Thursday, November 15, 2012

THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Gaza War Escalates - Palestinian Rockets Jolt Tel Aviv; Israeli Troops Move Towards Gaza and Calls Up 30,000 Additional Reservists; as Death Toll Rises!

November 15, 2012 - JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - Palestinian militants barraged Israel with more than 200 rockets on Thursday, killing three people as Israel pressed a punishing campaign of airstrikes on militant targets across the Gaza Strip. Three rockets targeted the densely populated Tel Aviv area, setting off air raid sirens in brazen attacks that threatened to trigger an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the
Israel Gaza Border, southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Photo: Ariel Schalit / AP.
Late in the day, Israel signaled a ground operation may be imminent as forces moved toward the border area with Gaza. At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers, and a number of buses carrying soldiers arrived. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he had authorized the army to call-up additional reservists for possible action. The army said it was prepared to draft up to 30,000 additional troops. "I ordered the military today to widen the draft of reserve soldiers in order to be able to be ready for any development," Barak said. Military officials said the moves were to prepare for the possibility of a ground invasion, but stressed no decision had been made. Israel TV stations, however, said a ground offensive was expected Friday. The fighting, the heaviest in four years, has also killed 15 Palestinians in two days and brought life to a standstill on both sides of the border. School has been canceled and many were huddling indoors. Israel and Hamas have largely observed an informal truce for the past four years. But in recent weeks, the calm unraveled in a bout of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.

The fighting showed no signs of slowing after dark. Israeli aircraft carried out dozens of attacks on militant targets in Gaza, while militants fired barrages of rockets throughout the day. The fighting began on Wednesday after Israel killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike, then attacked dozens of rocket launchers. The offensive follows weeks of rocket fire out of Gaza. The United Nations says a teacher who worked for a relief agency, Marwan Abu El Qumsan, was also killed in Gaza. Thursday's attacks on Tel Aviv, some of the deepest rocket strikes from Gaza on record, set air raid sirens blaring and sparked panic in the streets of the normally laid-back commercial and cultural capital. Israeli Channel 2 TV showed panicked Tel Aviv residents running for cover and lying down on the ground after the sirens began wailing. Diners hid under tables in a restaurant, and traffic snarled on the city's main north-south highway. There were no injuries. Workers and visitors at offices in a Tel Aviv skyscraper froze for a few seconds in silence as the sound of the sirens wafted through the open windows.

Some murmured "I don't believe it," but everyone quickly and calmly rose and walked to the stairwell to go down to the building's bomb shelter. Many reached for their mobile phones to call loved ones and urge them to run to a protected space, while others kept dialing in frustration as cell networks were overloaded. One of the rockets landed in an open area of Rishon Lezion, a city on Tel Aviv's southern outskirts, while police said the other two appeared to have landed in the sea. Although there were no injuries, Israel considers any attempt to disrupt life in Tel Aviv to be a major escalation. Defense officials say Israel is prepared to launch a ground invasion into Gaza if necessary. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army was prepared for a "significant widening" of its Gaza offensive. "No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire, and Israel will not tolerate this situation," he said. "This is why my government has instructed the Israeli Defense Forces to conduct surgical strikes against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. And this is why Israel will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people." Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh eulogized Jabari in a televised speech on Thursday night. "What a martyrdom and what a glorious day," he said. "Congratulations. Rest in peace. Feel blessed." He said Palestinians remained steadfast and defiant during the 22 days of the last Gaza war in 2009 and could hold out for even longer. - CBS News.

WATCH: Hamas rockets hits Tel Aviv.

DISASTER IMPACT: Super Storm Sandy Spur Jump in US Jobless Claims as Inflation Nudges Up - Aftermath a War Zone, Hurricane Victims Develop Toxic Cough; Manhattan High-Rise Without Power; as Shelters Turn Into FEMA Prison Camps!

November 15, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Super storm Sandy drove U.S. weekly jobless claims up to 439,000, while consumer prices rose slightly last month as higher rents and costlier food offset cheaper gas.

Separately, a reading on manufacturing in New York State showed that factory activity slowed in November for a fourth straight month.  Super storm Sandy drove the number of people seeking unemployment benefits up to a seasonally adjusted 439,000 last week, the highest level in 18 months.  The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications increased by 78,000 mostly because a large number of applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces close and they don't get paid.  The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may distort reports for another two weeks, the department has said.  The four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, increased to 383,750.  Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 29 and disrupted businesses from North Carolina to Maine. The storm also cut power to roughly 8 million homes and businesses. Some are still without power. - CNBC.

Hurricane Victims Develop Toxic Cough.
A bad cough is going around Far Rockaway, Queens. It is just one example of the post-storm health problems resident of hard-hit areas are exposed to in the aftermath.  Brett Scudder, a community activist, says he has come across many people who have a cough and migraine headaches.  Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News says migraines and respiratory problems could be signs of toxic exposure. - My Fox NY.

Manhattan High-Rise Going On 16 Days Without Power; Stench Of Rotten Eggs.
While most of Manhattan had its power restored about four days after Superstorm Sandy, persistent problems in some places continue to make life miserable more than two weeks later for hundreds of elderly and ill residents who have been forced to live in cold, dark high-rises.  As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, those residents were demanding answers.  At Knickerbocker Village — a housing complex bounded by Monroe Street, Market Street, Catherine Street and Cherry Street on the Lower East Side – a hallway stunk of rotten eggs.  “It’s a nasty odor that makes you want to throw up,” one resident said.  But the stench was the least of the woman’s problems. She had to use a cooler as a refrigerator.  It was the 16th day without power, and she was also boiling her water. She was lacking hot water, too.  Even her dog was bundled in sweaters.  Trash was piling up, the incinerators were all broken, and out of 12 elevator banks, nearly half were out of service. The elderly residents were left stranded as high as a dozen flights up.  “The coldness is draining and it doesn’t stop; just never gets warm,” said Marcia Kruger, 73. - CBS New York.
FEMA Shelters In Northeast Resemble Police State Prison Camps.
Doom, gloom and despair is growing in the Northeast in the weeks following Superstorm Sandy, as winter sets in with thousands of New Yorkers and New Jersey residents still reeling from the loss of their homes and property.  For many, the despair has grown into an intense anger, as tent cities set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency begin to resemble prison camps. Moreover, the aftermath of Sandy is a story the mainstream media is largely ignoring, unlike Hurricane Katrina. Stressed residents who spoke to the Asbury Park Press talked bitterly about the cold, harsh conditions in tent cities with Blackhawk helicopters buzzing overhead... Sotelo is at a makeshift shelter that is called - ironically - "Camp Freedom." But no one there feels free or secure - or comfortable.  "The elections are over and here we are. There were Blackhawk helicopters flying over all day and night. They have heavy equipment moving past the tents all night," he said, an apparent reference to the difficulty he and his family - and other camp dwellers - have in trying to relax and get some rest.  Reported the paper: "Welcome to the part of the disaster where people start falling through the cracks."... Sotelo said "residents" of the tent city have recently become so frustrated with their situation, they are doing all they can to let the outside world know - but are being thwarted at every turn by the powers that be.  For instance, he says, officials have tried to stop camp dwellers from taking pictures, turned off the WiFi and have told residents they can't charge their cell phones due to a lack of power. - Natural News.

WATCH: Sandy Aftermath a War Zone.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report - Michael, Kilauea, Paluweh, Etna, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Santiaguito, Nevado del Ruiz, Galeras, Cumbal, Reventador, Ambrym, Nyiragongo, & Tjörnes Fracture Zone!

November 15, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Lava flows on Kilauea volcano's coastal plain are feeling increased pressure and have reached within 400m/0.25mi of the shoreline, and are expected to enter the ocean in the next few days! After a month of building pressure, increased earthquakes along Kilauea's upper east rift zone, and the highest lava lake levels recorded within the summit crater of Halema‘uma‘u -- within 27m/89ft of the previous crater floor, just 7m/24ft out of sight -- the situation on the volcano has stabilized within the past 2 weeks.

The MODIS TERRA and AQUA satellites detected 4 thermal anomalies at Michael volcano, South Sandwich Islands, on 14 November suggesting that some significant activity has started there.

Ash emissions from Paluweh volcano (Rokatenda) off Flores, Indonesia, continue to show up on satellite images. VAAC Darwin reported a plume at 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude extending about 100 km to the west from the volcano today.

Not much activity has been reported recently from Etna volcano, but a small SO2 plume showed up on NOAA's satellite image of 14 Nov, suggesting a phase of increased degassing.

Popocatépetl's activity remains elevated (compared to previous weeks) with frequent (141 during 13-14 Nov) emissions, mainly of steam, but some with small ash plumes and ejection of incandescent material onto the upper crater area. Glow is well visible at night and a strong SO2 emission signal indicates the continuing rise of fresh magma. A seismic swarm seems to be occurring today.

Very few if any explosions have been occurring recently at Fuego volcano in Guatemala. The lava flow towards the Ceniza canyon, 350 m long on 14 Nov, remains weakly active. Nearby Santiaguito also remains mainly effusive in activity with only few explosions, but still active block lava flows on the flanks of the dome.

Nicaragua's San Cristobal volcano has been showing some tremor in recent days.

During the past week, Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia showed in increase in seismic activity with more frequent small quakes. They were mostly located N and NW of the Arenas crater at depths between 4 and 10 km. The largest was a magnitude 2.2 event on 5 Nov at 01:38 local time.

Seismic activity at Galeras volcano remained at fluctuating levels. Occasional gas and ash emissions were observed.

Seismic swams continue to occur beneath Cumbal volcano. No other changes have been noted at the volcano.

Reventador volcano in Ecuador continues to build a new lava dome and effuse a lava flow. Strong steaming can be observed when the volcano is not hidden in clouds, and occasional explosions can occur any time.

Significant SO2 plumes are regularly seen from Ambrym volcano on Vanuatu and from Nyiragongo volcano in the DR Congo. Both volcanoes continue to have very active lava lakes.

The seismic swarm in the Tjörnes Fracture Zone north off Iceland seems finally to be coming to an end. - Volcano Discovery.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Possible Meteor Spotted in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada!

November 15, 2012 - TORONTO, CANADA - There was an unexpected sight in the sky Thursday morning for some 680News listeners, who called the newsroom to say they believe they saw an asteroid of meteor shooting over the sky around 6:45 a.m.

One listener named Sherry said she was waiting for a coffee when she saw a very bright light that caught her eye. "You know how the North Star is really bright and big. From where I was looking it was five times bigger than that from the naked eye; it was huge, it was massive," Sherry said. Although it's not yet confirmed, an astrophysicist and lecturer with the University of Toronto isn't doubting what people saw, and he too, is pretty sure it was a meteor. "The 680News report that I got from a woman that I heard this morning, that sounded like there be some real meat to it," Dr. Ian Shelton said.

"There's regular clockwork in terms of the fact that you can predict that there's going to be a certain number every year coming down, whether you see them or not," he added. "But in terms of knowing where they're going to happen, exact frequency and any other details about them, they're gifts from heaven basically and we just take them as they come." Shelton said based on the ground track, what people saw probably was not the slow-moving space station, which quickly moved across the sky approximately an hour earlier, nor was it an early meteor from the Leonid shower, which is supposed to peak Friday night into Saturday. And for anyone who missed Thursday morning's show, Shelton said the Leonid shower will start becoming visible late Thursday night, anytime after 11:30. Meanwhile, Shelton would like to analyze any images taken during the event. Pictures and video of the event can be sent to - 680 News.

THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS: "Grave Situation" Leading to Full Scale War - "Color Red " Alert Sounds Now in Rishon Lezion Region, Pending Ground Invasion!

November 15, 2012 - MIDDLE EAST - The "Color Red" rocket alert system sounded in Rishon Lezion Thursday afternoon, as well as in the surrounding areas of Gadera and Rehovot, Israel Radio reported. The Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted three rockets fired toward Ashdod Thursday afternoon. No injuries were reported. Palestinian terrorists on Thursday fired eight rockets toward the Eshkol region. One of the rockets landed within a populated area, while seven fell in open areas. There were no damages or injuries as a result of the attacks.

Hamas says "no" to truce.
Hamas on Thursday said they would not consider a truce with Israel for the moment, Agence France Presse reported. "Talk of a truce is another attempt by the occupation at deception," he said, adding that "the enemy started an open war on our people and our resistance in Gaza," AFP quoted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as saying at a press conference. He continued: "We consider talk of a truce at this time an attempt to provide more cover for the continuation of the escalation on Gaza," AFP quoted Zuhri as saying. An Egyptian delegation, headed by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, will visit Gaza on Friday, AFP reported on Thursday. The report of a visit comes after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held an emergency meeting on Thursday with Kandil, Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah El-Sissy and Interior Minister Mohamed Gamal El-Din at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Al-Ahram reported.

Gaza rocket hits area south of Tel Aviv for first time.
A rocket from the Gaza Strip exploded in an open field outside of Rishon Lezion on Thursday evening, marking the first hit in the center of the country in renewed violence from the Gaza Strip. The rocket, one of over 240 fired from Gaza into the South since the IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defense Wednesday to root out the terror infrastructure in the coastal territory, landed less than 15 km south of Tel Aviv. The operation began with the Wednesday afternoon targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, the chief of Hamas's military wing. Earlier Thursday, three people were killed and two others injured in a direct hit on a Kiryat Malachi apartment building. Hours later, a rocket fired into the Eshkol region injured three IDF soldiers, two moderately. MDA paramedics treated five wounded people at the site of the Kiryat Malachi attack, in which a rocket hit a four-story building. Three people were pronounced dead on the scene and two others were suffering moderate injuries, including a baby. A house in Ashdod and a school in Ofakim near Beersheba also sustained damage from rockets on Thursday morning. Rockets also landed in the Eshkol Regional Council area, Gan Yavne and Ashkelon. The IDF Spokesman's Office stated the Iron Dome rocket defense system has successfully intercepted more than 80 rockets since the operation began. - Jerusalem Post.

WATCH: Gaza witness - No one's safe, civilians terrified of war threat.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Euro-Zone Plunges Back Into Recession - Second Time Since 2009, Debt Crisis Reverberating Around the Globe, Nothing in Sight For a Recovery!

November 15, 2012 - EUROPE - The euro zone debt crisis dragged the bloc into its second recession since 2009 in the third quarter despite modest growth in Germany and France, data showed on Thursday.  The French and German economies both managed 0.2 percent growth in the July-to-September period but their resilience could not save the 17-nation bloc from contraction as the likes of The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Austria shrank. 

Flags of Germany, France and the European Union flutter in the wind before the meeting of new French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, May 15, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz.
Economic output in the euro zone fell 0.1 percent in the quarter, following a 0.2 percent drop in the second quarter.  Those two quarters of contraction put the euro zone's 9.4 trillion euro ($12 trillion) economy back into recession, although Italy and Spain have been contracting for a year already and Greece is suffering an outright depression.  A rebound in Europe is still far off. The debt crisis that began in Greece in late 2009 is still reverberating around the globe and holding back a lasting recovery.  Analysts said even the euro zone's top two economies were likely to succumb in the final three months of the year.  "That was the last good number Germany for the time being," said Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank. "I don't expect the German economy to return to decent growth rates until the middle of next year. 

Most economists expect Germany to contract in the fourth quarter for the first time since the end of 2011. And where Germany goes, France is likely to follow.  "We expect the French economy to contract again in the final quarter of this year," said Joost Beaumont of ABN Amro.  For all of 2012, the European Commission sees the euro zone contracting 0.4 percent, while growing just 0.1 percent in 2013. Business surveys point to difficult times ahead and the public's backlash to austerity policies is growing.  A Reuters poll of more than 70 economists predicted the bloc's new recession will extend until the end of the year and 2013 promises little better than stagnation, in line with what the Commission is forecasting.  Conducted before Thursday's data were released, the consensus was for a 2012 contraction of 0.5 percent and just 0.1 percent growth next year.  Millions of workers went on strike across Europe on Wednesday to protest the government spending cuts they say are driving the region into a deeper malaise but which Germany and the Commission say are crucial to healing the wounds of a decade-long, credit-fuelled boom.  "We are now getting into a double dip recession which is entirely self-made," said Paul De Grauwe, an economist with the London School of Economics. "It is a result of excessive austerity in southern countries and unwillingness in the north to do anything else," he said. - Reuters.

WATCH: Street battles across Europe as general strike turns violent.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking the Large Louisiana Sinkhole - Residents Getting Frustrated With Slow Pace of Sinkhole Work; Steps Now Ordered to Hold Down Risk at the Sinkhole; Co. Seeks OK from Bayou Corne Residents to Install Methane Monitoring and Venting Equipment?!

November 15, 2012 - LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - The state has ordered new steps to minimize risk of exposure to natural gas under property where a large sinkhole formed in August in Assumption Parish. The Louisiana Office of Conservation on Monday issued the new round of directives to Texas Brine Co. LLC, which had operations at an underground salt cavern, where it extracted brine for nearby petrochemical facilities.

The state says data shows the sinkhole is linked to the collapse of a side wall in the cavern. Texas Brine has been ordered to install a network of observation wells and pressure monitoring wells in the area. Conservation Commissioner James Welsh also ordered Texas Brine to install in-home methane detectors and upgrade ventilation systems for slab-foundation homes and buildings in the area where underground gas has accumulated. “The steps outlined in this directive will give us an added layer of protection in ensuring public safety and move the response effort closer to bringing the lives of the residents of the Bayou Corne area back to normal,” Welsh said in a news release. About 350 area residents are under an evacuation order. - Claims Journal.

Emotions ran high at another full house in Pierre Part Tuesday as residents affected by the sinkhole received the latest updates from state and local agencies, as well as officials from Texas-Brine. The State Department of Natural Resources is asking the company to submit its plan for collecting, interpreting and reporting data on how the underground salt cavern collapsed. It has been more than five months since gas bubbles were discovered on Bayou Corne and three months since the giant sinkhole forced local and state agencies to issue an evacuation for nearby residents. Tuesday, another phase in addressing the issue as Texas-Brine is expected to submit a new plan for data collection and interpretation. The plan, which is supposed to be emailed to the Department of Natural Resources by midnight, will outline a 3-D geo-seismic evaluation of the underground salt cavern to see if there are other areas that could likely collapse. For some residents, the progress is coming too slowly. "It just seems urgency is something they could work with. They should work at a faster pace," said one resident. - WAFB.

Permission slips being distributed to residents of the Bayou Corne area of Assumption Parish will allow a company to install equipment to mitigate any dangers that might be posed by underground methane gas The Advocate reports ( that the forms were to be distributed Thursday. The state Office of Conservation on Monday directed Texas Brine Co. to install methane monitors and ventilation systems to avoid an undetected accumulation of methane in enclosed spaces inside slab-foundation homes. The moves come months after a large sinkhole opened up in the area, where Texas Brine extracted brine from an underground salt cavern for nearby petrochemical facilities. The sinkhole opened up after months of gas bubbles developed in waterways and land-based water wells. - The Republic.

WATCH: Louisiana sinkhole continues to expand.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Nuclear Dead Zone - TEPCO Admits Radiation is Entering the Pacific, 300 Billion Becquerels a Month!

November 15, 2012 - JAPAN - Radioactivity is persisting in the ocean waters close to Japan's ruined nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi.

Seafood from the seas around the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant is still not considered safe to eat.
Noriko Hayashi for The Washington Post via Getty Images.
New data presented at a conference held on 12–13 November at the University of Tokyo show that levels of radioactivity in the sea around the plant remain stable, rather than falling as expected... The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere... in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels, a relatively high level compared to the natural background... Researchers at the conference are convinced that something is preventing the radiation levels from dropping. “There must be a source,” says Scott Fowler, an oceanographer at Stony Brook University in New York... In fact, a fresh analysis by oceanographer Jota Kanda at the Tokyo University of Marine Science [estimates] the plant itself is leaking around 0.3 terabecquerels [0.3 trillion becquerels] per month... - Nature.

Groundwater is flowing into the reactor buildings and becoming tainted with radioactive materials... They’re trying to collect the water and store in the tanks for decontamination... But, they don’t deny this polluted water is seeping into the Pacific Ocean.

WATCH: TEPCO still struggling with Fukushima.

PLANETARY TREMORS: East Coast Quakes Can Travel Much Farther Than Thought - And They Do More Damage in a Wider Area, Findings by USGS Geologists Show!

November 15, 2012 -  UNITED STATES - Data from the 2011 earthquake centered in Virginia shows East Coast tremors can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought, the U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday.  The agency estimated about one-third of the U.S. population could have felt the magnitude 5.8 tremor centered about 50 miles northwest of Richmond, which would mean more people were affected than any earthquake in U.S. history. Scientists also found the quake that caused more than $200 million in damage triggered landslides at distances four times farther and over an area 20 times larger than research from previous quakes has shown.

Epicentre of the 2011 Virginia earthquake.
"Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake," USGS Director Marcia McNutt said in a news release about the findings presented at the Geological Society of America conference in Charlotte, N.C.  Researchers used landslides to see how far-reaching the shaking from East coast earthquakes could be. The unexpected jolt cracked the Washington Monument in spots and toppled delicate masonry high atop the National Cathedral. The shaking was felt from Georgia to New England.  According to the findings, the farthest landslide from the quake was 150 miles from the epicenter, a greater distance than any other similar-sized earthquake. Previous similar quakes have resulted in landslides no farther than 36 miles from the epicenter.  Additionally, the landslides from the 2011 tremor occurred in an area of about 12,895 square-miles — about the size of the state of Maryland. Previous studies indicated an area of about 580 square-miles — about the size of Houston — from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

"It's just much more dangerous to have an earthquake at that level back on the East Coast than it would be on the West Coast," said Edwin Harp, a USGS scientist and co-author of the study. "If something big happened, although it's much less frequent, it would tend to damage a lot more buildings because they're probably not quite up to the codes that they are in California."  Geologic structure and rock properties on the East Coast allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening compared with the West Coast, Harp said.  He said equations used to predict ground shaking might need to be revised now that scientists know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes.  The information also will help with building codes as well as emergency preparedness, the USGS said.  While West Coast earthquake veterans scoffed at what they viewed as only a moderate temblor, the August 2011 quake changed the way officials along the East Coast viewed emergency preparedness. Emergency response plans that once focused on hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and snow are being revised to include quakes.  Some states have enacted laws specifically related to the quake, and there is anecdotal evidence of a spike in insurance coverage for earthquake damage. - MSNBC.

THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: On the Precipice of World War III - UN Security Council Holds Emergency Meeting on Gaza Violence!

November 15, 2012 - UNITED NATIONS -  The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting, late Wednesday, on the situation in the Gaza Strip, where - earlier in the day - Israel launched an offensive against Hamas militants, killing the group’s military chief.  The rare late-night session was prompted by a request from Egypt and council member Morocco on behalf of the Palestinians.  The 15-nation council was briefed, in private, by U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman and then heard from both the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors.

After the meeting, at which council members also expressed their perspective on the violence, the president of the council this month, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said in his capacity as Indian ambassador and not on behalf of the council, that he hopes the meeting would lead to a de-escalation in Gaza. No further council meetings are immediately planned on the matter.  Israel says its offensive is aimed at crippling Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and uses it as a base to fire rockets into southern Israel.  Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari was killed in an air strike earlier in the day, as were several Palestinian civilians.  Israel’s U.N. Ambassador, Ron Prosor, says his government was acting in self-defense.  “Every state, every nation, every government has a right to defend its citizens," he said. "We will not allow that [rocket attacks] to continue.” ​​Israel and the United States list Hamas as a terrorist group.

At Wednesday’s meeting, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said there is “no justification” for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel and she urged them to stop immediately.  Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour warned in his comments to the council that Israel’s military is mobilizing on the ground and that fear and panic are spreading among Palestinian civilians.  Speaking after the meeting, flanked by Arab ambassadors, he told reporters that the attack on his people must stop.  “This aggression has to stop and it has to be stopped immediately.  And we condemn this aggression against our people," he said. "If this aggression stops tonight, then the mission of the Security Council was partially accomplished. If it is not, we will come back to the Security Council again and again.”  Ambassador Mansour says Wednesday's dead included at least three Palestinian children, including an 11-month-old infant, as well as a 19-year-old pregnant woman. - VOA News.

WATCH: Pillar of Defense - Israel spokesman on child casualties.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: 28 Pilot Whales Stranded on Farewell Spit, Golden Bay in New Zealand - 12 Died in the First Hour; Others to be Euthanised!

November 15, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - A pod of 28 pilot whales stranded on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay are to be shot by DOC staff. The Department of Conservation told ONE News that it was first alerted about a beaching at 9am, and when volunteers arrived to rescue a second whale, they discovered 28 stranded on the beach.

A pod of 28 whales stranded at Farewell Spit, Golden Bay.
Twelve whales died in the first hour and DOC staff said the unusually high death rate and the fact that the next high tide is not until tomorrow lunch time forced them to make the decision, along with local iwi and Project Jonah volunteers, to euthanise the rest of the stranded whales. Staff will use a high-calibre rifle to euthanise the whales and this process will start in the next hour. "It's really sad and not a situation we take lightly but anything else is inhumane and would prolong their suffering," DOC biodiversity manager Hans Stoffregen said. "They don't look that flash so putting them all through another two days of this is inhumane."

The pod was lying almost amongst the driftwood and the next high tide at midnight probably would not reach them, he said. The whales will be left on the beach to be savaged and rot. Stoffregen said it would possible more whales might also come in, and he asked anyone seeing more whales out at sea or beached to contact DOC. This stranding is said to be earlier than usual, with the main season for whale strandings from around the end of the year through until March, he said. Whale strandings are not uncommon in Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island. A pod of 99 pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay in January. Many died while more than 90 volunteers worked to refloat others. Project Jonah chief executive Kimberly Muncaster says the geography of Golden Bay is confusing for whales and they often end up stranded again after being refloated. - TVNZ, ONE News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Tlalchapa, Mexico!

November 15, 2012 - MEXICO - An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 has hit southwest Mexico at a depth of 60.9 km, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quake happened near the cities of Tlalchapa and Arcelia. Reportedly it could be felt as far as the capital, Mexico City, which is 173 km away from the epicenter of the quake. So far there have been no reports of injuries or damage.

Mexico is one of the world’s most seismically active regions. Beneath it are three large tectonic plates, which are in motion, and cause frequent earthquakes and even occasionally volcanic eruptions. In 1985, an earthquake of 8.1 in magnitude, one of the largest in the country, killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. - RT.

This is the sixth earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 or higher over the last four days. Four of which have occurred along Central and South America.

Seismotectonics of Mexico
Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismologically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.

The area west of the Gulf of California, including Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, is moving northwestward with the Pacific plate at about 50 mm per year. Here, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other creating strike-slip faulting, the southern extension of California's San Andreas fault. In the past, this relative plate motion pulled Baja California away from the coast forming the Gulf of California and is the cause of earthquakes in the Gulf of California region today. - USGS.