Friday, July 19, 2013

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Swarm - New Zealand Residents Rattled By Dozens Of Earthquakes In 24 Hour Period!

July 19, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - A 4.3 quake hit the east coast of New Zealand tonight, following a 4.5 magnitude quake in central New Zealand this afternoon, and a 5.7 earthquake that rattled people in Wellington and Blenheim this morning.

USGS earthquake locations.

Geonet reported tonight's quake was 20km east of Te Araroa, a settlement on the east coast of the north island, near the southern edge of the Bay of Plenty. The quake was 62km deep and hit at 11.42pm.

GeoNet reported this afternoon's was of a "strong" intensity, 35km east of Seddon, at a depth of 15km. The quake hit at 3.21pm.

 The first quake struck at 9.06am and was centred 30km east of Seddon, south of Blenheim, at a depth of 8km.

Rated as severe, it turned Wellington office workers white-knuckled as it swayed high-rises in the capital, with buildings also being rocked in Blenheim.

The shallow tremor was felt as far away as Christchurch and New Plymouth.

In Wellington it was felt as one jolt, gradually picking up in intensity, while those in Blenheim felt two shakes.

GeoNet said it received more than 6000 reports after the jolt. It said the fact it struck off the South Island spared the region from its full force, though there were a few reports that it had a damaging intensity.

Though it had knocked goods off shelves in Blenheim it was much too small to cause a tsunami, GeoNet said.

An offshore earthquake needed to be at least magnitude 7.5 for a tsunami to be considered possible.

The quake was preceded by a magnitude-2.9 "foreshock" in the same location 6 minutes before the main shock.

An Earthqake Commission spokeswoman said 14 claims had been received following the first quake, but she expected more once people got home from work.

It was too early to itemise the claims, she said.

By 11am there had been 17 aftershocks in the region, the largest a magnitude 3.7, 30km east of Seddon.

Aftershocks were likely to continue for the next 24 hours.

Early analysis had the fault movement as "reverse faulting", meaning each side of the fault was being compressed.


In Marlborough, Lake Grassmere farmer Peter Davison said he had never seen his house buck and shake so much.

"It was like being on a bloody rollercoaster," he said.

He was looking out the window of his Marfells Beach Rd home when it hit.

It was worse than the Boxing Day quake in 2010, which he had been in Christchurch for, he said.

"I've never felt anything like it," he said.

SHAKEN UP: This Geonet map shows quake felt reports across New Zealand. Yellow is strong, green is moderate and blue is light.

His fishing rods had fallen and lay scattered around his library and pictures were askew on the walls.

"It's a wooden house and I've never seen the walls move like this," he said.

 Blenheim New World supermarket owner Ashley Shore said about 100 items fell off the shelves, but no-one was too fazed.

"The team cleaned it up pretty quickly and there was actually customers in the aisles who just carried on shopping," he said.

Seddon Supervalue till operator Carrie Rule said staff and the one customer at the supermarket during the earthquake were a bit shaky.

"She was a good one," Rule said.

WATCH: Strong earthquakes rock central NZ.

"We're all still a bit shaky but it wasn't too bad, no stock fell off the shelves or anything, but apparently there was a truck in the car park which was shaking back and forth."

Winemaker Peter Yealands from the Awatere Valley said it was the biggest quake he could recall.

"The tanks moved a bit and the staff were a bit scared, as you'd expect," Yealands said.

It was the first major quake for the Yealands Estate winery, since it was built in 2008. Sitting on a fault line area it had been designed to withstand a magnitude-8 earthquake.

Wellington office workers reported ducking under their desks when the quake arrived at 9.06am, and there was a report of lifts in some buildings being out of action.

It "felt like I was standing on a skate board," Mena Bassily said.

"I was at the gym on one floor and hoped it was only Wellington, not a bigger remote earthquake harming another NZ city somewhere else".

Auckland school teacher Barbara Brewer, visiting Wellington for the national under-19 netball championships was shocked.

"Holy shite, how often do quakes that shake the whole house happen?" she said.

The coach of the Auckland side which last night won the national title, had been in the shower.


KiwiRail had put precautionary restrictions on trains going through tunnels or over bridges, a spokeswoman said.

They extended from Otaki, just south of Levin, to just north of Kaikoura, she said.

Restrictions meant trains would travel slowly across bridges and through tunnels.

All the structures and lines would be checked before the restrictions were lifted.

Bridge inspections were being done as a precaution in Marlborough, Marlborough Roads general manager Frank Porter said.

Marlborough Roads was not aware of any issues. No problems been reported. - Stuff.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: NASA Satellite Detects Large Plume From DR Congo's Nyamuragira Volcano!

July 19, 2013 - DR CONGO - Recent NASA satellite images from 11 June 2013 show a thick steam and gas plume rising from a pit crater in the summit caldera of Nyamuragira volcano.

No evidence of lava close to the surface was found, while the lava lake in neighboring Nyiragongo remains well active and visible on the same images. Nyamuragira’s plume was rich in water vapor — which condenses rapidly in the humid tropical air — and sulfur dioxide, which lends a blue tint in natural-color satellite imagery.

Carbon dioxide, fluorine, and chlorine gas are also found in Nyamuragira lavas and likely present in the gas plume. Located near the eastern boundary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nyamuragira is one of Africa’s most active volcanoes.

If degassing magma was near the surface, then the intense heat would cause a bright red glow in shortwave infrared light. No such glow is visible atop Nyamuragira, but it is present on neighboring Nyiragongo Volcano, which has featured a lava lake for more than a decade.

The images were collected on June 11, 2013, by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8. In natural color (top), the rainforest is dark green, clouds are white, and the sulfur-rich volcanic plume is very light blue. Barren land at Nyamuragira’s summit and lava flows is brown or black.

In false-color, clouds are mostly white and volcanic plumes are cyan. Forest and other vegetation is bright green. Fresh lava flows from the 2011–12 eruption of Nyamuragira are black, and older lava flows appear as brown tendrils running down the mountain’s flanks. Agricultural fields in the southeast (lower right) corner of the image also appear brown. - Volcano Discovery.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: UK Experiences Its Sixth Consecutive Day Of Over 30C Temperatures - The Heat Wave Death Toll Climbs To 760; Wildfire Warnings; Farms At Risk!

July 19, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Farmers will be on high-alert this weekend as the heatwave threatens to unleash a wave of fires that could ruin crops across the country, a senior Met Office scientist has warned.

As Britain clocked up its sixth consecutive day of plus-30C temperatures  - with the thermometer peaking at 30.4C –  soon-to-be harvested crops such as wheat and winter barley are looking particularly vulnerable to fire, said Karl Kitchen, the Met Office scientist with responsibility for wildfires. He issued his crop-fire warning as the country continued to reel from the longest heatwave for seven years.

WATCH: 'Hundreds' of people die as the UK basks in a heatwave.

In Consett, County Durham, a 21-year old father died after falling from a flat roof while sunbathing, while it emerged that Graham Bennett, a postman of 29 years, collapsed and died on Monday while doing his round on the Ermine estate in Lincoln.

As many as 760 people are thought to have died so far
as a result of the heatwave, as the death toll of swimmers drowning as the sun enticed people into Britain’s dangerous open water sites hit at least 13.

In London, where there have been an average of 21 grass fires a day this month, an area the size of four football pitches caught fire on Mitcham Common near Croydon. Meanwhile, donations of O and B blood groups are down 11 per cent, the NHS said.

The temperature is forecast to dip slightly today, to a maximum of 29.0C. But the Met Office has today elevated the wildfire warning system it introduced this year from yellow to amber, meaning any grassfire will be extremely difficult to contain.

Grass and “elevated” crops are particularly susceptible to fire and the risk posed by the prolonged hot, dry weather will accelerate this weekend as the wind picks up and humidity decreases. The Met Office said:

“Anywhere south of Liverpool and Manchester and in Wales will be vulnerable.”

Wheat crops are said to be particularly vulnerable because they are “very aerated” and the lower the plant density the easier it is for the flames to spread. Guy Gagen, chief arable advisor to the National Farmers Union (NFU), said: “There is a risk at this time every year, but this year that risk is elevated. This is the driest and warmest period since 2006 and means grass, instead of growing, will die off and spread the risk.”

Mr Gagen said that Britain’s 300 square kilometres of winter barley crops would be most at risk over the weekend because they are ripe and in the process of being harvested. Moving closer to August, without substantial rainfall, the 2,000 square kilometre wheat crop will become most vulnerable as it begins to harvest, he said. In the case of both crops, the danger is spread across the UK but greatest in East Anglia where a large portion of the plants are grown. Ripe crops are most flammable with crops less likely to burn when they are greener. - Independent.

AGE OF OBAMA: The Precursors To The End Of The United States Corporation And White Supremacy Paradigm - Detroit Bankrupt; City Files The Largest Ever Municipal Bankruptcy Case In U.S. History!

July 19, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The city of Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history Thursday, culminating a decades-long slide that transformed the nation’s iconic industrial town into a model of urban decline crippled by population loss, a dwindling tax base and financial problems.

Detroit Goes Bankrupt.

Gov. Rick Snyder justified approving the historic filing by reciting a litany of the city’s ills, including more than $18 billion in debt, maxed-out tax rates, the highest murder rate in 40 years, 78,000 abandoned buildings and a half-century of residential flight. He said the city failed to provide basic services to residents or pay creditors.

The filing, which has broad implications for the nation’s municipal bond market and sanctity of public pension funds, was met with outrage, disappointment and a vow to fight. Some creditors adopted a war stance, threatening a prolonged battle. Others accused Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr of failing to negotiate in good faith — an essential requirement for approval of a bankruptcy petition — during his month-long push to secure concessions from creditors, including deep cuts to pensions.

“It’s war,” said George Orzech, chairman of the city’s Police and Fire pension fund.

The 16-page bankruptcy petition was shrouded in secrecy and filed amid drama. Snyder planned to file the bankruptcy petition today in U.S. District Court but reversed course after learning the city’s pension funds planned to ask a judge to block a filing, according to a source. The petition was filed at 4:06 p.m. Thursday and cost the bankrupt city $1,213.

Eighteen minutes later — too late to make a difference — Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina signed a restraining order.

Snyder authorized Orr to file bankruptcy under a controversial law the Legislature passed in December that replaced the previous emergency manager law voters repealed last November.

“There were no other viable alternatives,” Snyder told reporters Thursday. “We have a great city but a city that has been going downhill for 60 years.”

Orr said he will continue trying to secure deals with additional creditors that could ease the city’s path through bankruptcy court. He said he hoped the city could restructure and emerge from bankruptcy court next year, by late summer or early fall.

WATCH: Governor Rick Snyder Authorizes Detroit Bankruptcy Filing.

During a month of negotiations, Orr has reached a settlement with only two creditors: Bank of America Corp. and UBS AG. They have agreed to accept 75 cents on the dollar for approximately $340 million in swaps liabilities, according to a source familiar with the deal.

Orr had harsh words for those who tried to block the city’s restructuring efforts.

“We don’t have time for more delaying tactics,” Orr said.

Orr insisted he “bent over backwards” and negotiated in good faith during more than 100 meetings with creditors. In court filings late Thursday, he said it was impossible to reach an accord with “many tens of thousands of creditors” and accused unions of refusing to negotiate on behalf of the city’s 20,000 retirees.

The filings also indicated that Orr may be open to offers on the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection, which is worth billions. Orr said he will continue to “engage all interested parties in dialogue regarding the City-owned art collection” and “reach a resolution with respect to such assets that will maximize the long term benefits to the City and the prospects for a successful restructuring.”

Orr also will continue to evaluate how much money the city could collect by selling other assets, including Belle Isle, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, real estate and municipal parking operations.

Mayor Dave Bing, whose powers were usurped when the governor appointed Orr in March, spoke of Thursday’s moves with a mix of resignation and optimism.

“As tough as this is, I didn’t want to go in this direction,” Bing said. “Now that we are here, we have to make the best of it. If it is going to make citizens better off, this is a new start for us.”

But not until creditors feel varying degrees of pain, experts said.

Unsecured creditors could take the biggest hit in bankruptcy court. Orr wants them to share a $2 billion payout on approximately $11.5 billion worth of debt, which includes an estimated $9.2 billion in health and pension benefits and $530 million in general-obligation bonds.

“Pain is going to be handed out to a number of creditors simply because Detroit has no other option,” said Dan Heckman, senior fixed income strategist with U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

Orr chronicled the city’s economic collapse in a detailed plan presented to creditors June 14 — a proposal that drew criticism from some who said the cuts were too deep and did not include the sale of city assets, including Belle Isle and a Detroit Institute of Arts collection. He proposed paying most of the money owed to secured creditors while pension funds, unions and unsecured bondholders would receive, in some cases, as little as 10 cents on the dollar.

Instead of paying creditors in full, Orr said he would use $1.25 billion over the next decade to buy police cars and fire trucks, replace broken street lights, tear down burned-out homes, fight blight and improve city services.

Orr said he wants to stabilize the city, woo new residents, provide essential city services, lower property taxes and transfer costly departments, including the water and sewerage, to an outside group.

The bankruptcy filing gives Orr unusual power to break promises made by past city officials that left Detroit on a path to spending almost 65 percent of every tax dollar on retiree pensions and health care.

WATCH: Detroit Emergency Manager Files Bankruptcy.

The Chapter 9 filing could take years, experts said, despite hopes by Snyder and Orr thatit can be wrapped up in a year. A bankruptcy judge could trump the state constitution by slashing retiree pensions, ripping up contracts and paying creditors roughly a dime on the dollar for unsecured claims worth $11.45 billion.

“Detroit cannot afford any further attacks on working families, who have already sacrificed so much without a say in the process,” Metro Detroit AFL-CIO president Chris Michalakis and Michigan State AFL-CIO president Karla Swift said in a statement. “City workers have already made severe concession to keep the city afloat. It is time to put the needs of Detroit residents above the interests of out-of-town creditors.”

The filing is expected to trigger a costly, long and precedent-setting battle by creditors — the city has more than 100,000. Detroit’s bankruptcy case could become a template for the treatment of pensions in future municipal bankruptcies.

“The negotiations from here are likely to be long and complex, offering no resolution or clarity perhaps for years,” said Peter Hayes, who heads BlackRock’s Municipal Bonds Group. “Ultimately, it’s important for market participants to understand that Detroit is the exception and not the rule. This is first and foremost a Michigan issue, not a systemic municipal market issue.”

The bankruptcy case will be assigned by Alice Batchelder, chief judge of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which spans Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Any judge in the four-state region could be assigned the case, though Batchelder will weigh potential political concerns and decide who has the time and capability to handle a complex, large case in Detroit.

WATCH: Detroit Files for Bankruptcy - Analysis.

Once the nation’s fourth largest city, Detroit was hailed as an industrial hub with nearly 2 million people.

Today, there are about 700,000 residents after a half-century of residential flight, high unemployment, a significant reduction in state funding, plummeting income and property taxes, corruption and chronic mismanagement.

The filing serves as a grim reminder of the bankruptcies in the auto industry four years ago. Unlike the cases of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009, the White House offered no financial help.

Steven Rattner, the Obama administration’s auto czar who steered the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts, said the state will have to help fund Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy.

“It’s really ugly,” Rattner said Thursday.

- Detroit News.

36 Municipal Bankruptcy Filings Since January, 2010.

Many local governments across the U.S. face steep budget deficits as they struggle to pay off debts accumulated over a number of years. As a last resort, some filed for bankruptcy.

is tracking the issue, and will update this page as more municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.
Most recently, Detroit became the largest municipality in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. The state had already appointed an emergency financial manager for the city, saddled with debts totaling an estimated $18 billion.

Overall, though, bankrupt municipalities remain extremely rare. A Governing analysis estimated only one of every 1,668 eligible general-purpose local governments (0.06 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection over the past five years. Excluding filings later dismissed, only one of every 2,710 eligible localities filed since 2008.

The majority of filings have not been submitted by bankrupt cities, but rather lesser-known utility authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts throughout the country. In Omaha, Neb., 10 sanitary districts have filed for bankruptcy, accounting for nearly a third of all Chapter 9 filings since 2010.
It's also important to note that only about half of states outline laws authorizing municipal bankruptcy. View our bankruptcy laws map for each state's policies.

List of Bankruptcy Filings Since January 2010

All Municipal Bankruptcy Filings: 36

City and Locality Bankruptcy Filings (8):

-- City of Detroit
-- City of San Bernardino, Calif.
-- Town of Mammoth Lakes, Calf. (Dismissed)
-- City of Stockton, Calif.
-- Jefferson County, Ala.
-- City of Harrisburg, Pa. (Dismissed)
-- City of Central Falls, R.I.
-- Boise County, Idaho (Dismissed)

Municipal Bankruptcies Map
The map below shows all municipalities filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection since 2010, along with local governments voting to approve a bankruptcy filing.

Cities, towns and counties are shown in red. Utility authorities and other municipalities are displayed in gray. Click a marker to view details of each filing. Multiple municipalities have filed for bankruptcy in some cities, such as Omaha, Neb., so not all markers are visible without zooming in on the map.

Please note that several municipal bankruptcy filings have been rejected, as indicated.

Detroit Bankruptcy
States without laws authorizing municipal bankruptcies often allow for different measures providing financial relief. In Michigan, seven cities and school districts have emergency managers, and another three are under consent agreements. - Governing.