
" - MSNBC.
WATCH: Manhattanhenge 2011.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Italians Count the Human and Economic Cost of Quake - 17 Dead; 14,000 Homeless; 500 Million Euros in Estimated Damage!

Italy raised tax on petrol to help pay for the damage from an earthquake that struck northern Italy as shaken survivors woke up on Wednesday to a landscape of collapsed warehouses and ruined factories.  Overnight 14,000 people slept in tents, shelters or cars outside their wrecked homes and more than 60 aftershocks jolted the area around the city of Modena in the Emilia Romagna region.

People stand in front of a collapsed building in Cavezzo, northern Italy, May 30, 2012.
Some who were not assigned a shelter by civil protection units had to travel as far as Verona, 100 km (60 miles) away to buy tents.  Most of the 17 known victims perished under the rubble while at work when a 5.8-magnitude tremor struck shortly after 0700 GMT on Tuesday, the second strong earthquake to strike the area in nine days.  The residents of one of Italy's most productive regions, dominated by the fertile valley of the River Po, are now torn between the fear of more tremors and the fear of losing their jobs in the recession-hit country.  "After the first quake many people went back to work because there is an economic crisis here and they wanted to save their jobs," said Mauro Baraldini, whose two sons survived when the factories where they worked collapsed in the quake.  "Now they will think twice before going back."  Several factories in the area around Modena, a flatland dotted with manufacturing plants, farms and vineyards, had opened on Monday after a week of stoppage due to the previous tremor.  Mario Monti's government, which has already imposed austerity measures to head off a debt crisis, said it was raising excise duties on petrol by 2 cents per liter to fund earthquake relief. National spending curbs on local authorities will also be suspended for the towns hit by the quake.

Mirandola, birthplace of Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and home to a cluster of biomedical firms, was one of the towns hardest hit by both earthquakes.  Two workers and a company owner died under the rubble in the second tremor and on Wednesday supplies were already running low in a local bar mainly serving coffee to victims after it ran out of ice creams.  Dozens of residents who could not enter their homes pedaled around on bicycles, some stopping to look wistfully towards the cordoned off city centre.  "We had put workers on an temporary lay-off scheme but we were working to get things back working," said Stefano Rimondi, Chief Executive of Bellco, outside its damaged biomedical plant.  "That plan has now gone out of the window. This is a big blow for us, but also for the sector."  Listed biomedical group Sorin, also based in Mirandola, had to halt production at its local factory.  Italy's big business association Confindustria said the two quakes, which together killed more than 20 people, will have a prolonged impact, adding to an already deep recession in the euro zone's third largest economy. 

Farmers' association Coldiretti estimated damage to the agricultural sector would reach 500 million euros.  "It's a total disaster. Many people here were already under a temporarily lay-off scheme because of the crisis. Now everything has stopped and we do not know when things will start again," said 32-year-old Alex, who works in a ceramic factory near San Felice sul Panaro, another badly-affected town.  A psychologist was called to the scene in San Felice to help survivors overcome the trauma.  Italy has been hit by numerous earthquakes over the centuries. In Irpinia, near Naples, more than 2,000 people died in 1980 and aftershocks lasted for years. In central L'Aquila, where a quake killed some 300 people in 2009, 21,000 residents have not yet returned to their homes.  National Geophysical Institute head Stefano Gresta said tremors could continue to hit the Modena area, couched in the Po valley and pressed against the Appennine mountains, for months.  Environment Minister Corrado Clini said Italy must learn lessons from the fact that the quake had hit a region considered at relatively low seismic risk. The last big quake in Emilia Romagna struck in 1570.  While pessimism prevailed in San Felice sul Panaro, some residents were still focusing on the need to get back to work before the economic crisis deepened and more jobs were lost.  "I'm not scared," said Claudio Furia, who works at farm equipment maker Vam. "I want to work and go back to normality."
. - Reuters.
WATCH: Overhead view of the damage in Italy.

EXTREME WEATHER: Grave Food Crisis - North Korea Suffering From Serious and Life-Threatening Drought Conditions!

North Korea is reporting a serious drought that could worsen already critical food shortages, but help is unlikely to come from the US and South Korea following Pyongyang's recent rocket launch.  North Korea has had little rain since 27 April, with the country's western coastal areas particularly hard hit, according to a government weather agency in Pyongyang.

A farmer sifts soil through his fingers in a dry corn field at a the Tokhae co-operative farm near Nampho.
The dry spell threatened to damage crops, officials said, as the country enters a critical planting season and as food supplies from the last harvest dwindle.  In at least one area of South Phyongan province where journalists were allowed to visit, the sun-baked fields appeared parched and cracked, and farmers complained of extreme drought conditions. Deeply tanned men, and women in sun bonnets, worked over cabbages and corn seedlings. Farmers cupped individual seedlings as they poured water from blue buckets on to the parched red soil.  "I've been working at the farm for more than 30 years, but I have never experienced this kind of severe drought," An Song Min, a farmer at the Tokhae co-operative farm in the Nampho area, said.  It was not clear whether the conditions around Nampho were representative of a wider region.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said it had not yet visited the affected regions to confirm the extent and severity of the reported drought.  North Korea has suffered chronic shortages for the past two decades because of economic and agricultural mismanagement as well as natural disasters. A famine in the 1990s is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people... North Korea's dry spell is expected to last until the end of the month, according to the country's state hydrometeorological administration... Droughts are common in spring, winter and autumn in North Korea, the FAO said in a special report late last year. Climate change has led to more extreme weather, making winters colder, summers packed with more intense rain and typhoons, and droughts more frequent and prolonged, it said.  South Korea's meteorological administration said it could not confirm the dry spell without on-the-ground equipment, though satellite photos have shown no big rain clouds over North Korea since late April. North Korean dispatches sent to an international weather centre also show the country has had little rain over the past month, spokesman Jang Hyun-sik said in Seoul. - Guardian.

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: Gruesome Horror - New Jersey Man Allegedly Disembowels Himself; Throwing His Intestines at Police Officers, After Stabbing Himself?!

A New Jersey man allegedly cut out his entrails in front of police and then threw bits of his flesh and intestines at them.

Screen capture from the movie Zombie Holocaust, where
cannibals disembowels a man and eat his intestines.
The gruesome scene played out at a home in Hackensack, N.J., where 43-year-old Wayne Carter allegedly barricaded himself in on Sunday, NBC New York reported. Officers got a call that morning when a witness said Carter was threatening to harm himself with a knife. Two cops responded, kicked in the door and found Carter in the corner, the station reported. Carter allegedly ignored officers' orders to put down the knife, and instead began stabbing himself in the abdomen, neck and legs. An attempt to pepper spray the bleeding man had no effect, the Associated Press reported.

That's when Carter -- disemboweled but responsive -- reportedly threw bits of his skin and intestines at the officers. They decided to retreat and call in the Bergen County SWAT team, Hackensack police Lt. John Heinemann told reporters. The team was able to subdue Carter and get him to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition on Monday. Heinemann said he believes that drugs or mental illness may have led to the horrific incident, but those details haven't been confirmed. No charges have yet been filed due to the unusual nature of the incident. - Huffington Post.

EXTREME WEATHER: Hailstorm Wrecks Havoc in Millennium City in India - Widespread Damage, Crushed Vehicles, Uprooted Trees and Power Outages!

A hailstorm hit the Millennium City on Monday afternoon bringing relief from the sweltering weather. But it caused widespread damage uprooting trees and utility poles and snapping power connections in many parts. 

Wind gusts accompanied by hail and rain ripped through the City at around 5 pm. The cloudburst wreaked havoc. Many vehicles were also crushed under trees which came down under the impact of the storm.  The Ring Road along the Mahanadi and the Kathjodi bore the brunt of the storm with the avenue trees suffering a major blow. A tree crashed on a moving City bus near Matamath. No one was, however, injured in the incident.  Large parts of the City plunged into darkness for long hours as the supply lines suffered extensive damage. Areas like Mahanadi Vihar, Badambadi, Kalyan Nagar, Khapuria, Buxi Bazaar, Jobra, College Square, CDA and Cantonment Road were the worst-affected. 

According to Cesu Chief Executive Officer, Hemant Sharma, Cuttack along with Kendrapara and Marsaghai areas sustained major damage in the hailstorm. By late night 33-KV lines were restored in Kendrapara and Marsaghai areas, but the 11- KV lines, which supply power to domestic consumers, would take time for restoration, he said.  Power supply was restored in phases in Cuttack.  "Electricity poles have been uprooted at many places along with snapping of cables. Work is going on a war-footing and the situation would be normalised by midnight," Superintending Engineer, Cesu, Cuttack, S K Ray said.  Bhubaneswar also witnessed rain accompanied by gusty wind. Power supply was disrupted in several parts as electricity cables were snapped. However, power was restored in the night. - IBN Live.

MYSTERY: The Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Denver, Colorado, United States - 29th of May, 2012.

Dulce, New Mexico, United States - 28th of May, 2012.

Munich, Germany - 29th of May, 2012.

Tijuana, Mexico - 25th of May, 2012.

Birmingham, United Kingdom - 26th of May, 2012.

Karnak, Illinois, United States - Early May, 2012.