Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MASS BIRD/FISH/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents In The United States - 27 Eagles Found Dead From Virus In Utah; Over 1,000 Dolphins Wash Up Dead This Year Along The U.S. East Coast; Hundreds Of Dead Starfish Wash Up On Beaches In Corpus Christi; 803 Manatees Have Washed Up Dead This Year In Florida; And Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Up On The Shores Of Sparks Marina, Nevada!

December 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and fish die-offs in the United States:

27 Eagles Found Dead From Virus In Utah.
One of four bald eagle that was brought into the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah but eventually
died. Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and six others are being treated.
(AP Photo/Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah)

State wildlife officials say West Nile Virus appears to be the mystery illness that's caused more than two dozen bald eagles to die in Utah this month.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says results of laboratory tests on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile.

Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and five others are being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation center.

DWR says in a statement that it believes the eagles ate grebes that were infected with the virus.

The agency says the migration of the aquatic birds should be over soon so eagle deaths should stop.

It says the birds do not pose a risk to human health but people should not handle eagles if they find them. - FOX News.

Over 1,000 Dolphins Wash Up Dead This Year Along The American East Coast.

More than 1,000 migratory bottlenose dolphins have died from a measles-like virus along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard in 2013 and the epidemic shows no sign of abating, a marine biologist said on Monday.

The death toll exceeds the 740 dolphins killed during the last big outbreak of the then-unknown virus in 1987-88.

“It is having a significant impact and that is something we’re monitoring closely,” said Erin Fougeres, a marine mammal biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

An estimated 39,206 bottlenose dolphins populated the eastern seaboard, to a depth of 25 feet, from New Jersey to Central Florida in 2010, according to the latest NOAA census.

Scientists are trying to determine why the morbillivirus resurged this year. The dolphins, which migrate south for the winter, have been stranded or found dead on beaches from New York toFlorida since June, Fougeres said.

An unknown number of affected dolphins likely died offshore as well, she said.

A record number of manatees have also died in Florida waters this year, mostly from a toxic algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The commission’s research institute said it documented 803 manatee deaths in state waters between January 1 and December 13, the most for any year since record-keeping began in 1974.

The morbillivirus virus outbreaks could be natural and simply cyclical, said Fougeres.

“The last occurrence of this was about 25 years ago and the animals that survived that would have natural antibodies. But as those animals slowly die out and new animals are not exposed, they may not have that immunity,” Fougeres said.

But other as-yet unproven theories related to global warming or pollution also are being investigated, she noted. “There could be underlying causes that made them more susceptible this year versus other years.”

Scientists in the late-1980s estimated that the morbillivirus wiped out 50 percent of the coastal migratory dolphins. As a result the bottlenose dolphin was designated as “depleted” under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, a status it retains today.

Since then, scientists have learned more about dolphin populations, and believe the morbillivirus is endemic in the marine environment where other deep-sea species such as pilot whales may be symptom-free carriers, Fougeres said.

Fougeres said something in the environment might have caused dolphins to interact more closely with the whales recently.

An unrelated study released last week by NOAA showed that some dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico are gravely ill from injuries consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure. The study looked at dolphin from Louisiana’s Barataria Bay heavily impacted by British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. - Global Research Report.

Hundreds Of Dead Starfish Wash Up On Beaches In Corpus Christi.
An unusual sight out at the Packery Channel Saturday morning has some beach goers wondering what's going on. Hundreds of dead star fish have washed up on shore.

It a was quite a sight.

We talked to a local expert at the Harte Research Institute.

He believes that the reason behind it, is the cold weather.

Larry McKinney with the Harte Research Institute said, "we have had this sustained situation of cold weather they probably reached their tolerance level and couldn't survive and couldn't escape before they died."

Experts say that the starfish will re-populate when it warms up. By the way if you try to take one home, hold your nose. They're said to be pretty smelly. - KIIITV.

803 Manatees Have Washed Up Dead This Year In Florida.
Lowry Park Zoo Manatee Hospital veterinary staff assess Cheer, a manatee in their care after exposure to
Red Tide last spring, which is one of the main causes for this year’s deaths. SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

For the first time since records began being kept in Florida in the 1970s, the number of manatee deaths in a single year has topped 800, with two weeks remaining to the end of 2013.

Numbers released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg this week showed the number of dead manatees at 803 as of Dec. 13. That's about 16 percent of the state's estimated population of 5,000 manatees.

And 173 of the dead were breeding-age female manatees, Martine DeWit of the institute's Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory said Thursday.

Although it's too soon to say how this will affect the future of the species, she said, "It must have an impact to lose these important breeding females."

For comparison, last year's total number of manatee deaths was 392, which is more in line with what's normal.

The old record for manatee deaths, set in 2010, resulted from a lengthy cold snap that killed hundreds of manatees, pushing that year's number of deaths to 766. That cold snap mostly affected younger manatees that had not yet attained breeding age, DeWit said.

This year's record die-off was driven by two causes — one of which remains a mystery.

First a massive bloom of Red Tide algae along the state's southwestern coast caused 276 deaths early in the year. Red Tide has been around for centuries and has killed manatees before. But this year was the worst Red Tide die-off ever recorded.

Meanwhile, a mysterious ailment has been killing manatees in the Indian River Lagoon on the state's east coast. That's been going on since last year but hit a fever pitch in the spring. Twenty-five died in March.

All told, 117 manatees have died in the Indian River Lagoon since July 2012, including one that died this month, according to Kevin Baxter, spokesman for the state marine science laboratory. No one can explain the die-off, which appears to be unprecedented.

Scientists are also baffled as to why scores of dolphins and pelicans died in the lagoon too, or whether there is any connection among the three unusual events.

The deaths of the three species may be a result of pollution-fueled algae blooms that wiped out some 47,000 acres of sea grass in the 156-mile-long lagoon that stretches along the state's Atlantic Coast.

Manatees normally eat sea grass, but with the sea grass gone they turned to less healthful sources of nutrition. They ate a reddish seaweed called Gracilaria. Tests have found "a suite of toxins" on the Gracilaria, but there is no confirmation that that's what killed the manatees. And that would not normally affect dolphins and pelicans, which eat fish, not sea grass.

There was one piece of good news in the figures. This year, 71 manatees have been killed by boats. That's down from the 81 that were killed by boats in 2012 and well below the record of 95 in 2002.

FAST FACTS: Through the years -  A decade of Florida manatee deaths.

2004: 276

2005: 396

2006: 417

2007: 317

2008: 337

2009: 429

2010: 766

2011: 453

2012: 392

2013: 803 (as of Dec. 13)

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg

- Tampa Bay Times.

Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Up On The Shores Of Sparks Marina, Nevada.
Thousands of dead fish lined the beach along the north end of the Sparks Marina on Sunday, prompting Nevada wildlife officials to suspect low oxygen levels in the water of causing the kill.

Water tests showed that low levels of oxygen were confined to the cove area of the marina in the shallow water, said Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Because levels were about one-third what they are supposed to be, the focus of the water testing will be on that, Healy said.

“If it continues, we’re going to have to look into other causes...”, Healy said.
Despite year-round fishing in the marina, people are advised not to eat the fish until an investigation is complete, Healy said.

The department has been receiving reports of fish that have be struggling in the cove of the marina, Healy said. The department received the first report of struggling fish this past Tuesday, officials said.

WATCH: Interview with Nevada wildlife official: Thousands of fish are dead in Sparks Marina: Thousands of dead trout, catfish and bass line the north end of the Sparks Marina on Sunday in Northern Nevada.

“Then in the last 24 to 48 hours, between Saturday and Sunday, the fish kill really picked up speed,” Healy said.

The low oxygen levels have cost the marina trout, bass and catfish, he said.
Chris Crookshanks, fisheries biologist for the department, said he spent Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., picking up dead fish and tossing them in the trash.

“It’s happened on a small scale, but nothing like this,” Crookshanks said of the marina’s waters.

Healy was not sure how long the testing would take or if fish would continue to die.
Low oxygen levels aren’t uncommon in the summer months, Healy said. The heat causes algae to grow, affecting the oxygen in the water, he said.

“Well none of that applies here because we’re in the middle of December, nearing Christmastime,” Healy said.

Sparks resident Michael Jones, who lives across from the marina, said he’d never seen a fish kill at the Sparks Marina, 300 Howard Drive.

He and his family have been visiting the marina once a week for years, he said.

“I think it’s kind of gross,” he said of the kill. “You can smell the water, and I wouldn’t get it in,” Jones said.  - RGJ.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Latest Incidents Of Fireballs Across The United States - Daytime Fireball Over Western Montana; Massive Fireball Fragments Seen Over Minnesota And Indianapolis; Second Large Fireball Explodes Over Portland, Oregon In ONE Month; Meteor Event Results In Loud Boom Over Brainerd Lakes Area In Minnesota; Mysterious Loud Boom Rattles, Rolls Most Of Texas City; Over 1,400 Reports In JUST 48 HOURS From American Coast To Coast Of Multiple Fireballs, Loud Booms, Ground Shaking, House Shaking And Explosions; And Strange Booming Noises Mystify Vermont Residents!

December 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Here are several reports of recent sightings of fireballs in the skies over the United States:

© Chystene Garagliano

Daytime Fireball Over Western Montana.
It came from the sky, and the burning question is, what was it? Reporter Jacqueline Quynh took a look at the reported fireball that some saw Friday morning in Western Montana.

We got the above photo from Chystene Garagliano from Stevensville, who snapped the picture around 9:30 a.m. Friday morning. Some folks said it looked like a big green meteor.

"From what you showed me, it's probably not aliens," Western Montana Astronomical Society President Nicholos Wethington observed.

We showed photos of the object to Wethington at the SpectrUM Discovery Center. He heads a group of people who share info from observations in the sky.

"The most interesting about the ones you showed me was that the trajectory of the meteor was pretty much straight down," Wethington said.

He says typically meteors are seen as something described as shooting stars across the sky. "I'm somewhat doubtful it's part of the Geminids," he said.

A falling satellite might have looked different. "And those make really fantastic like almost firework levels of colors when they break up, so they'll break up, and they're also not as solid as a piece of rock.

He thinks the pictures look more like a dense rock - or in other words space debris.

WATCH: Daytime fireball photographed in Western Montana.

"There were other reports from around the Midwest. It's likely that something broke up that we are not aware of and it just broke up and scattered as the earth's turning," Wethington told us.

Though it looks like a piece of the sky fell, Wethington says it doesn't look alarming. In fact he says if he can get more information, a meteorite hunting trip might be worthwhile.

Wethington recommends submitting any photos you may have to the American Meteor Society, which researches meteor astronomy. - KPAX.

Massive Fireball Fragments Seen Over Minnesota And Indianapolis.
Minnesota, Indianapolis fireball meteor, approx. 22:30 CST, 27 Dec. 2013© LunarMeteoriteHunter / Google Earth

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

27 Dec. 2013 - Tiffany, Stillwater, Minnesota, USA 20:33:00
4 secs duration. West sky, shot straight down. No sound, bright light with orange and blue and green bursts. Less bright than sun, slightly. It seemed so close, like it could have been a firework a neighborhood over, but it was no firework. It shot straight down fast out of the sky. Seemed so close.
27 Dec. 2013 - Jessica, Tintah, MN, USA 2230 CST
5 secs duration. S-N. Blue, very bright, brighter than the moon. Lit up the car. Largest/brightest I've seen!
27 Dec. 2013 - Pamela Belknap St. Paul, MN USA 10:35 pm CST
5 secs duration. N to S. No sound, bright white, becoming bright green with some red. Very bright, larger than Venus. North from St Paul.
27 Dec. 2013 - Kevin, Burnsville, Minnesota 10.30 pm
5 seconds duration. East to north-north west. Green like a big firework. Left a trail of sparks.
27 Dec. 2013 - Chris Gaza, ia, usa 22:30:00
5 seconds duration. Overhead, straight down. Green fireball. Very bright, like fireworks, with a fire trail. Appeared to hit ground a mile from my house.
27 Dec. 2013 - Courtney Hoden, Missouri Valley, IN, USA 10.15 pm Central
10 seconds duration. I was looking north. It seemed to fall straight down. Green-orange, bright as a very bright moon. Parts were falling off. Orange sparks It was very large. Seemed to fall not streak across the sky.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

Second Large Fireball Explodes Over Portland, Oregon In ONE Month.
A strange, fiery sight spotted in the skies over the Willamette Valley Wednesday morning caused quite the buzz, with initial reports suggesting perhaps a meteor or burning space junk.

Jim Todd, Planetarium Manager at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry says original photos suggested to him it might have been a meteor fireball, but he has since seen additional photos that suggest it was instead a jet contrail that created an optical illusion by reflecting light from the rising sun.

WATCH: Exploding fireball over Portland.

A number of residents snapped photos of the scene, and KATU photojournalist Mike Warner also took a short video of the trail while he was flying in their station's helicopter. He said he and the helicopter pilot were over Interstate 205 at the Clackamas Town Center between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. and spotted the odd sight while looking east.

According to U.S. Strategic Command, no man-made objects reentered the atmosphere in our area on Wednesday, which excluded the possibility that some space junk fell to earth. - Komono News.

Meteor Event Results In Loud Boom Over Brainerd Lakes Area In Minnesota.
Still from security camera footage of the fireball meteor seen across the Midwest last Friday 27 December, 2013.

Residents in the Brainerd lakes area reported seeing flashes of light streaking across the sky and hearing a boom that rattled homes and buildings, and meteorologists say the reports are consistent with a meteor event.

The reports started flowing in to authorities on Friday between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., the Brainerd Dispatch reported. Some residents said they saw a turquoise streak light up the sky, and others say a bright light illuminated their homes, even darkened rooms where the drapes were closed.

There's been no confirmation of a meteor, said Kevin Kraujalis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. However, the reports seem consistent with what happens when a meteor enters the atmosphere, he said.

"There's no other explanation," Kraujalis said. He added that there were reports of meteor sightings the previous night in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

It's possible there will never be confirmation. If there were a meteor, it may have burned up completely in the atmosphere. If it broke into pieces, the fragments might never be found, particular since the sightings occurred in a rural area that's not densely populated.

One factor in favor of finding it, though, is the fact that there's a foot of snow on the ground, Kraujalis said Monday.

WATCH: Possible meteor streaks across Midwestern skies.

"There'd probably be some sort of indentation in the snow," he said. But fragments aren't found before the snow melts they might end up nestled among other stones and may or may not look different enough to be distinguishable.

Melissa Hanson and her husband were driving on Highway 25 when a bright turquoise light flashed across the sky and was visible for about four seconds.

"I had to ask my husband to slap me because I could not believe what I had just seen," she said.

Around the area, residents called police to report a loud boom that shook their homes and rattled their windows.

In East Gull Lake, Jennie Kavanaugh and her husband were in bed with the drapes close when a flash lit up the inside of their home. A few seconds later they heard a boom.

"We thought it must have been someone setting off fireworks," she said. "We didn't hear or see anything after that, but it was crazy."

Meteors sometimes cause sonic booms if they're traveling faster than the speed of sound. - Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Mysterious Loud Boom Rattles, Rolls Most Of Texas City.
A loud boom Sunday evening sent many people out of their homes and sent emergency crews scouring the city for answers.

The city's 911 system was flooded with calls around 630PM from people all over town, who either heard the boom, or had their homes shake from the sound wave. Reports of the boom stretch from the Rodd Field and Yorktown area to downtown and many places in between.

WATCH: Loud boom rattles Texas city.


But after an extensive search of the area, no evidence of an explosion or fire was ever found.

No one knows for sure where the boom came from or what caused it. It's quite possible that the sound might have been a sonic boom from a passing aircraft. An investigation is underway. - KRISTV.

Over 1,400 Reports In JUST 48 HOURS From American Coast To Coast Of Multiple Fireballs, Loud Booms, Ground Shaking, House Shaking And Explosions.
Massive ground shaking meteor explodes over Minnesota. Daytime fireballs reported in Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, California, Nevada and more.

Reports from the U.S. are coast to coast and other parts of the world.

WATCH: Multiple fireballs across the United States.

AMS Report sightings HERE.
Big Bolide Alert - Report sightings HERE
Dash cam captures meteor speeding through Thursday's sky

Strange Booming Noises Mystify Vermont Residents.
Strange booming noises were reported across the Champlain Valley Monday night, mystifying and even scaring Vermont residents who heard them.

"Extremely alarming," said Christy Morgan of Colchester, who told New England Cable News she heard a bizarre noise. "It was very violent and very intense, and only [lasted] a second."

Morgan said the sound terrified her because she thought it was an explosion. It struck around 7 p.m., Morgan said. "[It was] like somebody had pushed their refrigerator over onto its side and it was a violent crash and the whole house shook," she remembered.

WATCH: Strange booming noises mystify Vermont residents.

Morgan said there was no sign anything had gone wrong in the house or outside of it. Others around the Champlain Valley reported hearing strange noises too; several took to social media sites to describe the noises that were puzzling them.

"They're called cryoseisms," said Larry Becker, Vermont's state geologist.

Becker said cryoseisms, often known as frost quakes, are caused when water underground freezes rapidly and expands in the kind of sharp temperature drops we've seen recently. Soil and rock splinter and break apart, resulting in a popping sound and vibrations, Becker said. "You can feel them at the felt level if they're very close to where you are in your local area, but generally you wouldn't expect to get any kind of damage out of them," he added.

Gib Brown, who works as both a geology and physics educator and as a meteorologist at NECN partner station WPTZ-TV, said he heard a cryoseism Monday, too. "I thought a tree fell on my house," Brown recalled. "I looked outside, I looked up and down the street, couldn't see anything. It had to have been a cryoseism."

Brown likened the phenomenon to the way potholes can be formed by freezing water, except under the earth, where their invisibility adds to their mystery. Brown called the frost quakes fairly rare but not wildly unusual. "I would say the numbers this year are way above average," Brown said.

Brown agreed with Becker in saying the frost quakes are unlikely to cause damage. "It's not dangerous," Brown said of the booms. "They are pretty rare, but in the Northeast they're not all that unusual. As a matter of fact, on Christmas day night they had a large cryoseism in Toronto and hundreds of thousands of people heard and it sounded like thunder to a lot of people up there."

Christy Morgan said she is glad to know the gunshot-like blast she heard was likely nothing more than mother nature at work. "It makes a lot of sense," Morgan said.

Morgan said she'll be keeping her ears open for more cryoseisms. "I wouldn't mind hearing it again," she said, smiling. - NECN.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: "Every Bird Would Come In More Paralyzed Than The One Before It" - Bald Eagle Deaths In Utah Alarm And Mystify Scientists?!

December 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Bald eagles are dying in Utah - 20 in the past few weeks alone - and nobody can figure out why.

Hundreds of the majestic birds - many with wing spans of 7 feet or more - migrate here each winter, gathering along the Great Salt Lake and feasting on carp and other fish that swim in the nearby freshwater bays.

Earlier this month, however, hunters and farmers across five counties in northern and central Utah began finding the normally skittish raptors lying listless on the ground. Many suffered from seizures, head tremors and paralysis in the legs, feet and wings.

Many of the eagles were brought to the mammoth Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, where Buz Marthaler - a longtime animal caretaker - and other handlers tried to save the birds. Within 48 hours most were dead.

"It's just hard to have your national bird in your arms, going through seizures in a way it can't control - when you can see it's pain but don't know what's happening to it," said Marthaler, 56, co-founder of the facility in Ogden.

"As a human being, you just have problems with that. And when you lose one, it just grabs your heart."

State wildlife specialists are also baffled. For weeks, officials have sent birds for necropsies at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., hoping the results would offer clues.

They began to rule out obvious possibilities: The birds were not shot by hunters, and officials don't believe the birds were poisoned. "There doesn't seem to be anything suspicious in that regard," said Mitch Lane, a conservation officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who has responded to numerous reports of downed or sick eagles.

At first, the agency's disease scientists guessed that the illness could be encephalitis, which is caused by the West Nile virus, but later ruled out that possibility. And although many sick eagles tested positive for lead, researchers did not think that it was killing the birds.

Officials suggest the eagle die-off is possibly connected to the deaths of thousands of eared grebes that began in Utah in November. Eagles are known to prey on the small shore birds. Because the grebes are thought to have died from avian cholera, many scientists theorize that the eagles became sick from feeding on infected grebes. Officials still don't know why the shore birds became sick.

"We're getting closer to an answer," Lane said, adding that officials would meet this week to continue investigating the mystery.

Meanwhile, a new ailing bald eagle surfaces almost daily.

Scott Isaacson, 59, an attorney who lives in the town of Farmington, said he was feeding his chickens one night this month when he spotted an eagle on the ground under a cottonwood tree where he was used to seeing seven or eight birds perched in the branches. "I've never seen one on the ground," he said.

He called wildlife officials, who told him to approach bird; if it was healthy, it would fly off. The bird skittered into a nearby pond.

"It was really sad to see this graceful creature, with its beautiful white head, its wings spread out in the water," he said.

Wildlife officials later nabbed the bird, which was hissing and clawing as it was scooped up in a net.

Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Utah officials say 700 to 1,200 winter here each year. "Everybody here loves the eagles," Isaacson said. "Our school is named Eagle Bay Elementary and our church is the Eagle Shore Church."

Many sick eagles were brought to Marthaler's facility in dog carriers. Workers handled them with Kevlar-lined gloves to avoid being sliced by the powerful talons.

"In an average year, we might get one or two, but we've received nine so far, and five of those have died," Marthaler said. "The other four are still in our care."

Some days have been especially hard on the staff. "Every bird would come in more paralyzed than the one before it," Marthaler said. "They couldn't move their legs. Their wings were weak. Their heads would jerk with tremors. It was difficult to watch."

The retired Air Force member said it's often difficult to determine the ages of adult eagles. "With their plumage, they can be 5 or 20; it's hard to tell," he said.

Officials at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center have their own theories about the sickness. Some point to radiation from Japan after the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. "We aren't ruling out anything," Marthaler said. A call from Idaho shed new light: A wildlife official said bald eagles there were also getting sick, suggesting that the birds were arriving in Utah already in bad heath.

The most recent eagle to arrive with Marthaler was a juvenile. "He was in the worst condition of all of them," he said. "He wasn't even able to stand. When we left for the night, he was lying down and you had to look close to see if he was still breathing."

The next morning, the bird was standing again. "He's still with us," Marthaler said. "And that gives us a bit of hope." - PHYSORG.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Massive Fireball Seen Over Iowa - Hundreds Of Reports Received By The American Meteor Society (AMS)!

December 31, 2013 - SPACE - A very huge fireball in the Iowa skies awed and amazed several witnesses in Des Moines and across the U.S. Midwest. There were hundreds of reports received by the American Meteor Society (AMS), of a bright ball of fire streaking across the night sky. Experts agree that is very likely a meteor entering and burning up in our atmosphere.

The AMS is a non-profit organization that collects information and reports on any possible meteor sightings. A total of 460 people filed reports with the AMS on the Iowa incident, mostly coming from the area around the Minnesota and Iowa border.

The massive fireball caught the attention of many Iowa residents and the event was even captured on a street camera in the City of North Liberty. According to the AMS, a very bright meteor is actually called a “fireball.” The AMS defines a fireball as an object with about the same brightness as the planet Venus in the evening or early morning sky.

As soon as people witness the huge fireball, posts began appearing in social media feeds. People in Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois also reported seeing the fireball in the sky. None of the witnesses reported hearing any sound neither before, during, nor after they saw the fireball streaking across the sky.

The National Weather Service’s, Kurt Kotenberg, said they are poring over all the reports of the fireball appearing around 5:40 p.m. Thursday. Kotenberg finds it interesting that Venus was visible in the night sky right after sunset when the reports started coming in.

Not all people think that the huge fireball over Iowa was a meteor. Skeptics questioned witnesses if the sighting could have been a falling satellite or some sort of space junk. Most of the witnesses stood firm saying that what they saw was a meteor or a meteorite. The fireball went from a bright light to suddenly disappearing in the sky, a characteristic of meteors entering and burning up in our atmosphere.

According to experts there are thousands of these types of fireballs seen all day and night. Although the fireball did not appear to be a meteor shower, it could have possibly been what is considered a “shooting star.”

While the National Weather Service is still investigating what the fireball actually was, they do think that it will be extremely hard to come to any concrete conclusion due to the lack of detailed information contained in the reports. However, the weather service did catch security camera footage of the event occurring, from cameras installed on the weather service facilities.

WATCH:  Huge fireball seen over Iowa.

The Science Center of Iowa’s, Richard Miles, said that it could have been a good sized bright fireball meteor, but something such as this could also be caused by falling space debris as well.

Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Iowa, Steven Spangler, said that humans have been launching a lot of stuff into space for the last 56 years. When this space junk falls back to earth, it can sometimes resemble a meteor streaking a trail of fire across the sky.

So far it’s impossible to get a definitive answer from experts as to whether the huge fireball over Iowa was likely a meteor or not. - Guardian LV.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: NASA Declares That SOMETHING BIG Has Happened - The Sun Has "Flipped Upside Down" As New Magnetic Cycle Begins!

December 31, 2013 - SUN - The sun has "flipped upside down", with its north and south poles reversed to reach the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, NASA has said.

The sun’s magnetic field has fully reversed its polarity, marking the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24,
which will be completed in 11 years time

Now, the magnetic fields will once again started moving in opposite directions to begin the completion of the 22 year long process which will culminate in the poles switching once again.

"A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event," said NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips.

"The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the 'heliosphere') extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space."

To mark the event, NASA has released a visualisation of the entire process.

WATCH:  The Sun Reverses its Magnetic Poles.

At the beginning, in 1997 the video shows the sun in Solar Cycle 23 with its positive polarity on the top (the green lines), and the negative polarity on the bottom (the purple lines).

Each set of lines gradually move toward the opposite pole, showing a complete flip around 2002, completing the sun's previous cycle.

Both set of lines representing the opposing magnetic fields then begin to work their way back, to culminate in the latest flip.

"At the height of each magnetic flip, the sun goes through periods of more solar activity, during which there are more sunspots, and more eruptive events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections," said NASA’s Karen C. Fox.

"Cosmic rays are also affected," added  Dr. Phillips. "These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy."  - Independent.

Monday, December 30, 2013

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Two Trains Derail In North Dakota, Triggering Evacuation - Sparking A Fire And Explosion, Triggering Warning To Residents Within A 10-Mile Radius!

December 30, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A grain train and a crude-oil train traveling on adjacent tracks derailed Monday in North Dakota, sparking a fire and explosions that prompted evacuation warnings.

A massive fireball rises after trains collide west of Casselton, N.D., Monday. Zuma Press

The accident occurred at about 2 p.m. Central Standard Time when a westbound 112-car grain train derailed into a 106-car crude-oil train heading east about a mile from Casselton, N.D., according to BNSF Railway Co., which owned both trains.

Fire crews from Casselton and a hazardous-material team from Fargo, about 25 miles away, battled the blaze that engulfed about 21 trains cars, officials said. The Cass County sheriff's office was strongly recommending an evacuation of the city of Casselton, which has a population of about 2,500, and surrounding areas.

A fireball shoots up at the site of a train derailment near the North Dakota town of Casselton, Dec. 30, 2013.
Darrin Radermacher

The National Weather Service was forecasting a shift in the weather that could increase the risk of potential health hazards.There were no injuries, according to the Associated Press.

The derailment was the latest mishap this year involving trains carrying crude oil. The rail industry has been concerned about such accidents because multiple tank cars can end up in a "pool fire" that is so hot they can cause other tank cars to catch fire and possibly breach. Regulators are considering stricter rules to make tank cars safer, but they are controversial because they are costly and would be disruptive to the booming crude-by-rail trade. - WSJ.

MASS BIRD/FISH/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents In China - 50,000 Fish Die Suddenly In Ponds In Haikou; 4,000 Chickens Died And 125,000 Slaughtered Due To Outbreak Of Avian Flu In Hebei; And Hundreds Of Goats Killed Due To Outbreak Of Plague In Xinjiang!

December 30, 2013 - CHINA - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and fish die-offs in China:

50,000 Fish Die Suddenly In Ponds In Haikou.

"She was about to catch the sale of 50,000 fish, did not expect to suddenly die off, people close to raising a puppy to eat dead fish also died! I suspect someone poisoned!" Yesterday, King Shan District, Haikou City Jiazi fish households Rico Lam looked full of dead fish floating in ponds, tears. The police, the staff of the Bureau of Agriculture yesterday, King Shan District, Haikou City, the scene sampling, involved in the investigation.
Hongling, who lives in the village of Lam Chi Kong Jiazi rely Hongling 15 acres of fish ponds located next to the village of wind destroyed the reservoir to feed a family of four. In April, Rico Lam spent 5,000 yuan to buy a tilapia, cod, carp, fish rich in total 50,000. In addition, raising up to now, also spent 130,000 yuan to buy fish feed.

28 am, Rico Lam ponds where the fish suddenly found hundreds of dead, suspected sick fish, dead fish so he will come and go buy medicine. Pm medicines returned, he found the fish ponds and thousands of dead. 29 morning, all dead fish ponds, shining white floating on the water. In addition, the nearby people keep dogs eat dead fish on the 28th, 29 am, was found dead in the grass beside the pond, and the dog did not have any wounds.

Rico Lam suspected sudden mass mortality of fish ponds could be someone poisoning. In order to verify his suspicions, Rico Lam from the nearby river fishing 5 fish, into a bucket containing water ponds, two hours later, five fish no one survived.

Rico Lam said the fish capital of 14 million yuan, 70,000 yuan loan, part of the brothers, sisters borrowed, if these fish die, would be able to sell more than 20 million. He hoped that relevant departments to find out the truth as soon as possible, to give him an explanation.

Yesterday, agricultural technology center staff to the scene after Jiazi understand the situation, said the police should investigate and collect evidence.

Haikou Municipal Public Security Bureau received a report of six decades police station rushed to the scene yesterday, under the coordination of the police station, King Shan District Public Security Bureau of Criminal Investigation and technical personnel, technical personnel Farm Bureau feed on fish, dead fish, fish pond water samples to investigate whether containing toxic substances. Said station director Chen Shenghua, pending the test results came out, the decision on whether to file a case based on the results. (Reporter Han Jiandong text / Chart) - China News.

4,000 Chickens Died And 125,000 Slaughtered Due To Outbreak Of Avian Flu In Hebei.
Bird flu alarm in China: The H5N2 virus is reportedly erupted in the northeast of the People's Republic.
Photo: Alex Hofford (AP)

Chinese authorities have reported the outbreak of the avian influenza virus H5N2 in the north east of the country. On a poultry farm in Baoding in Hebei Province, more than 125 000 chickens were slaughtered, the State agency Xinhua reported on Sunday. Around the farm had to be closed and disinfected a three square kilometer area. 4,000 chickens were found dead there since Tuesday.

On Wednesday, China had first confirmed one death , which goes back to the hitherto known only among birds H10N8 virus. The 73-year-old woman had died in early December in east China's Jiangxi Province. Previously, she is said to have visited a market in live poultry.

Even the most dangerous virus H7N9 spreads in China further . Since March, more than 140 infections were recorded, 45 cases were fatal. In Guangdong province in the south of the country were in the past week, four new infections within a few days known. - Augsburger Allgemeine. [Translated]

Hundreds Of Goats Killed Due To Outbreak Of Plague In Xinjiang.
The Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed that goats in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have died of a plague called "peste des petits ruminants."

On Dec. 21, a farm reported that 176 goats had showed symptoms of the disease in Hami Prefecture and 34 of them had died. The country's exotic animal disease research center on Thursday confirmed the epidemic was peste des petits ruminants.

Local authorities have sealed off and sterilized the infected area, where 271 goats have been culled and safely disposed of to prevent the disease from spreading.

Peste des petits ruminants, also known as PPR, goat plague or ovine rinderpest, is a contagious disease mainly affecting goats and sheep. The virus causes fever, lesions, labored breathing and diarrhoea in infected animals. - People Daily.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory - Is This A Precursor To The Coming Economic Collapse And The Next Great Depression?!

December 30, 2013 - UNITED STATES -  It is time to crank up the Looney Tunes theme song because Wall Street has officially entered crazytown territory.  Stocks just keep going higher and higher, and at this point what is happening in the stock market does not bear any resemblance to what is going on in the overall economy whatsoever.  So how long can this irrational state of affairs possibly continue? 

Omen: The 2013 stock market’s bull run appears to be following the almost identical trajectory of the
stock market in 1929 before the great crash, which led to the Great Depression.

Stocks seem to go up no matter what happens.  If there is good news, stocks go up.  If there is bad news, stocks go up.  If there is no news, stocks go up.  On Thursday, the day after Christmas, the Dow was up another 122 points to another new all-time record high.  In fact, the Dow has had an astonishing 50 record high closes this year.  This reminds me of the kind of euphoria that we witnessed during the peak of the housing bubble.  At the time, housing prices just kept going higher and higher and everyone rushed to buy before they were "priced out of the market".  But we all know how that ended, and this stock market bubble is headed for a similar ending.

It is almost as if Wall Street has not learned any lessons from the last two major stock market crashes at all.  Just look at Twitter.  At the current price, Twitter is supposedly worth 40.7 BILLION dollars.  But Twitter is not profitable.  It is a seven-year-old company that has never made a single dollar of profit.

Not one single dollar.

In fact, Twitter actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter alone.  And Twitter is expected to continue losing money for all of 2015 as well.

But Twitter stock is up 82 percent over the last 30 days, and nobody can really give a rational reason for why this is happening.

Overall, the Dow is up more than 25 percent so far this year.  Unless something really weird happens over the next few days, it will be the best year for the Dow since 1996.

It has been a wonderful run for Wall Street.  Unfortunately, there are a whole host of signs that we have entered very dangerous territory.

The median price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 has reached an all-time record high, and margin debt at the New York Stock Exchange has reached a level that we have never seen before.  In other words, stocks are massively overpriced and people have been borrowing huge amounts of money to buy stocks.  These are behaviors that we also saw just before the last two stock market bubbles burst.

And of course the most troubling sign is that even as the stock market soars to unprecedented heights, the state of the overall U.S. economy is actually getting worse...

-During the last full week before Christmas, U.S. store visits were 21 percent lower than a year earlier and retail sales were 3.1 percent lower than a year earlier.
-The number of mortgage applications just hit a new 13 year low.
-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries just hit 3 percent.

For many more signs like this, please see my previous article entitled "37 Reasons Why 'The Economic Recovery Of 2013' Is A Giant Lie".

And most Americans don't realize this, but the U.S. financial system and the overall U.S. economy are now in much weaker condition than they were the last time we had a major financial crash back in 2008.  Employment is at a much lower level than it was back then and our banking system is much more vulnerable than it was back then.  Just before the last financial crash, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 10 trillion dollars, but today it has risen to more than 17.2 trillion dollars.  The following excerpt from a recent article posted on thedailycrux.com contains even more facts and figures which show how our "balance sheet numbers" continue to get even worse...
Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the U.S. current account deficit has been more than $100 billion per quarter. As a result, foreigners now own $4.2 trillion more U.S. investment assets than we own abroad. That's $1.7 trillion more than when Buffett first warned about this huge problem in 2003. Said another way, the problem is 68% bigger now.

And here's a number no one else will tell you – not even Buffett. Foreigners now own $25 trillion in U.S. assets. And yet… we continue to consume far more than we produce, and we borrow massively to finance our deficits.

Since 2007, the total government debt in the U.S. (federal, state, and local) has doubled from around $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Meanwhile, the size of Fannie and Freddie's mortgage book declined slightly since 2007, falling from $4.9 trillion to $4.6 trillion. That's some good news, right?
Nope. The excesses just moved to a new agency. The "other" federal mortgage bank, the Federal Housing Administration, now is originating 20% of all mortgages in the U.S., up from less than 5% in 2007.

Student debt, also spurred on by government guarantees, has also boomed, doubling since 2007 to more than $1 trillion. Altogether, total debt in our economy has grown from around $50 trillion to more than $60 trillion since 2007.
So don't be fooled by this irrational stock market bubble.

Just because a bunch of half-crazed investors are going into massive amounts of debt in a desperate attempt to make a quick buck does not mean that the overall economy is in good shape.
In fact, much of the country is in such rough shape that "reverse shopping" has become a huge trend.  Even big corporations such as McDonald's are urging their employees to return their Christmas gifts in order to bring in some much needed money...
In a stark reminder of how tough things still are for low-income families in America, McDonalds has advised workers to dig themselves "out of holiday debt" by cashing in their Christmas haul.
"You may want to consider returning some of your unopened purchases that may not seem as appealing as they did," said a website set up for employees.

"Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash."
This irrational stock market bubble is not going to last for too much longer.  And a lot of top financial experts are now warning their clients to prepare for the worst.  For example, David John Marotta of Marotta Wealth Management recently told his clients that they should all have a "bug-out bag" that contains food, a gun and some ammunition...
A top financial advisor, worried that Obamacare, the NSA spying scandal and spiraling national debt is increasing the chances for a fiscal and social disaster, is recommending that Americans prepare a “bug-out bag” that includes food, a gun and ammo to help them stay alive.

David John Marotta, a Wall Street expert and financial advisor and Forbes contributor, said in a note to investors, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list. There are some terrible people in this world. And you are safer when your trusted neighbors have firearms.”

His memo is part of a series addressing the potential for a “financial apocalypse.” His view, however, is that the problems plaguing the country won't result in armageddon. “There is the possibility of a precipitous decline, although a long and drawn out malaise is much more likely,” said the Charlottesville, Va.-based president of Marotta Wealth Management.
So what do you think is coming in 2014?

- TEC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: El Salvador's Chaparrastique Volcano Erupts With Powerful Explosion - Thousands Flee Their Homes In San Miguel!

December 30, 2013 - EL SALVADOR -  Thousands of people in eastern El Salvador are leaving their homes after a volcano erupted on Sunday morning.

Cameras filmed clouds of black smoke billowing from the volcano. 

Residents in the coffee-producing region said they had heard a powerful explosion before the Chaparrastique volcano began spewing hot ash and smoke into the air.

No one has been hurt, say the authorities. Anyone living in a 3km (2 mile) radius will be evacuated.

Some 300 communities live around the volcano.

Temporary shelters are being set up in the area.

Civil protection authorities say that some 5,000 people live in the area, in San Miguel province.

The eruption began at 10:30 local time (16:30 GMT).

WATCH:  El Salvador's Chaparrastique Volcano Erupts.

The Salvadoran government says it had been monitoring the situation since 13 December, when they detected increased activity inside the volcano.

There are more than 20 volcanoes in the small Central American nation.

At 2,129 metres (7,000 ft) above sea level, Chaparrastique is the third highest volcano in the country.

It spewed lava in 1976 and caused a strong tremor in the area in 2010. - BBC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Southern Italy!

December 30, 2013 - ITALY - A 5.2-magnitude earthquake (USGS) Sunday evening rocked much of southern Italy, sending frightened people into the streets of Naples and country towns.

Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris said there were no reports of damage in the city, the largest in Italy’s south. In Piedimonte Matese, a small town near the epicenter, Mayor Vincenzo Cappello told Sky TG24 there were no injuries and no major structural damage, although some buildings may have suffered minor damage.

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the quake at 6:08 p.m. (1708 GMT) had a magnitude of 4.9 and struck some 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) underground. Its epicenter was roughly 35 miles northeast of Naples. The Italian news agency LaPresse said the earth shook as far away as Puglia, in the southeastern heel of the boot-shaped peninsula.

SkyTG24 TV reported that some people in Naples and elsewhere decided as a precaution to sleep in their cars Sunday night as aftershocks of much lesser intensity rattled the area.

Naples suffered a devastating quake in 1980. In the neighboring region of Molise, an earthquake in 2002 caused the collapse of a shoddily constructed school, killing 27 students and a teacher. - Weather.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Terror In Volgograd - Powerful Double Bombings Rock Russia; 17 Killed; 44 Injured!

December 29, 2013 - RUSSIA - At least 16 people were killed in a blast at a railway station in the city of Volgograd, southern Russia. A suicide bomber is suspected to have carried out the attack, says the National Anti-terrorism Committee.

“According to verified information, the explosion at the railway station in Volgograd has claimed 16 lives," Russia's Investigative Committee said. However later Interfax news agency reported that the death toll has risen to 17, after one victim who was in critical condition died overnight.

At least 44 people were injured, 38 of whom were hospitalized, including a nine-year-old girl. The child has been taken to a local hospital and is expected to be flown to Moscow soon.

The incident is being treated as an act of terrorism, the committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

The blast took place at 12.45 local time inside the building of the railway. It is "thought to have been carried out by a female suicide bomber," according to the anti-terrorism committee's statement.

“At 12.45 we got informed that a boom or a blast was heard in the building of the railway station, Volgograd-1. Smoke was reported,” Svetlana Smolyaninova, a police spokesperson said, according to RIA Novosti.

The power of the explosion at Volgograd’s station was equivalent to at least 10 kg TNT, according to Markin. The explosive device was stuffed with pieces of scrap metal. The Committee said that an undetonated F-1 grenade was also found at the scene.

Interfax’s source said that “the blast happened near the metal detectors located at the entrance to the station.”

The Volgograd region has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the railway station blast.

Suicide bomber's identity disputed

The Committee originally said a female suicide bomber detonated the bomb when she saw a police officer while approaching the metal detector.

But since then the suicide bomber’s identity has been disputed. The female was initially identified as Oksana Aslanova, a close friend of Naida Asiyalova - also known as ‘Amaturahman’ - who was behind the October Volgograd attack. Aslanova is said to have been married twice to two militants, both eliminated earlier.

A few hours later, more evidence emerged suggesting that a man could have also been involved in the attack. The version, which was also picked up by investigators, came after a male finger with a pin from a grenade was found at the scene.

Given the new information, the possibility that the attack could have been carried out by both a man and a woman is not ruled out, Markin said.

 'Blast was so strong, we thought it was a crash'

One witness told the news agency that he saw "two bodies lying in front of the entrance, pieces of shattered glass are everywhere, there's a ton of rubble there." He added that "apparently, the explosion led to a fire, which the firefighters quickly put out."

Another witness told RT that the windows on both levels of the station have been shattered and that "the police have cordoned off the area, nobody's allowed on the premises. There's a very heavy police presence, emergency ministry officials, bomb squads... it's understandable that people are afraid, but there aren't any screams or panicking."

Mikhail, who was injured in the blast, described his experience to RT. “I bent down to collect my documents when I saw a flash of light, and there was a blast. I was thrown back by the explosion. When I came to my senses, a man was carrying me out. Only outside was I able to get a breath of air and started to understand what was happening.”

WATCH: Terror in Volgograd.

People inside the train station during the attack were shocked by what they heard. “I was inside in the waiting hall. I heard an explosion and I didn’t realize what had happened. And I saw a giant entrance door completely ruined and people were coming out with their hands and bodies burnt,” another eyewitness said.

According to one of the accounts shared on a social network, people around the station thought a plane might have crashed because of the thick fog.

“The blast was really strong so my mother and everybody around thought there was a plane crash,” a woman said after she reached her mother on the phone. “Somebody shouted: there is an explosion inside the railway station. My mother said there was a lot of smoke.”

 President Vladimir Putin has ordered that all the necessary measures be taken to assist survivors and provide security in Volgograd, the Kremlin reported.

UN Security Council has condemned the Volgograd bombing “in the strongest terms” and registered its condolences for the victims and their families, the body’s official statement reads.

Washington has also strongly condemned the terror attack in Volgograd. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed condolences to the families of the victims and solidarity with the Russian people. US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul also expressed condolences.

Volgograd is a city of around 1 million people, about 690 km northeast of Sochi and close to Russia's volatile region of North Caucasus. The city saw a terrorist attack just in October, when a suicide bomber blew herself up in a bus, killing six people and injuring more than 30 others.

On Friday, a car bomb killed three people, all passerbys, in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk as a homemade explosive device went off outside the Road Traffic Safety Department. Funerals are scheduled for December 30.  - RT.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Peste Des Petits Ruminants - China Reports Outbreak Of Rare Goat Plague In Xinjiang!

December 28, 2013 - CHINA - The Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed that goats in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have died of a plague called “peste des petits ruminants.”

On Dec. 21, a farm reported that 176 goats had showed symptoms of the disease in Hami Prefecture and 34 of them had died. The country’s exotic animal disease research center on Thursday confirmed the epidemic was peste des petits ruminants.

Local authorities have sealed off and sterilized the infected area, where 271 goats have been culled and safely disposed of to prevent the disease from spreading.

Peste des petits ruminants, also known as PPR, goat plague or ovine rinderpest, is a contagious disease mainly affecting goats and sheep.

The virus causes fever, lesions, labored breathing and diarrhea in infected animals. - People Daily.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - WHO Says 4 New Saudi Cases Of MERS Virus, One Fatal!

December 28, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - Four more people in Saudi Arabia have been infected with the SARS-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus and one of them - an elderly man - has died, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

The new infections, including in two health workers from Riyadh who have not reported any adverse symptoms, bring the worldwide total of confirmed cases of the respiratory disease to 170 with 72 deaths, the United Nations health agency said.

MERS first emerged in the Middle East in September 2012 and is from the same family as the SARS virus, can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.

Cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Tunisia as well as in several countries in Europe, and scientists are increasingly focused on a link between the human infections and camels as a possible "animal reservoir" of the virus.

In Friday's update, the WHO said the latest MERS death - a 73 year-old man from Riyadh - had reported having contact with animals but had no travel history outside the Riyadh region. The fourth case, in a 53-year-old man from Riyadh, was after contact with a previously confirmed MERS case. He was hospitalised on November 26 and is currently receiving treatment in an intensive care unit, it said.

Dutch and Qatari scientists published research earlier this month that proved for the first time that MERS can also infect camels - strengthening suspicions that these animals, often used in the region for meat, milk, transport and racing, may be a source of the human outbreak.

The WHO said people at high risk of severe disease due to MERS should "avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating". For the general public it advised normal hygiene steps such as hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals and good food hygiene practices. - First Post.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Kamchatka Volcanoes Rocked By Ash Plume Eruptions!

December 28, 2013 - RUSSIA - Activity has picked up at Kizimen volcano again. An ash plume was reported this morning by VAAC Tokyo to 17,000 ft (5 km) altitude extending north.

Webcam images show a significant steam plume which possibly contains ash. This suggests that the lava dome might be entering a new phase of growth. KVERT still maintains the volcano at status “Green” (normal).

Strombolian to mild vulcanian explosions continues at Karymsky volcano. VAAC Tokyo reported an ash plume at 15,000 ft (4,5 km) altitude drifting NW this morning. - Volcano Discovery.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - The American Meteor Society Receives Over 500 Reports Of Chelyabinsk-Like Event Over U.S. Midwest!

December 28, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Over 500 reports were sent in to the American Meteor Society website concerning a major fireball event (possibly two) over the U.S. Midwest on December 26th, 2013.

The AMS has received over 460 reports so far about a fireball over the border of Iowa and Minnesota. (Dec. 26th) around 5:35pm central time.

Witnessed described a fireball as bright as the Sun that fragmented into many parts. Several witnesses reported sonic effects associated with the meteors including at least three reports of delayed booms.

WATCH: Over 500 reports of Chelyabinsk-like event over U.S. Midwest.

Below is an estimated trajectory of the fireball based on witness reports based on two different algorithms. (RA: 205.72714158 / 13:42 - DEC: -2.72008690)

AMS Event #3434-2013 Trajectories© AMS

With 620+ witness reports after only 14 hours, this event is already the 5th most reported fireball in the history of the AMS online reporting system.

If you saw this meteor please fill out an official fireball report here.

Here is the current heat map for the event that shows where the witnesses reported from. Click the map below to review the event map and witness reports for this fireball.

AMS Event #3434-2013 -Heat Map

WATCH: Video #1 - Christina Erbe, Communications Specialist, City of North Liberty, Iowa.

WATCH: Video #2 - Tim Cline, Sandia Sentinel All-Sky Network.

Latitude = 41:05:13.650N - Longitude = 93:15:14.911W

WATCH: Video #3 - Fireball over Kansas, Missouri, caught on Missouri State patrol dashcam near Sedalia, Missouri.

WATCH: Video #4 - Fireball recorded while driving through Iowa, USA. Uploaded to YT 27 December 2013 by Andrey Anisimov.

AMS fireball data from 2005 to date

- American Meteor Society.