Tuesday, March 5, 2013

SOLAR WATCH: Activity On The Sun Increases - Sunspot 1686 Unleashes M1-Class Solar Flare; And Massive Farside Explosion Produces Bright Coronal Mass Ejection!

March 05, 2013 - THE SUN - According to Space Weather, Sunspot AR1686 poses a threat for M-class solar flares and solar activity has been at moderate levels for the past 24 hours. The largest solar event of the period was a M1 event observed at 05/0754Z from Region 1686 (S14W59). 

SOLAR ACTIVITY INCREASES: Both sides of the sun are active today. On the farside, an explosion commencing around 0400 UT hurled a massive CME into space. On the Earthside, sunspot AR1686 unleashed an M1-class solar flare at 0754 UT: movie. This uptick in global solar activity could herald a period of stormier space weather in the days ahead.

M1.2 SOLAR FLARE: Solar activity increased to moderate levels. An impulsive solar flare reaching M1.2 was detected around Sunspot 1686 at 07:54 UTC Tuesday morning. This region continues to rotate towards the western limb and any future eruptions will most likely be directed away from Earth. All other visible regions are currently stable.

Sunspot 1678 which is currently transiting the farside of the Sun, produced what appears to be a strong solar flare early on Tuesday morning. A bright, full-halo Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is seen racing away from the Sun in the latest STEREO Behind COR2 imagery. This region will begin to rotate back into Earth view by this weekend.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Mar 05 0756 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1010 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

WATCH: M1.2 Solar Flare and Huge Halo CME - March 5, 2013.

FARSIDE EXPLOSION: An active region on the farside of the sun exploded during the early hours of March 5th, hurling a bright CME into space. Cameras onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded the expanding cloud:

NASA's STEREO-Behind spacecraft is stationed over the farside of the sun, directly above the blast site. An extreme UV telescope onboard the spacecraft recorded a movie of the explosion. The responsible active region will rotate onto the Earthside of the sun in less than a week, which means geoeffective solar activity is in the offing

FARSIDE BLAST: Remember Sunspot 1678? What appears to be a strong solar flare was observed this morning around our old friend and an impressive full-halo Coronal Mass Ejection is visible in the latest STEREO Behind COR2 imagery. Because this was a farsided event, the CME will have no impact on Earth. The solar rotation will bring the active region onto the eastern limb by this weekend.

Large Coronal Loops are currently towering above Sunspot 1678 off the farside of the Sun after the strong solar flare earlier this morning. The image below by STEREO Ahead EUVI 195 captures the magnetic structures from the best possible angle.

SUNSPOTS: There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.

Sunspot AR1686 poses a threat for M-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI.
Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal holes should reach Earth on March 7-9. Credit: SDO/AIA.
Sunspot growth is taking place within the trailing region of Sunspot 1689.
Image showing a prominence currently located off the northern limb. Image by SDO.
GEOPHYSICAL ACTIVITY SUMMARY: The geomagnetic field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of 437 km/s at 05/0131Z. Electrons greater than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 7332 pfu.

GEOPHYSICAL ACTIVITY FORECAST: The geomagnetic field is expected to be at quiet to unsettled levels on days one and two (06 Mar, 07 Mar) and quiet levels on day three (08 Mar).

Event probabilities March 06 - 08
Class M    30/30/10
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       green

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham | NOAA SWPC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 04-05, 2013 - Updates On Etna, Stromboli, Ruapehu, Tolbachik, Sheveluch, Kizimen, Popocatépetl, Fuego And Tungurahua!

March 05, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Lava fountains during lst night's paroxysm.
Etna volcano (Sicily): the next paroxysm of the New SE crater in preparation?
Another paroxysm occurred from the New SE crater during the night. Following a period of increasing strombolian activity, large lava fountains were rising from vent in the saddle between the old and new SE crater as well its summit vent.

Increasing strombolian activity at the beginning of the eruption.
Activity at the Voragine crater continues with an impressive glow at night. With the seismic stations and some of the webcams (in particular, the ones at Belvedere) being unavailable for the time being (they were overrun by lava flows from Friday's paroxysm), it is getting more difficult to have live data from Etna. However, the Bocca Nuova and several other webcams are still functional and observers on GeoForum collected some image that show that strombolian activity from Voragine continued this night, and also ash eruptions from the New SE crater were seen this morning. This could be a precursor of a new paroxysm.

WATCH: Spectacular Eruption at Mount Etna.

Ruapehu volcano (New Zealand): unrest at volcano decreases
Unrest at the volcano is decreasing. GNS scientists have been able to confirm that the temperatures at depth of the crater lake have started to decline, although still remain elevated. The Crater Lake temperature remains static at 22-25°C, which might indicate that a partial blockage between the deeper hydrothermal system and the Crater Lake remains. Because of the resulting potential to increase pressure at depth over time, which could result in sudden explosions, GNS maintains Volcano Alert Level 1 (elevated level of unrest). Gas data from January and February show normal emission rates for both SO2 and CO2, and seismicity has remained low, with only some weak volcanic tremor and few shallow earthquakes. Visual observations in the last few weeks have sometimes shown areas of discolouration in the lake. These are relatively common and are thought to reflect internal convection processes within the lake.

urrent seismic signal from Stromboli (ST8 station, INGV).

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): No significant changes in activity and no new lava flows have occurred. The tremor signal fluctuates between low to medium and high levels. Explosion signals are generally relatively weak.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): KVERT reports no significant changes in the ongoing eruption. Tremor continues to be strong and lava still erupts from the southern fissure.

The other erupting / restless volcanoes in Kamchatka also have not shown big changes in their activity: moderate seismicity suggests ongoing lava extrusion and dome building at Sheveluch and Kizimen.
... [read more]

Ash emission from Popocatepétl yesterday morning.
Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The volcano was producing a constant plume of steam and gas drifting to the southeast, interrupted by a few small to moderately sized ash explosions such as the attached image from yesterday morning.

Glow remains visible at the crater at night.

Fuego volcano eruption on March 4, 2013 (photo: INSIVUMEH).
Fuego (Guatemala): The eruption continues with the near-constant strombolian explosions reaching some 300 m above the crater and generating constant avalanches and rumbling sounds. An ash plume is rising to an altitude of 4600 m and moving south at a distance of 10 kilometers.

On the western and southern flanks of the volcanic complex two lava flows are active and reach 1300 meters in the direction of the Trinidad canyon, and 200 m southwest towards the Taniluya canyon, respectively... [read more]

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano has been producing continuous low-level ash emissions drifting W-NW, interrupted by explosions that generated cannon-shot sounds and rumblings of various intensity.
Incandescent blocks were seen rolling down the upper flank for about 300 m, and light ash fall was reported from the areas of Penipe and El Manzano. Visual observations were mostly impossible due to cloud cover.
... [read more]

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for Tuesday, March 5, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Second Sinkhole Appears Near One That Swallowed Part of House In Seffner - Other Homes Are Evacuated As Third Sinkhole Forms In Florida!

March 05, 2013 - UNITED STATES - On Monday, another sinkhole appeared less than two miles away. Officials were to determine whether it was safe for residents nearby to remain in their homes.  A backhoe chipped away Monday at the remains of a house where a sinkhole opened up and swallowed a man, but there was little certainty as to what would come next for the site of the freak geological incident.  Though thousands of sinkholes erupt in Florida each year, most are small, few affect homes, and even fewer cause deaths. The sinkhole in the Tampa suburb of Seffner, however, was different. 

Sinkhole in Seffner.
Crews still were working to remove enough of the home to see more clearly inside the hole and determine what steps would come after the property is razed. There has been no definitive word as to whether the hole will be filled or whether the property could be built on again. But some experts say the fact that the sinkhole claimed a life — that of Jeff Bush, 37 — and that his body is expected to remain below the surface make rebuilding less likely.  "It's kind of a bad omen," said Dave Arnold, a hydrogeologist who has surveyed sinkholes for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. "This is an even worse omen with someone buried under there."  Arnold and other experts expect that once the house is destroyed, crews will work to fill in the hole and the lot will likely remain empty.  Monday, another sinkhole appeared less than two miles away, 10 News reported. According to the report, the new sinkhole is about 10 feet across and located under a fence that runs between two houses. 10 News said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and code enforcement officials went to the location to determine whether it was safe for the residents to remain in their homes.

Depending on the circumstances, past Florida sinkholes have been handled in varied ways.  In Maitland, Fla., a sinkhole 325 feet across was discovered in the 1960s as Interstate 4 was built. The highway was diverted around the area, but in 2008 workers began a $9 million project to fill and stabilize the sinkhole in preparation for a planned expansion of the roadway. Engineers say a road can be put over it now without any problems.  In Winter Park, Fla., a sinkhole in 1981 swallowed several sports cars, parts of two businesses, the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool and a three-bedroom house. It stretched about 350 feet across and caused $2 million in damages. The area became a temporary tourist attraction, but most of it was ultimately deserted, filled with water and became a lake.  And in 2002, a sinkhole about 150 feet across and 60 feet deep swallowed oak trees, sidewalk and park benches near an apartment complex in western Orange County, Fla. Two buildings with more than 100 residents were evacuated, but the structures were ultimately saved. Metal sheet piling was placed around the hole to stop the soil from sliding, and it was filled.  Often, homeowners find clues to a pending problem by cracks in the foundation or a shifting floor.

When that happens, and a sinkhole threat has been established, crews can pump a thick grout — a mixture of sand and cement — into the ground to fill the holes. It is a costly process, though it is typically paid by insurance companies, and can save a home from being destroyed.  "You inject the grout under pressure and attempt to fill all the cavities you can find," said Anthony Randazzo, a former University of Florida geology professor who started the consulting firm Geohazards, which handles about 1,000 cases a year of sinkholes and other settlement issues.  Though the specifics of what will happen to the Seffner property remain unknown, Randazzo said the hole would have to be filled to keep people from falling in it and to remove a potential neighborhood eyesore.  If the family decides to try to sell the property, they would be required to notify prospective buyers of the sinkhole issue. 

House in Brandon, Florida, where a sinkhole swallowed and killed a man.
Currently, various county agencies are at the sinkhole site to supervise, but officials haven't given a tally of the costs or said who is absorbing them.  For now, the focus in Seffner remains on a family mourning a loved one and trying to move on. Two large backhoes scraped and pulled at the house Monday afternoon, with one gently removing possessions including a flag, a jacket, family photographs, a bicycle and a china cabinet. The other machine loaded shattered pieces of furniture and construction material into a huge waste container.  The day's most solemn moment came at 4 p.m., when demolition stopped and workers joined family members for a brief ceremony. The many flowers and notes that had been left in front of the house were loaded into a tractor's bucket, which swung slowly toward the sinkhole and dropped the materials into the hole. There was applause from across the street.  Though the house's demolition was completed Monday, crews had not yet finished removing its foundation. After that is done, likely Tuesday, they planned to survey the hole to better understand its dimensions. Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz said workers would then "stabilize the hole," though he remained mum on details of what precisely would be done.  "Every sinkhole is different," he said. - MSN.

WATCH: Second sinkhole forms in Seffner, Florida.

WATCH: Second sinkhole unnerves Florida town.

Homes Evacuated As Third Sinkhole Forms In Florida.
Extensive cracking occurred at a Palm Harbor home Tuesday morning, according to Fire Rescue.  Those inside the home were evacuated.  After inspection, engineers believe the cracking was not caused by a sinkhole.  It's believed the problem is due to the age of the home.  The incident was first reported around 9 a.m. at 114 Harbor Drive.  According to a statement from Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, ". Initial reports show extensive cracking on the interior and exterior of the home."  As a precaution, the two homes next to the residence were also evacuated.  - ABC Action News.

WATCH: Possible sinkhole forms at Palm Harbor.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Parts Of Japan Covered In More Than Five Metres Of Snow, Still Not The Deepest Ever, In A Year Of Freakish Weather?!

March 05, 2013 -  JAPAN - This is proving a freakish year for weather, but Japan is having an odder time of it than most. The country has had a record winter for snow, and northern Japan is currently coated by unprecedented volumes of the white stuff – more than five metres at higher altitudes, with houses turned into igloos and roads into snow tunnels.

Snow to the depth of 5.15 metres is recorded in Aomori, Japan on 21 Feb. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun.
In the Hakkoda mountains the depth of snow has been measured at 5.61 metres – a record for Japan. Even lower down, in the city of Aomori, snow is standing at almost 1.5 metres and bulldozers are having to work round the clock.

Heaped snow in Red Square, Moscow, 21 January 2013. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhi.
This has also been a record year for snow in parts of Russia – a couple of weeks ago snowpiles of more than five metres caused gridlock in Moscow – and Switzerland, too, has been experiencing dramatic snowfalls, with depths of up to three metres. 

These snowfalls, especially those in northern Japan, are remarkable by any standards. But they still fall well short of the all-time record-breakers. Tamarack in California claims the record for the deepest snow ever recorded: 11.5 metres on 11 March 1911. That was clearly some year in the Sierra Nevada, as Tamarack also recorded the largest snowfall in a single month in the US: almost 10 metres.

A snowblower removes snow from train tracks at the southern Swiss Bernina mountain pass. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters.
The ski resort of Mount Baker in Washington State had more than 30 metres of snow in the 1998-99 season, and almost eight metres in one month alone. Mt Fidelity in Canada gets almost 15 metres of snow a year, and the town of Stewart in British Columbia gets an average of almost six metres.  The deepest snow ever recorded in the UK was in the Forest of Teesdale in County Durham during the great freeze of 1947: 2.1 metres. In towns, the greatest depth recorded is 1.65 metres – at Ruthin in north-east Wales in March 1947, and Tredegar in south Wales in February 1963. Whether any attempt was made to keep trains running and schools open is not recorded. - Guardian.

GEOPOLITICAL UPHEAVALS: Hugo Chavez Dies - Leaving Venezuela In Turmoil And Questions Of His Country's Oil, Fears Of Spiraling Violence, Government Deploys Army And Police, Accuses America of Destabilization Plot and Its 'Historic Enemies' of Inducing Chávez's Cancer!

March 05, 2013 - VENEZUELA - Hugo Chavez, the self-styled socialist revolutionary who led Venezuela for more than 14 years and became a flamboyant emblem of anti-Americanism, has died, leaving his country in turmoil. Venezuela has been plunged into uncertainty as Hugo Chavez, the charismatic leader of the last 14 years, died after losing his two-year-battle with cancer. Nicolas Maduro, the vice-president and Mr Chavez’s chosen successor, claimed power in Caracas after announcing live on television: “Our commander-president, Hugo Chavez, is dead”. The 58-year-old, who only returned to Venezuela last month after travelling to Cuba last year for treatment, succumbed to a “severe respiratory infection” after months of treatment for cancer.

Hugo Chavez salutes as he greets supporters in 2011 Photo: Reuters.
Within minutes of the announcement of Chavez’s death, the Venezuelan national flag was lowered to half mast in Caracas. Thousands of people streamed through the streets of the capital within minutes of the announcement, holding banners proclaiming “Chavez is our leader” and “Chavismo will continue”.  Patricia Villegas, a Venezuelan journalist who was outside the military hospital where the president died, said: “There were tears, people looked to the sky and gave thanks for the social changes that had been brought about.”  Mr Maduro, who faces a struggle for control of the ruling Socialist party, promptly received the endorsement of Venezuela’s military, which he deployed to the streets following his announcement.  Wilmer Barrientos, strategic commander of the Venezuelan Armed Forces (FAN), told the state broadcaster there was a plan to patrol the country “to defend the Fatherland” in the hours after Chavez’s death.  The vice- president, who must face a general election within 30 days, moved swiftly to replicate the anti-American rhetoric with which his predecessor whipped poverty-stricken supporters into a frenzy.

Even as Mr Chavez lay dying, his deputy was expelling two American diplomats from Caracas, accusing them of working to “destabilise the government” by exploiting a power vacuum.  Mr Maduro had earlier blamed Mr Chavez’s deteriorating health on an “attack” by foreign enemies.  He told Venezuelans he had no doubt that Mr Chavez’s cancer, which was diagnosed in 2011, was the result of a poisoning by “enemies of our homeland”. The US rejected the claim as “absurd”.  Henrique Capriles Radonski, the country’s opposition leader, cautiously “advocated unity” among Venezuelans, amid fears of disquiet. “My sympathy to all the family and supporters of President Hugo Chavez,” he said in a statement.  Mr Chavez’s daughter, Maria Gabriela Chavez, spoke of her sadness at her father’s death and urged her compatriots to extend his legacy of self-styled Socialist radicalism.  “I have no words,” she wrote on Twitter. “Eternally,thanks! Strength! We should follow his example. We must continue to build the homeland! Farewell my daddy!”  In a carefully-worded statement released by the White House, President Barack Obama said that “at this challenging time”, the US “reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people”.  “The United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, Mr Obama said.  Yet Mr Chavez’s demise was welcomed by many leaders in Washington. “Good riddance,” said Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House foreign affairs committee.  Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said: “I hope his death provides an opportunity for a new chapter in US-Venezuelan relations”.  However Jose Serrano, a Democrat from The Bronx, New York City’s most impoverished borough, hailed Mr Chavez as a leader who “understood the needs of the poor”. “He was committed to empowering the powerless,” Mr Serrano wrote on Twitter. “RIP Mr President”.

 Mr Chavez repeatedly condemned what he called American imperialism, proudly styling himself as one of Washington’s most vocal critics and irritating opponents.  Speaking at the United Nations, he described then-president George W. Bush as “the devil”. After endorsing Mr Obama in 2008, he later said the young Democratic president had been disappointing and merely extended US wrongdoing.  William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “saddened” to learn of Mr Chavez’s death.  “As President of Venezuela for 14 years he has left a lasting impression on the country and more widely. I would like to offer my condolences to his family and to the Venezuelan people at this time.”  Amadou Boudou, the vice-president of Argentina, expressed his “great sorrow for the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez”, stressing that sympathy was felt across the region.  “There is great pain in all of America,” he said. “He was one of the best. Farewell, Commander.”  Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry expressed solidarity with the Venezuelan people to “mourn the irreparable loss to Venezuela and the region.” President Fernando Cordero sent a tribute to the Chavez family.  Mr Chavez returned to Venezuela from Cuba last month, but this most outgoing of leaders had failed to make any public appearances, causing rumours of his demise to sweep Caracas.  The president’s health had been a closely-guarded secret, and the nature of his cancer had never been officially disclosed.  Mr Maduro would probably face Mr Capriles, the opposition leader, in elections next month. The 50-year-old vice-president is a loyal “Chavista”, but lacks the charisma that allowed his mentor to win four successive elections.  Mr Capriles lost a presidential election against Mr Chavez last year. A contest against Mr Maduro, who is embattled against internal party opponents, may give Venezuela’s opposition a renewed chance.  In 2002, Mr Chavez was briefly toppled in a coup, before being restored by popular demonstrations. His allies believe the US was behind that episode. Constant attacks on America and claims that Washington seeks Mr Chavez’s downfall have been themes of his rule. - Telegraph.

WATCH: Hugo Chavez's legacy assessed.

Fears Of Spiraling Violence.
When the news arrived at 4.25pm local time yesterday it was greeted with mixed emotions in Caracas. His supporters grieved, his opponents celebrated. But few were shocked. Hugo Chavez had not been seen in public since he flew to Havana on 11 December for surgery on a recurrence of his pelvic tumour. There were the pictures of him smiling with his daughters when he returned home from Cuba last month, but only his inner circle would ever see him in the flesh again. Last night in Caracas, gunshots rang out in the pro-Chavez parts of town. "My mother told me not to come home tonight, to stay in the east, where people are with the opposition," said Oriana Gonzalez, who lives in western Caracas but travels to work across town.  Shortly after the announcement, various military generals appeared on television to announce they would guarantee the "peace and security of the country".  But many feared the violence that has characterised Venezuela in recent years would now spiral out of control.  Raul Villegas, a Chavez supporter from western Caracas, said: "I will not be leaving my house for some time – I expect riots to be happening throughout the city. Caracas isn't safe tonight."  "Everyone expected this sooner or later," said Bruno Cruicchi, a businessman in the Candelaria district. "Our emotions here are varying between sadness and acceptance. We have had a long time to consider this. People around me are shutting up their shops and leaving early because they fear there are going to be riots tonight. What needs to happen now is that the government needs to taker a strong grip, otherwise we're going to have a very difficult situation on our hands," he added. - Independent.

Government Deploys Army And Police.
2216 GMT: VENEZUELA DEPLOYS ITS ARMY AND POLICE FOLLOWING CHAVEZ'S DEATH, MADURO SAYS  WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez at the age of 58.  The iconic yet controversial leader's death was announced by Vice President Nicolas Maduro shortly after it was suffering from a severe infection following treatment for cancer.  "We have received the hardest and most tragic news that... comandante President Hugo Chavez died today at 4:25 pm," Maduro announced on state television.  Stay with us for all the reactions from around the world on this major breaking news story. - AFP.

Accuses America of Destabilization Plot and Its 'Historic Enemies' of Inducing Chávez's Cancer.
Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro, left, accused the
U.S. of trying to create an 'anti-Venezuela climate.'
Shortly before announcing that Hugo Chávez died, Venezuela's government resorted to one of the late president's favorite ploys to try to unite his supporters: allege a conspiracy by the U.S. to destabilize the country.  Vice President Nicolás Maduro kicked out two U.S. military attachés for allegedly plotting against Venezuela and even suggested that Washington may have been behind Mr. Chávez's cancer. "Behind all of [the plots] are the enemies of the fatherland," Mr. Maduro said on state television, flanked by the entire cabinet, state governors and Venezuela's military commanders.  Mr. Maduro said that the U.S. Embassy's Air Force attaché, Col. David Delmonaco, and another unnamed U.S. military official had approached members of the Venezuelan military and tried to recruit them into plans to "destabilize" the oil-rich South American nation. Mr. Maduro didn't offer further details on the alleged plot.  Mr. Maduro also suggested that the country's "historic enemies," a phrase long used in Venezuela to refer to the U.S. and its allies, may have caused Mr. Chávez's cancer. He said the country would likely discover in the future that Mr. Chávez "was attacked with this illness."  The Obama administration, which has been hoping for closer relations with Venezuela following years of antagonism from Mr. Chávez, rejected the allegations.

"We completely reject the Venezuelan government's claim that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government. We reject the specific allegations against members of our Embassy," said State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.  "An assertion that the United States was somehow involved in causing President Chávez's illness is absurd, and we definitively reject it," said Mr. Ventrell.  U.S. officials said it was likely that a number of Venezuelan diplomats would be asked to leave the U.S. in the coming days.  Mr. Chávez repeatedly accused the U.S. of meddling in Venezuelan affairs before, including backing a brief coup that ousted the populist briefly in 2002. In December 2011, he said he wouldn't be surprised if "a technology created by the U.S." was responsible for several Latin American leaders being diagnosed with cancer in recent years.  His remarks came shortly after his ally, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, said she would undergo treatment for thyroid cancer. After removing a growth in her thyroid gland, doctors concluded that cancer cells weren't present.  Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo have also battled the disease and say they are now cancer-free  "Wouldn't it be weird if they [the U.S.] had developed a technology for inducing cancer and nobody knows up until now?" he asked, at the time.  Mr. Maduro's rhetoric is similar to the kinds of conspiracy theories that Mr. Chávez wove during his 14 years in power, and which Mr. Chávez seemed to have adopted from his political mentor, Fidel Castro, who has long rallied support among Cubans by portraying the U.S. as an implacable foe.  "This has all the fingerprints of being 'Made in Cuba,' " said Moises Naim, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "It's like something out of the '60s or '70s, blaming the CIA for poisoning a head of state, but they don't seem to mind trying this in the 21st century." - WSJ.

Oil Analysts' Reaction To Death Of Venezuela's Chavez.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday after 14 years in power, during which he remodeled the OPEC country's oil sector and nationalized foreign-run oil fields.  Oil production fell sharply during his era, dropping from some 3.5 million barrels per day when he was elected. After years of decline, Venezuela pumped just 2.34 million barrels per day last month, according to a Reuters survey of analysts who track OPEC output levels.  Venezuelan government estimates on production are higher, around 3 million barrels a day, but they are largely discredited in oil industry circles.  Amid refinery woes, Venezuela has also been importing more fuel products from the United States, which remains a big buyer of Venezuelan crude exports.  Oil prices rose slightly, by some 30 cents a barrel, in the hour following the announcement of Chavez's death late on Tuesday.


"Chavez's death may result in a period of political instability and uncertainty in Venezuela. That is never a good thing for oil exports."  "Venezuela's oil industry has had major setbacks during the Chavez era. Venezuela has mortgaged its future and, like Mexico, it depends so heavily on oil (revenue) that it will have little choice but to do whatever it can to boost exports."  "Venezuela needs money. Whatever comes next, it won't have the kind of charismatic leader that Chavez was. It will have to get serious about rebuilding its oil industry."

"It's too soon to say what Hugo Chavez's death means for oil prices, but it is certainly true that oil prices are what made Hugo Chavez possible."  "The collapse of oil prices in 1997-8 and the resulting discontent in Venezuela gave him the opening to become president, just seven years after he was sent to jail for leading a coup. And it was rising oil prices since 2000 that gave him the financial resources to consolidate power, court public opinion and try to turn his Bolivarian revolution into a global campaign for "twenty-first century socialism."  "He leaves behind an economy greatly weakened by spending, intervention, inflation capital flight, and shortages. And, beyond Cuba, his effort to create an alliance against what he called "the U.S. empire" managed only to enlist a few countries.  "Without his charisma and force of character, it is not all clear how his successors will maintain the system he created."

"I don't think anybody gets a windfall out of this. If it opens the country up to more investment, that may be an opportunity for profit, but it's also a risk. Chavez was not the first one to nationalize oil operations in Venezuela.  "There was a prior cycle of nationalization in the 1970s so the country has this history of some periods where international investment is welcome and encouraged and other periods in which the government of the day decides they don't like the terms of the investment and they take it back.  "So I don't know how eager oil companies would be to return to Venezuela."

"My expectation is that we will see the status quo, with a transition to a similar style of government from Chavez's successor.  "On the off chance that we do see the opposition make some headway, with a move to a more liberal government, the key thing for oil is that even if some in the market think this might weigh on prices in expectations of increased supplies, the reality is that the industry needs the kind of investment that takes years, not months.  "On the flip side, we may see some oil traders decide this is bullish if they expect there might be a period of instability after Chavez's death, but I don't think that's the most likely outcome."

"Venezuelan imports of petroleum products have been rising from the U.S. and in fact in December Venezuela imported a record amount of petroleum products from the U.S., 197,000 barrels per day, about half of which happened to be gasoline ... So what we see is Venezuela has actually increased its dependence on the U.S. while, vice-versa, the U.S. is reducing its dependence on Venezuelan oil."  "I don't expect any change in Venezuelan production in the near term."

"The uncertainty in Venezuela is going to give us a short-term increase in prices and whatever it contributes to prices because of that uncertainty should go away in 30 to 60 days if the election is peaceful and the transition to a new government is okay ... On the other hand, we've got bad economies in Europe, pretty weak in the U.S., and China with a housing bubble to put downwards pressure on prices." - Reuters.

WATCH: RIP Hugo Chavez - Tribute to Venezuelan President (1954-2013).

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The Global Food Crisis - 30 Facts About The Coming Water Crisis That Will Change The Lives Of Every Person On The Planet!

March 05, 2013 - EARTH - The world is rapidly running out of clean water. Some of the largest lakes and rivers on the globe are being depleted at a very frightening pace, and many of the most important underground aquifers that we depend on to irrigate our crops will soon be gone. At this point, approximately 40 percent of the entire population of the planet has little or no access to clean water, and it is being projected that by 2025 two-thirds of humanity will live in "water-stressed" areas. But most Americans are not too concerned about all of this because they assume that North America has more fresh water than anyone else does. And actually they would be right about that, but the truth is that even North America is rapidly running out of water and it is going to change all of our lives. Today, the most important underground water source in America, the Ogallala Aquifer, is rapidly running dry. The most important lake in the western United States, Lake Mead, is rapidly running dry. The most important river in the western United States, the Colorado River, is rapidly running dry. Putting our heads in the sand and pretending that we are not on the verge of an absolutely horrific water crisis is not going to make it go away. Without water, you cannot grow crops, you cannot raise livestock and you cannot support modern cities. As this global water crisis gets worse, it is going to affect every single man, woman and child on the planet. I encourage you to keep reading and learn more.

The U.S. intelligence community understands what is happening. According to one shocking government report that was released last year, the global need for water will exceed the global supply of water by 40 percent by the year 2030...

This sobering message emerges from the first U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security. The document predicts that by 2030 humanity's "annual global water requirements" will exceed "current sustainable water supplies" by forty percent.
Oh, but our scientists will find a solution to our problems long before then, won't they?

But what if they don't?

Most Americans tend to think of a "water crisis" as something that happens in very dry places such as Africa or the Middle East, but the truth is that almost the entire western half of the United States is historically a very dry place. The western U.S. has been hit very hard by drought in recent years, and many communities are on the verge of having to make some very hard decisions. For example, just look at what is happening to Lake Mead. Scientists are projecting that Lake Mead has a 50 percent chance of running dry by the year 2025. If that happens, it will mean the end of Las Vegas as we know it. But the problems will not be limited just to Las Vegas. The truth is that if Lake Mead runs dry, it will be a major disaster for that entire region of the country. This was explained in a recent article by Alex Daley...
Way before people run out of drinking water, something else happens: When Lake Mead falls below 1,050 feet, the Hoover Dam's turbines shut down – less than four years from now, if the current trend holds – and in Vegas the lights start going out.

Ominously, these water woes are not confined to Las Vegas. Under contracts signed by President Obama in December 2011, Nevada gets only 23.37% of the electricity generated by the Hoover Dam. The other top recipients: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (28.53%); state of Arizona (18.95%); city of Los Angeles (15.42%); and Southern California Edison (5.54%).

You can always build more power plants, but you can't build more rivers, and the mighty Colorado carries the lifeblood of the Southwest. It services the water needs of an area the size of France, in which live 40 million people. In its natural state, the river poured 15.7 million acre-feet of water into the Gulf of California each year. Today, twelve years of drought have reduced the flow to about 12 million acre-feet, and human demand siphons off every bit of it; at its mouth, the riverbed is nothing but dust.

Nor is the decline in the water supply important only to the citizens of Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. It's critical to the whole country. The Colorado is the sole source of water for southeastern California's Imperial Valley, which has been made into one of the most productive agricultural areas in the US despite receiving an average of three inches of rain per year.
Are you starting to get an idea of just how serious this all is?

But it is not just our lakes and our rivers that are going dry.

We are also depleting our groundwater at a very frightening pace as a recent Science Daily article discussed...
Three results of the new study are particularly striking: First, during the most recent drought in California's Central Valley, from 2006 to 2009, farmers in the south depleted enough groundwater to fill the nation's largest human-made reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas -- a level of groundwater depletion that is unsustainable at current recharge rates.

Second, a third of the groundwater depletion in the High Plains occurs in just 4% of the land area. And third, the researchers project that if current trends continue some parts of the southern High Plains that currently support irrigated agriculture, mostly in the Texas Panhandle and western Kansas, will be unable to do so within a few decades.
In the United States we have massive underground aquifers that have allowed our nation to be the breadbasket of the world. But once the water from those aquifers is gone, it is gone for good. That is why what is happening to the Ogallala Aquifer is so alarming. The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world, and U.S. farmers use water from it to irrigate more than 15 million acres of crops each year. The Ogallala Aquifer covers more than 100,000 square miles and it sits underneath the states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota. Most Americans have never even heard of it, but it is absolutely crucial to our way of life. Sadly, it is being drained at a rate that is almost unimaginable.

The following are some facts about the Ogallala Aquifer and the growing water crisis that we are facing in the United States. A number of these facts were taken from one of my previous articles. I think that you will agree that many of these facts are quite alarming...

1. The Ogallala Aquifer is being drained at a rate of approximately 800 gallons per minute.

2. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, "a volume equivalent to two-thirds of the water in Lake Erie" has been permanently drained from the Ogallala Aquifer since 1940.

3. Decades ago, the Ogallala Aquifer had an average depth of approximately 240 feet, but today the average depth is just 80 feet. In some areas of Texas, the water is gone completely.

4. Scientists are warning that nothing can be done to stop the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer. The ominous words of David Brauer of the Ogallala Research Service should alarm us all...
"Our goal now is to engineer a soft landing. That's all we can do."
5. According to a recent National Geographic article, the average depletion rate of the Ogallala Aquifer is picking up speed....

Even more worrisome, the draining of the High Plains water account has picked up speed. The average annual depletion rate between 2000 and 2007 was more than twice that during the previous fifty years. The depletion is most severe in the southern portion of the aquifer, especially in Texas, where the water table beneath sizeable areas has dropped 100-150 feet; in smaller pockets, it has dropped more than 150 feet.

6. According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. interior west is now the driest that it has been in 500 years.

7. Wildfires have burned millions of acres of vegetation in the central part of the United States in recent years. For example, wildfires burned an astounding 3.6 million acres in the state of Texas alone during 2011. This helps set the stage for huge dust storms in the future.

8. Unfortunately, scientists tell us that it would be normal for extremely dry conditions to persist in parts of western North America for decades. The following is from an article in the Vancouver Sun...
But University of Regina paleoclimatologist Jeannine-Marie St. Jacques says that decade-long drought is nowhere near as bad as it can get.

St. Jacques and her colleagues have been studying tree ring data and, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Vancouver over the weekend, she explained the reality of droughts.

"What we're seeing in the climate records is these megadroughts, and they don't last a decade—they last 20 years, 30 years, maybe 60 years, and they'll be semi-continental in expanse," she told the Regina Leader-Post by phone from Vancouver.

"So it's like what we saw in the Dirty Thirties, but imagine the Dirty Thirties going on for 30 years. That's what scares those of us who are in the community studying this data pool."

9. Experts tell us that U.S. water bills are likely to soar in the coming years. It is being projected that repairing and expanding our decaying drinking water infrastructure will cost more than one trillion dollars over the next 25 years, and as a result our water bills will likely approximately triple over that time period.
10. Right now, the United States uses approximately 148 trillion gallons of fresh water a year, and there is no way that is sustainable in the long run.

11. According to a U.S. government report, 36 states are already facing water shortages or will be facing water shortages within the next few years.

12. Lake Mead supplies about 85 percent of the water to Las Vegas, and since 1998 the level of water in Lake Mead has dropped by about 5.6 trillion gallons.

13. It has been estimated that the state of California only has a 20 year supply of fresh water left.

14. It has been estimated that the state of New Mexico only has a 10 year supply of fresh water left.

15. Approximately 40 percent of all rivers in the United States and approximately 46 percent of all lakes in the United States have become so polluted that they are are no longer fit for human use.

The 1,450 mile long Colorado River is a good example of what we have done to our precious water supplies. It is probably the most important body of water in the southwestern United States, and it is rapidly dying.

The following is an excerpt from an outstanding article by Jonathan Waterman about how the once mighty Colorado River is rapidly drying up...
Fifty miles from the sea, 1.5 miles south of the Mexican border, I saw a river evaporate into a scum of phosphates and discarded water bottles. This dirty water sent me home with feet so badly infected that I couldn’t walk for a week. And a delta once renowned for its wildlife and wetlands is now all but part of the surrounding and parched Sonoran Desert. According to Mexican scientists whom I met with, the river has not flowed to the sea since 1998. If the Endangered Species Act had any teeth in Mexico, we might have a chance to save the giant sea bass (totoaba), clams, the Sea of Cortez shrimp fishery that depends upon freshwater returns, and dozens of bird species.

So let this stand as an open invitation to the former Secretary of the Interior and all water buffalos who insist upon telling us that there is no scarcity of water here or in the Mexican Delta. Leave the sprinklered green lawns outside the Aspen conferences, come with me, and I’ll show you a Colorado River running dry from its headwaters to the sea. It is polluted and compromised by industry and agriculture. It is overallocated, drought stricken, and soon to suffer greatly from population growth. If other leaders in our administration continue the whitewash, the scarcity of knowledge and lack of conservation measures will cripple a western civilization built upon water.
But of course North America is in far better shape when it comes to fresh water than the rest of the world is.

In fact, in many areas of the world today water has already become the most important issue.

The following are some incredible facts about the global water crisis that is getting even worse with each passing day...

1. Total global water use has quadrupled over the past 100 years, and it is now increasing faster than it ever has been before.

2. Today, there are 1.6 billion people that live in areas of the globe that are considered to be "water-stressed", and it is being projected that two-thirds of the entire population of the globe will be experiencing "water-stressed" conditions by the year 2025.

3. According to USAID, one-third of the people on earth will be facing "severe" or "chronic" water shortages by the year 2025.

4. Once upon a time, the Aral Sea was the 4th largest freshwater lake in the entire world. At this point, it less than 10 percent the size that it used to be, and it is being projected that it will dry up completely by the year 2020.

5. If you can believe it, the flow of water along the Jordan River is down to only 2 percent of its historic rate.

6. It is being projected that the demand for water in China will exceed the supply by 25 percent by the year 2030.

7. According to the United Nations, the world is going to need at least 30 percent more fresh water by the year 2030.

8. Sadly, it is estimated that approximately 40 percent of the children living in Africa and India have had their growth stunted due to unclean water and malnutrition.

9. Of the 60 million people added to the cities of the world each year, the vast majority of them live in deeply impoverished areas that have no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

10. It has been estimated that 75 percent of all surface water in India has been heavily contaminated by human or agricultural waste.

11. Sadly, according to one UN study on sanitation, far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet.

12. Every 8 seconds, somewhere in the world a child dies from drinking dirty water.

13. Due to a lack of water, Saudi Arabia has given up on trying to grow wheat and will be 100 percent dependent on wheat imports by the year 2016.

14. Each year in northern China, the water table drops by an average of about one meter due to severe drought and overpumping, and the size of the desert increases by an area equivalent to the state of Rhode Island.

15. In China, 80 percent of the major rivers have become so horribly polluted that they do not support any aquatic life at all at this point.

So is there any hope that the coming global water crisis can be averted?

If not, what can we do to prepare? - TEC.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF IN ASIA: Massive Fish Kills At Fish Farms In Myanmar; Thousands Of Fish Suddenly Dead In Chan'an Village, Xian, China; 5,000 lbs Of Fish Found Dead On A River In Xishui County, China!

March 05, 2013 -  ASIA - Unseasonable early heat and freshwater parasites that thrive in hotter water temperatures are devastating fish farms throughout Myanmar, an official from the Myanmar Fish Farmer Association said.  “Starting on February 9, the temperature shot up unexpectedly, so many farmers’ fish pools dried up and the fish died as a result of lack of oxygen. Also, deadly parasites tend to grow in fish farms when the temperature increases,” U Soe Tint, the Association’s vice chairman, told The Myanmar Times on February 21.  While fish farmers normally wait to harvest their fish until monsoon season from June until October, they are harvesting their fish now in fear that they will die from the heat or parasites.

Massive Fish Kills At Fish Farms In Myanmar.
The most common parasite affecting fish farms is dactylogyrus, a flatworm known to inhabit fish gills, the Association said. The parasite is temperature dependent: Hotter water temperatures increase the parasite’s life cycle from only a few days to five or six months. Anti-parasitic medicine can be bought from China or Thailand and costs about K250,000 (about US$290).  “Fish farmers who did not use medicine for parasites face higher losses. I used the medicine after suffering about K300,000 (about US$350) in losses when my fish died,” U Soe Tint said, who has a fish farm in Yangon Region’s Twantay township.  U Than Lwin, chairman of the Association, said that throughout his 10 fish pools, each comprising 10 acres, four or five fish will die in a pool on a hot day.  U Aye Kyaw, who also has a fish farm in Twantay township, said his sturgeon usually take three years to farm. However, they have died within only a year.  “It has been very hot these days, so parasites can keep growing. In the last 10 years, farm fish have not died to this extent. This trend started about three years ago and has continually gotten worse. This is not a disease: The fish are dying of climate change,” said Dr Myint Swe, a member of the Association. 

“I want to advise fish farmers that if fish are dying in their pools, they should take a sample of one fish to a laboratory and have it tested at Thaketa township in Yangon. The results of the test will give evidence as to what kind of parasite has infected the fish and will indicate what medicine to use,” he said.  U Than Lwin said that this is common in April and May as the heat rises, but an uncommon phenomenon to occur as early as February and March.  “Fish farmers can plant trees around their pools to help provide shade and oxygen, and must give their fish medicine in time,” he said.  Both the local and export markets have not been adversely affected by the spike in dying fish, said Daw Toe Nandar Tin, treasurer of Myanmar Fishery Products Processors and Exporters Association.  “The price of rohu (a type of carp) rose K50 [from the second week of February to the third week] and local market prices are normal,” she said. - Myanmar Times.

Thousands Of Fish Suddenly Dead In Chan'an Village, Xian, China.
To wait another month, carefully kept more than 10,000 pounds of fish can fetch a high price. Happens overnight, half of the fish in an unexpected phenomenon of bellies. Faced with the sudden turn of events, the Chang'an District Ming calf town dawn villagers Wang Wei saddened. Wanted to fish money to repair the new house, and now the fish died, Wang Wei's dream shattered.

The fishponds floating number of dead fish.
5,000 pounds of fish were killed in a night 
"1 million pounds of fish, one half of bellies, are also constantly fish have surfaced, and I could not carry." Wang Wei said, the morning of March 1, with the villagers told him that his home pond The water may be lack of oxygen, there are a large number of fish head out of the water. He hastened to go see. The standing Tangbian he found the fish head out of the water a little spent, unlike the response to hypoxia, but rather a sick. Whether he which way to drive away those fish no reaction. Not long after, more and more fish bellies surfaced, and then death.  The home soil living room 30 years, I wanted to get some money with this pond fish, the new home of the brick structure in the repair, the fish are dead, all finished. "Said Wang Wei, in order to prevent the dead fish contaminated pond bring disaster to the other live fish, will reduce the losses to a minimum, the day of the incident, he will continue to dead fish salvaged He reckons salvaged at least 5,000 pounds of dead fish.  More than 10,000 pounds of fish, mostly death, to face the realities of more than 40-year-old Wang Wei could not help tears, "fish money is borrowed, which erupted in how to run!"

The fishery sector is under investigation 
Hey fish, how strange death? Wang Wei said, these dead fish gills is crimson, which can determine they are not a natural death, he suspected poisoning deaths, poisoning is likely to be due to water quality have been contaminated.  Wang Wei-stop trench next to his pond, the ditch had dried up in the past, since last December, the village of Long trench upstream sewage row to ditch thereafter continuing the sewage inflow his pond . Therefore, he concluded that the fish in the pond of sudden death, and the upper reaches of the village sewage. Subsequently, he will be the situation to the Chang'an District fishery management station reflect.  17:00 yesterday, reporters phone Chang'an District fishery management station staff told reporters that they have with the relevant departments to the scene viewed the death of the fish and upstream sewage, do not rule out the possible, but not yet The way to a conclusion. Now they have sent water samples sent to the relevant departments of laboratory tests, and at the same time was going to invite experts to dissect the dead fish. Etc. These results came out, the real culprit can be found. - HSW. [Translated]

5,000 lbs Of Fish Found Dead On A River In Xishui County, China.
On February 26, the dead fish incident occurred on Sancha River in Xishui County, Guizhou province, resulting in loss of more than 200,000 yuan, the police have been involved in the investigation.  On Sancha River Township days pool village keeps fish large Zhu Wenxuan of farm in many fish are has turned has white belly, and floating Yu water, died has, Zhu Wenxuan introduced, she home of fish ponds every day are has hand custody of, day at 6 o'clock in the morning of when, fish also is good of, however two hours yihou, on found fish appeared big area of turned with white belly, see with large of died fish, they a will all of effort are charge in has keeps fish career Shang,. And Zhu Wenxuan suffered in the lower reaches of the Xie Enli, Xie Enli probably died more than 5,000 pounds. Reporter learned that the entire on Sancha River farmers estimated losses at around 200,000. At present in Xishui County, the police investigate. - Shuichan. [Translated]

PLANETARY TREMORS: Tectonic Plates Moving Again - Will South America Split Away From Central America?

March 05, 2013 - EARTH - One of the expectations of Earth Change researchers is that with the evidence of the folding of the tectonic plates under the Pacific Ocean and the collapsing or subduction of the Western Regions of the Ring of fire in the Far East, that these collapsing plates will eventually pull the Northern Regions of South America to the west into the Pacific Ocean and tear away South America from Central America.

Earthquakes heralding the Collapsing of the Nazca and the Cocos Plates along the Western Coastline of South America

Recently it was noticed that the buoys along the Cocos and the Nazca Plates were deactivated. At the same time the earthquakes along the eastern regions of those same plates that were jutting up against South America along the Andes, from the tip of South America upwards to Peru were increasing exponentially. As the South American coastline is being pulled over the Nazca Plate, what has been called the “South American Roll” has been activating earthquakes that would have been noticed by the buoys rising or collapsing with the rolling earthquakes are now silent. It would be expected that the officials in charge of the buoys deployment and activation would hesitate to let the southern continent know about the devastation that will soon come their way.

The Scenic and Majestic South Andes Mountain Range

The evidence of such cataclysmic changes in our earth’s continental plates was highlighted in an earthquake on February 6, 2013 in Santa Cruz that was following a few days later by a much larger 7.0 earthquake in southwestern Columbia in the province of Narino. It was felt 240 miles away in the Columbian capital of Bogata, Columbia. Hours later a string of quakes raced up and down the mountainous spine of the Andes.

The Earthquake at the Narino Region to the Southwest of Bogata, Columbia

This triggered a second series of quakes on the eastern edge of the South American Plate, where it buts up against the Atlantic Rift and a third series of quakes along the Northern South American regions where the edge of the continental plate joins together with the Caribbean Plate. With the searing of South America from Central America, the once-greatest engineering feat in the world, the Panama Canal with be torn asunder. It will be essentially useless anyway as a waterway from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean will be created as the Americas will no longer be united.

The Ancient Land Bridge from Florida to South America

These catastrophic tectonic changes will crumble the “Switzerland of the Americas” as Costa Rica; a recent mountainous upheaval will collapse and crumble. Nearby the once ancient land bridge from Florida to South America will sink in a new subduction zone, and the island nations of the Caribbean Ocean may cease to exist. “The former land bridge from Florida to South America that once provided a direct land mass or land bridge from North America to South America, in ancient years, is now a multitude of island paradises for travelers. Soon they may be no more as the islands may sink and disappear into the sea trenches below. Then we will begin to witness: The Southern Mid- Atlantic Rift is projected to begin separating, as it tears and rips apart. With the ripping of the Southern Mid-Atlantic Rift, the Atlantic Ocean will rapidly plunge into the ensuing chasms creating a tsunami that may encircle the South Atlantic regions; the western coastline of Africa to the east and the eastern coastline of South America to the west. Déjà Vu Christmas 2004 when almost 250,000 people perished on the coastlines of the nations surrounding the Indian Ocean as the Sumatra-Indian Ocean Tsunami awakened the world to a new devastating awareness of our fragile lives on Planet Earth.

Christmas 2004 Indian Ocean-Indonesian Tsunami

As the Continent of Africa rolls and Planet Earth reels under possibly a global earthquake, the populations of the world may soon rivet their attention again towards the Mediterranean region of the world. The Mediterranean Sea in the days of the antediluvians was known as the Valley or the Veil of the River of Styx. In the depths of the Sea are over 300 megalithic sites of ancient cities submerged within its waters; a testimony of the antediluvian world in the days of Noah. Once again the tectonic plates may again shift, collapse in part as the volcanoes on the Italia peninsula and the Island of Thera may once again erupt with its fullest fury as it may have done at the time of the Biblical Exodus. It is believed that the floor of the Mediterranean may sink and reestablish a new tectonic bottom. The Mediterranean’s antipode site on the opposite side of the world from the Italian Volcano Pelea is the famous and feared San Andreas Fault famous for destroying San Francisco in the year of 1906. It will become more unstable heralding the “Big One” for California’s projected new island kingdom separated from North America by an inland sea. - Destination Yisrael.

THE PRIEST CLASS OF THE MAGI: Signs From The Heavens And The Earth - Mild Earthquake Strikes The Castel Gandolfo, Pope Emeritus' Home, Just Days After He Arrives; Lightning Hits St. Peter's Hours After Pope Benedict Stuns Cardinals With First Resignation In 600 Years?!

March 05, 2013 - ITALY - Lightning doesn't strike twice. Or does it?

Various Italian news sources reported Sunday that a mild earthquake had struck Rome and surrounding areas, including Castel Gandolfo, the former pope's temporary home.

According to the Agence France-Presse, the earthquake had a local magnitude of 2.5 and was felt in Rome, Ciapino, Marino and Castel Gandolfo. So far, no reports of injury or serious damage have been relayed to the Italian Department of Civil Protection.

Italian news blog Blogo reported that, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the quake originated at a depth of 10.5 kilometers.

This latest event comes on the heels of a photo that appeared to show a bolt of lightning striking St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Feb. 11.

CSEM-EMSC Earthquake map - local view.

CSEM-EMSC Earthquake map - regional view.
Then, as now, some people speculated as to whether the act of nature was really a divine message. On Sunday, Italia Domani asked whether the earthquake wasn't a sign for the cardinals who will soon be choosing a new pope.

Castel Gandolfo, a small town a few miles outside Rome, has been a longtime summer retreat for pontiffs, reports NBC News. In July 2012, a 3.6-magnitude, 6-mile-deep tremor was felt by then-Pope Benedict while he was vacationing at the retreat, according to the National Catholic Register. - Huffington Post.

Several weeks ago:

February 12, 2013 - VATICAN CITY - The Catholic church was thrown into turmoil today after Pope Benedict XVI made the shock decision to quit the papacy because of his deteriorating health.  In a decision that has surprised even his closest aides, the 85-year-old Pontiff said his strength was 'no longer adequate to continue in office due to his advanced age'.  He announced his resignation in Latin to a meeting of Vatican cardinals this morning, saying he did not have the 'strength of mind and body' to continue leading more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide.  

A sign from God? Lighting strikes the basilica of St.Peter's dome earlier this evening during a storm that
struck Rome on the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.
The decision is unprecedented. He is the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 and no Pontiff in history has stepped down on health grounds. The move allows the Vatican to hold a conclave before Easter to elect a new pope, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a Pontiff does not have to be observed.  There are several papal contenders, including Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson who is a front-runner to become the first black Pope. Although officials said there had been no pressure for Benedict to resign, the internet is already awash with speculation that there was a more sinister reason behind his decision.  Speaking in one of the Vatican's state rooms, the Pope today told cardinals: 'After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.  'I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.  'However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary - strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.' 
Shock decision: Pope Benedict XVI announces his
resignation during a meeting of Vatican cardinals today.

Benedict, who at 78 became the oldest Pope in 300 years when he was elected in 2005, said he was making the decision in 'full freedom' but was 'fully aware of the gravity of this gesture'.  Several cardinals did not even understand what Benedict had said during the consistory, said the Reverend Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.  Others who did were stunned.  A cardinal who was at the meeting said: ‘We listened with a sense of incredulity as His Holiness told us of his decision to step down from the church that he so loves.’  In a hastily arranged and, at times, shambolic press conference this morning, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said: 'It’s taken us a bit by surprise. We’ve had to organise ourselves very quickly.  ‘We’ve had no warning of what the Pope was about to announce. The declaration is crystal clear and we need to go through it word by word.  ‘The Pope says that he looked in a personal way and had a deep moment of reflection to consider the mission that he had received from God.’  A Vatican spokesman said he will officially stand down at 8pm Rome time (7pm GMT) on February 28.  The Pontiff, who was known as 'God's rottweiler' because of his stern stand on theological issues, will then retire to the Pope's summer residence near Rome before returning to the Vatican to spend the rest of his life in cloistered accommodation. 

Complete surprise: Several cardinals did not even understand what
Benedict had said during the consistory and those who did were
stunned, a Vatican spokesman said.
As he begins his retirement, cardinals in Rome will begin the process of choosing a successor.  Although the Pope's announcement this morning came as a huge shock to his colleagues, there have been rumours about his health over the last few years.  The Vatican stressed that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict's decision, but in recent years, the Pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences.  He now goes to and from the altar in St Peter's Basilica on a moving platform, to spare him the long walk down the aisle.  Benedict has acknowledged having suffered a hemorrhagic stroke in 1991 that temporarily affected his vision, but he later made a full recovery.  In 2009, the Pope fell and suffered minor injuries when he broke one of his wrists while vacationing in the Alps.  A doctor familiar with the pope's medical team said the Pontiff has no grave or life-threatening illnesses.  But the doctor said, like many men his age, the Pope has suffered some prostate problems.  Beyond that, the Pope is simply old and tired, the doctor said on condition of anonymity.  The Pope, who also uses a walking cane, is also understood to be suffering from a degenerative joint disease. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Lightning Strikes St. Peter's Basilica As Pope Resigns.