Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EXTREME MONUMENTAL WEATHER: Australia Adds New Colors To Forecast Maps, To Track The Potential Record Heat - Deep Purple & Pink For Temperature Range Up To 129.2 Degrees Fahrenheit!

January 08, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Right now, things are pretty hot in Australia. So hot, in fact, that meteorologists Down Under have added new, never-before-used colors to temperature maps in anticipation of record-breaking heat.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology amended its interactive weather chart Tuesday, adding the colors deep purple and pink to indicate a temperature range of up to 54 degrees Celsius, or 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The previous range had capped at 50 Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The change was based on one weather prediction model that forecasts temperatures to climb above 50 Celsius early next week. The all-time hottest temperature recorded in Australia was 50.7 Celsius on Jan. 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. According to the current model, the forecast for next Monday will bring a "Tasmania-sized" area of heat in excess of 50 degrees to South Australia. "The air mass over the inland is still heating up. It hasn't peaked," David Jones, head of the bureau's climate monitoring and prediction unit, told the Sydney Morning Herald. But experts from other regions expressed caution about the forecast, since it only represents one possible model.

Still, Australia has been scorched by record heat in the first days of 2013. On Monday, the country's average maximum temperature record was broken, with a massive "dome of heat" enveloping the continent. In southeastern Australia, crews are scrambling to put down scores of wildfires. According to the Associated Press, authorities have evacuated national parks, and they warn that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. In Tasmania, police are still searching for 100 people who went missing after a wildfire ripped through the small town of Dunalley last week, the Australian Associated Press notes. According to the New Scientist, "lack of rainfall in recent months has left soils completely dry and unable to release moisture that would take up heat from the air through evaporation." Combined with vegetation left dry by the absence of precipitation, much of the continent is "ready to burn," Gary Morgan of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre in Melbourne told the outlet. - Huffington Post.

EXTREME WEATHER: NOAA Confirms - 2012 Was The Hottest Year On Record For The Lower 48 American States!

January 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - It’s official: 2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, as the country experienced blistering spring and summer heat, tinderbox fire weather conditions amid a widespread drought, and one of the worst storms to ever strike the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 had an average temperature of 55.3°F, which eclipsed 1998, the previous record holder, by 1°F. That was just off Climate Central’s calculation in mid-December, which projected an expected value of 55.34°F, based on historical data. The 1°F difference from 1998 is an unusually large margin, considering that annual temperature records are typically broken by just tenths of a degree Fahrenheit.

NOAA announced on Tuesday that 2012 was officially the warmest year on record in the contiguous 48 states, based on 118 years of temperature records dating back to 1895. While not every state set a record, more than one-third (19 states) recorded their warmest years, and three-quarters of the lower 48 states recorded their first-, second-, or third-hottest years on record. Ninety-five percent -- 46 states -- had one of their top 10 warmest years ever recorded, and even in the coolest state, Washington, 2012 was warmer than 72 percent of the years on record.
In fact, the entire range between the coldest year on record, which occurred in 1917, and the previous record warm year of 1998 was just 4.2°F. The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, the warmest spring, second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average fall. With an average temperature that was 3.6°F above average, July became the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous U.S. The average springtime temperature in the lower 48 was so far above the 1901-2000 average — 5.2°F, to be exact — that the country set a record for the largest temperature departure for any season on record. "Climate change has had a role in this [record],” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. He said it isn't clear yet exactly how much of the temperature record was due to climate change compared to natural variability, but that it's unlikely such a record would have occurred without the long-term warming trend caused in large part by emissions of greenhouse gases. During the summer, nearly 100 million people experienced 10 or more days with temperatures greater than 100°F, which is about one-third of the nation’s population, NOAA reported. With 34,008 daily high temperature records set or tied the year compared to just 6,664 daily record lows — a ratio of about five high temperature records for every one low temperature record — 2012 was no ordinary weather year in the U.S. It wasn’t just the high temperatures that set records, though. Overnight low temperatures were also extremely warm, and in a few cases the overnight low was so warm that it set a high temperature record, a rare feat.

Even more astonishing is the imbalance between all-time records. According to data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, there were 356 all-time high temperature records set or tied in 2012, compared to four all-time low temperature records. All of the all-time record lows occurred in Hawaii. As the climate has warmed during the past several decades, there has been a growing imbalance between record daily high temperatures in the contiguous U.S. and record daily lows. A study published in 2009 found that rather than a 1-to-1 ratio, as would be expected if the climate were not warming, the ratio has been closer to 2-to-1 in favor of warm temperature records during the past decade (2000-2009). This finding cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone, the study found, and is instead consistent with global warming. Driven largely by the warm temperatures and the massive drought, one measure of extreme weather conditions, known as the Climate Extremes Index, shows that it was the second-most extreme year on record, second only to 1998. Studies show that in response to global warming, some extreme events, such as heat waves, are already becoming more likely to occur and more intense. Nineteen states had their warmest year on record in 2012, mainly in the Plains and Midwest, where summer heat and drought was the most intense. An additional 26 states had one of their top 10 warmest years on record. Remarkably, every state in the lower 48 experienced an above-average annual temperature. The extreme heat is even more vivid when examined at the local level. Cities such as New York, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Denver, Des Moines, and Chicago all set records for their warmest year. Marquette, Mich., which is well-known for its cold and snowy winters, not only set a record for the warmest year, but also set a record for the most amount of days above freezing (32°F) in a single year, with 293 such days, and the number of consecutive days above freezing, with 237. In Des Moines, which set a record for its warmest year smashing the old 1931 record by 1.5°F, it was the first year not to reach 0°F. In addition, March had the largest monthly temperature departure from average of any month on record there, coming in at 16.4°F above average.

The year was also characterized by extreme drought, and two states — Nebraska and Wyoming — also had their driest year on record. Eight more states had annual precipitation totals that ranked in the bottom 10. At its maximum extent in July, drought conditions encompassed 61 percent of the nation, with the most intense conditions in the Great Plains, West, and Midwest. The nationally averaged annual precipitation total was 2.57 inches below average, making 2012 the 15th-driest year, and the driest year since 1988, which also featured a major drought. The drought of 2011-12, which is still ongoing, is comparable in size to severe droughts that occurred in the 1950s, and is already being blamed for more than $35 billion in crop losses alone, according to the reinsurance company Aon Benfield. In fact, it’s quite possible that damage from the drought will eclipse the total bill from Hurricane Sandy, which some estimates place at more than $100 billion. Overall, the drought could end up robbing the limping U.S. economy’s GDP of a full percentage point, said Deutsche Bank Securities. The drought was instigated in large part of very low snow cover and warm temperatures during the winter of 2011, and record warmth during the spring, which allowed for an early start to the growing season and depleted soil moisture earlier than normal. The record March heat wave put the drought into overdrive, accelerating its development across the Plains and Midwest in particular. The drought conditions created ideal conditions for wildfires, as 9.2 million acres went up in smoke in the West, the third-highest on record. The same weather patterns that led to the drought helped suppress severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, with a final tornado count that is likely to be under 1,000, which would be the fewest twisters since 2002. According to NOAA, the year saw 11 natural disasters that cost at least $1 billion in losses, including Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on October 29-30. Globally, 2012 is expected to be ranked as the eighth-warmest year on record, with that announcement coming later in the month. - Huffington Post.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL MEMES: Getting Very Close - 15 New Planets Discovered in Habitable Zones, "Earth-Sized Moons Prime Life Candidates"!

January 08, 2013 - SPACE - Fifteen new planets have been discovered orbiting in the habitable zones of other stars by volunteers from the Oxford University-led Zooniverse project, adding to the 19 similar planets already discovered in habitable zones, where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water. The new finds suggest that there may be a 'traffic jam' of all kinds of strange worlds in regions that could potentially support life.

'There's an obsession with finding Earth-like planets but what we are discovering, with planets such as PH2 b, is far stranger,' said Zooniverse lead Dr Chris Lintott of Oxford University. 'Jupiter has several large water-rich moons - imagine dragging that system into the comfortably warm region where the Earth is. If such a planet had Earth size moons, we'd see not Europa and Callisto but worlds with rivers, lakes and all sorts of habitats - a surprising scenario that might just be common.' Rather than being seen directly, the new planet candidates were found by Planethunters.org volunteers looking for a telltale dip in the brightness as planets pass in front of their parent stars. One of the 15, a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a Sun-like star, has been officially confirmed as a planet (with 99.9% certainty) after follow-up work with the Keck telescope in Hawai'i and has been named 'PH2 b'. It is the second confirmed planet to be found by Planethunters.org.
 'We are seeing the emergence of a new era in the Planet Hunters project where our volunteers seem to be at least as efficient as the computer algorithms at finding planets orbiting at habitable zone distances from the host stars," said Planethunters lead scientist Professor Debra Fisher of Yale University. "Now, the hunt is not just targeting any old exoplanet - volunteers are homing in on habitable worlds.'

Lead author Dr Ji Wang, also of Yale University, said: 'We can speculate that PH2 b might have a rocky moon that would be suitable for life. I can't wait for the day when astronomers report detecting signs of life on other worlds instead of just locating potentially habitable environments. That could happen any day now.'
 'These are planet candidates that slipped through the net, being missed by professional astronomers and rescued by volunteers in front of their web browsers," said Lintott." It's remarkable to think that absolutely anyone can discover a planet.' “In general, we have shown that we are not quite as unique as we once thought. Our solar system closely resembles other observable planetary systems within our galaxy. In this way, our results serve to corroborate other research results which indicate that earth-like planets are more widespread in the universe than previously believed,” says Professor Martin Bizzarro, head of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at University of Copenhagen. A report of the research has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and is released via arxiv.org. - Daily Galaxy.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For January 7-8, 2013 - Stromboli, Campi Flegrei, Colima, Popocatépetl, Fuego, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Lokon, Raung, Sakurajima, Mammoth Mountain, And Copahue!

January 08, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Stromboli volcano.
Stromboli volcano (Italy): The magma column inside the NE vent system remains at very high levels with continuous, strong spattering from the hornito in the western end of the NE crater. Large fluid lava bubbles burst from the main vent at irregular intervals of 10-40 minutes, and throw bombs, visible from the village, to heights of several hundreds of meters. On 7 Jan, a small lava flow issued from an effusive vent through a breach in the northern outer flank of the SE crater cone and traveled about half way down the Sciara del Fuoco.

Campi Flegrei (Phlegrean Fields) (Italy) : According to a recent report by INGV Naples, the ground deformation of the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) near Naples has increased considerably lately. During the last 12 months, the ground in some places near the town of Pozzuoli was uplifted by about 8 cm.

Colima (Mexico): After more than 2 years of quiet, Colima volcano erupted with an ash explosion on 6 January. The eruption was preceded by a day of increasing seismic activity and came as a surprise to many.
Popocatépetl (Mexico): In the last 24 hours (7-8 Jan), CENAPRED recorded 16 low-intensity emissions of steam and gas and occasionally minor amounts of ash. VAAC Washington sent out a brief alert for possible ash. During the night, glow was visible at the volcano. During the morning, a steam and gas plume rising about 300 m above the crater could be seen.

Fuego in Guatemala has mild strombolian eruptions with incandescent lava thrown to about 100 m above the crater. The lava flow towards the Taniluya drainage remained stable and was about 900 m long this morning.
Santiaguito (Guatemala): A few explosions with ash plumes rising up to 700 m occurred today.
Pacaya (Guatemala): The volcano produces numerous small volcanic earthquakes, but has not had any other surface activity. This could change quickly, though.

Reventador (Ecuador): Seismic activity continues to show an increasing trend with numerous volcanic quakes, long-period events and some explosion signals. A 500 m stea plume could be observed.

Kilauea (Hawai'i): A weak lava flow remains active on the on the coastal plain and is entering the ocean at multiple locations.

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): Another explosion occurred yesterday sending an ash plume to 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude.

Raung (East Java) has picked up strombolian activity it seems. According to a press article, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) reported that Raung volcano was seen emitting gray ash clouds on Sunday (6 Jan) morning. The plumes rose about 300 m above the crater. At night, "fire" could be seen around the crater and there were occasional thundering explosion sounds.

Sakurajima (Japan): The volcano has been relatively constant in its activity during the past days, having 2-3 "normal" small to moderate vulcanian explosions a day. Ash plumes reached elevations between 6-8,000 ft (1.8-2.4 km) altitude.

Mammoth Mountain (California): A small seismic swarm occurred between 4-5 January with quakes at depth of 12-15 km.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina border): SERNAGEOMIN reported 3 seismic swarms and volcanic tremor on 6 Jan, accompanied by increased crater glow and elevated degassing. - Volcano Discovery.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: The Euro-Zone Crisis - Euro-Zone Unemployment Reaches New All-Time Of 11.8%!

January 08, 2013 - ENGLAND - The unemployment rate across the eurozone hit a new all-time high of 11.8% in November, official figures have shown.  This is a slight rise on 11.7% for the 17-nation region in October. The rate for the European Union as a whole in November was unchanged at 10.7%.  Spain, which is mired in deep recession, again recorded the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 26.6%.  More than 26 million people are now unemployed across the EU. For the eurozone, the number of people without work reached 18.8 million said Eurostat, the official European statistics agency said.

Greece had the second-highest unemployment rate in November, at 20%.  The youth unemployment rate was 24.4% in the eurozone, and 23.7% in the wider European Union. Youth unemployment - among people under 25 - was highest in Greece (57.6%), followed by Spain (56.5%). Overall unemployment was lowest in Austria (4.5%), Luxembourg (5.1%) and Germany (5.4%).  The eurozone and wider European Union economies are struggling with recession as government measures to reduce sovereign debt levels have impacted on economic growth.  However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday that he believed the worst was over. Mr Barroso said the turning point was last September's promise from the European Central Bank to buy unlimited amounts of eurozone states' debts, which has helped crisis hit countries borrow more cheaply.  But in the view of the UK's Institute of Directors, whose members rely on demand from trading partners in the eurozone, this "has bought time, but that is all it has done".  "It is clear that the economic implosion of several member states continues at a troubling pace," said the business group's chief economist Graeme Leach.  "The headline figures spell bad news, but that is compounded by the political and human impact of terrifying levels of youth unemployment in Spain, Greece and Italy.  "This saga is far from over, whatever President Barroso may believe, and it seems it is set to get worse in 2013."

BBC Economics Correspondent Andrew Walker said: "The biggest rises, in percentage terms, were in countries at the centre of the eurozone financial crisis - Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal. One striking exception to that pattern was the Republic of Ireland where unemployment fell.  "The general trend however remains upwards and it makes it even harder for the governments concerned to collect the taxes they need to stabilise their debts."  Rabobank economist Jan Foley said the rise in unemployment was "the other side of austerity or structural reform."  "There is a very worrying picture painted by these numbers, and governments do need to wonder if they need more pro-growth strategies in the next few years," she told the BBC's News Channel.  The record low for the eurozone unemployment rate was 7.2%, which was recorded in February 2008, before the financial crisis that first gripped the banking sector spread to the real economy.  The historic low for the eurozone youth unemployment rate was 15% in March 2008. - BBC.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Thousands of Dead Birds Washing Up On Southern Michigan's Shorelines?!

January 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The rapidly changing ecology of the Great Lakes Basin, brought on in large part by non-native, invasive species, is causing devastation among Michigan's waterfowl, especially common loons. The common loon, a beloved, iconic bird known for its eerily lonely, two-note call and its beautiful markings, suffered devastating losses along Lake Michigan's northern shoreline this fall. Thousands of dead birds, mainly loons, washed ashore - from the Upper Peninsula, down to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Dead loons lie along the Lake Michigan shoreline. © Common Coast Research and Conservation.
A large percentage of the dead loons had just entered their first year of breeding maturity. The reason for the die-off, which follows similar incidents in 2006 and 2007, isn't fully understood. But it is suspected that it is driven by the food chain linking the loon to invasive species, specifically, the quagga mussel, the zebra mussel and the round goby. Since 1988, when the first zebra mussels in Michigan were found in Lake St. Clair, the invasive mussels have been clearing and "cleaning" Great Lakes water columns by consuming plankton. While the end result is a more aesthetically pleasing water column, the clearer water has allowed the sun's rays to penetrate deeper, causing larger and larger algae mats to flourish on the bottom. As the algae mat builds upon itself and dies, it becomes anaerobic - depleted of oxygen - and type-E botulism bacteria develops. Gobies living in that environment at the bottom of the lake pick up the toxin produced by the bacteria. The gobies are then preyed upon by the loons and other fish-eating waterfowl, which become infected by the botulism.

The toxin affects the bird's nervous system and musculature, leaving it unable to fly. Soon, it can no longer keep its head aloft, and it drowns. In just a 7-mile stretch of Lake Michigan beach near the Upper Peninsula town of Gulliver, 865 water birds showed up dead during a two-week period in October. Among these water birds were 302 common loons, 157 horned grebes, 142 long-tailed ducks, 103 white-winged scoters, 101 red-necked grebes and smaller numbers of ring-billed gulls, double-crested cormorants, herring gulls, red-breasted mergansers and common mergansers. All of the species are primarily piscivores, or fish eaters. That totaled an average of 121 dead birds per mile. Similar numbers were found further west, on beaches near the town of Manistique, as well as along the Lower Peninsula's northern west coast and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It is believed these areas saw the most dead birds wash ashore due to prevailing wind patterns at the time. In the Sleeping Bear Dunes, 1,444 sick or dead birds representing 18 species were documented between June 21 and Nov. 20. Of those birds, 580 were common loons, with 422 found dead in October. Both numbers were the highest mortality rates ever recorded at the Lakeshore since accurate records began in 2007. Only 30 dead loons were recorded in 2011, and only 180 were recorded from 2007-2011. Dan Myers, of the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, said 25 volunteers monitored about 25 miles of shoreline in Charlevoix and Emmet counties this fall. While complete numbers have yet to be collected, about 100 dead loons have been identified, with complete data expected this month. - Daily Tribune.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Iran Successfully Builds Nuclear Bomb With Russian And Korean Help, And Has Plutonium For More!

January 08, 2013 - IRAN - Iran successfully has built a nuclear bomb with the help of Russia and North Korea and has enough weapons-grade uranium and plutonium for more, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit.  The source, who has access to Iran’s nuclear program, said the Islamic regime is working out of seven nuclear sites, most unknown to the IAEA, and that its nuclear bomb program is complete.  North Korea has provided the regime with plutonium for nuclear warheads, the source verified, and the last obstacle to overcome is arming missiles with those warheads. 
Early nuclear explosion on Bikini Atoll.

The source, who revealed the existence of the regime’s microbial plant and its effort on biological weapons as published on Jan. 1 by WND exclusively, now has provided information on two of the seven secret sites.  The first is in the town of Khondab near the city of Arak in central Iran where Iran’s heavy-water plant reactor is located, which, once operational, will provide enough plutonium for several bombs just in its first year. WND will soon publish information on the second secret nuclear site, which has direct Russian participation involving laser technology for uranium enrichment.  The Khondab site, according to the source, expands on the activity at Iran’s previously secret site in Fordo, about 80 miles away. When the existence of Fordo was revealed in September 2009, much of the nuclear bomb research and equipment was later transferred to Khondab. 
FEB 2009 - Initial start of the work at Khondab.

The new site, in the belly of a mountain, is immune to airstrikes. It has three levels accessible by three elevators. The first level is security, where personnel check in, cell phones, arms and other items are confiscated, IDs are checked and passage allowed. The second level houses the centrifuges and the third level the lab, where work is ongoing on both uranium and plutonium bombs.  The uranium enrichment on the second level is in two phases: The first phase has eight cascades of centrifuges into which uranium hexafluoride gas has been fed for enrichment; the second phase has 12 cascades with six already operational and six more being readied.  The planning of the site was approved under former president Mohammad Khatami, but the project was approved by the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and completed over two years ago.  Several high-power towers, visible in images, have been installed near the site to provide much-needed electricity for the centrifuges. The electricity flows only to the bottom of the mountain, where entrances have been dug out. 
SEPT 2012 - Khondab secret nuclear facility.

“The imagery clearly shows some kind of highly sensitive and fortified installation supporting a deep underground facility inside the mountain,” stated Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a former CIA analyst and executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board to Congress.  “The exterior facility has a huge security gate and guard post, the entire installation is surrounded by miles of deep trench and berm, like a medieval fortress, with modern security fences and guard posts.  “And there are clearly two enormous underground entrances surmounted by a building that may power elevator shafts, escalators or a subway to the underground complex inside the mountain,” he said.

SEPT 2012 - All high power towers installed
since work on Khondab - Several marked.
Of particular interest, Pry said, are the high-tension power lines at the facility.  “Whatever is going on inside needs a lot of electricity. Chemical and biological weapons programs have very modest power needs, compared to nuclear weapons programs, which consume enormous amounts of electricity.”  Pry said that Russia, China and North Korea are helping Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and that it is probably no accident that Iran’s underground facilities closely resemble those countries’ setups, which were intended to deceive the West during and after the Cold War.  “The discovery of previously unknown underground facilities of such size and potential significance in Iran is further proof that the U.S. is probably underestimating the advancement and sophistication of Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” Pry said. “The present policy of negotiation until Iran is caught red-handed moving toward nuclear weaponization is a policy doomed to fail – probably already has failed inside one of Iran’s underground nuclear installations.”  The site is supervised by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, the father of Iran’s nuclear bomb program. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative, former defense minister Ali Shamkhani, routinely visits the site. 
SEPT 2012 - Security parameter of the site as marked.

There are 60 personnel working at this site, with four Russian and three North Korean scientists helping the Iranian scientists.  Iranian scientists Massoud Ali Mohammadi and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who worked on this Khondab project, were assassinated, Mohammadi in 2010 and Roshan last year.  Because of those assassinations, Khamenei has ordered the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security to keep a close eye on all employees at various sites and monitor their movement and communications.  Two missile sites in the vicinity of this nuclear site are hidden underground to protect the site from an airstrike.  Currently more than 2,000 centrifuges are enriching uranium at this facility, with more to be operative shortly.  With the failure in three rounds of talks since last April between the world powers 5+1 and Iran over its illicit nuclear program and the regime’s defiance in stopping its enrichment and preventing the International Atomic Energy Agency from inspecting suspect sites, the West is running out of options, the source added.  He said the regime believes that ultimately America will have no choice but to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.  WND last October revealed that regime scientists at another secret site were working on a neutron detonator for a nuclear weapon and warhead design for ballistic missiles. - WND.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Professor Masaki Kimura Says Mount Fuji Should Erupt By 2015 - Magma Chamber Pressure Has Risen To A Worrisome Level Of 1.6 Megapascals, Higher Than Its Last Eruption!

January 08, 2013 - JAPAN - Since the Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 2011, scientists have been anxiously watching the massive volcano known as Mt. Fuji for signs of activity. In September of last year, a report was released stating that Mt. Fuji's magma chamber pressure had risen to a worrisome 1.6 megapascals, which is estimated to be higher than when it last erupted.  According to retired professor Masaki Kimura of Ryukyu University, this and other recent phenomena indicate an eruption of Mt. Fuji should have taken place in 2011 with a four-year margin of error ending in 2015.  First, a little background on Mt. Fuji. Japan sits on the edge of a "subduction zone" which is where one layer of the Earth's crust is pushed under another. In the below image, courtesy of Google Maps, you can see the trench along which subduction is occurring around Japan.

© Wikipedia.
This pushing is an ongoing process and results in part of the Earth's crust being pushed down into the hot magma of the Earth's mantle. However, because this crust is saturated with water, it mixes differently with the magma in the mantle causing a lighter material to rise back up through the top layer of crust.  This rising magma then becomes a magma chamber. Here, away from the mantle, various gases are released from the magma and accumulate. When pressure becomes stronger than the rock containing it, the rock pops open in a volcanic eruption. Mt. Fuji was formed in this manner, and the subduction which occurs during large-scale earthquakes is believed to cause an increase in the magma chamber. The previous 1707 eruption of Mt. Fuji is said to have been triggered by a massive earthquake occurring near Osaka a month before.  Prof. Kimura believes that aside from the Tohoku earthquake there has been an overall increase in more "normal" seismic activity around the mountain - particularly on its northeast side.

© Wikipedia.
"Magma is rising from beneath Mt. Fuji. Cracks in the crust have been growing. Some things hanging above have been falling. No one is pointing it out, but I think there is a possibility."
By "things hanging", Prof. Kimura is possibly alluding to the partial collapse of the Sasago expressway tunnel in December last year, which killed nine. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the collapse and no earthquake was detected at the time, but deformation of the tunnel is speculated as being the cause.  Prof. Kimura also mentions the rise of the water level at Lake Sai which is located to the northeast of Mt. Fuji. At the time of the Tohoku earthquake, the lake's water-level rose by one meter. Kimura believes that this was caused by the permafrost near Fuji's summit melted by rising magma.  Prof. Kimura also claims that there have been a large number of phreatic eruptions - explosions of steam caused by heating of ground water from rising magma - around the mountain. No lava is released during these explosions, only water and rock.  However, some say that phreatic eruptions are precursors to major volcanic eruptions. Prior to the 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in the US, there were numerous reports of phreatic eruptions. This is a theory which Prof. Kimura seems to agree with.
"It looks like the danger of eruption is in the northeast corner of Mt. Fuji, but there is also a possibility of an eruption from the summit crater at the same time. Volcanic earthquakes are increasing, and their epicenters are becoming increasingly shallow."
It should be noted that Prof. Kimura is co-author of Fujisan No Funka Wa Hajimatteiru! (The Eruption of Mt. Fuji Has Begun!), a book released in June last year, as well as author of 2011's Fujisan Dai Funka! Bukimina Itsutsu No Choko (Mt. Fuji's Big Eruption! Five Eerie Signs).  Also, despite the evidence at hand it is still difficult to predict disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions with absolute accuracy.  However, in the event of a Mt. Fuji eruption, many speculate the cost to human life would be low due to the slow moving lava that would likely occur. On the other hand, the cost of damage to public and private property would undoubtedly be immense.  So if you're planning purchasing any property in the vicinity of Mt. Fuji, you might want to sit on it for a while. - RocketNews24.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "Potentially Hazardous" Asteroid Apophis, Which May Hit Earth In 2036, Will Pass Close By On Wednesday!

January 08, 2013 - SPACE - Apophis hit the headlines in December 2004. Six months after its discovery, astronomers had accrued enough images to calculate a reasonable orbit for the 300-metre chunk of space rock. What they saw was shocking.  There was a roughly 1 in 300 chance of the asteroid hitting Earth during April 2029. Nasa issued a press release spurring astronomers around the world to take more observations in order to refine the orbit. Far from dropping, however, the chances of an impact on (you've guessed it) Friday 13 April 2029 actually rose. 

Computer-generation of Apophis approach to the Earth in 2029 or 2036.
By Christmas Day 2004, the chance of the 2029 impact was 1 in 45 and things were looking serious. Then, on 27 December astronomers had a stroke of luck.  Looking back through previous images, they found one from March on which the asteroid had been captured but had gone unnoticed. This significantly improved the orbital calculation and the chances of the 2029 impact dropped to essentially zero. However, the small chance of an impact in 2036 opened up and remains open today.  While there is no cause for alarm, similarly there is no room for complacency either. Apophis remains on the list of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids compiled by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.  Although most asteroids are found in the belt of space between Mars and Jupiter, not all of them reside there. Apophis belongs to a group known as the Aten family.

A computer-generated image of a near-Earth asteroid. Astronomers will get a close-up view of
Apophis on Wednesday. Photograph: Planetary Resources/EPA.
These do not belong to the asteroid belt and spend most of their time inside the orbit of the Earth, placing them between our planet and the sun.  That makes them particularly dangerous because they spend the majority of their orbit close to the sun, whose overwhelming glare obscures them to telescopes on Earth – rather like a second world war fighter ace approaching out of the sun.  Having crossed outside Earth's orbit, Apophis will appear briefly in the night-time sky. Wednesday 9 January will afford astronomers the rare opportunity to bring a battery of telescopes to bear: from optical telescopes to radio telescopes to the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory Herschel. Two of the biggest unknowns that remain to be established are the asteroid's mass and the way it is spinning. Both of these affect the asteroid's orbit and without them, precise calculations cannot be made.  Another unknown is the way sunlight affects the asteroid's orbit, either through heating the asteroid or the pressure of sunlight itself. Russia has announced tentative plans to land a tracking beacon on Apophis sometime after 2020, so that its orbit can be much more precisely followed from Earth. 

NASA's projection of Apophis' orbit.

Wednesday's pass is only really close by astronomical standards, taking place at around 14.5 million kilometres above Earth's surface. The moon's orbit is 385,000 km. The 2029 close pass is another matter entirely, however.  On Friday 13 April 2029, Apophis will slip past the Earth just 30,000km above our heads – less that one-tenth the distance of the moon and closer even than the communication satellites that encircle the Earth at 36,000km. It will appear as a moderate bright moving object, visible from the mid-Atlantic. Depending upon its composition, astronomers could watch the Earth's gravity pull the asteroid out of shape, offering an unprecedented insight into its composition.  So, although Apophis poses no immediate danger, we are almost certain to hear a lot more about it over the coming years and decades. Apart from all the science we can learn, its orbit's proximity to Earth's makes it a potential target for future robotic and even manned missions. - Guardian.

WATCH: The Apophis Asteroid - What You Need To Know.

ELECTRIC UNIVERSE: Massive Outbursts In Neighbor Galaxy Surprises Astronomers - Ten Times Brighter Than The Largest Supernova Or Exploding Star?!

January 08, 2013 - SPACE - The surprising discovery of a massive outburst in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers a tantalizing look at what likely is a powerful belch by a gorging black hole at the galaxy's center. The scientists were conducting a long-term study of molecules in galaxies, when one of the galaxies showed a dramatic change.

HSA image of bright "hotspots" (inset), in galaxy NGC 660. Entire HSA image is less than a pixel in the larger optical image. CREDIT: Minchin et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF (HSA); Travis Rector, Gemini Observatory, AURA (optical).
"The discovery was entirely serendipitous. Our observations were spread over a few years, and when we looked at them, we found that one galaxy had changed over that time from being placid and quiescent, to undergoing a hugely energetic outburst at the end," said Robert Minchin, of Arecibo Observatory, who presented the research.  The scientists were using the National Science Foundation's (NSF) 305-meter William E. Gordon Telescope at Arecibo for their study when they discovered the outburst in NGC 660, a spiral galaxy 44 million light-years distant in the constellation Pisces. The outburst was ten times brighter than the largest supernova, or exploding star. They reported their findings at the American Astronomical Society's meeting in Long Beach, California.

After detecting the outburst, the team continued to observe NGC 660 with the Arecibo Telescope, and also sought to determine the cause of the outburst using an international network of telescopes to make a detailed image of the galaxy.  "High-resolution imaging is the key to understanding what's going on," said Emmanuel Momjian, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). "We needed to know if the outburst came from a supernova in this galaxy or from the galaxy's core. We could only do that by harnessing the high-resolution imaging power we get by joining widely-separated radio telescopes together."  The astronomers used a network called the High Sensitivity Array (HSA), composed of the NSF's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a continent-wide system of ten radio telescopes ranging from Hawaii to the Virgin islands; the Arecibo Telescope; the NSF's 100-meter Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia; and the 100-meter Effelsberg Radio Telescope of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.  "By adding the large collecting area of the three big dishes to the VLBA, we got the images much more quickly. What we did with the HSA in less than half a day would have taken nearly nine days with the VLBA alone," Momjian said. 

The resulting images were more complex than the scientists expected. They thought they would see either the ring of an expanding supernova or a jet of superfast material from the galaxy's core. Instead, they saw five sites of bright radio emission, one near the center of the galaxy and two on either side.  "The most likely explanation is that there are jets coming from the core, but they are precessing, or wobbling, and the hot spots we see are where the jets slammed into material near the galaxy's nucleus," said Chris Salter, of Areceibo Observatory. "To confirm this, we will continue to observe the galaxy with the HSA over the next few years," he added.  If the jet idea is correct, the outburst probably was caused by material pulled into the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The material would form a rapidly-spinning disk around the black hole before finally falling into it, and the disk would generate jets of particles blasting outward at nearly the speed of light.  Astronomers are carefully watching a gas cloud in our own Milky Way Galaxy that is expected to fall into our Galaxy's central black hole in the middle of this year.  The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The Arecibo Observatory is operated by SRI International under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (AST-1100968), and in alliance with Ana G. Mendez-Universidad Metropolitana, and the Universities Space Research Association. - NRAO.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: DEFRA Authorities Investigating Mystery Bird Deaths In Angus, Scotland?!

January 08, 2013 - SCOTLAND - A mysterious virus or natural event has baffled residents of an Angus town, after a number of seabirds were found washed up on their shore.  At least 17 geese and other unidentified birds were found on the coast of Arbroath on Sunday morning, and dog walkers contacted The Courier to air their concerns. 

Two of the dead birds.
Despite being obscured by dirt and debris, only two of the birds had any visible wounds. Kevin Murray recorded 18 geese and one mallard duck at the breakwater during a walk.  He said he was out for a walk along the Arbroath beach front, below the breakwater beside Pleasureland and the old outdoor pool.  "This could have resulted from a lightning strike," he said. "But could this be something else?"  A supervisor for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed a report had been filed on 17 dead seabirds.  It is understood a team may not be available to clear away any contaminated birds until today, so passers-by have been urged not to interfere with the carcasses. 

Asked about a link between the deaths and the storms of recent weeks, DEFRA said storms could result in changes to bird migration and stranding.  "Higher water temperatures are sometimes a factor, as are migrating birds carrying botulism," he added. "However, in the case of botulism it is easier to tell when the birds are in situ in a pond or still water."  A report should be submitted to DEFRA in the instance of finding dead swans, geese or ducks, or groups of more than three wild and garden birds.  While avian flu (H5N1) is spread between poultry and is one of the most feared flu strains, there are many more likely causes of death for anserine visitors.  Newcastle disease (ND) is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a paramyxo virus.  The disease is a worldwide problem and sporadic outbreaks occur frequently, with the last widespread United Kingdom outbreak among partridges in 2006. - The Courier.  

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreads Far And Wide - Fukushima Radioactive Material Dumped Into Rivers?!

January 08, 2013 - JAPAN - Workers cleaning up the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have allegedly dumped contaminated soil and leaves into rivers. In violation of Environment Ministry regulations, they have also let water used to spray the facility’s buildings run off into the surrounding environment, according to local newspaper Asahi Shimbun. From Dec. 11 to 18, Asahi reporters watched the dubious decontamination work, taking photographs and recording supervisors’ instructions to cleanup crews. In a report Friday, the paper revealed that workers were instructed to ignore the Japanese Environment Ministry’s regulations on how to properly dispose of radioactive materials.

Following the report, Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato called on the Environment Ministry to investigate cleanup operations and to compile a report for the government. “If the reports are true, it would be extremely regrettable, Sato said at a press conference Friday, according to Asahi. “I hope everyone involved will clearly understand how important decontamination is to the people of Fukushima.” Residents in the surrounding Fukushima Prefecture await decontamination to return to their homes. Following the nuclear facility’s meltdown in March 2011, the government was criticized for delaying the evacuation of some local residents. Attorney Yoshitaro Nomura represents a group of residents seeking compensation from facility owner TEPCO, which has admitted it could have done more to improve safety procedures at the Fukushima plant before the magnitude-9.0 earthquake rocked Japan. Nomura commented on the government’s role in the crisis.   “What did the administration do in the wake of the Fukushima crisis? The government delayed giving evacuation orders. Now it is giving priority to economic recovery over the health of residents,” Nomura told Greenpeace earlier last week. The Japanese government had received data collected by U.S. scientists shortly after the disaster struck, but did not act on it efficiently, according to the Greenpeace report. 

Assembly chairman for the town of Namie, Japan, Kazuhiro Yoshida, told Greenpeace, “It is outrageous that the government did not inform us about the radioactive data at that time.”   Japan’s government will tackle the progressing cleanup under great scrutiny. Some people have called on the government to use the 650 billion yen (US$7.4 billion) allocated for cleanup to help Fukushima evacuees in other ways.   The ministry provided contracts to large construction companies to do the cleanup work, stipulating that leaves and soil potentially contaminated with radiation should be put in bags. Water must also be collected properly, according to the ministry’s guidelines. Violating these guidelines carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of 10 million yen (US$115,000), Asahi reported. The ministry also required that radiation be measured before and after cleanup work. Workers told the paper that they could only take measurements in limited areas. A worker told Asahi, “We were told to clean up only those areas around a measurement site.” - The Epoch Times.

FRINGE: Reality Mirrors Fiction - Pentagon Working on UFO-Style Airship For "Stealthy Cargo Missions"?!

January 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The sci-fi TV show Fringe often shows us an alternate, more technologically advanced version of Earth where airships are, for some reason, the norm. Now reality is mirroring fiction as a new project being developed in conjunction with the Pentagon is looking to bring airships back from their spotty past and into the future.

Developed by Aeroscraft, the 230-foot-long prototype airship called the Pelican is designed to lift up to 10 tons of cargo across long distances, using a fraction of the fuel needed by an airplane. The airship, which, interestingly, looks a lot like a flying saucer, has been in the works for several years under the guidance of the Pentagon's Rapid Reaction Technology Office. In addition to cargo missions, the Pentagon also envisions the airship as a potential tool for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The current prototype is much smaller than the final version of the airship the company plans to build which will be 450-feet long and have the ability to carry up to 66 tons of cargo. You can see footage of the Pelican being tested, as well as a presentation video depicting military uses for the airship in the videos below. - DVICE.

WATCH: Aeroscraft Defense video.

WATCH: Aeroscraft moving.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Israel Presses U.S. For Military Threat Against Iran!

January 08, 2013 - ISRAEL - Israel is again turning up the pressure on the Obama administration to issue an ultimatum threatening military action if Iran refuses to abandon its suspected pursuit of an atomic weapons capability. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is the latest member of Israel’s cabinet and national security establishment to come to Washington to press senior U.S. officials to lay out a tougher line on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities.

The time has come for President Barack Obama to give Iran a “very clear ultimatum, very clear deadline combined with a very credible also military threat” Steinitz told a group of reporters this morning before planned meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other administration officials today and tomorrow. Steinitz declined to comment on Obama’s announcement today that he will nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, as defense secretary, saying “it is not our custom to interfere in democratic procedures in other democracies.” Hagel has come under criticism from Republicans including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who say he is soft on Iran and not a strong enough ally of Israel.

As a two-term senator until 2009, Hagel opposed unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran, while supporting United Nations and multilateral penalties. Hagel, currently chairman of the Atlantic Council, a Washington policy institute, has also served as co-chairman of the group’s Iran Task Force, which has studied Iran’s internal politics, the impact of sanctions, the likely cost of military action and the possibility of improved relations with Western nations. Sanctions Bite “We will accept and respect any results, any decision made by the president and the Congress here,” the Israeli finance minister said of Hagel’s nomination. Steinitz said he would tell Geithner that Israel views the financial sanctions imposed on Iran by the Obama administration as “very serious and very effective and the Iranian economy is in bad shape already now.” During Obama’s first term, the U.S. and its European allies have imposed dozens of new sanctions affecting banking, finance, energy, shipping, insurance and trade with Iran. The Obama administration persuaded the 20 countries that imported crude oil from Iran in 2011 to cease imports entirely or “significantly reduce” their crude purchases from Iran. - Business Week.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.7 Magnitude Quake Beneath The Aegean Sea Rattles Turkey and Greece, Causing Panic In Some Areas!

January 08, 2013 - GREECE - An earthquake centered beneath the Aegean Sea shook cities and islands in Turkey and Greece on Tuesday, causing panic in some areas but no injuries or damage, officials said.

USGS earthquake map.
The Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory said the quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 (5.7 USGS), occurred at 4:16 p.m. (1416 GMT) off the coast from Turkey’s northwestern Canakkale province. The earthquake was felt in the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Izmir, and their environs, officials said. “It was one of the strongest earthquakes we have experienced,” Mustafa Mutay, the mayor of the Turkish island of Bozcaada off Canakkale, told the state-run Anadolu Agency.

“There was some panic during the quake, but things have returned to normal and there is no damage.” The Athens Geodynamic Institute in Greece put the magnitude at 5.8 and said the temblor occurred between the Greek islands of Lemnos and Lesvos, near the Turkish coast. The quake was mildly felt in Athens. The U.S. Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 5.7. Earthquakes are common in Turkey and Greece, both of which lie atop active fault lines. - ABC.

PARADISE LOST: Jamaica's Debt-Trap Hurricane - The Greece Of The Western Hemisphere; More Debt In Relation To The Size Of Its Economy Than Any Other Country, Worse Than Greece!

January 08, 2013 - JAMAICA - Americans concerned about the impact of public debt on the global recovery have focused — with good reason — on Greece. Closer to home, however, the tourism mecca of Jamaica illustrates the catastrophic effects of borrowing way too much, and the painful choices that follow. This saga, less familiar than Greece's, is a lesson for lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Caribbean nation actually is in worse financial shape than Greece: Jamaica has more debt in relation to the size of its economy than any other country. It pays more in interest than any other country. It has tried to restructure its loans to stretch them out over more years, at lower interest rates, with no success.

Such a move would be risky for its already nervous lenders. So Jamaica is trying to wangle a bailout from a skeptical International Monetary Fund. Another deadline for a potential deal just came and went last week, though negotiations continue. Jamaica is caught in a debt trap. More than half of its government spending goes to service its loans. The country can spend barely 20 percent of its budget for desperately needed health and education programs. Its infrastructure is faltering. It lacks resources to fight crime. It has little margin to recover from natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. To set itself straight, Jamaica needs a restructuring, and a bailout with significant debt relief. No way can a small economy that has limped along with growth at less than half the global average for two decades pay back the fortune that it owes. But as with Greece, as with America, as with the state of Illinois, government leaders have balked at imposing the inevitable hardships. Saying no to favored constituents is no easier in Kingston than in Springfield. The potential alternative is worse:

Defaulting on its debt would ruin Jamaica's prospects for many years to come: It would undermine the island's critically important trade relations with the U.S. It would discourage badly needed foreign investment in its tourism, agriculture and mining sectors. The only thing worse than doing what Jamaica must do to live within its means would be not doing it. That hard fact is being faced to some degree by debtor nations around the world. Jamaica is an extreme example of the fate that could befall Spain, Italy, Japan or, yes, the U.S., if debt keeps piling up. The analogy only goes so far since those much-larger economies have better resources to manage their finances. Jamaica has few options, apart from beseeching the IMF. The American "fiscal cliff" deal was good news for Jamaica, which could not afford another U.S. recession. The island's financial stewards have taken some practical steps to depreciate the local currency and curb inflation.

The broader solution, however, is as obvious and necessary in Jamaica as it is in Greece and other countries mired in debt: Reform taxes, curb pension costs, cut public payrolls. In Jamaica, that austerity-based formula has, unfairly, gotten a bad name. Critics of trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation point to Jamaica as Exhibit A of First World policies gone awry. IMF-imposed fixes more than a decade ago — after public debt had ballooned in the 1990s — made conditions worse, the critics say. What really happened, however, is that IMF fixes gave Jamaica a temporary lifeline, but government never stopped borrowing and spending. The lesson of Jamaica is not that access to credit is bad. It's that irresponsible stewardship is bad. We're cautiously optimistic that Jamaica's current leaders will do better: Finance Minister Peter Phillips says his government must do whatever is necessary to reduce its out-of-control debt. Job One: Jamaica must make enough painful progress to win the confidence of the IMF, and of private lenders. While the rest of us wait to see whether the island nation escapes its debt trap, we'll see whether other countries learn the lesson of Jamaica: Stop digging such deep, deep holes in the beach. - Chicago Tribune.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Elephants Go On A Rampage Near Kamasumudra, India; As Another Herd Of Jumbos Kill Man Near Bannerghatta?!

January 08, 2013 - INDIA - A man sustained fractures while standing crops of watermelon were damaged as a herd of elephants went on a rampage on the outskirts of Kamasumudra village near here on Wednesday.

A herd of 32 jumbos from the Tamil Nadu forests is wrecking havoc by destroying crops in the nearby fields. The elephants are moving in two groups – one comprising 14 jumbos which have camped near Kamasamudra and another with 18 elephants is roaming at the Yaragol dam project site. The jumbos have entered Karnataka from Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu and are moving on the natural elephant corridor.

Availability of water and fodder all along the way is said to be facilitating their onward journey. The elephants which stray on this route usually return to V Kote via Kuppam. A calf is also part of the herd. Ansar, a resident of Bheemanaganahalli suffered fracture of chest bones after an elephant threw him with its trunk. He was admitted to RL Jalappa Hospital in Kolar. Officials from the Forest department visited forest areas in Yaragol. However, they have decided to wait for some time to gauge the further movement of the jumbos. – Deccan Herald.

A 39-year-old software engineer was killed by a herd of elephants at the Nilgiri grove at Mantapa village near Bannerghatta in the taluk on Saturday afternoon. The elephants attacked Soorappa Ramesh, an employee of IBM and a native of Jambur village of Bhadravati taluk, when the engineer - an amateur wildlife photographer - came to the grove and tried to click pictures of the herd which had gone on a rampage in the grove. He was residing in Bangalore along with his wife Yashodha.

Ramesh, who collapsed on the spot, was provided water to drink by the onlookers. When he was taken to the hospital, doctors said he had died due to heart attack, according to the Bannerghatta police.  Hundreds of people from nearby villages had gathered at the grove after coming to know that the jumbos were camping there.  There was chaos all around and the elephants, in a bid to protect their calves, started attacking anyone coming in their way. Earlier, a herd of 15 wild elephants entered the Nilgiri grove of Prakash of Mantapa village in the wee hours of Saturday.  The herd comprised three calves and two tuskers. It had entered the fields in Mantapa, Lakshmipura, Vajarahalli and Jangalapalya villages from the forest in search of food on Friday night.  The herd came to the grove at daybreak on its way back to the forest. Three of the elephants separated from the herd and headed to the forest at 1.30, before the incident in which Ramesh was killed.  Meanwhile, an irate mob tried to attack forest department staff, following the incident. They damaged two vehicles belonging to the department.  The forest department managed to chase the elephants back into the forest by 4.30 pm, with help from the public. Vehicular movement was affected on the Bannerghatta-Anekal road when the jumbos were crossing the road. – Deccan Herald.

WATCH: Elephant goes on rampage in Indian village.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: U.S. Downgrade Expected Without Grand Bargain In The Next Two Months!

January 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - While the fiscal cliff deal brought a big sigh of relief to the market, particularly for risk assets, the compromise does nothing to address the long-term budget problems facing the United States. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office’s math suggests the bill increases the budget deficit by US$4-billion over the next 10 years. Most of this comes from lower revenues, but there is also another US$330-billion in spending increases through 2022. “The fact that Republicans were willing to take a deal with no net spending reductions suggests to us that this group will now push hard for spending cuts in the upcoming showdown on the debt ceiling,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets. “To us, this is headline risk in the making.”

A news ticker reads "Standard & Poor's downgrades US credit rating from AAA to AA+" in New York
City's Times Square on August 5, 2011. Andrew Burton/Getty Images.
In the absence of a grand bargain in the next two months, he warned the U.S. debt rating will likely be downgraded. Mr. Porcelli also cautioned that this should have a bigger market impact than the S&P downgrade in August 2011. The economist noted that many investors look towards the most common rating of an issuer. So despite the AA+ rating from S&P, most could still count their Treasury and Agency MBS exposure in their AAA bucket. However, if Fitch or Moody’s chooses to downgrade the U.S., then the AAA bucket gets much smaller. As a result, RBC noted that anyone targeting an average rating for their portfolio will need to go up in credit in the rest of their portfolio to maintain their average rating. “We are less concerned about a downgrade impact on the level of Treasury yields or the slope of the curve as we are of this sort of cascade effect on other assets,” Mr. Porcelli and Michael Cloherty, RBC’s head of U.S. rates strategy, said in a report.

Moody’s was the first rating agency to comment on the deal: “The rating agency expects that further fiscal measures are likely to be taken in coming months that would result in lower future budget deficits, which are necessary if the negative outlook on the government’s bond rating is to be returned to stable. On the other hand, lack of further deficit reduction measures could affect the rating negatively.” Meanwhile, Fitch has said “failure to avoid the Fiscal Cliff and raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner as well as securing agreement on credible deficit reduction would likely result in a rating downgrade in 2013.” RBC expects the debt ceiling will be hit on March 1, 2013, when a Social Security payment is due to go out. However, Mr. Porcelli noted when the debt ceiling becomes binding is more uncertain than usual as it will depend in large part on the rate of tax refund distributions. He thinks it is conceivable that refunds could be delayed, thereby pushing back the deadline. In an extreme scenario, the economist suggested the Treasury Department may be able to continue to operate past the April 15th tax date. - Financial Post.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Iran Defense Official Say 2,000 "Enemy Bases" Are In Range!

January 08, 2013 - IRAN - A senior Iranian defense official said that the Islamic Republic can now target thousands of “enemy bases,” the Fars News Agency reported on Monday.

A surface-to-surface missile is launched during the Iranian Revolutionary Guards maneuver in an undisclosed location in Iran, Tuesday, July 3, 2012 (photo credit: AP Photo/ISNA, Alireza Sot Akbar).
“Iran has now reached a point of progress that can target 2,000 enemy bases within a range of 2,000 km,” said General Morteza Qorbani, senior adviser to the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces.

Last month, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that although Iran could build longer range missiles if it wanted to, getting warheads as far as Israel is enough.

“We don’t need missiles with a range of more than 2,000 km, but we have the technology to build them,” Hajizadeh told reporters in December. He underscored that “Israel is our longest-range target.” - The Times Of Israel.

THE AGE OF OBAMA: H.J.Res. 15 Bill - Democratic Congressman Wants Unlimited Terms For Obama!

January 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - New York Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano is once again proposing a constitutional amendment to end presidential term limits – hoping to break his losing streak on the resolution that dates back roughly 15 years.

However, the 12-term congressman likely faces long odds, as before, considering the resolution has no sponsors, never got a vote last year in the Republican-controlled House, needs two-thirds support in both chambers and ratification from roughly 75 percent of state legislatures.

The joint resolution would repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Supporters of the idea say the Constitution keeps Americans from re-electing their most successful leaders. However, Serrano re-introducing the proposal has ignited a firestorm on social media, with critics suggesting it is un-American.

Serrano, who represents south Bronx and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has yet to respond to a request for comment.

H.J. Res. 17 now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only president to serve more than two terms -- his presidency, which lasted into a fourth term before he died, preceded the passage of the 22nd Amendment. - FOX News.

H.J.Res. 15: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President. Read more on the bill HERE and HERE.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Syria "Has Chemical Weapons That Could Be Used Within Two Hours"!

January 08, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - Syria has armed dozens of bombs with sarin gas and other chemical weapons that could be used to target opposition less than two hours after President Bashar al-Assad issues orders, US officials have claimed.

Only concerted diplomatic pressure from the US, Russia, China and other countries has stopped the regime from loading the bombs on to its aircraft. Satellite imagery gathered by Israel and other states in late November showed regime soldiers preparing the 500lb bombs in late November. The intelligence triggered a public warning from Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, that the regime would cross a "red line" triggering military intervention if it used the bombs. Diplomats told The New York Times that American, European, Arab diplomats hurriedly coordinated warnings to Damascus to stop preparing the devices. But America and its allies remain concerned that the bombs could be dropped by the regime at short notice.

The effectiveness of the weapons would depend on weather conditions and the terrain. The US military has deployed 150 specialist officers to Jordan to monitor and respond to a chemical weapons attack by the regime. Meanwhile it was reported that almost 100,000 people fled the Syrian civil war in the last month. There are now almost 600,000 refugees living outside Syria. Tens of thousands more have fled the country but not felt the need to register as refugees. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, has accused President Assad of sabotaging a UN-sponsored peace initiative. "What the Syrian people desperately need at this time are real solutions to the crisis that is tearing their nation apart," Mr Ban said through his spokesman. The UN leader criticised Assad for having "rejected the most important element" of a June 30 road map agreed by the main powers in Geneva that called for a political transition with the establishment of a transitional governing body. "The United Nations remains committed to do its utmost, in co-operation with other partners, to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people inside and outside Syria," the spokesman said. - Telegraph.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Activity Report For January 7, 2013 - Colima Volcano In Mexico Erupts With Ash Cloud, Plus Yellowstone Update!

January 08, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from geologist Richard Wilson who specializes in volcano seismicity and Armand Vervaeck.

Image courtesy of @gobiernocolima.
The Colima volcano in Mexico erupted yesterday. The attached seismograms show the eruption had been building since 05 January.  Colima’s now tranquil again.

WATCH: Colima volcano erupts.

Yellowstone seismograph.
Seems we’re getting off to a good (bad?) start with volcanic activity this year! I have been remiss in keeping abreast of ongoing swarm activity beneath Yellowstone Lake! I had been watching this area, beginning around 25 December when tiny earthquakes began affecting the area. They seemed to diminish by the first of the year. I should have checked Yellowstone seismograms following the Queen Charlotte Islands Earthquake (M7.5) this past Saturday. The earthquake may have “energized” the then fading (or at least, sluggish!) earthquake swarm. Remember when I wrote about Long Valley Caldera (CA) being famous for “responding” to large distant earthquakes? Well, Yellowstone is even more “famous” for such phenomena. The current swarm is scientifically interesting for two other reasons. First: Since Winter 2007, the volcano has shown a predilection for experiencing significant earthquake swarms at the December-January cusp (but not last year!). Such seasonal regularity in volcanic processes at Yellowstone have been noted before, namely during the late summer-early fall “thermal events” which affected many of the volcano’s hydrothermal areas through the early 2000′s. Second: The current swarm strikes an area that experienced an intense earthquake swarm during the winter of 2008-2009. This event has been interpreted by University of Utah researchers (in my words) as an “aborted” eruption of the Yellowstone volcanic system.

Kizimen volcano.
KVERT reports volcanic tremor amplitude has increased further (but slightly) at Plosky Tolbachik (Kamchatka Peninsula) in the past day. Seismicity levels have also increased at nearby volcanoes Klyuchevskoi and Sheveluch. Kizimen volcano re-erupted (a lava flow!) sometime between 28 and 31 December 2012. The volcano had been placed in eruption code GREEN only one day before! Seismicity began increasing on 28 December and satellite imagery detected a large thermal anomaly shortly thereafter. A new lava flow has been visually confirmed on the volcano’s flank and seismic and thermal imagery indicate that lava effusion at Kizimen continues.

Still issues obtaining seismic data from Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA), but the most recent data do show continued low-level earthquake activity continued beneath the edifice through yesterday (station MRD). The Northern California regional seismic network (USGS) shows most activity is now located in the Sierra Nevada mountains south of Long Valley Caldera.

Popocatepetl volcano.
Exhalations of gas and minor amounts of ash occur at an average rate of less than one per hour at Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico). The Popocatepetl seismogram shows low level volcanic tremor and perhaps small earthquakes.

John Seach (Volcanolive.com) reports a high level of local seismicity has led to Agam volcano (Sumatra) being placed in Alert Level III (out of 4). The volcano has apparently not erupted since 1839 (no confirming geologic deposits) and experienced at least one earlier episode of internal unrest detected in 2010.

Fuego volcano.
Wind is playing its part in complicating seismograms at the Guatemalan volcanoes today. Most of the tremor-like signal apparent on seismograms recorded at Pacaya (station PCG), Fuego (station FG3), and Santa Maria (station STG6) volcanoes is likely due to wind.

The swarm of volcanic earthquakes which began yesterday at San Miguel volcano (El Salvador) (station VSM) has subsided, but frequent pulses of tremor (in other words, low amplitude volcanic earthquakes) continue at the volcano.

No current data available from San Cristobal volcano (Nicaragua) today, but volcanic tremor remains elevated at nearby Masaya volcano (station MASN). Trains of volcanic tremor are apparent on seismograms recorded at Concepcion volcano (station CONN) as well.

Amplitude of low-level volcanic tremor has risen slightly at Nevado Del Ruiz volcano (Colombia) (station OLLZ) over the past day. Has anyone else noticed the nice correlation between the appearance of tremor at Ruiz with satellite data showing a strong SO2 plume over the volcano?

Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador) (station RETU) appears to be returning to slumber. EPN warns that the northern flank of the volcano remains inflated. Reventador volcano (station CONE) exhibits a continued higher level of (co-eruptive?) seismic unrest.

SERNAGEOMIN reports that Copahue volcano (Chile) experienced three seismic swarms yesterday accompanied by increased crater glow and elevated degassing tremor. Windy weather at that volcano today helps to obscure the eruptive plume.

White Island volcano.
GNS has declared the end of dome extrusion at White Island volcano (New Zealand). There have been no identifiable morphologic changes in the construct over the past month, but the volcano is producing 400 tons of SO2 and 1300 tons of CO2 per day. The continous volcanic tremor recorded at the volcano bears this out! Windy conditions again today at the other volcanoes Tongariro and Ruapehu.

Recent satellite data show the prominent SO2 plume issuing from Nevado Del Ruiz and another plume, detached from Popocatepetl volcano, drifting over the Gulf of Mexico. Copahue volcano issued a plume of SO2 in conjunction with elevated seismicity there yesterday. - Daily Volcano Report.