Wednesday, January 2, 2013

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For December 31, 2012 - January 02, 2013 - Stromboli In Elevated Activity; New Earthquakes At El Hierro; Continuing Activity In Kamchatka; And Much More!

January 02, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

El Hierro recent seismic swarm.
Activity at Stromboli volcano in Italy has been at exceptionally high levels recently. We observed several active vents inside the crater terrace with near-continuous lava spattering and strombolian explosion at intervals of 10-30 minutes. The northeastern vent in particular has very powerful and bright explosions of very liquid lava, with ejections into all directions reaching several hundred meters in height. These explosions are accompanied by loud detonations that rattle doors and windows in the village.

Just before the end of last near, a new earthquake swarm started on 31 Dec at El Hierro island. Most quakes are located at 15-20 km depth under the El Golfo bay and seem to propagate slowly towards the east. On 31 Dec, 57 quakes of magnitudes 1.4-2.4 were registered, on 1 Jan, 43 with magnitudes up to 2.6. You can see the complete list of quakes at the El Hierro Earthquakes page.

Just after the eruptive phase of Kizimen volcano in Kamchatka was thought to be over and aviation alert set back to green on 27 Dec, a new lava flow extrusion was observed on 28 Dec 2012. KVERT reports continuing strong tremor and effusion of lava flows from the southern fissure of Plosky Tolbachik volcano. Sheveluch volcano is active as well and keeps growing its lava dome. A small pyroclastic flow was triggered by a small dome collapse on 31 Dec.  Observed incandescence at the summit suggests that mild strombolian activity continues within the crater of Klyuchevskoi volcano. Seismic activity of Gorely volcano remains moderately elevated and KVERT reports volcanic tremor under the volcano. No thermal anomaly is visible on satellite images.

Sakurajima volcano in Japan started the new year with at least 4 explosions, producing ash plumes up to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude during 1-2 Jan.

A hot spot is visible at Karangetang volcano on Api Siau island, Indonesia. No ash emissions have been observed, but it is likely that the volcano has started to produce some minor activity at the summit dome. Thermal anomalies are still visible from Paluweh north off Flores and suggest that dome growth and pyroclastic flow activity continue, although no recent ash plumes have been observed (most likely because of dense cloud cover). A new strong ash eruption occurred today at 06:58 local time Lokon volcano in North Sulawesi. The explosion produced an ash plume rising 3.5 km as local media reported. A SO2 plume was visible from Ulawun volcano in Papua New Guinea on 31 Dec, suggesting perhaps renewed activity there.

Kilauea volcano on Hawai'i has remained stable. The active lava lake at the summit in Halema'uma'u crater and several vents inside Pu’u O’o crater on the east rift zone are active. Lava flows from the latter are reaching the coastal plain and enter the sea at several locations along a 1 km wide area.

Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico continues to produce on average 1-2 small steam-, gas- and sometimes ash emissions per hour. Glow from the crater shows magma continues to slowly rise within the volcano. No recent ash emissions have been observed at San Cristobal volcano in Nicaragua, but some volcanic tremor still indicates fluid movements inside the volcano. Activity at Fuego volcano has remained characterized by few small strombolian explosions (8 counted during 31 Dec-1 Jan) producing small ash plumes up to about 4-500 m high, and the continuing lava flow, 500 m long on the upper southern slope. The Santiaguito lava dome has remained mainly effusive, with very few and weak ash explosions, and active block lava flows from the dome, that generate constant small avalanches. In Ecuador, activity at Tungurahua volcano has calmed down, but occasional explosions still occur, sometimes accompanied by loud bangs and shock waves such as on 17:53 local time on 31 Dec. Seismic activity from Reventador volcano is at moderate levels with pulses of tremor suggesting ongoing emissions of gas and possibly ash. During times of clear weather, strong steaming could be observed. Copahue volcano in Chile/ Argentina produces a steam and ash plume rising a few 100 m and sometimes visible on satellite images as well, but no recent explosions were reported.

Volcanic quakes and a slightly increased tremor signal are visible at Ruapehu volcano in New Zealand. Continuous volcanic tremor at White Island, reflecting fluid movements beneath the volcano, continued to show a vaguely increasing trend although it has decreased again during the past days. - Volcano Discovery.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: United Kingdom Norovirus Sickness Cases Reach Over 1.1 Million!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - More than 1.1 million people in Britain have succumbed to the norovirus winter vomiting disease so far this season, and health officials expect cases to jump higher after a Christmas and New Year dip. Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said cases of highly contagious norovirus have risen earlier than expected this winter - a trend that has also been seen across Europe, Japan and other parts of the world.


Health officials in the United States said last week that more than 400 people on two cruise ships had been taken ill with a sickness suspected of being due to the norovirus, and hospital wards and nursing care homes in Europe have been forced to close to try to stop infections spreading. Norovirus is transmitted by contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces, food or water. HPA data released on Wednesday showed there have been 3,877 laboratory-confirmed cases of norovirus in Britain this winter, 72 percent higher than the number of cases reported at the same point last year. The reason for the rise in not known.

For every laboratory-confirmed case, scientists estimate some 288 unreported cases, as the vast majority of those affected don't go to a doctor. This means the number of people affected in the UK so far is likely to be more than 1.1 million. "As we have seen in previous years, there has been a dip in the number of confirmed laboratory reports owing to the Christmas and New Year period," said John Harris, the HPA's norovirus expert. But he added that the HPA expected to see a rise in the number of laboratory reports in the next few weeks. Norovirus symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting, which can be projectile, and diarrhea, which may be profuse and watery. Some victims also suffer fevers, headaches and stomach cramps. "If you think you may have the illness then it is important to maintain good hand hygiene to help prevent it spreading," said Harris. "We also advise that people stay away from hospitals, schools and care homes as these environments are particularly prone to outbreaks." - Reuters.

NOTE: Special thanks to Brian Colarusso for contributing to this post.

SOLAR WATCH: "Solar Maximum Here We Come" - Huge Eruption Seen By Sun-Gazing NASA Satellite, Fast- Growing Sunspot Measures 100,000km And Is Still Growing!

January 02, 2013 - SUN - As people around the world rang in the New Year to celebrate Earth's latest trip around the sun Monday night, our closest star marked the occasion with some fireworks of its own — a dazzling solar eruption. The space fireworks occurred on New Year's Eve (Dec. 31) during a four-hour eruption on the sun.

This still from a NASA video shows the New Year's Eve sun eruption of Dec. 31, 2012, to kick off the New Year.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the video.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a video of the solar event. The video shows a bright plume of super-magnetic plasma erupting from the sun's surface. "A very nice display of solar activity — it's a New Year's Eve Ballet," SDO officials wrote in a video description posted on YouTube by the mission mascot Camilla Corona SDO, a public outreach effort. The SDO spacecraft is one of several sun-watching space telescopes keeping taps on solar flares and other sun weather events. The sun is currently in an active phase of its current 11-year weather cycle, which scientists have dubbed Solar Cycle 24. The sun's activity cycle is expected to reach its peak (or "solar maximum") in 2013, astronomers have said. "The sun has had sunspots every day in 2012. Solar max here we come!" SDO mission officials wrote in a Twitter post last week. - Huffington Post.

WATCH: Sun erupts with New Year's fireworks.

video


FAST-GROWING SUNSPOT: Two days ago, northern sunspot AR1640 was barely visible. Now it measures more than 100,000 km from end to end, and it is still growing. This movie recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot's rapid development on Dec. 31-Jan.1st.


The magnetic fields of fast-growing sunspots can become unstable and erupt. So far, however, AR1640 is as quiet as all the other sunspots on the solar disk. Solar activity remains very low even as AR1640 boosts the odds of a significant flare. NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% chance of M-class eruptions during the next 24 hours. - Space Weather.

CLASSIFIED REVELATIONS: Project Seal - U.S. And New Zealand Secretly Tested "Tsunami Bomb" Designed To Trigger Tidal Waves And Destroy Coastal Cities In World War II!

January 02, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - The tests were carried out in waters around New Caledonia and Auckland during the Second World War and showed that the weapon was feasible and a series of 10 large offshore blasts could potentially create a 33-foot tsunami capable of inundating a small city.

Photo: ALAMY.
The top secret operation, code-named "Project Seal", tested the doomsday device as a possible rival to the nuclear bomb. About 3,700 bombs were exploded during the tests, first in New Caledonia and later at Whangaparaoa Peninsula, near Auckland. The plans came to light during research by a New Zealand author and film-maker, Ray Waru, who examined military files buried in the national archives. "Presumably if the atomic bomb had not worked as well as it did, we might have been tsunami-ing people," said Mr Waru. "It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami ... and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked." The project was launched in June 1944 after a US naval officer, E A Gibson, noticed that blasting operations to clear coral reefs around Pacific islands sometimes produced a large wave, raising the possibility of creating a "tsunami bomb".

Mr Waru said the initial testing was positive but the project was eventually shelved in early 1945, though New Zealand authorities continued to produce reports on the experiments into the 1950s. Experts concluded that single explosions were not powerful enough and a successful tsunami bomb would require about 2 million kilograms of explosive arrayed in a line about five miles from shore. "If you put it in a James Bond movie it would be viewed as fantasy but it was a real thing," he said. "I only came across it because they were still vetting the report, so there it was sitting on somebody's desk [in the archives]." Forty years after the joint testing, New Zealand faced a dramatic breakdown in its security ties with the US after it banned the entry of nuclear-armed ships from entering its territory during the 1980s. The dispute led to the US downgrading its relationship with New Zealand from an "ally" to a "friend". In his new book Secrets and Treasures, Mr Waru reveals other unusual findings from the archives including Defence Department records of thousands of UFO sightings by members of the public, military personnel and commercial pilots. Some of the accounts of the moving lights in the sky include drawings of flying saucers, descriptions of aliens wearing "pharaoh masks" and alleged examples of extraterrestrial writing. - Telegraph.

ICE AGE NOW: Forget Global Warming, Alaska Is Now Headed For An Ice Age - Another Round of 50-Below, The Coldest Winter In Two Decades!

January 02, 2013 - ALASKA - Alaska is going rogue on climate change.  Defiant as ever, the state that gave rise to Sarah Palin is bucking the mainstream yet again: While global temperatures surge hotter and the ice-cap crumbles, the nation's icebox is getting even icier.  That may not be news to Alaskans coping with another round of 50-below during the coldest winter in two decades, or to the mariners locked out of the Bering Sea this spring by record ice growth.  Then again, it might. The 49th state has long been labeled one of the fastest-warming spots on the planet. But that's so 20th Century.  In the first decade since 2000, the 49th state cooled 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Russian tanker Renda transits through broken Bering Sea ice on Jan. 9, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
The cooling is widespread.
That's a "large value for a decade," the Alaska Climate Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks said in "The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska." The cooling is widespread -- holding true for 19 of the 20 National Weather Service stations sprinkled from one corner of Alaska to the other, the paper notes. It's most significant in Western Alaska, where King Salmon on the Alaska Peninsula saw temperatures drop most sharply, a significant 4.5 degrees for the decade, the report says. The new nippiness began with a vengeance in 2005, after more than a century that saw temperatures generally veer warmer in Alaska, the report says. With lots of ice to lose, the state had heated up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, in line with rising global greenhouse gas emissions, note the Alaska Climate Center researchers, Gerd Wendler, L. Chen and Blake Moore. After a "sudden temperature increase" in Alaska starting in 1977, the warmest decade on record occurred in the 1980s, followed by another jump in the 1990s, they note. The third warmest decade was the 1920s, by the way.

Too chilly for king salmon?
But now comes cooling. Researchers blame the Decadal Oscillation, an ocean phenomenon that brought chillier surface water temperatures toward Alaska. Some contend the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is harming the state's king salmon runs, too. One effect of the oscillation is to weaken the Aleutian Low -- a storm-breeding center known for spitting out winter tempests that help regulate weather in the Lower 48. With that low-pressure center above the Aleutians weakened, polar storms raking Alaska from the north linger longer. People have noticed the new chill in King Salmon, but slightly colder  temperatures don’t bother you much when you're already bundled up for 20-below, said Don Hatten, the National Weather Service forecaster there. Most noticeable was that for the first time last year, the Bering Sea ice shelf extended south nearly to the edge of the Alaska Peninsula, he said. Will Alaska’s frigid spell last long? The researchers don't know. The report notes, however, that Alaska endured three decades of relative cold starting in the mid-1940s. Many Alaskans pray the current cold stretch abates sooner.  - Alaska Dispatch.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Contagion - Drug-Resistant Malaria In Thailand Threatens Global "Nightmare"!

January 02, 2013 - THAILAND - Clipboard in hand, Dr Francois Nosten worked his way down a ward of malaria patients. He stopped in front of five-year-old Ayemyint Than, who sat to attention and smiled. The smile told Nosten as much as his lines of graphs and figures.

Staff examine a baby who has been brought to the clinic with a fever, suspected to be malaria. 
Ian Williams / NBC News.
"She's doing well," he said, moving to an older man, whose pale face and dull sunken eyes told a very different story. "Day five, and he's still positive?" he asked another of the doctors. "That's not very good. It means he was very slow to clear the parasite, no?" To Nosten, it was further evidence of an alarming rise in resistance to artemisinin, currently the front-line drug in the treatment of malaria. He fears it could be the start of a global "nightmare" in which millions of people could lose their lives. "We have to beat this resistance, win this race and eliminate the parasite before it’s too late. That's our challenge now," he said. He said that artemisinin should take about 24 hours to deal with the parasite, but it was now taking three or four days in some cases. "We are going to see patients that don't respond to the treatment anymore,” he warned. Nosten runs the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, which is part of the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Thailand's Mahidol University.  The unit has a string of clinics on both sides of the Moi River, which marks the porous border between Thailand and Myanmar.

Nosten set up the first one in 1986, since when there has been a steady fall in the total number of cases of malaria, but most recently a worrying emergence of drug resistance.  He first sounded the alarm in research published earlier this year, following the emergence of similar drug resistance along the Thai-Cambodia border. Nosten’s not sure whether the resistance he's found has spread from the Cambodia border or is home-grown. Either way, he's worried.  "It means that all the progress of the last 10 to 15 years will be lost," he warned. "Now the resistance is here, we worry that we are running out of time." The malaria parasite -- carried by infected mosquitoes from person to person -- still kills an estimated 655,000 people a year.  That's almost 2,000 a day, mostly in Africa, with children being most at risk.  If the world loses its front-line drug, the impact could be devastating.  "The nightmare scenario is that the resistance will travel," Nosten said.  "We know what will happen in Africa when resistance is bad because we've been there before in the 1990s with chloroquine (another anti-malarial drug) … millions of deaths," he warned.  "We must prevent artemisinin resistance reaching Africa, but we also need to control it for the people in Asia - for their future." - MSNBC.

WATCH: Scientists are battling to stop a drug-resistant malaria that could threaten the lives of millions. "We worry that we are running out of time," one scientist says. NBC News' Ian Williams reports from northwestern Thailand.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise Of The Machines - Researcher Warn That Human Enhancement Is The New Arms Race And The Military Must Prepare Now For Our "Mutant" Future?!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The U.S. military is already using, or fast developing, a wide range of technologies meant to give troops what California Polytechnic State University researcher Patrick Lin calls “mutant powers.” Greater strength and endurance. Superior cognition. Better teamwork. Fearlessness.  But the risk, ethics and policy issues arising out of these so-called “military human enhancements” — including drugs, special nutrition, electroshock, gene therapy and robotic implants and prostheses — are poorly understood, Lin and his colleagues Maxwell Mehlman and Keith Abney posit in a new report for The Greenwall Foundation (.pdf), scheduled for wide release tomorrow. In other words, we better think long and hard before we unleash our army of super soldiers.

 Lockheed Martin tests its Human Universal Load Carrier exoskeleton. Photo: Lockheed Martin.
If we don’t, we could find ourselves in big trouble down the road. Among the nightmare scenarios: Botched enhancements could harm the very soldiers they’re meant to help and spawn pricey lawsuits. Tweaked troopers could run afoul of international law, potentially sparking a diplomatic crisis every time the U.S. deploys troops overseas. And poorly planned enhancements could provoke disproportionate responses by America’s enemies, resulting in a potentially devastating arms race.  “With military enhancements and other technologies, the genie’s already out of the bottle: the benefits are too irresistible, and the military-industrial complex still has too much momentum,” Lin says in an e-mail. “The best we can do now is to help develop policies in advance to prepare for these new technologies, not post hoc or after the fact (as we’re seeing with drones and cyberweapons).”  Case in point: On April 18, 2002, a pair of Air Force F-16 fighter pilots returning from a 10-hour mission over Afghanistan saw flashes on the ground 18,000 feet below them. Thinking he and his wingman were under fire by insurgents, Maj. Harry Schmidt dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb.  There were no insurgents — just Canadian troops on a live-fire exercise, four of whom were killed in the blast.

The Air Force ultimately dropped criminal charges against Schmidt and wingman Maj. William Umbach but did strip them of their wings. In a letter of reprimand, Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson accused Schmidt of “willful misconduct” and “gross poor judgment.”  Schmidt countered, saying he was jittery from taking the stimulant Dexedrine, an amphetamine that the Air Force routinely prescribes for pilots flying long missions. “I don’t know what the effect was supposed to be,” Schmidt told Chicago magazine. “All I know is something [was] happening to my body and brain.”  The Food and Drug Administration warns that Dexedrine can cause “new or worse aggressive behavior or hostility.” (.pdf) But the Air Force still blamed the pilots.  The Canadian “friendly fire” tragedy underscores the gap between the technology and policy of military human enhancement. Authorities in the bombing case could have benefited from clearer guidelines for determining whether the drugs, rather than the pilots, were to blame for the accidental deaths. “Are there ethical, legal, psycho-social or operational limits on the extent to which a warfighter may be enhanced?” Lin, Mehlman and Abney ask in their report.  Now imagine a future battlefield teeming with amphetamine-fueled pilots, a cyborg infantry and commanders whose brains have been shocked into achieving otherwise impossible levels of tactical cunning.  These enhancements and others have tremendous combat potential, the researchers state. “Somewhere in between robotics and biomedical research, we might arrive at the perfect future warfighter: one that is part machine and part human, striking a formidable balance between technology and our frailties.”  In this possible mutant future, what enhancements should be regulated by international law, or banned outright? If an implant malfunctions or a drug causes unexpected side effects, who’s responsible? And if one side deploys a terrifying cyborg army, could that spark a devastating arms race as nations scramble to out-enhance each other?

“Does the possibility that military enhancements will simply lead to a continuing arms race mean that it is unethical to even begin to research or employ them?” Lin, Mehlman and Abney wonder.  The report authors also question whether the military shouldn’t get give potential enhancement subjects the right to opt out, even though the subjects are otherwise subject to military training, rules and discipline. “Should warfighters be required to give their informed consent to being enhanced, and if so, what should that process be?” the researchers ask.  The ethical concerns certainly have precedent. In a series of experiments in the 1970s aimed at developing hallucinogenic weapons, the Pentagon gave soldiers LSD — apparently without the subjects fully understanding the consequences of using the drug. During the Cold War U.S. troops were also exposed to nerve gas, psychochemicals and other toxic substances on an experimental basis and without their consent.  Moreover, it’s theoretically possible that future biological enhancements could be subject to existing international laws and treaties, potentially limiting the enhancements — or prohibiting them outright. But the application of existing laws and treaties is unclear, at best.

”Could enhanced warfighters be considered to be ‘weapons’ in themselves and therefore subject to regulation under the Laws of Armed Conflict?” the researchers write. “Or could an enhanced warfighter count as a ‘biological agent’ under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention?”  Lin, Mehlman and Abney aren’t sure. To be safe, they propose the military consider several rules when planning an enhancement. Is there a legitimate military purpose? Is it necessary? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Can subjects’ dignity be maintained and the cost to them minimized? Is there full, informed consent, transparency and are the costs of the enhancement fairly distributed? Finally, are systems in place to hold accountable those overseeing the enhancement?  Whether following these guidelines or others, the Pentagon should start figuring out a framework for military human enhancement now, Lin and his colleagues advise. “In comic books and science fiction, we can suspend disbelief about the details associated with fantastical technologies and abilities, as represented by human enhancements,” they warn. “But in the real world — as life imitates art, and ‘mutant powers’ really are changing the world — the details matter and will require real investigations.” - WIRED.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Russia Poised For Largest Naval Exercise For Decades!

January 02, 2013 - RUSSIA - Russian warships have embarked on a long voyage to the Black and Mediterranean seas to take part in what the Defence Ministry said would be the largest naval exercise in decades.  It said on Wednesday that ships from its Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets would stage the exercise at the end of the month to test their ability to act together outside Russian waters. 


Its website said the training exercise would also include anti-terrorism and anti-piracy drills.  "A Navy exercise on such a scale is being staged for the first time in recent decades," the ministry said, without giving other details such as how many ships would take part.  Russia regularly stages naval war games involving different fleets, and in August sent ships to the Mediterranean for a combined training exercise.  State-owned RIA Novosti news agency said that that exercise had involved three large amphibious assault ships, two frigates, a destroyer and two support ships.  Moscow has been trying to strengthen its military presence in the Mediterranean region.  President Vladimir Putin, a former operative for the Soviet Union's KGB national security agency, says Russia needs a stronger army to protect it from foreign attempts to stoke conflicts around its borders.

Russia plans to spend 23 trillion roubles ($753 billion) over a decade to modernize the former superpower's armed forces, which underwent a decade of spending cuts after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.  The Defence Ministry did not say if the coming deployment was connected to the conflict in Syria. Moscow has been a staunch supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and his largest arms supplier.  Last month, a naval source told Interfax news agency that Russia was sending warships to the Mediterranean in case it needed to evacuate citizens trapped by the civil war in Syria.  Also in December, Itar-Tass and Interfax cited military sources as saying two landing craft had left a Black Sea port and would call at Russia's naval supply and maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartous. - Reuters.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreads Far And Wide - Maryland Woman Sees Long-Term Effects Of Radiation In Fukushima, "Their Hair Just Started Falling Out, They Were Almost Bald, They Told Me They Were Wearing Wigs"!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - From champagne to fireworks, welcoming the new year in the U.S. is mostly about partying with friends. In Japan, though, New Year's Day is something similar to Thanksgiving where many families gather for a special meal.  During the second such holiday in Fukushima after a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown, people who live near the plant are still facing the consequences of the disaster.  Akemi Maeshima, a retiree from Rockville, could not bear watching the devastation in her home country. She packed her bags and left Montgomery County, the place she has called home for the past 10 years.  "I really wanted to help," she says. "I was looking for volunteering opportunities, but I could not find many requests for volunteers from the U.S., so I decided to go in as an individual."


Maeshima was a school nurse for 25 years in Japan. Relying on that experience, she has been volunteering for about a year at Mano Elementary School in Minami Soma City, which was forced to evacuate after the nuclear plant accident. She sees a range of issues among children.  "Some struggle to gain weight while others gain too much and become overweight," she says. "Insomnia and frequent headaches are causing some kids to miss school."  It's not so much that she sees the physical injuries from radiation. Instead, she sees children's lives turned upside down.  "As expected, all children are mentally stressed," Maeshima says. "They do look fine, but as I learn more about their family situations, I feel for them."  Challenges for the community  In her renewed role of school nurse, Maeshima counsels her 47 elementary school students displaced by the nuclear accident.  "More than half of the kids now live in temporary housing after losing their homes in the tsunami or escaping from the nuclear power plant," she says.  The tsunami washed away the school building and more than half of the students moved away after the evacuation order. The school is now in a temporary building shared with another school just outside of the evacuation zone.  For those who remain in the community, the challenges are enormous and children are faced with family lives that are upended.  One fisherman's family of four used to live on the coast, but their home was washed away.  "They all moved into the mother's parents home a little distance away, but the relationships didn't work out," Maeshima says. "The father was so disappointed he could not continue fishing anymore, and ended up divorcing and leaving the family."  Some kids saw more than they should have. A third grader's grandmother went missing in the tsunami, so the family started looking for her in the debris. After several days of searching, they still hadn't found her.  "One day, the boy said, 'I want to go' and joined his parents in the search," she says. "He ended up seeing a lot of bodies in debris. Clothes were torn, some were missing limbs. You couldn't even tell. He saw horrible bodies. The very next day he started having trouble sleeping from the shock. He was traumatized."  His grandmother's body was discovered a month later. Ever since, he has had the tendency to miss school.  "Even if he shows up, he visits me often in my office to talk," Maeshima says.

The temporary elementary school outside of the
evacuation zone in Fukushima.
(Courtesy of Akemi Maeshima).

Unintended consequences on children's health - Residents report strange symptoms.
 To protect residents from radiation, the government put a strict limitation on time spent outdoors. Many children in Fukushima were cooped up indoors for more than a year.  The limitation's unexpected consequences caught Maeshima by surprise on a school field trip. As students of Mano Elementary School walked to a nearby facility less than two miles away, she noticed many of them were out of breath.  "Their stamina has declined quite a bit," she says.  After lunch, students were excited to be able to play dodgeball in a big gym, but it was more than their bodies could handle.  "In less than 10 minutes, three students came to me reporting lightheadedness," she says. "It's just dodgeball."  She says teachers have a big task ahead to maintain the children's health in the future. How much radiation is harmful to humans? Japan has been asking this question ever since the nuclear power plant exploded in Fukushima following the tsunami.  Maeshima has been volunteering since January at the elementary school in Fukushima, which is under the evacuation zone near the crippled nuclear power plant. Some of the mothers told Maeshima that they lost hair within six months of the plant meltdown and subsequent release of radiation.  "Their hair started falling out," she says. "They were almost bald. They told me they were wearing wigs."  An office administrator at her school, a 26-year-old woman, reported that her throat had started to hurt and her lymph nodes had started to swell.  In both cases, doctors told the women there was no way to determine if the symptoms were caused by radiation. But the women saw other patients with similar symptoms at doctors' offices, Maeshima says.  "They went through a tremendous amount of stress and those symptoms can be caused by stress," she says. "There may be a direct impact from radiation, but no one, no doctor, can tell."  Maeshima wraps up her stay in March 2013. She says donations from all over the world have helped the victims.  "I've seen stacks of textbooks arriving or library books or educational materials (that) have arrived," she says.  They are all helping as Fukushima rebuilds its schools and attempts to move forward. - WTOP.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - North India Shivers In Extreme Cold!

January 02, 2013 - INDIA - North India shivered due to extreme cold on Tuesday as minimum temperatures plummeted across the region. Delhi ushered in the New Year amid extreme cold and dense fog with mercury plummeting to the season's lowest of four degree Celsius.

Delhi ushered in the New Year amid extreme cold and dense fog with mercury plummeting to
the season's lowest of four degree Celsius.
Today's minimum was three degree Celsius below normal and down from the previous day's minimum of 5.5 degrees, which was the previous lowest for the season. Yesterday, the maximum was recorded at 13.3 degree Celsius, making it the coldest day. The maximum temperature in Delhi was 15.3 degrees celsius, five notches below normal. Mercury plummeted in parts of Rajasthan with Churu recording a freezing minimum of 0.7 degree Celsius. Pilani recorded a low of 1.4 degrees while Sriganganagar had a minimum temperature of 4.3 degree Celsius, according to the Met department here.

The state's capital and Bikaner recorded a minimum temperature of 4.5 degrees. Chittorgarh had a low of 6.6 degrees, while Dabok recorded 6.8 degree Celsius minimum temperature. Jaisalmer recorded a low of 7.3 degrees and Ajmer recorded a minimum temperature 7.5 degree Celsius. Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh continued to reel under dense fog and intense cold crippled normal life, with air, rail and road traffic going haywire in the region due to reduced visibility. A thick blanket of fog enveloped the entire region affecting all modes of traffic, officials said here. Most of the flights remained grounded at Chandigarh airport and several trains passing through the region, including Howrah express, Malwa express, Tata Moori, Barmer express and Shan-e-Punjab were running hours behind schedule, they said. - Times Of India.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Weather And Tainted Drugs Bring Year Of Deadly Virus Outbreaks!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The year started in the United States with a mild flu season but ended up being marked by deadly outbreaks of fungal meningitis, West Nile virus and Hantavirus. Tainted steroid medication has been cited as the cause of the meningitis outbreak that killed 39 people. Weather contributed to the worst outbreak of West Nile virus since 2003 and an unusual outbreak of Hantavirus in California's Yosemite National Park. Transmitted by infected mice, Hantavirus is a severe, sometimes fatal syndrome that affects the lungs. West Nile can cause encephalitis or meningitis, infection of the brain and spinal cord or their protective covering.


As of December 11, 5,387 cases of West Nile virus had been reported in 48 states, resulting in 243 deaths, the CDC said in its final 2012 update on the outbreak. The 2003 outbreak left 264 dead from among nearly 10,000 reported cases. A large number of cases this year occurred in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi where there are large mosquito populations. CDC and state officials have said that rainfall in the spring and record high summer temperatures contributed to the severity of the outbreak by affecting mosquito populations, which transmit the disease by biting humans and animals. Health officials said that only a small percentage of cases of West Nile virus are reported because most people have no symptoms and about 20 percent have mild symptoms such as aches and fever. One in 150 people with West Nile virus develop other illnesses such as meningitis and encephalitis. The biggest outbreak in nearly two decades of Hantavirus, which emerges in dry and dusty environments, cropped up during the summer in 1,200-square-mile (3,100-square-km) Yosemite National Park, killing three of 10 infected visitors.

The National Park issued warnings to 22,000 people who may have been exposed to the rare disease, and 91 Curry Village cabins in the park were closed in late August. In early September, a 78-year-old judge named Eddie Lovelace was rushed to a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Thought to have had a stroke, he died a few days later. After a large outbreak of fungal meningitis was linked to tainted steroid injections, Lovelace's cause of death was revised. He became the first documented death in a meningitis outbreak that has infected 620 people and killed 39 in 19 states. The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, was closed after investigators found that it had shipped thousands of fungus-tainted vials of methylprednisolone acetate to medical facilities around the United States. The steroid was typically used to ease back pain. More than 14,000 people were warned that they may have had an injection of the tainted steroid. Doctors continue to see new cases of spinal infections related to the steroid, and cases of achnoiditis, an inflammation of nerve roots in the spine. The outbreak led two Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House of representatives to introduce legislation to increase government oversight of compounded drugs. And what lies ahead in 2013? "While there are some trends we can predict, the most reliable trend is that the next threat will be unpredictable," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas Frieden. - NBC News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Storm-Tossed Shell Drilling Ship Runs Aground Off Alaska - Crews Battles Harsh Weather Trying To Tow Drilling Unit To Alaska Harbor!

January 02, 2013 - ALASKA - There were no immediate signs of a fuel spill from a storm-battered drilling rig that ran aground in Alaska on Monday, but environmentalists have seized on the accident as proof Arctic Ocean oil operations are too risky. A nighttime Coast Guard helicopter flyover detected no sheen on the water off along the rocky coast of uninhabited Sitkalidak Island, just off the southeastern shore of Kodiak Island, said a spokeswoman for Shell, which owns the 28,000-ton Kulluk. More flights during the day on Tuesday are needed to determine if the Kulluk spilled any of its 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel or caused other environmental problems.

The Kulluk had been drilling in the Beaufort Seat and was headed to its winter home
when the tug boat towing it lost power.
The mishap late Monday, the culmination a high-seas drama that started unfolding last week, alarmed critics of Shell’s offshore drilling program in Alaska.  “Oil companies keep saying they can conquer the Arctic, but the Arctic keeps disagreeing with the oil companies,” Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. Lois Epstein, Arctic program director for The Wilderness Society, told Reuters that either the federal government or Shell should shut down the $4.5 billion drilling program “given the unacceptably high risks it poses to both humans and the environment.”  Shell officials said they were confident a spill would be avoided.  “The unique design of the Kulluk means the diesel fuel tanks are isolated in the center of the vessel and encased in very heavy steel,” Susan Childs, the oil giant’s on-scene coordinator, told The Associated Press.  “When the weather subsides and it is safe to do so, we will dispatch crews to the location and begin a complete assessment.” - NBC News.

Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday.  Crews of two Shell-contracted tug boats were able Monday secure towing lines to the drilling rig Kulluk, which went adrift for 10 hours on Sunday while being shuttled to Seattle.  The Coast Guard said it planned to use helicopters to land technicians aboard the drilling rig.  "We have a brief weather window which provides the opportunity to get experts aboard the Kulluk to inspect the drilling unit and its tow set-up," said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard 17th District. "They will provide key on-site information about towing issues or concerns and allow the Unified Command to develop contingency plans accordingly."  Forecasters predicted the wind in the area, about 19 miles from Kodiak Island off the southern Alaska coast, to exceed 60 mph on Monday night. Waves could reach as high as 28 feet, the Coast Guard said.  "Ensuring the safety of personnel and protecting the area's environment continue to be of the utmost importance," Shell said in a statement.  The Kulluk finished drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea in October and was headed to its winter home with a crew of 18 when the tug boat that was towing it lost power.  The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said there was no spill in that incident.  The Coast Guard helped evacuate the crew on Saturday. No one was injured, Shell said.  Two other response ships and a Coast Guard cutter are nearby as the tugs wait to steer the Kulluk toward a safe harbor, the Coast Guard said. - CNN.

WATCH: Coast Guard Rescues Mobile Drilling Unit Kulluk Crew.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Snow Coming To Southwestern Texas!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An upper-air disturbance slated to move into the southwestern United States has the potential of bringing wintry weather to portions of extreme southern New Mexico and the Big Bend Country of Texas beginning on Thursday.  While the best chance for snow will be across the Trans-Pecos, a general coating to perhaps an inch of snow will likely fall before it is all said and done.

A snow covered desert floor like this one shown in the picture may be a common sight later this week.
The upper-air disturbance will begin to enter the Southwest on Wednesday night and slowly ride along the United States and Mexico boarder. This disturbance will likely stick around through Friday before lifting northeastward into the southern Plains.  As the system tracks into the Southwest, it will draw Pacific moisture from the south and Gulf of Mexico moisture from the east.  Meanwhile, the air mass in place across southwestern Texas and southern New Mexico will already be cold enough that any precipitation will likely start off as a wintry mix or snow all together, depending on the location.  Snow showers are expected to begin on Thursday morning in areas from El Paso south and eastward along the Rio Grande to the Big Bend region.

On Thursday afternoon into Thursday night, the snow will begin to spread north and eastward into the Pecos River Valley. The snow will last on and off into Friday morning.  Snow levels across the region will likely be down to the desert floor. The best chance for snow will come on Thursday night.  Travel in this part of the country could become hazardous due to reduced visibilities in falling snow and areas of blowing snow. Some of the road surfaces may become snowcovered and icy in spots.  A total of 1 to 3 inches of snow will be possible for the Davis Mountains and the high terrain of the Big Bend Region. Locations on the desert floor could pick up between a coating to an inch.  Farther to the west, a total of 2 to 4 inches of snow could fall over the Franklin Mountains as well as the Guadalupe Mountain range in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. Once again, locations on the desert will likely receive a coating to an inch which some locally higher amounts possible. - AccuWeather.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Magmatic Intrusion of the Canary Islands - Seismic Swarm And Unrest Propagates Across El Hierro!

January 02, 2013 - CANARY ISLANDS - A new swarm of earthquakes started on 31 Dec. Most quakes are located at 15-20 km depth under El Golfo and seem to propagate slowly towards the east. On 31, 57 quakes of magnitudes 1.4-2.4 were registered, on 1 Jan, 43 with magnitudes up to 2.6.
Location of recent quakes (IGN).
Time and depth of recent quakes under El Hierro.
A submarine eruption began south of El Hierro Island in early October, following an intense period of earthquakes starting in July 2011. The eruption waned and ended in March 2012, but some seismic and degassing activity continued. In May, a new series of weak to moderate earthquake swarms has started and give reason to speculate that new magmatic movements are taking place under the island. - Volcano Discovery.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Series Of Sinkholes Force Almost 30 Homes To Evacuate In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Residents of the 2100 block of North Fourth Street have been asked to evacuate their homes.  One sink hole Monday led to a second, larger one, Monday night and the disruption of water, sewer and gas services to the neighborhood.  Utility crews have been working at the location of the sinkhole all day.

A sinkhole in Harrisburg has evacuated numerous residents. Brian Johnson.
A sinkhole in Harrisburg has evacuated numerous residents. Brian Johnson.
But it was Tuesday afternoon that the city told residents it will be several days before repairs will be finished.  The problem began when a trash truck ran over a metal plate on the street and fell into a sink hole. Pamela Lowry, who lives across the street, says none of this would have happened if the city had gone the job right the first time this summer.  "We called the city. They came out after a month of phone calls not just from us but other people,” Lowry explained. “They did a quick job on it. Put a metal plate over it. Called it a day, I guess." 

As crews worked to size up the situation on New Year’s Eve, running water further eroded the base of the street and around 11 p.m. a second, much larger hole opened up, magnifying the problem.  "The people who live on this block can't wash up or take a bath at all because the water is turned off,” commented Amanda Vogel. “And UGI is definitely turned off."  Tuesday afternoon Harrisburg’s Director of Communications and the city public works director asked residents to leave because of a prolonged loss of water, sewer and gas.  “I'm going to end up taking my family to a hotel or something,” stated Richard Mitchell. “This is too much. I'm just trying to find out how long this is going to be.”  That's one question that has yet to be answered. Officials are only saying several days.  Meanwhile, the American Red Cross has opened an emergency shelter at the Pine Street Presbyterian Church downtown.  Some who have left are staying with family or friends. Others are looking for motel lodging. - CW15.

WATCH: Series of sinkholes in Pennsylvania.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Strong Strombolian Explosions At Stromboli Volcano In The Eolian Islands, Italy!

January 02, 2013 - ITALY - Activity has been at exceptionally high levels recently. During a recent visit, we observed several active vents inside the crater terrace with near-continuous lava spattering and strombolian explosion at intervals of 10-30 minutes, sometimes rich in ash and sometimes ejecting small fountains of glowing bombs.

Large explosion from the NE vent (30 Dec 2012).
Normal strombolian eruption from the western vent, spattering from a hornito and glow above the crater terrace.
The northeastern vent in particular has been producing powerful and bright explosions of very liquid lava, with ejections into all directions reaching several hundred meters in height and throwing incandescent lava bombs all over the upper crater slope. These explosions occurred about every 20-30 minutes and caused loud detonations audible (and sometimes visible) in the village and rattle doors and windows. A very bright glow could sometimes observed above the crater terrace on 30 Dec and suggests that there are intermittent intra-crater lava flows. - Volcano Discovery.

EXTREME WEATHER: Victoria Set To Face Some Of Its Worst Fire Conditions Ever - Temperatures Above 40C!

January 02, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Victoria is set to experience some of its worst fire conditions since Black Saturday, with most of the state expecting temperatures above 40C on Friday, as well as fresh northerly winds. 

Victoria is set to experience some of its worst fire conditions since Black Saturday, officials say. AAP.
In Victoria's northwest, Mildura is tipped to have six days in a row above 40C.  Country Fire Authority (CFA) state duty officer Brett Boatman says abundant growth in the dry grasslands and drying forests mean there will be a very high fire danger.  He said conditions will be extreme in the southwest and very high in other areas.  "It is certainly one of the higher fire danger days I have seen since Black Saturday, no doubt," Mr Boatman told AAP.  "We have had a couple of quiet fire seasons and reasonably damp summer last year, a good winter, abundant growth, especially in the grasslands. 

"There is a lot of fuel out there. So then you add that into the hot, dry weather we are experiencing at the moment; that brings together all the elements that bring about severe and extreme fire conditions."  Mr Boatman said it was likely there would be total fire bans but he does not expect a code red day to be declared.  He said with a lot of people on holidays it was important they understand the conditions in the area they are in.  Melbourne is tipped to reach 39C on Friday, with Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart predicting many suburbs would likely hit 40C.  He said while Melbourne would have cooler weather on Saturday and Sunday, the change would not have any impact north of the Great Dividing Range.  Mildura's six-day hot spell will begin on Thursday and peak with a 45C day on Tuesday.  In the state's northeast Yarrawonga is expected to have five days above 40C. - Herald Sun.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Catastrophic Volcanic Eruption Is Brewing In Japan!

January 02, 2013 - JAPAN - One of the most seismically active countries in the world and home to more than 100 active volcanoes, experts say Japan is at risk of a major volcanic eruption that would cause chaos across the nation.  Thin wisps of smoke and ash continue to seep from the vast crater atop Sakurajima, as they have done more or less uninterrupted for nearly half-a-century. Once in a while, a minor eruption will release a small flow of lava and a towering column of debris that is taken by the wind.  This is nothing compared to the eruption in January 1914 that shook what was then an island off the southern tip of Kyushu and the city of Kagoshima. The blast was the most powerful eruption in Japan in the 20th century, flows of lava bridged the narrow straits between the island and the mainland and the surrounding countryside and Kagoshima City were covered with a thick layer of ash.  Fortunately, indications that the volcano had emerged from a period of dormancy had been noted and most local residents had been evacuated, but a series of earthquakes in the hours and days leading up to the eruption caused at least 35 deaths.


That event was nearly 100 years ago, but Yoichi Nakamura, a professor of volcanology at Utsunomiya University, north of Tokyo, believes that an eruption on a similar scale is imminent. And a blast with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) reading of four would cause havoc across large areas of this densely populated nation.  "In recent years, we have not had a big eruption, but I have been researching the history of volcanoes in Japan and the evidence suggests that there is an event of VEI four or three every decade or so, but that has not happened for a long time," he said.  "The last really big eruption was Sakurajima and that was in 1914," he pointed out. "I'm very worried about a major event and the possibility that something serious will occur is increasing year by year."  The fear is that vast reserves of magma are building up beneath the craters of a number of volcanoes across the nation and a serious seismic event could trigger an eruption and the release of torrents of lava and pyroclastic material.  Professor Nakamura is a member of a panel set up by the Japanese government to devise protocols and procedures for mitigation measures in the event of a major eruption.  The work of the panel has become even more important - and potentially more immediate - as a result of the magnitude-9 Great East Japan Earthquake that shook eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, and caused a massive tsunami to strike hundreds of kilometers of coastline in the Tohoku region. Nearly 20,000 people were killed or are still listed as missing as a result of the worst natural disaster to befall Japan in living memory.  "It is very difficult to determine the impact of the earthquake, but we must be aware that after a serious tremor in 1707, Mount Fuji erupted," Professor Nakamura points out.

That event was so serious that it changed the profile of the most famous mountain in Japan and burning cinders fell on towns around the base of the peak. Around 100 km to the east, the city of Edo - modern-day Tokyo - was blanketed in ash. Ever since, the 3,776-meter peak has been slumbering peacefully - although a magnitude 6.2 earthquake was recorded on the southern flanks of the mountain just four days after the Great East Japan Earthquake.  A study by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention indicated that the pressure in the magma chamber beneath Mount Fuji could be as much as 1.6 megapascals higher than when it was in 1707. The implications of that study are difficult to quantify as volcanology is a difficult science, the experts agree.  But Professor Nakamura is concerned.  "Sakurajima is a long way from the source of last year's earthquake and there is no direct link between the two, but Mount Fuji and the islands of the Izu Oshima chain, to the south of Tokyo, are connected," he said. "That is very serious because they are close to some of the most heavily populated areas of the country, including Tokyo.  "It has been 300 years since Mount Fuji last erupted, but it is only dormant, not extinct," he pointed out.  Should a VEI five event take place, Tokyo would once again be smothered in ash, buildings would collapse under the weight, roads and railways would become impassable and infrastructure would be severely damaged by lava flows. It would take weeks for services to return to normal, he warns, and the cost would be huge.  Professor Shigeo Aramaki, an authority on volcanoes who has retired from The University of Tokyo, agrees that there is cause for concern, but cautions that it is virtually impossible to accurately predict the actions of volcanoes.  "After last year's earthquake, there was a sudden increase in volcanic quakes, although they were all small in scale," he said. "This means that there was some kind of movement in the magma systems beneath the peaks.  "There are quite a lot of examples from around the world of this happening and it would have been natural to expect a volcanic eruption somewhere in Japan," he agreed. "But it didn't. And that is intriguing.  "In truth, we do not know the level of danger," he said. "We simply do not know enough about volcanoes right now to make precise predictions about what is happening and what will happen in the future." - DW.

HIGH STRANGENESS: Huge Crop Circle Message For Extraterrestrials - Scientology Secret 'Alien Space Cathedral' Reportedly Revealed In New Mexico?!

January 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - In the New Mexico desert lies an allegedly secret Scientology installation that includes a huge message for extraterrestrials - a crop circle-type design that can only easily be seen from high above the ground.


That's among the allegations set forth by BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney in a new book, "Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology," reports the New York Daily News. The controversial Church of Scientology -- which boasts celebrity members Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Juliette Lewis -- was founded in 1952 by writer L. Ron Hubbard, and promotes the concept that humans are immortal beings with reincarnated souls. In his book, excerpted in The Sun, Sweeney writes that the two huge interlocking circles -- each of which has a large diamond shape inside -- were created as markers to guide special Scientologists "returning from space to find Mr. Hubbard's works after a nuclear Armageddon wipes out humanity."

Runway at the top of the mountain. Aerial view and Coordinates: 35°31'32.22"N 104°34'21.42"W.
Sweeney also reports that buried texts of Hubbard's teachings are included at the top secret New Mexico Scientology site. The BBC reporter tried to find "the space alien cathedral that ex-Scientologists say was built deep underground by the church in the 1980s at the cost of millions of dollars. "Its vault houses the lectures of Hubbard on gold discs locked in titanium caskets sealed with argon. The cathedral is H-bomb proof," Sweeney reports in his book. Sweeney went to the supposed site of the alien cathedral accompanied by former Scientologist Marc Headley. "Headley says he was 'audited' -- given spiritual counseling -- by Tom Cruise, Hollywood superstar and leading church member. Marc says he was also beaten up by the shadowy church's leader David Miscavige. The church denies both incidents," Sweeney alleged. "If I'm wrong about the church believing in aliens, then why have they built these giant symbols in the middle of the desert that can only be seen from outer space," Sweeney said, according to therawstory.com. - Huffington Post.
 

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Israel To Host Hundreds Of Foreign Fighter Pilots In Largest Ever Multinational Exercise As Iran Shows Off New Toys!

January 02, 2013 - ISRAEL - Hundreds of foreign pilots are scheduled to arrive in Israel for the largest-ever multinational training session to be held in the country, Channel 2 TV reported on Tuesday evening. The air forces would share theoretical information with each other and pilots would practice flying wing-to-wing with each other. 

A formation of IAF Lockheed Martin F-16s (photo credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90).
Israel To Host Hundreds Of Foreign Fighter Pilots In Largest Ever Multinational Exercise.
The names of countries set to partake in the joint exercise were under wraps.  Israel has held multiple exercises with other armies, and, in recent years, the Israel Air Force flew alongside foreign pilots in training runs in Greece, Hungry, Cyprus and Italy.   Israel can offer a great training ground — including low-altitude flying and drop zones for live ammo — for pilots from all over the world, Lt.-Col. Assaf told the channel.  Speaking with a helmet on his head to cover his face, and without revealing his family name, Assaf — one of the planning officers — described the benefits foreign air forces derivded when training in Israel. Israel’s knowledge of weapon systems owned by various Arab countries, and its years of experience, were of great value to its allies, the pilot said. - Times of Israel.

Iran tests new submarines, missiles, and warplanes during drills.
Iran Shows Off New Toys.
Iranian military leaders claim to have successfully built and tested several new submarines, missiles, and warplanes during a several-day military exercise meant to showcase Tehran’s increased naval prowess.  Special operations forces tied to Iran’s navy participated in a series of drills over the weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, a pathway used to ship oil and gas across the globe.  The drills, dubbed “Velayat 91,” are being viewed as a warning sign to the West and Israel that if Iran’s nuclear sites are attacked it will disrupt the world’s oil supply.  Iranian military leaders also emphasized that most of these new weapons and devices were domestically produced, indicating that Western economic sanctions have failed to thwart the regime’s military buildup.  Tehran announced on Monday that it had successfully launched a newly created RAAD surface-to-air missile, according to Iranian press reports. The missiles are meant to target fighter jets, unmanned drones, and various missiles that might be fired by Western forces. 

Iranian Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari told the Mehr News Agency that the new RAAD system had been “optimized and installed” for use on warships.  Military leaders also unveiled on Monday several new missiles and torpedoes that Iranian leaders claim to have been developed in their entirety by Iranian scientists.  These missiles include the short-range Nasr cruise missile and other rocket-propelled arms that could be used in a naval confrontation, according to a report by Mehr.  The Nasr cruise missile could be fired from either land or a submarine and obliterate a “3,000 ton watercraft,” according to the report.  “Deployed on shore defensive layers, Nasr smart cruise missile will complement coastal defense artillery system, as it would destroy watercrafts invading the coastal waters,” according to the Mehr report, which is based on information provided by Iranian military leaders.  Tehran also claims to have successfully launched a new stealth submarine that can avoid detection by Western radar systems.  The “diesel submarine has been known as ‘black hole,’” military leaders told Mehr over the weekend.  “It produces the least acoustic signature, with fully sound insulation of the shaft,” the report claims. “The shaft is covered with rubber anti-sonar protection tiles to reduce the risk of detection.”  The stealth submarine is said to be the first Iranian-made submarine to take to international waters since the early 1990s.  Iranian diving teams performed mock operations in the ocean during the drills and cyber attack simulations were performed on Saturday, Reuters reported. - WFB.