Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PLANETARY TREMORS: The California Quake Swarms - Upswing in Earthquakes in the Long Valley Caldera Region of California!

November 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - An upswing in California earthquakes has some people questioning the health of the faultlines. Long Valley Caldera to Mammoth Mountain are swarming at the same time.

Earthquakes are the normal in California, however within the last week an upswing in activity has been noted. The Long Valley Caldera is showing signs that magma is indeed moving down there.

The Long Valley Caldera is something that is dismissed due to the Yellowstone Super Volcano. There is evidence in the past that the Long Valley Caldera is more dangerous than Yellowstone, and just a stone's throw away from the populated regions of Southern California.

The caldera is just north of Ridgecrest off of Highway 395 and activity has been spiking within the last week.

"We don't think much is going on there, but it is being monitored," said the USGS. "We have teams in the area and have just recently finished a study on the area."

So while no one can predict what will happen, just as Yellowstone, the Long Valley Caldera is considered a super volcano that can go off at anytime.

"We've notice an increase in 2s and 3s across California as well, with poppers across Southern California," said TheWeatherSpace.com Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin. "This usually means we are going to have the stress released soon in the area. What is also interesting is Long Valley and Mammoth Mountain activity is happening at the same time. This is real interesting."

According to Jim Berkland, a retired geologist, Full Moons usually generate large earthquakes due to the tidal forces. There is a lunar eclipse tonight so the moon can't get any fuller. - The Weatherspace.

STORM ALERT: NASA AIRS Sees Tropical Storm Bopha Intensifying In Micronesia - Potential For Dropping Heavy Rainfall And Strong Winds!

November 27, 2012 - MICRONESIA - The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Bopha on Nov. 27 at 0241 UTC that indicated a lot of power exists in the strengthening tropical storm. The AIRS image captured the eastern half of the tropical storm and showed a large area of very cold, very high cloud tops, where temperatures colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius) have the potential for dropping heavy rainfall.

This infrared image of the eastern side of Tropical Storm Bopha was captured on Nov. 27 at 0241 UTC by the AIRS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. The purple areas indicate coldest, highest cloud top
temperatures that have the potential for dropping heavy rainfall. Credit: NASA JPL/Ed Olsen.
On Nov. 27, the National Weather Service in Tiyan, Guam noted that "Residents of Satawal in Yap State should closely monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Bopha, as a tropical storm watch could be required Wednesday, Nov. 28." A tropical storm warning remained in effect for Nukuoro in Pohnpei State and Lukunor in Chuuk State. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for Losap, the Chuuk Lagoon Islands and Puluwat in Chuuk State.

At 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST/1 a.m. CHST local time) the center of Tropical Storm Bopha was located near latitude 4.7 degrees north and longitude 155.2 degrees east, only 55 miles north-northeast of Nukuoro. Bopha was also about105 miles southeast of Lukunor and 225 miles southeast of Losap. Tropical Storm Bopha was nearly stationary but the National Weather Service expects Bopha to start moving westward. Bopha's maximum sustained winds have increased to 50 mph and Tropical Storm Bopha is expected to continue intensifying. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center, making the storm almost 100 miles in diameter.

More information: For specific information on effects to individual islands, visit the National Weather Service website: www.prh.noaa.gov/data/GUM/HLSPQ1. Provided by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. - PHYSORG.

Latest update and path projection for Tropical Storm Bopha.

EXTREME WEATHER: Brutal Wild Storm Hits Western Australia - Over 50,000 Without Power, Uprooted Trees, Widespread Damage to Homes and Buildings!

November 27, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - Dozens of fallen power lines left tens of thousands in the dark, at least two schools were badly damaged, while Perth's new $20 million boutique luxury hotel had its roof ripped off and a chimney demolished by the vicious gusts of wind that blasted the coast.

The Terrace Hotel was opened only at the beginning of November, after an extensive and expensive renovation designed to attract A-list celebrity visitors. Police and emergency services were forced to close St George's Terrace around the refurbished building after a nearby pedestrian walkway was showered with rubble from the hotel's roof. Police and emergency services cordoned off the area for several hours, as glass and brick continued to fall on the street below. Around the city damage was widespread, with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) answering around 100 calls for help, and Main Roads reporting numerous roads closed due to fallen trees and other debris. The northern suburbs of Wanneroo, Stirling and the Perth CBD were worst hit, with the Avon Vale Primary School in Northam receiving significant structural damage and immediately saying it would be shut on Thursday. Samson Primary School, in the city's south, had damage to the roof of an undercover area, while Perth's Beatty Park Aquatic Centre, which was recently refurbished, was also damaged.

 A wild storm has caused havoc in Perth, partially ripping the roof off a new $20 million hotel. Source: AAP.

Power lines were brought down by falling trees in several suburbs, with police closing roads in Bayswater after several lines were felled by one tree. Western Power was responding to almost 500 hazards, with the worst affected areas in Armadale, Morley and Forrestfield in the Perth metro area, and Collie and York. More than 20,000 calls for assistance were received in four hours, the company said. A post on social media showed a Virgin flight apparently abandoning an attempted landing at Perth Airport as winds continued to gust. And school leavers' celebrations at Rottnest Island and Dunsborough were dampened by the unseasonal weather. Thousands of schoolies celebrating on Rottnest Island were battered by winds of up to 117km/h. Ferry companies are keeping a watch on conditions before deciding whether services would run on schedule on Thursday. At the Dunsborough Lakes campsite, 40 tents were destroyed, leaving hundreds of youngsters without anywhere to sleep, as clothes and belongings were blown into a nearby creek. Boats in Bunbury, Mosman Park and Bull Creek were sheared from moorings by the strong winds. Surf Lifesaving WA closed all metropolitan and South West beaches because of dangerous conditions. The cold front crossed the coast at Cape Naturaliste at 2.30pm WST, with forecasters warning of wind gusts up to 125km/h into the evening. In regional areas, Dwellingup recorded wind speeds of 89km/h winds and Esperance 94km/h. The Bureau of Meteorology advised severe thunderstorms were likely to produce damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rain which may lead to flash flooding in parts of the Goldfields, Eucla, South Interior and South East Coastal districts. - Herald Sun.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Russia’s Tolbachik Erupts for the First Time in 36 Years!

November 27, 2012 - RUSSIA - For the first time in 36 years, Tolbachik in Russia is erupting according to reports from Russia. KVERT, the volcano monitoring body for Kamchatka, released a bulletin describing a significant explosive eruption with the potential for ash explosions up to 10 km / 32,800 ft. With the many air routes across the northern Pacific, this eruption will need to be closely monitored for its impact on air travel over the eastern Siberian peninsula.

One of the cinder cones formed during the 1975-76 eruption of Tolbachik in Russia. Image: Einar Fredriksen / Flickr.
The ash advisory from the Tokyo VAAC also mentions a report of ash at FL 330 (33,000 feet) that was spreading to the NNW. VolcanoDiscovery reported that seismicity had been creeping upwards around Tolbachik since at least early November as well. Trying to get information from some of the hastily-translated articles from Russia is, ahem, fun. One described the eruption as the “volcano’s top caldera is being filled with fresh and gushing lava” based on incandescence seen at the summit.

The last eruption of Tolbachik started in 1975 and was quite impressive, rating at least a VEI 4 with both explosive and effusive activity. However, that was a larger eruption than most over the last century at the Russian volcano and most are smaller VEI 2 eruptions. Interestingly, the 1975-76 was a mainly basaltic eruption (see above), the largest recorded in the northern Kamchatka peninsula — however, that activity did produce 13 km / 42,000 foot ash plumes as well during the creation of a series of cinder cones and a 15 square kilometer lava flow field.

Unfortunately, today’s passes by the Terra and Aqua satellite didn’t capture any plume – likely because the pass was too early, but some of the peninsula is obscured by clouds as well. However, this 2004 NASA Earth Observatory image shows the summit caldera at Tolbachik and its relative proximity to its more famous brethren, Bezymianny and Kliuchevskoi. As always, I will try to update with details as they arrive.

Update 11 PM EST 11/27
: John Seach is reporting via Twitter that towns up to 35 km from the volcano have received 4 cm of ash fall from the eruption. - WIRED.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Quakes Can Trigger Faraway "Slow-Slip" Events!

November 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Major earthquakes might set off incredibly slow earthquakes thousands of miles away, new research suggests. These findings, detailed online Sept. 11 in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, shed light on how earthquake zones might communicate with each other over large distances, scientists added. The cluster of devastating earthquakes that rocked the globe during the past decade from Japan to Sumatra to Haiti is one reason why scientists are investigating whether temblors in different parts of the world are linked to one another. Although research to date suggests that major quakes aren't likely to trigger other massive quakes around the globe, they can set off tremors worldwide.

Now researchers find that large quakes might also trigger mysterious slow earthquakes thousands of miles away. One kind of slow earthquake known as a slow-slip event can last for weeks, shifting the Earth as much as an ordinary earthquake of magnitude of 7 would in mere moments. The investigators focused on the magnitude 8.8 Maule earthquake that struck Chile in 2010. They found it generated surface waves that, within hours, set off tremors in the Guerrero region of southwestern Mexico 4,140 miles (6,660 kilometers) away. Data from GPS stations also revealed the earth there began moving southward at the same time tremors there began. The tremors and movements of the GPS stations lasted for about six months after the 2010 Chile quake. "Such an observation may indicate that the Maule earthquake triggered a slow-slip event in Guerrero," said researcher Dimitri Zigone, a seismologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Near Guerrero lies a subduction zone, where a tectonic plate under the Pacific Ocean is diving under the continental North American plate. The seismic energy from Chile apparently increased the stress in the segment of the subduction zone near Guerrero, which may explain the resulting slow-slip event.  "The fact large quakes can have effects so far away could be important because it may change the recurrence time between earthquakes in a specific location," Zigone told OurAmazingPlanet. "Usually we assume that the seismic cycle — the recurrence between earthquakes — is regional, on a single fault system or at a plate boundary, for example. If these large-scale interactions exist, it may indicate that even at large distances, a mega-earthquake can modify the conditions in another region." - MSNBC.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse - Watch Lunar Eclipse Darken Full Moon Wednesday!

November 27, 2012 - SPACE - Stargazers in the western United States will be able to see the moon dip into Earth’s shadow during a minor lunar eclipse early Wednesday (Nov. 28), and observers outside the prime viewing spots can watch it live online. During the so-called penumbral lunar eclipse, the November full moon passes into the hazy outer edge, or penumbra, of the earth’s shadow, where the sun’s light is only partially blocked. The effect for an observer on Earth is a subtle, but perceptible, shadow that spreads over the moon’s surface.

Observers in East Asia, Australia, Hawaii and Alaska will be able to see the lunar eclipse from start to finish (weather permitting), but moon fans outside those areas can see the lunar event live online via the Slooh Space Camera. Slooh officials will provide a free webcast at the eclipse’s peak time of 9:15 a.m. EST (1415 GMT). That is about a half hour before the moon reaches its fullest phase of the month at 9:46 a.m. EST (1446 GMT).

Unlike a total lunar eclipse — when the moon passes centrally through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra, and the moon turns deep red in color — a penumbral eclipse merely grazes the umbra’s dusky outer fringes. The result is a slight brownish shading on the moon’s edge closest to the umbra. This sequence captured by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from Rockport, Massachusetts, shows the deep penumbral eclipse of March 14, 2006. This event was followed two weeks later by a 4-minute-long total eclipse of the sun, which Imelda and Edwin observed from Salloum, Egypt, near the border with Libya. CREDIT: Imelda B. Joson and Edwin L. Aguirre.
SPACE.com will carry the Slooh lunar eclipse webcast live here. Slooh allows users to observe the night sky from a worldwide network of affiliated telescopes, and Wednesday’s feed will be broadcast from either New Zealand or Hawaii, depending on which observatory has the better view. The lunar eclipse webcast will last about 30 minutes. You can follow the event via Slooh.

Figure shows the path of the Moon through the penumbra as well as a map of Earth showing the regions of eclipse visibility. Eastern Canada and the USA will miss the eclipse entirely since it begins after moonset. Observers in western Canada and the USA will have the best views with moonset occurring sometime after mid-eclipse. To catch the entire event, one must be in Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, or East Asia.
Wednesday’s eclipse won’t be as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse, in which the moon passes fully through the pitch-black core of Earth’s shadow, but lunar observers can still find something worth watching as the moon turns a darker shade of pale.  The eclipse will begin at 7:15 a.m. EST (1215 GMT), when the moon first breaches the outer edges of Earth’s shadow (called the penumbra). Because the resulting change in color will be extremely faint, it will likely only be detectable to the naked eye after more than half of the moon has passed into the penumbra.

Moon Phases Infographic. Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com.
That means that the farther west an observer is located in the United States, the better chance he or she will have of noticing a change in the moon. The lunar eclipse will reach its peak, with close to 92 percent of the moon’s diameter immersed in the penumbra, at about 9:30 a.m. EST (1430 GMT), hours after the moon has set on the East Coast.  Observers in the Mountain Time Zone will have the best chance of noticing the dimming just before moonset, which comes at 6:59 a.m. local time (1359 GMT) in Denver. And the Pacific Standard Time Zone, where the peak will arrive with a good leadoff on moonset, will have the best view in the lower 48 U.S. states. - Mashable.

WATCH: NASA - Lunar Eclipse Essentials.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments at Louisiana Sinkhole - "Event" Has Occurred at the Giant Sinkhole - Surface Appears to be Covered in Thick Black Oil, Trees Falling in!

November 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - An event occurred at the sinkhole around 11:30 pm today which is being considered as a “burp”. 

Vegetative debris and hydrocarbons came up from below the sinkhole.  A few trees in the southwest corner did fall in however most of the debris came from below the sinkhole.  Texas Brine removed all crews from the sinkhole and is checking the boom surrounding the area to make sure everything is in tact.

Settling/shifting of material underlying sinkhole created disturbance of water in sinkhole in morning roughly coinciding with USGS report of observance of seismic activity – crude oil emulsion and woody debris from sinkhole bottom observed rising to surface, water from nearby swamp seen flowing into sinkhole. Surface activity observed for several minutes before water calmed again. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

WATCH: A video from the sinkhole.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Escalating Towards World War III - US-Led NATO Intervention Begins in Syria, Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems Already in Turkey!

November 27, 2012 - SYRIA - The Middle East military spotlight swung around from Gaza to the Syrian war with steps for the start of US and NATO intervention in that conflict. Without spelling this out, a game changer began unfolding when a joint Turkish-NATO team began making a site survey for the deployment of Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems, manned by American military teams. The team, said the statement from Ankara, will assess where to station the missiles and how many would be needed. It reiterated that the system is “for defensive purposes” and not for a “no-fly zone or offensive operations,” but just for use “against an air or missile threat from Syria.”

Patriot anti-missile batteries for Turkey.
However, the Patriots in combination with already installed elements of the missile shield, will command an area beyond the Turkish-Syrian border - all of northern Syria up to and including the embattled towns of Aleppo and Homs, debkafile’s military sources report. Their presence will impede the operations of Assad’s most effective and lethal means of war against the rebels in that region – air force bombardment. The positioning of US anti-missile missiles in Turkey coincides with the rebels’ success in destroying the Assad regime’s key air and radar stations in southern Syria and along the Jordanian border. The two thrusts add up to a coordinated military effort in northern and southern Syria to seize control of the skies in both regions from Assad’s control and push his forces back into central Syria. A part of the US-Turkish plan affects Israel. Monday, debkafile reported exclusively that in a resounding blow to Bashar Assad's ability to fight external enemies, Syrian rebels had destroyed the Assad regime’s most important electronic warning radar station facing Israel – M-1 – Monday, Nov. 26. This Russian-built station monitored Israeli warplanes' takeoff and landing activities at air bases in the Negev and Hatzerim in the south and tracked them up to the Syrian border. The facility was designed to guide Syrian missiles targeting any point on the Israeli map, in sync with air defense facilities south of Damascus and on the Golan Heights. The radar’s range also covered naval movements in Mediterranean waters off the shores of Israel and Lebanon.

Western military sources told debkafile that the destruction of this vital facility has blinded the two eyes which Syrian air, air defense and missile forces had trained on Israel. It has therefore crippled, though not completely dismantled, Bashar Assad’s ability to got to war against Israel, Jordan or Saudi Arabia. M-1 radar also swept all parts of Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia where the important Tabuk air base is situated. Deployed there in addition to the Saudi Air Force are French fighter-bombers ready to go to war against Syria. M-1 also relayed current data on Israeli military movements to Hizballah and would have been a vital source of intelligence in a potential Lebanese Shiites offensive against the Jewish state. The Syrian ruler and his spokesmen have frequently threatened since the eruption of the popular insurrection that if Assad had his back to the wall, the entire Middle East would go up in flames, especially Israel. In the last two days, the Syrian rebels have made additional gains: They were able to capture areas abutting on the Jordanian border, excepting only the Ramtha border crossing. They also seized the Marj al-Sultan military air field southeast of Damascus and adjoining Syrian Army 4th Brigade bases. Most of the men of the 82nd Infantry Brigade guarding M-1 were killed in the fighting, fled or were taken prisoner. Our military sources notes that after M-1, the Assad regime still retains two key radar stations: M-2 in Shanshar south of Homs, which covers central and northern Syria; and M-3 near Latakia which keeps an eye on the northern region up to the Turkish border and the eastern Mediterranean up to Cyprus. All three radar stations were linked to the Syrian general staff, air force, air defense, missile and navy operations rooms and fed them the essential real-time intelligence data needed for decision-making at the highest level. However, the loss of M-1 seriously hampers the Syria army’s capacity to take on Israel or Jordan. - Debka.

FUK-U-SHIMA: "Post-Apocalyptic Wilderness" in Japan - Many Areas Lost For Generations, Tokyo Faces Thyroid Problems, And TEPCO Re-Starts Nuclear Program In Face Of Health Problems And Citizen Protests?!

November 27, 2012 - JAPAN - As cold northerly winds sprinkle the first snow on the mountains surrounding this medieval city, those who fled here after last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster are losing hope that they will ever return to their old homes. The mayor of Okuma, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi plant that was hastily evacuated when a huge earthquake and tsunami crippled the reactors’ cooling systems on March 11, 2011, has vowed to lead residents back home as soon as radiation levels are low enough. But the slow pace of the government’s cleanup efforts, and the risk of another leak from the plant’s reactors, forced local officials to admit in September that it might be at least a decade before the town could be resettled.

Hopes Of Home Fade Among Japan’s Displaced.
 “I was one of those who kept saying, ‘We will go back, we will go back!’ ” said Toshiko Iida, 78, who fled her rice farm [in Okuma] three miles south of the plant. “Now, they are saying it will be years before we can go back. I’ll be dead then.” Such feelings of resignation are shared by many of the 159,000 people who fled their towns after the earthquake and tsunami caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant, spewing radiation over a wide area of northeastern Japan in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, in what was then the Soviet Union. After first being reassured by the authorities that the accident was not so bad, then encouraged as the government began its costly decontamination effort, many evacuees are finally accepting that it may take decades, perhaps generations, before their town could be restored to anything like it was before the disaster.

“We all want to go back, but we have to face the obvious,” said Koichi Soga, 75, a retired carpenter who once worked on reactor buildings at the plant. “Look at the Soviet Union. They are still not back, right?”... The mayor, Toshitsuna Watanabe, immediately began drawing up plans for returning to Okuma that called for a group to resettle a small corner of the town where radiation levels were relatively low. The settlers would then slowly expand the livable areas, decontaminating one street or building at a time, like colonists reclaiming a post-apocalyptic wilderness... “People are giving up because we have been hit by negative news after negative news,” said Mr. Watanabe...  only 11 percent of the 3,424 households that responded [to a September questionnaire] said they wanted to go back... - NY Times.

WATCH: Report on the "Learn from Chernobyl" tour in Japan - "Many people have thyroid problems".

WATCH: Fukushima Nuclear Lessons - "Coexisting With Nature".

Fukushima Re-Starts Nuclear Program In Face Of Health Problems And Citizen Protests.
Hear audio from a protest several weeks ago in front of the Japanese consulate on Market Street. Two bilingual Japanese visitors speak through a megaphone on the state of affairs in Japan. Labor activist Steve Zeltzer, back from a fact-fining trip to Japan, speaks on the problems he learned of. Protests are being held weekly at the consulate. A protest was held at Union Square in front of droves of tourists on “Black Friday”.



The Japanese government has re-started its nuclear program in Fukushima and throughout the country, despite heavy protest to disband it. A program of heavy coercion is reportedly in place to once again brand nuclear as a clean, safe, healthy form of energy. Voices of the population are under heavy suppression. This includes parents, many who have learned of significant health problems, some looking at health problems with their own children. Zeltzer describes Japan’s government being closely connected to the U.S. nuclear program in this implementation, including the clamp down on dissent. The Obama administration continues forging ahead here in the U.S., where many problems exist unaddressed with domestic nuclear facilities. U.S. activists are working to lay a foundation for a renewed anti-nuclear movement here. - Indy Bay.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments at Louisiana Sinkhole - Is Radioactive Waste And Radiation Coming Up From The Ground?!

November 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - It was just yesterday that I was sharing with you the new scientific data that even exposure to what has been considered low doses of radiation can be harmful. In particular, I mentioned the long-standing — but not always well-understood — issue of so-called Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material, or NORM. This is a radioactive by-product of the oil-production process; for years it was dumped across the Gulf Coast, polluting groundwater and contaminating pipes that then sickened workers or were placed in unsuspecting communities. In the ongoing saga of the Bayou Corne sinkhole — the collapsing salt dome that has forced about 150 people out of their homes some 70 miles west of New Orleans — this has always been a concern ever since the earliest reports of bubbling swamp waters and foul odors, that some of the stuff coming up from under the ground will include unsafe levels of radiation. (It was just last week that we learned that toxic hydrogen sulfide was released as the owner, Texas Brine Co,, is working to vent and burn off gases from the troubled dome.)

Seismic monitor graph.

Seismic monitor graph.

The Click HERE for the Seismic Monitor website. Click HERE for the map of where the monitors are at Bayou Corne.

Now, in just the latest in what seems like a never-ending stream of bad news about what’s been taking place under the Louisiana bayou, state officials are investigating whether radioactive waste was once buried there by Texas Brine Co.:
State officials are investigating how Texas Brine Co. LLC handled naturally occurring radioactive material in Assumption Parish — where a large sinkhole was found Aug. 3 — and whether it was illegally disposed of inside the Napoleonville Dome in the mid-1990s. The state Department of Environmental Quality confirmed last week that a 1979 state statute prohibited disposal of naturally occurring radioactive material in large underground salt deposits like the Napoleonville Dome until legislative changes in 1999 made such disposal legal.  “What we’re going to do is investigate this thing the best we can with the information from 1995 and move forward as appropriate,” DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett said. In August 1995, Texas Brine considered putting up to 20 cubic feet of NORM in an underground company cavern in the Napoleonville Dome and in another salt dome in Lafourche Parish, according to DEQ and state Office of Conservation records. The Office of Conservation did not object, but it is unclear if Texas Brine followed through on the plans.
 This is a very confusing saga — when you get to the end of the piece it’s unclear just what exactly Texas Brine did or didn’t bury at the sinkhole. But that is the broader point — neither the company nor state regulators have been clear about has or hasn’t been taking place at this site for years. And they haven’t been either honest or forthcoming with the people of Louisiana now, in this hour of crisis for displaced families and for the worried residents still in the area. Earlier this year, I joined with local activists like the Louisiana Bucket Brigade in calling for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to step in and take over the responsibilities of the Louisiana DEQ, which has been both overmatched and far too favorable to Big Oil and other industries. This is a textbook example of why. The people of Bayou Corne need to know what’s coming up from the ground, and they need to know whether that includes radioactive waste. And if Louisiana can’t provide those answers, they need to bring in someone who can. - Stuart Smith Blog.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Iran Set To Unveil New Missile-Launching Warship!

November 27, 2012 - IRAN - Iran will unveil a domestically manufactured missile-launching warship in the coming days, the country’s navy chief said. It comes days after Tehran accused the US Navy of conducting “illegal and provocative acts” in the Persian Gulf.  "One of the new achievements of the Navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the Sinai 7 missile-launching warship… which will be unveiled on Wednesday," Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying by Press TV. 

Iranian navy fires a Mehrab missile during the "Velayat-90" naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz
in southern Iran on January 1, 2012.(AFP Photo / Ebrahim Noroozi).
Two new Ghadir-class submarines will also become operational by November 27. Subs of this type are made primarily for shallow-depth performance and can conduct extended coastal missions. The Islamic Republic will hold a major naval drill, dubbed Velayat 91, between December 21 of 2012 and January 20 of 2013 in the country’s southeastern waters. Last December, Iran conducted naval drills in an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden. Sayyari also said that the navy had plans to send a fleet of warships to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  The Iranian Navy is considered to be the most powerful and efficient in the Persian Gulf, having at its disposal five corvettes, 20 missile and 20 torpedo boats, 13 amphibious ships, 28 auxiliary ships, three submarines, 22 aircraft and 15 helicopters. Recently Iran unveiled its new, fifth navy base in the Strait of Hormuz, located near a major oil transit corridor, through which one fifth of the world’s oil passes from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. The Strait has recently become the focus of tensions, with Tehran threatening to block the route in retaliation for international sanctions over its alleged nuclear weapons program. The US has pledged to keep the strategic oil lane open. 

Iran is constantly upgrading its military capabilities. In recent years, Iran declared it had made great achievements in the defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in essential military equipment and systems. The country produces its own tanks, self-propelled guns and multiple rocket launchers. One of its latest achievements is Jamaran, its first domestically-built destroyer, which was launched in the Persian Gulf in February 2010. Iran is also actively engaged in missile development. Its Shahab-3 long-range ballistic rocket has range of 5,000 kilometers – meaning it could reach Israel and all US military bases in the Persian Gulf.  Tensions have been simmering in the region for several months, with Israel declaring that it is ready to strike Iran in order to prevent it from building an atomic weapon. Recently Israel said a decision over a military strike on Iran will have to be made in “eight to ten months.”  Washington has also said no options are off the table in regards to Iran, though it indicated that it would not support a unilateral Israeli attack on the country.  In the latest chapter of the standoff on Saturday, Iran accused the US Navy of “illegal and provocative acts” near its coastline, including violations of its airspace. Iran’s Envoy to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee filed formal accusations of these charges with both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council. Israeli intelligence believe that Iran is accelerating the development of nuclear weapons, though experts around the world, including in the US, dispute the claim.  Iran has repeatedly assured other nations, especially its neighbors, that its nuclear program is for strictly civil purposes. - RT.

BIG BROTHER NOW: The Mark of the Beast - Techno Magazine Says People Need To Stop Worrying And Embrace RFID; Beta Beast Systems Getting Thumbs Up In Schools, Hospitals And The People Scanned Say They Just Love It; As Ray Kurzweil Predicts Humanity To Be Blended With A.I. Smart Chips!

November 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a simple way of using embedded chips as a form of tracking and authentication. It’s now fairly common to have pets implanted with RFID chips so they can be identified even without their collar attached. As RFID use has increased in frequency in the developed world, there has been a non-trivial amount of pushback from luddites  the religious, and privacy advocates. In reality, RFID isn’t that scary, and we should embrace it.

Tech Magazine Says People Need To Stop Worrying And Embrace RFID.
Wired has an article explaining a recent kerfuffle between a student and her high school. Simply put, the school requires students to use RFID-equipped badges so they can track movement on campus for funding and truancy purposes. The student refused to wear the badge on religious and privacy grounds. In response, the school suspended her until she agrees to use the school ID. A legal battle ensued, and a judge temporarily lifted the school suspension until the case can proceed later.  RFID next to a grain of rice  In reality, these concerns are minor and based on fear of technology. This is just a tinfoil hat situation on a larger scale than normal. It appears from the known details about this story that these badges aren’t even being used at the individual class level. The low-tech method of having teachers taking roll call in class is even more refined than this RFID solution. If this was legitimately about privacy concerns, advocates would be against roll call in school as well. Instead, this whole situation is about fear mongering — not privacy concerns.  While there are some issues with the technology, specifically relating to other people accessing the information on the chip, this doesn’t showcase them. Preventing unauthorized access to the chip’s data is a problem, but it can be handled with cryptography. For example, requiring a password or using rolling codes can thwart evil-doers successfully. If you’re really worried about other people reading your RFID chip, it can be rendered harmless simply by covering it in a sleeve that works like a faraday cage.  Behavior is the real problem here — not technology. RFID is a useful tool that is already being used by companies like Walmart and organizations like the Department of Defense in the United States for authentication and tracking purposes. While RFID can be abused just like anything else, the technology isn’t inherently bad. Even the more paranoid among us should embrace RFID, and stop worrying about the tech so much. After all, common technology like smartphones and tablets are more susceptible to nefarious use. Give RFID a break. - Extreme Tech.

Beta Beast Systems Getting Thumbs Up In Schools, Hospitals: People Just Love It!
Cranberry Station cafeteria manager Peggy Vincent runs
the computer that links the scan to a student's account.
Image: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY.
At schools in Pinellas County, Fla., students aren't paying for lunch with cash or a card, but with a wave of their hand over a palm scanner.  "It's so quick that a child could be standing in line, call mom and say, 'I forgot my lunch money today.' She's by her computer, runs her card, and by the time the child is at the front of the line, it's already recorded," says Art Dunham, director of food services for Pinellas County Schools.  Students take about four seconds to swipe and pay for lunch, Dunham says, and they're doing it with 99% accuracy.  "We just love it. No one wants to go back," Dunham says.  Palm-scanning technology is popping up nationwide as a bona fide biometric tracker of identities, and it appears poised to make the jump from schools and hospitals to other sectors of the economy including ATM usage and retail. It also has applications as a secure identifier for cloud computing.  Here's how it works: Using the same near-infrared technology that comes in a TV remote control or Nintendo Wii video game, the device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below a person's skin. That image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized...   Pinellas County Schools were the first in the nation to bring palm scanning to their lunch lines about 18 months ago. They are being used by 50,000 students at 17 high schools and 20 middle schools. Soon, the program will expand to 60,000 more students at 80 elementary schools, Dunham says. The 2% of students who opt out can still use cash. He says hygiene isn't a concern because students don't need to touch the device, but only hold their hand directly above it, to register a scan. - Detroit Free Press.

Ray Kurzweil Predicts Humanity To Be Blended With A.I. Smart Chips.
Within a few decades, people will be able to upload their consciousness to a computer network and become part biological, part machine.  That’s what inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil says is our destiny — technological immortality.  Since the 1980s, Kurzweil has been a leading voice on the future of artificial intelligence. His new book, “How to Create a Mind,” marshals the latest research in neuroscience to show how artificial intelligence mimics the brain’s biological design... In the book, Kurzweil focuses on an area of the brain called the neocortex, which is involved in higher functions like language, spatial reasoning and conscious thought. He explains that the neocortex functions by recognizing patterns and organizing hierarchies. If that’s all there is to consciousness, computers like IBM’s Watson are catching up with us, he contends...  in the 1970s, he was one of the pioneers of optical character recognition and natural-language software. His inventions have led to reading tools for the blind and Apple’s iPhone assistant, Siri. Although many critics have charged Kurzweil with wishful thinking, he maintains his belief that technological immortality is our destiny, and that it will arrive within a generation. - Courier Journal.

WATCH: Kurzweil sees biological blending with the artificial.

THE NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE: The Korean Peninsula - New Satellite Photo Shows Suggest That North Korea Missile Activity, Long-Range Ballistic Missile Test Possible in 3 Weeks, Japan Intercepts Pyongyang Weapons-Grade Material Bound For Myanmar!

November 27, 2012 - NORTH KOREA - A satellite imagery company is reporting increased activity at a North Korean launch site, suggesting a long-range missile test could take place in just weeks.  The image released Monday by DigitalGlobe shows an increased level of personnel, trucks and other equipment at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station. DigitalGlobe says if North Korea desires, it could carry out a long-range ballistic missile test at the site in the next three weeks. 

A satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a facility in Sohae, North
Korea where analysts believe rocket engines have been tested.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Cho Tai-Young said Tuesday that Seoul is watching the situation.  "We're closely monitoring such movements in North Korea. We're also discussing [the issue] with related countries," Cho said.  A satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a facility in Sohae, North Korea where analysts believe rocket engines have been tested. ​​U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Monday that Washington is aware of the reports and discouraged North Korea from conducting any further missile tests.  "We would just take this moment to again remind the DPRK that in April of this year there was a presidential statement from the U.N. Security Council that demanded that the DPRK not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology," Nuland said.  DigitalGlobe says the new launch site activity is similar to preparations taken before North Korea's failed rocket launch in April. Pyongyang said the April launch was meant to place a satellite into orbit. But the U.S. and its allies said it was a disguised ballistic missile test banned under U.N. sanctions.  Though recent test launches have failed, nuclear-armed North Korea is thought to be developing an inter-continental ballistic missile with the aim of being able to strike the United States.  The new launch site activity comes as South Korea is preparing for a December 19 presidential election. Many have thought that Pyongyang will try to influence the outcome of the election by waging a propaganda attack or conducting a missile launch.  North Korean state media have threatened a "sacred war" against the conservative government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has taken a tough stance against Pyongyang. - VOA.

Image: The Asahi Shimbun.

Japan Intercepts North Korea Weapons-Grade Material Bound For Myanmar.
North Korea tried to ship materials suitable for uranium enrichment or missile development to Myanmar via China this year, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.  The shipment included about 50 metal pipes and 15 high-specification aluminum alloy bars, at least some of them offering the high strength needed in centrifuges for a nuclear weapons program.  Japan seized the items aboard a cargo vessel docked at Tokyo Port on Aug. 22, a raid which took place at the request of the United States, sources told The Asahi Shimbun.  Authorities concluded that the shipment originated in North Korea because the bars were found to be inscribed "DPRK," although investigators were unable to confirm the origin from cargo documents or from the ship's crew, the sources said.  Japan, the United States and South Korea believe Myanmar has abandoned its one-time nuclear weapons ambitions. This makes officials suspect that the aluminum alloy may have been intended for use in building missiles instead.  A South Korean government source said Myanmar may have been trying to develop short-range missiles in the event of border disputes with its neighbors. - AJW.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - Experts to Study Whether Robots Will Exterminate Humanity!

November 27, 2012 - UNITED KINGDOM - The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) will study dangers posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change. The scientists said that to dismiss concerns of a potential robot uprising would be "dangerous".

In The Terminator, the machines start to turn on the human.
Fears that machines may take over have been central to the plot of some of the most popular science fiction films. Perhaps most famous is Skynet, a rogue computer system depicted in the Terminator films. Skynet gained self-awareness and fought back after first being developed by the US military.

'Reasonable prediction'
But despite being the subject of far-fetched fantasy, researchers said the concept of machines outsmarting us demanded mature attention. "The seriousness of these risks is difficult to assess, but that in itself seems a cause for concern, given how much is at stake," the researchers wrote on a website set up for the centre.
The CSER project has been co-founded by Cambridge philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology and astrophysics professor Martin Rees and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. "It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology," Prof Price told the AFP news agency.

"What we're trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community." He added that as robots and computers become smarter than humans, we could find ourselves at the mercy of "machines that are not malicious, but machines whose interests don't include us". Survival of the human race permitting, the centre will launch next year. - BBC.

SOLAR WATCH: Massive Prominence Eruption on the Northeast Quadrant of the Sun - Sunspot 1620 Expands as New Sunspot Rotates Into View!

November 27, 2012 - SUN - A prominence appears to have been whipped off the eastern half of the Sun very early this morning.

This resulted in a bright Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) as seen in the image above. So far, the plasma cloud looks to be headed to the east and away from Earth.

Sunspot 1620 continues to expand and is producing C-Class solar flares. There is now an increased chance for an isolated M-Class solar flare event, particularly around 1620. Elsewhere, Sunspot 1618 remains fairly stable as it heads towards the northwest limb, and a new sunspot rotated into view off the northeast limb and should be numbered 1623 later today. - Solar Ham.

WATCH: Prominence Liftoff - November 27th, 2012.

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

November 27, 2012 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Maricopa, Arizona, United States - 17th of September, 2012.

Queensland, Australia - 26th of September, 2012.

Israel/Palestine Border - November, 2012.

Brooklyn, New York, United States - 17th of November, 2012.

Baltimore, Maryland, United States - 21st of November,  2012.

Glendale, Arizona, United States - 24th of November,  2012.

Argentina - 24th of November, 2012.

EXTREME WEATHER: California Flood Threat From "Atmospheric River" Looms - Could Produce Significant Flash Flooding and Landslides!

November 27, 2012 -  UNITED STATES - Meteorologists use the term "atmospheric river" to describe a long, narrow plume piping deep moisture from the tropics into the mid-latitudes. One type of atmospheric river (hereafter, AR) you may have heard of is the "Pineapple Express", a pronounced plume tapping moisture from the Hawaiian Islands to the U.S. West Coast. Amazingly, according to NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), a strong AR can transport as water vapor up to 15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River! Suffice to say, if an AR stalls over a particular area, significant flooding can be the result. In fact, a study by Ralph et al. (2006) found ARs responsible for every flood of northern Calfornia's Russian River in a 7-year period. That said, they're also important for western water supply considerations. According to NOAA/ESRL, 30-50% of the average annual precipitation in the West Coast states typically occurs in just a few AR events. With that in mind, one such AR is poised to soak parts of the West Coast this week. Let's get to the forecast details.

Flood Threat Looms
The graphic at the top of this article depicts the upper-air pattern that will setup by mid-late week.  Namely, a deep dip, or trough, in the jet stream will carve out over the eastern Pacific Ocean. This will send a parade of frontal systems and upper-level disturbances into the West Coast through this weekend. The soaking starts Wednesday as the initial frontal system sweeps into the West Coast. This first system should be a quick mover. While rain and high-mountain snow is forecast primarily for California, but also into western Oregon and parts of western Washington, precipitation amounts Wednesday should be relatively "routine", for a Pacific frontal system in the wet season. Then, the "atmospheric river" makes landfall.

Beginning Thursday, the upper-level pattern will begin to tap into an atmospheric river of moisture extending from just north and west of Hawaii to the West Coast. Most importantly, that plume of moisture won't move appreciably for a couple of days, perhaps through Sunday, aiming its firehose of moisture at northern California and, perhaps, southwest Oregon. Therefore, some locations, particularly in the coastal ranges of northwest California and the Sierra foothills, will likely pick up over 10 inches of total rainfall through this weekend, leading to flash flooding, river flooding and, in recent burn areas, debris flows. Depending on exactly where the moisture plume sets up, this heavy rain could produce significant impacts (flash flooding, rock/mudslides, etc.) in at least parts of the Bay Area, as well. Rainfall amounts in Southern California are expected to be much lighter, with totals over the 5-day period starting Wednesday around an inch or so expected. This pattern will also produce heavy snow over the Sierra, not to mention parts of the Bitterroots, Tetons, and the Washington Cascades.  However, snow levels in the Sierra, may remain quite high for this time of year. - The Weather Channel.