Monday, November 19, 2012

DISASTER IMPACT: Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy - 4,500 Tons (9 Million Pounds) and Counting of Sandy Debris Piles up at Queens Park, Uprooted Trees by the Thousands in New York and New Jersey, Some New Yorkers May Not Have Electricity Until Christmas!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - It has now been three weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit New York, New Jersey, and many other northeast locations in the United States. Still, the debris is still piling up and many people have no electricity or wont have back their power until Christmas.

Superstorm Sandy debris is seen in the parking lot of Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaway section
of Queens on Wednesday. Mark Lennihan / AP.
Sandy Debris Piles Up At NY Site - 4,500 Tons (9 Million Pounds) And Counting.
Last summer it was packed with beachgoers, a parking lot where New Yorkers stashed their cars, applied sunscreen and dragged lawn chairs, coolers and umbrellas across the blacktop toward the shore. Today it's an enormous waste collection site half a mile long and a quarter-mile wide, piled high with debris from the flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy. Though the flow of debris has slowed a little, the cleanup job is far from over. New York City officials have determined that around 350 homes in the city are beyond salvation, including 80 in Breezy Point alone, said Fred Strickland, the resident engineer from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is helping the New York Department of Sanitation with the cleanup. If all goes according to plan, the city will condemn the houses and demolish them, and Strickland's team will help haul away the rubble. Twisted steel, waterlogged wood, broken furniture and countless mattresses already fill the parking lot that normally serves one of New York's most popular ocean beaches. Hundreds of trucks come and go around the clock bringing material collected from the streets of the Far Rockaways and Breezy Point, where water from Sandy's storm surge tore apart homes and buildings. Residents are still digging out. The temporary garbage dump at Jacob Riis Park in Queens is one of several sites around the city being used this way. The size of the dump reflects the enormity of the damage caused by the storm. The debris just keeps coming. - NBC.

In this Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a tree in Jersey City, N.J., lies tangled in power lines after being brought
down by high winds from Superstorm Sandy.
Sandy Uprooted Trees By The Thousands In New York And New Jersey.
They fell by the thousands, like soldiers in some vast battle of giants, dropping to the earth in submission to a greater force. The winds of Superstorm Sandy took out more trees in the neighborhoods, parks and forests of New York and New Jersey than any previous storm on record, experts say. Nearly 10,000 were lost in New York City alone, and "thousands upon thousands" went down on Long Island, a state parks spokesman said. New Jersey utilities reported more than 113,000 destroyed or damaged trees. "These are perfectly healthy trees, some more than 120 years old, that have survived hurricanes, ice storms, nor'easters, anything Mother Nature could throw their way," said Todd Forrest, a vice president at the New York Botanical Garden. "Sandy was just too much." As oaks, spruces and sycamores buckled, many became Sandy's agents, contributing to the destruction by crashing through houses or tearing through electric wires. They caused several deaths, including those of two boys playing in a suburban family room. They left hundreds of thousands of people without power for more than a week. - The Weather Channel.

Some New Yorkers May Not Have Electricity Until Christmas.
In the following excerpt taken from the transcript of an interview between CNN's Anderson Cooper and New York City Councilman James Sanders, it is revealed that many citizens in New York will not have their power restored until Christmas.
COOPER: With us now is New York City councilman and senator-elect James Sanders. He calls the power failure, the LIPA failure, in his words a powder keg. Councilman, you met with LIPA officials today. They said some people here on Long Island may not have power until Christmas? Is that true?

JAMES SANDERS, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN: When I raised the question to the man and said, how soon will everyone have power, they wouldn't give me an answer, and I said, well, can we say November? Can we say December? How about Christmas? At that point they said, it is possible.

COOPER: What do you make of this? I mean, I know you called for the president of LIPA to resign if power isn't restored by Monday. But you also said the buck stops with Governor Cuomo since he appoints LIPA board members. Who do you call responsible in here?

SANDERS: Well, the first people held accountable of course has to be the LIPA. LIPA has the responsibility of making sure that this area is powered. And that responsibility is a dismal failure. What hasn't been mentioned is some people are freezing out here, and we are absolutely -- there are people who are dying thanks to this cold. And we can't -- as an elected official, I can't sit by quietly. LIPA must go, and the person who has the power to make this happen is our good governor.

COOPER: And you know, it's not the first time that LIPA has come under fire. It's had a bad reputation when it comes to getting power restored after storms, right?

SANDERS: LIPA is historically one of the worst-performing authorities that New York State has, and why we allow this to continue, I don't know. At a minimum, the captain needs to go down with the ship. The ship went down 12 days ago, and yet the captain is still skating away. The captain needs to go down with the ship.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Land Subsidence of the Delta Land in India Officially Confirmed - Severity of the Situation Will Increase in the Next Few Years!

November 19, 2012 - INDIA - A spell of heavy rain that followed the Neelam cyclone which resulted in heavy damage to agriculture fields, particularly paddy, has confirmed that exploitation of natural gas has caused land subsidence in the Krishna and Godavari deltas, says a former professor of geology of Andhra University and member of Movement for People Centred Development G. Krishna Rao.

Studying the conditions after the heavy spell of rains between October 29 and November 5, Prof. Krishna Rao pointed out that there was no surface run-off through major rivers and local rainfall alone affected the paddy fields where water crossed 1 to 1.5 metre. Half of the area in the two deltas has been affected. Upland areas like Vijayawada, Eluru, Nidadavolu and Pithapuram, among others suffered damage due to backwaters.  East Godavari received relatively less rainfall, 28.7 cm, compared to 38.9 cm, 37.8 cm and 34.4 cm by West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur respectively but suffered damage in a larger area, 3.4 lakh acres, compared to 2.34 lakh acres, 1.95 lakh acres and 97,000 acres in the three districts.  This was because East Godavari delta area suffered land subsidence over a bigger area compared to other places which conforms to the number of production wells and quantum of hydrocarbons exploited from this region, he said. 

This time water logging continued for several days in most of the coastal areas. East Godavari farmers recalled that in the past, before exploration of oil and gas, any amount of rainwater even due to cyclones would get cleared in 24 to 48 hours. Since this is not happening now it is confirmed that elevations of delta lands have reached near sea level, thereby the topographic gradient has come to near zero level and water is unable to flow in to the sea, said Prof. Krishna Rao.  During the November 1996 cyclone, Kakinada received 22.35 cm of rain and 250 villages were inundated. But the recent spell, which is of almost the same quantity affected 500 villages and water remained for several days. Water-logged  Coastal area is getting water logged even with a rainfall of 5 cm to 10 cm and for several days. Severity of this situation will increase in the next few years as the land is sinking, Prof. Krishna Rao warned.  Sea water is encroaching on the deltas with further sinking of the land and they would turn into wet lands, a stage preceding complete submergence into sea.  Land subsidence has also affected the canals and made the irrigation system defunct in the delta areas. The solution is to evaluate the changed topographic conditions and establishing the gradients in the entire region.  Appropriate designs are to be prepared for the changed topography for effective flow, suggested Prof. Krishna Rao.  “Stopping the sinking process of the deltas is a pre-requisite”, he asserted. - The Hindu.

MASS UFO SIGHTINGS: Hundreds of UFO Sightings Inside Indian Territory Bordering China - Raises Major Security Concerns!

November 19, 2012 - INDIA - Top security brass of the Indian government is battling a "mysterious" threat from the Chinese side these days: tennis ball-sized UFOs.  Hundreds of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been sighted inside the Indian territory bordering China in recent months, raising security concerns. The issue, initially dubbed a minor one, has turned serious as India prepares to raise it at the diplomatic level with China.

Images of the strange crafts seen along the India and China border.
Sources said a meeting of the boundary coordination mechanism - a high level official mechanism set up by the two sides to ensure that the boundary incidents between their armed forces do not escalate - is being scheduled later this month where the issue of "luminous objects" will be at the centre of the discussion.  The Indian delegation will be led by Gautam Bambawale, the head of the China desk in the external affairs ministry, while China will be represented by its director general, department of boundary and oceanic affairs. Security officials from both sides will also participate in the meeting.  Highly placed sources said over 150 such incidents have been reported in the last three months and that India's protests at the local border personnel meeting with the Chinese have met with a cursory denial. 

The government's decision to raise the 'UFO ' issue at the diplomatic level follows a detailed report sought from the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Indian Army, and a spectrum analyser to ascertain the objects.  Surprisingly, the radar could not detect these objects indicating that they were nonmetallic.  Also, the spectrum analyser could not detect any signals emitted by them.  The army also flew a reconnaissance drone in the direction of the floating objects, but it didn't yield anything substantial.  "Earlier these reports coming from various sectors of the boundary were sketchy but now we have definite proof of these yellowish spheres coming from the Chinese side; and our concerns will be raised," a source said.  According to the reports, in Ladakh sector, such an object was sighted in Thakung post on October 21 for around eight hours. It had an "intense continuous flash light." Another incident was reported from Arunachal Pradesh's Dichu area on October 19.  Earlier it was believed that the Chinese could be sending remote-controlled lanterns but that theory was shot down after an internal probe.  Mail Today accessed a series of reports sent by the intelligence bureau, the army and the ITBP on the issue, which has been discussed at a high-level meeting on China in the Prime Minister's Office.  Some of the top government officials suspect that these UFOs which appear to lift off from the Chinese side and traverse the sky for three to five hours before disappearing were high-intensity cameras.  "We are worried that there may be a flare-up if the Indian troops decide to shoot these objects," a source said. - India Today.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Twin Quakes Jolt Balochistan Province in Pakistan!

November 19, 2012 - PAKISTAN - A 5.4 Richter scale earthquake jolted parts of Balochistan on Monday evening, Express News reported. The tremors were felt in Quetta, Harnai and Pishin among other parts of the province. According to the US Geological Survey, the epicentre for the earthquake was determined to be 58kilometers East-North East of Quetta near Alik Ghund in Balochistan. Seismicity in the Himalaya dominantly results from the continental collision of the India and Eurasia plates, which are converging at a relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr. Northward underthrusting of India beneath Eurasia generates numerous earthquakes and consequently makes this area one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth. - Tribune.

USGS map.
A magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck province Balochistan on Monday at 17:54:15 UTC. No major damage or injuries have been reported so far but wreak havoc in the province. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the intensity of the earthquake was magnitude 4.5 on Richter scale, but there were no reports of damage or injuries According to reports, the tremors was also felt in Quetta, Ziarat, Harnai, Chaman, Pasheen, Khanoi, Qallat, Mastaung, Qilla Saifullah and others parts of Balochistan. The tremors was also felt in Multan at 10:54PM local time. A series of aftershocks wreak havoc among the residents and people came out from their houses reciting verses from Quran. The Meteorological Department said that the magnitude of the quake was recorded 4.5 on the Richter scale with epicenter 60 kilometer in south-east of Quetta. - The Lahore Times.

STORM ALERT: Train of Storms Barreling Through American Pacific Northwest - Will Bring Heavy Rain, Mountain Snow and Damaging Coastal Winds!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Residents and visitors of the Pacific Northwest hoping to have some dry weather for the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday will be out of luck. In fact, the Northwest will be the stormiest part of the nation through Thanksgiving.

A Pacific storm train of weather disturbances will continue to barrel through the Northwest in quick succession bringing bouts of rain, snow and wind. At this time it appears that no prolonged period of dry weather is on the horizon. The series of storm systems will likely continue well past Thanksgiving and into the following weekend. These storms will bring rain, mountain snow and damaging coastal winds.

According to AccuWeather's Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "Between the major storms, the weather is not likely to be dry, especially from the Cascades on west. Moist, onshore winds will cause showers between these major storms at just about any time". With many leaves throughout the region still on trees and the ground, localized flooding may occur if these leaves clog drains. Two to four inches of rain will soak both Seattle and Portland through Tuesday. "The heaviest snow will be above pass level, but there will be periods of snow with slick travel through the passes in the periods of colder air over the next week. Above 4,500 feet, several feet of snow is likely to fall over [this] week", Clark added. It should be noted that an active wet pattern like this one is not uncommon for the middle to end of November across the Pacific Northwest.  - Accuweather.

WATCH: Big Storm Pounds Pacific Northwest.

THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Apocalypse Now - Israel Prepared to Invade Gaza as Palestinian Death Toll Reaches 100; Gives Hamas 36-Hours Ultimatum; Hamas Dares Israel to Invade!

November 19, 2012 - GAZA CITY - As Israel continues its assault on the Gaza Strip, officials say they are prepared to step up the offensive by sending in troops, but prefer a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire.  The Palestinian death toll is now at 101 as the violence enters its sixth day but mediator Egypt says a deal for a truce to end the fighting could be close. 

The leader of Hamas said it was up to Israel to end the new conflict it had started; Israel says its strikes are to halt Palestinian rocket attacks.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is touring the region in hopes of helping broker a peace. He has arrived in Cairo, where he met Egypt's foreign minister in preparation for talks with the new, Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, later on Tuesday.  He also plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.  Israeli aircraft overnight struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media centre, as Israel broadened its targets in the six-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel. - Stuff.

101 Palestinians Killed... Including 53 Civilians... 840 Wounded...
Overall, the offensive that began Wednesday killed 101 Palestinians, including 53 civilians, and wounded some 840 people, including 225 children, Gaza heath official Ashraf al-Kidra said. On the Israeli side, three civilians have died from Palestinian rocket fire and dozens have been wounded. A rocket-defense system has intercepted hundreds of rockets bound for populated areas. Hamas fighters have fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel in the current round of fighting, including 95 on Monday, among them one that hit an empty school in the coastal city of Ashkelon. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 29 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery. Rockets landed in open areas of Beersheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and caused damage in a number of areas. - Huffington Post.

WATCH: Death toll in Gaza hits 100.

Israel Gives Hamas 36-Hours Ultimatum Before Starting Major Offensive.
Israel warned Hamas it will step up its offensive in the Gaza Strip in 36 hours if they do not cease rocket fire. UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo in a bid to broker a peace deal between the two sides as the threat of a ground invasion looms.  Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told IDF radio the time left before Israel escalates its attacks can be measured in “hours, not days.”  "We are at a junction," Steinitz said. "Either we go toward a calm or toward a meaningful widening of the operation… including a possible move to achieve complete military decision."  Israel has demanded that Hamas cease firing rockets into Israel for a period of “several years” and that they stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. The conditions are part of a six-part proposal put forward by the Israeli government at negotiations with Hamas in Cairo.  In addition, the proposal asked that Israel be allowed to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack. An Israel official told AP on condition of anonymity that a diplomatic solution was preferable, though they would “escalate” if diplomacy did not “bear fruit.”  The official maintained Israel was not looking for a “quick fix” which would result in renewed militant activity in the near-distant future. He also said the Israeli’s wanted “international guarantees” Hamas would not rearm or use Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as a staging ground for future attacks.  On Monday Hamas’ official Moussa Abu Marzuk said Hamas would not accept the creation of an Israeli "security belt" in eastern Gaza.  Later in the day Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told a media conference in Egypt "we don't accept Israel's conditions because it is the aggressor." Instead, Meshaal said Israel should lift the blockade of Gaza before the two sides can move forward. Hamas has also called for a cessation of IDF targeted killings. - RT.

Hamas To Israel: We Dare You To Invade.
 Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media center Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 100, as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel.  The New York Times reports that the top leader of Hamas dared Israel on Monday to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire in the six-day-old conflict.  Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal told a news conference: "If you wanted to launch it, you would have done it." He suggested that the Israeli infantry mobilization on the border with Gaza was a bluff. - Huffington Post.

WATCH: Russia Today's Live Stream From Gaza.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - Terminator -style Self-Healing Robot Skin Moves Closer to Reality!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Synthetic skin for robots that can repair itself when it becomes damaged – akin to the idea of the T-800 cyborg in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator films – has taken a step closer to reality with new research by scientists in the US. The researchers, led by Zhenan Bao of Stanford University in California, have created a flexible, touch-sensitive, electrically conducting and pressure-sensitive polymer-based material that could have ‘e-skin’ applications for robots or prosthetic body parts, such as artificial hands.

The 'e-skin' can detect the application of pressure. The harder someone presses the
brighter the mannequin's LED glows © NPG.

The polymer matrix consists of a network of randomly branched oligomers that contain multiple urea groups. The presence of these groups results in a high density of hydrogen bonding within the network – contributing substantially to the structural integrity of the matrix’s scaffold. Nickel particles are dispersed throughout the matrix. The presence of oxygen on the surface of the nickel particles, in the form of an oxide, also allows hydrogen bonds to be made with the urea groups, further contributing to the structural stability of the composite.  The extensive hydrogen bonding accounts for the self-healing properties of the material and the nickel particles for its electrical conductivity and pressure-sensitivity, as team member Benjamin Tee explains. ‘Because hydrogen bonds are weaker than covalent bonds, when the material is damaged the hydrogen bonds break preferentially. Because hydrogen bonding is dynamic, the bonds can reassociate very quickly and this results in the material’s mechanical healing properties.’ If the material is ruptured, it spontaneously repairs itself and regains its mechanical strength within around 10 minutes.

The micro-nickel particles impart electrical conductivity to the material. ‘The particles do not need to be in contact with each other for electrical conductivity to occur,’ says Tee. ‘Electrons can hop between the particles through quantum tunnelling.’ The team found that particles that were microscopically rough, covered with tiny spikes, produced a more efficient conducting matrix than smooth particles. This, Tee says, is because the electronic charge accumulates at the tips of the surface spikes, enhancing quantum tunnelling and thereby enabling more efficient charge transfer throughout the matrix. The team showed that if the polymer is broken or damaged, once the damaged parts are placed together and the healing process starts, electrical conductivity is almost completely restored within about 15 seconds. If an external load is applied to the polymer, this changes the distance between the nickel particles, resulting in a change in conductivity. This allows the e-skin to detect changes in pressure or its shape – which would allow, for example, the position of moveable joints to be monitored. However, the material is not as stretchy as the researchers would like – something, Tee says, that is now being worked on.  Commenting on the work, Wayne Hayes, an expert in self-healing polymers at the University of Reading in the UK, says: ‘Although this isn’t the first example of a supramolecular polymer–metallic particle composite, the paper does report the successful use of electrical conductivity in the route to healable elastomers and materials of this type do offer a way towards healable devices, especially in coatings or the biomedical field.’ Hayes adds: ‘It is a nice preliminary result but there is a significantly more fundamental science needed to understand the healing mechanism within this type of composite and further development work required before such materials can be used in feasible devices.’ - RSC.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Mystery of the Vanishing Beetles in Britain - Major Population Plummet in the Last 15 Years, Scientists Warn of "Endangered" Levels?!

November 19, 2012 - BRITAIN - You might not think it if you turn over a rock and see beetles scurry off in every direction. But scientists have warned of a dramatic and unexplained decline in the insects’ numbers. A study which monitored dozens of Britain’s most common beetle varieties found that three quarters of them have seen their populations plummet in the last 15 years. One in nine species studied suffered declines steep enough for them to now be considered “endangered”. Their plight puts them in the same perilous situation as the nation’s bees, butterflies and moths, whose numbers have also dropped sharply, but whose plight has previously received more attention.

Researchers warn that the decline of beetles could have an impact on farmers Photo: ALAMY.
Despite the drab reputation of the beetle, researchers warn that the decline could have an impact on farmers – as well as gardeners – as the insects perform an important pest control role by eating large volumes of slugs and aphids. Beetles also eat huge numbers of weed seeds, helping to stop fields being overrun by unwanted plants. In addition, they are an important food source for birds and small mammals. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, involved monitoring 68 beetle species at 11 locations around the British Isles over 15 years. It found that three quarters of those examined had declined in number over the period. Of these, half had fallen at rate equivalent to 30 per cent per decade – the rate at which species are considered to be “threatened” under criteria laid out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Eight species had fallen by more than 50 per cent, the rate at which species become “endangered”.

The steepest decline was a beetle called Carabus arvensis, which decreased by 67 per cent. It is just under an inch in length and has bronze or green colouring. David Brooks, an invertebrate ecologist at Rothamsted Research who led the research, said the results showed an “alarming overall decline” for unknown reasons. “This is ringing alarm bells, but there is no clear explanation. Beetles don’t enjoy the high profile of butterflies and bees, but they are extremely important species with an important role.” The study focused on ground beetles, or 'carabids’, the common, surface-dwelling group that most people will picture if asked to imagine a beetle. Because of their relatively large size, and different colouring, ground beetles were once a popular object for collection and study, with high prices paid for rare specimens. The mid-nineteenth century saw a “beetle craze”, with a young Charles Darwin among the avid collectors. There are around 360 carabid species in the UK and more than 4,000 beetle species in total. Scientists believe the downward trend is likely to also be reflected among species not studied, and even other insect groups. Further research is planned. Among possible causes of the decline are changes to habitats and climate change. However, there were different trends at each location studied. The worst declines were 52 per cent in mountains (Cairngorms and Snowdonia), 31 per cent in moorland (Cheviot Hills, near Kelso, and Grampians, near Aberdeen), and 28 per cent in pasture (North Wyke, Devon, and Hillsborough, Northern Ireland). Beetles living in woodland and hedgerow fared better. - Telegraph.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Imminent U.S. Dollar Collapse and a Major Currency War - 7 of 10 Asian Countries Move From Dollars to Yuan!

November 19, 2012 - CHINA - A "renminbi bloc" has been formed in East Asia, as nations in the region abandon the US dollar and peg their currency to the Chinese yuan — a major signal of China's successful bid to internationalize its currency, a research report has said. The Peterson Institute for International Economics, or PIIE, said in its latest research that China has moved closer to its long-term goal for the renminbi to become a global reserve currency.

Since the global financial crisis, the report said, more and more nations, especially emerging economies, see the yuan as the main reference currency when setting their exchange rate. And now seven out of 10 economies in the region — including South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand — track the renminbi more closely than they do the US dollar. Only three economies in the group — Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Mongolia — still have currencies following the dollar more closely than the renminbi, said the report, posted on the institute's website. The South Korean won, for example, has appreciated in sync with the renminbi against the dollar since mid-2010. China has long vowed to raise its currency's global sway, along with the rise of its economy, which became the world's second-biggest last year. The goal has seen significant development in recent years as the country promotes renminbi-denominated cross-border trade and gradually loosens control over its capital accounts.

As a result, Hong Kong has quickly risen to be the world's biggest offshore renminbi trading center, with about 600 billion yuan ($95 billion) in deposits. According to the latest report by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, renminbi-denominated trade accounted for 10 percent of China's total foreign trade in July. The figure was zero just two years ago. From July 1 to Aug 31, global payments in the renminbi rose 15.6 percent, according to SWIFT, as payments in other currencies fell 0.9 percent on average. The renminbi had a market share of 0.53 percent in August and has overtaken the Danish krone to become the 14th-highest global payment currency, the member-owned cooperative said. Cross-border trade settled in renminbi will triple to 6.5 trillion yuan ($1.03 trillion) within three years as relations with the world's second-largest economy grow, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC was quoted as saying by Bloomberg on Oct 9. Settlements will grow 12 to 20 percent this year, reaching $1.03 trillion in two years, up from $330.8 billion in 2011, said Janet Ming, head of the China desk for RBS in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "We're seeing a lot more customers starting to practice in renminbi," Ming was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. "For most companies and banks, China and India is where the growth is. If you're dealing with China, ignoring renminbi is not the right thing to do." Wang Jianhui, chief economist with Southwest Securities Co Ltd, agreed. "Investors are looking for new reserve currencies at a time when both the dollar and euro are under pressure. This is a good opportunity for the yuan," he said.

The Royal Bank of Scotland predicted in a report on Monday that renminbi will become a fully convertible currency in 2015. The PIIE said that renminbi could rise to the status of an international currency in 10 to 15 years if the country can reform its financial market and allow greater access for foreigners via capital account liberalization. Forming the new renminbi bloc is the result of China's rise as the main trading partner in the region. China's share in East Asian countries' manufacturing trade has risen from 2 percent in 1991 to about 22 percent this year, according to the PIIE report. In fact, trade is also propelling the rise of the renminbi outside East Asia. The currencies of India, Chile, Israel, South Africa and Turkey all now follow the renminbi closely, in some cases, more so than the dollar. The renminbi would be more attractive if the country could further liberalize its financial and currency markets, the report said. Some fear that China might follow Japan's rise and fall over the past decades, but the institute thinks otherwise. "They should take note that even during the heady days of the Japanese miracle, the yen never came close to rivaling the dollar as a reference currency. There was never anything close to a yen bloc in East Asia," the report said. - China Daily.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Mystery of Dead Birds in Missouri Town Causes Major Concern?!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A flock of birds found dead at the intersection of Erie and Fremont in Springfield has caught a lot of attention from viewers.

Several passersby sent in pictures and estimate there are about forty to one hundred dead birds. There are phone and power lines in the area, but the birds were not near those lines. The birds were in the road on Fremont with the vast majority in the northbound lanes. One woman described the scene as "eerie".

We contacted the National Weather Service who said there was no volatile weather overnight that would have caused this issue. We've contacted ornithologists and avian specialists at Missouri State and the University of Missouri in order to ,hopefully, find some answers. We've heard back from one biologist who has sent us information for another specialists. We will keep you updated about what we find out. - Ozarks First.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: "New Normal" - World Bank Report Issues Dire Warning On Climate Change, Recognizes Exceptional Global Impact of Natural Disasters, Yet Doubles Down on False Global Warming Theories?!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world's poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change.

Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. "We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on a conference call on Friday. The report, called "Turn Down the Heat," highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, according to the report. Climate change is already having an effect: Arctic sea ice reached a record minimum in September, and extreme heat waves and drought in the last decade have hit places like the United States and Russia more often than would be expected from historical records, the report said. Such extreme weather is likely to become the "new normal" if the temperature rises by 4 degrees, according to the World Bank report.

This is likely to happen if not all countries comply with pledges they have made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even assuming full compliance, the world will warm by more than 3 degrees by 2100. In this hotter climate, the level of the sea would rise by up to 3 feet, flooding cities in places like Vietnam and Bangladesh. Water scarcity and falling crop yields would exacerbate hunger and poverty. Extreme heat waves would devastate broad swaths of the earth's land, from the Middle East to the United States, the report says. The warmest July in the Mediterranean could be 9 degrees hotter than it is today -- akin to temperatures seen in the Libyan desert. The combined effect of all these changes could be even worse, with unpredictable effects that people may not be able to adapt to, said John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which along with Climate Analytics prepared the report for the World Bank. "If you look at all these things together, like organs cooperating in a human body, you can think about acceleration of this dilemma," said Schellnhuber, who studied chaos theory as a physicist. "The picture reads that this is not where we want the world to go." As the first scientist to head the World Bank, Kim has pointed to "unequivocal" scientific evidence for man-made climate change to urge countries to do more. Kim said 97 percent of scientists agree on the reality of climate change. "It is my hope that this report shocks us into action," Kim, writes in the report. - Huffington Post.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Catastrophic Developments in Japan - Radiation in Fish "100 Times" Above Norm, Radiation In Coastal Sediment Nearly Irreversible!

November 19, 2012 - JAPAN - Radiation levels in fish caught near Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant are 100 times above normal, local media report. Japan's Environment Ministry carried out the tests over June-July this year, in the river Niida to the north of the Fukushima power plant, and also in the village of Iitate.

The results showed that fish caught in waters in these areas contained levels of radioactive cesium 100 times above the government-set "safe" limits. The levels found ranged from 4,400 Becquerels per kilogram to 11,400 Bequerels per kilogram , against the maximum "safe" level of 100 Bequerels per kilogram. The Fukushima nuclear disaster was the worst in 25 years, since the Chernobyl accident in the USSR. It came after North East Japan was hit by a powerful earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. It will take about 40 years to complete work to dismantle the reactor and clean-up the area. - RIANOVOSTI.

... it can be inferred that dissolved radiocesium advected southward from the region adjacent to the 1FNPP and was deposited to the sediment of the study area in the early stage after the accident. The incorporation of radiocesium into sediments was almost irreversible, and higher concentrations of 137Cs were obtained from the finer-grained fraction of sediments. [...] 137Cs levels in sediment decreased considerably between June and August, and then remained at the same level until January 2012. This trend indicates that the initial deposition of 137Cs to the sediment had almost ceased by August, and that the incorporation of 137Cs into sediments was almost irreversible...

In conclusion [...] it can also be inferred that the remarkable decrease in 137Cs level between June and August 2011 (Table 3) was not caused by dissolution of labile 137Cs but by a physical transport (export) of irreversibly bound 137Cs... Most of radiocesium in the coastal sediments is incorporated into lithogenic fractions, and this incorporation is almost irreversible. Accordingly, the biological availability of sedimentary radiocesium is relatively low, but continuous monitoring of radiocesium inmarine biota is highly recommended because significant amounts of radiocesium have been accumulated in the sediment. - ENE News.

MASS UFO SIGHTINGS: Eight Reports of UFO Sightings From Five American States in 11 Hours!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - It was a busy night for UFO sightings on November 16 through November 17, 2012 as eight witnesses from five different states reported seeing flying crafts over an 11-hour period.  The objects were first seen in Pennsylvania on November 16 just before 5:00 p.m. and were last sighted at 4:00 a.m. on November 17 in Indiana according to the Examiner.  The first witness in Pennsylvania was driving west on I-422 and reported seeing three glowing objects that came together and formed a triangle. They stayed in the triangular shape and hovered for 6 to 10 minutes until they faded from sight.  Under an hour later and 250 miles to the east near Southampton, Pennsylvania, a woman saw three objects about 5:30 p.m. on November 16. She was driving home from work and noticed three sets of five bright lights in a close formation flying low to the ground. 

Low flying UFO reports seem to be more common in 2012 as one 11-hour reporting period seems
to suggest as eight cases are filed from five states. Credits: Google Maps.
In Old Saybrook, Connecticut, about 190 miles northeast along Long Island Sound at 5:55 p.m. on November 16 a witness driving in a car noticed a streaking light moving so fast that the object created a trail of light.  At 7:03 p.m. on November 16 in Mount Clemens, Michigan, about 650 miles to the east of Old Saybrook, a witness saw a bright orange, tulip-shaped object, coming from the northwest. The object was described as being orange and in the shape of an airplane but much larger.  Then at 7:25 p.m. on November 16 in Indianapolis, Indiana, about 300 miles southwest of Mount Clemens, a witness reported three strange objects flying in the sky.  "I noticed a star-like object blinking as it soared through the sky," the witness stated. "I know it wasn't a shooting star. I looked for several minutes and noticed two more of the same star-like objects chasing each other on the opposite side of the sky and their lights were also blinking simultaneously."  Then at 9:00 p.m. on November 16 a witness in Rochester, New York, about 560 miles northeast of Indianapolis, reported a burning orb-like object flying about 100 feet overhead.  At midnight on November 16 a witness in Alto, Michigan, about 430 miles directly west of Rochester, reported three lights moving in a triangle formation and were brightly colored. 

Lastly, at 4:00 a.m. in Reelsville, Indiana on November 17 a witness saw three lights moving east across the sky. He said it wasn't an airplane and it was traveling in a zigzag pattern.  Just what was going on in the north eastern skies for over 11 hours? Were these flying crafts studying the region or just looking things over trying to decide on where to land? Since the objects were seen in so many states by total strangers no one can say that all these incidents didn't really happen. Could all of these people have mistaken a helicopter or an airplane for a UFO?  Each witness described their encounter the same way; spotting three objects with brightly colored lights taking the shape of a triangle.  Since so much activity went on during an 11-hour period through so many states maybe it's time for the government to form some kind of committee made up of military personal, government officials, scientists, and regular citizens to discuss and try to understand just what is going on in the skies.  This group could try to figure how to tell the public about these strange flying objects and have them understand and made to feel comfortable that there isn't anything to fear until, and if, something actually happens.  The governments of the world might be afraid that if a space craft does land the world would most likely be terrified but if everyone is included in deciding what to do in case of an emergency chances are greatly improved that any kind of fear would not lead to rampage in the streets.  Something big was obviously going on a couple of nights ago, but what and are the people of this world ready just in case an object does actually land one day? There have been too many sightings during hundreds of years to lead people to believe that aliens have not landed already. The world has to be prepared.  Keep those eyes to the skies because something could be flying above. - Gather.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Apocalyptic War Zone - Israel Steps up Targeted Attacks in the Heavily Populated Gaza; 3 Israeli Civilian Deaths; 95 Palestinians Killed, 740 Injured, 23 Fatalities Have Been Children!

November 19, 2012 - GAZA CITY - International mediation efforts gathered steam Monday as Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in the densely populated Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in its campaign to quell militant rocket fire menacing nearly half of Israel's population. Overnight, an airstrike leveled two houses belonging to a single family, killing two children and two adults and injuring 42 people, Gaza heath official Ashraf al-Kidra said. Rescue workers frantically searched for 12 to 15 people under the rubble. Shortly after, Israeli aircraft bombarded the remains of the former national security compound in Gaza City. Al-Kidra said flying shrapnel killed one child and wounded others living nearby.

A Palestinian woman inspects the rubble of her destroyed house after an Israeli airstrike
in the eastern part of Gaza City on Monday.
A missile strike on a truck killed three members of the radical Islamic Jihad group, Hamas security officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. In all, at least 95 Palestinians have been killed in the five-day onslaught and more than 740 have been wounded, Palestinian medical sources told NBC News. At least 23 of the Gaza fatalities have been children. Three Israeli civilians have died from Palestinian rocket fire and dozens have been wounded. At least 17 rockets were fired at Israel on Monday, Israeli media said, but no damage or casualties were reported. Israel's decision to step up targeted attacks on leaders in Gaza on Sunday marked a new and risky phase of the operation, given the likelihood of civilian casualties in the crowded territory of 1.6 million Palestinians. The rising civilian toll was likely to intensify pressure on Israel to end the fighting. International efforts to wrest a cease-fire from the two sides has intensified despite the escalated hostilities. The failure to end the fighting could touch off an Israeli ground invasion, for which thousands of soldiers, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, have already been mobilized and dispatched to Gaza's border. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Cairo to weigh in on cease-fire efforts led by Egypt, which borders both Israel and Gaza and whose Islamist-rooted government has been hosting leaders of Hamas. “I strongly urge the parties to cooperate with all efforts led by Egypt to reach an immediate cease-fire," Ban said before leaving for Egypt. He visits Israel on Tuesday. - NBC.

WATCH: Gaza dead soars as Isreali air strikes continue.

WATCH: Russia Today's Live Stream From Gaza.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Australia's Weather Anomalies - Researchers Document the World's First Fire Tornado From the 2003 Canberra Bushfires!

November 19, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - The world's first confirmed case of a fire tornado has been documented by Canberra researchers, using evidence collected from the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires.

Researchers have long speculated about the ability of a fire to produce a tornado, but until now they have not been able to scientifically prove it. The study involved collecting a vast quantity of evidence from the Canberra bushfires and has been published in the scientific journal Natural Hazards. Lead researcher Rick McRae says the fire tornado formed in the ranges west of Canberra before pushing into the city's suburbs. "The one that we looked at showed that as it approached the edge of Canberra, its basal diameter was nearly half a kilometre, and the damage indicates that the horizontal wind speeds around it were in excess of 250 kilometres per hour," he said. "There is also a vertical wind in it at 150kph."

He says tornados are different to the whirls often associated with fires. "The fire whirl is attached to the hot ground," he said. "A fire tornado, like a true tornado, is attached to the underside of a thunderstorm." Mr McRae says the study provides crucial information on fire behaviour. "Our analysis indicates that the tornado had a rating of at least a two on the enhanced Fujita scale of tornado severity [scale of 0-5, with five being the worst]," he said. "It had major effects on the behaviour of the fire on the urban edge and had enough force to remove roofs from houses and to blow cars off the road. "It's given us an ability to recreate the behaviour of this thing and for the science community, document what a fire tornado may actually be." Mr McRae says he hopes the case will help emergency authorities better understand the nature of bushfires. - Yahoo.

SOLAR WATCH: Massive Prominence Eruption and Coronal Mass Ejection!

November 19, 2012 - SUN - A large prominence lifted off the southeast limb on Sunday evening (11/18/2012) and hurled a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) into space. The plasma cloud does not appear to be Earth directed.

Image by Ron Cottrell - Arizona, USA.
WATCH: Massive Prominence on the Sun.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: High Mortality Rate - Huge Stocks of Wild Salmon Wiped Out on the Coast of Ireland!

November 19, 2012 - IRELAND - Huge stocks of the iconic wild Atlantic salmon are being wiped out by sea lice from fish farms around the coast.


The wild salmon returning to Irish rivers to spawn are being infested with sea lice, an official report has found.

Some of the fish farms may have to close due to the high mortality rate, according to the international two-year investigation involving the State's Inland Fisheries Ireland authority and top scientists from Ireland and abroad.

On average, 39pc of deaths among wild salmon are attributable to sea lice in areas with salmon farming, the report concludes.

The mortality results may cause the closure of some fisheries when wild salmon numbers are below conservation levels, the report warns.

And there could be serious implications for small populations of wild salmon in small rivers, it adds.

The salmon aquaculture industry is obliged to keep sea lice levels below that needed to protect wild salmon from being infested and dying. - Independent.

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: Exserohilum Rostratum - Human Brain-Eating Fungus Kills 30 Americans!

November 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - With the release of the trailer of Brad Pitt's new film World War Z, it would seem a zombie apocalypse is very much in the realm of fiction.  However, this may not be the case, as scientists have discovered a fungus that feasts on human brains.  The fungal meningitis pathogen, named Exserohilum rostratum, is generally plant-eating and is equipped with a spore-launching mechanism ideal for going airborne.

The fungus is not a picky eater and while it prefers grass, it will happily eat human brains.  The mystery surrounding this zombie fungus - and a question baffling scientists - is how it got into three lots of injectable steroids prepared inside a laboratory (which was filthy), but also why it only got into just three lots - and not more.  In an article by the Scientific American, published by the Nature journal, the authors note that the US is currently experiencing a fungal meningitis outbreak that has so far killed 30 and made 419 ill. The fungus was found growing in unopened vials of the steroid that was believed to have caused the outbreak, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said.  Glenn Roberts, a retired medical mycologist, said that despite his 40-year career at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he was shocked to hear the identity of the pathogen.  "I could hardly believe it because it's just so uncommon," he said. 

Despite this, he was not surprised that the fungus would capitalise on its situation after finding itself inside a patient. The fungus was injected into the dura, the space between the dura mater (which encloses the spinal fluid), the spinal cord and the inside walls of the vertebrae.  The fungus was able to enter the spinal fluid and then go into the brain; where the immune system has difficulty eliminating or controlling infection.  Roberts said: "Spinal fluid is a great culture medium - one of the best. The nutrients are there, and the temperature is certainly right."  In some of the fatal cases, the fungus began to grow in the brain.  How the fungus got into the three vials is in question. Scientists think that if the facilities air or water supplies were contaminated, more samples would be affected.  Roberts hypothesised that something may have blown in from a nearby recycling centre.  Another other theory is that the water used for making the final doses of the drug was not sterile. "Using nonsterile components [for injection] in somebody's spine? My goodness, that's terrible," he said. - IBT.

World War Z Trailer.