Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: MONSTROUS Sinkhole Swallows Up Buildings In Guangzhou, China - Over 3,000 Square Feet Wide And Still Growing!

January 29, 2013 - CHINA - Several buildings have fallen into an enormous sinkhole in Guangzhou, China, destroying at least five shops and taking out power for 3,000 residential units nearby, Shanghaiist reports. 

The sink hole was 300 square meters wide (3,229.2 square feet), and appears to be growing. Thankfully there does not appear to be any injuries at present.  This video shows the moment the sinkhole expanded, taking out much of the building and creating a chaotic scene.

Sinkholes are becoming a worrying problem in China. In 2007, there were 54 sinkhole collapses, and by 2009, that number was all the way up to 129. According to one estimate, between July 21st and August 12th 2012, 99 sinkhole collapses occurred just in Beijing. While the cause of this sinkhole has not been determined yet, most appear to have been caused by rapid economic development and poorly planned infrastructure. - Business Insider.

WATCH: Monster sinkhole in China.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: USGS-NOAA - Climate Change Impacts To U.S. Coasts, Threaten Public Health, Safety And Economy; A Major Threat To 50 Percent Of Americans!

January 29, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The report, Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: a technical input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment, authored by leading scientists and experts, emphasizes the need for increased coordination and planning to ensure U.S. coastal communities are resilient against the effects of climate change. The recently released report examines and describes climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems and human economies and communities, as well as the kinds of scientific data, planning tools and resources that coastal communities and resource managers need to help them adapt to these changes.

© Shutterstock.
"Sandy showed us that coastal states and communities need effective strategies, tools and resources to conserve, protect, and restore coastal habitats and economies at risk from current environmental stresses and a changing climate," said Margaret A. Davidson of NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and co-lead author of the report. "Easing the existing pressures on coastal environments to improve their resiliency is an essential method of coping with the adverse effects of climate change." A key finding in the report is that all U.S. coasts are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise, erosion, storms and flooding, especially in the more populated low-lying parts of the U.S. coast along the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, northern Alaska, Hawaii, and island territories. Another finding indicated the financial risks associated with both private and public hazard insurance are expected to increase dramatically. "An increase in the intensity of extreme weather events such as storms like Sandy and Katrina, coupled with sea-level rise and the effects of increased human development along the coasts, could affect the sustainability of many existing coastal communities and natural resources," said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey and co-lead author of the report.

The authors also emphasized that storm surge flooding and sea-level rise pose significant threats to public and private infrastructure that provides energy, sewage treatment, clean water and transportation of people and goods. These factors increase threats to public health, safety, and employment in the coastal zone. The report's authors noted that the population of the coastal watershed counties of the U.S. and territories, including the Great Lakes, makes up more than 50 percent of the nation's population and contributed more than $8.3 trillion to the 2011 U.S. economy but depend on healthy coastal landforms, water resources, estuaries and other natural resources to sustain them. Climate changes, combined with human development activities, reduce the ability of coasts to provide numerous benefits, including food, clean water, jobs, recreation and protection of communities against storms. Seventy-nine federal, academic and other scientists, including the lead authors from the NOAA and USGS, authored the report which is being used as a technical input to the third National Climate Assessment—an interagency report produced for Congress once every four years to summarize the science and impacts of climate change on the United States.

Other key findings of the report include:
• Expected public health impacts include a decline in seafood quality, shifts in disease patterns and increases in rates of heat-related morbidity. Changes in the location and the time of year when storms form can lead to large changes in where storms land and the impacts of storms. Any sea-level rise is virtually certain to exacerbate storm-surge and flooding related hazards. Because of changes in the hydrological cycle due to warming, precipitation events (rain, snow) will likely be heavier. Combined with sea-level rise and storm surge, this will increase flooding severity in some coastal areas, particularly in the Northeast.
• Temperature is primarily driving environmental change in the Alaskan coastal zone. Sea ice and permafrost make northern regions particularly susceptible to temperature change. For example, an increase of two degrees Celsius during the summer could basically transform much of Alaska from frozen to unfrozen, with extensive implications.
• As the physical environment changes, the range of a particular ecosystem will expand, contract or migrate in response. The combined influence of many stresses can cause unexpected ecological changes if species, populations or ecosystems are pushed beyond a tipping point.
• Although adaptation planning activities in the coastal zone are increasing, they generally occur in an ad-hoc manner and are slow to be implemented. Efficiency of adaptation can be improved through more accurate and timely scientific information, tools, and resources, and by integrating adaptation plans into overall land use planning as well as ocean and coastal management.
• An integrated scientific program will reduce uncertainty about the best ways coastal communities can to respond to sea-level rise and other kinds of coastal change. This, in turn, will allow communities to better assess their vulnerability and to identify and implement appropriate adaptation and preparedness options.  

RED DAWN DOOMSDAY: China Makes Move To Collapse United States Dollar - Launches Gold Back Global Currency!

January 29, 2013 - CHINA - China is recasting all of their gold reserves into small one kilo bars in order to issue a new “gold-backed” currency. Many say this will disrupt global trade and will eventually cause a collapse of the US dollar.  There can be no doubt that the US dollar will soon be history. China is recasting all of their gold reserves into small one kilo bars in order to issue a new ‘gold backed’ global currency.

This is surely a strategic part of their recent push to sign new trade agreements with Russia, Japan, Chile, Brazil, India, and Iran. The cat is now out of the bag, the US will be given the ‘bums rush’ by the largest trading nations in the world and the dollar will go down in flames. GATA now estimates that 80% of the gold that investors believe they have in allocated accounts is long gone, the majority of it probably wound up in China. Many are the events, signals, and telltale clues of a real live actual systemic failure in progress. Until the last several months, such banter was dismissed by the soldiers in the financial arena. But lately, they cannot dismiss the onslaught of evidence, a veritable plethora of ugly symptoms of conditions gone terribly wrong and solutions at best gone awry and at worst never intended in the first place.

China is well along an ambitious plan to recast large gold bars into smaller 1-kg bars on a massive scale. A major event is brewing that will disrupt global trade and assuredly the global banking system. The big gold recast project points to the Chinese preparing for a new system of trade settlement. In the process they must be constructing a foundation for a possible new monetary system based in gold that supports the trade payments. Initally used for trade, it will later be used in banking. The USTBond will be shucked aside. Regard the Chinese project as preliminary to a collapse in the debt-based USDollar system. The Chinese are removing thousands of metric tons of gold bars from London, New York, and Switzerland. They are recasting the bars, no longer to bear weights in ounces, but rather kilograms. The larger Good Delivery bars are being reduced into 1-kg bars and stored in China. It is not clear whether the recast project is being done entirely in China, as some indication has come that Swiss foundries might be involved, since they have so much experience and capacity.

The story of recasting in London is confirmed by my best source. It seems patently clear that the Chinese are preparing for a new system for trade settlement system, to coincide with a new banking reserve system. They might make a sizeable portion of the new 1-kg bars available for retail investors and wealthy individuals in China. They will discard the toxic US Treasury Bond basis for banking. Two messages are unmistakable. A grand flipped bird (aka FU) is being given to the Western and British system of pounds and ounces and other queer ton measures. But perhaps something bigger is involved. Maybe a formal investigation of tungsten laced bars is being conducted in hidden manner. In early 2010, the issue of tungsten salted bars became a big story, obviously kept hush hush. The trails emanated from Fort Knox, as in pilferage of its inventory. The pathways extended through Panama in other routes known to the contraband crowd, that perverse trade of white powder known on the street as Horse & Blow, or Boy & Girl. - World Truth.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sea Change - The Bay Of Bengal's Vanishing Islands, Kutubdia Has Halved In Size In Just 20 Years!

January 29, 2013 - BAY OF BENGAL - Rapid erosion and rising sea levels are increasingly threatening the existence of islands off the coast of Bangladesh and India  School teacher Nurul Hashem lives in a grass hut set among coconut palms and pine trees, just yards from a pristine beach on the sparkling Bay of Bengal. It sounds idyllic, but he longs to return to the island of Kutubdia, 50 miles away, where his family home has been swallowed by ever-rising tides and is now out at sea under several feet of water.  To make matters worse, the local government, which welcomed him when he arrived three years ago, wants him and thousands of other families who have fled to the coast from the island, to make way for an airport and hotel developments.  Kutubdia is one of many islands off Bangladesh and India affected by increasingly rapid erosion and some of the fastest recorded sea-level rises in the world. These "vanishing islands" are shrinking dramatically. Kutubdia has halved in size in 20 years, to around 100 sq km. Since 1991, six villages on the island of fishermen and saltworkers have been swamped and about 40,000 people have fled. Like Hashem, most have relocated to the coast near Cox's Bazar.

Disappearing world... a project for climate refugees near Cox's Bazar, as people have been forced from islands such as Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal. © Photograph: Salman Saeed.
"The sea water is rising every day," says Hashem, who calls himself a "climate refugee".  "We lost everything. We are not happy, because we must move again. Climate change is making thousands of people homeless."  The 80,000 people left on Kutubdia all expect to follow Hashem. "The land here used to be 1km out to sea," says Mohamed Rashed from the village of Qumira Char. "We lost mosques, a school, shops, farms. We are scared of the sea now. Gradually it comes closer to our homes. When we sleep, we are scared. Every year the tide rises more and comes in further. Next year, this village may not exist."  Rashed moved his house on to a new three-metre high concrete embankment in 2008, but the high tides and tidal surges now top the barrier.  "God knows how long this village will last. If it gets worse I will have to go to the mainland. We know the end is coming," says fisherman Jakir Hossain.  At the current rate of erosion, Kutubdia will be off the map within 30 years, along with dozens of other coastal islands. Sandwip, near Chittagong, covered 600 sq km 50 years ago. It is now a tenth of the size, its area having halved over the past 20 years alone. Further north along the Bay of Bengal, 12 islands - home to 70,000 people - are said by the Bangladeshi government to be "immediately threatened" by the rising seas; 90 others in Indian waters, collectively housing more than 4 million people, are said to be at real risk. Sagar island is expected to lose at least 15% of its area in the next eight years, and may yet suffer the same fate that befell the island of Lohachara, which in December 2006 became the first inhabited island known to be lost to rising sea levels.

An abandoned building on Kutubdia. © Photograph: Salman Saeed.
Scientists attribute the disappearance of these islands to a combination of natural and possibly manmade events. The villagers say they are victims of climate change, but there is no reliable sea-level data in Bangladesh. However, sea surface temperatures in the Bay of Bengal have significantly increased, which could theoretically have caused the expansion of water. In addition, more intense cyclones and higher tides have also been observed, while increased flows from some of the giant rivers that flow into the Bay of Bengal may also be contributing.  "There is a close correlation between the rate of sea-level rise and the sea surface temperature," says Sugata Hazra, head of oceanography at Kolkata's Jadavpur University.  No scientific monitoring of sea-level rise has been done on Kutubdia, but increases of nearly 8mm a year have been recorded over 20 years at Cox's Bazar. This is nearly three times the average for Bangladesh and up to five times the worldwide average sea-level rise.  "Land has always been lost to erosion in the Bay of Bengal, but this is now becoming exacerbated," says Saleemul Huq, senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London.  "There has been a step change in the numbers who have had to move and the rate of erosion is higher than in the past. Whether it is climate change is not clear, but this can be seen as the beginning of a trend which is expected to grow exponentially," he says.

A temporary camp in the Bay of Bengal. © Photograph: Salman Saeed.
Predicted sea-level rises of up to a metre over the next century would inundate the homes of millions of people. At the present rate of 8mm a year, it may only take about 25 years to raise levels 20cm, enough to permanently waterlog and destroy the land and drinking water of as many as 10 million people in the south of the country. A one metre rise along the only partly defended 720km Bangladeshi coastline would result in nearly 20% of the country being submerged and 30 million more people being displaced. A recent report prepared by Jadavpur University and the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) estimates that a million of the 5 million people living in the delta will become climate change refugees by 2050. "We are staring catastrophe in the face," says Moqbul Ahmed, team leader with Coast, a social group working with climate-affected communities and refugees on Kutubdia and elsewhere. "They lose everything they have and they cannot recover when their land is washed away. They have no option but to migrate from the islands but they have no money, and when they leave they have no schools or hospitals. They have no work and no future." Back on Kutubdia, islanders say they do not need scientists to tell them that the annual sea-level rise is far more than 8mm. "We reckon its twice that at least," says Hashem. "The sea used to be much further away. We had to move our houses 300 yards in 2008, but the water now comes to the house. We have nowhere left to go. If we had any money we would go to Cox's Bazar or Chittagong. All we can do is fish. We cannot protect ourselves. So we stay. Our life is with the sea." - Guardian.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Britain's Deadly Superdrone That Can Pick Its Own Targets, Experts Warn Plane Could Mark The Star Of "Robot Wars"!

January 29, 2013 - BRITAIN - It is named after the Celtic god of thunder, can fly faster than the speed of sound and evades enemy radar with its single-wing stealth design.  This is Taranis, Britain’s latest pilotless combat aircraft, which is even capable of selecting its own targets.  The revolutionary superdrone is due to make its maiden flight in the next few weeks and could spearhead the fight against  terrorism in Africa.  Military chiefs believe Taranis’s ground-breaking technology will allow a powerful new generation of drones equipped with deadly payloads to fly from British bases to attack targets worldwide.  But the new developments in pilotless aircraft are controversial as they allow the possibility of autonomous computers  targeting and killing enemy combatants outside human  control.

Revolutionary: Taranis, Britain's latest pilotless combat aircraft, will make is maiden flight in the next few weeks.
Experts even warned last night that the new technology raised the nightmare spectre of out-of-control robots waging war on humans – and called for a global ban on autonomous technology.  Britain’s armed drones are currently piloted remotely by aircrews on the ground. But Taranis will follow a set flightpath using on-board computers to perform manoeuvres, avoid threats and identify targets. Only when it needs to attack a target will it seek authorisation from a human controller.  Professor Noel Sharkey, a robotics engineer specialising in autonomous military systems at Sheffield University, said last night:  ‘This is a very dangerous move. Once it has been developed, who knows what new governments who inherit the technology will do with it.’  Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the fight against terrorism in North Africa could last decades, meaning futuristic drones could dominate counter-terrorism strategy in the region.  

Military technology: A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off from Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. A proliferation in mainly US military technology has sparked a drone arms race.
The controversy surrounding their use was highlighted last week when the United Nations launched an investigation into the deaths caused by conventional drone attacks.  British Forces currently operate armed drones only in Afghanistan, where they target Taliban insurgents. However, a proliferation in mainly US military technology has sparked a drone arms race. To compete, the UK Government has committed itself to a new generation of pilotless aircraft which can fly distances of more than  2,000 miles.  A defence source said that Taranis’s long-anticipated maiden test flight has been delayed by technological setbacks as well as UK aviation safety laws which restrict the flight of drones in this country.  But the source added that the aircraft, which weighs eight tons and is about the size of an RAF Hawk jet, will make its first flight in Australia in the next few weeks, where its progress will be closely monitored by  Ministry of Defence chiefs.  Prof Sharkey said: ‘Taranis is a concept prototype – so it is really the beta version of an intercontinental attack plane. With the proliferation of pilotless combat aircraft that is certainly going to happen, it wasn’t going to be long before the person was taken out of the loop.  

Competition: A US K-MAX pilotless freight helicopter in Helmand province in Afghanistan. To compete, the UK Government has committed itself to a new generation of pilotless aircraft.
‘It would be very difficult for a human to keep control of teams of these moving at such speed. It could put ours at a disadvantage to others that did not have a human supervisor. This is why we need a global ban on autonomous drones before proliferation begins in earnest.’  But the MoD says the programme is designed so that a human will make the final decision on the firing of weapons and that as a ‘demonstrator’ it was far too early to say what role Taranis would have in future combat missions.  The superdrone, manufactured by BAE, is the product of a 2006 MoD decision to develop and fly an uncrewed aircraft that goes one better than current US systems by using a customised Rolls-Royce jet engine rather than a propeller.  When its sleek design was first unveiled in 2010 at an  airfield in Warton, Lancashire, it was accompanied by boasts from its designers that Taranis could strike at the heart of  Britain’s enemies without risking British lives.  BAE chiefs said Taranis would be an ‘autonomous stealthy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle [UCAV] ultimately capable of precisely striking targets at long range, even in another continent’.  An MoD spokesman said: ‘Taranis is a trailblazing project that reflects the very best of our nation’s advanced design and technology skills and is  a leading programme on the global stage.  ‘Unmanned Air Vehicles play an important role in operations, helping reduce the risks faced by military personnel on the front line.  ‘Forthcoming Taranis trials will provide further information about the potential capabilities of Unmanned Combat Air Systems.’  A spokesman for BAE said: ‘Taranis is a joint BAE-MoD programme and we are not at liberty to confirm any details of the forthcoming flight, including the location, timing or who may be present.’  - Daily Mail.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Dozens Of Dead Seals Found On Prince Edward Island Beach In Canada?!

January 29, 2013 - CANADA - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating after dozens of dead seals were found on a beach and in the waters off Prince Edward Island.

Fisheries officers have sent samples of the dead animals to a wildlife pathologist at the Atlantic Veterinary College.
A group of students from the Charlottetown-based Atlantic Veterinary College found as many as 50 dead seals over the weekend.

The students came upon the bloody carcasses of grey seals either dead or dying. Many of seals were pups.

DFO officers responded to the beach on Black Brook Road near Murray Harbour in the eastern part of the Island.

Fisheries officers have sent samples of the dead animals to Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust, a wildlife pathologist at the veterinary college, who will perform the necropsies.

Daoust said the cause of death has not been determined.

Steve Hachey, communications adviser with DFO, said an investigation will determine whether the seals died of natural causes or were killed.

Hachey said charges could be laid under the Fisheries Act if test results confirm the seals were killed. - CBC News.

WATCH: Dozens of dead seals found off P.E.I. coast.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Second Set Of NATO Patriot Missiles In Turkey Go Active!

January 29, 2013 - TURKEY - A second pair of Patriot missile batteries being sent by NATO countries to defend Turkey against possible attack from Syria are now operational, a German security official said on Tuesday.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each committed to sending two batteries and up to 400 soldiers to operate them after Ankara asked for help to bolster its air defences against possible missile attack from Syria.  The frontier has become a flashpoint in the 22-month insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad, with Syrian government shells frequently landing inside Turkish territory, drawing a response in kind from Ankara's military.  The two German batteries, which have been deployed around the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras some 100 km (60 miles) from the Syrian border, were in position and ready to use as of late Monday, the German security official said.  The first pair of batteries, sent by the Netherlands, went operational on Saturday around the city of Adana, southwest of Kahramanmaras.

The final U.S. Patriots are expected to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday and go active in the coming days.  The batteries are being stationed around three southeastern Turkish cities and NATO says they will protect 3.5 million Turks from missile attack. Patriots are capable of shooting down hostile missiles in mid-air.  Tensions have increased in recent weeks after NATO said it had detected launches of short-range ballistic missiles inside Syria, several of which have landed close to the Turkish border. Turkey has scrambled warplanes along the frontier, fanning fears the war could spread and further destabilise the region.  Syria has called the deployment of the batteries "provocative" while Iran and Russia, which have supported Syria throughout the uprising, have criticised NATO's decision, saying the Patriots would intensify the conflict.  Turkey and NATO have strongly denied the Patriot missiles are a precursor to a no-fly zone that Syrian rebels have been requesting to help them hold territory against a government with overwhelming firepower from the air.  All six Patriot batteries will be connected directly to allied air command in Ramstein, Germany. - Reuters.

FIRE IN THE SKY: 2013, The Year Of The Comet - Comet Lemmon Puts On Great Show Over The Southern Hemisphere!

January 29, 2013 - SPACE - 2013 could be the Year of the Comet. Comet Pan-STARRS is set to become a naked eye object in march, followed by possibly-Great Comet ISON in November. Now we must add to that list green Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6). "Comet Lemmon is putting on a great show for us down in the southern hemisphere," reports John Drummond, who sends this picture from Gisborne, New Zealand.

"I took the picture on Jan. 23rd using a 41 cm (16 in) Meade reflector," says Drummond. "It is a stack of twenty 1 minute exposures." That much time was required for a good view of the comet's approximately 7th-magnitude coma ("coma"=cloud of gas surrounding the comet's nucleus). Lemmon's green color comes from the gases that make up its coma. Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.

Discovered on March 23rd 2012 by the Mount Lemmon survey in Arizona, Comet Lemmon is on an elliptical orbit with a period of almost 11,000 years. This is its first visit to the inner solar system in a very long time. The comet is brightening as it approaches the sun; light curves suggest that it will reach 2nd or 3rd magnitude, similar to the stars in the Big Dipper, in late March when it approaches the sun at about the same distance as Venus (0.7 AU). Northern hemisphere observers will get their first good look at the comet in early April; until then it is a target exclusively for astronomers in the southern hemisphere. - Space Weather.

THE WAR ON THE EARTH: Huge Slick At Site Of BP Oil Disaster In The Gulf Of Mexico - Visible Rainbow Sheen And Weathered Oil Not Seen For Months!

January 29, 2013 - GULF OF MEXICO - Today we had a wonderful treat. Our hard-working colleague and Gulf heroine Trisha James and her husband Mark joined us for a flight over the Gulf! On our way southward, we took a little extra time to check out some spots of concern along the Mississippi River, thanks to an alert from Scott Eustis of the Gulf Restoration Network. So in addition to what we can show you about offshore Louisiana today, you'll see some photos of two large coal terminals along the east bank of the Mississippi, as well as a new pass that the river is building in Bohemia, downriver of where the levee ends. You'll also see a dramatic wetlands fire that surprised us on our return back.

Unfortunately there are still some troubling sites offshore.  The chronic Taylor Energy slick remains a heinous pollution situation, and today's quiet seas revealed that slick to be larger in size than it has looked to us before.  What looks to be a natural seep about 10 miles southwest of the Macondo area, which we discovered last week, remains as it looked last week. 

But the most troubling vision today was the Macondo area itself.  The slick that we had first noticed last fall, which was spreading over the area within a half-mile or so of the scene of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, was huge today. It stretched over 7 nautical miles in the south-north direction and was almost a mile wide in some spots. There were some patches of rainbow sheen and even some weathered oil (brownish "mousse"), although overall it remained a light surface sheen.  The ENSCO8502 drilling rig is still working in MC253 there; its presence provides scale in the photos. See all the photos HERE.

The two large coal piles we examined are the Kinder Morgan International Marine Terminal and United Bulk Coal Terminal.  We are told that there are plans to expand these coal (and pet coke) terminals by nearly 400%, into Plaquemines Parish. Such coal terminals have been stopped in other parts of the country such as the northwest, for environmental protection reasons. Is this a case of Louisiana being willing to sacrifice and take risks that other more cautious states have refused? - OWOC.

WATCH: OWOC Flyover of Gulf of Mexico.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Record Setting Asteroid 2012 DA14 Flyby - NASA Declares "We've Never Seen An Object This Big Get So Close To Earth"!

January 29, 2013 - SPACE - Talk about a close shave. On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet's surface. There's no danger of a collision, but the space rock, designated 2012 DA14, has NASA's attention.  "This is a record-setting close approach," says Don Yeomans of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at JPL. "Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth."

Earth's neighborhood is littered with asteroids of all shapes and sizes, ranging from fragments smaller than beach balls to mountainous rocks many kilometers wide. Many of these objects hail from the asteroid belt, while others may be corpses of long-dead, burnt out comets. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program helps find and keep track of them, especially the ones that come close to our planet.  2012 DA14 is a fairly typical near-Earth asteroid. It measures some 50 meters wide, neither very large nor very small, and is probably made of stone, as opposed to metal or ice.  Yeomans estimates that an asteroid like 2012 DA14 flies past Earth, on average, every 40 years, yet actually strikes our planet only every 1200 years or so.  The impact of a 50-meter asteroid is not cataclysmic--unless you happen to be underneath it. Yeomans points out that a similar-sized object formed the mile wide Meteor Crater in Arizona when it struck about 50,000 years ago. "That asteroid was made of iron," he says, "which made it an especially potent impactor." Also, in 1908, something about the size of 2012 DA14 exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia, leveling hundreds of square miles of forest. Researchers are still studying the "Tunguska Event" for clues to the impacting object. "2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth," emphasizes Yeomans. "The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact."

In this oblique view, the path of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 is seen passing close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013.
 Even so, it will come interestingly close. NASA radars will be monitoring the space rock as it approaches Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Yeomans says the asteroid will thread the gap between low-Earth orbit, where the ISS and many Earth observation satellites are located, and the higher belt of geosynchronous satellites, which provide weather data and telecommunications.  "The odds of an impact with a satellite are extremely remote," he says. Almost nothing orbits where DA14 will pass the Earth.  NASA's Goldstone radar in the Mojave Desert is scheduled to ping 2012 DA14 almost every day from Feb. 16th through 20th. The echoes will not only pinpoint the orbit of the asteroid, allowing researchers to better predict future encounters, but also reveal physical characteristics such as size, spin, and reflectivity. A key outcome of the observing campaign will be a 3D radar map showing the space rock from all sides.  During the hours around closest approach, the asteroid will brighten until it resembles a star of 8th magnitude. Theoretically, that’s an easy target for backyard telescopes. The problem, points out Yeomans, is speed. “The asteroid will be racing across the sky, moving almost a full degree (or twice the width of a full Moon) every minute. That’s going to be hard to track.” Only the most experienced amateur astronomers are likely to succeed.  Those who do might experience a tiny chill when they look at their images. That really was a close shave.  For more information about 2012 DA14 and other asteroids of interest, visit NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program web site: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov - NASA.

A new ScienceCast video previews the close flyby of asteroid 2012 DA.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For January 29, 2013 - Updates On The Worldwide Volcanic Activity At Etna, White Island, Mammoth Mountain, Popocatépetl, Colima And Much More!

January 29, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Activity has dropped again abruptly (and so the tremor signal). A new eruptive phase has started at Bocca Nuova. Since this morning (28 Jan), small ash emissions have been observed and now at night, glow can be seen. The tremor signal has been rising as well.

White Island (New Zealand): Seismic activity has changed from continuous volcanic tremor to a pattern of intermittent tremor. When occurring, the volcanic tremor remains strong. GNS does not think that an eruption is imminent, but reports that the vigorous hydrothermal activity is throwing out rocks and mud and might be followed by ash emissions:  From the latest GNS report: The crater lake is drying out and produces frequent vigorous bursts of mud, steam and gas. During the last few days, such bursts have thrown mud and rock several tens of meters out from the lake area. Steam and gas clouds above the volcano are often visible from the Bay of Plenty coastline.

Mammoth Mountain (California, USA): Another small earthquake swarm occurred under the (dormant) volcano during 28-29 Jan. Numerous tiny quakes were registered at shallow depths (mostly 1-5 km).

Colima (Western Mexico): A relatively vigorous seismic swarm is taking place.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): After a short, intense peak 3 days ago, the rate of emissions has fallen to 8 during 27-28 Jan (1 every 3 hours). However, gas (SO2) emission remains strong and glow at the summit indicates continuing slow magma supply.

Volcano Activity Summary for 29 Jan 2013:

Currently erupting:

Ambrym (Vanuatu): active lava lakes in several craters (updated 25 Jan 2013)
Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): strombolian explosions, ash plumes up to 500 m, extrusion of a small lava dome with rockfalls (updated 27 Jan 2013)
Erebus (Antarctica): active lava lake in summit crater (updated 21 Jan 2012)
Erta Ale (Ethiopia): active lava lake in northern pit crater, active hornito with intermittend flow in southern crater (updated 11 Jan 2013)
Etna (Sicily, Italy): intermittent strombolian activity from Bocca Nuova and New SE crater (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Fuego (Guatemala): effusion of la lava flow, small strombolian explosions (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Gamalama (Halmahera): ash eruptions since 17 Sep (updated 17 Sep 2012)
Kilauea (Hawai'i): lava lakes in Halemau'uma'u and Pu'u 'O'o, lava flows on coastal flat and weakly active ocean entries (updated 26 Jan 2013)
Kizimen (Kamchatka, Russia): growing lava dome, lava flow on eastern flank, avalanches (updated 26 Jan 2013)
Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): strombolian activity in summit crater (updated 11 Jan 2013)
Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): almost daily explosions (updated 25 Jan 2013)
Nyiragongo (DRCongo): active lava lake in summit crater (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania): spattering and lava flows of natrocarbonatite lava inside the summit crater (updated 9 Dec 2012)
Raung (East Java): mild strombolian eruption inside the crater (updated 8 Nov 2012)
Reventador (Ecuador): growing lava dome, occasional explosions, strong tremor (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Sakurajima (Kyushu): 0-3 weak to moderate vulcanian-style explosions per day, ash clouds up to 2-3 km altitude (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): advancing viscous active lava flows, weak occasional explosions (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Semeru (East Java, Indonesia): growing lava dome, ash venting and small to moderate explosions (updated 25 Jul 2012)
Shiveluch (Kamchatka): slow dome growth, occasional explosions and pyroclastic flows (updated 21 Jan 2013)
Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): strong strombolian explosions, intermittent small lava overspills (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Tolbachik (Kamchatka, Russia): effusion of fluid lava flows (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Yasur (Tanna Island, Vanuatu): strong strombolian activity (level 3), crater currently closed (updated 2 Aug 2012)

Eruption warning / minor activity:

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): occasional ash explosions (updated 24 Jan 2013)
Bezymianny (Central Kamchatka Depression): slow lava flow extrusion from dome (updated 11 Jan 2013)
Chirpoi (Kurile Islands, Russia): thermal anomaly at summit crater, steaming (updated 9 Jan 2013)
Colima (Western Mexico): rockfalls, intermittent ash emissions (updated 29 Jan 2013)
Copahue (Chile/Argentina border): seismic swarms (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Dukono (Halmahera): thermal anomaly, probably small explosive activity in summit crater (updated 7 Nov 2012)
Galeras (Colombia): degassing, occasional ash venting (updated 23 Jan 2013)
Gorely (Southern Kamchatka): strong steaming (updated 23 Jan 2013)
Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): thermal anomaly at summit crater (updated 30 Dec 2012)
Ibu (Halmahera, Indonesia): Thermal anomalies indicate continuing eruption, possible lava dome growth (updated 18 Oct 2012)
Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): hot spot visible at the summit (updated 27 Jan 2013)
Karymsky (Kamchatka): occasional small explosions, thermal anomaly (updated 11 Jan 2013)
Kirishima (Kyushu): degassing, slightly increased seismic activity (updated 30 Jul 2012)
Krakatau (Sunda Strait, Indonesia): strong degassing (updated 1 Oct 2012)
Langila (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): occasional ash explosions (updated 25 Sep 2012)
Manam (Papua New Guinea): occasional ash emissions (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Marapi (Western Sumatra, Indonesia): frequent small ash emissions (updated 11 Dec 2012)
Medvezhia (Kurile Islands, Russia): strong steaming, thermal anomaly (updated 17 Jan 2013)
Nevado del Huila (Colombia): degassing (updated 26 Jan 2013)
Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): steaming, low-level seismic unrest (updated 23 Jan 2013)
Nyamuragira (DRCongo): strong degassing from summit crater (updated 27 Apr 2012)
Pagan (Mariana Islands): steaming, thermal anomaly (updated 12 Dec 2012)
Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): active growing lava dome (updated 21 Jan 2013)
Poas (Costa Rica): Small phreatic explosions on 29 October (updated 30 Oct 2012)
Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): steaming, about 1 weak explosion per hour, crater glow (updated 29 Jan 2013)
Rabaul (Tavurvur) (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): ash explosions (updated 27 Jan 2013)
Rincón de la Vieja (Costa Rica): small phreatic eruption on 11 April (updated 6 Oct 2012)
Sangay (Ecuador): no recent explosions reported (updated 26 Jan 2013)
Soputan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): new eruption on 18 (updated 9 Nov 2012)
Soufriere Hills (Montserrat, West Indies (UK)): occassional small pyroclastic flows by rock falls (updated 27 Sep 2012)
Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): steaming, occasional weak eruptions, elevated seismicity (updated 3 Oct 2012)
Tinakula (Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands): steaming, possibly ash eruptions (updated 13 Nov 2012)
Tungurahua (Ecuador): occasional ash explosions (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Turrialba (Costa Rica): vigorous steaming, occasional phreatic explosions (updated 18 Dec 2012)
Ulawun (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): ash emissions and rumblings heard (updated 2 Jan 2013)
Villarrica (Central Chile): weak deep-seated explosive activity, steaming (updated 20 Jan 2013)
White Island (New Zealand): vigorous degassing, strong hydrothermal activity (updated 29 Jan 2013)

Restless / uncertain activity:

Aoba (Vanuatu): steaming, degassing (updated 26 Dec 2012)
Arenal (Costa Rica): continua la fase de reposo, emisión de gases (updated 30 Dec 2012)
Askja (Central Iceland): increased seismicity (updated 14 Dec 2012)
Bárdarbunga (Iceland): earthquake swarm (updated 26 Jan 2013)
Bromo (East Java, Indonesia): seismic unrest, steaming (updated 3 Oct 2012)
Campi Flegrei (Phlegrean Fields) (Italy): sciame sismico (updated 7 Jan 2013)
Chaitén (Southern Chile and Argentina)
Changbaishan (China / North Korea border): increased seismic and degassing activity, deformation (updated 29 Sep 2012)
Cleveland (Aleutian Islands, Alaska): elevated temperature at summit crater (updated 27 Jan 2013)
Concepción (Nicaragua): seismic unrest (updated 23 Jan 2013)
Cumbal (Colombia): continuing seismic swarms (updated 23 Jan 2013)
El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): elevated number of earthquakes (updated 26 Jan 2013)
Gamkonora (Halmahera): alert level lowered to yellow (updated 14 Sep 2012)
Gaua (Vanuatu )
Hekla (Iceland): Small but very shallow 1.2 magnitude earthquake at 21:13 UTC on 15 Feb 2012 (updated 14 Sep 2012)
Ijen (East Java, Indonesia): increased steaming and seismicity, alert level raised on 24 July (updated 17 Apr 2012)
Irazu (Costa Rica)
Iwo-jima (Volcano Islands): weak degassing, occasional volcanic tremors (updated 22 Jan 2013)
Katla (Southern Iceland): occasional seismic swarms (updated 17 Aug 2012)
Kerinci (Sumatra)
Ketoi (Kurile Islands, Russia)
Kuchinoerabu-jima (Ryukyu Islands)
Kverkfjöll (Eastern Iceland): occasional small earthquake swarms (updated 21 Oct 2012)
Lewotobi (Flores): steaming and seismic activity decreased, alert lowered back to 1 (out of 4) (updated 5 Apr 2012)
Loihi (United States, Hawaiian Islands): Magnitude 4.2 earthquake at Loihi (updated 26 Nov 2012)
Machin (Colombia): elevated seismic activity (updated 21 Jan 2013)
Masaya (Nicaragua): elevated seismic activity (updated 23 Jan 2013)
Mauna Loa (Big Island, Hawai'i)
Mayon (Luzon Island): steaming, increased earthquakes, slight inflation (updated 11 Nov 2012)
Merapi (Central Java): Dome collapse sometime in October (updated 21 Oct 2012)
Mt Fuji (Honshu): earthquakes at the end of January and in February 2012, new craters reported, increasing fumarolic activity (updated 9 Sep 2012)
Pacaya (Guatemala): seismic unrest (updated 22 Jan 2013)

Restless / uncertain activity:

Papandayan (West Java): alert status back to 2 (updated 1 Feb 2012)
Piton de la Fournaise (La Réunion)
Reclus (Southern Chile and Argentina): increased number of earthquakes (updated 31 Aug 2012)
Rinjani (Lombok)
Ruapehu (North Island): seismic unrest (updated 24 Jan 2013)
San Cristobal (Nicaragua): seismic unrest (updated 25 Jan 2013)
San Miguel (El Salvador): seismic unrest (updated 25 Jan 2013)
Sangeang Api (Indonesia): occasional weak steaming (updated 3 Jan 2013)
Sinabung (Sumatra)
Siple (Marie Byrd Land, Western Antarctica): possible steaming detected on 20 June (updated 28 Jun 2012)
Sirung (Pantar Island, Indonesia ): steaming and elevated seismicity (updated 27 May 2012)
Slamet (Central Java): degassing, strong fumaroles (updated 9 Aug 2012)
Sotará (Colombia): Actividad volcán Sotará del 3 al 9 de octubre de 2012 (updated 23 Jan 2013)
Taal (Luzon, Philippines): degassing, elevated seismic activity (updated 28 Jan 2013)
Talang (Sumatra)
Telica (Nicaragua): seismic unrest (updated 15 Nov 2012)
Tiatia (Kunashir Island): weak thermal anomaly (updated 6 Sep 2012)
Tjörnes Fracture Zone (North of Iceland): continuing earthquake swarm (updated 11 Dec 2012)
Tondano (North Sulawesi & Sangihe Islands)
Tongariro (North Island, New Zealand): strong steaming from Te Maari craters, slightly elevated seismic activity (updated 22 Jan 2013)

KING WILLIAM: Precursor To The New King Arthur, "The Once And Future King" - Dutch Queen Beatrix Abdicates, Willem-Alexander To Become King!

January 29, 2013 - THE NETHERLANDS - Dutch Queen Beatrix, who turns 75 on Thursday, announced she was abdicating in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, who will become king on April 30.  Willem-Alexander, 45, is married to Princess Maxima Zorrigueta and has three young children.

Netherlands' Queen Beatrix (R) and her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexander are seen waving to well-wishers from the balcony of the Royal Noordeinde Palace after opening the new parliamentary year in The Hague on this April 15, 2011 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Jerry Lampen/Files.
Decades of grooming for the throne involved shaking off his image as a beer-drinking fraternity boy whose blunt comments upset the press and politicians.  Beatrix said in a television broadcast to the nation that she was stepping down because she felt her son was ready to take her place on the throne.  A constitutional monarchy, the Netherlands had reduced the involvement of the Royal House in politics, a role long seen more as a formality than a position of power.  In the past, the Queen took part in forming government coalitions by appointing a political mediator, raising questions about behind-the-scenes influence on the democratic process.  That role was scrapped before the last election, which took place in September 2012.

 It was widely rumoured that Queen Beatrix was no fan of anti-immigrant, eurosceptic politician Geert Wilders. She alluded in speeches to the need for tolerance and multi-culturalism, comments that were seen as criticisms of Wilders’ anti-Islamic views.  Wilders’ poor showing at the last election and loss of influence in politics, could well have contributed to her decision to abdicate.  Queen Beatrix, who remains very popular with the Dutch, became the sixth monarch of the House of Orange in 1980 following the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana, who reigned for 31 years.  Juliana was 73 years old and in deteriorating mental health when she abdicated but Beatrix has remained active and in good health despite some setbacks.  The queen was emotionally shaken when a man drove his car into a Queen’s Day procession in 2009.  Her middle son, Prince Johan Friso, has been in a coma ever since he was buried in an avalanche while skiing last year. -  Reuters.

WATCH: Dutch Queen abdicates to make way for the "new generation".

RATTLE & HUM: Violent Shakes Rattle Residents In Corbin, Kentucky - Still No Official Answers From Wednesday "Boom"?!

January 29, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Dozens of reports similar to the following, flooded all areas of law enforcement Wednesday, from Whitley County, to Laurel, Knox and McCreary counties.  The general consensus is the first "boom" was approximately at 1 p.m., the second around 2 p.m.

"It sounded like an explosion."

"I thought I heard thunder."

"It may have been a sonic boom."

"We felt the house shake."

"I heard something twice."

"My wife and I felt an earthquake."

However, as of press time, no official answers were available. "There's no determination yet that this was a quake," said Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell. "This was just a real freak thing."

Local reports came in from Woodbine, the Cumberland Falls junction, Gray, the Corbin bypass, the Corbin Industrial Park, Corinth Road, Corinth Cemetery Road, Young Cemetery Road, Lily, Cold Hill, Highland Park, Shiner Church Road, Bee Creek Road, Little Spruce Creek Road, Williamsburg, Cold Hill, Rockholds, Grove Marina, Gordon Hill, Fox Run, Tattersall and beyond.

"We just don't know what it was," Harrell said. "Some people said it sounded like a roar, others a boom." He said a relative of one of his staff "had her dishes rattle in the cupboard. There are all kinds of theories," he said. "An old mine explosion, a sonic boom - but all the people who called say about the same thing.

"What was it?"

According to Harrell, Emergency Management Director Danny Moses said there was no indication of an earthquake. "We're in the age of high technology and can't figure out what it was," he said. "(People said) they heard the sound or felt it. I'm at a loss," Harrell said. "But I do want to know what it was." - The Times Tribune.

ICE AGE: Global Cooling Across The World - Heavy Snowfall Closes Dozens Of Roads In Turkey!

January 29, 2013 - TURKEY - Meric-Ipsala road in the Thrace region of Turkey has been shut down to motor vehicle traffic on Sunday due to heavy snowfall which began in Edirne province.

© aabadoluajansi.
Aside from the Meric-Ipsala road, 37 village roads have also been shut down to traffic due to heavy snowfall in the region.

Road crews are working to open the Meric-Ipsala road to traffic again on Sunday.

Snow thickness at Uludag, one of the favorite skiing centers of Europe, reached 215 centimeters on Sunday.

The Weather Department of the north-western province of Bursa said that they expected snowfall at Uludag on both Sunday and Monday.  - Anatolia News Agency.

EXPLOSIONS: Tracking Violent Outbursts Of Energy Worldwide - Massive Underground Explosion And Water Main Break In Nebraska Leading To Uprooted Trees And Pillars Of Fire Bursting From Manholes?!

January 29, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An underground electrical equipment fire caused a power outage in parts of downtown Omaha Sunday night. As of 10:30 a.m. Monday, OPPD reported less than 100 customers in the area were still without power. The outage stretches from 11th Street to just west of 20th, from Leavenworth to Farnam. OPPD said it plans to have power restored by sometime Monday evening.

© reddit user djtacoman.
Due to the outage, the Douglas County Courthouse will be closed Monday. Those who are scheduled to appear in court are being sent next door to the Douglas County City building. The MUD building at 17th and Harney is closed until further notice. OPPD says a transformer blew around 5:45 p.m. Smoke was coming from an open manhole after two underground explosions blew off the cover near 17th Street and St. Mary's Avenue. OPPD is still trying to figure out why a cable failed, causing the fire in a network vault. It was extinguished around 7:15 p.m. OPPD crews were assessing the damage and working to restore power. At the height of the blackout, nearly 3,000 customers were without power. 

"I had no idea what floor I was on." Dakota Braun was stuck in an elevator at her apartment building near 16th and Howard. "There was probably about five minutes where the lights were off and it was pitch black. All by myself. Never been stuck in an elevator before. It was really scary, actually." She was in there for a half-hour.  "It was pretty packed." Channel 6 News meteorologist Jill Gilardi had to finish dinner in the dark at Stokes restaurant in the Old Market. "You saw people with candles so that you could finish up your meal."  "We used our cellphones and navigated our way in there," said Jen McCune of Omaha, speaking of what happened when it was time to visit the restroom.  The power outage made for a memorable night for Stephanie Sharp of Omaha. "It's my birthday."  - WOWT.

WATCH: Water Main Break And Underground Explosion In Nebraska.