Friday, November 16, 2012

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Gaza Under Fire - Palestinians Shoot Down Israeli F-16 Fighter Jet, as Israel Mobilizes Up to 75,000 Reserve Troops! UPDATE: Israeli Military Confirms Rocket Strike Outside Jerusalem!

November 16, 2012 - GAZA - Palestinian fighters have downed an Israeli warplane flying over the Gaza Strip as retaliatory rocket attacks from the enclave continue to sound alarms across Israel.

File photo shows an Israeli F-16 fighter jet.
According to Hamas sources, the Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down on Friday. Meanwhile, several Israelis were injured after three rockets fired from Gaza hit the Zionist settlement of Gush Etzion in al-Quds (Jerusalem). Palestinian missiles and rockets have also hit the other Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Eshkol, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Be'er Sheva.
In Tel Aviv, a rocket hit a commercial district while a second rocket landed 200 meters away from the American Embassy. It is the first time that Tel Aviv has come under attack in decades. Three Israeli soldiers have been injured in a rocket attack in Eshkol.
Hospitals across Israel are now in state of emergency. Palestinians have fired over 550 rockets and missiles into Israel since Wednesday after Tel Aviv launched a major military strike against the besieged Palestinian territory, killing scores of people, including women and children. The Israeli Army says it has hit more than 600 targets in Gaza during the past three days. According to Israeli sources, the Iron Dome missile shield has only intercepted one-fifth of the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, residents of the besieged Gaza Strip say they are getting text messages warning of military escalation as reports suggest that Israeli military forces are preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza. - Press TV.

Israel media: Army to mobilize up to 75,000 reserve troops.
 Defence Minister Ehud Barak sought government approval on Friday to mobilize up to 75,000 reserve troops for Israel's Gaza campaign, political sources said, in a sign of preparations for a possible ground offensive. The sources, speaking after Palestinian rockets were fired at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, said ministers were being polled by telephone by the cabinet secretary to approve the call-up. - Jewish Journal.

UPDATE: Israeli Military Confirms Rocket Strike Outside Jerusalem!

The Israeli military confirmed Friday that a militant-fired rocket from Gaza struck outside Jerusalem, the first time the holy city has been targeted since 1970.  “Confirmed: A rocket fired from Gaza struck outside Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city,” an Israeli military spokesperson tweeted.  According to Haaretz, Hamas claimed they were targeting the Knesset, Israel’s government building.  At 50 miles away from the Gaza border, Jerusalem was thought to be beyond the range of Gaza rocket attacks, according to the Associated Press.  “We are sending a short and simple message: There is no security for any Zionist on any single inch of Palestine and we plan more surprises,” Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida told the AP.  Air raid sirens sounded throughout the capital and residents said they heard an explosion. The rocket reportedly landed in an open area just south of the city. No casualties were reported. - The Blaze.

WATCH: Russia Today's Live Stream From Gaza

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Mysterious Deaths of Thousands of Migrating Birds Lost at Sea - Fishermen Report Seeing Hundreds Drowning off South Coast of the United Kingdom?!

November 16, 2012 - UNITED KINGDOM - The RSPB are investigating the mysterious deaths of thousands of common migratory birds out at sea.  Fishermen have reported seeing hundreds of seemingly exhausted and disoriented garden birds dropping from the sky into the waters off England's south coast.  At the same time, the east coast, from Northumberland to Kent, has seen the arrival of many birds, including redwings, fieldfares, bramblings and blackbirds, perhaps numbering in their millions.
A forlorn chiffchaff peers out from the portholes of a fishing boat: The RSPB are investigating
reports of thousands of lost migratory birds dying at sea.

One professional boat skipper told the conservation charity: 'While fishing about 10 miles south of Portsmouth, we witnessed thousands of garden birds disorientated, land on the sea and most drowning.  'Species included goldcrests, robins, thrushes and blackbirds. The sky was thick with garden birds. I estimate I saw 500 birds die and that was just in our 300-yard sphere.  'On the way home we just saw dead songbirds in the water: it was a harrowing sight.' Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: 'The scale of these reports are truly shocking, and it has the potential to adversely affect the status of species which may be declining for other reasons.'  It is believed that the birds fell victim to an appalling combination of fog and heavy winds around England's coasts at the end of last month.  The RSPB suggests that the massive swarms of birds arriving on the east coast may have been the lucky survivors that managed to make it across the North Sea from Scandinavia in difficult conditions.  Many others may have perished before making landfall, the Society said.   

Graham Madge of the RSPB told Radio 4's Material World programme: 'What we seem to have is what ornithologists call a classic 'fall' where you get a concentrated period of migration that basically dumped a lot of birds along the east coast.  'We think that these birds left Scandinavia in good weather conditions, which is what birds are evolved to do, and they were drifting along the North Sea where they encountered the foggy conditions that we had a few weeks ago.'   One such site to experience a ‘fall’ of stranded migrant birds is the RSPB’s Bempton Cliffs reserve in North Yorkshire.  Ian Kendall, the reserves manager at the site, said: 'There are birds in their thousands, on the cliffs, in the surrounding fields, hedgerows and along the length of the Yorkshire Coast.  'The birds left Scandinavia in glorious sunshine but as they crossed the North Sea, they flew into fog and rain, so they stopped off at the first bit of land they have come across. The place has been dripping with birds.'  - Daily Mail.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - 1 Million Robots Ready to Replace 1 Million Human Jobs at Foxconn, First Replacement Robots Have Arrived!

November 16, 2012 - CHINA - Foxconn, the Chinese electronics manufacturer that builds numerous mobile devices and gaming consoles, has been in the media lately because of labor issues, complaints over working conditions, rumored riots, and even suicides, all occurring in the past few years as demand for smartphones and tablets is skyrocketing.

While consumers began to complain in response to media coverage over working conditions, prompting Apple to hire an audit of the factories, Foxconn’s President Terry Gou had another idea for dealing with labor concerns: replace people with robots. In fact, last year Gou said that the company would be aiming to replace 1 million Foxconn workers with robots within 3 years. It appears as if Gou has started the ball in motion. Since the announcement, a first batch of 10,000 robots — aptly named Foxbots — appear to have made its way into at least one factory, and by the end of 2012, another 20,000 more will be installed.

Though little is really known about these new bots, the rate of robot installation thus far is much lower than Gou’s original claim; however, the evidence suggests that it is difficult to know exactly what is going on in the factories and what is coming down the pipe. On top of that, these robots are manufactured in house, meaning that little information about them needs to be shared with the outside world in marketing reports, for example. The FoxBots that have been installed apparently are designed for simple, yet precise repetitive actions common for simple manufacturing robots (lifting, selecting, placement). When it comes to automated factories, robots that can perform these tasks aren’t really anything new. But one look at the photo of the robot and it’s clear this isn’t just a simple machine, but a similar type of robotic arm to those used in assembly lines of automotive manufacturers. That means more sophistication might be possible with these bots alone or in tandem. - Singularity Hub.

WATCH: Inside Foxconn - Exclusive look at how an iPad is made

DISASTER IMPACT: Human Waste Continues to Pour Into New York Harbor Following Passage of Superstorm Sandy!

November 16, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Human waste has been pouring into New York Harbor from the fifth largest sewage treatment plant in the nation since it was hit by Sandy, and the operator of the plant cannot predict when it will stop. A 12-foot surge of water swamped the Newark plant that serves some three million people when Sandy struck on Oct. 29.

The plant has pumped more than three billion gallons of untreated or partially treated wastewater into local waterways since then. Mike DeFrancisci, executive director of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, would only say "ASAP" when asked when repairs to the sprawling facility could be made. Until then, the main outfall will continue dumping millions of gallons of partially treated human waste a day at a point close to the Statue of Liberty across from Manhattan. "We've never had the facility flood like this," he said.

Pathogens in partially treated waste are a health hazard and public safety threat, officials said. Fishing, crabbing and shellfishing bans in the New Jersey waters of the harbor will remain in effect, said Larry Ragonese, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection also issued an advisory to residents to avoid contact with the water. While no target date has been set for repairs at the plant to be completed, DeFrancisci said he expected the facility, which has miles of underground chambers and pipes, to be redesigned to withstand the new reality of storms like Sandy. "Underneath it would be no different than being in a battleship, making sure the doors are watertight," DeFrancisci said. - NBC.

WATCH: Human waste has been pouring into New York Harbor.

STORM ALERT: Extreme Weather Ahead - Superstorm Shaz Threatens to Smash New South Wales and Queensland This Weekend!

November 16, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - Supercell thunderstorms with the potential to create tornadoes are threatening to smash NSW and Queensland this weekend. Considered the most dangerous storms, supercells develop where wind shear is present through a very unstable atmosphere.

Moving in from the west, the unstable weather system threatens severe storms. Picture: File Source: Supplied.
"Supercell thunderstorms are likely to produce severe weather," said Tom Saunders, Senior Meteorologist at The Weather Channel. He said such extreme weather events were "likely across northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland this weekend and have the potential to cause flash flooding, damaging winds and large hail". "The wind shear leads to rotation within the storm and a longer lifespan," he said. "Supercells often cause very heavy rain and flash flooding, large hail, damaging winds gusts and occasionally tornadoes.

The more intense thunderstorms this weekend have the potential to bring around 50mm of rain, but most of northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland are expected to receive at least 20mm. Mr Saunders said the chance of severe storms would reduce by Monday as the trough moves offshore. In Queensland, any storms will follow an early burst of hot weather. Ipswich is expected to record a top of 37C on Saturday, as will Brisbane's western and southern suburbs. Much of the west will be in the 40s. Weather Bureau forecaster Bryan Rolstone said the hottest place in the state would most likely be Bedourie in the far southwest, with 43C. "A northwest wind will bring hot air out of the Gulf (of Carpentaria) and the NT," Mr Rolstone said. "There'll be more moisture around on Saturday and a trough will be right on us, providing lift and moisture. "We're about a month behind with our storm season, but moisture levels are rising." - Herald Sun.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.8 Magnitude Quake Strikes Kuril Islands, Russia - Seventh Major Tremor in Five Days, Global Uptick in Seismic Activity!

November 16, 2012 - RUSSIA - According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an earthquake of 6.8 magnitude on the Richter scale rocked Severo-Kuril'sk, Kuril Islands, Russia. The quake occurred at 18:12:37 UTC and was located at 49.291°N 155.445°E, with a depth of 4.9km (3.0miles).

The epicentre was at a distance of 161km (100mi) SSW of Severo-Kuril'sk, Russia; 454km (282mi) SSW of Vilyuchinsk, Russia; 473km (294mi) SSW of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia; 479km (298mi) SSW of Yelizovo, Russia; and 1981km (1231mi) NE of Tokyo, Japan.

According to NOAA's Pacific Tsunamic Warning Center there is no current warning, watch or advisory in effect for this earthquake. Based on all available data, a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii. Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction.

This is the seventh earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or higher over the last five days, suggesting a major global uptick in seismic activity.

Seismotectonics of the Kuril-Kamchatka Arc. 
The Kuril-Kamchatka arc extends approximately 2,100 km from Hokkaido, Japan, along the Kuril Islands and the Pacific coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula to its intersection with the Aleutian arc near the Commander Islands, Russia. It marks the region where the Pacific plate subducts into the mantle beneath the Okhotsk microplate, part of the larger North America plate. This subduction is responsible for the generation of the Kuril Islands chain, active volcanoes located along the entire arc, and the deep offshore Kuril-Kamchatka trench. Relative to a fixed North America plate, the Pacific plate is moving towards the northwest at a rate that increases from 75 mm/year near the northern end of the arc to 83 mm/year in the south.  Plate motion is predominantly convergent along the Kuril-Kamchatka arc with obliquity increasing towards the southern section of the arc. The subducting Pacific plate is relatively old, particularly adjacent to Kamchatka where its age is greater than 100 Ma. Consequently, the Wadati-Benioff zone is well defined to depths of approximately 650 km. The central section of the arc is comprised of an oceanic island arc system, which differs from the continental arc systems of the northern and southern sections. Oblique convergence in the southern Kuril arc results in the partitioning of stresses into both trench-normal thrust earthquakes and trench-parallel strike-slip earthquakes, and the westward translation of the Kuril forearc. This westward migration of the Kuril forearc currently results in collision between the Kuril arc in the north and the Japan arc in the south, resulting in the deformation and uplift of the Hidaka Mountains in central Hokkaido.  The Kuril-Kamchatka arc is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Deformation of the overriding North America plate generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the subduction zone interface between the Pacific and North America plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Kuril-Kamchatka arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific plate and can reach depths of approximately 650 km. - USGS.

SOLAR WATCH: Prominence Eruption and Non-Earth-Directed Coronal Mass Ejections - Chance of Flares From Sunspots 1610 and 1614!

November 16, 2012 - SUN - A large prominence eruption took place this morning off the eastern limb as Sunspots AR1610 and AR1614 continues to pose a threat for M-class solar flares. 

PROMINENCE ERUPTION: Solar activity is currently at low levels. There will remain a chance for C-Class flares and perhaps an isolated M-Class event. A prominence eruption off the eastern limb hurled a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) into space this morning, however it does not appear to be Earth directed. The lopsided blob of plasma was directed towards the east and away from Earth. Image by Lasco C2. Solar X-Rays are currently on the rise. A new sunspot located close to the northeast limb produced a minor C8.4 solar flare at 15:39 UTC. - Solar Ham.

CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-class solar flares and a 5% chance of X-flares today. The most likely sources would be sunspots AR1610 and AR1614, which have unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields. Eruptions from AR1614 would likely be Earth-directed.

RED AURORAS: Auroras are usually green, and sometimes purple, but seldom do sky watchers see much red. The geomagnetic storm of Nov. 13/14 was different. It produced auroras with a distinctly rosy hue. David E. Cartier, Sr. photographed the phenomenon near Marsh Lake, about 40 km east of Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory. "I was amazed by the deep scarlet color, which was immediately recognizable to the unaided eye," says Cartier. Similar splashes of candy-cane red were spotted over Wisconsin and Michigan. The apparition might be related to rare all-red auroras sometimes seen during intense geomagnetic storms. They occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth's surface and are not yet fully understood. Some researchers believe the red lights are linked to a large influx of low-energy electrons. When such electrons recombine with oxygen ions in the upper atmosphere, red photons are emitted. At present, space weather forecasters cannot predict when this will occur. Could more reds be in the offing? NOAA estimates a 30% to 35% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Nov. 16th and 17th. - Spaceweather.

WATCH: Prominence eruption off the eastern limb of the Sun.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: 40,000 Fish Found Dead in 30 Acres of Pond in Quanzhou, China?!

November 16, 2012 - CHINA - The following mass fish die-off constitutes the 419 mass death event in 68 countries since the start of 2012.

These two days Quanzhou Taiwanese Investment Zone in Luoyang Town Wanan villagers Wu old man sadly gate of his house, fish pond water allegedly let go, more than 40,000 fish died, the loss of more than 20,000 yuan. Local authorities said Wu old man fish did not sign a contract, has instructed the village committee and the farmers in time to clean up the dead fish, to avoid affecting the water quality.

Wu old man was busy cleaning up the dead fish.
Reporters yesterday to Quanzhou Taiwanese Investment Zone in Luoyang town Luoyang Bridge, to see hundreds of thousands of dead fish floating in the river bridgehead sluice, there are a lot of fish along an endless stream of water floating down, a few young people busy Laoyu. Villagers Liu old man every afternoon on the Luoyang Bridge walk, the day before yesterday afternoon, he saw the number of dead fish floating in the bridgehead on both sides of the beach and sea. Someone secretly my home fish pond water let out, the fish are dead. "63-year-old Wu old man is the master of a 30 acres of fish ponds upstream sluice, he kept a fish of more than 20 years, the first time to encounter such situation. He said his fish pond, a sluice, usually open, easy spillway, while near Luoyang bridge another sluice is closed.

Many dead fish floating on the pond fish Wu old man.
Wu old man will be in every night to the sluice gates at the inspections, he has something to go out in the evening of the 10th, no inspections sluice that night, some people took the opportunity to steal to open the sluice gates, the fish pond water into the sea, Wu old man found the next morning, the water levels has dropped by more than 2 meters, a large number of fish stranded. "This man would not give up again release on the 12th." Wu old man reluctantly said, this person may be the middle of the night to start fish ponds did not install the monitor, I do not know who did it. 12th, the death of a large number of fish in the fish ponds, drift downstream into the sea. Fish ponds has invested more than 40,000 fry carp, mullet, carp, these two days have basically killed off, and the loss of more than 20,000 yuan. The reporter saw aground with a large number of dead fish in the fish ponds along the coast. "To make all these dead fish to clean it takes three to four days." Wu old man reluctantly said, there is no monitoring, mostly not caught committing the crime, and therefore do not intend to alarm. - IFeng [Translated].

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Russian Drought and Crop Failure Sends Global Wheat Prices Soaring to a Four-Year High - Every Breadbasket Region on Earth Has Been Hit With Crop Failure in 2012!

November 16, 2012 - RUSSIA - Siberian farmers can barely remember when they saw a wheat harvest so small. The last crop failure on this scale was in the early 1960s, when Nikita Khrushchev led what was the Soviet Union. Back then, the shortage in one of the world's top wheat growing regions roiled global grain markets, forcing Moscow to use its gold reserves to buy wheat from the US, its Cold War arch rival.

Today's crop failure, which follows an unusually dry and hot summer, has sent global wheat prices soaring - to a four-year high yesterday - threatening higher food prices around the world. Siberia is not the only problem. Wheat production in almost every other breadbasket region - Ukraine, Australia, Argentina and the US - is in trouble because of bad weather. As a result, global wheat supply will fall in the 2012-13 season to 661m tonnes, well below consumption of 688m tonnes, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. "The market, particularly for milling wheat, is very tight," says a Geneva-based senior commodities trader, echoing a widely held view among dealers. The shortage, which is becoming more evident as the harvest of spring wheat finishes in the northern hemisphere and farmers start harvesting their winter wheat in the southern hemisphere, is pushing up wheat prices only months after the cost of corn and soyabeans soared on the back of a drought in the US farming belt.

In Paris, milling wheat rose yesterday to a four-year peak, hitting €279.25 a tonne, up 40 per cent since January. The European benchmark is near its all-time high of €295 set during the 2007-08 food crisis. The price of feed wheat in London, an important reference in Europe, yesterday jumped to a record high of £221.75 a tonne, up 44 per cent from January. Abdolreza Abbassian, senior grain economist at the FAO in Rome, warns the outlook for wheat is "deteriorating" rapidly as weather-related supply problems mount. "The potential for further price rises is there," he says. Wheat prices in Chicago, another important benchmark, are also up significantly, but remain well below record levels because of a better harvest in the US. The rise in wheat prices is more worrying than the increase for corn and soyabeans earlier this year after the US drought because the crop is more important for global food security. - Financial Times.

THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Temporary Cease-Fire Collapses - Egypt PM Backs Palestinians; Israel Drafts 16,000 Reservists For Ground Invasion of Gaza! UPDATE: Watch Live Stream From Gaza!

November 16, 2012 - ISRAEL - Israel started drafting 16,000 reserve troops on Friday as Egypt’s prime minister visited the Gaza Strip to show support for Palestinians amid a cross-border conflict with Hamas militants that risks spiraling into an all-out war.  But even as Prime Minister Hesham Kandil arrived for a three-hour visit in the coastal enclave, a temporary cease-fire declared by Israel at Egypt’s request collapsed after both sides accused the other of violating it.  Israeli troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers have massed near the Palestinian territory. Israel's army would be heavily dependent on reservists to fight any prolonged war. The military has received a green light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.

Gaza under heavy Israeli bombardment.
Overnight, the military said it targeted about 150 of the sites Gaza gunmen use to fire rockets at Israel, as well as ammunition warehouses, bringing to 450 the number of sites struck since the operation began Wednesday.   The latest upsurge in the long-running conflict came Wednesday when Israel killed Hamas' military mastermind, Ahmed Jabari, in a precision airstrike on his car. Israel then began shelling Gaza from land, air and sea.  Nineteen Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday.

Haneen Tafesh in hospital, casualty of the Israeli strike on Gaza.
Israel says its offensive responded to increasing missile salvos from Gaza. Its bombing has not yet reached the saturation level seen before it last invaded Gaza in 2008, but Israeli officials have said a ground assault remains possible.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday of a "significant widening" of the Gaza operation. Israel will "continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people," said Netanyahu, who is up for re-election in January.   At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers toward Gaza late Thursday, and buses carrying soldiers headed toward the border area, according to The Associated Press.  NBC News correspondent Martin Fletcher described Israel's call-up of reservists as "extremely significant." - NBC.

WATCH: Israel airstrikes pounding Gaza overnight.

WATCH: Russia Today's Live Stream From Gaza

NOTE: Special thanks to Ruthann Amarteifio for the images.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report - Unrest Activity For Cleveland, Kizimen, Paluweh, Reventador, and Villarrica; From November 7th - 13th!

November 16, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity and unrest report from the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.

CLEVELAND Chuginadak Island 52.825°N, 169.944°W; summit elev. 1730 m
AVO reported that on 6 November thermal infrared satellite images of Cleveland showed elevated surface temperatures. Clouds obscure views of the lava dome during 7-9 November. A small ash cloud drifting ENE was detected in satellite imagery at 1147 on 10 November. The Volcano Alert Level was raised to Watch and the Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange. At 1843 the ash cloud was observed almost 100 km S of Dutch Harbor (260 km ENE). No new activity was observed in mostly cloudy images during11-13 November. Post-event analysis of infrasound data suggested that a small explosion likely occurred at 1125 on 10 November. Map

KIZIMEN Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2376 m
KVERT reported that during 2-9 November moderate seismic activity at Kizimen was detected. Video and satellite images showed lava flows effusing from the summit and the E flank, summit incandescence, strong gas-and-steam activity, and hot avalanches on the S flank. During 1-2 and 6-7 November a thermal anomaly was detected in satellite images. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange. Map

PALUWEH Lesser Sunda Islands (Indonesia) 8.32°S, 121.708°E; summit elev. 875 m
Based on analysis of satellite imagery and other data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 11-13 November ash plumes from Paluweh rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 90-150 km NW and W. Map

REVENTADOR Ecuador 0.077°S, 77.656°W; summit elev. 3562 m
On 9 November, IG reported that since February Reventador began a new phase of activity characterized by lava flows from the crater, steam plumes, and thermal anomalies detected in satellite images. The lava flows traveled as far as 2 km down the N and S flanks, and steam plumes rose 200-500 m above the crater. Field visits by volcanologists in recent months confirmed that the lava dome in the crater had continued to grow above the rim, becoming the highest point of the volcano. Blocks from the lava dome and lava-flow fronts rolled down the flanks. IG noted that during 3-4 November emissions increased; a steam-and-ash plume rose 3 km above the crater. The seismic network detected an increase in the magnitude of volcanic tremor. Steam-and-gas plumes contained ash within the previous few days. According to the Washington VAAC, the IG reported that on 9 November an ash emission from Reventador rose to an unknown height. On 13 November a gas-and-ash plume rose to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE. Ash was not detected in satellite imagery on either day. Map

VILLARRICA Central Chile 39.42°S, 71.93°W; summit elev. 2847 m
According to Projecto Observación Visual Volcán Villarrica (POVI), incandescence from Villarrica's crater subsided mid-April and was undetected by satellite and ground observations at least through 10 November. Images captured by a camera in Pucon (16 km N) on 10 November showed an increase in the plume intensity. Small water vapor plumes, 50 m wide, rose from the depths of the crater. Map 

For the complete list of ongoing volcanic activity and additional geological summary, click HERE or select the specific volcano name below for additional details:

ONGOING ACTIVITY:  Fuego, Guatemala | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Lokon-Empung, Sulawesi | Ruapehu, North Island (New Zealand) | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Tongariro, North Island (New Zealand)

WORLD WAR III: The Countdown to Armageddon - Iran Could Have Enough Uranium For a Nuclear Weapon in Three Months!

November 16, 2012 - IRAN - Iran is on the threshold of being able to create weapons-grade uranium at a plant it has heavily fortified against Israeli attack, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday, calling into question an Israeli claim that Iran had slowed its nuclear time table. One of three diplomats who discussed the issue said Iran was now technically ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium at its Fordo facility by nearly 700 centrifuges. That would double present output, and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (second left) visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility,
350 km south of Tehran, on April 8, 2008.
Such a move would raise the stakes for Israel, which has said it believes the world has until next summer to stop Iran before it can get nuclear material and implied it would have time to decide whether to strike Fordo and other Iranian nuclear facilities. The two other diplomats who spoke to the AP could not confirm the 700 number. But both agreed that Tehran over the past few months had put a sizeable number of centrifuges at Fordo under vacuum. It takes only a few days to begin enrichment with machines that are under vacuum.  While experts agree that the Islamic Republic could assemble enough weapons-grade uranium to arm a nuclear weapon relatively quickly, they point out that this is only one of a series of steps need to create a working weapon. They say that Tehran is believed to be years away from mastering the technology to manufacture a fully operational warhead. 

All three diplomats are from member nations of the IAEA, which is scheduled to release its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program as early as Friday. They demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss restricted information with reporters.  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s assertion earlier this month that Iran has “essentially delayed their arrival at the red line by eight months,” is in line with the timeframe laid out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September, when he spoke at the U.N. General Assembly.  IAEA officials said they would have no comment. A phone call to Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s IAEA representative, went to voice mail.  Based on intelligence from the United States and other IAEA member nations as well as its own research, the agency suspects that Tehran has done secret work on developing nuclear weapons. Washington and its allies also fear that Iran is enriching uranium to reach the ability to make such arms. But Tehran denies any interest in atomic arms, dismisses allegations that it has conducted weapons experiments and insists it is enriching only to make nuclear fuel and for research. - National Post.

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

November 16, 2012 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Tijuana, Mexico - 13th of November, 2012.

Melbourne, Australia - 11th of November, 2012.

Orlando, Florida, United States - 11th of November, 2012.

Longmont, Colorado, United States - 6th of November, 2012.

Sydney Australia - 18th of October, 2012.

Midlothian, Scotland - 10th of October, 2012.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Three Indonesian Volcanoes Rumbling - Raung, Sangeang Api and Rokatenda!

November 16, 2012 - INDONESIA - Indonesia is a very busy place, volcanically speaking. Sometimes, the rumblings at different volcanoes change so quickly that you can lose track of which ones are showing new signs of activity and which have been restless for years. In the past few months, we’ve seen a few volcanoes come back into “restless” column, so I thought I’d try to catch us up on them.

Sangeang Api in Indonesia seen in October 2000. Image: Jack Z / Wikimedia Commons.
Sangeang Api
Sangeang Api (which I’ve also seen written as one word – Sangeangapi; above) is in the Lesser Sunda Islands and hasn’t erupted since 1999. (At least it is the last confirmed eruption.) Currently, the volcano sits on orange/3 alert, meaning that there are signs of increased unrest — however, finding additional information about activity there has been problematic. Checking out the map overlay on Volcano Discovery, you can see that a small swarm of earthquakes has been occurring under the island and some reports from the same time suggest small, wispy steam plumes from the summit. The volcano is on an island by itself as this 2002 NASA Earth Observatory image shows, but over 1,000 people live on the small island as these images from the VEI 3 1985 eruption of the volcano attests – it prompted evacuations after lava flows, lahars and ash flows were generated.

Located on Java, Raung is exactly what you would expect a volcano to look like if you had to draw one. Steep sides, big caldera at the top and massive. It sits on the periphery of the already rumbling Ijen caldera as well, so this part of Java is packed with volcanoes. Raung is also quite active – between 2000 and 2008, the volcano had at least six periods of heightened eruptive activity (all in the ~VEI 2 range), but since 2008, it has been quiet. However, that appears to have changed as starting in late October, seismicity spiked at Raung (but is now subsiding some) and small, less-than-100-meter ash explosions occurred at the volcano. Now, an eruption of Raung could be quite disruptive (as many eruptions in densely populated Indonesia can be) as there is a lot of coffee grown on the slopes of Raung – coffee loves its volcanic soils — so there would likely need to be significant evacuations depending on the size of the eruption. Currently, Indonesia officials have a 3-km exclusion zone from the main crater of the volcano.

Over in the Flores Islands, Rokatenda (also known as Paluweh) is also on orange/3 alert status. Of the three volcanoes in the spotlight today, it has had the longest period of quiescence, having not had a confirmed eruption since 1985. During the course of 2012, Rokatenda has been seeing seismicity wax and wane, but by mid-October, the unrest had reached the level where the alert status was upgraded. A report today out of Indonesia mentions minor ash fall on villages surrounding the volcano. The image accompanying the report shows some steaming areas in the main crater, but it appears to have been taken in May 2012. The 1928 VEI 3 eruption of Rokatenda produced a tsunami when part of the volcano collapsed into the surrounding seas and ended up causing almost 100 fatalities. - WIRED.

PACIFIC STORM ALERT: Tropical Storm Prompts Alert For Thailand and Rough Weather Across Japan, the Philippines and Korea - Risk of Heavy Rain, Flash Floods and Mudslides!

November 16, 2012 - GULF OF THAILAND - The government has gone on alert for a tropical depression in the South China Sea, expected to enter the Gulf of Thailand this weekend. The storm, located about 400 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, is moving west slowly at a wind speed of 55kph, the Meteorological Department said. "We're evaluating the situation," said Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, who issued warnings against the risk of storm surges (a sudden increase of sea water), flash floods and mudslides.

Mr Plodprasop said storms forming near the cape of Vietnam tend to enter the Gulf of Thailand. If the storm passes the upper Gulf, provinces covering an area from Phetchaburi to the South will be affected. However, if its path is in the middle of the Gulf, the storm will be felt from Prachuap Khiri Khan to the southern provinces. The Meteorological Department expects the tropical depression will pass the upper Gulf tomorrow and on Saturday, and the Andaman Sea by Sunday. However, the storm is likely to move south if the cold wind in the North gets stronger, said Mr Plodprasop, who is also chief of the Water and Flood Management Commission. Somchai Baimuang, acting chief of the Thai Meteorological Department, said the centre of the storm depression in the Lower South China Sea is heading towards Ho Chi Minh City at a wind speed of 55kph. "We expect the depression will move through the Indochinese peninsula to Thailand within hours. "In that case, we will see heavy rain in the Northeast, the Central Plain and the upper South while the temperature in the North will fall," he said. - Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, across the Philippines a rough area of weather is impacting Luzon enhanced by the North East Monsoon here. This is bringing the threat of further flooding to the area as showers continue to linger. Meanwhile another area to the south is being deemed a LPA by PAGASA, this area remains weak and does not seem to expect much development. Then we also look at the remnants of the TD that never really got going near vietnam. Still some rain showers are coming from this area as it continues to linger. And lastly over Japan and Korea a strong polar storm is heading to the area making the coming weekend a wet and windy one. Time to bundle up and keep an umbrella near by. - WestPacWx.

WATCH: Pacific Weather Outlook.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia’s Mount Rokatenda Spews Volcanic Ash - Hundreds Evacuated, Alert Status Remains at Level 3!

November 16, 2012 - INDONESIA - Mount Rokatenda in Sikka regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), continues to spout volcanic ash.  Residents living around the volcano have reportedly been evacuated to the shelter at Hewuli village administrative office in Alok Barat district. 

The Sikka Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) reports that 196 residents living around Mount Rokatenda had fled to Maumere city.  The ash cloud from Mount Rokatenda has affected water kept in tanks on the roofs of houses around the volcano. Residents have collected rain water to offset the impact of an eruption. As many as six of 109 Awa village residents in the shelters have been taken to Maumere regency hospital suffering from various illnesses, such as respiratory, eye and skin irritation.

A team from Sikka Health Office recently provided evacuees with medical treatment against influenza, cough and respiratory infections. Sikka BPBD head Silvanus M. Tibo said the alert status of the volcano remained at level 3, with the highest being 1, according to the report from the Rokatenda volcano observation post in Ropa, Ende regency, so the volcano is not yet considered dangerous. - Jakarta Post.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Cattle Grazing Wheat Fields to Decline as Drought Cuts Prospects - Worst Crop Conditions For U.S. Winter Wheat in 27 Years, Midwest Drought Worst Since 1956!

November 16, 2012 - UNITED STATES - The worst crop conditions for U.S. winter wheat in at least 27 years are compounding feed costs for cattle producers in the Great Plains already reeling from a drought that sent corn prices to a record in August. 

The worst crop conditions for U.S. winter wheat in at least 27 years are compounding feed costs for cattle producers in the Great Plains already reeling from a drought that sent corn prices to a record in August. John Moore/Getty Images.
A dry spell that moved from the Midwest into the Plains states of Kansas and Oklahoma has left 36 percent of winter- wheat fields in good or excellent condition as of Nov. 11, compared with 50 percent on average the previous five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday. That’s the lowest rating since the government began tracking the data in 1985 and will reduce the amount of land available for cattle to graze on during the winter months.

The Midwest drought was the worst since 1956, cutting corn output by 13 percent and forcing cattle ranchers to shrink the U.S. herd to a 39-year low, government data show. In Kansas, the biggest grower of winter wheat, there has been little or no rain for a month to nourish newly planted crops that go dormant until about March and are harvested in June. Wheat futures in Chicago are up 33 percent this year, more than any of the 23 other commodities in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index.  “We haven’t bought any cattle this year,” said Keith Kisling, 65, who normally has 1,500 animals grazing his wheat fields near Burlington, Oklahoma. “It’s drier than I can ever remember and I’ve been farming for 40 years. A lot of wheat hasn’t emerged yet, and some are up but they’re spotty because they didn’t get any rain. It’s gotten progressively worse.” - Bloomberg.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu May Enter Erupton Phase - Pressure Building Under Crater Lake, Eruption Likely in Weeks, Aviation Colour Code Raised to Yellow!

November 16, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - Trampers and climbers are being warned to avoid Ruapehu’s summit zone as there is an increased likelihood of an eruption.  Pressure is building up under the Crater Lake on Mt Ruapehu, increasing the likelihood of an eruption in the coming weeks, GNS Science said.  Recent measurements taken on the volcano over the last few weeks indicated that eruptions were more likely "over the next weeks to months".  A sudden release of pressure built up under the lake may lead to an eruption. 

The Department of Conservation has issued a warning for trampers and climbers to avoid the Summit Hazard Zone, a two kilometre area from the centre of the Crater Lake. “We recommend that guiding companies do not take people into the zone. Any other climbers, trampers and walkers should not enter the zone” DOC Ruapehu area manager Jonathon Maxwell said.  People in the area should be aware of an increased possibility of lahars on the tracks and especially when approaching the Whangaehu, Wahianoa, Mangaturuturu and Whakapapaiti streams. “They should be conscious of potential lahar noise from upstream, and make their way across these streams quickly,” DOC warned. Mt Ruapehu, which last erupted in 2007, usually does not give any immediate warning that it is going to erupt, GNS Science vulcanologist Steven Sherburn said.  Pressure build-up was thought to have caused the 2007 eruption and a smaller eruption in 2006. The Aviation Colour Code has increased from green to yellow as a warning for those flying over the region, but the Volcanic Alert Level remained at level 1. 

GNS Science believed the temperature a few hundred metres beneath the crater was about 800 degrees Celsius but the lake itself was only 20degC. "This suggests the vent is partly blocked which may be leading to a pressure build-up beneath Crater Lake.'' Small earthquakes have been occurring about five kilometres beneath the summit of Ruapehu since late October, but it was not known whether they were related to the increased temperature below the crater, GNS vulcanologist Brad Scott said.  "We perceive them to be completely unrelated at this stage," he said. However, the quakes had the potential to build up processes and push magma further to the surface, which would further increase the likelihood of an eruption, he said.  GNS constantly monitored Ruapehu and had discovered over the last few weeks that the chemistry and gases within the Crater Lake were changing, Scott said. The criteria for the aviation code and alert levels were not the same and the heightened temperature of the lake meant GNS was required to change the aviation code, Scott said.  Alert level 1 indicated that the volcano was in a state of unrest, while an actual eruption was needed to increase it to level 2. "It's just a heads up," Scott said about GNS' warning of an increased likelihood of an eruption. "It's really just a reminder that Ruapehu is an active volcano and can erupt, and the chances of that happening is more than what it was last week." Ruapehu experienced a small scale eruption in 2007 and a series of large scale eruptions in 1995 and 1996. All facilities, roads, walking tracks, alternative routes lower on Mt Ruapehu, and other activities on the mountain were still operating within the Tongariro National Park, DOC said. - Stuff.