Friday, February 1, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Uptick On The Pacific Ring Of Fire - Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake Rocks Santa Cruz Islands!

February 01, 2013 - SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS - The Santa Cruz Islands was rocked this Friday by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The 6.7 quake hit 68km SW of Lata, Solomon Islands, and has been recorded off the Santa Cruz Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

USGS earthquake map and location.
The quake’s epicentre was recorded by the US Geological Survey. No tsunami alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in the immediate wake of the quake.

Two days ago, the islands were rocked by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake forty-six miles east of Late in the Solomon Islands. The quake was also roughly five hundred miles from Luganville and Port-Villa in Vanuatu. Officials indicated that the quake was about the same distance east of Honiara, Solomon Islands. That tremor was centered near the 6.3 magnitude quake that erupted in July outside of the Vanuatu town of Port-Olry. Earlier in March that year, a 6.7 magnitude quake struck the region as well followed by a 7.0 magnitude in November.

USGS intensity map.
Several hours following the 6.0 quake, another earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale jolted the same region, with a depth of 55.40 km, at 10.6696 degrees south latitude and 166.3756 degrees east longitude.

No casualties resulted from either tremor.

The Santa Cruz Islands form part of the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands and lie approximately 400km to the southeast of the Solomons. Lata is the main town on the chain’s largest island, which is Nendo.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For February 01, 2013 - Updates On Stromboli, Etna, Tolbachik, Sakurajima, Taal, Popocatepetl, Santa Maria, Fuego, Arenal, Copahue, And Heard!

February 01, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): The volcano has returned to low to medium levels of activity. Explosions have become significantly smaller.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Etna is calm this morning, but some weak ash emissions are occurring from the New SE crater.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): The eruption continues with no change to report since yesterday.
Fluid lava continues to be erupted from the vent on the southern fissure and feeds lava flows.

Sakurajima (Kyushu): The volcano has been very productive lately. There have been several relatively large explosions over the past days, producing ash plumes rising to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude.

Taal (Luzon, Philippines): 8 more small earthquakes were registered during the past 2 days. Other monitored parameters show no alarming signs that would suggest an eruption in the near future.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): (31 Jan) Glow remains brightly visible at night. The rate of weak steam/gas/ash emissions was about 1 per hour since yesterday.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): (31 Jan) Activity was low today. Only some small explosions and few small to moderately sized avalanches from the active flows were reported.

Fuego (Guatemala): (31 Jan) Both explosive and effusive activity have been low today.
Only 4 weak explosions with ash plumes rising about 300 m were counted, and the lava flow was only 150 m long this morning.

Arenal (Costa Rica): (31 Jan) The volcano had shown some increased seismicity at the end of December, but has calmed down again.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina border): (31 Jan) SERNAGEOMIN reported a decrease in seismic activity. No new surface activity was noted, but the alert level remains at orange.

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): (31 Jan) A thermal hot spot remains visible at the summit crater on MODIS satellite data, suggesting that some activity continues there. - Volcano Discovery.

HIGH STRANGENESS: Mysterious, Purple Spheres Found In The Desert, Arizona?!

February 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - It was a normal Sunday in Vail for Geradine Vargas. Normal, until she and her husband stumbled upon something kind of weird."We were taking photos around the area and we just.... I mean, how could you miss this?" Geradine said. "It was just like glittering in the sun."Thousands of tiny, purple-hued spheres piled in the middle of nowhere.

© KGUN9.
"It's just one of those things that you've never seen before."They were watery, some where translucent, and the pile was completely isolated. Gerardine was amazed, and she wanted answers."We did email a friend of ours who's a zoologist, but she didn't know. I mean, she didn't seem to recognize what it was." So, she sent KGUN-9 pictures of the spheres, hoping we could find some answers. We checked out the mysterious spheres for ourselves, and learned they were still there. They're like gooey marbles that ooze out a water substance when squished. They roll, they shine, and they're out of this world. Geradine was dying to know what they were, and so were we. We spoke to Darlene Buhrow, director of marketing at Tucson Botanical Gardens, who's husband is a botanist. He said if these are something naturally occurring, they could be a slime mold or jelly fungus.

© KGUN9.
We've received tons of calls into the newsroom tonight from viewers who think they are a product like Deco Beads, which are tiny, colored, water-filled spheres that keep plants hydrated.But thousands of them? In the middle of the desert? No one is positive what these spheres are, and for now, all we can say for certain is that they're definitely out of the ordinary. - KGUN9.

WATCH: Mysterious Purple Spheres Found in the Desert.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - At Least 3 Dead In Terrorist Attack Outside The US Embassy In Turkish Capital!

February 01, 2013 - ISTANBUL, TURKEY - At least three people are believed to have been killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, with Islamic terrorist group al-Qaida believed to be the prime suspects.  The bomber, who has not yet been identified, apparently entered the embassy and got through the first X-ray machine leading to the visa section, before he detonated himself, NBC News reported.

A security guard at the United States Embassy in Ankara asked for help just minutes after a suicide bombing.  Yavuz Ozden/Milliyet, via Associated Press.
Among those killed was one of the guards at the gate, and another unidentified person is believed to have also been killed. Turkish TV showed an injured woman being carried on a stretcher to an ambulance.  The U.S. Embassy's Twitter account confirmed the bombing, and assured that "appropriate measures were taken," promising that more information would be revealed when it becomes available.  Golnar Motevalli, a BBC journalist near the scene, said that police had barricaded the road, which was filling up with ambulances and fire tricks, describing the situation as "extremely chaotic."  Alaattin Yuksel, the Turkish provincial governor, told reporters: "There were two dead in the suicide bombing, a Turkish security guard and the bomber himself."  U.S. ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr., who confirmed the news, said that the situation was "very sad."  

The BBC said that no one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but reminded readers that radical Islamic al-Qaida linked groups have attacked U.S. and U.K. consulates in the past, including a 2003 attack on British targets in Istanbul that killed 58 people.  Another attack, in 2008, blamed on al-Qaida-linked terrorists outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, left three assailants and three policemen dead.  The U.S. State Department also reveals that in July 2011, 15 people linked to al-Qaida were arrested for gathering explosive materials and planning an attack on the same embassy in Ankara. The Department added that such clues "show a willingness on the part of some terrorist groups to attack identifiably Western targets. The possibility of terrorist attacks, from both transnational and indigenous groups, remains high."  CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, who served as a former deputy director in the National Intelligence Director's office, said that police will consider al-Qaida the prime suspects in the bombing, but also pointed out that the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah also has extensive intelligence operations in Turkey.  The Ankara embassy building was reportedly heavily protected, but long-standing plans were in place to move the compound elsewhere for security reasons. - Christian Post.

WATCH: Suicide Bomber Strikes US Embassy in Turkey.

EXPLOSIONS: Tracking Violent Outbursts Of Energy Worldwide - Sudden, Unknown & Mysterious Blast Kill 32 In Mexico City, Casualties Expected To Rise?!

February 01, 2013 - MEXICO - The sudden explosion at the headquarters of Mexico’s state-owned oil company killed at least 32 people and injured 121, officials said on Friday, a day after the powerful blast shattered windows, shook the ground and sent thousands of employees fleeing into a panicked downtown.

Workers carry a body recovered from the site of an explosion at Pemex in Mexico City on Friday.  Mexico/Reuters.
Officials still gave no information about the cause of the explosion. It occurred just before 4 p.m. on Thursday in the basement of an administrative building next to the 52-story tower of Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. Company officials said there was significant damage to the first floor and mezzanine of the building, and witnesses said they saw rescue workers helping trapped employees who had been pinned under falling debris, while others dragged out the injured and the dead. Officials said the dead included 20 women and 12 men.  “I saw them take out three people covered in blood,” said Trinidad Díaz, 31, the owner of a restaurant a block from the explosion. “And after that, ambulances started arriving, one after the other.”  The blast — in a highly protected but decaying office complex — comes in the middle of a heated debate over the future of Pemex, a national institution and a corporate behemoth that has been plagued by declining production, theft and an abysmal safety record that includes a major pipeline explosion almost every year, like the one in September that killed 30 workers.  Experts, while cautioning that it was too early to tell what had gone wrong, said the company would inevitably face more severe scrutiny as Mexico’s Congress returned to work in the coming weeks.

The country’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has pledged to submit a plan for overhauling Pemex, opening it to more private investment and perhaps greater consolidation. But with the blast, deliberations about the company could become more elemental.  “You pull all of this together and you say, well, if they can’t even guarantee safety in their own building, their own headquarters, what does that tell us about the company?” said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “It tells us there are things seriously wrong there. It tells you things need to be seriously shaken up.”  George Baker, director of, an energy research institute in Houston, said that previous safety scandals at Pemex had been used by Mexican leaders as an argument for making controversial changes. In 1992, he said, a major explosion in a residential Guadalajara neighborhood — caused by gas leaking into the sewers — was followed by calls for change, and a plan to break Pemex into smaller pieces.  “The provocation, the pretext was that we had this terrible thing happen and now we are going to have a response from Pemex,” Mr. Baker said, adding that the explosion on Thursday would also now become part of the political calculations over what to do about the company.  “This may be used, may be manipulated, used as a pretext to do something,” he said. “Who knows what that something is, but they may exploit it to do something they were going to do anyway.”  At the scene, employees who were visibly shaken said the explosion felt like a bomb or an earthquake. After a deep rumble, a plume of smoke rose skyward and people rushed into the streets. Four rescue helicopters landed in the area to remove the dead or injured, while a half-dozen more helicopters hovered overhead. Soldiers, police officers and ambulances filled the area, and streets were quickly cordoned off. - NY Times.

WATCH: Casualties expected to rise in fatal Mexico City tower explosion.

DELUGE: Tropical Cyclone Felleng Hits Madagascar And Nearby Islands - The Strongest Storm Of The South Indian Season, State Of Emergency Declared In Seychelles, Over 10 Inches Of Rain In Some Areas, Widespread Flooding And Landslides!

February 01, 2013 - MADAGASCAR - Tropical Cyclone Felleng continues to produce gusty winds and locally heavy rainfall across parts of Madagascar and the neighboring islands of Reunion and Mauritius.  Felleng is currently packing sustained winds near 70 mph, just below hurricane force. The storm is expected to slowly weaken over the next day or two and remain over the open waters of the Indian Ocean as flooding continues to be the primary threat for areas affected by the storm.

Category-4 equivalent Tropical Cyclone Felleng as of 1130 UTC Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. To the west lies Madagascar; Reunion and Mauritius to the southeast (lower right). Visible satellite image credit: Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Across Madagascar, the worst weather has been near the eastern coastline. The major port city of Toamasina reported over 7 inches of rainfall from the storm, with more than 5 inches falling in less than 24 hours.  Farther south along the east coast, Mahanoro received over 5 inches of rainfall from the storm.  The heaviest rainfall from the storm is still impacting Tolanaro where between 3 and 4 inches of rain has already fallen.  Heavy rain and gusty winds have also been pounding Reunion. Thus, far the storm has dumped more than 6.50 inches with locally heavy rainfall expected through Saturday morning.

Felleng already made its presence known across the Agalega Islands as well as the Seychelles earlier this week. The Agalega Islands reported nearly 10 inches of rainfall in less than 48 hours resulting in widespread flooding.  Meanwhile the Seychelles, hundreds of miles from the center of the storm were caught by outer rain bands which resulted in over 7 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour time period, resulting in a state of emergency.  The extreme rainfall led to flooding and landslides across the islands which damaged at least 150 homes, fortunately not deaths were reported.  The center of Tropical Cyclone Felleng passed very close to Tromelin Island with sustained winds near 60 mph for time on Wednesday. The island is a sanctuary for many important bird species in the region. - AccuWeather.

Parts of the Seychelles have been declared a state of emergency after severe weather hit the country. Fortunately no casualties have been reported, but flooding, landslides and rock falls have hit the main island of Mahe. Over 150 houses have been damaged by the extreme conditions. Pointe Au Sel in the southeast of the island reported 184mm of rain in a 24 hour period. This is nearly half the amount of rain which is expected in the entire month of January, which is the wettest month of the year. Many other parts of the island also received well over 100mm, easily enough to generate flooding. With the ground fully saturated, landslides were inevitable. The extreme conditions prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in the three worst hit districts on Monday, and appealed for international aid. A National Disaster Relief Fund has been set up in order to raise financial assistance for the families whose houses have been damaged or destroyed in the floods, but the president of the Indian Ocean archipelago, James Michel, said the country could not cope with the disaster on its own. - Al Jazeera.

AUSTRALIAN WEATHER ANOMALIES: Disaster Impact - Shock Turns To Rage In Flood Hit Queensland Amid "Scenes Of Utter Devastation", And Gusts As Golf Ball-Sized Hail Hits New South Wales!

February 01, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Heated scenes unfolded in devastated Bundaberg after police overruled a council plan to let residents back into the city's north to see what's left of their homes.  Residents reacted furiously despite being told it was for their own safety.  Water police have been tasked with guarding the Burnett River in case locals attempt to cross over by boat.  Police were stationed at the council chambers after residents were told they would remain locked out of the disaster zone.  Police said there was simply no choice, with safety inspections still not complete. But it's hoped residents may start returning from 6am (AEST) Saturday. 

A resident reacts to the damage to his house on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in Bundaberg, Australia. Parts of southern Queensland experienced record flooding from torrential rains.
Shock Turns To Rage In Flood Hit Queensland.
"It's a scene of utter devastation," police superintendent Rowan Bond said.  "Houses are not there anymore. There's roads that are not there anymore."  Dead cats and dogs litter the streets, houses have been washed from their foundations and one home is missing entirely with no clue to its final resting place.  In communities inland from Bundaberg the anger was palpable as the premier visited on Friday.  When Campbell Newman toured the town of Gayndah, he was confronted by two locals carrying placards that read: "Go home Newman" and "You're seven days too late!!"  The devastation caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald continues to grow.  At Biggenden, between Gayndah and Bundaberg, floodwaters have spread years of rubbish build-up from a local dump across 1000 hectares of grazing land.  "It's an environmental disaster," North Burnett councillor Kevin Wendt told AAP on Friday.  The army finally arrived in the town of Munduberra, west of Gayndah, on Friday morning - four days after flood levels there peaked, flooding 100 homes and businesses in the town and the same number in outlying areas.  North Burnett Deputy Mayor Faye Whelan said many homes had been flooded to their roofs, and a couple of houses had been split in half and partly washed away by the force of the water.  Local people, many of whom were elderly, were worn out after having been hit by floods only two years ago, Ms Whelan said.  They'd quietly hoped for immediate help, but it didn't come.  "I'm a little bit angry," she said.  The premier said he understood people were angry, but with a disaster so broad, affecting so many communities, authorities were doing their best.  "There is an enormous amount that has been going on and an enormous amount of damage to sort out," he said.  "They are entitled to be angry and upset by it if they've lost everything. I'd be angry and upset too. I'd want to stand up and shout and scream."  The damage bill from the disaster is certain to climb into the billions, with infrastructure smashed, farms ruined, and so many homes and businesses across the state damaged or destroyed.  An early estimate of farming losses alone has been put at $100 million.  The Queensland Farmers' Federation says everyone from pig and dairy farmers to sugarcane and citrus growers urgently needs access to the highest levels of disaster assistance.  "Without further assistance many farmers will not have the resources to repair and recover, and the result will be a severe and prolonged economic impact on communities already battered by natural disasters," QFF chief executive Dan Galligan said on Friday. - Herald Sun.

Gusts And Golf Ball-Sized Hail Hits New South Wales.
Torrential rain and hailstones the size of golf balls fell on parts of NSW on Friday, with forecasters warning of possible flash-flooding to come.  A severe thunderstorm warning for the mid-north coast, Northern Tablelands and parts of the Hunter Valley and North West Slopes and Plains forecast districts was in place on Friday night.  The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said residents in these areas could expect large hailstones, damaging winds, heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding.  The State Emergency Service (SES) spent Friday evening mopping up after the storm system moved through metropolitan Sydney.  SES spokesman Phil Campbell said the service had received 180 calls for help across the state since Friday afternoon.  "The worst of that has been Sydney, with just over 100 calls for help," he said, adding that property damage had been limited. But the wind did bring down trees and powerlines in south and southwest Sydney, while gusts of up to 70km/h at Sydney Airport kept planes on the ground.  Sydney CBD commuters were caught in the downpour on Friday afternoon and in Wyong on the central coast 53 millimetres of rain fell in 30 minutes.  At Mount Victoria, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, a BOM storm-spotter reported golf ball-sized hailstones and torrential rain.  Emergency crews from Ausgrid were able to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses in Forestville and Loftus by Friday evening.  A fallen tree closed lanes of the Pacific Highway at Artarmon in the city's north and trains were suspended between Clarendon and Richmond in the city's west when power supply was affected.  Trains were also temporarily suspended between Thirroul and Waterfall on the South Coast Line as a result of heavy rain. - Herald Sun.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Cascadia Subduction Zone - Will A Megathrust Strike The Northwest In 2013, Some Clues Emerging?!

February 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - There were 4,800 earthquakes in the Northwest in 2012 and a record "episodic tremor and slip" event – a string of deep mini-quakes running from Vancouver Island to below Centralia – over the summer, but does any of that mean we're likely to see the "big one" in 2013? While the devastating megathrust quakes that happen every 300 to 500 years in our neck of the woods (those caused by the Juan De Fuca plate's grinding collision and subduction with the North American plate) are still impossible to predict, some clues may be emerging.

Photo: United States Geological Survey.

An immature science

Taken together, last year's quakes were "mild" since so few of them were big enough to be felt, said John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. The biggest and most interesting quake of the year struck under Victoria, B.C., last week. It was a magnitude 4 temblor and resembled in depth and fault the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually quake that damaged Seattle and shook the region in 2001, he said. It was felt and reported to the network's webpage by about 800 people. He added that a string of unusual quakes around the globe has the seismic community baffled. A big earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean six months ago was "very strange" because of its size and distance from the plate boundary. It showed "we can get earthquakes we really hadn't anticipated," he said. In the past few years, China got hit with an earthquake on a fault that wasn't mapped, New Zealand suffered a "very rare earthquake" ... "There's a whole series of events in the last decade that give us the impression that we know less than ever," Vidale said. "We keep thinking that these are the specific risks we need to look out for and then earthquakes happen that aren't the ones we thought were most likely to happen." Also, a roughly annual seismic event in the Northwest discovered 12 years ago – the "episodic tremor and slip,"or ETS – went wild last summer.

Doing the 'tremor and slip'

The boundary between the Juan De Fuca plate offshore and the North American plate runs under the Puget Sound area from California up to Canada. That's where we get the megathrust quakes of magnitude 9 or better. Below that danger zone, deeper in the subduction, is where the ETS happens. The tremor and slip this summer was "one of the biggest ETS events yet monitored," the seismic network reported in its blog. And that had the experts "ever so slightly nervous. We thought we knew the pattern pretty well, that it would start down in the south Puget Sound, spread out for a couple of weeks, mainly going north under the Vancouver Island," Vidale told KPLU in October. "This time broke the pattern ... It started in the north and came south. It is also the biggest episode we've seen yet."

The range and path of the record 2012 episodic tremor
and slip event. Photo: Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.
Clues to the big one?
"These are adding stress to the area where we expect damaging earthquakes to occur," said Stanford University geophysics professor Paul Segall, "... so what does that mean? What do you do from a practical standpoint?" When the ETS was first discovered, officials in Canada sent out earthquake warnings when one fired up because they worried these events signaled a potential quake. After a string of false alarms and new mysteries, they've stopped the practice. However, the question remains: Are these events associated with earthquakes and if so, how? Segall is building computer models to find answers and so far has some preliminary results that suggest the tremors and slips are in fact connected to quakes. In his simulations, after a big earthquake, the events stop for about 100 years and then start up again. And then one of them eventually will "spontaneously grow into a fast, dynamic rupture" – an earthquake. The problem is he can't tell which one will mutate into disaster. "You would hope that there would be something about them that would tip us off that we're getting near the end of the cycle and there was a big earthquake about to occur," he said. "In these simulations, we don't see anything in and of itself that presages an earthquake."

A fascinating time

Segall's initial results were announced by Stanford under the title "Himalayas and Pacific Northwest could experience major earthquakes, Stanford geophysicists say."
The release explains:
The Cascadia subduction zone, which stretches from northern California to Vancouver Island, has not experienced a major seismic event since it ruptured in 1700, an 8.7–9.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the region and created a tsunami that reached Japan. And while many geophysicists believe the fault is due for a similar scale event, the relative lack of any earthquake data in the Pacific Northwest makes it difficult to predict how ground motion from a future event would propagate in the Cascadia area, which runs through Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. ...

Paul Riek checks to see if his car starts after rubble from a nearby
 building fell on it following the Feb. 28, 2001 earthquake  in  Seattle.
(AP Photo/Stevan Morgain/ file) Photo: P-I File.
The work is still young, and Segall noted that the model needs refinement to better match actual observations and to possibly identify the signature of the event that triggers a large earthquake. "We're not so confident in our model that public policy should be based on the output of our calculations, but we're working in that direction," Segall said in the release. One thing that makes Segall's work difficult is a lack of data from actual earthquakes in the Cascadia region. Earlier this year, however, earthquakes in Mexico and Costa Rica occurred in areas that experience slow slip events similar to those in Cascadia. "There are a few places in the world where these slow slip events are associated with small to moderate-sized earthquakes, and they are very clearly tied in space and time," he said. "The timing is clear, not a coincidence. They really occur in lockstep." So, the research goes on and both Vidale and Segall said they need more data collection instruments stuck in the ground around the globe to create data sets that will solve these puzzles. "One of the things about the ETS events is that it is a reminder every 15 months or so in the Puget Sound region ... something is happening down there, and it's pushing stress around and it's just a reminder that (a megathrust earthquake) is inevitable. It's not if it's going to happen it's when. It's probably not too soon, but we can't be too sure of that." - Seattle PI.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - North Korea Imposes Martial Law, Orders Troops To 'Be Ready For War'!

February 01, 2013 - NORTH KOREA - North Korea has allegedly been placed under martial law and its ruler Kim Jong-un has ordered the army to “prepare for war”, a South Korean daily claims.  ­The North Korean leader issued a series of orders to his top defense and security officials on Saturday to conclude preparations for a new nuclear test, the Seoul based Korea JoongAng Daily alleges citing an unnamed source.  The source reportedly said that Kim Jong-un issued a secret order to “complete preparations for a nuclear weapons test... and carry it out soon”.  According to the source, Kim Jong-un also said, “The country will be under martial law starting from midnight January 29th and all the frontline and central units should be ready for war.”  The source told the South Korean daily that the nuclear test could come earlier than expected. Other analysts have said it would likely be held on February 16th, the birthday of the former leader Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011. 

AFP Photo / KCNA via KNS.
Another suggestion as to the test’s timing included February 25th, the inauguration day of South Korean President-elect Park Geun-Hye, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported.    North Korean media also reported that Kim Jong-un told his top defense officials to take “effective, high-profile state measures” at a meeting on Saturday.  The alleged measures come amid a new spike in tensions caused by a new round of sanctions on North Korean entities and individuals, including travel bans and asset freezes, which were passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council in December 2012.  The Security Council, including China, backed Resolution 2087, after Pyongyang carried out the launch of a long range rocket in December 2012.  Pyongyang claimed it was for the peaceful launch of a satellite, but critics say it was a thinly veiled test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile.  Since the resolution was approved North Korea has issued a number of warnings, including a statement on the day it was implemented, that there will be “no more dialogue or denuclearization.”  It also threatened “all-out war” against Washington, which it said was its sworn enemy and blamed for leading the sanctions.  

However, the source also said that Kim Jong-un is concerned about China’s reaction to a nuclear test.  “China is still useful to us. We need to be careful of the relationship with China,” Kim allegedly said at the meeting.  A South Korean government official told reporters Wednesday that satellite images had discovered increased activity and movement of equipment near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the northwest of the country and that the mouth of the test shaft had been sealed in readiness for a nuclear test.  According to the report in the Korea JoongAng Daily, the South Korean military, as of Tuesday, had not detected any movements in North Korea’s frontline units.  The President of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak, has ordered the military to make a “strong response” to any provocation from North Korea. The last time North Korea was placed under martial law was in March 1993, just days before it withdrew from the Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and the regime also ordered its troops to be ready for war.  North Korea carried out its first nuclear test in October 2006 and conducted a second underground blast in May 2009.  There is also international concern about whether Pyongyang will use highly-enriched uranium to get better results in its third nuclear test. Previous tests used plutonium, were detonated underground, and had reportedly limited success. - RT.

MASS BEES DIE-OFF: Biological Hazard And Colony Collapse Disorder - About 750,000 Bees Found Dead Within A 1.5-Mile Radius In California?!

February 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Last October, SBBA was called out to several backyard beekeepers' properties in response to massive honeybee die-offs. Local amateur beekeeper, Carrie Kappel, called SBBA when she noticed hundreds of dead and dying bees outside her backyard beehive. "It was devastating to see the number of dead bees outside the hive, and watch those in their death throes, twitching and stumbling around in front of the hive, unable to fly. I watched the whole hive go from healthy and vigorous to empty over a few short weeks." A total of 16 formerly healthy hives, with an average population of 30-60,000 bees each were lost. SBBA estimates approximately 750,000 bees lost their lives, all within a 1.5-mile radius. The Association submitted four test samples to Penn State University for a comprehensive pesticide screening and just received the reports back from the USDA labs.

As SBBA leaders suspected, there were several commonly used pesticides found in bee food stores, brood cells and wax. These include bifenthrin (found in hundreds of agricultural and household pesticide products), chlorpyrifos (used on orchards, golf courses, and crops, and banned from residential use), cyhalothrin (found in household and commercial products like Demand, Karate, and Warrior), and fipronil (used in over 50 products to control ants, termites, fleas and other insects, e.g., Frontline, Goliath, Nexa, and Regent). All of these chemicals are known to be highly toxic to bees. Also found at low levels were two legal miticides used by beekeepers to control mites. While this does not prove that pesticides were behind the die-offs, it does point to them as a possible factor. According to Penn State Senior Extension Associate, Maryann Frazier, "Honey bees across the country are being exposed to a great diversity and sometimes high levels of pesticides. While the evidence associated with the Montecito die-off is not conclusive, the symptoms of colony deaths and detections of low levels of pesticides toxic to honey bees are suspicious and cause for concern." While SBBA is very upset about this loss, its leaders hope that by spreading the word about the die-off, community members will become more aware of the potential dangers of pesticides for honeybees and other pollinators. The organization encourages pest control companies, horticulturalists, landscape contractors and homeowners to evaluate the products that they are using and how they are being applied and work to reduce risks to honeybees and other beneficial insects.

Honeybees have been in decline worldwide. Frazier notes, "We believe that pesticide exposure is an important factor contributing to pollinator decline and possibly Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)." Colony Collapse Disorder has wiped out honeybee hives in the US and elsewhere, threatening both the viability of commercial beekeeping and the sustainability of the pollination services that honeybees provide to agricultural crops, domestic gardens, and wild plants. Whatever the cause of the Montecito die-off - whether acute pesticide poisoning, CCD, or other stresses - it may be symptomatic of a general decline in the quality of our environment for honeybees. "Honeybees and other pollinators are getting hit hard, but there are things we can do to reduce the threats to them," said SBBA President, Paul Cronshaw. Pesticides applied to plants that are in bloom can be transferred to the hive by bees foraging for nectar and pollen, and thus the pesticides can impact the entire colony. SBBA urges Santa Barbara community members to please speak with your gardener, pest control company and anyone else that may use these products to make sure that they are being used properly. Commercial pesticides should only be applied by registered, licensed pesticide applicators. They should be applied carefully, according to the instructions on the label, and only as needed, avoiding applying them to blooming plants and at times when pollinators are active. "Working together, we can reduce both our own exposures to pesticides, and also the honeybee's, so that she may continue to help us feed the planet," says SBBA Vice President, Todd Bebb. - RSOE EDIS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Four At Once - Volcano Quartet Erupts On Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia!

February 01, 2013 - RUSSIA - Volcanic eruptions are hardly a rarity. It seems that a new one goes off every few weeks or so somewhere in the world. But a string of four volcanoes erupting in close proximity to one another is virtually unheard of.

Flight over the Tolbachik Volcano: A close-up look at a geologic inferno.
That, though, is what has taken place in recent weeks on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's far east. Four different cones and mountains, all within 180 kilometers (110 miles) of each other, have been active simultaneously since late November. Given that volcano experts don't believe that the four volcanoes are being fed from the same magma source, the parallel eruptions would seem to be the geological equivalent of winning the lottery. And, as a photography team from the Moscow-based Airpano discovered, the phenomenon presented a fantastic opportunity to produce some awe-inspiring images and videos. Indeed, the quartet of lava and ash-spewing peaks are so close to one another -- they lie within 180 kilometers (110 miles) of each other -- that that the film crew recently visited all of them in a single day.

A unique show is taking place on Kamchatka these days: Four separate but nearby volcanoes are erupting simultaneously on the Russian peninsula.
That volcanoes erupt in Kamchatka is, of course, hardly news. The peninsula, which has a total land mass that is slightly larger than Germany, is one of the most active parts of the infamous "Ring of Fire," the zone of volcanic and seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Ocean. Three tectonic plates -- the North American Plate, the Okhotsk Plate and the Pacific Plate -- collide beneath Kamchatka, with the peninsula's coastal range boasting 30 active volcanoes. All four of the volcanoes now erupting have shown significant activity in recent years. Most recently, Tobalchik began spewing lava on Nov. 27 of last year, creating the impressive lava flows visible in the 360 degree video taken by Airpano. Shiveluch, the northernmost of the four, prefers shooting columns of ash high into the air, which it has been doing on a regular basis during the last four years since a magma dome in its crater exploded. Besymjanny awoke with a bang in the 1950s following 1,000 years of dormancy and has been active since then, with huge clouds of ash rising on a regular basis. Finally, the southernmost of the quartet, Kisimen, has been erupting regularly since 2010, and there is concern that it could perform a repeat of the violent explosion which sheered off half of the mountain some 1,300 years ago. - Spiegel.