Monday, April 1, 2013

WORLD WAR III: Escalation Towards Armageddon - US Navy Shifts Destroyer In Wake Of North Korea Missile Threats; China Mobilizing Troops And Jets Near Korean Border!

April 01, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA - The U.S. Navy is shifting a guided-missile destroyer in the Pacific to waters off the Korean peninsula in the wake of ongoing rhetoric from North Korea, U.S. defense officials said. The USS McCain is capable of intercepting and destroying a missile, should North Korea decide to fire one off, the officials said.




US Navy Shifts Destroyer In Wake Of North Korea Missile Threats.
Still, U.S. defense officials insist that there is nothing to indicate that North Korea is on the verge of another launch. The White House on Monday said the United States hasn’t seen large-scale movements from North Korean military forces in the aftermath of harsh rhetoric from the reclusive government. "I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we are hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture, such as large-scale mobilizations and positioning of forces," Carney said.

The McCain in December 2012 was moved to be in position to defend against a impending North Korean rocket launch. On Sunday, The United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea as part of military exercises in a move aimed at further deterring threats from North Korea against its neighbor. It was unclear if the McCain was also part of the ongoing military drills.

It was earlier reported that the USS Fitzgerald, another guided missile destroyer, would be moved to the area, though it was only among the ships under consideration for the deployment. Also Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye appeared to give her country's military permission to strike back at any attack from the North without further word from Seoul, saying she took the North's escalating threats "very seriously," South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

WATCH: Most people in Seoul, South Korea think North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is bluffing, but the question is "why?" Experts say Jong-un is in the process of consolidating power and planning to eliminate his rivals. NBC's Richard Engel reports from Seoul, South Korea.


"As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I will trust the military's judgment on abrupt and surprise provocations by North Korea," she said, according to Yonhap. The deployments and Park's remarks came as tensions approached an all-time high between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim Jong Un has ratcheted up the rhetoric against both South Korea and the United States in recent months, and in February violated U.N. sanctions by ordering a nuclear weapons test.  On Saturday, North Korea said it had entered a "state of war" against South Korea, according to a statement reported by the North's official news agency, KCNA.

In an interview on CNBC Monday, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States needs to be "very concerned" by North Korea’s recent weapons test and "level of bellicosity" and do everything necessary to defend U.S. allies and interests.

WATCH: As North Korean state TV shows constant images of the army bombarding South Korea, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is saying his missiles are at the ready and has cut off emergency communications. NBC's Richard Engel reports.


Panetta said while Kim Jung Un’s actions appear aimed at his internal situation the U.S. should “take nothing for granted” and be prepared. The greatest danger right now, he said, appears to be the possibility of a miscalculation. "The reality is we don’t have as much insight as we should," Panetta said of Kim's motives.

The stealth aircraft – two F-22 Raptors -- were deployed from Japan to the Osan Air Base in South Korea from Japan where they will remain on “static display” as part of the military drills, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. The F-22s are not expected to actively participate in any exercises, however.


Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters fly near Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in this handout photo dated August 4, 2010.
Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald / U.S. Air Force via Reuters, file

This is the fifth time F-22s have deployed to South Korea. Exercise Foal Eagle began on March 1 and will continue until the end of April. Kim has also recently threatened to "settle accounts" with the U.S. and posed near a chart that appeared to detail bombings of American cities. The F-22 jets' arrival follows other recent displays of air power by the U.S. in South Korea. Last week B-52 bombers and B-2 stealth bombers were sent to the country for the annual exercise.

In North Korea, meanwhile, KCNA reported on an Easter service at which it said "the participants renewed the firm resolution to put the warmongers [the US and South Korea] into the red hot iron-pot of hell as early as possible." North Korea's stance, however, can be notoriously difficult to interpret.

WATCH: NBC's Jim Maceda reports on U.S. Navy movements of destroyers into the Pacific amid threats from North Korea.


In a later release Monday on KCNA, Pyongyang announced the adoption of a law "consolidating" its position as a nuclear power that would use its weapons only “to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.”

Among the law's pledges were that North Korea would store its weapons responsibly, that it would not use them against non-nuclear nations, and that it would participate in nonproliferation talks -- though the last clause came with the condition that there was “improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.” - NBC News.


China Mobilizing Troops And Jets Near Korean Border.
China has placed military forces on heightened alert in the northeastern part of the country as tensions mount on the Korean peninsula following recent threats by Pyongyang to attack, U.S. officials said. Reports from the region reveal the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently increased its military posture in response to the heightened tensions, specifically North Korea’s declaration of a “state of war” and threats to conduct missile attacks against the United States and South Korea.

According to the officials, the PLA has stepped up military mobilization in the border region with North Korea since mid-March, including troop movements and warplane activity. China’s navy also conducted live-firing naval drills by warships in the Yellow Sea that were set to end Monday near the Korean peninsula, in apparent support of North Korea, which was angered by ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills that are set to continue throughout April.



North Korea, meanwhile, is mobilizing missile forces, including road-mobile short- and medium-range missiles, according to officials familiar with satellite imagery of missile bases. The missile activity is believed to be North Korea’s response to the ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises that last week included highly publicized flights by two B-2 strategic nuclear bombers near North Korean territory as part of annual military exercises.

North Korea’s government announced last week that since March 26 its missile and artillery forces have been placed on the highest alert status. Specifically, Nodong medium-range missiles and their mobile launchers were spotted in satellite imagery, the officials said.

There are also indications North Korea will soon conduct a flight test of its new KN-08 road-mobile ICBM or its intermediate-range Musudan mobile missile. Test preparations had been detected in the past, the officials said. A military provocation by North Korean forces against the South is not expected while the current war games are underway in South Korea, officials said.

However, the situation remains dangerous as hostilities could break out as a result of a miscalculation. South Korea’s government has said it would respond to any North Korean military provocation with force. The Chinese military activities near North Korea were detected in Jilin Province, and intelligence reports from the area on March 19 indicated that PLA forces were ordered to go to “Level One” alert status, the highest level of readiness.

Large groups of soldiers were seen on the streets in Ji’an, a city in Jilin, amid reports that the PLA had been ordered to combat readiness status. PLA heavy armored vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, were reported moving near the Yalu River that separates China from North Korea.

The troops were part of the 190th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, stationed in Benxi, in Liaoning Province. The movements are believed to be related to increased tensions in Korea. Additionally, PLA troops and military vehicles were seen near Baishan, in Jilin province, around March 21.

Low-flying PLA air force jets, believed to be fighters, also were heard and seen at several border locations in China, including Yanji and Yanbian in Jilin, Kuancheng, in Hebei province, and Dandong, in Liaoning province. Chinese forces along the border responded to some unknown event in North Korea near Siniju on March 21 that involved Chinese fighter jets flying over the area.

The officials said the Chinese military activities appear to be based on concerns about a new outbreak of conflict between North Korea and South Korea and the United States. China’s military maintains a long-standing defense treaty with the North that obligates China to defend North Korea in the event it is attacked. The last time Chinese forces backed Pyongyang was during the Korean War when tens of thousands of Chinese “volunteers” drove south into the peninsula.

Chinese military spokesmen frequently refer to their relations with the Korean People’s Army, as the North Korean military is called, as ties “as close as lips and teeth.” Other reports from China indicate that the heightened tensions have led to a disruption of trade between China and North Korea along the border between the two countries.

One sign of slowed commerce between China and North Korea was a Chinese Internet report from a restaurant owner in Dandong, China, a border city, who said commerce between the two countries was disrupted following North Korea’s Feb. 12 underground nuclear test. Since that time, it has been more difficult for the goods from North Korea to reach China because the North Korean Customs Office closed frequently as a result of increased Chinese inspections of North Korean goods.

U.S. officials and private analysts said the slowdown may be a sign of Beijing’s displeasure at the North Korean nuclear test. China also held up exports of crude oil to North Korea in February, according to customs data reviewed by Reuters news agency. The agency said in a report that it was the first time deliveries of oil were cut since early 2007.

However, in a sign of continuing close relations, the government of Jilin province announced March 27 that it plans to modernize railway links to North Korea to bolster cross-border economic and trade ties. The China Tumen-North Korea Rajin Railway and China Tumen-North Korea Chongjin Railway will be upgraded under the Jilin government plan, China’s official Global Times reported.

Additionally, the Chinese plan to set up a special highway passenger line to connect Tumen to North Korea over the next several years.  Other reports from the region stated that North Korean cities in the northern part of the country were placed on “combat” alert and have conducted evacuation drills, officials said.

The drills have been carried out in three-day to five-day intervals when power and water supplies were suspended as part of the exercises. Chinese citizens living in border cities in China also reported hearing air-raid sirens as part of the exercises, officials said.

U.S. officials say China’s main fear for its fraternal communist client regime in North Korea is a collapse of order that leads to large-scale refugee flows into China. Reports from inside North Korea also revealed that North Korean soldiers have been issued bread, instant noodles, sausages, milk, and dried fish that appeared to be supplied by the United Nations as aid meant for the civilian population.

The Feb. 12 underground blast, North Korea’s third, is credited by analysts with setting off the latest round of belligerence by the Pyongyang regime. After the test, the U.S. government continued to refuse to acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. That prompted the regime of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to issue unprecedented threats to fire nuclear missiles at the United States.

The Pentagon responded by using annual military exercises with South Korea to fly B-52 strategic bombers and later B-2s near North Korea. Frontline F-22 fighter-bombers, the Air Force’s most advanced jets, were sent on Sunday to take part in the military drills. North Korea’s latest threats included announcing a state of war and cutting off military and other communications. North Korea’s ruling communist Korean Workers Party announced on Sunday that the nuclear arsenal is the “nation’s life” and would not be given up even if offered “billions of dollars,” the Associated Press reports. - Free Beacon.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Alert Raised For The Area And All Work Cease Until Further Notice; Liquid Moving On The Surface; Elevated Seismic Activities!

April 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Here's the latest update, advisory, seismographs and flyovers of the giant Louisiana sinkhole:




Advisory from the Office of Conservation
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 2 – requiring all work directly in and over 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 has been observed at the sinkhole surface.

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 continue to advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.


Sinkhole Swallows Access Ramp To Site, Trees.
An Assumption Parish sinkhole’s edge collapsed following increased underground seismic activity for a third time in 16 days...

Experts have known for months that tremors precede edge collapses and other side effects, but the pattern this month appears to be cycling at a faster rate than previously.

Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, said experts think the quickened pace indicates the cavern suspected of causing the sinkhole is getting close to getting full of surrounding earth, causing subsurface shifting movements to occur at shallower depths...

[John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness] said it will probably be next week before work can be resumed following the latest tremors because small parts of the well pad were still breaking off and falling into the sinkhole as of Thursday afternoon... - Advocate.

Seismographs.
The helicorder seem to show some form of anomalous seismic activity from March 31st to April 1st. Please see the following images:








Graphs provided courtesy of the University of Memphis' Center for Earthquake Research and Information. See additional images HERE.

WATCH: Flyover videos - March 28, 2013.






GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For April 01, 2013 - Updates On The Seismic Crisis At El Hierro; Deep Eruption Transformation At Etna And Explosions At Stromboli!

April 01, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.


Location of quakes during the past 48 hours at El Hierro.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): The situation has been a bit calmer today, with still continuing earthquakes, but their frequency and strength has become less compared to yesterday (when there were two earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 and 4.9.) Tremor pulses also have become weaker and shorter, and currently, tremor is near absent. Whether this means that the end of the crisis is slowly approaching remains to be seen.


Latest graph from the Instituto Geografico Nacional (IGN).

Seismic activity continued to increase over the weekend, leading to an increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and culminating in a tremor measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale.  This was the largest recorded since the original eruption in 2011 and was felt as far away as Tenerife.  As in the past, some roads in the island, particularly those with tunnels, have been closed to traffic  The latest cluster of tremors is occurring around 15 kms west of the island, off Punta de Orchilla, and between 15 and 20 kms below the seabed.

As many of you may have seen already, the CHIE graph has been rescaled. We expect that IGN has done this to get the complete amplitude of the strongest earthquakes visible on the graph.

The seismic crisis is continuing with still a lot of (mostly weaker) earthquakes at a safe distance from the coast. We have a special interest for 3 weaker quakes who are located at 11 to 14 km depth below the old island crater area (see map). The depth 11 to 14 km is still deep.
- 34 earthquakes listed by IGN so far today (hundreds weak or micro-quakes in reality)
- 11 earthquakes M3 or more
- strongest earthquake so far today M3.8
- These data seem small at the moment compared to the previous days but are still significant. We do however NOT like to scare people at the island when there is NO reason to do this. So far there is NO reason apart from rockfall in steep cliff areas to be afraid from. Keep away from steep cliffs is our main advise.

The committee of the Civil Protection Plan for Volcanic Risk (Pevolca) met today to discuss the latest seismic events near El Hierro. Maria José Blanco explained to the press that no new measures are decided.
She could not comment on the IEO reported anomalies but believed that the higher temperature may be explained as the influence of degassing. Answering a question “what next” she said (of course) that nobody knows what will be coming but a summer 2011 scenario should not be excluded (the volcanic action below El Hierro started in the summer of 2011 and went on for about 3 months before a submarine eruption took place).

She also explained why the M4.9 yesterday was changed into a M4.6 and later again to a M4.9. It was just a matter of appropriate scales. They changed it again to M4.9 when people started to make grim remarks about it (conspiracy to hide the truth).

IEO, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, has published a press report a few moments ago that the mission of the Ramon Margalef  revealed some anomalies. The “vulcano” mission has nothing to do with the current seismic crisis and was planned many months ago. The mission is in part funded by the European Union. The most important anomaly they found is a 3°C higher temperature at the new crater in the Las Calmas sea (this is the -87 meter submarine crater who erupted in 2011-2012). The temperature is also higher than during another mission which took place in last December which showed also anomalies. 40 (mostly chemical) parameters were examined during this mission.


Etna (Sicily, Italy): Etna volcano might have begun a process of deep transformation in its eruption style, new scientific studies suggest.  During a recent field trip in order to sample the lava erupted during the latest New SE crater paroxysm on 16 March 2013, members of OPEC (Osservatorio Privato Etneo di Catania) found, along with the usual basaltic black lava commonly erupted pieces of the extremely rare so-called "white lava" (see photo).


Sample of the White Lava erupted during the 16 Mar paroxysm (OPEC).

This white lava was first seen as occasional xenoliths during the excentric flank eruptions in 2011 and 2012, but never since until now. First macroscopic inspection revealed that it is a special variety of light-colored quartz-rich basalt, normally only produced by submarine volcanoes under certain circumstances (e.g. the restingolitas from the El Hierro 2011-12 La Restinga submarine eruption).


The usual black lava from Etna (sample from the 16 Mar paroxysm) (OPEC).

Geochemical analysis at the OPEC have further revealed a large Europium anomaly in the white lava. Europium, one of the rare earth elements (atomic no. 63, symbol Eu, atomic weight 151.96), is little known in its role in magmas, but it is suspected that enrichment occurs as a result of magma-sea water mixing.
Given the similarity of this lava to El Hierro's restingolitas, the current silence of Etna, along with the simultaneous strong seismic crisis at El Hierro, it is possible that some of Etna's magmas have been diverted through underground channels to El Hierro. Another hypothesis, to be confirmed, is that Etna might be undergoing a transformation towards becoming a predominantly submarine volcano, possibly reactivating old dikes such as those found along the Acitrezza-Acireale Ionian coast.


Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): The NE crater continues to produce spectacular and relatively large explosions of bursting lava bubbles. Tremor as well is elevated.

Stromboli's NE crater with glowing bombs on its flanks from an explosion (INGV webcam).



Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for April 1, 2013.


SOURCES:  Volcano Discovery | Earthquake Report | News In The Sun.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off The East Coast Of Honshu, Japan - No Tsunami Alert Issued!

April 01, 2013 - JAPAN - A magnitude-6.0 undersea earthquake hit off eastern Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Monday. No tsunami alert was issued.


USGS earthquake map and location.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quake, which the USGS said happened at 4:53 a.m. Tuesday local time (1853 GMT Monday).

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The USGS said the quake hit some 107 kilometers (66 miles) east of Miyako, Japan, and some 327 kilometers (526 miles) northeast of Tokyo.


USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Japan's Meteorological Agency and the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency issued no tsunami warnings or alerts. - AP.



Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of Japan and Vicinity
Japan and the surrounding islands straddle four major tectonic plates: Pacific plate; North America plate; Eurasia plate; and Philippine Sea plate. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, beneath Hokkaido and northern Honshu, along the eastern margin of the Okhotsk microplate, a proposed subdivision of the North America plate. Farther south, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath volcanic islands along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This 2,200 km-long zone of subduction of the Pacific plate is responsible for the creation of the deep offshore Ogasawara and Japan trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of Circumpacific island arcs. Similarly, the Philippine Sea plate is itself subducting under the Eurasia plate along a zone, extending from Taiwan to southern Honshu that comprises the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto trench.


USGS earthquake historic seismicity.

Subduction zones at the Japanese island arcs are geologically complex and produce numerous earthquakes from multiple sources. Deformation of the overriding plates generates shallow crustal earthquakes, whereas slip at the interface of the plates generates interplate earthquakes that extend from near the base of the trench to depths of 40 to 60 km. At greater depths, Japanese arc earthquakes occur within the subducting Pacific and Philippine Sea plates and can reach depths of nearly 700 km. Since 1900, three great earthquakes occurred off Japan and three north of Hokkaido. They are the M8.4 1933 Sanriku-oki earthquake, the M8.3 2003 Tokachi-oki earthquake, the M9.0 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the M8.4 1958 Etorofu earthquake, the M8.5 1963 Kuril earthquake, and the M8.3 1994 Shikotan earthquake. - USGS.




SOLAR WATCH: Monster Sunspot 1711 Rotates Over The Sun's Southeastern Limb - Where It Can Be Seen From Earth!

April 01, 2013 - SUN - A geomagnetic storm that shook Earth's polar magnetic field and sparked bright auroras on March 29th and 30th has subsided. The cause of the disturbance was a high-speed solar wind stream, which arrived on the 29th. There is an estimated slight 15% chance of continued storming from March 31st onwards, as the stream departs. However, NOAA forecasters have now turned their attention to a massive sunspot on the eastern quadrant of the stellar object.

BIG, QUIET SUNSPOT: Ten days ago, big sunspot AR1711 was on the farside of the sun hurling CMEs at Venus. Now it is rotating over the sun's southeastern limb where we can see it from Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the spot during the early hours of March 31st:



Despite its fiery appearance, however, the region is quiet. No strong flares have issued from AR1711 since it targeted Venus in March.


Amateur astronomer Rogerio Marcon sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Campinas, Brasil. To obtain the picture, Marcon used an 8-inch telescope and an H-alpha filter tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen. It shows the sunspot's dark core surrounded by a maelstrom of hot plasma.

NOAA forecasters estimate a slim 10% chance of M-class flares during the next 24 hours.



A closer look at the quiet monster numbered 1711. Image by SDO.

A closer look at the quiet monster numbered 1711. Image by Ron Cottrell.
WATCH: Sunspot Region 1711.



SUNSPOT REGIONS: Regions 1707, 1708, 1710 and 1712 all appear to be in a state of decay. The largest visible sunspot remains region 1711, but continues to be very quiet. Old region 1698 from the previous rotation will be rotating back into view off the southeast limb within the next 24 hours. There is currently a chance for C-Class solar flares.


New sunspot AR1711 is large but, fo far, quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
CORONAL HOLES: Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on April 6-7.


Credit: SDO/AIA.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham.


WORLD WAR III: Escalation Towards Armageddon - United States Strategy Takes Korean Crisis Into New Territory; U.S. F-22 Stealth Jets Join South Korea Drills Amid Sabre-Rattling; North Korea Vows To Strengthen Nukes And To Shut Down Industrial Zone With South Korea As South Korea Vows Fast Response!

April 01, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA - The United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea on Sunday to join military drills aimed at underscoring the U.S. commitment to defend Seoul in the face of an intensifying campaign of threats from North Korea.


File picture.

U.S. F-22 Stealth Jets Join South Korea Drills Amid Sabre-Rattling.
The advanced, radar-evading F-22 Raptors were deployed to Osan Air Base, the main U.S. Air Force base in South Korea, from Japan to support ongoing bilateral exercises, the U.S. military command in South Korea said in a statement that urged North Korea to restrain itself.

"(North Korea) will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia," the statement said. Sabre-rattling on the Korean peninsula drew a plea for peace from Pope Francis, who in his first Easter Sunday address called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

"Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow," he said, speaking in Italian. Tensions have been high since the North's young new leader, Kim Jong-un, ordered a nuclear weapons test in February, breaching U.N. sanctions and ignoring warnings from North Korea's closest ally, China, not to do so.

That test, North Korea's third since 2006, drew further U.N. and bilateral sanctions designed to pressure the impoverished North to stop its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang responded to the new steps by ratcheting up warnings and threats of war. North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a "state of war" with South Korea, but Seoul and its ally the United States played down the statement from the official KCNA news agency as the latest in a stream of tough talk from Pyongyang.

In a rare U.S. show of force aimed at North Korea, the United States on Thursday flew two radar-evading B-2 Spirit bombers on practice runs over South Korea. On Friday, Kim signed an order putting the North's missile units on standby to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the stealth bomber flights.

The F-22 jets will take part in the annual U.S.-South Korea Foal Eagle military drills, which are designed to sharpen the allies' readiness to defend the South from an attack by North Korea, the U.S. military said. The U.S. military did not say how many of the planes were flown to South Korea from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The statement described Sunday's deployment as part of routine shifts of air power among bases in the Western Pacific that U.S. forces have been conducting since 2004.

Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted the top Japanese government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, as condemning Pyongyang for "aggressive provocation" after Kim's ruling party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, identified U.S. military bases in Japan as targets for attack. The two Koreas have been technically in a state of war since a truce that ended their 1950-53 conflict. Despite its threats, few people see any indication Pyongyang will risk a near-certain defeat by re-starting full-scale war. - Reuters.

WATCH: US F-22 jets join S. Korea war games, 'situation on knife's-edge'.




North Korea Vows To Strengthen Nukes Amid Tensions.
This photo taken on March 28, 2013 and released by North Korea's
official news agency shows leader Kim Jong-Un in Pyongyang.
North Korea has vowed to strengthen its nuclear weapons, a day
after announcing it is in a "state of war" with South Korea, and
said it would never trade its atomic deterrent for aid.
North Korea vowed Sunday to strengthen its nuclear weapons, a day after announcing it is in a "state of war" with South Korea, and said it would never trade its atomic deterrent for aid.  Tensions have risen sharply on the peninsula since the United Nations tightened sanctions in response to the North's nuclear and missile tests, and the United States and South Korea launched military drills south of the border.  On Saturday the North declared it was in a "state of war" with the South and warned Seoul and Washington that any provocation would swiftly escalate into an all-out nuclear conflict. 

A meeting Sunday of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party, guided by leader Kim Jong-Un, decided that the country's possession of nuclear weapons "should be fixed by law", the official KCNA news agency reported without elaborating.  The nuclear armed forces "should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearisation of the world is realised", it added.  Members also decided to develop a light water reactor as part of a civilian nuclear power industry to ease electricity shortages, KCNA said.  The North in 2010 disclosed the existence of a uranium enrichment facility and light water reactor, purportedly to generate power. Experts said it could easily be reconfigured to make fuel for nuclear weapons.  The North in April 2009 formally abandoned six-party talks offering it economic and security benefits in return for denuclearisation.  On Sunday it reiterated that its atomic weapons are not a bargaining chip.  "They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars," KCNA quoted the central committee members as saying. - France24.



North Korea Threatens To Shut Down Industrial Zone With South Korea.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) threatened on Saturday to shut down a joint industrial park with South Korea if the latter continued to insult the DPRK's dignity, the official KCNA news agency reported.  "We will close the zone without mercy if South Korea continues to tarnish the DPRK's image," the KCNA news agency quoted a statement of the General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone as saying.  The industrial park, located in the DPRK border city of Kaesong, was launched in 2004 to house around 120 South Korean companies that employ some 50,000 DPRK workers.  The announcement came just hours after the DPRK said it had entered "a state of war" against South Korea, which once again escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 12 as a countermeasure against U.S.-South Korean joint military drills.  The statement also dismissed Seoul's claims that the DPRK did not take actions on the Kaesong Industrial Zone because it was a source for the country's foreign currency income.  "It is an extremely unusual thing that the industrial complex is still in existence under the current grave situation," it said. - Xinhaunet.


South Korea Vows Fast Response To North.
South Korean soldiers take part in a military exercise with their
mobile artillery vehicles, near the demilitarized zone separating
the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, March 12, 2013.
REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korea will strike back quickly if the North stages any attack, the new president in Seoul warned on Monday, as tensions ratcheted higher on the Korean peninsula amid shrill rhetoric from Pyongyang and the U.S. deployment of radar-evading fighter planes.  North Korea says the region is on the brink of a nuclear war in the wake of United Nations sanctions imposed for its February nuclear test and a series of joint U.S. and South Korean military drills that have included a rare U.S. show of aerial power.    The North, whose economy is smaller than it was 20 years ago, appeared to move on Monday to addressing its pressing need for investment by appointing a reformer to the country's ceremonial prime minister's job, although the move mostly cemented a power grab by the ruling Kim clan.  North Korea had said on Saturday it was entering a "state of war" with South Korea in response to what it termed the "hostile" military drills being staged in the South. But there have been no signs of unusual activity in the North's military to suggest an imminent aggression, a South Korean defense ministry official said last week.  "If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," President Park Geun-hye told the defense minister and senior officials at a meeting on Monday.  The South has changed its rules of engagement to allow local units to respond immediately to attacks, rather than waiting for permission from Seoul.  Stung by criticism that its response to the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010 was tardy and weak, Seoul has also threatened to target North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and to destroy statues of the ruling Kim dynasty in the event of any new attack, a plan that has outraged Pyongyang. - Reuters.



US Strategy Takes Korean Crisis Into New Territory.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un (L) inspecting military drills
at an undisclosed location on N.Korea's east coast. North
Korea on Saturday delivered the latest in a string of dire
threats that drew a tough response from Seoul and Washington,
and sparked international concern over tensions on the peninsula.
Soaring tensions on the Korean peninsula have seen dire North Korean threats met with an unusually assertive US response that analysts warn could take a familiar game into dangerous territory.  By publicly highlighting its recent deployment of nuclear-capable B-52 and stealth bombers over South Korea, Washington has, at times, almost appeared to be purposefully goading an already apoplectic Pyongyang.  "There certainly seems to be an element of 'let's show we're taking the gloves off this time' about the US stance," said Paul Carroll, program director at the Ploughshares Fund, a US-based security policy think-tank.  And the North has responded in kind, declaring on Saturday that it was now in a "state of war" with South Korea.  Security crises on the Korean peninsula have come and gone over the decades and have tended to follow a similar pattern of white-knuckle brinkmanship that threatens but finally pulls back from catastrophic conflict.  North Korea's founding leader Kim Il-Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-Il were both considered skilled practitioners of this high-stakes game of who-blinks-first diplomacy.  And they ensured Pyongyang had enough form to lend its threats credibility, having engineered provocations that ranged from blowing up a South Korean civilian airliner in 1987 to shelling a South Korean island in 2010.  The current crisis, with Pyongyang lashing out at a combination of UN sanctions and South Korea-US military exercises, diverges from precedent in terms of the context and the main characters involved.  It follows the two landmark events that triggered the UN sanctions and re-drew the strategic balance on the peninsula: The North's successful long-range rocket launch in December and its third -- and largest -- nuclear test in February. 

Both may have emboldened North Korea to overplay its hand, while at the same time prompting Washington to decide there was already too much at stake to consider folding.  "Rhetorical salvoes are one thing, while rocket launches and nuclear tests are quite another," said Carroll.  In addition, both North and South Korea have new, untested leaders with a strong domestic motivation to prove their mettle in any showdown.  Bruce Klingner, a Korea expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, believes the danger of "miscalculation" is especially high from North Korea's young supremo Kim Jong-Un.  Kim was not only emboldened by the successful rocket and nuclear tests, but "also by the knowledge that Seoul and Washington have never struck back in any significant way after previous deadly attacks".  This time around, however, South Korea has signalled it would respond with interest, and the message sent by the B-52 and stealth bomber flights is that it has the US firmly in its corner.  Peter Hayes, who heads the Nautilus Institute, an Asia-focused think tank, points out that the B-52 deployment carried a particular -- and potentially dangerous -- resonance.  After a bloody border incident in 1976 left two American soldiers dead, the United States spent weeks sending flights of B-52 bombers up the Korean peninsula, veering off just before they entered the North's air space.  Then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger commented that he had "never seen the North Koreans so scared". 

Hayes warned that replaying the B-52 threat could prove to be "strategically stupid" by reviving the North's historic and deep-rooted fear of a US nuclear strike.  "The B-52 deployment also declares loudly and clearly that they have forced the US to play the game of nuclear war with North Korea," Hayes said.  "It tells them it has reached the hallowed status of a nuclear-armed state that matters enough to force a simulated nuclear-military response," he added.  The possible end-game scenarios to the current crisis are numerous, but none point to an obvious path for defusing the situation peacefully.  Most analysts rule out the prospect of a full-scale war on the grounds that North Korea knows it would lose, just as it knows that launching any sort of nuclear strike would be suicidal.  But after threatening everything from an artillery assault to nuclear armageddon, there is also a sense that Kim Jong-Un has pushed himself into a corner and must do something to avoid a damaging loss of face and credibility.  A provocative missile test fired into the sea over Japan is one option with a relatively low risk of further escalation.  Several analysts had originally predicted a limited artillery strike similar to the 2010 shelling of Yeonpyeong island, but the US and South Korean vows of a tough response have called into question just how "limited" such a move would prove to be.  Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies with the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested that the United States, having delivered its message loud and clear, should now provide Kim with a way out.  "There is a need for the United States and South Korea to offer some clear diplomatic gestures of reassurance toward the North that can help the North Koreans climb down, calm down, and change course," Snyder said. - France24.



FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Unusual Cosmic Bombardment As Four Asteroids Flash Past Earth In Just One Day?!

April 01, 2013 - SKY - Earth is experiencing an unusual cosmic bombardment as four large asteroids pass it in just one day. Fortunately astronomers don’t seem to joking when saying none are expected to pose danger.


Image from NASA.gov.

The largest is 4034 Vishnu, which is 800 meters across – the length of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – though much greater in mass. In comparison, the Tunguska meteorite that devastated hundreds of miles of Siberian wilderness when it landed in 1908 was estimated to be no bigger than 100 meters.

The asteroid that may have led to the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago may have been up to 10 kilometers across.

But 4034 Vushnu – which was discovered in 1986 – will pass nearly 23 million kilometers from the Earth’s surface. The closest of the four, EN 89, will be just over 5 million kilometers away from the planet. The asteroid was only discovered a fortnight ago.


Orbit Diagram. Image from NASA.gov

Although in everyday terms, the asteroids, ancient cosmic bodies that did not form into planets, will be a distance away, they are still classed as Close Approaches by astronomers. In total several hundred of them happen each year, but it is unusual for so many passes to happen over the course of one day.

The closest large asteroid to pass Earth this year was the 50-meter DA14, which flew 27,600 kilometers from the surface in February. Remarkably on the same day, an asteroid of up to 20-meters penetrated the atmosphere and exploded over Chelyabinsk in Siberia.

On average, asteroids of that size enter the atmosphere every 10 years. Those such as the Yucatan meteor that may have ended the Mesozoic Era, are expected to impact the Earth once every 20 million years.

While, the paths of many asteroids can be charted centuries ahead (and could even be destroyed if they head for the Earth) many, like the Chelyabinsk Meteor, are not detected until they enter the atmosphere – rendering the planet potentially vulnerable to impacts millions of times more powerful than the worst nuclear explosions.

But, some are taking a more positive attitude to asteroids. Earlier this year, Astrorank, a company that evaluates the make-up of asteroids in view of future space mining operations, said that 4034 Vishnu – which is composed largely of platinum and nickel-iron – is worth around $40 trillion dollars, more than half of the world’s gross national product last year. - RT.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: The Euro-Zone Crisis - 60% Of Deposits Above €100,000 To Be Seized In Cyprus; New Cyprus Bombshell As Britons Are Told They May Lose EVERYTHING Over £85K; Moscow Says "No Bailout" For Russian Savers On Cyprus; Slovenian Bailout Inevitable, As Tiny EU State Is Caught Up In Fallout From Cyprus Crisis; Italy's Monte Paschi Admits To Billions In Deposit Outflows; The Mega-Rich Withdrew Money Before Looting!

April 01, 2013 - EUROPE - The Russian government says it will not compensate Russian savers who have lost money in the Cyprus banking crisis.  Russians are believed to have billions of euros in Cypriot accounts and deposits above 100,000 euros (£84,300; $128,200) in the two biggest banks could be reduced by as much as 60%.




60% Of Deposits Above €100,000 To Be Seized In Cyprus.
Such losses would be "a great shame", First Deputy PM Igor Shuvalov said, "but the Russian government won't take any action in that situation".  Cyprus now restricts cash withdrawals. A 10bn-euro bailout from the EU and IMF - required to keep the debt-laden Cypriot economy afloat - will only be granted if Cyprus itself raises 5.8bn euros, most of which looks likely to come from depositors with more than 100,000 euros in Bank of Cyprus and Laiki (Popular Bank).

'Haircut' for depositors
Laiki, the second largest bank, is being wound up and folded into Bank of Cyprus, the biggest bank. Speaking on the Russian state TV channel Rossiya 1, Mr Shuvalov said Russian money in Cyprus included some that had been taxed and some that had not. He said the Russian government would still look at cases where there were "serious losses, involving companies in which the Russian state is a shareholder". That review would take place in Russia, and "for this it would certainly not be necessary to help the Republic of Cyprus", he said.

Many of the large-scale foreign investors in Cyprus are Russian - and in many cases they have taken advantage of the island's status as an offshore tax haven. Some politicians have accused Cyprus of acting as a hub for Russian money-laundering - an allegation rejected by Cypriot officials. After years of large-scale capital flight from Russia there is now a Kremlin drive to repatriate Russian money. The government has introduced tighter monitoring of foreign bank accounts held by Russian state employees.

Bank of Cyprus depositors with more than 100,000 euros could lose up to 60% of their savings as part of the bailout, officials say. The central bank says 37.5% of holdings over 100,000 euros will become shares. Up to 22.5% will go into a fund attracting no interest and may be subject to further write-offs. The other 40% will attract interest - but this will not be paid unless the bank performs well.

The fear is that once the unprecedented capital controls - which are in place for an indefinite time - are lifted, the wealthiest will rush to move their deposits abroad, the BBC's Mark Lowen reports from Nicosia. Cyprus has become the first eurozone member country to bring in capital controls to prevent a torrent of money leaving the island and credit institutions collapsing. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has said the financial situation has been "contained" following the deal. He has also stressed that Cyprus has no intention of leaving the euro, stressing that "in no way will we experiment with the future of our country". - BBC.

WATCH:  'Troika to consume Cyprus to expel Russian money & influence'.



New Cyprus Bombshell As Britons Are Told They May Lose EVERYTHING Over £85K.
Savers at the Bank of Cyprus will see 37.5 per cent of any
deposits over £85,000 converted into shares in the bank 
British expats in Cyprus face a near-total wipe-out of any deposits over £85,000 as the full nightmare  of the stricken island’s EU bailout became clear yesterday.  Although it was known that the wealthiest savers would take a  large hit from last week’s €10 billion (£8.5 billion) EU rescue deal, the loss is far greater than feared.  The blow will fall on customers of the country two biggest banks – Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank.   Bank of Cyprus savers will see 37.5 per cent of any deposits over €100,000 (£85,000) converted into shares in the bank, with a strong possibility that these will prove worthless. Another 40 per cent will be repaid only if the bank does well in future, while 22.5 per cent will go into a contingency fund that could be subject to further write-offs.  Laiki Bank customers are also reported to be facing the loss of 80 per cent of their deposits above the £85,000 limit.  An early bailout plan – highlighted by The Mail on Sunday two weeks ago – would have seen the losses shared across all bank customers, regardless of their balance.  However, that plan was voted down by the Cypriot parliament, leaving the country in urgent need of a new solution to raise its €5.8 billion contribution towards the bailout.  

The deal – which was clinched last Monday between Cyprus, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund – made clear that richer bank customers would shoulder a much larger bill.  Although it is not known how many of the 60,000 British expats living  on the island have deposits of  more than £85,000, it is likely that a considerable number will be caught in the net.  Neil Hodgson, 48, who moved to Paphos, on the south-west coast of the island, six years ago, said he has lost nearly £200,000. The former farmer, who has two accounts with Bank of Cyprus, added: ‘I had more than €300,000 in my deposit account and €20,000 in my current account. When I went to the bank the other day I was told the total balance for both is €100,000.  ‘They were unable to explain how this had been worked out but indicated I might get some back at a later stage.   ‘I checked online and it confirmed that the €20,000 in my current account remains, but that I only have €80,000 in my savings account. It’s robbery, plain and simple.’  Last week markets took fright at suggestions that the Cyprus model could be a blueprint for future  bailouts elsewhere in Europe.  Those with less than £85,000 in the bank have also seen themselves hit by the bailout. Temporary capital controls have been imposed to stop residents taking cash off the island, including capping cash machine withdrawals at €300 a day.  At the same time, businesses have been told they will be unable to transfer more than €5,000 abroad without approval, while no one, including tourists, can leave the island with over €1,000 in cash. - Daily Mail.


Moscow Says "No Bailout" For Russian Savers On Cyprus.
A senior Russian Cabinet member says his government won't protect Russian depositors who are losing money in Cyprus but may offer assistance to some Russian state companies.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said in televised remarks that it would be a "great pity" if Russians lose their money in Cyprus, but added that the Cabinet won't take any action to soften the blow.

He added, however, that while his government sees no reason for offering any assistance to Cyprus, it may take unspecified action to help reduce the damage for Russian state companies.

Big depositors at Cyprus' largest bank, including some Russians, may be forced to accept losses of up to 60 percent, far more than initially estimated under the European rescue package to save the country from bankruptcy. - AP.


Slovenian Bailout Inevitable, As Tiny EU State Is Caught Up In Fallout From Cyprus Crisis.
The Cyprus bailout crisis could lead to yet another country’s banks being put in peril.  The cost of borrowing in Slovenia tripled last week amid market fears for the future of eurozone countries.  Government bond rates soared from 1.2per cent to 4.26per cent, putting the future of the country’s nationally owned banks at risk.  ‘Slovenia is now inevitably heading to a bailout, the eurozone shot itself completely in the foot following the Cyprus issue,’ said Tim Ash, head of European research at Standard Bank.  The International Monetary Fund said the country’s banks ‘are under severe distress’ due to the size of bad loans sitting on their books.  ‘The country has lost competitiveness since joining the euro in 2007 and it’s leading to slow economic collapse,’ said analyst Lars Christensen from Danske Bank. ‘The banks need recapitalisation, and it is not easy to raise money in this climate.’  Slovenia, with a population of just two million, is expected to see output slump by two per cent this year. The next test of international confidence in the country will come early this summer.  The state will need to raise more money in early June, when £766million of government debt comes up for renewal.  It will have to find a total of £2.5billion to keep on running.  Its banks, many of which are which are state-owned, are unable to take on large amounts of government debt, meaning the money will have to come from outside sources. Analysts are sceptical it will be able to raise the cash in the wake of the £8.5billion Cyprus bailout.  This will provoke fears EU authorities will launch a tax raid on Slovenian bank accounts, just as they did in Cyprus. - Daily Mail.


Italy's Monte Paschi Admits To Billions In Deposit Outflows.

It appears, given news from Italy today, that European depositors are increasingly coming to the realization that deposits in their local bank are not 'safe' places to put their spare cash, but are in fact loans to extremely leveraged businesses. In a somewhat wishy-washy, 'hide-the-truth'-like statement on Monte dei Paschi's website, the CEO admits to, "the withdrawal of several billion in deposits." Of course, the reasons why these depositors withdrew their capital from the oldest bank in the world will never be known though of course he blames it on "reputational damage" from their derivative cheating scandal. Apparently the fact that this happened to come about six week after said scandal and the bank's third bailout, and that the prior two bailouts did not result in such an outflow of unsecured liabilities (at least not to the public's knowledge), was lost on the senior management, as was lost that a far greater catalyst may have been the slightly more troubling events in Cyprus in the second half of March. Unsurprisingly, as Reuters notes, the CEO declined to give a forecast on the level of deposits at the end of the first quarter of 2013; no wonder given the bank just doubled its expectations for bad loans and the 'Cypriot Solution' dangling over uninsured depositor hordes.
Via Reuters,
Customers' deposits at Italian bank Monte dei Paschi fell by "a few billion euros" ... the bank said in a document posted on its web site on Saturday...

But it has yet to make clear what impact the scandal itself had on its first quarter results.

"The illicit nature of the derivatives trades and their consequence on the bank's assets exposed the bank to reputational damage that was immediately translated into...the withdrawal of a few billion euros in deposits," the bank said in a document for shareholders attending its April 29 meeting...

But he declined to give a forecast on the level of deposits at the end of the first quarter of 2013 or to indicate the outlook for net interest income and loan loss provisions.
A quick glance at BMPS' capital structure shows that there isn't a whole lot (read: almost any) of impairable securities below the unsecured liability (i.e., deposit) level. It is also obvious that when the bad debt impairment begins and depositors start getting whacked at least senior bonds, which should be pari passu, will feel the pain too as per the Diesel-BOOM doctrine, although we doubt this particular case of pain sharing will bring much comfort to any and all uninsured depositors in the oldest bank in the world. - Zero Hedge.



The Mega-Rich Withdrew Money Before Looting.
News that the Cypriot President’s family moved 21 million euros to London days before the bank accounts of his people were looted as part of the bailout deal serves as another reminder that while the media portrays the victims of the Cyprus “haircut” as the mega rich and wealthy Russian oligarchs, the real victims are middle class families and small business owners. “A company owned by in-laws of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades withdrew dozens of millions from Laiki Bank on March 12 and 13, according to an article published in Cypriot newspaper Haravgi,” reports EnetEnglish.

“The newspaper, which is affiliated to the communist-rooted AKEL party, reports that three days before the Eurogroup meeting the company took five promissory notes worth €21m from Laiki Bank and transferred the money to London.” In addition, as Reuters reports, “While ordinary Cypriots queued at ATM machines to withdraw a few hundred euros as credit card transactions stopped, other depositors used an array of techniques to access their money.”

Branches and subsidiaries of Cypriot banks in London and Russia remained open while banks in Cyprus were closed, allowing Russian oligarchs and other wealthy depositors to move their money. When asked about the amount of money that had exited Cyprus before the bailout deal, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble refused to provide figures. “Perhaps because if he did, it would become clear that the only entities truly punished by this weekend’s actions are not evil Russian billionaires, but small and medium domestic companies, and other moderately wealthy individuals, hardly any of them from the former “Evil Empire,” remarks Zero Hedge.

As Business Insider reports, the fact that the mega-rich – the supposed targets of Cyprus “haircut” – have already removed most of their money from the system means that, “upper middle class/entrepreneur types will feel most of the pain if the Cyprus tax is enacted.” In other words, the very engine of the Cypriot economy, the businesses and the employers, will be the victims of the EU/IMF plundering. Middle class families are also amongst the worst affected. The Telegraph recently reported on a family who sold their villa in Cyprus for 200,000 euros right before the “haircut” was announced only to see the desperately needed cash disappear.

As we highlighted last week, a screenshot from an online bank account belonging to a medium-sized IT business in Cyprus shows over 720,000 euros in “blocked funds.” According to the owner, 80 per cent of that will be swiped and what’s left will take 6 to 7 years to get back. After an initial attempt to plunder around 10 per cent of savings was rejected after a huge public outcry, Bank of Cyprus depositors now face losing up to 60% of their money, with Cyprus’s financial minister Michalis Sarris warning the “haircut” could even be as much as 80%.

However, since the theft has been characterized by the media as merely targeting rich Russian oligarchs and other wealthy investors, the uproar has diminished. In reality, the mega-rich managed to get their money out either before the crisis even started or during the so-called “bank holiday” period while middle class depositors were left stranded. Given that the looting of bank accounts has now been established as the template for future “bank recapitalizations” across Europe as well as Canada, the middle class has now been permanently put in the crosshairs and will be expected to pay for bankers’ gambling losses with their savings on a regular basis. - Info Wars.

WATCH: CrossTalk - Crisis Capitalism.




FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far And Wide - Two Years After The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Is Japan Facing A Cancer Time Bomb; Fukushima Radiation Release Equivalent To 1,000 A-Bombs; Species Of Sea Snail Now Entirely Extinct In Large Area Around Nuclear Plant; U.S. Scientists Find Fukushima Cesium In Turtles, Whales, Fish; Daiichi Worker Says "Radiation Levels Just Won't Go Down"; Graphic Shows 900-Mile-Long “Front” Of Most Contaminated Water From Fukushima Moving Across Pacific Toward U.S., Canada!

April 01, 2013 - JAPAN - In the shadow of the Fukushima nuclear power station life appears to have returned to normal. A farmer tends his cows and goes about his daily routine as dogs play round his feet. Signs of spring are everywhere and birds sing. But take a closer look and it's all a sham.  The rice fields are overgrown with weeds as tall as a man. The rest of this village, near the scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, is deserted. Washing still hanging on lines hints at the panic which engulfed this region of Japan.  The farmer is among a handful of people who defied an order by the authorities to evacuate. Beef from this area was once prized for its taste and quality but his cows, which graze within sight of the chimneys of the plant, should have been slaughtered and are now worthless.  Two years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown in the reactors at Fukushima, releasing clouds of radiation, the world has moved on.  Officially the mass evacuation was a success and the prompt action of a heroic band of workers at the crippled plant averted a nuclear catastrophe. No one has so far died as a result of radiation from Fukushima, insist the authorities. However there are growing concerns that the full scale of the disaster has yet to be seen. There are claims of complacency and a cover-up. It's not the Japanese way to stage protests but there has been a series of anti-nuclear rallies in Tokyo, 160 miles south.  Most worrying are the results of tests carried out on more than 130,000 children who lived around Fukushima. More than 40 per cent have the early signs of thyroid cancer, while other forms of the disease may not become apparent for a decade.  While it's true that people living very close by were evacuated within the first few days, damage may already have been done to their health.


Two Years After The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Is Japan Facing A Cancer Time Bomb?

LEGACY: No one knows how the Fukushima disaster will affect the health of the area's children.

Many more, living up to 25 miles away, were not moved away until six weeks after the radiation escaped.  It's also feared that the food chain has been contaminated. Radioactive material has been detected in a range of produce, including spinach, tea leaves, milk and beef, up to 200 miles distant. Fish caught near the plant this month were more than 5,000 times over safe radiation limits, according to Japan's state broadcaster NHK.  Then there's the daily risk of more radiation escaping from the smouldering plant, which is still not fully stable. It's being cooled with vast amounts of water but workers are running out of tanks in which to store the contaminated liquid once it has done its job.  Last week there was a scare when a rat got into a switchboard and caused a 29-hour power cut, which disabled the cooling systems.  It showed just how fragile the efforts to avert a further radiation leak are, and the new sea wall that has been built against future tidal waves hardly inspires confi-dence. Japan, it seems, could have a ticking time bomb on its hands.  Tens of thousands of people who fled Fukushima are claimed to be under pressure to return to the area from next month. While the 12-mile zone closest to the plant will remain off limits to all but the brave or foolhardy, people who lived in outer areas have been told it's safe to go home. It's claimed they have been instructed that they will not be eligible for any compensation if they stay away.  Part of the problem is that no one seems able to agree on how serious the risks are. Every expert has some sort of agenda which is only adding to the confusion. 

According to one scientist the radiation released was about 10 per cent of the Chernobyl disaster, which may have caused up to a million premature cancer deaths.  Another expert claims the true figure is nearer to 40 per cent. The official position on radiation risks is based on the fact that very few Fukushima residents received doses over 100 milli-sieverts per year - the level above which some studies show is the threshold for an increased risk of cancer. But other studies show that cancer can occur in much lower doses.  over 100 milli-sieverts per year - the level above which some studies show is the threshold for an increased risk of cancer. But other studies show that cancer can occur in much lower doses.  Dr Rianne Teule, a radiation expert with Greenpeace, says: "The potential effects of radiation from Fukushima have beenshamelessly down played. It could be many years before we discover the real impact and some of the risks are being ignored."  Dr Rianne Teule, a radiation expert with Greenpeace, says: "The potential effects of radiation from Fukushima have beenshamelessly down played. It could be many years before we discover the real impact and some of the risks are being ignored."  According to the organisation, radiation "hotspots" have been found in school playgrounds outside the evacuation zones. "We are most concerned about vulnerable people, including children and pregnant women," says Dr Teule. "The likelihood is that thousands of people are at risk of cancer from the Fukushima disaster."  According to the organisation, radiation "hotspots" have been found in school playgrounds outside the evacuation zones. "We are most concerned about vulnerable people, including children and pregnant women," says Dr Teule. "The likelihood is that thousands of people are at risk of cancer from the Fukushima disaster."

A report by the World Health Organisation " A report by the World Health Organisasays that for most people hit by the radiation the likelihood of cancer is small. Among children the risk of developing some cancers, including thyroid, leukaemia and breast, is higher than normal. Away from the immediate area, the threat is tiny.  Richard Wakeford, of the University of Manchester and one of the authors of the report, says that smoking is more damaging than having been in Fukushima. Yet on an agreed international scale of one to 10 for nuclear accidents, Fukushima is rated seven. Previously Chernobyl was the only seven on record, signifying widespread contamination with serious health and environmental effects.  The cost of Fukushima is not only confined to the threat to physical health. It's been reported that the suicide rate has risen among the displaced and the number of failed marriages is much higher than normal. There are false rumours spreading about birth defects among Fukushima babies and some women have found themselves scorned as possible wives.  FARMERS face ruin. The region is among the country's top producers of tomatoes, cucumbers, apples and pears. Some restaurants and shops have bought machines which measure radiation levels in food to try to reassure customers. Many don't trust the government to carry out basic safety checks which is hardly surprising because on the evening of the disaster an official spokesman told reporters: "There is no radiation leak, nor will there be a leak."  Others accept the authorities are doing what they can, including washing topsoil to try to make safe contaminated farmland. Doctors handed out iodine tablets to residents to limit absorption of radiation. Along with a ban on fresh produce from the area, this may have saved countless lives.  The wider issue is whether nuclear power plants should have been built in Japan, which is close to a geological fault line and prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. In the Sixties and Seventies rural communities were promised new roads and jobs in return for accepting a plant near them.  Fukushima has been described as a disaster triggered by nature but created by man and Japan can only wait to discover the consequences.

HOW THE DISASTER UNFOLDED

The huge earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 2011 left 20,000 people dead.  A 40ft-high wall of sea water flooded the Fukushima nuclear plant, cutting the power supply to water pumps cooling the nuclear reactors.  There was no back-up plan because Tepco, which ran the plant, had not foreseen total loss of power.  Disaster could have been avoided but the government delayed letting more salt water flood in. This would have cooled the reactors but also damaged them. The nuclear rods began to melt in three reactors and there was a series of explosions followed by a release of radiation.  The worst of the contamination was blown north-west of Fukushima. Over the next two months a total of 160,000 people were evacuated. Many more chose to flee and prime minister Naoto Kan has since admitted he feared he would have to order the evacuation of Tokyo.  A group of workers at the plant volunteered to stay on and averted a far more serious disaster.  The men, known as the Fukushima 50, have been credited with saving Japan. Working in shifts, they lived on biscuits and slept when they could in a radiation-proofed bunker.  Nuclear power used to supply one third of the nation's electricity. All 50 of Japan's nuclear plants were shut after the meltdown at Fukushima but two have reopened to help the struggling economy. - Express.


Fukushima Radiation Release Equivalent To 1,000 A-Bombs.
In the following video, Hiroaki Koide, Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering, Assistant Professor at the Kyoto University Research Institute, and Nuclear Waste Management & Safety Expert declares that "The cesium-137 that was released into the atmosphere by Units 1 through 3 was 168 times that of the Hiroshima bomb, according to the Japanese government report to the IAEA, an international organization which promotes nuclear power.  I myself believe this is probably an underestimate, and two or three times that amount, that is, 400 to 500 times the amount of cesium-137 of the Hiroshima atomic bomb has already been dispersed into the atmosphere.  At the same time, the radioactive materials that were dissolved in water were flowing into the ground, then out into the ocean.  I believe almost the same amount of radioactive material released into the air have probably flowed into the ocean."

WATCH: Fukushima Daiichi - A Chronological Account of the Disaster.




Species Of Sea Snail Now Entirely Extinct In Large Area Around Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
Three individuals of Thais clavigera with many egg masses.

According to National Institute for Environmental Studies, thais clavigera became entirely extinct in 30km South and North from Fukushima nuclear plant. The research was conducted in coastal areas from Iwate to Chiba, 4 ~ 8 of 2012. Thais clavigera is a sort of spiral shell that used to live all around in Japan.

It’s still found in other locations of Japan. Mr Horiguchi from National Institute for Environmental Studies comments it can’t be explained merely by Tsunami. They need to investigate other reasons including radiation effect.


Map: Species of sea snail now entirely extinct in large area around Fukushima nuclear plant.
Tokyo Shimbun

 Thais clavigera is a species of predatory sea snail with an operculum, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Muricidae, the rock shells.

This is an intertidal species, found on rocky shores in Malaysia, Singapore and Indo-China.
This species has been found to be useful as an indicator of the environmental contamination levels of arsenic, copper, and zinc. (Wikipedia)

- Fukushima Diary.


U.S. Scientists Find Fukushima Cesium In Turtles, Whales, Fish.
Harvesting bluefin tuna near Ensenada, Mexico, 2007. (Chris Park, AP)
During the Fukushima nuclear disaster, two years ago, radioactive particles flooded into the Pacific Ocean. Bluefin tuna swimming through these waters began to store certain radioisotopes, called cesium 134 and cesium 137, in their muscle tissue... Scientists can track the chemical mark of Fukushima to recreate a timeline of when bluefin tuna traveled from their spawning grounds, in waters around Japan, to the coast of North America....

Until now, researchers have stuck expensive electronic tagging devices to bluefin tuna to follow their movements through the sea... This year, Stanford graduate student Daniel Madigan will be collecting more samples of bluefin to build on the team’s understanding of the fish’s migrations. His team is also applying the radioisotope technique to different animals, including turtles, whales and other tuna. - Mercury News.


Daiichi Worker Says "Radiation Levels Just Won't Go Down".
One bamboo branch and spade of soil at a time, workers are slowly purging Fukushima of its nuclear legacy.  On a chilly, overcast afternoon in Tamura, which lies along the 20-kilometer (12 mile) evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, crews continue the painstaking task of decontaminating neighborhoods irradiated by the March 2011 triple meltdown.  Some tear down bamboo groves near homes belonging to evacuated families. Others drill into layers of winter-hardened earth, and shovel it into black hazardous waste sacks.  When radiation levels fall to their target level, they will add a new layer of clean topsoil sourced from elsewhere.  But two years after the earthquake and tsunami, which killed around 19,000 people along Japan’s northeast coast and sparked the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century, the multibillion-dollar decontamination drive, involving thousands of workers, is making slow progress.  The biggest radiological cleanup the world has ever seen has been hampered by violations of employment laws, shoddy working practices and a shortage of people willing to work in an irradiated environment. The failure, so far, to secure permanent storage sites for contaminated waste has added to the authorities’ woes.

Radiation levels vary around evacuated towns and villages earmarked for decontamination. At this spot in the Miyakoji district of Tamura, the reading at ground level is more than three times the target set by the government, but much lower than the dose above which people are believed prone to damage to their long-term health through thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers.  Environmental hazards aside, the thousands of casual laborers who have answered the cleanup call must perform grueling work: clearing grass, leaves and branches, drilling concrete, shoveling soil and hosing down the walls and roofs of homes abandoned in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.  Just months after it began, the decontamination drive is the subject of widespread malpractice allegations. Contractors have been accused of withholding additional dangerous work payments, and of sending workers into radiation zones with minimal training and only basic equipment.

WATCH: The dirty work of cleaning up Fukushima.



A grim pursuit 
The cleanup covers only part of the area irradiated by Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear fallout. Neighborhoods where the readings exceed 50 millisieverts a year are regarded as too contaminated to consider an early return for residents; people from villages closest to the nuclear plant may have to wait decades before they can go back. Some accept that they never will.  Fukushima’s topography has only complicated the task. About 70 percent of the prefecture is covered in mountainous forests, where cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, and other radioactive isotopes have found their way into trees and soil. For now, they will be left as they are, a natural testament to a manmade disaster.  Instead, the focus of the cleanup is on 90,000 homes and dozens of schools in 11 towns and villages where some or all of the residents were forced to flee.  The radiation at ground level at the Miyakoji site visited by GlobalPost is around is 0.7 microsieverts an hour. By the time their work is done, the crew hopes to have brought that down to the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts an hour at ground level.  “The worst part about this job is that the radiation levels just won’t go down,” said Shigeru Watanabe, a decontamination worker. “Sometimes we have to dig 5 cm [2 inches], sometimes 10 cm. We have to get the readings down to 0.23 microsieverts per hour … but achieving that will be really tough.  “All of the residents around here are having a hard time. They’ve been evacuated and are living in temporary housing, so I thought I should do as much as I can to help things get back to normal as quickly as possible.”  “There are no children around here because everyone was evacuated. It would be great to see them return soon.” - Global Post.


Graphic Shows 900-Mile-Long “Front” Of Most Contaminated Water From Fukushima Daiichi Moving Across Pacific Toward U.S., Canada.
“So how far and how fast [is the cesium traveling]? If you take a broader look at the Pacific Ocean and you look for a front of where you see the edge of the cesium moving. This goes to March 2012, about 180 degrees. This is actually based on samples, not models.”


Powerpoint Presentation: Ken BuesselerKen Buesseler, Marine Scientist Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Powerpoint Presentation: Ken BuesselerKen Buesseler, Marine Scientist Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute


Watch the full presentation HERE.