Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EXPLOSIONS: Tracking the Violent Outburst of Energy Worldwide - Huge Natural Gas Line Explosion Lights Up West Virginia?!

December 11, 2012 - WEST VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES - Reports are coming in of a big explosion in Sissonville, West Virginia.

James Hopkins of WOWK just tweeted this photo.

Via local news outlet WSAZ:
The northbound lanes of Interstate 77 are closed in the Sissonville area, from Tuppers Creek to Pocatalico due to what's being called a major gas line explosion. Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper tells WSAZ.com crews were called to what was described as a major gas line explosion in Sissonville.

WSAZ says that right now, no injuries or fatalities have been reported. A "Shelter in Place" has been issued for buildings in the area, though.

The AP reports that according to state police, several structures are on fire.
West Virginia Metro News cites Kanahwa County Commissioner Kent Carper:
"The flames are shooting 50, 75 to 100 feet. There's fire everywhere," said Carper reporting from the scene on 58-WCHS. "Gas company is on the scene working with emergency officials to get the gas shut off, then we'll assess if we have injuries or casualties. At this time it's a fairly chaotic scene."
... "Several structures are involved. The fire is so hot it's like a blevy. It's caused houses to melt and burn way far away," he said. "Many structures are on fire in a large fire area stretching hundreds and hundreds of feet."

WSAZ reporter Bill Murray tweeted this aerial photo, giving some perspective on the fire.

Now, WSAZ reports that the well has been capped.

The Charleston Gazette is reporting that the fire has been put out, and the search for casualties is underway:
Crews apparently extinguished the fire just before 2 p.m. but a large amount of fumes remain in the air, said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper. Carper said paramedics and emergency responders are going into homes and apartments now to assess injuries or fatalities.

News (via the Bloomberg terminal) cites West Virginia officials confirming earlier reports, saying the gas line has been shut off, there are still no confirmed injuries or deaths, and a search is underway for victims. - Business Insider.

WATCH: Local news outlet WOWK posted this sobering video of the flames towering into the air.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For December 10-11 - Lokon, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Santiaguito, Reventador, Nevado del Ruiz, Machin, Tjörnes Fracture Zone, and Coso!

December 11, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Another strong explosion occurred this morning at Lokon volcano in North Sulawesi (Indonesia). The eruption produced an ash plume about 3 km high and has been followed by several smaller explosions. This markes one of the most intense phases of activity during the year.

Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico continues to produce frequent (about 3 per hour) but small emissions, only some of which contain some ash.

In Guatemala, Fuego volcano continues to erupt a lava flow towards the Ceniza canyon. On 10 Dec morning, the flow had increased to 700 m length and produced glowing avalanches that reached the vegetation line. Few weak strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by rumbling sounds, were occurring as well.

Activity of Santiaguito remains being dominantly effusive. The new block lava flow that had recently formed on the southern flank of the Caliente dome produces glowing avalanches. The other flows on the SE side remain active as well.
A constant steam plume rises from the dome to an altitude of approx. 3000 m a.s.l. and incandescence is seen at the dome at night.

Compared to November, the activity of Reventador volcano in Ecuador has decreased, but weak explosions with small ash emissions continue, accompanied by moderate seismic activity.

Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia remains at low activity, with occasional tremor pulses and volcanic quakes, sometimes accompanied by small ash eruptions.

On December 7, 2012 at 05:47 (local time) a magnitude 3.1 volcano-tectonic earthquake occurred at 14.6 km depth southeast of main dome of Cerro Machin volcano. The quake was felt by residents near the volcano, and in the towns of Cajamarca and Ibague.

The seismic swarm in the Tjörnes Fracture Zone north off Iceland still continues at reduced intensity and there seems no end in sight. Most quakes are very small, but there are still occasional quakes at around magnitude 3, and the area remains at risk for a larger quake.

The recent earthquake swarm at Coso Volcanic Field in California seems to be over. The swarm which began in late November included hundreds of events ranging from less than magnitude 0.0 to M3.7, at depths of >10 km at the beginning to shallow 2 km near the end of the swarm. A small magmatic intrusion could have been the cause.

SHADOWS WARS: Nuclear Nightmare on the Korean Peninsula - North Korea Launches Rocket in Open Defiance of Warnings!

December 11, 2012 - NORTH KOREA - Isolated and impoverished North Korea launched its second long- range rocket of 2012 on Wednesday and may have finally succeeded in putting a satellite into space, the stated aim of what critics say is a disguised ballistic missile test.  The rocket was launched just before 10 a.m. Korean time (0100 GMT) and overflew the Japanese island of Okinawa.  A rocket launch by North Korea in April was aborted after less than two minutes flight. Wednesday's launch came after the North carried out repairs on the rocket, which South Korean officials said had been removed from its gantry on Monday.

Both South Korea and Japan called meetings of their top security councils after the launch and Japan said it could not tolerate the action. Japanese television station NHK said the second stage of the rocket had crashed into seas off the Philippines as planned.  It was not immediately clear if the third stage carrying the satellite had made it into space.  "Whether the satellite launch (orbit) itself succeeds or not, it is a success for North Korea anyway," said Kim Young-soo, a North Korea expert at Sogang University in South Korea. There was no immediate annoucement from North Korea on the launch. It made a formal announcement when the April launch had failed, but has previously claimed that it put a satellite into space in 2009, something no one has been able to verify.  "We will convene an emergency security meeting at 10:30. The launch was made around 9.50 a.m.," an official at South Korea's presidential office in Seoul said.  The North launched the rocket close to the Dec. 17 anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il last year and as elections loom in South Korea and Japan. 

Pyongyang says it is entitled to launch a satellite into space but critics say the rocket development is aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.  North Korea is banned from conducting missile and nuclear-related tests under U.N. sanctions imposed after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.  The rocket's path was scheduled to pass between the Korean peninsula and China, with a second stage splashing down off the Philippines before launching the satellite into orbit.  Most political analysts believe the launch is designed to bolster the credentials of new leader Kim Jong-un as he cements his rule over the country of 22 million people.  A government official in Seoul said recently that the transition of power to Kim Jong-un did not appear to be going as smoothly as anticipated and there were signs that the regime was concerned over the possibility of rising dissent.  Kim is the third of his line to rule North Korea, whose national output is around one-fortieth of that of prosperous South Korea.  Plans for the launch had drawn criticism from South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States as well as NATO and the United Nations.  The North's only major diplomatic ally, China, has expressed "deep concern" over the launch but is thought unlikely to back any further sanctions against its ally. - Huffington Post.

WATCH: North Korea launches long-range Unha-3 rocket despite warnings.

FIRE IN THE SKY: The Celestial Convergence - Giant Asteroid Set to Buzz Earth Tonight, One of the Largest Asteroids That Comes Anywhere Near Earth!

December 11, 2012 - SPACE - A giant asteroid will make a flyby of Earth over the next few days, and armchair astronomers can watch the action live on their computers. The near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which is about 3 miles wide, will zoom within 4.3 million miles of Earth during its closest approach early Wednesday morning, Dec. 12. That's too far away to pose any impact threat on this pass, but close enough to put on a pretty good show through top-notch telescopes, researchers say.

An artist's illustration of a large asteroid headed for Earth. (ESA).
And some of those scopes will be tracking Toutatis' movements for the benefit of skywatchers around the world. The online Slooh Space Camera and Virtual Telescope Project, for example, will both stream live, free footage of the asteroid from professional-quality observatories. Slooh will webcast Toutatis views from a scope in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa beginning at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Dec. 11. Another show will follow at 10 p.m. EST tonight (0300 GMT Wednesday), with footage from an instrument in Arizona. You can watch them at Slooh's website: http://www.slooh.com. Both shows will feature commentary from Slooh president Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman. "Slooh technical staff will let the public follow this fast-moving asteroid in two different ways. In one view, the background stars will be tracked at their own rate and the asteroid will appear as an obvious streak or a moving time-lapse dot across the starry field," Berman said in a statement. "In a second view, Toutatis itself will be tracked and held steady as a tiny pointlike object, while Earth's spin makes the background stars whiz by as streaks," Berman added. "Both methods will make the asteroid's speedy orbital motion obvious as it passes us in space."

Meanwhile, the Virtual Telescope Project — which is run by Gianluca Masi of Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy — will offer its own free webcast Thursday at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT), complete with commentary from astrophysicists. You can see that video stream here: http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/ Asteroid Toutatis was first viewed in 1934, then officially discovered in 1989. It makes one trip around the sun every four years. The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., lists Toutatis as a potentially hazardous object, meaning that it could pose a threat to our planet at some point in the future. The current flyby is no cause for concern, however. At its closest approach, which comes at 1:40 a.m. (0640 GMT) Wednesday, Toutatis will still be 18 times farther away from Earth than the moon is. Toutatis would cause catastrophic damage if it ever did slam into Earth. In general, scientists think a strike by anything at least 0.6 miles wide could have global consequences, most likely by altering the world's climate for many years to come. For comparison, the asteroid thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was an estimated 6 miles across. - FOX News.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Disaster Precursor - Hundreds of Dead Humbolt Squid Wash Up On Beaches Along Rio Del Mar In Santa Cruz County, California; Third Time in 6 Weeks!

December 11, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Scientists are investigating why at least several hundred dead squid suddenly washed ashore along the Santa Cruz County coast Sunday afternoon. Witnesses said the Humboldt squid stranded themselves during high tide Sunday. Carcasses were found along a 12 mile stretch from Aptos to Watsonville. “You just see them essentially killing themselves, and it’s just really weird to see it,” said graduate student Hanna Rosen of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.

Rosen said some people tried to put the squid back in the water, but the deepwater creatures swam back to shore. “They don’t see the shore very often,” Rosen said “So it might just be that they don’t understand what’s going on around them, and they’re just trying to get away and don’t realize that if they swim towards the shore, they’re going to run out of water eventually.” Scientists identified the squid as juveniles, both male and female, about a foot and a half long, weighing three pounds. The animals had full stomachs, having feasted on smaller market squid. A few had also cannibalized each other, which is normal.

Researchers have not determined why the squid washed ashore. There is some speculation the animals may have eaten toxic algae. “It’s possible that the squid are ingesting either these neurotoxins or they’re getting it through their food,” Rosen said. “And that could be causing them to be disoriented and swim onto the beach.” Humboldt squid have not been seen in the Monterey Bay area for a few years. Scientists believe El Nino weather patterns may have drawn them to the cooler waters of Northern and Central California. The stranding is the third in the past six weeks. “It’s really an exploratory time for us, so we’re learning more about what causes these strandings, and whether or not we should be worried about them or if it’s just a natural part of the squid cycle,” Rosen said. - CBS San Francisco.

WATCH: Hundreds of squid wash up in Santa Cruz County, California.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rare December Tornadoes Slam Southern U.S. States - 40 Homes Damaged, 12 Destroyed!

December 11, 2012 - UNITED STATES - At least six tornadoes ripped through four southern states Monday evening, blowing over gas pumps and destroying homes.

The hardest hit areas by the unusual December tornadoes were in Florida and Alabama.

In Edgewater, Fla., 40 homes were damaged and 12 completely destroyed. There were two people with minor injuries but no deaths, the Edgewater Fire Department reported. Most of the damage was inside Terra Mar Village, a mobile home community.

In Alabama, there were no reported injuries or deaths, the Birmingham Fire Department reported, but a gas station off I-165 had its pumps blown over.

The forecast for Tuesday calls for a slight risk of tornadoes in areas stretching from Daytona Beach to Fort Meyers, Fla. Damaging winds, spotty hail and three to four inches of rainfall are expected. - NBC News.

WATCH: Rare December tornadoes slam southern U.S. states.

BIG BROTHER NOW: Rise of Police State America - U.S. Officials Installing Audio Surveillance Systems On Public Buses; Not Just Buses, Street Lights Are Now Recording Conversation; Cell Phones To See Through Walls; Next-Generation Robotic Hunter Killers Now Equipped With ‘Death Ray’ Laser!

December 11, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A secret agent is racing against time. He knows a bomb is nearby. He rounds a corner, spots a pile of suspicious boxes in the alleyway, and pulls out his cell phone. As he scans it over the packages, their contents appear onscreen. In the nick of time, his handy smartphone application reveals an explosive device, and the agent saves the day.   Sound far-fetched? In fact it is a real possibility, thanks to tiny inexpensive silicon microchips developed by a pair of electrical engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The chips generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves, called terahertz (THz) waves, that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum—between microwaves and far-infrared radiation—and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays. 

A New Tool For Secret Agents - Cell Phone To See Through Walls.

When incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming. In the future, the technology may lead to noninvasive cancer diagnosis, among other applications.  "Using the same low-cost, integrated-circuit technology that's used to make the microchips found in our cell phones and notepads today, we have made a silicon chip that can operate at nearly 300 times their speed," says Ali Hajimiri, the Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech. "These chips will enable a new generation of extremely versatile sensors."   Hajimiri and postdoctoral scholar Kaushik Sengupta (PhD '12) describe the work in the December issue of IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits.   Researchers have long touted the potential of the terahertz frequency range, from 0.3 to 3 THz, for scanning and imaging. Such electromagnetic waves can easily penetrate packaging materials and render image details in high resolution, and can also detect the chemical fingerprints of pharmaceutical drugs, biological weapons, or illegal drugs or explosives. However, most existing terahertz systems involve bulky and expensive laser setups that sometimes require exceptionally low temperatures. The potential of terahertz imaging and scanning has gone untapped because of the lack of compact, low-cost technology that can operate in the frequency range.  To finally realize the promise of terahertz waves, Hajimiri and Sengupta used complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, technology, which is commonly used to make the microchips in everyday electronic devices, to design silicon chips with fully integrated functionalities and that operate at terahertz frequencies—but fit on a fingertip.  "This extraordinary level of creativity, which has enabled imaging in the terahertz frequency range, is very much in line with Caltech's long tradition of innovation in the area of CMOS technology," says Ares Rosakis, chair of Caltech's Division of Engineering and Applied Science. "Caltech engineers, like Ali Hajimiri, truly work in an interdisciplinary way to push the boundaries of what is possible."  The new chips boast signals more than a thousand times stronger than existing approaches, and emanate terahertz signals that can be dynamically programmed to point in a specified direction, making them the world's first integrated terahertz scanning arrays. - Caltech.

Government Officials Installing Audio Surveillance Systems On Public Buses.

The era of private conversations on city buses — and even on San Francisco’s iconic streetcars — may be coming to an end.    Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily. Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio.  Linked to video cameras already in wide use, the microphones will offer a formidable new tool for security and law enforcement. With the new systems, experts say, transit officials can effectively send an invisible police officer to transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus.  But the deployment of the technology on buses raises urgent questions about the boundaries of legally protected privacy in public spaces, experts say, as transit officials — and perhaps law enforcement agencies given access to the systems — seem positioned to monitor audio communications without search warrants or court supervision.  “This is very shocking,” said Anita Allen, a privacy law expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s a little beyond what we’re accustomed to. The adding of the audio seems more sensitive.”  In San Francisco, for example, transit officials recently approved a $5.9 million contract to install a new audio-enabled surveillance system on 357 buses and trolley cars over four years, with an option for 613 more vehicles. The contract, signed in July, specifies both modern buses and historic trolley cars. - The Daily.

WATCH: Eavesdropping devices put on US public transport.

Not Just Buses, Street Lights Are Also Recording Conversations.
News that the government is set to expand the nationwide installation of surveillance bugs on buses that record conversations serves as a reminder that similar systems are also being readied for street lights, along with a host of other devices. “Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily. Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio.”  Michael Brick warns that the device will be able to, “transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus,” at the behest of authorities adding that the DHS-funded project represents a horrendous affront to privacy laws.  However, as we have previously documented, buses are by no means the only place where big brother will not only be watching, but listening too.  As we first reported last year, high tech street lights with “homeland security applications” are now being installed in major U.S. cities.  A press release put out by Amerlux earlier this year announced the company’s partnership with Illuminating Concepts to further advance the rollout of ‘Intellistreets’. The announcement confirms that the street lights will have a number of “homeland security features” including a loudspeaker system that will be used to “engage captive audiences”.  Not only can the street lights, now being rolled out in Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh with Department of Energy backing, act as surveillance cameras, Minority Report-style advertising hubs, and Homeland Security alert systems, they are “also capable of recording conversations,” according to a report by ABC 7.  According to the companies behind the system, Intellistreets spying hubs that double as street lights are expected to “become commonplace” not only on regular streets but also for “retail malls, sports venues, on college campuses, and in new construction.” - Info Wars.

WATCH: Big Brother Street Lights(Intellistreets) coming to spy on American cities!

Next-Generation U.S. Robotic Hunter Killers Now Equipped With ‘Death Ray’ Laser.

HELLADS in action (Image from www.darpa.mil).
The next generation of military drones, unveiled by a leading US manufacturer, will not just carry a limited supply of rockets – but will likely be fitted with an ultra-light laser, capable of repeatedly destroying objects at the speed of light.  “It would give us an unlimited magazine,” a person close to the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program told Time magazine.  Over the past four years, the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has given contractor General Atomics over $60 million to develop and then scale HELLADS – a powerful 150 kW ray with a difference.  Current lasers of that strength – enough to destroy an incoming rocket or plane – are bulky, which means they can only be placed on stationary defense systems.  HELLADS, which DARPA says is in the “final development stage,” is radically lighter. It will weigh only 750 kilograms – less than a very small car.  This vastly opens up its potential uses.  A key application of HELLADS is in the new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones.  In a digital video advertising its own Predator C Avenger drone, General Atomics shows a formation of UAVs annihilating a shower of ground-launched interceptor missiles in a split second, before making them an offensive weapon and targeting objects on the ground.  The capacity of the laser is likely to be multiplied by the capability of the Predator itself. General Atomics believes the most efficient use of the relatively cheap, high-speed drones will be as a large “swarm” of integrated - RT.

GEOLOGICAL ALERT: Disaster-Ravaged Japan to Scrap Nuclear Plant Over Seismic Fault - Active Line Runs Under Nuclear Plant West of Tokyo!

December 11, 2012 - JAPAN - All five experts tasked by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) with investigating the tectonic situation underneath Tsuruga plant in Fukui prefecture said it showed signs of geologically recent movement. Under government guidelines atomic installations cannot be sited on a fault—the meeting place of two or more of the plates that make up the earth's crust—if it is still classed as active.
A police boat patrols around the nuclear reactor Monju in Tsuruga, Fukui prefecture on May 6, 2010. Geologists said Monday that the nuclear plant may be sited over an active seismic fault, indicating that it will probably be scrapped.
"Active" faults are those that, amongst other things, have moved within the last 120,000-130,000 years. All but two of Japan's nuclear reactors remain offline after they were shuttered for regular safety checks in the aftermath of the 2011 crisis at Fukushima, when a huge tsunami generated by an earthquake caused meltdowns. They must now get the go-ahead from the newly-formed NRA before they can be restarted. Shunichi Tanaka, head of the regulatory body, said: "I have the impression that we will never be able to go ahead with a safety review (of Tsuruga) for resumption."

If the body formally decides that the plant, which houses two reactors on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) coast, is sitting above active faults, it is likely to be decommissioned. The body is separately considering whether the Oi nuclear plant, Japan's only working atomic power plant which has two reactors and is also in western Japan, sits on an active fault. Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless by the Fukushima accident and tracts of prime agricultural land were left unfarmable. Anti-nuclear sentiment is running high in Japan, which used to rely on the technology for around a third of its electricity needs. - PHYSORG.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake in the Banda Sea Off Indonesia Felt More Than 600 Kilometres Away in Darwin!

December 11, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - A magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the Banda Sea off Indonesia has been felt more than 600 kilometres away in Darwin.  Geoscience Australia says there could be more aftershocks from the quake that shook the Top End of the Northern Territory overnight.  Tremors were felt in Darwin and Katherine at about 2.30am local time and were the strongest in the north for about 20 years.  Overnight staff at the Darwin weather bureau evacuated their third-storey office while the building shook.  Duty forecaster Angeline Prasad says the tremor was the strongest she has felt.  "The building started shaking and it just became worse," she said. 

A shipping container was shaken off its stands at Nguiu on the Tiwi Islands, about 100 kilometres north of Darwin. 
© Credit: Audience submitted.
"It is the worst tremor I've felt in Darwin.  "When things started falling off shelves we decided to go to an evacuation point, which is outside the building."  Geoscience senior seismologist Dr Mark Leonard says, while there have been quakes of a similar magnitude felt in Darwin before, people are describing last night's tremor as particularly intense.  "We have had a few reports from people saying they think it is the strongest, even though we know if you go back 20, 30 years there have been a number of earthquakes this size," he said.  "But there might have been some sort of focusing of the waves this time."  An engineering specialist says the tremor is a pointer to why building standards should be reviewed in northern Australia. 

Professor Kevin McKew from Central Queensland University says it is a warning that a large, damaging earthquake could strike at any time.  "The big one is yet to come," he said.  "We haven't had a great earthquake, as I would call it, but we've had plenty of warning calls.  "I think it will happen, it's just a matter of when will it happen.  "We know it is probably a once in 300 or 400 year earthquake but we have no indication to say when it's about to happen.  "But we just have to plan for it."  One Darwin resident says she was sleeping when her bed started moving.  "The bed was really shaking violently, all my sliding doors rattling and windows were rattling, and the wardrobe was sliding violently and rattling," she said.  "It just seemed to go on and on and on, and then when it died down, it even had another violent shudder again.  "It certainly got the adrenaline running."  Residents further south in Katherine, 200 kilometres south of Darwin, also felt tremors.  Indonesian geophysics officials also said they had not received any reports of damage.  The quake was felt only weakly in the districts of North Halamahera and Morotai which were closest to the epicentre, Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in an update. - Radio Australia.