Friday, March 22, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Large, Vibrant Green Fireball Seen Flying Across Northeast United States!

March 22, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Reports are flying in of a fireball that streaked across the sky this evening over the Capital Region and several other northeast and mid-Atlantic cities. I saw it with my very own eyes in Latham, New York at around 7:53 p.m. in the southwest sky, heading south or southeast. The fireball was bright and had a fairly long green tail which lasted for a few seconds, like a shooting star or a large streaking meteor. Facebook and Twitter was immediately buzzing with reports of the sighting from New York to Washington DC and Virginia.

On Friday night around 8 p.m. EST, Twitter lit up with multiple accounts of a bright object, possibly a meteor, shooting across the skies of the northeast United States. Many of the spectators appear to be in the Washington D.C. area, but The Huffington Post has received reports of sightings from South Carolina to Connecticut. The object was described as bright green in color and visible for about 40 seconds. It was also described in multiple accounts as "sparking" or "flashing."

So far, there are no confirmed photos of the event. Several photos have circulated Twitter and Facebook, purporting to depict tonight's event, but at least two of the most widely shared of these depict earlier events (see here and here). In addition, reports of an impact in Delaware have circulated. However, these may also be false.  - Huffington Post.

Twitter and social media feeds have been peppered by reports of a large vibrant meteor.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) has received over 500 reports of the meteor from Florida to Maine, and many reports from Canada:

The American Meteor Society has received over 500 reports of a bright meteor that occurred near 2200 (8:00pm EDT) on Friday evening March 22, 2013. The witnesses range from along the Atlantic coast ranging from Maine to North Carolina. This object was also seen as far inland as Ohio. Individual reports may be viewed in the 2013 AMS Fireball Table. Refer to event #667 for 2013. For those not familiar with meteors and fireballs, a fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors.

Heat Map For March 22nd, 2013 Northeast Fireball. Image: AMS.

Trajectory For March 22, 2013 Fireball Event.
Here’s an estimated trajectory model for the meteor spotted in the northeast earlier tonight. This model is calculated by computing the intersection points of each witness with all other witnesses. These points are then averaged for the starting and ending points of the meteor.
Image: AMS.

Meteors often appear much closer than they really are. There is often a common misconception that the object appeared nearby when in fact the actual flight path was several hundred miles away and was witnessed over several states. It is your perspective that makes meteors appear to strike the horizon when in fact they are still high in the atmosphere. This is much like a jetliner seen low in your sky. It appears low to you but for someone located many miles away in that direction, the jetliner is passing high overhead. Meteors become visible at approximately 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. Friction slows these objects down until they fall below the velocity necessary to produce light. At this point they still lie at least 5 miles high in the sky. They are invisible below this altitude and cannot be seen as they basically free falling to the ground at 200mph. Very few meteors actually reach the ground as 99.99% completely disintegrate while still 10-20 miles up in the atmosphere. - AMS.

See more reports HERE.

WATCH: First images of the large bright fireball over Northeast United States.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To The Total Collapse Of The White Supremacy Paradigm - Cyprus Gov't Approves Bill To Restructure Banking Sector In A Desperate Play To Avoid Euro Exit After EU Bailout Ultimatum; Contagion Spreads Across Europe; Britain Set To Lose Second Its AAA Credit Rating; The Spanish Banks To Impose Tax On Bank Deposits; Recession Stalks France As Business Slump Hits Crisis Levels; Bulgarian Man Becomes Sixth Man In Past Month To Set Himself On Fire In Protest At Poverty In The Country! UPDATE: FAA To Close 149 United States Airport Towers After Sequestration Budget Cuts - Poverty Hits America's Suburbs!

"The Euro is in danger... If we don't deal with this danger, then the consequences for us in Europe are incalculable... If the Euro fails, then Europe fails". - German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the Euro-Zone we will not survive with the European Union". - EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

March 22, 2013 - CYPRUS - The Cypriot parliament has approved a bill to restructure the island's troubled banking sector, the third measure adopted so far in a desperate bid to rescue an EU bailout by a Monday deadline.  The bill, the most contentious of the three approved on Friday, passed by 26 votes to two, with 25 abstentions.

Cyprus plans a tax of up to 15 per cent on bank deposits as part of a deal to secure bailout funds. Source: AAP

The restructuring plan drawn up by the central bank would separate good debts from bad in troubled banks, particularly second largest lender Popular Bank, or Laiki in Greek.  Acting ruling Disy party leader Averof Neophytou had appealed to MPs to back the legislation saying it would guarantee all deposits of up to 100,000 euros ($A124,509.74), although those with balances of more might have to wait years to get all their money back.  He said the plan would also secure some 8000 jobs in Popular Bank although a few hundred might be lost in the restructuring.  MPs then adjourned shortly before midnight (0900 AEDT on Saturday) without setting a time for resuming their debate on the rest of the government's last-ditch package aimed at raising 5.8 billion euros to unlock loans worth 10 billion euros. The alternative would be to face being denied European Central Bank (ECB) emergency funds in a move that would collapse the island's banks and devour its economy.  Back on the table is a plan to levy a tax of up to 15 percent on bank balances of 100,000 euros and more that MPs already flatly rejected in slightly different form last Tuesday.  Commentators said that the government wanted to hold further talks on its new plans for the "haircut" on deposits with the troika - the EU, ECB and International Monetary Fund - before putting it before. - The Australian.

WATCH: Default Rolls In - Cyprus Gets No Russian Cash, "EU No Help".

Cyprus was poised for a dramatic U-turn on taxing big savers in its stricken banks on Friday as it raced to clinch a bailout from the European Union to avert financial meltdown. The ruling party said a package to raise the 5.8 billion euros demanded by the EU was hours away, spurred by a Monday deadline set by the European Central Bank, which said it will cut off cash for Cypriot banks if no bailout is agreed. Cyprus moved perilously close to bankruptcy when its parliament rejected terms of an EU bailout on Tuesday. Cypriots were enraged by a levy on bank accounts, including small holdings of ordinary savers as well as large accounts, many held by foreign investors.

Protesters shout slogans during an anti-bailout rally by employees of Cyprus Popular Bank outside the parliament in Nicosia March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Andreas Manolis.

Finance Minister Michael Sarris, fresh from a failed trip to win funds from Moscow, said a bank deposit levy was back "on the table". Averof Neophytou, deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Rally party, said Cypriot political leaders were close to a compromise that would let parliament reverse its rejection of the rescue package. Party officials told Reuters that discussions were centred on a levy on depositors holding over 100,000 euros. One official said the tax could be limited to big savers at the island's biggest lender, Bank of Cyprus, at 20 percent.

In a sign it expects a solution soon, the group of euro zone finance ministers called a new meeting for Sunday in Brussels, two sources in the currency zone told Reuters. A Cyprus government official said President Nicos Anastasiades would fly to Brussels over the weekend if a solution is found. With hundreds of demonstrators facing off with riot police outside parliament, lawmakers began late night debate of bills on other measures - including nationalizing pension funds, pooling state assets and splitting the second-largest lender, Cyprus Popular Bank, into good and bad assets. Restoring the bank levy was not yet on the agenda there.

Neophytou said there was "cautious optimism that in the next few hours we may be able to reach an agreed platform" consistent with the framework originally agreed with the EU. In Finland, an ally of Germany in disciplining euro zone partners, European affairs minister Alexander Stubb told Reuters he was confident Cyprus would accept EU rescue terms: "Because there are no other options".

The pace of the unfolding drama has stunned Cypriots, who barely a month ago elected conservative Anastasiades on a mandate to secure a bailout. Lawmakers threw the bill out on Tuesday, calling it "bank robbery" - a stunning rejection of the kind of strict austerity signed up to by Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Italy over the last three years of Europe's debt crisis. Loss of the ECB lifeline would effectively cause the banking system to collapse and could force Cyprus to give up the euro. Germany warned Cyprus it was "playing with fire".

Moody's downgraded its credit rating on deposits in Cypriot banks to Caa3, just two rungs from the bottom on its 11-grade scale of junk debt. Euro zone leaders, led by Germany, have offered Cyprus 10 billion euros ($13 billion), but only on condition it raises 5.8 billion of its own. They say the only way to find that cash is from depositors who have 68 billion euros in Cypriot banks, including 38 billion in accounts of more than 100,000 euros - enormous sums for an island of 1.1 million people which could never sustain such a big financial system on its own.

Many of Cyprus's biggest depositors are foreigners, including Russians who have been major contributors to the boom in Cypriot banks since the island adopted the euro in 2008. Taking a first step toward financial consolidation, Cyprus arranged on Friday for the takeover of big Greek units of its two biggest banks by a Greek competitor. Shares in Piraeus Bank in Athens shot up 20 percent after news that Piraeus would take control of the Greek units of Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank.

People wait in line to withdraw money from an ATM of a Laiki (Popular) Bank branch in the centre of the capital, Nicosia on March 21, 2013. Cyprus was fine-tuning a "Plan B" aimed at securing a eurozone bailout that the European Central Bank warned should be adopted by the weekend to avoid a banking meltdown on the debt-hit island.

With banks in Cyprus closed until Tuesday, depositors, who have been besieging bank cash machines all week, lined up again on Friday to withdraw what they could. "Our so-called friends and partners sold us out," said Marios Panayides, 65, a protester at the parliament. "They have completely abandoned us on the edge of an abyss." Retailers, facing cash-on-delivery demands from suppliers, warned stocks were running low.

"At the moment, supplies will last another two or three days," said Adamos Hadijadamou, head of Cyprus's Association of Supermarkets. "We'll have a problem if this is not resolved by next week." The Bank of Cyprus urged the government to go back and cut a deal with the EU under which larger deposits over 100,000 euros would be taxed. It was preferable, it said, to a collapse of the system and ejection from the euro which would wipe out assets.

"There must be no further delay," the bank said. EU officials criticise Cyprus for initially insisting on taxing even small savers whose deposits up to 100,000 euros benefit from a state guarantee. Cypriot leaders did not want to shift the whole burden to bigger depositors in the apparent hope of saving Cyprus's offshore banking industry.

EU leaders, notably Germans who face an election in six months, are loathe to spend European taxpayers' money on a bailout if rich Russian investors escape with no losses. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers that while she wanted to keep Cyprus in the euro zone, it must first recognize it had no future as an offshore financial centre for wealthy Russians and Britons, two parliamentarians told Reuters.

Her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said that muted reactions to the crisis in financial markets showed the euro zone was able to contain the Cyprus problem. The Dutch head of the euro zone finance ministers' group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said the group wanted to keep Cyprus in the currency union. But when asked, he did not rule out an exit. "All kinds of scenarios are possible and the scenarios we're focusing on are to come to a joint solution in which Cyprus is saved but in which the banking sector continues in a smaller but healthier form." - Reuters.

Britain Set To Lose Second AAA Credit Rating.
The Fitch agency's verdict on George Osborne's budget is almost
certain to result in a downgrade of Britain's credit rating.
Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA
George Osborne was served notice on Friday night that the UK's AAA credit status will be downgraded for a second time when ratings agency Fitch said Britain's lack of growth and rising debt mountain meant there was a "heightened probability of a downgrade in the near term".  Delivering its verdict on this week's budget, Fitch said it was writing a report, due in April, that analysts said is almost certain to strip the UK of the second of its three AAA ratings.  Fitch said the notice of a possible downgrade reflected "the latest economic and fiscal forecasts published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that indicate that UK government debt will peak later and at a higher level than previously expected by Fitch".  The government will find out in April whether the economy suffered an unprecedented triple-dip recession. In the last three months of 2012 the economy shrank 0.3%. A second straight quarter of negative growth could undermine faltering business confidence and choke off the first signs of a recovery.  Figures from the Office for National Statistics are expected to show the UK narrowly avoided a third contraction since the banking crash of 2008, but recent surveys have shown key industries, including manufacturing and construction, slipping back.  Several analysts said even without a triple-dip recession the worsening economic situation made further credit downgrades inevitable.  In documents that accompanied the budget, the OBR said that a lack of growth and lower than expected tax receipts had worsened the economic outlook and delayed the recovery until after the next election. It halved the forecast for growth this year to 0.6% and said the debt-to-GDP ratio would peak at 85%.  But Fitch said a tougher measure of the UK's debt burden showed the debt pile would exceed 100% of annual national income before it begins to fall, which makes situation more perilous.  While it credited the UK with having a "high-income, diversified and flexible economy", it said the last four years of low growth had damaged the economy.  It said: "The persistently weak performance of UK growth, in part due to European growth, has increased uncertainty around the UK's potential output and longer-term trend rate of growth with significant implications for public finances." - Guardian.

Spanish Banks To Impose Tax On Bank Deposits.
A new low-rate Spanish bank deposit tax, which will see banks rather than account holders pay levies, is being introduced to “impose order in the Spanish banking system,” the Treasury Minister Cristóbal Montoro said yesterday.  The new fees will see between 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent taxed from bank deposits and is expected to raise between €1.5bn and €3bn.  Spanish bank deposits currently total around €1.5trn and the new measure will take effect in the coming weeks. - Press Europ.

Recession Stalks France As Business Slump Hits Crisis Levels.
Cranes stand over a block of flats under construction in Madrid April 19, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Sergio Perez
French business activity shrank in March at the fastest pace in four years, defying expectations for an improvement and probably plunging the euro zone's second-biggest economy into a recession, a survey showed on Thursday.  Data compiler Markit said its preliminary composite purchasing managers' index, covering activity in the manufacturing and services sector combined, came out at 42.1, falling from 43.1 in February.  The drop brought the index to its lowest level since March 2009, when France and much of the developed world was mired deep in a recession triggered by the financial crisis.  Separate figures for the services and manufacturing sectors showed that business activity was retreating even faster than economists polled by Reuters had forecast.  Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said the figures suggested the nearly 2 trillion euro economy could contract by as much as 0.7 percent this quarter after slumping 0.3 percent in the previous three months.    That would mean that France, which has already abandoned its 2013 deficit target due to the lack of growth, has entered its third recession since the financial crisis.  "At the moment I can just see contraction, and potentially an increased rate of contraction as the year goes on unless more is done to stimulate growth and boost business and consumer confidence," Williamson told Reuters.  "Otherwise companies and households will move increasingly into cost-cutting measures," he added.  The index for the services sector, which generates 56 percent of French economic activity, dropped to its lowest since February 2009, hitting 41.9 compared with 43.7 in February.  Economists polled by Reuters had forecast an increase to 44.0. - Reuters.

Bulgarian Man Becomes Sixth Man In Past Month To Set Himself On Fire In Protest At Poverty In The Country.  
Proclaiming that he could no longer afford to even buy bread for his one child 
and that he 'could not stand it anymore' the unidentified man doused himself
with petrol and 'tried to commit suicide' . It comes after angry protests about
poverty in the country (pictured).
A Bulgarian man set himself on fire to protest against poverty in his country - becoming the sixth person to do so in the past month.  Proclaiming that he could no longer afford to even buy bread for his one child and that he 'could not stand it anymore' the unidentified man doused himself with petrol and 'tried to commit suicide', it has been reported.  The dramatic demonstrations have continued, despite an appeal by Bulgaria’s influential Orthodox Church that such desperate actions must stop.  They also have been part of nationwide protests about poverty that recently brought down the country’s government .  It comes as experts predict a surge in the number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants who will head to the UK from next January when EU travel restrictions end, because of the dire economic situation in their own home countries.  Dr Daniela Kostadinova, head of the hospital where the victim was taken in critical condition, said on Wednesday morning, in the northern village of Sitovo, a 40-year-old unemployed man doused himself with petrol and tried to commit suicide.  The doctor told Bulgarian National radio the man could no longer afford to even buy bread for his one child and that he 'could not stand it anymore.'  Of the five other Bulgarian men who have set themselves on fire since February 19 for similar reasons, three of them have died and two remain in critical condition.  Economic growth has slowed to 0.8 percent, while unemployment has jumped to 12 percent this year. Six years after joining the EU, Bulgaria remains its poorest member.  Ordinary people find it hard to make ends meet, struggling to share their tiny salary for food, utility bills and other expenses. Many have accused public officials of corruption. - Daily Mail.

"Let me define sequestration for you: Job losses in your state". - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

FAA To Close 149 United States Airport Towers After Sequestration Budget Cuts.
(AP Photo/The Deseret News, Stuart Johnson)
The U.S. will close 149 air-traffic control towers run by contractors at small- and mid-sized airports beginning on April 7 as a result of automatic budget cuts at government agencies.  The Federal Aviation Administration spared 24 towers on its original list of 173 subject to closing, it said in an e-mail today. All towers being shut down are run by private companies, not the government as at larger facilities. Another 16 private towers will face 5 percent cuts.  “Unfortunately we are faced with a series of difficult choices that we have to make to reach the required cuts under sequestration,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an e-mailed statement.  The FAA spared the 24 facilities because airport operators convinced the agency that closing them “would have a negative impact on the national interest,” according to the agency statement. The shutdowns will be phased in over four weeks.  Advocates for pilots and airports said shutting the towers will harm safety and impose economic hardship on businesses such as flight schools that rely on controllers to guide planes.  “The White House does not understand the consequences of these actions, or they do and they simply do not care,” Craig Fuller, president and chief executive officer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a Frederick, Maryland-based advocacy group, said at a town-hall meeting yesterday at DuPage Airport in West Chicago, Illinois. “Either way, this approach is dangerous and should not stand.” - Bloomberg.

Sprawling And Struggling, Poverty Hits America's Suburbs.
Tara Simons, left, and her daughter Alexis talk
in their kitchen in West Hartford, Conn.
David Friedman | NBC News
Like many Americans who move to the suburbs, Tara Simons came to West Hartford, Conn., because she wanted her daughter to grow up in a nice, safe place with good schools.  Her fall from a more financially secure suburban life to one among the working poor also happened for the same reason it's happened to so many others. She had a bout of unemployment and couldn't find a new job that paid very well.  As a single mother, that's made it hard to hold on to the suburban life that is, in her mind, key to making sure her daughter gets off to the right start.  "I'm basically paying to say I live in West Hartford," she said. "It is worth it."  It's a struggle that many Americans bruised by the weak economy can relate to.  The number of suburban residents living in poverty rose by nearly 64 percent between 2000 and 2011, to about 16.4 million people, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of 95 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. That's more than double the rate of growth for urban poverty in those areas.  "I think we have an outdated perception of where poverty is and who it is affecting," said Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of the research. "We tend to think of it as a very urban and a very rural phenomenon, but it is increasingly suburban."  Simons' situation is complicated by the fact she's a single mom. Poverty and financial insecurity among single moms is far higher than for households headed by single dads or two parents.  The rate of poverty among single mothers actually improved dramatically through the 1990s, thanks to a strong economy, more favorable tax breaks and the success of so-called welfare-to-work programs. But two recessions and years of high unemployment erased many of those gains.

 Simons and her daughter Alexis moved from Massachusetts to West Hartford eight years ago because Simons had a job with a local rug retailer.  Alexis, now 14, made friends, became an avid lacrosse player and is now a high school freshman.  The picturesque suburb, with its well-kept homes and an upscale town center, has a median household income of $80,061, more than double that of Hartford itself, which is $29,107 according to the Census Bureau.  And yet the number of people needing help has skyrocketed in recent years, said Susan Huleatt, the human services manager for West Hartford.  About five years ago, Huleatt said a mobile van began coming to town once a month to distribute fresh produce to people in need. Now, four vans come each month, and more than 200 people sometimes line up for the food. That's in addition to the city's own food pantry.  Simons expected to work for the rug retailer until retirement, but about a year ago she quit after disputes with one of the two owners. She had never had trouble finding a new job and was unprepared for how hard it would be.  "I know that part of it is my fault and I absolutely take responsibility for that, but I never in a million years thought that I would (be in this position)," she said.  Simons went without work or unemployment benefits for five months before she got her current job about six months ago. The position, as a customer service representative for a local health products company, pays $14 an hour. That leaves her with take-home pay of about $460 to $480 a week, plus about $127 a week in child support. Simons has full custody of her daughter.  She is behind on her electric and gas bills and owes nearly $400 to her daughter's club lacrosse team, which has her worried that her daughter won't be able to play this spring.  Like many working poor people, she has fallen into a debt spiral. She took out an $800 payday loan, and she estimates that it will end up costing her $1,600 to pay it back. She also has several hundred dollars in credit card debt and has worked to pay off hundreds of dollars in bank overdraft fees. She's sold jewelry for cash... - CNBC.

"The [European] Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now". - J. G. Ballard.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Alert Raised To "Code 3" At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Water Movement And Bubbles Increasing As The "King Of All Sinkholes" Threatens To Swallow Up A Whole Neighborhood?! UPDATE: Members Announced For Blue Ribbon Commission On Bayou Corne Safety - As Called For By Governor Jindal!

March 22, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Sinkholes, bow before your unmerciful king. A collapsing salt mine has caused a [twelve]-acre sinkhole in Louisiana, one that is threatening an entire neighborhood. Residents are being evacuated, and the company that owns the mine, Texas Brine, is paying them $875 a week for temporary housing costs.

The Lord of the Sinkholes appeared Aug. 3 and is still growing. Scientists monitoring it say a second cavern may be collapsing. "They caused this damage, and certainly we'll be aggressive in making sure that they pay their bills," Gov. Bobby Jindal says of Texas Brine. - MSN.

Another sinkhole is plaguing the US, and this one is a monster: A 12-acre sinkhole in Louisiana forced Bayou Corne residents to evacuate seven months ago, with a fading chance they'll ever be able to return, reports Grist.

The sinkhole, which originally measured nine acres, was created when a salt mine that Houston-based Texas Brine abandoned in 2010 collapsed, NPR reports. The company may have excavated too close to the surface; now, a former swamp has become a growing sinkhole, and crude oil and natural gas are bubbling up to the surface.

YouTube screenshot of the Bayou Corne sinkhole.   (YouTube).

Texas Brine is paying evacuated residents $875 a week for temporary housing, but one resident calls that "hush-hush money" and says he wants answers about his land. Another looming concern: A second salt cavern nearby may be having problems. There are also tremors in the area, and officials are concerned about escaping methane gas that could cause explosions. Some residents have sued Texas Brine, and a rep says the company wants to reach a "resolution"; they're discussing buyout offers for the area's 150 affected homes. - Newser.

Alert Raised To "Code 3", Water Movement And Bubbles Increasing.
The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising the public that the Oxy 3/sinkhole monitoring alert status has been raised to Code 3 – requiring all work inside and around the sinkhole to cease until further notice. Seismic monitoring has detected elevated subsurface activity in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 area indicative of fluid and gas movement below the sinkhole, and water movement in the sinkhole has been observed, along with increased bubbling along the western side of the sinkhole. The seismic activity is limited to the Oxy 3/sinkhole area, showing no indication of impact to the Oxy 1 area. Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

Members Announced For Blue Ribbon Commission On Bayou Corne Safety.
Today, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen Chustz, Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh and GOSHEP Director Kevin Davis announced that they have finalized the membership of the Blue Ribbon Commission called for last week by Governor Bobby Jindal to provide science-based recommendations for public safety in the Bayou Corne area. Chustz said 13 members have been selected to serve on the Commission.  DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz said, “The Blue Ribbon Commission will help us build on the progress we’ve made to protect the Bayou Corne community and environment. Members of the Commission hail from all over the world, and we’ve brought together the best knowledge available to work on these safety recommendations. To ensure that the members share our sense of urgency, we’ve made sure that some of the expertise on the Commission comes from the scientists already working on the sinkhole and that one member is from the Bayou Corne area. The commission will meet in the first week of April – and we look forward to learning from their expertise so we can continue ensuring the safety of Bayou Corne,” Chustz said. 

This photo was taken on March 21, 2013 using an Apple iPad.  Assumption Parish Police Jury's photostream.
See more images HERE.

The Commission’s purpose is to ensure the long-term safety of Bayou Corne residents through development of specific criteria to measure progress in achieving safety goals. The three primary areas to be a addressed by the commission are the levels of shallow gas in the aquifer, the current and future stability on the western side of Napoleonville Salt Dome, and the management and containment of the sinkhole coupled with the determination of potential void spaces below the sinkhole.  To provide benchmarks for the recommendations, the commission will address at least two key factors, including appropriate conditions to determine sustained public safety and the data needed to assess those conditions. The commission will make recommendations on what the safety benchmarks should be and on when they have been sufficiently met.  “We appreciate Governor Jindal’s support in directing that this Commission be formed with some of the best minds available throughout the world, so they can give us real answers for our people on when those who want to return home can do so safely,” said Assumption Parish Police Jury President Marty Triche.  Chustz said that while some members were selected from the team already assisting in the state’s response, the search effort also went well beyond the borders of the state of Louisiana and the United States to find the best mix of national and international expertise and regional experience in areas of science applicable to the public safety concerns in Bayou Corne.  “The work of this Commission is crucial to the future of public safety in the Bayou Corne area,” Chustz said. “We must ensure we have done all that we can to get the right people to provide the right answers in making recommendations for the future of the people who want to return.”  - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

Click HERE for the names of the members of the Commission.

ICE AGE NOW: Perpetual Winter - Britain Braced For Coldest March Weekend In FIFTY YEARS With Freezing Snow, Blizzards And Floods Set To Wreak Havoc!

March 22, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Britain's miserable March continued today as the country was hit with flooding, storms and even snow - and the foul weather is set to continue this weekend.   Parts of the UK received 15cm of snow, and with temperatures falling as low as -3C (27F), the weekend is expected to be the coldest March weekend for more than 50 years with a foot of snow in some areas.  The chaos prompted safety fears after Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria was forced to shut down operation as a precaution against the ongoing extreme weather.   Emergency services have seen a massive surge in weather-related call-outs, as officials issue a string of warnings urging the public to drive carefully.

Wintry weather in March: A suburban street in Liverpool covered in a blanket of snow today.

Disaster: A lorry jack-knifed on the icy roads while driving on the A66 in Cumbria this morning.

A woman is missing in Cornwall after her house collapsed following a landslip caused by devastating floods in the area.   Another incident saw a pair of hikers airlifted from Mount Snowdon by helicopter after getting caught up in a sudden spate of bad weather.   The Environment Agency has issued 80 flood alerts for parts of the UK, the vast majority in the southeast and southwest.[related]  The Government agency said it was monitoring river levels and was expecting to issue further flood alerts and possibly more serious flood warnings for the South West region.  A spokesman for Sellafield, which is now a nuclear reprocessing site which no longer produces power, said that 'a site incident has been declared and the plants on the site have been moved to a controlled, safe, shut down state'.  The company insisted: 'There is no reason to believe that there will be any off-site nuclear, environmental or conventional safety issues associated with the incident. The priority for the team is to protect our workforce, the community and the environment.'

Cavern: A car drives on a road carved out of giant snow drifts in North Wales.

Collapse: A woman in Looe, Cornwall is missing after her house was destroyed in a landslip due to flooding.

Torrential rain overnight caused a house in the Cornish town of Looe collapse, leaving one woman unaccounted for.   Neighbours were evacuated after the front of building, which contains several flats, suddenly fell down the steep garden.   One of the residents of the flats was unaccounted for this morning, leading to a search of the area by specialist fire teams using sniffer dogs.   Susan Norman, believed to be in her 60s, is the only inhabitant who has not been located.   It was initially unclear whether she was trapped within the rubble of the building or had simply left the area in the aftermath of the collapse.  Neighbours said they heard 'windows popping' at the three-storey property under the pressure of a torrent of surface water which had been washed down the road behind the building, which is split into three flats.   Devon and Cornwall Police duty inspector Graham Claybourn said: 'The property and adjoining properties were evacuated this morning, everybody was accounted for.   'However, one lady has not been accounted for. She lives in the ground flat.

Grounded: Gritters work to clear the runway at Leeds Bradford Airport, which was closed this morning.

Crash: Another car span off the A625 road between Sheffield and Hathersage.

'We're waiting for a geothermal engineer from the council to come down and assess the scene. There was some building work going on at the time.'  Police and fire crews are waiting for engineers to assess whether or not the building is safe enough for further searches.   A springer spaniel sniffer dog, used by emergency services to detect the scent of humans, was sent to the edge of the property this morning.   Police said thermal imaging cameras used to identify signs of life also proved inconclusive.   Snow is expected to blanket everywhere north of the M4 corridor, with up to eight inches hitting the worst affected areas of north-west of England, North Wales and south-west of Scotland.  Higher areas could even see up to 16 inches fall, while bitterly cold gale force winds will sweep across Britain creating blizzard-like conditions and plunging temperatures down to well below freezing.  The snow, which has shut down dozens of schools in the North and Midlands, is set to continue until Sunday morning in some areas.

A number of schools were also closed across the Bradford and Huddersfield areas while in Derbyshire schools, colleges and nurseries were closed. Many schools in Nottinghamshire also closed their doors.    Northern Ireland is suffering particularly badly, with nearly 1-0,000 homes and businesses left without power overnight after debris and wind downed electricity lines and forced Belfast City Airport to close.  The national football team's World Cup qualifying football match against Russia has become one of the biggest casualties of the snowstorm.   The scheduled fixture at Windsor Park in Belfast tonight was postponed until tomorrow afternoon as a result of the wintry blast that has seen almost 100,000 homes and businesses lose electricity.   Ground staff worked throughout the day in a bid to clear the pitch, but with the snow continuing to fall and the forecast remaining bleak, the Irish Football Association and Russian footballing authorities jointly agreed to the rescheduling.   Engineers from Northern Ireland Electricity have managed to restore supply to around 58,000 customers but were still working to reconnect 40,000 who remained cut off.

Intrepid: A cyclist in Nottingham does not let the snow deter him from getting on his bike.

Inconvenience: The slippery streets of Pitsmoor, Sheffield after the overnight flurry of snow.

One victim of the floods was a top-of-the-range Porsche which had to be abandoned at a river crossing after getting abandoned.   The £86,000 sports car was attempting to ford the river Sid at Sidmouth in Devon when it got stuck in rising water.   Having entered the ford, the driver found the other side impassable thanks to the imposition of the town's flood barrier, and had to be rescued by fire crews.  Firefighters and police officers took to the streets of Newlyn, Cornwall last night as the flood water rose. Some residents were seen placing sandbags outside their properties.  James Wilby, a forecaster for Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: 'It is really just nasty conditions across most of the UK.   'The snow will fall from the M4 northwards, quite lightly in the south but heavily in the north.   Leeds Bradford International Airport earlier suspended all flights due to 'adverse weather conditions', telling passengers to contact airlines before attempting to fly.   The Met Office has issued a number of severe weather warnings urging the public to be prepared for 'severe disruption' to transport and energy services.  With the rain causing chaos in some parts of the far west of England, the emergency services faced a battle to keep on top of call levels.

Cornwall Council has set up a designated control room to handle calls related to flooding  Spokesman Dave Owens said the county's fire and rescue service received around 50 calls between 6pm and 9pm, with around 70 firefighters dealing with incidents across Cornwall.  He said: 'The main problem still appears to be surface water flooding which is continuing to affect a number of areas across Cornwall.  'There are reports of around eight properties flooded so far, although there are concerns at the rising water levels in Newlyn where the water is edging towards some commercial properties.' There are reports of flooding across the west of the county, including around Newlyn and Penzance, as well as in Mevagissey in mid-Cornwall - a community still recovering from the impact of last year's torrential downpours.  Police last night warned motorists against driving. Sgt Dave Opara, based in Plymouth, said: 'I would advise motorists not to make journeys that aren't absolutely necessary this evening.  'There has been a considerable amount of rainfall across the force area. There will be more to come throughout the night, so the situation is not going to get much better too soon.'  He said the force had received 'a significant increase' in weather-related calls.  A severe weather warning has been issued for rain in the region, with 1.6 to 2.4 inches set to fall over southern Devon and Cornwall in the next 24 hours, and up to 4 inches on exposed southern slopes.  Elsewhere, a problem with lineside equipment caused disruption near Hatton in the West Midlands, with delays of up to 45 minutes between Birmingham/Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa.

Hard work: A commuter digs his car out from the snow to allow him to get on the roads.

Huddling up: A flock of sheep near the village of Ae in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.

A tree blocking the line at Sandwell & Dudley in the West Midlands led to delays between Wolverhampton and Birmingham New Street, while a signalling problem caused delays to trains passing through Ilkley station in West Yorkshire.  'There are reports of around eight properties flooded so far, although there are concerns at the rising water levels in Newlyn where the water is edging towards some commercial properties.'  Drivers had to contend with snow, strong winds and floods with a number of roads affected by fallen trees.   There were strong winds on the M6 between Tebay and Carlisle in Cumbria, while elsewhere in the county there were hazardous driving conditions on the A66.     Among major routes affected by snow were the A34 in Staffordshire, the A53 in Derbyshire and the M6 in Lancashire.   Roads where trees had fallen included the A5 in Wrexham, North Wales, and the A374 at Torpoint in Cornwall.   There were hazardous driving conditions on the the A711 in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.   In West Sussex there was flooding on the A27 near Chichester, while flooding also hit the A35 at Dorchester in Dorset.

Shiver: The snow is expected to continue until Sunday morning in parts of Britain.

Widespread: This map from earlier this morning shows the precipitation (rain or snow) over the UK.

'Happy Easter!' A prankster wrote this message in the windscreen of a car parked in Liverpool.

On the railways, trees on the line led to delays of up to an hour on services around Shrewsbury, while in West Sussex there were delays of up to 50 minutes between Uckfield and East Grinstead due to a person being hit by a train.  Environment Agency spokesman Ben Johnstone said: 'We strongly urge people to sign up to flood warnings on the Environment Agency website, keep a close eye on local weather forecasts and be prepared for possible flooding.  'We also ask that people stay safe and not try to wade or drive through any deep water.'  While the South West is facing downpours and possible flooding, much of the rest of Britain faces a white weekend with widespread snow storms and strong winds predicted - a week away from the start of British Summer Time.  The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for snow across many parts, with predictions of 4-6 inches possible in the north Midlands, north east Wales and north west England.    High areas could see 8-16 inches of snow fall and strong and even gale force winds could lead to blizzard conditions, as the miserable March continues.

Heavy rain sweeping across Northern Ireland will turn increasingly to snow with up to 12 inches across the hills of Down and Antrim, while on the east coast rain and sleet could cause localised flooding.  The AA issued warnings to motorists that even short journeys could be difficult, and that there could be a repeat of the scenes in southern England last week when hundreds of drivers were stranded in their cars overnight.  Darron Burness, the AA's Head of Special Operations, said: 'It's going to be a real witch's brew of driving wind, rain and snow, which will inevitably cause disruption on the roads.  'Drivers should be well prepared as even short journeys can quickly turn bad.'  He warned of localised flooding, and urged drivers to stay out of flood water. He also said snow that settles could persist in the low temperatures, leading to icy patches.  'Wherever you're going, take plenty of warm layers, check the travel reports before heading out and stick to the main roads where possible,' he said.    The Local Government Association said council gritting and ploughing teams would be out in force to try to ensure main roads remained passable where snow and freezing temperatures had been forecast.  Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said hundreds of thousands of tonnes of salt had been spread this winter, but hundreds of thousands more tonnes were available in council depots and new deliveries were coming in.  And he said: 'Council staff will be out and about over the next few days checking in on the people they know to be vulnerable and delivering hot meals and portable heaters, collecting prescriptions, defrosting pipes, fixing frozen boilers and making sure they have what they need.'  But he also urged residents with elderly or vulnerable family or neighbours to check in on them to make sure they were coping with the latest freeze. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Braced for winter as poor weather continues.


WATCH: Flood waters engulf Newlyn.

WATCH: Flood waters gush down the streets of Newlyn, Devon.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown To Armageddon - Korea Korea Declares That War Is Inevitable And Coming Soon, Threatens U.S. Military Bases In The Pacific And Releases The Latest Propoganda Video Of 150,000 US Citizens As Prisoners!

March 22, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA - North Korea on Thursday threatened to attack American military bases in Japan and on the Pacific island of Guam in retaliation for recent training missions by American B-52 bombers over South Korea. While the North has threatened American forces in Guam before, the latest warning comes amid heightened tension on the peninsula after a North Korean nuclear test last month and the imposition of United Nations sanctions that have infuriated Pyongyang.  Those tensions might rise again because of another United Nations action on Thursday: Its Human Rights Council created a commission to look into allegations of human rights violations in North Korea, including the incarceration of political prisoners at labor camps and torture.  Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, has been calling for such an investigation for months, fearful that the world’s preoccupation with the North’s growing nuclear arsenal overshadowed discussions of a human rights situation she called “the worst in the whole world” in an interview with the news agency Reuters.

North Korea Threatens U.S. Military Bases In Pacific.
The commission will be somewhat limited in what it can do. It is unlikely to get access to North Korea, a police state, and it remains unclear what court would take up its findings. But Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told Radio Australia that “collecting the evidence is the first step toward putting pressure on the international community, and whoever North Korea’s defenders are, to ultimately acquiesce in prosecution” of what he called “the terrible atrocities that are routinely committed in North Korea.”  An estimated 1 in 120 North Koreans are imprisoned in gulags, where defectors from the country say starvation, forced labor and torture are endemic.  The threats against American troops on Thursday were the latest in a stream of vitriol from the North in the wake of the United Nations sanctions. Japanese and American Pacific bases are within range of North Korea’s medium-range missiles, according to South Korean officials.  Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers that upset the North have flown missions over South Korea in the past as part of joint military exercises. But this month, the Pentagon took the rare action of announcing those missions to reaffirm the United States’ “nuclear umbrella” for South Korea and Japan at a time of rising anxiety over the North’s nuclear threats.  On Thursday, a spokesman for the Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army told the state-run Korean Central News Agency that “the U.S. should not forget that the Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, where B-52s take off, and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are within the striking range of the D.P.R.K.’s precision strike means.”  He added, without elaborating, “Now that the U.S. started open nuclear blackmail and threat, the D.P.R.K., too, will move to take corresponding military actions,” referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name. 

State radio also blared air-raid warnings in North Korea. Until the 1990s, air-raid drills were a popular tool for the North Korean government to highlight the perceived threat of an American invasion and to instill in its people a sense of crisis and solidarity.  One of the two joint American and South Korean military exercises that have angered North Korea ended Thursday. But Seoul and Washington remained alert over the possibility that the North might follow up on some of its vaguely worded threats to attack the allies. The North Koreans have also been angry about what they expected to be an unfavorable outcome in the Human Rights Council.  On March 11, the North’s official party paper, The Rodong Sinmun, said the council’s expected move to adopt the resolution, coupled with the United Nations sanctions, would “raise tensions and ignite a war to invade the North.” It vowed to deliver “a merciless mace-blow” on “traitors” in South Korea.  On Thursday, North Korea’s ambassador, So Se Pyong, rejected the resolution as “an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image” of his country. He denied human rights abuses existed there.  Cho Tae-young, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “We hope that the establishment of the commission of inquiry through this resolution will contribute to the improvement of human rights in North Korea.”  The commission will include the Indonesian lawyer Marzuki Darusman, who wrote a report for the council citing the kidnapping of foreigners and the system of labor camps. He said the situation had worsened since the North’s new young leader, Kim Jong-un, took over after his father’s death in December 2011.  The European Union and Japan sponsored the resolution calling for the commission, and the United States backed it. With no Chinese or Russian vote on the 47-member council, North Korea had no country willing to oppose the inquiry.  Mr. Roth of Human Rights Watch acknowledged the difficulties facing investigators. “There is no international tribunal that has jurisdiction over North Korea,” he told Radio Australia. “Theoretically, the International Criminal Court could be brought in with a resolution from the U.N. Security Council, yet China would probably veto that at this stage.” - NY Times.

North Korea Warning That War Is Coming.
North Korea was rattling its sabers and sparking fears overnight.  Its military is now threatening South Korea, Japan and the United States saying that war is coming.  The statement from military leaders have said "Outbreak of war in Korea is now just a matter of time. Nothing can prevent war from breaking out."  The communist North is claiming that its missiles will target U.S. bases in Guam and Japan.  That is where some of our nuclear submarines and B-52 bombers are based.  The threat came two days after U.S. bombers carried out simulated nuclear bombing raids on North Korea.  Tensions spiked in the region after North Korea carried out its latest underground nuclear test last month.  And then again after new United Nation sanctions last week. - KTNV.

WATCH: North Korea - "War is inevitable".

South Korea Traces Massive Cyber Attack To China.
Officials of the Digital Forensic Team at the National Police Agency
examine hacked hard drives collected from TV broadcasters and
financial institutions yesterday at the Cyber Terror Response Center
in western Seoul. Three major TV stations and three banks suffered
cyberattacks on Wednesday, with over 32,000 computers damaged
across the six targeted companies. By Kim Seong-ryong
One Internet Protocol (IP) address used in the massive cyberattacks waged against major TV networks and financial institutions Wednesday was discovered to be from China, adding weight to the widely held speculation that North Korea was behind the action.   A joint government-civilian-military team, formed in response to the cybersecurity breach, announced its initial findings based on analysis of the data collected from Nonghyup Bank that the malicious code that paralyzed the network systems came from a Chinese IP address.  “After we analyzed the network systems of Nonghyup [one of the three banks hacked], we discovered an IP address from China accessed a bank server that managed [antivirus] software updates, which then produced malicious files,” Park Jae-moon, director of the Korea Communications Commission’s network policy team told reporters during a briefing yesterday.  The director said it was through the virus infected-update-management server that other computers at the bank headquarters and branches were also infected with the malware.  The embedded malicious code, delivered by unidentified hackers with the Chinese IP address, was programmed to start destroying the boot function of the computers to paralyze the network system.

The watchdog added the same method was used for other hacked companies in what appeared to be a single-entity-driven operation, judging from the fact that “the malware all damaged the hard disks of contaminated computers” and “identical character codes were discovered” in the computer servers at the six damaged firms.  The state-run body also reported 32,000 computers and network servers of the six targeted institutions were sabotaged.  Experts say it is hard to track down the IP address if it comes from a third country, such as China, which is why Pyongyang is strongly thought to have orchestrated the massive infiltration Wednesday. North Korea is thought to have carried out its cyber-espionage attempts in the past via IP addresses in China, an allegation the communist state has denied so far.  “As we have identified a source of the attack, many different scenarios [about the attack] are possible now. We are now doing our best to identify those responsible for the hacking,” added the official.  The spontaneous cyberattack waged on Wednesday caused shutdowns of computer servers at three TV network stations, MBC, KBS and YTN, and hindered banking transactions at Shinhan, Nonghyup and Jeju banks as their computers were also infected with the virus.  As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the Web site of KBS was still down while the groupware operations at MBC were malfunctioning. YTN also reportedly suffered from losing its database. - KJD.

Nightmare Of 150,000 US Prisoners In New North Korean Propaganda Video.
North Korea's latest propaganda video depicts 150,000 US citizens being taken hostage by stormtroopers invading South Korean capital Seoul. The bizarre mocked-up footage - released on the secretive state's official website - imagines a full-scale war against the South and a quick victory inside three days. US Navy ships in the region would be destroyed and thousands of troops and expats would be held prisoner according to the nightmare scenario.  The four-minute film, titled A Short, Three-Day War, starts with images of a massive rocket and artillery bombardment.  Tanks and infantry - carrying huge Communist banners - are then seen streaming across a snowy landscape towards Seoul amid dramatic Hollywood style explosions.  A male narrator describes different stages of the invasion, including the destruction of forces under the US Pacific Command with "powerful weapons of mass destruction."  The video shows pictures of an American aircraft carrier, and images of the Seoul skyline superimposed with footage of paratroopers and North Korean military aircraft.  The narrator says: "The crack stormtroops will occupy Seoul and other cities and take 150,000 US citizens as hostages."  The video was posted on the North's official website, Uriminzokkiri, which distributes news and propaganda from the state media.  A video released early last month showed New York in flames after an apparent missile attack, and another two weeks later depicted US soldiers and President Barack Obama burning in the flames of a nuclear blast.  And earlier this week, another video showed the dome of the US Capitol building in Washington exploding in a fireball. The latest offering from the Pyongyang propaganda department comes during escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.  Kim jong-un's brutal regime has threatened strikes on US military bases in Japan and Guam, and is trying to build nuclear armed ballistic missiles that could hit Europe. - The Sun.

WATCH: The latest propaganda video from North Korea.

"MARCH MADNESS": National Weather Service Says Fargo Should Prepare For 1 Of Its 5 Worst Floods - City Calls For Sandbags!

March 22, 2013 - UNITED STATES - With its ominously titled slideshow, “Get ready for a big one,” the National Weather Service told flood-weary residents in the Fargo area Thursday to prepare for one of the Red River’s five largest crests this spring, an outlook that prompted city and county officials to plead for permanent flood protection.

The latest weather service flood outlook for Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn., includes a 50 percent chance that the river would top 38 feet later this spring, which would surpass the fifth-highest crest of 37.34 feet in 1969. There’s a 10 percent chance of an all-time record.

(The Forum, Michael Vosburg, File/ Associated Press ) - FILE - In this April 11, 2011 file photo floodwaters from the Red River cover fields near Fargo, N.D. Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn., residents should prepare for one of the top five floods in their history, the National Weather Service said Thursday, March 21, 2013.

“It’s March madness again,” said Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral. He noted that it would be the fourth major flood in five years, including a record crest of 41 feet in 2009.

Chances of a top-five flood increased with near-record cold temperatures that have delayed the snowmelt, which isn’t expected to begin until the first week of April, NWS officials said. The chances of major rainfall totals also increase around that time.

“That’s a volatile mix,” said Greg Gust, NWS meteorologist. He added, “The bottom line is that we have a way above normal snowpack sitting out there right now.”

The flood threat comes as Congress is to consider whether to help fund a nearly $2 billion diversion channel around the Fargo-Moorhead area, a project that has come up against roadblocks.

Residents downstream of the north-flowing river are protesting about a holding area that would flood homes and farmland in times of high water. And the North Dakota Legislature’s House Majority Leader Al Carlson, who is from Fargo, has said he wants to see a federal commitment before the state ponies up money for the diversion.

“Frankly, the fourth major flood in five years really emphasizes that we need to continue to work toward permanent flood protection so we’re not here in this emergency mode every year,” Keith Berndt, Cass County administrator, said.

(Dave Kolpack/ Associated Press ) - Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker, in yellow sweater, and Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney stand at the podium and talk about the city’s flood fighting plans with city engineer April Walker and City Administrator Pat Zavoral looking on Thursday, March 21, 2013. The National Weather Service said Thursday, March 21, 2013 that Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn., residents should prepare for heavy flooding.

Berndt said he expects “significant damage” in rural areas if the river reaches 38 feet.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said the city will “do whatever’s necessary” to protect its residents. The city is asking for volunteers to help make 500,000 sandbags, which would add to a reserve of 750,000 bags.

The operation, tabbed “Sandbag Central,” is expected to open on April 3. The city expects to place 1.1 million sandbags and the county plans to utilize 500,000 sandbags to protect structures.

Fargo-Moorhead residents battled three straight major floods beginning in 2009, when the record crest forced thousands to evacuate and caused an estimated $100 million in damage. The river crested at 36.99 feet in 2010, and 38.75 feet in 2011 — the fourth highest crest on record.

(Dave Kolpack, File/ Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2011 file photo inmates from the Cass County jail help at the sandbag filling machine in Fargo, N.D., as preparations begin for Red River flooding. Fargo officials say they plan to make 500,000 sandbags to add to a reserve of 750,000 bags following the National Weather Service warning Thursday, March 21, 2013.

“I know it’s getting old. Extremely old for everybody,” Walaker said.

Fargo has spent $100 million on flood protection since the 2009 flood, buying out hundreds of homes in low-lying areas and building about 20 levees. Moorhead has invested more than $88 million on similar projects in the last four years.

Walaker said it’s not enough.

“The only solution to this process is very simple. A diversion has to go through,” he said. - Washington Post.

WATCH: The National Weather Service has told the folks along the Red River in Fargo, N.D., and the surrounding area to prepare for perhaps one of the top five floods in that city's history. Weather Channel's Chris Warren reports.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 22, 2013 - Updates On El Hierro, Batu Tara, Ambrym, Popocatépetl, Santa María, Santiaguito, Fuego, Telica And Nyiragongo

March 22, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Map of recent earthquakes at El Hierro.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain)
: Earthquakes and tremor have continued through the day, and continued to migrate a bit to the NW off the NW tip of the island. So far, 62 quakes above magnitude 2 have been recorded today.

 Map of today's earthquakes at El Hierro.

In addition, the average depth of the latest earthquakes has become a bit shallower and is now around 13 km (compared to 17-20 km before). This suggests that magma is still moving and has risen a bit closer to the surface, and, thus, a possible eruption

Current tremor signal (IGN).

A third, intense pulse of quakes and harmonic tremor started late last night and is going on at the moment. A magnitude 3.8 quake early today marks the so far largest event. The location of the latest quakes moved again a bit further to the west, and is now clustered at about 15-17 km depth beneath the western tip of the island... [read more]

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): Activity remains elevated. Another explosion today produced an ash plume rising to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude, VAAC Darwin reported.

SO2 from Ambrym today (NOAA).

Ambrym (Vanuatu): Elevated SO2 emissions remain elevated, suggesting that the lava lakes remain active.

Small steam explosion at Popo yesterday.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The volcano's activity has stayed rather calm and not changed much. Yesterday, the rate of emissions was down to less than 1 per hour, but seems to have increased a bit today, as the current seismic signal suggests.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity at the dome has decreased compared to last week. INSIVUMEH reported only weak explosions with ash rising 400 m, and few and small avalanches from the lava flows today.

Today's seismic signal from Fuego (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH).

Fuego (Guatemala): The volcano has been considerably calmer today, with only 5 mostly weak explosions detected, which produced ash plumes rising 400-800 m above the craters. The (mostly now cooling) lava flow erupted two days ago still produces frequent rock falls and small avalanches.

Map of the earthquake near Telica volcano.

Telica (Nicaragua): The seismic swarm at the volcano continues, with many small tremors registered beneath the eastern sector of the volcano. There has not been any apparent surface activity reported (so far).

SO2 plume from Nyiragongo (NOAA).

Nyiragongo (DRCongo): A strong SO2 plume is drifting westwards from Nyiragongo volcano, which contains the world's largest active lava lake.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 22, 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Sunset at the slopes of Mauna Kea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii (Photo: Janka)

- Volcano Discovery.