Saturday, November 24, 2012

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - DARPA Building Drone Submarines to Patrol the Sea?!

November 24, 2012 - UNITED STATES -  Surveillance drones in US airspace is soon to be inevitable, but what about unmanned vehicles patrolling the seas? The Pentagon is working hard at perfecting a stealth underwater drone for maritime monitoring.

40 cm unmanned submarine is seen during testing a tank in Canberra (Reuters / Stringer Australia).
Science Applications International Corporation of McLean, Virginia was recently awarded a contract from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, valued at over $58 million. With that funding, researchers have already begun working on an underwater vessel that will take the surveillance abilities that make aerial drones such a hot commodity and use it to send an unmanned submarine to sweep the sea for potential hazards.  According to DARPA, enemy submarines are being built right now with competing technology, allowing America’s foes to perhaps find a way to sneak unmanned vessels of their own around US bases across the globe. That’s why the Pentagon has contracted a team to work on an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV, which they say will be able to address a serious emerging threat. 

“The growing number of adversaries able to build and operate quiet diesel electric submarines is a national security threat that affects US and friendly naval operations around the world,” writes DARPA.  Still in the early days of testing, the Science Applications International Corporation is now in the midst of stages two through four of the process, which involve design, construction and demonstration of a submarine that can spend months underwater without requiring a single human operator on board. If their prototype proves successful, software will need to be scripted, a finalized ship will be built, and the drone sub will begin supporting at-sea government testing. DARPA predicts the ships will be ready to go underwater for their first test runs in mid-2015.  In addition to scoping out any underwater adversaries interesting in attacking the United States or its bases, these drone subs could also be deployed to search for any other vessels that could compromise America’s interest. Earlier this year RT reported on the growing number of stealth subs used to move narcotics from Central America into the US, and just this month it was reported that a nuclear-powered Russian attack submarine sailed to within 200 miles of the United States before it was first spotted. Sending subs into the sea to search for these types of hazards is already an option, but deploying unmanned vehicles in dangerous situations might soon be the norm. - RT.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: After 2011 Devastation From Japan Quake, California Port Building a "Tsunami-Resistant" Harbor!

November 24, 2012 - UNITED STATES -  It doesn’t matter if the earth sways in Chile, Alaska or Japan, the formation of the sea floor along the U.S. West Coast generally aims any tsunami surges at the tiny California port town of Crescent City. Churning water rushes into the boat basin and then rushes out, lifting docks off their pilings, tearing boats loose and leaving the city’s main economic engine looking as if it has been bombed.  That’s what happened in March 2011, when a Japanese earthquake sparked a tsunami that sank 11 boats, damaged 47 others and destroyed two-thirds of the harbor’s docks.

(Jeff Barnard/ Associated Press ) - A March 12, 2011 photo shows sunken and damaged boats in the boat
basin at Crescent City, Calif., after a powerful tsunami sent repeated surges that broke up docks and tore
loose boats. After one tsunami after another over the decades, the port hopes that repairs under way
will make the harbor able to withstand a similar tsunami in the future.
Port officials are hoping that tsunami is among the last of many that have forced major repairs in Crescent City, a tiny commercial fishing village on California’s rugged northern coast. Officials are spending $54 million to build the West Coast’s first harbor able to withstand the kind of tsunami expected to hit once every 50 years — the same kind that hit in 2011, when the highest surge in the boat basin measured 8.1 feet (2.5 meters) and currents were estimated at 22 feet (6.7 meters) per second.  Officials are building 244 new steel pilings that will be 30 inches (76 centimeters) in diameter and 70 feet (21 meters) long. Thirty feet (9 meters) or more will be sunk into bedrock. The dock nearest the entrance will be 16 feet (5 meters) long and 8 feet (2.4 meters) deep to dampen incoming waves. The pilings will extend 18 feet (5.5 meters) above the water so that surges 7 ½ feet (2.3 meters) up and 7 ½ feet down will not rip docks loose. 

Crescent City was not the only West Coast port slammed by the tsunami, which was generated by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in Japan. The waves ripped apart docks and sank boats in Santa Cruz, California, and did similar damage in Brookings, Oregon, just north of Crescent City. But their geographical location doesn’t make them as vulnerable to multiple tsunamis.  “Normally, Crescent City takes the hit for all of us,” said Brookings harbormaster Ted Fitzgerald.  Since a tidal gauge was installed in the boat basin in 1934, this small port has been hit by 34 tsunamis, large and small. It typically suffers the most damage and the highest waves on the West Coast, said Lori Dengler, professor of geology at Humboldt State University.  The sea floor funnels surges into the mouth of Crescent City’s harbor, and the harbor’s configuration magnifies them, experts say.  A wave generated by an earthquake in Alaska on Good Friday, 1964, killed 11 people and wiped out 29 city blocks. That was 10 years before the boat basin was even built.  When the waves hit in 2011, the port was still repairing damages from a tsunami that hit in 2006. Officials already had a plan for dealing with future tsunamis, said Ward Stover, owner of Stover Engineering in Crescent City, which put together the plan.  With no tsunami building codes, Stover said the state of California and Crescent City decided to prepare for the kind of tsunami expected to hit every 50 years. They rejected as too expensive building a tidal gate to close off the mouth of the harbor or trying to survive a powerful tsunami like the one that hit in 1964. Instead, they planned to make the docks strong enough to ride out the most likely surges.  “It’s tsunami-resistant, not tsunami-proof,” Stover said. - Washington Post.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Signs of Unrest - New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu Could Erupt "With Little or No Warning"!

November 24, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - GNS says the risk of Mt Ruapehu erupting has not changed despite an eruption on nearby Mt Tongariro earlier this week.

The Crater Lake on Mt Ruapehu. Source: Supplied.
Samples taken from Ruapehu's crater lake this week show signs of unrest beneath the surface and scientists say it could erupt at any time with little or no warning. This follows an eruption on Mt Tongariro on Wednesday which threw an ash cloud three kilometres into the sky. Scientists said they were not sure whether activity at both volcanoes was linked. Regular sampling is taken of the Ruapehu crater lake as the analysis of the gas contained in the lake's water can provide information about the temperature below.

The results from samples taken on Wednesday suggest that the temperature at depth in Ruapehu is still higher than it was a few months ago. GNS says as the lake temperature remains low this indicates that gas may be trapped beneath the lake. If pressure increases underground GNS said this could lead to an eruption, similar to one in 2007. Meanwhile, Mount Tongariro is quiet but scientists warn it could blow again within days. The ash cloud from the eruption has cleared, allowing flights from the central North Island to resume. Scientists say the volcano is in a state of unrest and the risk of another sudden blast remains significantly high. - TVNZ.

DISASTER IMPACT: After the Quake - Iran's August Disaster Leaves 100,000 Without Shelter as Winter Descends; 306 Villages Hit; 65 Villages Flattened; 18,600 Houses Totally Destroyed; 30,000 People Affected; 233 Dead; 1 Trillion Iranian Rials in Damage!

November 24, 2012 - IRAN - As winter settles in on this remote province of Iran, a pair of earthquakes that devastated the area in mid-August will likely claim new lives.  The Aug. 11 quakes devastated the mud and mud-brick houses typical of this area. Of the 306 villages hit by the earthquakes, 65 were totally flattened, officials say.  Three months later, government promises to rebuild before winter have not been met, leaving more than 100,000 Iranians in tents waiting for fierce winter weather.

The area is known for hard winters with strong winds and rains and flooding that turn earth to mud.  Allahverdi Dehqani, a lawmaker from the region, told parliament on Nov. 18, "Unfortunately so far only 15 percent of the people in Varzaghan disaster area have been settled... mismanagement has meant that people in 63 villages still live in tents though the snow and cold has already arrived," according to Vatan Emrooz daily.  Still, on Nov. 19, Iran's Revolutionary Guard and voluntary Basij militia announced the completion of 772 housing units in the earthquake zone, part of 2,000 they committed to build by next month. More than 7,000 units to protect livestock from winter weather were also donated.  "The Basij and Sepah have been with the people in the disaster area from the first moments of the earthquake and will remain close by them until the end of reconstruction and their problems are over," said Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari.

Widespread devastation in Iran following twin earthquakes in August, 2012.
The risks are clear in this once-picturesque village, 400 miles northwest of Tehran. The use of electrical heaters with too-thin wiring started a fire that swept through 10 tents before dawn on Oct. 10, killing an elderly woman and injuring two children.  “When I heard the news…my whole body was shaking out of sadness and anger,” says Farzin Rezaei, a university student from Tabriz who has volunteered in the earthquake zone.  “I could not imagine a lady of that age who lost [her home] once, facing a tough situation, now losing her life,” says Mr. Rezaei. “The news pushed me deep down into a terrible feeling.”  That concern was echoed by Akbar, an aid worker with the Iranian Red Crescent who was with the rescue and firefighting team when the tent fire broke out. He asked that only his first name be published.  “It is already cold here. Two months passed since the disaster, and unfortunately the authorities failed to fulfill their promises: no temporary housing units, no rebuilt houses,” Akbar said last month.  “It’s not easy to witness these kind people facing so many difficulties… I saw someone use his blanket to protect his sheep [because] animals are more important to them, just vital,” says Akbar. “The weather is going to be more unfriendly. You can’t blame them for carelessness – to keep an electric heater turned on next to them in a small tent while asleep.” 

The earthquake brought a wave of criticism for what was seen as the authorities' slow response, and the lack of attention from officials in Tehran, who were preoccupied with preparations for the late-August summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. Senior Iranian officials were chagrined at the summit when visiting leaders offered condolences for the hundreds of dead, inadvertently highlighting how few public statements they themselves had made about Iran’s own tragedy.  Masoud Pezeshkian, a lawmaker from Tabriz and former health minister, noted that the state TV broadcaster IRIB made no breaking news reports, “as if nothing has happened…and that is a question in the people’s mind.” Instead of reporting on the quake, he said, IRIB continued airing a comedy program.  Local officials say the criticism – which continues, even as reconstruction is underway – is undeserved.  “The problem is that almost all of the 18,600 houses in the area are either totally destroyed or damaged and need to be rebuilt [because] a house with even 30 to 40 percent damage is not safe and should be taken down and rebuilt,” says Khalil Saei, the director general of crisis management for the province who was contacted in Tabriz last month.  More than 300,000 people have been affected, with 233 dead, says Mr. Saei. Losses are estimated at one trillion Iranian rials, or $335 million to $840 million, depending on the exchange rate. - Alaska Dispatch.

EXPLOSIONS: Tracking the Violent Outburst of Energy Worldwide - Massive Blast Tied to Natural Gas Rips Through Springfield, Massachusetts; Levels a Strip Club; Damage 12 Other Buildings; 18 People Hurt!

November 24, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Eighteen people were hurt when a natural gas leak triggered an explosion that completely leveled a strip club in Springfield, Mass., and damaged 12 other buildings, officials said Friday.  The blast blew out all windows in a three-block radius, and prompted emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.  People were knocked off their feet by the blast, NBC affiliate WWLP-TV reported.  Those injured in the blast included nine firefighters, four gas company employees, two police officers,  one water and sewage employee and two civilians.

An explosion caused by a natural gas leak leveled a strip club in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Nov. 24, 2012. (WWLP/Screengrab).
Two hospitals treated the injured people, though none were in critical condition, officials said.  "It really was a miracle on Worthington Street that no one was killed," Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray told reporters at a news  conference in Springfield Friday night.  The blast, which leveled the Scores Gentlemen's Club, was was heard for miles.  Fire Marshall Joe Conan told reporters at the press conference that the call reporting a strong gas odor came in at 4:20 p.m., and the explosion took place at 5:25, about 15 minutes after the gas was shut off. The club had been evacuated by the time gas leak ignited.   A dancer at the club told The Springfield Republican that she was on stage when the evacuation order came.  While she was gathering her clothes, she said, the manager came up and told everyone, "I don’t care if you’re (expletive) naked or not, get out."

"I feel lucky we got out," said the dancer, identified only as Debbie. She said all her work clothes were lost. At a restaurant two blocks away, waitress Stephanie Simmons said the blast shocked customers.  "It rocked us so hard the windows smashed," she told The Springfield Republican. "It felt like an earthquake or a large explosion. There was pretty much chaos."  Officials at the news conference said that teams of inspectors would be sent to look at damaged buildings on Saturday, and there would likely be controlled demolition of those that were badly damaged to make the scene safe.  Meantime, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency was assisting the city to provide shelter for people displaced by the explosion, Lt. Gov. Murray told reporters at the press conference.   Springfield is the largest city in western Massachusetts with a population of about 150,000. - NBC News.

WATCH: A natural gas explosion in Springfield.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Two Small Earthquakes Rumble Ground in East Tennessee!

November 24, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Two small earthquakes within hours of each other rumbled the ground in East Tennessee on Saturday morning.  The first, a 3.0 magnitude, hit about four miles northeast of Sevierville, Tenn., about 6 a.m. It was soon followed by a smaller 2.5 magnitude quake about five miles away from the town, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. 

USGS map.
The website’s ‘Did you feel it?’ feature indicates the earthquakes were felt as far away as Vonore, Tenn., and Black Mountain, N.C., as reported by people who live in those areas.  Some people reported to the website that the first quake was felt in Morristown, Tenn., which is about 23 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter. But folks working in the National Weather Service center there didn’t feel it. 

“We definitely didn’t feel either one here,” meteorologist George Mathews said, adding that someone from nearby Jefferson County called in and said they had felt the rumbles.  East Tennessee’s seismic zone, which extends across the state into northwestern Georgia and northeastern Alabama, is one of the most active earthquake areas in the southeast part of the U.S., according to the USGS website.  “Earthquakes too small to cause damage are felt about once a year,” according to the website. “Earthquakes too small to be felt are abundant in the seismic zone, and seismographs have recorded hundreds of them in recent decades.”  The largest quake in the zone happened in 2009 and reached a magnitude of 4.6, according to the website.  Both Saturday quakes came two weeks after a larger earthquake was felt in Kentucky on Nov. 10. That 4.3 magnitude quake was felt in eight states. - TriCities.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Catastrophic Developments in Japan - Unprecedented Core Meltdown, Radioactive Insects Spreading Contamination, Highest Measurement of Cesium in Iwaki City, Scientist Fears Radiation Still Leaking at Fukushima Nuclear Plant, Mushrooms Far From Fukushima Show High Levels Of Cesium!

November 24, 2012 - JAPAN - On March 11th, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex suffered damage from an earthquake and ensuing tsunami that caused multiple nuclear reactor core meltdowns and melt-throughs, explosions, and major releases of radioactive material into the air and the sea. In addition to the reactor meltdowns and melt-throughs spent fuel storage tanks were also damaged and probably contributed to the release...

Radioactive Insects Spreading Fukushima Contamination From Lake Bottoms Across The Land.

There have been a number of points where it looked like conflicts of interest between the regulators and the regulatees (as it were), or at least the appearance thereof, were in effect since the time of this disaster. It is happening again... Kasumigaura is a system of lakes forming an artificially closed basin (with presumed underground communication with the sea?) near the Fukushima plant. The catch basin for this lake was blanketed in nuclear fallout from the disaster, and it can be assumed that this material has to some extent eroded into the lake. This material is moving into the lake very slowly and will continue to do so for a long time, possibly decades... Most of the material in question is cesium–134 and cesium–137. Cesium is very sticky, so it adheres to surfaces very well. This probably means that much of the cesium moved into the lake while stuck to various size sediments. Kilo for kilo, then, a given mass of gravel would contain a certain amount of cesium, sand much much more owing to the extra surface area, silt even more, and clay even more, all else being equal.

Scientist have been sampling the lake bottom mud as well as the water. From an article in the Japan Times
According to the latest round of monitoring, which was the fourth of its kind, and carried out in September and October, no traceable amount of cesium was detected in the water itself. The mud samples from the lake and the rivers, meanwhile, were found to contain up to 5,200 becquerels/kg of cesium–134 and cesium–137, compared with a maximum of 500 Bq/kg detected a year ago, a maximum of 5,800 Bq/kg in February this year and a maximum of 4,800 Bq/kg in July. The sludge sampled from the bottom of the lake registered cesium contamination ranging from 97 Bq/kg to 520 Bq/kg. That is lower than the maximum 1,300 Bq/kg registered in February, but higher than the 340 Bq/kg detected in the first round of monitoring a year ago. The government safety limit for cesium-tainted food is 10 Bq/kg for water and 100 Bq/kg for most other foods. The mud samples from Kasumigaura have surpassed these figures, but mud is usually not ingested as food. Government regulations state that soil containing more than 8,000 Bq/kg of cesium is considered to emit levels of radiation that pose a danger to human health and therefore must be sealed away.
So, the amount of contamination of the lake bottom seems to be both rising over the long term and variable, possibly leveling off. The problem is, given the nature of sediment flow into the lake, these numbers should be continuing to rise steadily. For this reason, there is some confusion and concern as to how to interpret these results. Several species of fish that live on the bottom of the lake have been sown to regularly exceed the safe limits of contamination and their sale has been banned... Related to this, some interesting things have been discovered among the local fish. As noted, bottom feeders have been shown to be contaminated beyond usability... I have a hypothesis that explains many of these observations. Fish like trout, salmon, and char eat, among other things, insects on the surface, gorging on hatches. A hatch is a large number of insects flying around and spending time over water, or often, just falling into the water, after emerging from a body of water where they spent an aquatic phase. I’ve written before about the role that insects such as dragonflies and lake flies serve the role of moving nutrients from their “final” resting place at the bottom of ponds and lakes, out across the landscape. These animals start off as an egg, and then turn into their adult form underwater, accumulating nutrients …. and cesium? …. as they grow. Then they fly out of the water and die everywhere. Or, are eaten by selected species of fish. From clay-rich lake bottom, where radioactive cesium can accumulate in sufficient density to disqualify bottom feeders from human consumption, to the mouths of trout, salmon and char. I don’t know if the Japanese researchers are thinking about it this way, but I hope it is given some thought. - Science Blogs.

Scientist Fears Radiation Still Leaking at Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
US marine scientist says he fears high radiation levels found in fish near Japan's Fukushima Prefecture could mean a continued radiation leak from the Daiichi Nuclear Plant. Sarah Sheffer reports. - Reuters.

WATCH: Fukushima still leaking.

Wild Mushrooms Far From Fukushima Show High Levels Of Cesium.

Wild mushrooms from Akita Prefecture on
display at a grocery store in Aomori city
(Mutsumi Mitobe).
Wild mushrooms, a seasonal delicacy in many parts of Japan, have lost their magic.  Tourism industry officials and restaurant operators have been aghast to learn that wild mushrooms picked far from the site of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture last year are showing high levels of radioactive cesium.  Last year, only wild mushrooms picked in Fukushima Prefecture were found to have cesium levels that exceeded legal standards.  This year, however, wild mushrooms from as far away as Aomori, Nagano and Shizuoka prefectures, all more than 200 kilometers from Fukushima, have been found to be contaminated with cesium.  The central government has asked 17 prefectural governments in eastern Japan to test wild mushrooms for cesium.  The task is difficult because differentiating types of wild mushroom is not easy. For this reason, it was decided that if even a single mushroom type had more than the legally allowed level of cesium in at least two municipalities in a prefecture, a blanket ban will be imposed on shipments from those municipalities.  Another problem is that decontamination work in mountainous areas is extremely difficult. Because of this, there has yet to be a single case in which a ban has been lifted.  For example, "chichitake" mushrooms picked in Towada, Aomori Prefecture, in October were found to have cesium levels of 120 becquerels per kilogram. Towada is located 350 kilometers north of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.  Under the Food Sanitation Law, the legal standard for cesium is 100 becquerels per kilogram... Cesium levels have also risen in various areas compared with last year.  According to tests requested by the central government, the highest levels recorded this year were 120 becquerels in Aomori Prefecture, up from only 60 becquerels last year; 2,100 becquerels in Nagano Prefecture (1,320 becquerels last year); and 3,000 becquerels in Tochigi Prefecture (134 becquerels last year). - The Asahi Shimbun.

33,000 Bq/Kg From Wild Boar In Iwaki City, “The Highest Measurement Ever”.
On 11/20/2012, Fukushima prefecture announced they measured 33,000 Bq/kg of cesium from wild boar in Iwaki city. It was the highest measurement ever. Prefectural government commented they are not sure about the reason. They measured higher than 100 Bq/Kg from 5 among 16 samples, which were wild boar  (Sus scrofa), spot‐billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha), mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and Japanese deer (Cervus nippon). - Fukushima Diary.

Michio Kaku: Unprecedented Core Meltdown At The Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

On the November 20th edition of the late-night alternative talk-show Coast to Coast AM with host George Noory, American theoretical physicist Michio Kaku declared that there was three simultaneous core meltdowns at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant inJapan, but the uranium actually liquified and that we had never seen a totally liquified core before. The Fukushima reactor actually melted totally.

LISTEN: Noory interviews Kaku on Coast to Coast AM.

HIGH STRANGENESS: China Builds "Ring of Life / Path to Paradise in Heaven" Stargate in Liaoning Province - The Astonishing 3,000 Tons of Steel Construction is to Serve as a "Elevated Sighting Position", Comes Against the Background of Mass UFO Sightings Along China/India Border?!

November 24, 2012 - CHINA - Several days ago, I highlighted the growing security concern along the India/China border about hundreds sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

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. 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. - India Today

A few days ago, came reports that the Chinese government was building a stargate structure.

Not happy with building mysterious gigantic structures in the desert, the Chinese are now building inter-dimensional portals in the middle of their cities. I mean, come on, what the hell is this 157m high metal structure in the the city of Fushun, in northeast China’s Liaoning province? It’s made of an astounding 3000 tons of steel and it will glow at night — decorated with 12,000 LED lights. According to Fushun Municipal Government’s officials, this titanic structure does absolutely nothing except serve as an elevated sighting position. They claim it is pretty “landscape architecture” — like the Eiffel Tower. It uses four elevators to take people to the top. The Chinese media has been harsh about the building after a blogger posted these photos on Sina Weibo, which is the country’s “largest microblog platform”. Not surprising, since this thing costs $US16 million. According to Fushun’s Urban Construction Bureau, the “Ring of Life” means “a round sky and a path leading to a paradise in heaven.” - Gizmodo.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - Armed Drones to Patrol U.S. Highways by 2025!

November 24, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Autonomous vehicles and flying drones that would disable a suspect’s car remotely with an electromagnetic pulse are set to patrol highways by 2025 according to a number of concept vehciles designed by major manufacturers such as Honda, BMW and General Motors.

The 2012 LA Design Challenge
 asked companies to come up with a concept for “Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025,” with the winner set to be announced next week. Most of the entrants for the competition have responded with designs that overwhelmingly suggest “patrol cars and motorcycles would be replaced by computerized drones,” within the next 10-15 years, reports the New York Times. Honda’s entry, the Honda CHP Drone Squad, includes both a four wheeled drone vehicle and a two-wheeled motorcycle-style drone, both of which would hunt down suspects without the need to be manned. General Motors’ concept, named the Vault Squad, includes three futuristic vehicles designed to “observe, pursue or engage.” The NY Times noted that the term “engage” was “left menacingly undefined.” BMW’s DesignworksUSA studio came up the E-Patrol (Human-Drone Pursuit Vehicle), which would allow the operator to deploy an airborne armed surveillance drone which would have the capability to disable a suspect’s vehicle using an electromagnetic pulse. “The main structure can deploy three drones. The top drone sits above the main structure and is a flying drone, while the other two are one wheel vehicles attached to the rear,” according to BMW. “In the case of a pursuit during heavy traffic areas, the patrol officer sitting in the two passenger main structure can deploy either the flying drone or one of the single wheel drones to chase the suspect and report back data to the main structure. When all drones are deployed, the main structure can continue to function. All drones have added protection benefits in that they can send an impulse to another vehicle and disable it.”

One of the concept drawings for the BMW design shows a license plate scanner within the vehicle which automatically brings up a photograph of every driver on the road, whether they are a suspect or not.
“By coincidence or destiny, designers at several companies came up with concepts for robotic, autonomously driven vehicles on ground, water and air. These future police cruisers — usually presented as story boards rather than actual vehicles — recall today’s Predator and Global Hawk drones, stars of the anti-insurgency efforts. They may give new meaning to those signs that read “Speed limit enforced by aircraft,” writes the Times’ Phil Patton. As we have previously highlighted, the whole direction of drones and automated robot technology being developed by the likes of DARPA is all geared towards having machines take the role of police officers in pursuing and engaging “insurgents” on American soil. Technology experts have warned that removing the human element from law enforcement could lead to people being summarily executed. Although Boston Dynamics and DARPA claim the robots are ostensibly being designed to help conduct humanitarian and relief missions, Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, recently warned that the true purpose of the machines is less benign. Speaking about the Cheetah, a robot currently being perfected by Boston Dynamics, Sharkey said the device represented, “an incredible technical achievement, but it’s unfortunate that it’s going to be used to kill people. It’s going to be used for chasing people across the desert, I would imagine. I can’t think of many civilian applications – maybe for hunting, or farming, for rounding up sheep.” Sharkey added. “But of course if it’s used for combat, it would be killing civilians as well as it’s not going to be able to discriminate between civilians and soldiers.” You can see images of all the LA Design Challenge concepts at this link. - Info Wars.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: New Coronavirus - World Health Organization Express Serious Concerns About SARS-Related Virus That Has Now Infected Six and Killed Two!

November 24, 2012 - SAUDI ARABIA - A new coronavirus from the same family as SARS has now infected six people in the Middle East, two of whom have died, the World Health Organization announced Friday. The UN health agency said four new cases have been confirmed, in addition to a previous patient from Saudi Arabia, who died in June, and another one from Qatar still undergoing treatment in the United Kingdom.

Image: University of Georgia.
Three of the new cases are Saudis — and two are family members who lived together, the WHO said in a news release. One died and the other is recovering. Two other relatives of that family have also shown the pneumonia-like symptoms of the novel coronavirus. One relative died but laboratory results have not yet confirmed whether he or she had the virus; the second relative is recovering and tested negative. The fourth of the new cases is a Qatari citizen, according to the WHO. On Friday, Germany’s national health institute also announced a German clinic had been treating a Qatari patient with the novel coronavirus, who fell ill in October and was released this week. So far, there is no evidence that the virus is easily transmitted between humans, as was the case with the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003 that swept across 30 countries and killed approximately 800 people, including 44 Torontonians. It is possible that animals were the source of infection and early investigations show that the novel coronavirus is closely related to one found in bats.

Nevertheless, the case of the Saudi Arabian family with multiple illnesses is raising some flags. “The timing of the cases in the Saudi cluster does raise that concern (of human-to-human transmission),” said WHO spokeswoman Fadéla Chaib. “But when a cluster occurs in a setting such as a household, where everyone has similar environmental exposures, it can be very difficult to separate out exposure to the same environmental source versus spread from one person to another. “Investigations are ongoing to try and answer this question, however, if (human-to-human transmission) has occurred, it does not appear to be sustained.” As a precaution, the WHO is now urging increased surveillance for the novel coronavirus, recommending that all patients with unexplained pneumonias be tested, even those who have not recently travelled to Saudi Arabia or Qatar. “Until more information is available, it is prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases,” the WHO said. The deadly potential of coronaviruses first became apparent in 2003 with the outbreak of SARS. The virus, named for its crown-like appearance, had been previously associated with the common cold. This new coronavirus — given the scientific name HCoV-EMC — first emerged over the summer, although scientists at the time did not know what it was. The first recognized patient, a 60-year-old man in Saudi Arabia, was hospitalized on June 13 with pneumonia and died eleven days later. A second case — a Qatari man airlifted to a London hospital — was confirmed in late September. - The Star.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Activity Report For November 24, 2012!

November 24, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from geologist Richard Wilson who specializes in volcano seismicity and Armand Vervaeck.

Mostly background activity to report this morning from the volcanoes we watch. Small deep low-frequency earthquakes are still taking place beneath Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA). They are believed to be an indicator of upward movement of gas/fluids. (station MRD).

I was unable to access the Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico) seismogram, but recent satellite data suggests nothing has changed in its behaviour (frequent small gas and ash emissions) during the past day.

Activity at the Guatemalan, Nicaraguan and El Salvadoran volcanoes all consists of low-level, background volcanic tremor occurring either continuously or in pulses (low-frequency earthquakes).

What appears to be a swarm of low frequency earthquakes at Momotombo volcano (Nicaragua) may actually be related to geothermal extraction occurring at a nearby power plant. (station MOMN).

Small earthquakes continue at Nevado Del Ruiz volcano (Colombia). (station OLLZ).

Eruption (lava flow and small explosions) seismicity continues unabated at Reventador volcano (Ecuador). (station CONE).

Small earthquakes continue within the Ruapehu and Tongariro (New Zealand) volcanic systems today, while to the north, continuous volcanic tremor shakes White Island volcano.

Other than the one issuing from Popocatepetl, recent satellite imagery shows no significant SO2 enriched plumes near any of the volcanoes we watch. - EarthQuake Report.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines and the Global Police State - United Nations Wants to Use Drones!

November 24, 2012 - FRANCE - The U.N. wants to use drones, the French news agency Agence France-Presse reports. "The United Nations wants to use drones for the first time to monitor fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where Rwanda has been accused of aiding rebels," says the report, quoting U.N. officials.

United Nations ZP.svg .png The international body "is considering a range of ways to strengthen the capabilities of MONUSCO to protect civilians from the threat of armed groups in the vast area of eastern DR Congo," a U.N. spokesman says. "Unarmed aerial vehicles, drones for monitoring the movements of armed groups, are one tool we are considering." The spokesman, Kieran Dwyer, insists the U.N.'s use of drones would be done carefully. "Of course, we would do this carefully, in full cooperation with the government of the DR Congo, and trialing their most effective uses for information gathering to help implement our mandate to protect civilians," says the spokesman.

"Ultimately, to introduce these, we would need the support of member states to equip the mission." An unnamed diplomat says, "The UN has approached a number of countries, including the United States and France, about providing drones which could clearly play a valuable role monitoring the frontier. ... Clearly there will be political considerations though." It is not clear whether any of the countries have agreed to work with the U.N. on the budding drone program. According to AFP, this recommendation could be coming to the Security Council soon. "UN leader Ban Ki-moon is to recommend options to the UN Security Council soon," reports AFP. - Weekly Standard.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments at Louisiana Sinkhole - Gas and/or Fluid Movements Causing Long-Period Seismic Tremors and Earthquakes at the Sinkhole!

November 24, 2012 - BAYOU CORNE, LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - Analysis from Itasca Group on recent seismic monitoring that can be posted to Assumption blog to give information to public on latest evaluation.

Source: Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Dr. Will Pettitt, Principal Geophysicist at Itasca Consulting Group, has reviewed the seismic data recorded overnight on November 20/21. Long-period seismic tremors and micro-earthquakes have been observed, similar to those defined previously by Dr. Steve Horton of CERI/USGS, and recorded mainly on station LA08 closest to the sinkhole. The long-period seismic tremors are postulated to be caused by gas and/or fluid movements through the rock collapse zone below the sinkhole on the edge of the salt dome. Micro-earthquakes of this nature are typically associated with small-scale rock movements, and again are believed to be occurring in the collapse zone. The source of both of these event types continues to be investigated by experts. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.