Tuesday, May 28, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Fireballs Seen Over Different Regions Of Canada; Fireballs Seen Over Arkansas Turns Night Into Day From Gulf Of Mexico To The Great Lakes; Fireball Lights Up Eastern Seaboard; Loud Noise Over New York State Remains A Mystery; Comet Fragments Wows Stargazers With Celestial Maneuvers Over Australia's Sunshine Coast!

May 28, 2013 - SPACE - The following news items constitute the latest sightings of fireballs from across the globe:

Bright Fireball Seen Streaking Over Southern Ontario.
This particularly bright Leonid meteor was captured in November of 2009.© Wikimedia Commons
Some sky watchers out to view the grouping of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter got an extra treat on Sunday night as a particularly bright meteor - called a bolide - zipped through the skies a little after 9 p.m. local time.

Glimpses of the bolide were reported from Maryland in the U.S., to Ajax, Ontario as it burned up in the atmosphere. People reporting the event on American Meteor Society website called it one of the "brightest fireballs [they'd] ever seen" with a wide, bright flame trail.

'Fireball' is the name given to a meteor that appears to be brighter than Venus - one of the brightest planets in our sky, and a 'bolide' is a fireball that burns so bright that it can outshine the full moon. While spotting a fireball is rare, the meteors that cause them aren't; according to the AMS, several thousand occur in Earth's atmosphere each day.

So why aren't we seeing blazing chunks of rock all the time? Well, for one thing, 71% of Earth's surface is covered by ocean. Of the remaining 29% of the planet, a fair bit is still uninhabited, and those rocks that do fall over civilization are frequently obscured by daylight. So actually getting to see these celestial visitors is a special treat.

Your chances to catch sight of a fireball go up somewhat during one of the annual meteor showers that grace our skies. Sunday's fireball was likely part of the IMO #79 shower, but if you want to make plans for the summer, the next major meteor showers on tap are the Bootid meteor shower in late June, and the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, which will spark up the skies in late July and early August.

Did you see this bright meteor streak across the sky on Sunday night? If so, comment below, and add your report to the others on the AMS website. - Yahoo.

Spectacular Fireball Blazes Long Trail Over Northern Canada.
© Lunar Meteorite Hunter / Google Earth.

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

23 May 2013 - Diane Rourke, Boissevain, Manitoba, Canada 11:53 pm central
15 seconds duration. From west to northeast. Fireball with yellowish white color. Very bright and lasted a long time, amazing!
23 May 2013 - Charity Woods, Grandview, Manitoba, 23:50
At least 20 seconds duration. I lost sight of it becuse of trees in the way. It appeared to be going from west to east. I was facing west. White color. No sound. It looked like a huge ball of fire. I thought a plane was going down. It was brighter than the moon, and it's a full moon tonight! It looked huge and amazing!
23 May 2013 - C.K., Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada 22:50
30 seconds duration in clear sky. WOW! SW to NE travel. Orange with long tail. Bright and large, best meteor we've ever seen! Very bright orange fireball with sparks coming from the tail. Best ever stellar event!
23 May 2013 - Christi Fallows and Cameron Morrison NE of Yorkton, SK, Canada 22:51 central standard approx
10 to 15 seconds Facing N, travelled from west to east...compared to a clock face it would have started at 10 and ended at 3 bright red/orange glow, circle shaped in the front,with a long orange tail with a smokey looking trail behind it, no sound heard bright as a harvest moon couldn't tell no photo, seemed to disappear behind the clouds but was still visible, waited outside for a couple minutes but didn't hear or see anything else
23 May 2013 - Carrie T Wadena, SK 22:50 central
approximately 10 seconds. We were facing east in the sky. The meteor flew NE in the sky, right to left. No sound, however bright orange tail. As it seemed to get closer in the sky, I could actually see it break and flare up again as it got lower into the atmosphere. As bright as an orange flame in the sky. Yes, definitely a fair size chunk broke off. Almost looked like something was burning in the sky but wasn't moving as fast as other meteors you normally see off in the distance. Was very bright orange and left a fairly long tail behind it. Broke off a bit and continued on north east. Not sure if it completely burnt up, or we just lost site of it because it went off too far in the distance.
23 May 2013 - jody ruszkowski east of prince albert saskatchewan 2245 central
10-15 seconds heading north north east right to left bright yellow as bright as the moon appeared to be breaking up was very large and bright but dimmed as it was breaking apart
23 May 2013 - Cath Ollenberg Hudson bay Saskatchewan, Canada 23
10-15 Secs SW to NE Bright white front with red tail Same as moon yes, splintered 3 times then faded no photo.
23 May 2013 - Gary Kreklewich Melville, Saskatchwan, Canada 22:45 Saskatchewan time zone
About 20 seconds Southwest to Northeast like a comet, glowing very bright at times Very bright at times, fireball in the sky Saw a few parts break off towards the end creating smaller fireballs Wish I had a camera at the time.
23 May 2013 - Diane Rourke Minto Mb Canada 11:53 pm central standard time
15 seconds travelled west to north east, I was facing north Red fireball, followed by very bright light Very bright and colorful not that I could see It was amazing, bright, spellbinding
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

Meteorite Hits Car In Quebec.
In the following excerpt from radio-canada.ca TV news, a man describes his car windshield being smacked by a small dark meteorite on May 21, 2013.

WATCH: Meteorite hits car in Quebec.

- Radio Canada.

Fireballs Over Arkansas Turns Night Into Day From Gulf Of Mexico To The Great Lakes.
© Lunar Meteorite Hunter / Google Earth.

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

18 May 2013 - Tristen Dixon Vilonia, AR 22:45:00
5 seconds duration. I faced east, it went from south to north. Green/white color and very bright.
18 May 2013 - J.B., Augusta, Arkansas, USA 22:40:00
Approx 4 seconds duration. S-N direction. Bright blue and green with white flashes. Bright as the moon, flashes as bright as the sun, like lightning. Small pieces like sparks. Could swear I heard a distant jet-like noise which may have been an actual jet but it did directly coincide with the meteor, so... ????
18 May 2013 - Michael Schoelzel, Mascoutah, IL, 22:40 cst
I saw the last 2 seconds. It started east and traveled west. I was looking south. Super brilliant white & green. Super bright! Fragmentation, looked like it disintegrated with green fragments as it was breaking apart. Probably second most amazing thing I've seen, right after last week's observation, interestingly in the same area of the sky from my point of view. Simply breathtaking! Something is really not right here, I've been fascinated with the sky all my life, but only in recent years, or better yet months, have I ever witnessed such wild activity, thank you for the interest, I feel better now having reported it!
18 May 2013 - Gerard Randolph Lewisburg, TN USA 10:30-40 Central Time
It was not beyond 30 seconds.Fiery E-W Was looking at the sky and saw what appeared to be a falling star, but started getting bigger as it kept moving toward the west. Looked like a huge ball of fire. Fiery looking. Towards the tale of it it was falling off. Really an amazing sight!!!
18 May 2013 - Trevor Sales, Bowling Green, KY, 22:30-ish central standard
5 seconds United States no sound large burning fireball white flame trail with green front approximately lunar brightness appeared to be breaking slightly from my perspective approximately similar in size to the footage I saw of the large fireball seen in Russia recently shown on the daily show
18 May 2013 - David, Edwardsville, IL 22:30
approx 4 to 8 seconds. I was not expecting it Just caught it in the corner of my eye and it got my attention I was facing south it moved from n-e to s-w I saw a bright blue green streak with a long tail. it went out before hitting the ground. it was EXTREMELY close at least as bright as a full moon I could see larger lighted pieces falle from the tail area. i think I caught a faint sight of something after light went out. like I said It was CLOSE It was awesome. i am not a star gazer but wish I had my camera.
Separate sighting two days earlier

16 May 2013 - Cody B., Hot Springs, AK, 10:30 pm
I was headed west down highway 270 B. A big green meteor shot across the sky traveling north to south. It was an awesome sight. The front of it was a distinctive green color and it had a long tail behind it that appeared to be an orange color. Little pieces were breaking off of it as it approached the tree line and went out of sight. Feel free to reply if you have any questions. I sighted it in Hot Springs Arkansas.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

Fireball Lights Up Eastern Seaboard.
© Lunar Meteorite Hunter / Google Earth.

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

27 May 2013 - Christos Koutentis, Manhattan, NY 00:07, Eastern Standard Time
3 seconds duration. Travelling West. Blue / turquoise color. Brighter than Venus. No fragmentation. South of Manhattan. Apartment window facing south-west.
27 May 2013 - Mike Kelly, Bordentown, NJ, 00:10 EST
5 seconds duration. East to west direction?? Blue and white color. Very bright streak. Awesome, fast and beautiful.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

© Lunar Meteorite Hunter / Google Earth.

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

26 May 2013 - Jane Meyerhofer, Leesburg, VA. 21:00
5 seconds duration. East to west direction. Green/white color. Brighter than Venus. Broke into several pieces. Smaller than the moon but way bigger than a planet.
26 May 2013 - Alexander Eichenlaub, Bellefonte, PA 21:03
3 seconds duration. SE-NW direction. Pink/purple color along with a 'pop' sound. Same brightness as Venus. Fragmented into three pieces at the end of its trail. There were four witnesses. Not sure if the popping sound is related.
26 May 2013 - K. Perez, Edgewood, Maryland, 21:01
1-1.5 seconds duration. North, I was facing Northeast. Bright white light flashed across sky. No sound associated with event. White bright color. No fragmentation. Direction I was facing there is a clearing between trees, just happened to be looking in that direction when bright light flashed across through that space. I was able to very briefly view light through trees as it continued. It appeared to be traveling very fast.
26 May 2013 - Elena Tjaden Syracuse, NY, 9pm EST
2 or 3 seconds duration. From our view, it travelled West. Fast flying fireball, bright as fire. No fragmentation or sound.
26 May 2013 - Steve Osmanski Fayetteville, PA, 21:05 EDT
3 seconds duration. Start; East, Northeast - Stop; North, Northwest. White color, no sound. Magnitude -10 brightness. It split into at least several pieces right before burnout. Had glowing trail about 5 degrees long.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

Loud Noise Over New York State Remains A Mystery.
A noise described as a "single loud bang" by many who heard it shook Groveland Station last Friday, May 17, at about 10 p.m. The noise reportedly rattled windows and brought persons outside to check what was going on. There was immediate speculation that it might have been a great clap of thunder, a low flying plane breaking the sound barrier, a cannon firing or even a meteor entering the atmosphere.  However, four days later, after a thorough search of the area where the sound was heard, and after questing many residents, the noise remains as much of a mystery as when it was first heard.  Groveland Station resident Charles Keenan related, "It sounded like a black powder cannon or gun to me. It did not seem very far away from my home. The sound was enough to rattle the windows in my house and those of my neighbors who also came out to see what it was." 

Keenan saw a Groveland fire truck driving down the tracks to investigate behind the houses.  According to Livingston County Undersheriff Jim Szczesniak, all that is really known is that a very loud noise was heard by many people in and near Groveland Station. However, those who are claiming to have heard an "explosion" may be making an assumption which is unwarranted. Szczesniak cautions against interpreting the sound as something more dramatic than it actually may have been.  "Fire and law enforcement first responders explored the area after the sound was heard and they were not able to come to any conclusion as to what it was," Szczesniak reported. "The possibility exists for any number of explanations, but we don't want to speculate what it could have been."  "Things were thoroughly checked out and no kind of environmental harm, or evidence of human injury, could be found," Szczesniak advised. 

Livingston County Emergency Coordinator Kevin Niedermaier has suggested that volunteers go door-to-door during daylight hours, to see if there has been any damage - such as buildings shifted or broken glass - to any structure in the hamlet, including structures which are not occupied.  "Maybe something went wrong with a gas heater or some appliance of that nature," Niedermaier said. "You really need to do a good visual inspection of the entire area to see if something shows up that might have been missed that night."  Groveland Fire Chief Steve Teeter, speaking with The County News understands that the sound was heard by almost every person in Groveland Station. People as far south as Caldwell Road and as far north as Wise Road, at the southern and northern extremities of the hamlet, confirmed hearing and feeling the noise. To the west, the noise was heard by persons as far away as Route 36.  Teeter and his volunteers have scoured virtually all of Groveland Station, going door-to-door interviewing people and inquiring if anyone knows what happened. Teeter, who lives outside the hamlet, did not hear the noise himself, but said that persons told him it was more like a "quick flash" than a sound having any duration. - Livingston County News.

Comet Fragments Wows Stargazers With Celestial Maneuvers Over Australia's Sunshine Coast.
This image of the unidentified flying object was was captured by reader Chelly Milzewski on Saltwater Creek Rd in Maryborough about 5.20pm on Monday.  © Chelly Milzewski

Up to a dozen people have reported seeing a strange light in the sky over Toogoom on Monday evening. Toogoom resident Maggie MacLeod sparked the influx of reports yesterday when she posted about the "bright, comet-like" UFO on the Fraser Coast Chronicle Facebook page. "It was going down, then sideways and then the tail disappeared," she said.

"I went up to a group of people on the beach and pointed it out to them ... by this time it was a big red ball in the sky near where the sun had set. "It was virtually staying still ... before all of a sudden, the tail came out and it shot off and disappeared.

"It did not fade as one would expect after viewing it for 40 minutes." Maryborough's Chelly Milzweski reported seeing "what appeared to be a burning flame" on the horizon towards Hervey Bay and captured it on camera.

Penlan Lassy from Urraween also saw it and described it as a "bright light moving quickly with a small trail" that was "too small to be a plane". A few suggested the UFO could have been a high-level plane with vapour trails or space junk entering the atmosphere. - Sunshine Coast Daily.

© Lunar Meteorite Hunter / Google Earth.

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

23 May 2013 - Andrew, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, 19:35 AUST EST
2 to 3 seconds duration. I was facing NW, it came from SE and was heading NW. It appeared at 1 o'clock in the sky and everything disappeared at about 10 o'clock in the sky. Multicoloured! First greens and blues, then orange and a faint but noticeable boom about a minute later. It was very bright, although the moon was nearly full in the eastern sky. There was fragmentation into about 4 or 5 smaller chunks as well as what looked like the usual 'sparks' but only in the last 1 second. This is the first time I've heard a boom accompany a fireball. This one was very large and I have witnessed many large ones - a couple during daytime - but this one is definitely the best and biggest so far!
23 May 2013 - Luke K Moggil, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, approximately 19:30hrs
3 seconds duration. E-W, right to left, I was facing north. Blue trails followed scattering chucks, then an orange flame explosion. As bright as Venus. Multiple fragments trailed behind main body. It looked pretty amazing, with a very short-lived but colourful explosion.
23 May 2013 - Corbet Tamborine, QLD, Australia, 27.9°S, 153.1°E 19:35 GMT+10 (AUST EST)
2 - 3 seconds duration. Starting about 45 degrees above northern horizon, travelling to the north. White color, very bright, but not as bright as the nearly full moon. It was a single fireball with a tail.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

EXTREME WEATHER: Thousands Of Campers, Residents Flee Fire Near Santa Barbara, California - Over 1,000 Acres Burned!

May 28, 2013 - UNITED STATES - More than 1,000 campers and up to 4,000 residents fled the mountains of Santa Barbara County as a fast-moving wildfire swept through part of Los Padres National Forest and surrounding areas, officials said.

The White fire broke out about 2:45 p.m. Monday in the rugged terrain about 12 miles north of Santa Barbara and by evening had grown to about 1,000 acres and blanketed the tourist city with smoke and a dusting of ashes.

Smoke from the White fire in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara. (Valerie Walston / Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue / May 27, 2013)

No homes had burned but up to 5,000 people were ordered to evacuate before the fire changed course and headed toward unpopulated terrain, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen. He said the fire was about 5% contained during the evening.

The fire also swept through a Forest Service outpost, damaging a building and partially burning a service vehicle, Madsen said. Firefighters were not there — they were out fighting the fire.

"It ran right through our compound," Madsen said.

Four water tanker aircraft and two helicopters that battled the blaze in the afternoon were grounded as night fell, fire officials said.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center and another center was set up for displaced horses that were put up in area stables. Madsen said, however, that he doubted many people would use the centers because it looked like they would be able to return home late Monday.

Winds were expected to worsen somewhat during the night, but fire officials said they could get help from the weather if humidity rises and temperatures fall.

This photo released by the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue taken on Monday May 27,2013 showing smoke from a wildfire burning long the mountains north of Santa Barbara, Calif. (Valerie Walston / Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue / May 27, 2013)

The fire forced the closure of Paradise Road, which runs up a canyon dotted with campsites in the popular recreation area.

Firefighters from several cities, Santa Barbara County and the U.S. Forest Service were battling the blaze, which appeared to have started at a campsite.

Witnesses reported seeing a giant plume of smoke rising over the mountains and blanketing the city of Santa Barbara, where health officials were urging residents to stay inside because of the poor air quality.

WATCH: Wildfire rages in Southern California.

"The sky was completely red, and you could just see red sunlight coming through," said Santa Barbara resident Michael Devlin, 43. "It's pretty scary."

"I've got my little dog, and he's ready if I need to pack him to leave," Devlin said. - LA Times.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: CONTAGION - Two Die After H7N9 Bird Flu Virus Develops Drug Resistance, Already Showing The Ability To Mutate To Avoid Treatment With Tamiflu!

May 28, 2013 - CHINA - Scientists have found the first cases of the new bird flu virus proving resistant to treatment with Tamiflu or similar drugs. The virus has so far killed 36 people in China and been confirmed in 95 others.

The analysis of the course of the H7N9 bird flu virus and use of antivirals in 14 patients, reported in the Lancet medical journal, found that three severely ill people did not respond to the group of medicines that are the standard weapon against threatened flu pandemics. Two died and the third still needed specialist equipment to oxygenate their blood at the time the research paper was submitted.

The authors, from Shanghai and Hong Kong, said that in these cases genetic testing showed a mutation. In one patient, it seemed to have occurred after the infection took hold, probably as a result of the treatment.

They said: "The apparent ease with which antiviral resistance emerges in (H7N9) viruses is concerning: it needs to be closely monitored and considered in future pandemic response plans."

However, they said that in most cases, treatment with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) "even when started 48 hours or more after disease onset, was associated with falling viral load in most patients … Therefore, early treatment of suspected or confirmed cases is strongly encouraged".

The same message was given by the World Health Organisation, which said scientists at its collaborating centre in Beijing had found "discrepancies" in samples of virus tested in laboratory conditions but not linked to clinical cases. But the study, as yet unpublished, did not differentiate between resistance and possible impurities.

It believed neuraminidase inhibitors – the group of treatments to which Tamiflu belongs – could still be effective. "Based on this, our treatment recommendations have not changed: the potential severity of H7N9-associated illness warrants recommending that all confirmed cases, probable cases, and H7N9 cases under investigation, receive antiviral treatment with a neuraminidase inhibitor drug as early as possible." - Guardian.

WAR DRUMS: Tensions Mount Between Syria, Israel, Russia And The United States - Obama Asks Pentagon For Syria No-Fly Zone Plan As Russia Plans To Sell S-300 Advanced Anti-Aircraft Systems To Syria; Israel Warns Of Dire Consequences!

May 28, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - The White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the U.S. and other countries such as France and Great Britain, two administration officials told The Daily Beast. The request was made shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry toured the Middle East last week to try and finalize plans for an early June conference between the Syrian regime and rebel leaders in Geneva. The opposition, however, has yet to confirm its attendance and is demanding that the end of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s rule be a precondition for negotiations, a condition Assad is unlikely to accept. 

Obama Asks Pentagon For Syria No-Fly Zone Plan.

President Obama’s dual-track strategy of continuing to pursue a political solution to the two-year-old uprising in Syria while also preparing for more direct U.S. military involvement includes authorizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the first time to plan for multilateral military actions inside Syria, the two officials said. They added that no decisions on actually using force have yet been made.  “The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s more advanced than it’s ever been,” one administration official told The Daily Beast. “All this effort to pressure the regime is part of the overall effort to find a political solution, but what happens if Geneva fails? It’s only prudent to plan for other options.”  In a May 8 meeting of the National Security Council Principals Committee, the White House tasked several agencies with reporting on the pros and cons of two additional potential courses of action: arming vetted and moderate elements of the Syrian opposition, such as the Free Syrian Army, and formally recognizing the Syrian opposition council as the government of Syria, which would mean removing formal U.S. recognition of the Assad regime.  Sen. John McCain—who’s advocated for more aggressive U.S. support of the Syrian rebels and who traveled secretly into the country Monday to meet with the leaders of the Free Syrian Army—told The Daily Beast last week that despite the request for plans he doubts the White House will decide to implement a no-fly zone in Syria. The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs are opposed to the idea, he said.  “One thing about the Pentagon, if they don’t want to do something, they will tell you all sorts of reasons why they can’t do it. It’s going to take significant pressure for them to come up with realistic plans,” McCain said. “They will invent ways for us not to do it until the president of the United States says we’ve got to do it.”  McCain said a realistic plan for a no-fly zone would include hundreds of planes, and would be most effective if it included destroying Syrian airplanes on runways, bombing those runways, and moving U.S. Patriot missile batteries in Turkey close to the border so they could protect airspace inside northern Syria.  In April, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that the military was planning for a range of options in Syria but that he did not necessarily support using those options.

"It’s only prudent to plan for other options.” 
"We're prepared with options, should military force be called upon and assuming it can be effectively used to secure our interests without making matters worse,” he said. “We must also be ready for options for an uncertain and dangerous future. That is a future we have not yet identified."  The administration probably won’t make any decisions about greater intervention in Syria until after the Geneva conference, McCain said.  “I think they’re moving towards the planning because the pressure is so great, but we’re in a full-court stall until this conference in Geneva,” he said.  U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region Phil Gordon traveled to Turkey from May 9 to 11 and met there with leaders of the Syrian opposition to encourage them to attend the Geneva conference. A White House official told The Daily Beast that the administration agrees that Assad should step down but does not agree that this should be a precondition to moving forward with the Geneva plan.  “In meetings with Syrian opposition leaders to discuss the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué we underscored our support for the Syrian Council (SC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, reaffirmed our support for a political transition based on the framework of the Geneva Communiqué, and reiterated that Assad must go,” the official said.  Critics of the administration, including McCain, doubt that the new Geneva conference—coming a year after the earlier summit produced the Communiqué that called for an end to violence and democratic transition –will produce any progress toward a political solution. They also doubt that the Russians are committed to such a solution, considering that they continue to provide arms to the Assad regime. But Kerry has continued to endorse and push for the conference as a way to begin real negotiations between the regime and the opposition. 

“This is a Kerry initiative,” an administration official said. “It’s also a test of the veracity of the Russian claims that they are committed to a peaceful outcome that reflects the will of the Syrian people.”  The Geneva conference will happen at about the same time as a huge set of military exercises conducted in Jordan called “Eager Lion,” which will include 15,000 troops from 18 countries, including the United States. The U.S. could leave military assets in Jordan following the exercise that might be useful for a no-fly zone, such as F-16 fighter aircraft.  Caitlin Hayden, the spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Staff, told The Daily Beast that the White House is considering a range of possible actions in Syria.  “As the president reiterated last week, all options are on the table with regard to Syria, though a scenario involving American boots on the ground is not likely,” she said. “We are prepared for all contingencies,” she said. “We will continue to urgently work to support the opposition. We are consulting with the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Supreme Military Council about how we can continue to elevate our assistance; we are leading the world in providing humanitarian assistance for those affected by the violence; and we will continue to coordinate international efforts to end the bloodshed and hasten a political transition to a Syria where Bashar al-Assad has no role.”  Some Syria experts praised the White House’s decision to plan more options in Syria, but doubted that Obama would actually make the decision to intervene in the near term.  “No doubt, the United States and its like-minded allies and partners are fully capable, without the use of ground troops, of obviating the Assad regime’s degraded, fixed, and mobile air defenses and suppressing the regime’s use of airpower,” said Robert Zarate, policy director at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a Washington-based group that advocates for aggressive U.S. military action in support of human rights and democratic allies. “But the question is whether that’s something President Obama actually has the will and resolve to do.” - Daily Beast.

Russia To Sell S-300 Advanced Anti-Aircraft Systems To Syria.
The failure of the European Union to agree on a new arms embargo for Syria is undermining the peace process, Moscow says. But the delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles may help restrain warmongers.  The comments come from Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, referring to the results of Monday’s meeting in Brussels. After a lengthy negotiating session, EU governments failed to resolve their differences and allowed a ban on arming the Syrian opposition to expire, with France and Britain scoring an apparent victory at the expense of EU unity.  The EU's move, which the Russian diplomat branded as an "example of double standards", opens the door for Britain and France to supply weapons to Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad.  Criticizing Europe’s decision to open the way for potential arms shipments to Syrian rebels, Russia insists that its own sale of arms to the Syrian government helps the international effort to end the two-year-long conflict, the diplomat added. He was referring to the delivery of the advanced S-300 long-range air defense systems, which Russia is carrying out under a contract signed with Syria several years ago.

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. (RIA Novosti / Vladislav Belogrud) The S-300 is a series of Russian long-range surface-to-air missile systems designed to intercept ballistic missiles, regarded as the most potent weaponry of its class. The missiles are capable of engaging aerial targets as far away as 200km, depending on the version used.

 However, Russia has neither confirmed, nor denied “the status of those shipments.”  “The only thing I can tell is that we are not refusing from them,” Sergey Ryabkov said. “We see that this question worries our partners, but we have no reason to reconsider our position in this sphere,” he said.  Despite the uncertainty around S-300 shipments, Israel said it will know how to act if Russia does supply surface-to-air missiles.  "I can say that the shipments are not on their way yet," Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters. "I hope they will not leave, and if, God forbid, they reach Syria, we will know what to do," he said, without disclosing his sources.  Israel is concerned by possible Russian supplies to Syria, saying that advanced weapon systems could end up in the hands of Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah group.  Once the Russian SAM missiles are deployed by Syria, it will have a better control of its airspace. The country endured three airstrikes this year, which are widely thought to have been conducted by Israel, but were never officially confirmed as such.  Britain and France have made a commitment not to deliver arms to the Syrian opposition "at this stage," an EU declaration said. EU officials, however, said the commitment effectively expires on August 1.  However, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has stressed that Britain may start arming the rebels before an August 1, saying that it has a right to do so from now on. At the same time, he noted that Britain would only send arms to Syrian rebels with other countries and not in violation of international law.  London and Paris have argued support for rebels fighting Assad by allowing EU arms deliveries, despite the fact that extremist elements are known to work alongside the rebels.  Other EU governments, led by Austria and Sweden, argued that sending more weapons to the region would increase violence and spread instability.

WATCH: Russia to send S300 missiles to Syria to 'deter intervention & hotheads'.

 Russia's envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko said that the abolition of the EU arms embargo on the Syrian opposition will only exacerbate armed conflict in that country.  "We need to refrain from taking steps that would be contrary to this logic. Such steps include armed or non-lethal support to the opposition. This just adds fuel to the fire," Grushko said on Tuesday.  Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington remain undecided as to the content of a proposed international conference on Syria, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.  "There remains a gap between the positions of Russia and the US regarding some issues and aspects of this major international crisis," he emphasized.  "And we, for our part, cannot agree to hold such events [the international conference on Syria] amid a situation where partners and possible participants in such a conference seek to impose solutions on the Syrian people from the outside, as well as predetermine the course of a transitional process, the parameters of which have not been determined yet," Ryabkov said. - RT.

Israel Warns Of Action Over Russian Plan To Give Missiles To Syria's Assad.
A senior Israeli defense official warned on Tuesday that Russia’s plan to send sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons systems to Syria’s President Bashar Assad was a “threat” and signaled Israel could take some form of unspecified action in response.  Israel has launched airstrikes inside Syria that it says were designed to stop weapons shipments getting to the Assad-allied Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.  Russia on Tuesday reiterated its intention to go ahead with the arms deal. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said it would “restrain some hotheads from escalating the conflict to the international scale," according to Russia Today. His comments came after the European Union agreed to lift an arms embargo that prevented weapons from being sent to the rebels fighting Assad’s forces.  French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said France could potentially send arms to the opposition before the embargo expires on Aug. 1, but said it had no immediate plans to do so, Reuters reported.  The U.K.’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement that the lifting of the embargo was “important … to send a clear signal to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously, and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to do so.”

WATCH: John McCain crossed into Syria from Turkey to meet with Salim Idris, the general commander of the Free Syrian Army. McCain wants the U.S. to support the Free Syrian Army with arms and a no-fly zone. NBC's Richard Engel reports and NBC's David Gregory discusses the visit.

There is concern in Israel that weapons sent to the rebels could fall into the hands of Islamist factions within their ranks, who could in turn use the arms against Israel.  Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told reporters that the looming shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S300 missiles was “a threat,” according to reports in the Haaretz newspaper and elsewhere.  “The shipments haven’t set out yet and I hope they won’t. If they do arrive in Syria, God forbid, we’ll know what to do,” he said.  Haaretz noted that Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said last week that the Russian shipment “is on its way.”

Ryabkov defended the deal with Syria. “Those systems by definition cannot be used by militant groups on the battlefield,” he said, according to Russia Today. “We consider this delivery a factor of stabilization. We believe that moves like this one to a great degree restrain some hotheads from escalating the conflict to the international scale, from involving external forces.”  Fawaz A. Gerges, professor of Middle East politics and international relations at the London School of Economics, told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday that Britain was looking to fill the “leadership vacuum” that exists because of U.S. reluctance to become more directly involved in the civil war in Syria.

“There is no military solution to the conflict. Even if the opposition is armed, I doubt very much whether they would have the capacity to deliver a decisive blow against Assad and Hezbollah and Iran,” he told the station.  “It’s not just Assad now. You have Hezbollah, one of the most potent military organizations in the Middle East, and Iran. And that’s why the Russians and the Americans have intensified their diplomacy,” he added.  “They are trying to basically prevent the escalation of the Syrian conflict not only into neighboring countries, but also into a region-wide conflict. This is what we’re talking about today: Is the fire in Syria devouring and consuming other countries in the region?” - NBC News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Landslide Kills Seven In Hidalgo State, Central Mexico - Many Cars Buried Under Mud!

May 28, 2013 - MEXICO - Seven people have died in a landslide on a road in Mexico’s central state of Hidalgo, the federal police say.

A landslide on a road in Mexico’s Hidalgo State has claimed the lives of seven people. (File photo)

The deadly incident took place on Sunday, burying a number of cars under mud and trees.

Local residents of the nearby town of Tepeji del Rio warned officials that they had noticed the land above the road appeared to be unstable.

Hidalgo governor Jose Francisco Olvera said that the deaths could have been prevented, although assessing the state of the hill when the warning was made would have been difficult because of heavy rainfall.

Tepeji del Rio residents say a hailstorm on May 26 also caused at least 22 cars to be dragged into a canyon.

Officials say the hailstorm in Tepeji del Rio caused the deadly landslide late Sunday.

Earlier on the same day, 16 people were killed in a highway accident in Hidalgo.

On May 23, a passenger van fell off a cliff of 300 meters in the town of Tianguistengo. Eleven people died and ten others sustained injuries. - Press TV.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For May 28, 2013 - Explosion Produces Ash Plume More Than 2 Kilometres High At Popocatépetl; Seismic Swarm At Nevado del Ruiz; Alert Level Remains At "RED" At Copahue, As Imminent Eruption Is Expected!

May 28, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): An explosion early today at 05:03 h (local time) ejected incandescent fragments to 1.5 km distance from the crater on the northeastern slope and generated a column of ash that reached more than 2 km height above the crater and was dispersed to the SW.

Explosion from Popocatépetl this morning.

In addition, 28 smaller steam-gas-ash explosions occurred during the past 24 hours and a constant steam and gas plume is rising from the volcano.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Yesterday evening, a seismic swarm and a tremor episode occurred, followed by small ash emissions from the Arenas crater observed on the webcams of INGEOMINAS.

Ash emission yesterday at 18:03 and 18:04 (local time) seen through the web cam in Piraña. (INGEOMINAS).

At the moment, seismic activity has calmed down again, but small volcanic quakes are still elevated in numbers. It has to be seen if more magma is going to intrude and possibly lead to an eruption in the near future. The alert status remains at orange.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina):  An eruption of the volcano could be imminent. SERNAGEOMIN and Civil Protection have raised the alert level to "red", based on the increasing earthquake activity under the volcano. Although so far no volcanic tremor (often a sign of eruptive activity) nor ash plumes have been detected via satellite, citizens of Caviahue in Argentina across the border from Copahue have reported explosions and incandescence from the volcano.

The most likely scenario for the near future is probably a small explosive eruption such as in December 2012. Schools in towns surrounding the volcano have closed due to the threat of an eruption, the Eruptions Blog reports.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for May 28, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: "It Shook My House Violently And Knocked Things Off The Shelves" - A Derailed Cargo Train In East Baltimore County Causes Huge Explosion!

May 28, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A CSX cargo train derailed Tuesday in a Baltimore suburb and the explosion that followed rattled homes at least a half-mile away and collapsed nearby buildings, setting them on fire, officials and witnesses said.

The train went off the tracks at about 2 p.m. in White Marsh, about 10 miles northeast of Baltimore, and fire department spokeswoman Louise Rogers Feher said there were no immediate word on injuries. Hazmat teams were on the scene, but fire officials did not have immediate information on what might be still be burning.

Baltimore County Public Safety tweeted that if residents and others can see the smoke plume, they should evacuate the area.

Dale Walston said he lives about a half-mile away from the blast site and that the smell of chemicals is very strong.

"It shook my house pretty violently and knocked things off the shelves," he said in an email to The Associated Press.

A thick plume of black smoke was emerging from the scene and was visible for miles, the smoke drifting across the Baltimore city line and covering the eastern part of the city. It was visible to motorists heading north on Interstate 95, through downtown Baltimore. More than one video posted to Facebook shows the fire, then minutes later, an explosion rattles the area.

Photos and video on TV stations showed at least three rail cars off the tracks. Overhead news shots show several blackened buildings and fires burning. Rogers Feher said several buildings "fell apart." They also showed a tractor-trailer overturned near the front of the crash.

A worker at a nearby Dunkin Donuts, Tawan Rai, reached by The Associated Press by phone, said he saw a fire and flames by the railroad tracks at first, then felt a thundering blast that sent smoke pouring into the sky.

"The whole building shook and there was just dust everywhere," said Rai, adding no windows broke but he was surprised by the intensity of the blast. "I went outside and people were rushing there, the police officers, fire trucks."

He also said he saw some ambulances arrive but didn't see anyone injured.

He also said police had apparently stopped traffic on nearby Pulaski Highway not far from the tracks and he no longer had any customers at his donut shop.

John Kane, treasurer of Atlantic Tire on nearby Pulaski Highway, said the explosion blew out two large showcase windows and light fixtures in his shop. The highway, also called Route 40, is shut down to the Baltimore city line as well as some side streets in area.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to the crash site to investigate.

The derailment is the third serious one this month. In Bridgeport, Conn., on May 17, more than 70 people were injured when a commuter train derailed. The eastbound train from New York City went off the tracks during evening rush hour, came to a stop and was struck about 20 seconds later by a westbound train.

WATCH: Train Derailment Reportedly Causes Fire In Baltimore.

In Rockview, Mo., on Saturday, a cargo train crash injured seven people and destroyed a highway overpass that could take a year to repair.

Some businesses closed immediately, fearful of the unidentified contents of a heavy plume of black smoke roiling into the atmosphere. At seafood supplier S. DiPaula & Sons Seafood Inc., a good-natured voice left a message on the answering machine afterward that the business was closing early for the day.

"Hello, this is S. DiPaula & Sons Seafood. Today is Tuesday and it's around 2:30 in the afternoon. We have decided to close due to a large explosion relatively close to our building and a heavy black plume of smoke that we can't tell what's in it."

In each of the past five years, CSX has reported more than 100 deaths in accidents and incidents involving the railroad.

The Federal Railroad Administration says CSX reported 104 deaths in 2012, down from 122 in 2011 and 117 in 2010. The railroad reported 102 deaths in 2009 and 122 in 2008.

The number of derailments on CSX's network in the eastern United States has been declining steadily since 2008 when it reported 229 derailments. Last year, CSX reported 143 derailments. CSX, based in Jacksonville, Fla., operates over 21,000 miles of track in 23 eastern states and two Canadian provinces.

CSX shares traded higher Tuesday before the derailment was reported. The shares closed down 20 cents at $25.30. - Huffington Post.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Coronavirus Spreads - Patient With SARS-Like Virus Dies In France!

May 28, 2013 - FRANCE - A patient diagnosed with a SARS-like virus that just recently was found in humans has died in France, according to the French government and the hospital treating the man.

The patient -- the first of two people in France to be diagnosed with novel coronavirus -- died of organ failure Tuesday at University Hospital of Lille, the hospital said. The death was reported a day after the head of the U.N. health agency called the virus "a threat to the entire world."

The patient had been treated at the hospital since May 9. The man contracted nCoV while visiting the Arabian Peninsula, said Marisol Touraine, France's minister of social affairs and health, in a statement.

The second patient, also male, was in stable but very serious condition, the hospital said. One of the patients shared a room with the other and contracted the virus.

Novel coronavirus, which is in the same family as SARS, had infected 44 people worldwide as of last week, most of them in the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization. Half of them have died.

Earlier this month, the WHO said two health care workers in Saudi Arabia became ill while treating patients.

NCoV is part of a family called coronaviruses, which cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as a variety of animal diseases. However, the new virus is not SARS.

NCoV acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. But symptoms, which include fever and a cough, are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea have also been seen, according to the WHO.

WATCH: WHO tracks new coronavirus to Middle East.

It's not yet known how humans contract the virus, experts have said. Most of the cases so far have been seen in older men with other medical conditions; precise numbers are hard to come by, as officials don't know how many people might contract a mild form of the coronavirus.

Cases have been identified in eight countries including France and Saudi Arabia, according to the WHO. Other European countries include Germany and the United Kingdom.

No cases have been reported in the United States, but infectious disease experts have said it would not be surprising.

More information is urgently needed about novel coronavirus.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, said the virus "is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world."

WATCH: Patient with SARS-like virus dies in France.

Chan said the world needs to pull together its resources to properly tackle the virus which, she said, is her "greatest concern" at present.

"We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat," she said in closing remarks at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.

Chan said more information is needed -- "quickly" and "urgently."

"We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond," she said. - CNN.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Silent Kapiti "Slow-Slip" Release Quake - The Equivalent Of A Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Gently Rocks Wellington, New Zealand?!

May 28, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - The equivalent of a magnitude 7 quake is quietly rocking the capital, though until now you'd have only noticed it if you were a geophysicist.

Image: GeoNet.

The huge underground movement called the Kapiti Slip is responsible, and it's not over yet.

"This is what we call a silent earthquake," Geonet scientist Caroline Little said on Firstline this morning. "Instead of this movement happening in seconds, this will take around a year to move."

Normal earthquakes release all their energy when one side of a fault suddenly slips past the other, and can be incredibly destructive – as the people of Christchurch know all too well.

But in a silent earthquake the energy is released slowly, and in some cases can be predicted in advance.

"We started recording with the GPS network in 2002, and since then this is the third Kapiti event we've seen," says Ms Little.

"Both of the previous two have lasted around the year mark. Interestingly it's occurred every five years – 2003, 2008 and then this one in 2013."

Slow-slip quakes are relatively recent discovery, and their effect on conventional quakes is still being researched.

"It does change the stress around the area, and these types of events have been known to interact with conventional earthquakes," says Ms Little.

"We had another event like this around Kapiti in 2008, and that actually caused a swarm of earthquakes – tiny earthquakes – around the Upper Hutt region, around 30 earthquakes around magnitude 2 and 3."

It's not apparent whether they increase or decrease the likelihood of a major quake, like the one in Christchurch.

"It's both, really, because it changes the stress in different areas. It could go both ways," says Ms Little.

WATCH: Equivalent Of A Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Gently Rocks Wellington.

The Kapiti Slip is occurring 40km beneath the Earth's surface, and stretches 100km between Kapiti and Marlborough. It's not a phenomenon unique to the area, or even New Zealand.

"It happens in four regions in the North Island of New Zealand, and it also happens at all the other subduction zones around the world like Japan and North America," says Ms Little.

A slow-slip quake happens in the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne every one-to-two years, at only 10 to 15km deep.

GeoNet estimates around 40 percent of the North Island's tectonic plate movement occurs in slow slips. - 3NEWS.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far And Wide - Japan Radiation Widely Contaminates Pacific Marine Life!

May 28, 2013 - JAPAN - Traces of radioactive cesium from Japan’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have been found in water and plankton collected from all 10 points monitored across a vast stretch of the western Pacific.

Workers measuring radioactivity just offshore from meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The isotopes cesium-134 and cesium-137 were found in the tiny plantlike creatures from the coast of Japan’s Hokkaido Island to Guam.

The samples were taken early last year, less than a year after the tsunami that overwhelmed the plant, but the findings were just announced at a meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union.

Cesium-134 has a half-life of two years while it takes 30 years for cesium-137 to decay by half.

Scientists say the isotopes were being dispersed across the Pacific in plankton, and were accumulating up the food chain as the tiny creatures were eaten by larger marine life.

Further studies are being conducted to see how much cesium was building up in fish and possibly marine mammals.

Radiation was flushed into the Pacific after three meltdowns occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

More than two years after the March 2011 disaster, plant operators are struggling to contain the 400 tons of radioactive water poured over the melted cores of reactors 1, 2 and 3 to prevent the fuel from melting and burning again. - Earthweek.