Thursday, January 31, 2013

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Syria, Iran Threaten Retaliation Against Israel; Syria Stress "Right To Defend Itself" To The United Nations; Russia Slams Israeli Attack; US Forces In Jordan On High Alert; Israelis Grab Gas Masks Amid Syrian WMD Fears!

January 31, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - Syria is threatening to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran says there will be repercussions for the Jewish state over the attack.  On Thursday Syria sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressing the country's "right to defend itself, its territory and sovereignty" and holding Israel and its supporters accountable. "Israel and those who protect it at the Security Council are fully responsible for the repercussions of this aggression," the letter from Syria's Foreign Ministry said.  U.S. officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday. The target was a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.  In Israel, a legislator close to hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of confirming involvement in the strike. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.

Syria has complained to the UN of an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting a research facility. Iran, Syria's closest ally, has joined in issuing a threat of retaliation against Israel for the supposed attack. (Baz Ratner/Reuters).

Syria, Iran Threaten Retaliation Against Israel.
The attack has inflamed regional tensions already running high over Syria's 22-month-old civil war. Israeli leaders in the days leading up to the airstrike had been publicly expressing concern that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be losing his grip on the country and its arsenal of conventional and non-conventional weapons.  Regional security officials said Wednesday that the targeted shipment included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which if acquired by Hezbollah would enhance its military capabilities by enabling the militants to shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.  The Syrian military denied there was any weapons convoy and said low-flying Israeli jets had crossed into their country over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to bomb a scientific research centre near Damascus.  It said the target was in the area of Jamraya, northwest of Damascus and about 15 kilometres from the Lebanese border. - CBC.

Russia Slams Israeli Attack; US Forces In Jordan On High Alert.
 The Syrian announcement of an Israeli air strike on a military site near Damascus Wednesday, Jan. 30, drew strong condemnation from Moscow the next day: “Such action if confirmed would amount to unacceptable military interference in the war-ravaged country,” said the statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry Thursday. “If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violate the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.” Israel has made no comment on the Damascus statement which described in detail an Israeli air strike against a “military research institute” near the capital. Witnesses say it was a plant for manufacturing “unconventional weapons.” The facility was destroyed and two staff members killed.  Lebanese sources later reported a Russian Mig-31 fighter had crossed over Sinai Wednesday in the direction of Israel. It veered west over the Mediterranean after encountering an Israeli warning not to intrude into its air space and continued flying over Lebanon. 

debkafile’s military sources say that the only external military force in the eastern Mediterranean region is a fleet of 18 Russian warships, which includes landing-craft – among the largest in the Russian Navy – with 2,000 marines aboard. According to various Middle East sources, the Syrian report of an Israeli air strike has touched off high military alerts across the region. Syria has put its Golan forces on the Israel border on combat readiness and the Lebanese and Jordanian armies are on alert. So too are the Russian fleet opposite Syria and the Lebanese army.  Our military sources report that Turkish units on the Syrian border are on high preparedness although Ankara played down the reports of the Israeli air strike in Syria, uncomfortable over the fact that the Israeli Air Force was the first external power to intervene directly in the Syrian conflict.   So too are the US air force units stationed at the Turkish Incerlik air base, the US special forces deployed at the Jordanian Mafraq air facility and the American, German and Dutch Patriot missile interceptors deployed in Turkey opposite Syria. Israel has been on high alert since last week. The prevailing estimate in military and intelligence circles in Washington and NATO capitals is that the Israeli air attack on the Syrian military site near Damascus was but the opening shot for the coming round of military blows they expect to be exchanged in the near future between Israel, Syria and Hizballah, with Iran possibly waiting in the wings for a chance to pitch in. - DEBKA.

WATCH:  'Iran will defend Syria, US & Israel should take that seriously'.

An Israeli boy receives help to fit a gas mask at
a distribution center in a shopping center in
Mevaseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Israelis Grab Gas Masks Amid Syrian WMD Fears.
The demand for gas masks almost tripled in Israel in January amid concerns about the safety of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile, the Ynet news portal said on Wednesday.  The Israel Postal Service, charged with free distribution of non-conventional warfare protection equipment, said the number of Israelis who decided to update their gas masks and ABC kits has almost tripled in the past month.  The Postal Service said the number of daily orders has spiked from an average of 200 a day to 500 a day.  ABC (atomic, biological, and chemical) kits have been distributed in Israel since 1991. They contain a gas mask and atropine pens, which are periodically updated according to their respective expiration dates.    The demand was possibly fuelled by concerns expressed by top state and defense officials over the possibility that radical groups may gain control of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed his concerns about the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, with the country "increasingly coming apart” as a result of the 22-month-long civil conflict. Vice premier Silvan Shalom said an Israeli preemptive strike to prevent Syrian chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah was possible.  IAF Chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel warned on Tuesday that “given [Syria’s] massive [WMD] arsenals Israel may find itself dealing with nonconventional weapons on its borders." - RIA NOVOSTI.

SOLAR WATCH: An Unstable Filament Of Magnetism Erupts On The Sun Producing Large Prominence Stretching Hundreds Of Thousands Of Kilometers On The Northeast Quadrant!

 January 31, 2013 - THE SUN - As expected, an unstable filament of magnetism curling over the sun's northeastern limb erupted today. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast at approximately 0515 UT on January 31st.

ERUPTING MAGNETIC FILAMENT: Despite the obvious energy of the blast, very little of the filament actually flew into space. The sun's gravity pulled most of the debris back to the stellar surface. So this eruption was primarily photogenic, not geoeffective. Elsewhere on the sun, no sunspots are actively flaring. NOAA forecasters estimate a slim 1% chance of M-class or X-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. - Space Weather.

NORTHEAST ERUPTION: A large prominence stretching hundreds of thousands of kilometers located in the northeast quadrant erupted on Thursday. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) will most likely be flung into space. The plasma cloud was directed to the northeast and away from Earth. - Solar Ham.

WATCH: Prominence Eruption - January 31, 2013.

WATCH: Large Prominence Eruption - January 31, 2013.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Unanswered Questions, Frustrations Remain After Bayou Corne Community Meeting; "The Land, Water And Air Is Contaminated"; Expert Says "Salt Dome Maybe Moving"!

January 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES -  A community in Assumption Parish meeting got heated after Texas Brine Officials and representatives from it’s contracted companies tried to give an update to residents of Bayou Corne...

“I don’t trust anything that we’ve heard so far,” Wallace Cavalier, Bayou Corne resident, exclaimed. “We hear the same thing over and over again. Everything is safe. They have an answer for everything, and they really don’t know nothing. Mother nature is going to have to handle this.”...  “I don’t see any scientist or anybody in this world correcting this problem,” Cavalier disagreed. “Mother nature is going to have to correct this problem."...   “We are tired and this is getting even worse. Unbelievable,” [Kenny Simoneaux, Bayou Corne resident] stated...   “The land is contaminated.The water is contaminated. The air is contaminated. It is not a safe place for anyone to live,” Cavalier described...  - NBC 33 News.

WATCH: Report on the Public Briefing.

Expert Says "Salt Dome Maybe Moving"!
Geophysical Consultant Kevin Hill: Our objectives are to image the sinkhole. How big is it really than what we measured just on the surface and with sonar? How big is it affecting underneath the ground? What has it interrupted below the ground that we can’t see yet? We want to see the interface of the salt and the sediments, those were those black and white layers, because that tells us where the salt face is. If that salt dome is moving, we have the before picture, and we have the after picture. So we’ll know what’s happening.
WATCH: Public Briefing - January 30, 2013.

See the rest of the videos HERE.

WATCH: Flyover of the sinkhole - January 31, 2013.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Hundreds Of Birds Washed-Up On South Coast Of Portland, Dorset And Cornwall, UK - Birds Were Covered With Unknown And Mysterious "Creamy, Waxy Substance"?!

January 31, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Hundreds of birds have been washed-up along the south coast, covered in an unidentified "creamy, waxy substance".  The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the guillemots, a kind of auk, were discovered on Lyme Bay near Weymouth, the coast of of Portland in Dorset, and in Cornwall. 

A rescue worker with one of the guillemots (Dorset Wildlife Trust).
Many of them have been taken to West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton, but attempts to clean them have been hampered by not knowing what the substance is, said RSPB official Grahame Madge.  "At the moment, the best guess is there are around 100 birds ashore, and there are concerns the birds are affected in as widespread a region as from Cornwall to Sussex," he explained.  "So we could be dealing with quite a large incident as all these birds could be proved to come from the same pollution incident.  "We are urging the Government to identify the source of the pollution and the pollutant."  Peter Venn, the manager of the RSPCA in West Hatch, Somerset, said: "The numbers of birds arriving in to our centre are growing and we are doing all we can to help them - but it is too early to tell how successful these attempts will be.  "We do not know what this substance is or where it has come from yet, but we do know it is not fuel.

The seabirds are covered in a white, waxy substance.
The birds have been discovered along the south coast.
 "It may be byproduct from manufacture, but at this stage we just do not know.  "We would urge anyone who finds any of these birds to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.  "There are also reports of the sticky substance washing up on the beach, so we would urge people walking their dogs in the area to also be careful."  A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "We have received reports of seabirds being washed ashore covered in a white, waxy substance, from Cornwall to Portland, Dorset."  Dorset County Council warned members of the public about handling distressed birds on the south coast.  "While the substance is being identified, agencies are urging people to avoid coming into contact with the birds and to keep pets away from the shoreline," a spokesman said. - SKY News.

HUMAN DEVOLUTION: Barbarism, Savagery & Societal Collapse - Indian Girl Gang-Raped And Drowned At Age Of Four, 4-Year Old Boy And 14-Year-Old Girl Brutally Murdered In Jamaica, "Bloody" Atrocities And War Crimes In Mali, 80 Young Men Mercilessly Executed In Syria, Another School Shooting In America, More Rapes And Cannibalism,...?!

January 31, 2013 - INDIA - Two men face charges of raping and murdering a four-year-old girl in the town of Mandi Dabwali in Sirsa, India, while under the influence of drugs.  The alleged crime is the latest in a series of rape cases that has seen the nation undergo debate, self-scrutiny and mass protests calling for greater punishments for rapists and more measures to increase the safety of women.  Officers say the two men, identified by the aliases 'Chhiller' and 'Vikki', were on intoxicant capsules bought from a chemist at the time of the crime.  

A four-year-old has been raped and murdered in a town in Sirsa province. It is the latest case of rape in a country undergoing public rage over offences against women. Pictured: Indian demonstrators shout slogans during a protest calling for better safety for women following the rape of a student last month.
Indian Girl Gang-Raped And Drowned At The Age Of Four.
Dabwali city Station House Officer Ravi Kumar said: 'The statement they (the accused) gave us is very disturbing.  'Pawan, alias Chhiller, and Vikas, alias Vikki, are friends and were the victim's neighbours.  'They consumed some intoxicant capsules from a medical shop on January 26. They watched two minor girls play outside their house on their way back.  'Vikki decided to kidnap the girl, and then took her to a secluded place near a pond where Chhiller was waiting. They first tried unnatural sex and then raped the girl.  'A postmortem of the girl revealed that when she regained consciousness, they threw her in the pond and she drowned,' he added.  The police struggled for several hours to find her body and used divers to scour the pond. She was cremated on Monday. - Daily Mail.

14-Year-Old Girl Abducted And Brutally Murdered In Jamaica.
THE gruesome discovery of the body of a 14-year-old girl wrapped in a sheet on the side of a road in Kingston 11 kept detectives in the Corporate Area and St Catherine busy between late Tuesday and yesterday morning. The slender, badly bruised body of Shariefa Saddler, who hailed from Joshua Edwards Avenue in Olympic Gardens, was dumped on Lothiam Avenue -- which is in close proximity to where she lived -- by men in a motor car shortly after 11:00 am. The teen is believed to have been abducted while on her way to classes at the Haile Selassie High School earlier in the morning. The body was still clad in the Haile Selassie uniform she had left home in with a men's tie knotted around her neck. - Jamaica Observer.

Mali "Bloody Atrocities" - Exclusive Footage Shows Army's War Crimes.
RT has managed to get exclusive footage of what's believed to be the atrocities committed by the Malian army in a town liberated from the Islamist rebels with the help of French forces. Information on civilian casualties in Mali has been notably scarce. We spoke to local journalist Gonzalo Wancha, who told us of the origins of the unsettling tape. - RT.

WATCH: Backout and Blackout in Mali.

Dozens Of Bodies Found Executed In Syrian City Of Aleppo.
Al-Jazeera has gained exclusive access to a make-shift morgue in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where the bodies of 80 young men are being held. They were found with their hands tied and a single bullet wound to the head - activists are calling this incident a massacre. It's not clear who carried out the attack - but rebels and the government are blaming each other. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Aleppo. - Al Jazeera.

WATCH: Syria - The War Within.

4-Year-Old Boy Killed And Grandma Shot In Allman Town, Jamaica.
A four-year-old child was shot and killed this morning in Allman Town, Central Kingston.  Reports indicate that the boy was shot twice in the head by a gunman who is said to have been involved in a dispute with the child’s relatives.  His name has not been released.  His grandmother was also shot and injured in the incident which happened at a house on Lord Elgin Street.  Police personnel are now on the scene. - GO Jamaica.

Price Middle School Shooting In Atlanta - Teen Shot In The Head.
Police officials in Atlanta say two suspects are in custody after at least one person was shot at a middle school there.  Police say a 14-year-old student was shot in the head and taken to hospital on Thursday morning. Information on the teen's condition was not immediately available.  A teacher suffered minor cuts and bruises and was given medical help at the scene, said Atlanta Fire Captain Marian McDaniel. - SKY News.

Pimlico Teenager Killing - Man Arrested.
A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a teenager was stabbed to death in Pimlico, central London.  Police investigating the killing of 16-year-old Hani Hicham Abou El Kheir detained the suspect during early morning raids across the capital.  On Sunday evening shortly before 7pm, officers were called to reports of a youth stabbed near Lupus Street. - SKY News.

Freshman Arrested After He "Raped Two Of His Female Friends In Their Dorm Rooms On Consecutive Nights".
A college freshman has been arrested after two of his friends and fellow students accused him of raping them over two consecutive nights. Colin Kennedy, 18, from California, was arrested yesterday at Loyola University, Chicago, after the students, both 19, reported the sexual assaults to police. - Daily Mail.

Lawyers For Accused "Cannibal Cop" Want To Show Pictures Of Women Being Cooked And Served As Food To Potential Jurors.
These are the shocking images that the lawyers for accused 'cannibal cop' Gilberto Valle want to show to the jury before the trial even begins.  Attorney Julia L Gatto argues that she needs to show the pictures - which include women in sexual positions being cooked or served as food - to prospective jurors to determine whether they can be impartial in weighing the facts of a court case that revolves around violent sexual fantasies.  Valle, a New York City police officer, was arrested in October and accused of plotting to kidnap, rape, cook and eat several women. - Daily Mail.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive One Hundred Feet Deep Sinkhole At Birmingham Baseball Stadium Site Forces Emergency Changes To Save Deadline!

January 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Construction at Birmingham's $64 million baseball stadium is hampered with a recent discovery of a massive sinkhole at the entrance to the sports facility.

Construction at Birmingham's $64 million baseball stadium is hampered with a recent discovery of a massive sinkhole at the entrance to the sports facility. City officials said the sinkhole, which was at least 100-feet deep, is repaired but forces the relocation of sewer lines at the site. The sinkhole was at the ballpark's plaza entryway on15th Street and 3rd Avenue. (Joe Songer/
City officials said the sinkhole, which was at least 100-feet deep, is repaired but forces the relocation of sewer lines at the site. As a result, Mayor William Bell asked the City Council for emergency permission to grant an easement to reroute the sewer line. Bell will sign the easement now, with an official council vote Tuesday.  The rare move is an attempt to continue work at the new Regions Field and prevent a delay in opening the 8,500-seat ballpark. The sinkhole was at the ballpark's plaza entryway on15th Street and 3rd Avenue .

"We're still mapping the extent of it, but we have fixed it," said Virginia Williams, Bell's senior aide in charge of capital projects. Work to fix the problem began last week and is expected to cost at least $200,000, Williams said. That money is covered in a contingency budget for the project, she said. "We run into sinkholes all over the city," said Chuck Faush, Bell's chief of staff. "We will from time to time have to shore up infrastructure in the normal course of building.

This is one that happened to occur around the stadium." In spite of the unexpected complication, Williams said the Birmingham Barons April 10 opening date remains on schedule. "We plan to meet the April date," Williams said. In 2008, a giant sinkhole swallowed a Bush Hills home and threatened others. Within days, it had swallowed the backyard and crept toward the house, leaving the back deck dangling. - AL.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Phlegraen Fields - Is A Super Volcano Awakening In Italy?!

January 31, 2013 - ITALY - It looks like we may be in for an earth-shattering explosion. A dormant super volcano appears to be stirring under the Phlegraen Fields of Naples in Italy. Rising soil temperatures and surface deformation in the area have alarmed seismologists. In the distant past, volcanic super eruptions caused global climate change responsible for mass extinctions of plant and animal species.

So far, scientists are unable to model the potential consequences of an awakening super volcano.  Latest studies show that the Phlegraen Fields have actually been swelling above sea level at a rate of 3 cm per month. Micro quakes and large amounts of gases accumulated in soil indicate that the volcano may be preparing to erupt, says Vladimir Kiryanov, Assistant Professor of Geology at the St. Petersburg University.  "The Phlegraen Fields are a super volcano. Yellowstone in the United States and Toba in Indonesia are also super volcanoes capable of spewing more than 1,000 cubic km of magma. These are catastrophic eruptions. There was a huge volcanic eruption in the Phlegraen Fields some 30,000-40,000 years ago. Volcanic ash from that eruption is still found in the Mediterranean, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and even in Russia.

We are now seeing the expansion of a magma pocket, which means that there might be an eruption at a certain time."  Super eruptions of such magnitude may produce the so-called “volcanic winter” effect when sulfur gases and ash will reach the stratosphere and cover the globe with thick ash clouds that solar rays will be unable to penetrate. Condensed sulfur trioxides will react with moisture, forming sulfuric acid. Downpours of sulfuric acid will hit the Earth. Scientists have obtained new evidence of a similar cataclysm following the eruption of the Toba super volcano on island of Sumatra in Indonesia about 74,000 years ago. But today, things promise to be even more devastating. Suffice it to recall the havoc wreaked by a minor increase in volcanic activity in Iceland in 2010 on air transportation over Europe. 

Super eruptions occurred so rarely that it is virtually impossible to calculate the approximate time span between the first and last stages of a future potential eruption. In the 1970s, the Phlegraen Fields inflated by more than 50 cm. There were even cracks in house walls. But then the process slackened. Apparently, the fact itself that a magma chamber is being filled with magma may or may not signal any immediate eruption. Alexei Sobisevich, laboratory chief at the Institute of Volcanology and Geophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shares his view:  "It actually seems to be a long-term precursor. A magma chamber may be filled up within a span ranging from decades to centuries. Many mounts grow by 5 cm per year. This is a natural process."  Some scientists hold that the volcanic system of the Earth is becoming increasingly tense and that underground cavities are full of magma threatening to burst out any moment. Whether this will be a super eruption or a string of smaller eruptions, we should prepare for the worst. - The Voice of Russia.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: 29 Days 'Til Doom - 2013 Sequestration Likely To Happen In America, Despite Ominous GDP Report!

January 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Lawmakers and economists urged Congress to reconsider the massive spending cuts set to begin in March in light of Wednesday's alarming news that the nation's gross domestic product shrank for the first time in more than three years. But in a testament to beltway inertia, Congress seemed more likely than not to hit the fiscal snooze button.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Wednesday's report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis was further proof that implementing "big austerity measures now will hurt the recovery." But the ranking member of the House Budget Committee added that the findings may not be enough to persuade lawmakers to replace the looming sequester, or a decade's worth of automatic cuts to defense and domestic spending.  "The question is how far over the ledge do we go before people take action," Van Hollen said in an interview. He said he hoped sequestration wouldn't be triggered. "But that may be required to bring some sense to the process. If you look at this report, there is no doubt that the spending slowdown contributed to the contraction and that was before the sequester. That was just in anticipation to the sequester."  Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said he was unsure how Wednesday's report would "be used in the debate about the sequester and what we ought to do going forward." But his outlook for a legislative compromise was pessimistic nonetheless.  "There doesn't seem to be much of an appetite by the president or Senate Democrats to do that," said Thune. "So I'm not sure how that ends up. What the Democrats want to do is they want to raise taxes to replace the sequester. That would make matters in the economy much worse in my view."

With both sides convinced that the other's solution to sequestration would result in further economic woes, a resolution appeared far off, even after Wednesday's unexpected news. In issuing its report, the Bureau of Economic Analysis blamed a combination of factors for the 0.1 percent contraction of the economy, most notably a 15 percent reduction in federal spending and a 22 percent decline in national defense spending.
While the report suggested that economic growth had paused, the underlying indicators weren't all depressing. With personal consumption up, an increase in the purchasing of durable goods and general improvement in the housing market, the shrinkage may be more a fluke than a trend. Still, the news underscored the fragility of an already tepid recovery. "Both before and after the report, the right approach was and is the barbell (upfront stimulus, delayed austerity, as a package)," emailed Peter Orszag, the former head of President Barack Obama's Office of Management and Budget. "Implementing sequestration is completely inconsistent with that framework ... The report ups the odds slightly of avoiding sequestration, but the base case still (unfortunately) is that it takes effect." Orszag's skepticism seemed justified as Republicans called for further austerity. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday argued that sequestration should be replaced with a "balanced" mix of spending cuts and revenue raisers, pointing to the alternative plan the administration offered in September 2011.

"We are interested in avoiding sequester," he said. "We disagree with those in Congress who increasingly seem to suggest that it would be a good thing or a welcome thing to have in your 'back pocket' to make happen, or to use as a means of 'member management.'" House Republicans, in response, noted that their chamber had already voted on legislation to replace sequestration and called on Senate Democrats to act. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pushed back on the idea that he was content to let sequestration play out rather than work to reach a compromise. "As demonstrated by the action we took to replace the sequester, we recognize there are better ways to find deficit reduction," said the spokesman, Brendan Buck. "Doing so, however, will require Washington Democrats to finally get serious about cutting spending." Neither the White House nor congressional leadership said they supported delaying sequestration until the economy was on more stable footing. Van Hollen did say there was a "chance" that the sequester cuts scheduled to go into effect during the current fiscal year would be replaced. But, he added, the prospect of replacing all 10 years' worth of cuts "is slim."- Huffington Post.

WATCH: 2013 Sequestration Likely To Happen.

EXTREMELY DEADLY WEATHER: Nine People Killed As Freak Hailstorm Rains Massive Boulders Down On Indian Villages - Entire Area Cover With Snow Like A Blanket; Destroyed Crops, Houses And Livestock In 7 Villages!

January 31, 2013 - INDIA - Hailstones the size of boulders have rained down on villages in southern India.  At least nine people were killed when the violent weather hit several villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh.  The hailstorm which lasted for almost 20 minutes, destroyed crops, houses and live stock, causing devastating financial implications for residents.

Raining down: People cleaning the streets covered with large boulders of hailstorm Andhra Pradesh, India.
It was once-in-lifetime experience for people living in seven villages in Chevella, Moinabad and Shankarpally. The hailstones started falling from the sky on Tuesday night and covered the entire villages under the snow-like blanket.  Some women were seen attempting to sweep up the massive boulders using flimsy brushes more suited to lighter debris.

Surprising: The hail storm covered the entire villages under the snow like blanket. This was once-in-a-lifetime experience for people living in seven villages such as Chevella, Moinabad and Shankarpally.
Destruction: The hailstorm which lasted for almost 20 minutes destroyed the crops, houses and live stock with massive financial implication for the residents.
Dr K. Sitarama, director, Meteorological Centre Hyderabad, said: 'The hailstorm was caused by an intense thunderstorm.  'Such occurances are highly localised and restricted to a small area.'  The storm in the south was extremely rare as the deadliest hailstorms, and perhaps the largest hailstones, in the world occur on the Deccan Plateau of northern India and in Bangladesh. - Daily Mail.

EXTREME "WICKED" WEATHER: Violent 900-Mile Long Storms Across The United States Leave Two Dead, Marches Towards The East - 8 States Affected, 800 Reports Of Severe Weather, 13 Huge Tornadoes, Widespread Damage And Power Outages!

January 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Tornadoes, damaging winds and flooding will all remain a threat from the South into New England overnight.  "Our severe weather outbreak we predicted is still in progress," said The Weather Channel's severe weather expert Dr. Greg Forbes.

Will Carter, 15, wraps himself up in a towel he found while searching debris for the family dog, a pit bull named Niko, upon arriving to his damaged home from school following a tornado, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Adairsville, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman).
"What an outbreak it's been," Dr. Forbes exclaimed Wednesday evening. The numbers are indeed impressive. Since the storms sparked Tuesday, there have been more than 800 reports of severe weather. Although high winds did the bulk of the damage, Dr. Forbes says there were 13 confirmed tornadoes since Tuesday, with 11 more preliminary twisters that investigators are still looking into.  So far, at least eight states have seen confirmed tornadoes: Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia.   Two deaths have been blamed on the system so far.  First, a man in Tennessee was killed when a tree crashed down on a storage shed he was using as a storm shelter.  The second death was a man in Adairsville, Ga., a community about 60 miles north of Atlanta. Anthony Raines, 51, died when a tree crashed through the roof of his mobile home and crushed him as he lay in bed, Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton said.  Frightening video captures the  tornado roaring through the town just before noon on Wednesday. 

One of dozens of vehicles flipped in Adairsville, Georgia.
The Weather Channel's Julie Martin was in Adairsville Wednesday afternoon. She reported seeing cars flipped over, trees broken, and at least one home leveled.  "My brother and mom were in there asleep," Will Carter, a young man who lost his home, told Martin, as he shivered in the cold rain. He says they both escaped alive and unharmed moments before the home collapsed.   "The sky was swirling," said Theresa Chitwood, who owns the Adairsville Travel Plaza. She said she went outside to move her car because she thought it was going to hail. Instead, the storm decimated a building behind the plaza.   Chrystal Bagley and her coworkers heard warnings about severe weather on the radio, but they didn't hear Adairsville included. Around 11:45 a.m., the doors started rattling, and chairs and knick-knacks began blowing around the room as the door flapped open.  "We heard this big old whooshing noise like a train, and then we ran to the restroom, but we had to dodge objects," she said. "It was real scary."  By the time they reached the restroom, the 20 seconds of a roaring noise and shaking walls had stopped, and everyone was OK.  There were also reports of 100 vehicles overturned on Interstate 75 near exit 306, forcing the closure of the highway for a period of time. Gusty winds flipped cars - and even tractor-trailers - on their sides.   About ten miles north of Adairsville, eight people have been reported injured, according to the National Weather Service. Some of the injuries could be serious.

The violent system is forecast to continue straight into Wednesday evening, swinging into the Carolinas, Mid-Atlantic and into southern New England.  Heavy rain had already overflowed roads in Atlanta, Ga. and Boone, N.C.  The Washington, D.C. metro faced both an evening tornado watch and a flood threat. NBC News reports the White House was surrounded by two layers of sandbags just in case. The nation has had its longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.  The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo. Airport delays are expected to diminish as the system moves east. Flooding and residual ponding on roadways may continue into the morning commute, creating travel headaches along interstates and surface streets. - Weather.

For more Watches/Warnings click HERE.

WATCH: Tornado Hits Adairsville, Georgia.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - Strong Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake Recorded Off Alaska, No Tsunami Danger!

January 31, 2013 - ALASKA - A powerful 6.0-magnitude quake rumbled off the coast of Alaska early on Thursday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

USGS Earthquake map and location.
The epicentre of the quake, which was 6.2 miles deep, was 102km from Craig, Alaska; 47 miles south of Port Alexander; and more than 1,000km from Vancouver, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, the USGS said.

The quake did not set off any tsunami alerts, and the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer reported shortly afterward that there is NO tsunami danger. The tsunami warning center put the magnitude at 5.5.

The quake was centered about 100 miles northwest of Dixon Entrance, at a depth of 8.1 miles, according to initial data from the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. Officials said there is NO tsunami danger.
An even larger 7.5-magnitude quake struck off Alaska in the same area earlier this month, generating a local tsunami and rattling homes as far away as the state capital Juneau, some 330km away.

The January 5 tremor also caused no casualties or damage.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Al Qaeda Threatens "Shocking, Terrifying And Earth-Shattering" Attack On The United States And Europe?!

January 31, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - A jihadist website posted a new threat by al Qaeda this week that promises to conduct “shocking” attacks on the United States and the West.  The posting appeared on the Ansar al Mujahidin network Sunday and carried the headline, “Map of al Qaeda and its future strikes.”  The message, in Arabic, asks: “Where will the next strike by al Qaeda be?” A translation was obtained by Inside the Ring. 

“The answer for it, in short: The coming strikes by al Qaeda, with God’s Might, will be in the heart of the land of nonbelief, America, and in France, Denmark, other countries in Europe, in the countries that helped and are helping France, and in other places that shall be named by al Qaeda at other times,” the threat states.  The attacks will be “strong, serious, alarming, earth-shattering, shocking and terrifying.”  

Under a section of the post on the method of the attacks, the unidentified writer said the strikes would be “group and lone-wolf operations, in addition to the use of booby-trapped vehicles.” “All operations will be recorded and published in due time,” the message said. “Let France be prepared, and let the helpers of France be prepared, for it is going to be a long war of attrition.” The reference to France appears linked to the group’s plans for retaliation against the French-led military strikes in northern Mali in operations to oust al Qaeda terrorists from the North African country.

The Ansar al-Mujahidin network is a well-known jihadist forum that in the past has published reliably accurate propaganda messages from al Qaeda and its affiliates. U.S. counterterrorism actions over the past 10 years have prevented al Qaeda from conducting major attacks. However, U.S. officials warn that the group continues to be dangerous, despite the killing of its top leaders in drone strikes and special operations. A U.S. official said the threat is being taken seriously by the U.S. government. “Extremists regularly make threats online,” he told Inside the Ring. “This one is not particularly unusual, but of course should be taken seriously.”  - Washington Times.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - The Texas Brine Sinkhole Project Raises Concerns About Potential Effects From Seismic Waves On Resident's Property, Scientist Believe Salt Cavern In Napoleonville Dome Failed Far Underground!

January 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Consultants working with Texas Brine Co. LLC to create finely detailed images of subsurface features beneath an 8.6-acre sinkhole and nearby swampland communities sought Wednesday night to allay concerns about potential effects from the seismic work.  Confronting the consultants were not only people worrying about what the seismic waves might do to their properties but also some audience members’ expressions of continuing frustration and skepticism stemming from the nearly six-month evacuation ordered just after the sinkhole erupted Aug. 3 in northern Assumption Parish swampland near Bayou Corne.  Under a modified order from the Louisiana Office of Conservation, Texas Brine is planning to create a three-dimensional seismic image peering as far down as 7,000 feet beneath the sinkhole area.  Scientists believe a Texas Brine salt cavern in the Napoleonville Dome failed far underground, causing the sinkhole to form and releasing crude oil and gas from the formations in contact with the big salt dome. 

The seismic work will involve use of vibration trucks, air guns and M-80-style explosives to send energy waves into the ground to reflect off subsurface formations before being collected by a series of geophones.  Geophysical consultant Kevin Hill told more than 150 people attending the community meeting in the Assumption Community Center in Napoleonville that the work will collect 43,825 image points over 2.25 square miles, including in the Bayou Corne community along La. 70 South.  Hill said the vibrations would be less than the shaking caused by the 18-wheelers that regularly drive by on La. 70 South through the Bayou Corne area. He said that the new seismic images will be compared with 3-D seismic imagery taken of the same area in 2007.  “Now we’re trying to put together an image from before and after. We really don’t know what ‘right now’ looks like, and until we do, we’re kind of all guessing,” Hill said.  “So if we can get this picture, we’ll all have a lot better idea of what’s out there.”  Hill said the seismic imagery should reveal the face of the Napoleonville Dome, the location of any escaped oil and gas and display further underground details.  But Hill and the firm helping with the seismic shoot, Boone Exploration Inc., needs access to landowners’ property to install geophones that will record energy waves. 

Texas Brine already has agreements for geophones involving about 85 percent of the land held mostly by large landowners but needs such agreements with owners of small lots in Bayou Corne.  But Hill and other Texas Brine consultants were confronted with questions about whether termites would be stirred up by the energy waves or whether the seismic could void their termite contracts. Residents also voiced concerns about the company’s agreement to allow access and what effect the seismic waves would have on residents’ property.  Hill said he designed the project to be as minimally invasive as possible and hired Boone, which he said has a reputation for environmentally sensitive work. Hill said the field work should be finished by early April.  One man in the audience, Tim Rathburn, 63, asked Hill for some sort of compensation for landowner access in recognition of evacuees’ lengthy evacuation.  Dennis Landry, who owns a boat launch and cabins in Bayou Corne, urged residents to keep sight of the big picture and the importance of the 3-D seismic work, saying he was not concerned about damage.  “I say go ahead with it. I am ready to sign,” Landry said.  Landry’s announcement was followed by applause as well as a shout from at least one man who indicated he disagreed with Landry.  Later, Mike Schaff, 63, who lived in Bayou Corne, evacuated for a time, but has since returned, told Hill that he noticed Hill’s and other consultants had seemed to become slightly angry under questioning from residents.  Schaff said Hill had to understand that it is the residents who are angry after six months of waiting to go home and going to similar meetings like the one they were attending Wednesday night.  “We are man enough and woman enough to accept the truth,” Schaff said. “Please tell us the truth.” - The Advocate.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For January 31, 2013 - Updates On Lokon, Tongariro, White Island, Colima, Popocatépetl, Tungurahua, Machin, Galeras, Nevado del Ruiz, Cumbal, Sotará, Reventador, Nevado del Huila, And Much More!

January 31, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia)
: Explosions from the volcano have become more infrequent, but two new explosions occurred this morning at 6:54 and 10:44 am local time. The eruptions produced booms heard in the nearby villages, but due to cloud cover could not be well observed. The local volcano observatory estimated the height of the plume about 800 meters.
The eruption was preceded by strong seismic activity that started last night. PVMBG maintains alert level 3 (out of 4).

Tongariro (North Island, New Zealand): Weak earthquakes continue to occur under the volcano, but the general level of seismic activity has remained low.

White Island (New Zealand): During the recent gas-measuring flight, GNS scientists measured slightly increased levels of volcanic gas output. Seismic activity has reverted to a continuous tremor and remains at a high level, but GNS does not think a larger eruption is imminent.

Colima (Western Mexico): The volcano has been quiet so far after Tuesday's powerful vulcanian explosion that produced an ash column 3 km high and ejected many incandescent bombs onto the upper flanks of the volcano.
The current seismic signal shows some small volcanic quakes, signals of rockfalls and possibly minor explosions.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The rate of emission has been about 1 per hour during 29-30 Jan.

Nevado del Huila (Colombia): Activity during the past week has not changed, characterized by degassing accompanied by normal levels of seismic activity (124 events of low energy).

Machin (Colombia): There is no surface activity, but continuing seismic unrest including some volcanic-tectonic quakes in two areas southeast of the summit come, at 2-4 km and 12-15 km depth.

Galeras (Colombia): Sporadic small steam and sometimes ash emissions continue to be observed from time to time, such as on 22 and 27 Jan. Low-energy tremor pulses accompany the emissions. Seismicity has been of low energy during the past week.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Strong degassing has produced an SO2 signal visible on yesterday's NOOA satellite data. Numerous small volcanic earthquakes and short periods of volcanic tremor continue to occur at the volcano.

Cumbal (Colombia): Seismic activity has remained low during the past week.

Sotará (Colombia): The only sign of acivtity over the past week were 4 small volcano-tectonic quakes.

Reventador (Ecuador): Seismic activity remains high, but seems to be slowly decreasing. A steam plume and weak glow from the summit could be observed yesterday.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Numerous small volcanic earthquakes and continuous weak tremor are being recorded and there seems to be a slow increase over time as a sign that the volcano could erupt again soon. IGPEN characterizes the level of activity as "moderate".

Volcano Activity Summary For January 31, 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)
Colima (Western Mexico): rockfalls, intermittent ash emissions (updated 31 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 30 Jan 2013)
Gamalama (Halmahera): ash eruptions since 17 Sep (updated 17 Sep 2012)
Karkar (Northeast of New Guinea): possible ash eruption on 1 February (updated 29 Jan 2013)
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): growing lava dome, lava flow on eastern flank, avalanches (updated 29 Jan 2013)
Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): almost daily explosions (updated 31 Jan 2013)
Manam (Papua New Guinea): occasional ash emissions (updated 30 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)
Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): active growing lava dome (updated 29 Jan 2013)
Raung (East Java): mild strombolian eruption inside the crater (updated 8 Nov 2012)
Reventador (Ecuador): growing lava dome, occasional explosions, strong tremor (updated 31 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 30 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 30 Jan 2013)
Tolbachik (Kamchatka): effusion of fluid lava flows (updated 30 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)
Copahue (Chile/Argentina border): seismic swarms (updated 30 Jan 2013)
Dukono (Halmahera): thermal anomaly, probably small explosive activity in summit crater (updated 7 Nov 2012)
Galeras (Colombia): seismic unrest, occasional ash venting (updated 31 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 29 Jan 2013)
Kirishima (Kyushu): degassing, slightly increased seismic activity (updated 30 Jul 2012)
Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): strombolian activity in summit crater (updated 29 Jan 2013)
Krakatau (Sunda Strait, Indonesia): strong degassing (updated 1 Oct 2012)
Langila (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): occasional ash explosions (updated 25 Sep 2012)
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 Ruiz (Colombia): steaming, low-level seismic unrest (updated 31 Jan 2013)
Nyamuragira (DRCongo): strong degassing from summit crater (updated 27 Apr 2012)
Pagan (Mariana Islands): steaming, thermal anomaly (updated 12 Dec 2012)
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 31 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 31 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 31 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 31 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 31 Jan 2013)
Masaya (Nicaragua): elevated seismic activity (updated 30 Jan 2013)
Mauna Loa (Big Island, Hawai'i)
Mayon (Luzon Island): steaming, increased earthquakes, slight inflation (updated 11 Nov 2012)

Restless / uncertain activity:

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)
Nevado del Huila (Colombia): degassing (updated 31 Jan 2013)
Pacaya (Guatemala): seismic unrest (updated 29 Jan 2013)
Papandayan (West Java): alert status back to 2 (updated 1 Feb 2012)
Reclus (Southern Chile and Argentina): increased number of earthquakes (updated 31 Aug 2012)
Rinjani (Lombok)
Ruapehu (North Island): seismic unrest (24 Jan 2013)
San Cristobal (Nicaragua): seismic unrest (updated 30 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 (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 31 Jan 2013)
Taal (Luzon, Philippines): degassing, elevated seismic activity (updated 30 Jan 2013)
Talang (Sumatra)
Telica (Nicaragua): seismic unrest (15 Nov 2012)
Tiatia (Kunashir Island): weak thermal anomaly (updated 6 Sep 2012)
Tjörnes Fracture Zone (North of Iceland): continuing earthquake swarm (updated 30 Jan 2013)
Tongariro (North Island, New Zealand): strong steaming from Te Maari craters, slightly elevated seismic activity (updated 31 Jan 2013)

DISASTER IMPACT: Poverty "Rampant" In Quake Hit Christchurch - High Levels Of Stress And Mental Health Issues!

January 31, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Horror stories of Christchurch families living in garages and tents continue to surface almost two years on from the February 2011 earthquake.  Some families are still stranded in sheds or illegally overcrowding friends' and relatives' houses.  Meanwhile, rental housing prices show no sign of abating and welfare agencies believe this year could be worse than the last.  Demand on Christchurch's social services continues to increase: people who have never needed help before are queuing up at food banks and many families still face impoverished living conditions. 

The housing crisis in Christchurch has left
mother-of-two Amber Breiter with no choice
but to live in a single garage - Source: Fairfax.
Poverty "Rampant" In Quake Hit Christchurch.
City Missioner Michael Gorman said the unprecedented demand on the mission's alcohol and drug services, foodbank and night shelters "has not eased at all".  "There is a lot more money going into rent and a lot less money going into living."  The number of people approaching the mission suffering from poverty or mental health issues was rampant, he said.  One of his social workers had a week-long waiting list of families needing assistance with school uniform grants. Another had recently been supporting a young family living in a tent, and a couple renting a washhouse.  A desperate woman with a newborn baby emailed Gorman last week asking for any free food because she said she was "paying so much rent, I can't afford to live".

"We are seeing many, many new people. Some who may actually own property but are so stretched by having to be out of their houses and pay horrific rents," he said.  Pacific Island Evaluation social worker To'alepai Louella Thomsen-Inder said she was growing tired of "fighting day and night" for her clients.  Before Christmas she dropped food parcels off to 10 struggling families and said she could "smell the poverty as I walked in the door".  "I saw the reality. Some people had just a twig in a corner for a Christmas tree," she said.  "Some homes have no curtains, babies are crawling around on rotting carpet, it's damp and the children are running around with no shoes on and with visible skin conditions."  Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi believes this year is "shaping up to be the worst".  "When winter strikes this year, we predict it's going to be very difficult for a large number of people."  Some owners had been renting out cramped, damp three-bedroom homes for more than $500 a week, she said.  "The behaviour of some landlords is totally unacceptable. They are renting homes for an arm and a leg, knowing there will be a queue of people lining up to view the place."  Gatonyi is calling for a warrant of fitness and code of practice to be placed on Christchurch rental properties and said the association was about to launch an in-depth inquiry into the living conditions of tenants in the city.  The Government's investigation into overcrowding, homelessness and unsuitable living conditions in Christchurch was kick-started in June last year, but the results are yet to be released.  The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had hoped to have the report finalised by the end of last year.  A spokeswoman said the release had been pushed back to ensure the information was correct and the report "robust".  According to recent ministry figures, rents rose between 7 and 21 per cent in Christchurch last year, depending on suburb. - TVNZ.

Researcher Ellen Sole is investigating earthquake
stress levels in Christchurch children. Photo / Supplied.

Study: Quake Kids Still Stressed.
Christchurch children are still suffering from anxiety two years after the earthquakes, a new study concludes.  Now, researchers at the University of Canterbury are looking at how vitamins and minerals can help treat psychological and psychiatric symptoms, including stress, mood and ADHD.  It's believed to be the first study in the world looking at micronutrients and anxiety in children.  While some children remain anxious or worried about earthquakes in particular, for others the events triggered worries about other things, says researcher Ellen Sole.  "The issue for a number of children experiencing anxiety is that the range of symptoms of anxiety can widely interfere with their development. This includes affecting friendships, school performance and a child's happiness," she said.  "Many anxious children will have difficulties sleeping. Combining this with worries and the other difficulties anxiety can have puts a large strain on the family, sometimes negatively affecting family life."

 Common symptoms of anxiety in children include sweating, feelings of choking or dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, being easily startled, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomach aches, body aches and tiredness as well as behavioural symptoms including clinginess, tantrums, withdrawing from friends and family, avoidance of places or objects, not wanting to go to school, shyness and perfectionism.  Ms Sole is appealing for "a small number" of children who would be willing to try the vitamins and minerals for approximately two months.  "Certainly Christchurch children have had to cope with much more than a lot of children do, so we would expect that some of these children will struggle," she said. - NZ Herald.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Spain's Bumper Olive Years Come To Bitter End - "Rain Was Noticeable For Its Absence"!

January 31, 2013 - SPAIN - Spain is by far the biggest producer of olive oil in the world, accounting last year for around 50% of the total production worldwide.  However farmers in southern Spain believe their crop of olives this year is down by as much as 80%, and some think it is inevitable that the price of this increasingly sought-after commodity will rise.  Wherever you drive in Jaen, part of Spain's southern region of Andalucia, there are olive fields, stretching as far as the eye can see.  The province accounts of around half of Spain's total production.  As the olive harvest draws to a close, farmers in Jaen say their crop could be only 20% of what it was last year.  "The rain was noticeable for its absence," says Diego Galindo, vice-president of the San Julian Olive Oil Cooperative in Jaen.  He describes the harvest this year as "really bad".

Men use strimmer-like machines to shake the olives off their branches.
'Dangerous level'
Industry experts such as Juan Vilar, who has written 14 books about olive oil and teaches a course in olive oil at Jaen University, believe the fall in production could be felt around the world.  "This year, Spain will have only enough production to cover its internal consumption," he says.  Mr Vilar argues that, because Spain normally produces between 40 and 60% of the world's olive oil, there might not be enough this year to meet demand worldwide.  "If this year we don't have enough oil to cover the total consumption worldwide, then the price will increase to a dangerous level," he says.  By "dangerous" he means that there is the risk that consumers might be tempted to opt for cheaper alternatives.  However an expert at Deoleo, one of the biggest olive oil companies in the world, believes the fall in production in Spain this year will not be so marked.  The company's managing director in Spain and Italy, Jose Maria Collantes, estimates that the Spanish olive harvest will be around 50% of what it was last year - and last year was a bumper crop.  "We have had record crops for the three previous years," he says.  He argues that the surplus from recent years will reduce the impact of this year's poor harvest.  "Like in any other market, if you have a shortage of supply the price goes up. However a price increase came in, in late August of 2012, and we don't expect any other price increase for the remainder of this crop."

Spain is the world's biggest olive oil producer.
'Andalucian gold'
The demand for olive oil worldwide is growing, especially in fast-growing economies such as Brazil, India and China.  Apart from the taste, part of the attraction is the supposed health benefits, which have been the subject of several studies carried out at Spanish universities.  Mr Vilar believes there is a direct correlation between high life expectancy in countries like Spain, Greece and Italy, and the large quantity of olive oil that people consume there.  He believes there is strong evidence that people who have a healthy amount of olive oil in their diet are less likely to have heart attacks, or to suffer from some forms of cancer.  However, to get the best health benefits, olive oil connoisseurs will tell you that the oil has to be "extra virgin", which comes from the best quality olives, and accounts for roughly 20% of the oil produced in Spain each year.  And in the olive fields of Jaen, 70-year-old Maria Rodriguez, who has been working the olive harvest since she was 12, agrees.  "It cures illnesses and helps your skin, and gives you a great complexion," she says. "For us here in Andalucia, it is our gold." - BBC.