Saturday, October 19, 2013

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Another Plane Crash - Ten Parachutists And Pilot Die When Their Plane Crash Into A Field In Belgium?!

October 19, 2013 - BELGIUM - At least 10 civilian parachutists were killed alongside a pilot today when their light plane crashed into a field in Belgium.

Four of those on board the stricken Pilatus PC-6 Porter had been seen desperately trying to get out after the aircraft caught fire and a wing dropped off.

Crash site: A firefighter inspects the wreckage of the plane, which was carrying 11 people.

But they were unable to open their chutes before the plane crashed into the ground near the town of Marchovelette, in the southern Namur region.

The horrific accident took place at around 3.45pm after the aircraft had taken off from Temploux airfield, some 45 miles south east of Brussels, and hit the ground some ten minutes later.

Jean-Claude Nihoul, the mayor of nearby Fernelmont, said there were ‘at least 10 passengers on board and probably one pilot’.

Mr Nihoul said most of those on board had been due to take part in a parachute jump but ‘crashed around 10 minutes after take-off.’

Mangled: The Pilatus plane, which was carrying 10 parachutists and a pilot, had not long
taken off when it crashed in Belgium.

Twenty minutes after taking off, the plane crashed in a field near Fernelmont town. [AFP]

Crash site: The crash took place near the city of Namur in souther Belgium.

At least 10 people are dead after a plane carrying a group of parachutists crashed into this field close
to the town of Marchovelette in Belgium. The pilot is thought to be among the dead.

One eyewitness told Belgium radio station RTL he saw ‘a plane lose its wing mid-flight and crash with a massive bang. I didn't see anyone parachute out.’

There were no survivors in the crash, which saw the plane burnt to a wreck by the time firefighters arrived.

Neither the names nor nationalities of those killed were immediately available.

Another witness involved in the rescue effort said: ‘The plane lost a wing, which was found up to a kilometer from the scene of the accident. Some spoke of an in-flight explosion, but I think the main explosion occurred on impact with the grown.

‘Pieces came off the plane, then it nosedived. There were reports of up to four parachutists trying to get out so as to jump to safety, but all were unsuccessful’.

A crisis centre has been set up to assist with relatives of victims, and those who saw the accident.
Elio Di Rupo, the Belgian Prime Minister, said he was ‘hugely moved’ by the tragic accident, and offered ‘sincere condolences’ to all those connected to the deceased.

Deaths: It was confirmed that the crash had no survivors.

Protection: Firefighters install a screen around the crash site, near the village of Marchovelette.

Investigation: Firefighters were at the scene searching the wreckage this afternoon.

Depute prime minister Joelle Milquet, said: ‘All our thoughts are with the victims, their families and their friends.’

The Pilatus PC-6 Porter is a single-engine short take-off and landing aircraft which is often used by sports parachutists.

Made and designed by Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft, it went into production in 1959 and has also since been built by US company Fairchild Hiller. - Daily Mail.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Another Train Derailment - Argentina Commuter Train Crashes Into Buffers, Injuring 80; Occurs At Same Buenos Aires Station As Similar Rail Crash That Killed 52 People Last Year?!

October 19, 2013 - ARGENTINA - An Argentinian commuter train slammed into the end of the line on Saturday morning at the same station in Buenos Aires where 52 people were killed in a similar crash last year. This time there was no immediate report of deaths, but at least 80 people were injured.

Picture released by NA showing firefighters inspecting the commuter train that apparently failed to stop and crashed at
the end of the line at the Once railway terminal in Buenos Aires, on October 19, 2013 (AFP Photo / Hugo Villabos)

A mob quickly formed, unleashing its fury at the train operators. Passengers chanted "murderer, murderer!" at the injured driver through the shattered cabin window. Officers intervened and the driver was soon taken to hospital under police custody. Police in riot gear then took control of the Once station after the angry crowd broke glass and threw stones in the street outside.

At least 80 people were injured, including an eight-year-old boy, according to the Security Secretariat. Of those, five people had broken bones, but none of the wounds were life-threatening, said the security secretary, Sergio Berni. Some of the injured here hit by shattered glass from the train's windows, he said.

Rescue workers attend the scene in Buenos Aires after a train hit the buffers at Once station for
the second time in a year. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Berni said it was too early to say why the train failed to stop, crashing through the buffer at the end of the line and ending up wedged between the floor and ceiling of the platform. One end of the huge iron hydraulic buffer that protects the end of the line was driven deep into the train car, while the other end was lifted over the platform and jammed into the turnstiles.

Jorge Ramírez , a 47-year-old cook, entered the train's second car nine stations before the end of the line. He told the Associated Press that the driver overshot several platforms and had to go in reverse before opening the doors, and that he bypassed one station altogether. Other passengers, however, said that the train seemed to be proceeding correctly.

"This is all a tragedy. I saw people hurt, shouting, others thrown on the floor. The people in the first wagon ended up piled on top of each other," Ramírez said.

AFP Photo / Hugo Villabos

Berni said some of the injured were waiting on the platform and were hit by glass as the train's windows shattered.

Firefighters, police and medical personnel evacuated the wrecked train, but many passengers did not wait, kicking out windows to escape cars whose doors were stuck.

"Suddenly the train wasn't stopping. It came off the rails and crashed into the ceiling, which stopped it. Then a big cloud of smoke came out," said Maxi Jaquet, who sells hot dogs in the station. "We ran and began to help."

The Sarmiento line is the busiest commuter rail line serving Argentina's capital and is usually packed with passengers. The February 2012 crash killed 52 people and injured hundreds as the following cars crumpled. Saturday's accident caused less damage to other cars in the formation and happened shortly after 7am on a weekend morning, so the toll was not as severe. - The Guardian.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Getting Closer And Closer - Powerful 6.5 Magnitude Earthquake Strike In The Gulf Of California, Off The Western Coast Of Mexico!

October 19, 2013 - GULF OF CALIFORNIA - A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the western coast of Mexico in the Gulf of California between the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California Sur, the US Geological Survey reported.

USGS earthquake location.

The epicenter of the quake was 10 kilometers deep in the Sea of Cortez. Emergency services in Mexican Sonora and Sinaloa states said there were no immediate reports of casualties and it was not yet clear how the quake had affected Baja California Sur.

The quake was initially reported to have reached a magnitude of 6.8, but was later downgraded to 6.5 by USGS.

A tsunami warning has not been issued.

Over 138,300 people live within 100 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake, according to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS).

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Mexico is located atop three large tectonic plates and is one of the world's most seismically active regions.

On August 21, two strong 6.0 magnitude quakes hit central and southern Mexico, causing extensive damage. One of the earthquakes affected the capital of Mexico City and the resort city of Acapulco, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people. Numerous injuries were reported.

The country’s deadliest natural disaster occurred in September 1985 when an 8.1 magnitude earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. - RT.

Tectonic Summary And Seismotectonics of Mexico.
Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismologically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

The area west of the Gulf of California, including Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, is moving northwestward with the Pacific plate at about 50 mm per year. Here, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other creating strike-slip faulting, the southern extension of California's San Andreas fault. In the past, this relative plate motion pulled Baja California away from the coast forming the Gulf of California and is the cause of earthquakes in the Gulf of California region today.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. In southern Mexico, Volcán de Colima and El Chichón erupted in 2005 and 1982, respectively. Paricutín volcano, west of Mexico City, began venting smoke in a cornfield in 1943; a decade later this new volcano had grown to a height of 424 meters. Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanos ("smoking mountain" and "white lady", respectively), southeast of Mexico City, occasionally vent gas that can be clearly seen from the City, a reminder that volcanic activity is ongoing. In 1994 and 2000 Popocatépetl renewed its activity forcing the evacuation of nearby towns, causing seismologists and government officials to be concerned about the effect a large-scale eruption might have on the heavily populated region. Popocatépetl volcano last erupted in 2010. - USGS.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Another Train Derailment - 13 Train Cars Transporting Oil And Gas Derail And Explode In Canada?!

October 19, 2013 - CANADA - Thirteen cars of a tanker train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derailed in Alberta, Canada causing an explosion and fire. The incident prompted an evacuation of the area, said Canadian National Railway.

Smoke rises in the distance as firefighters block a highway leading to an area where a train derailed,
in the small town of Gainford, Alberta west of Edmonton October 19, 2013. (Reuters / Dan Riedlhuber)

One rail car carrying liquefied petroleum gas exploded and three others caught fire about 80 kilometers west of Edmonton in Alberta,Canada – the country’s fourth-most populous province located in the west. The accident took place around 1am local time.

"We have cars on fire right now and there was an explosion earlier this morning. The major priority right now for our guys out in the field is containing these fires," said Parkland County spokesman Carson Mills. He added that nine cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas and four others were transporting crude.

Canadian National Railway spokesman Louis-Antoine Paquin told The Canadian Press that three cars containing gas are still leaking.

Alberta officials have declared a state of emergency, setting in place a voluntary evacuation for local residents of Gainford, Alberta. 

Smoke rises in the distance as firefighters block a highway leading to an area where a train derailed, in the
small town of Gainford, Alberta west of Edmonton October 19, 2013. (Reuters / Dan Riedlhuber)

There were no injuries reported. Forty-nine people have registered at the emergency evacuation center and will not be allowed to return home until Sunday, Mills said.

A part of Highway 16 has been closed due to the fire, CTV News reported, adding that traffic is expected to be rerouted for the next 48 hours.
“There’s a major risk for the area, so we are rerouting traffic, keeping people far, far from that area,”
Mills said. Canada's Transportation Safety Board said it has sent a team of investigators to the site.

This is the third incident of CN train cars carrying hazardous materials to derail in recent weeks. On Thursday, a similar accident occurred in Sexsmith - a Northwestern town of Alberta province. On September 25, a freight train derailed near the town of Landis, in the western province of Saskatchewan, sending 17 cars off the track - one of which leaked lube oil. 

A Parkland County employee blocks a highway leading to an area where a train derailed, in the small town of
Gainford, Alberta west of Edmonton October 19, 2013. (Reuters / Dan Riedlhuber)

On Thursday, Canadian officials imposed new regulations to conduct tests on crude oil before transporting or importing it into Canada. This was prompted by a deadly accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in July when a runaway train carrying crude oil exploded in the center of the town, killing 47 local residents. An investigation determined that the oil was more explosive than labeled. - RT.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For October 19, 2013 - Ash Plumes Rise To 30,000 Feet High And Extending More Than 1,000 Kilometres At The Klyuchevskoy Volcano In Kamchatka; And Deformation And Explosive Pyroclastic Flows Continues At Ecuador's Tungurahua Volcano!

October 19, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of  Volcano Discovery.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The eruptive phase that had started on 6 Oct, after a quiet interval of 3 months, continues to increase. The volcano observatory reports ash columns rising up to 3 km above the crater and the first occurrence (so far) small pyroclastic flows.

Small pyroclastic flow on the upper slope on the 15 of October. (Image: Pat. Mothes, IGPEN)

In the early days of this phase, seismic activity was characterized by an increase in the number and energy of the events related to the mobilization of fluids into the volcano such as long-period events, tremor and explosions and emission signals of variable magnitude. Superficially, low intensity strombolian activity and ash emissions could be observed, resulting in ash fall in the areas of El Manzano, Bilbao, Chacauco , Choglontús, Mocha, Pillate and on the upper slopes of the volcano itself.

Seismicity peaked last Friday (11 Oct) when explosions and emissions generated emission columns of 500-2000 meters above the crater, with a low content of ash, causing further ash fall in several areas around the volcano.

Since past Monday (14 Oct), the number of explosions and seismic signals related to fluid movements has increased significantly again. Explosions were small to moderate and generated noises heard in several areas around the volcano. On Tuesday afternoon, two small pyroclastic flows formed during larger emissions, traveling a few hundred meters on the upper slope towards the Achupashal drainage.

Ash emission columns have been reaching 3 km above the crater and plumes drifted mainly towards the northwest.

SO2 emissions climbed from 90 tons per day and to 3000-4000 tons per day since 16 Oct, another indicator of fresh magma rising within the volcano.

Strong ash emission on the 18 of October,  08:20 local time. (Image: Pat. Mothes, IGPEN)

Deformation has generally been low, but a month ago there had been inflation at the top of the cone.

Ash fall has occurred on all flanks of the volcano, and accumulated to more than 1 mm of ash in Baños de Agua Santa, Runtún and Penipe. A pause of activity occurred on 17 Oct, but resumed during the night between 17-18 Oct with more explosions that ejected large blocks and dense ash columns.

It is possible that this type of activity continues during the next days, and it is believed that the volcano is currently in a state of having an open conduit allowing the rapid rise of magma, resulting in the currently observed continuous mild to moderate explosive activity.

It is recommended to avoid the areas close to the volcano, in particular valleys that radiate from its flanks.

Klyuchevskoy (Kamchatka): Strong explosive and effusive activity continues. KVERT monitors the situation closely and issues alerts every few hours. Last evening, ash emissions again reached almost 30,000 ft (8-9 km) altitude.

Erupting Klyuchevskoy this morning. (KVERT webcam).

"The ash plume this morning has decreased in height to 21,300-24,600 ft (6.5-7 km) a.s.l. but by now, an ash plume dangerous for aviation is extending about 736 mi (1188 km) to the south-east and east of the volcano (satellite data at 0135 UTC on October 19, 2013)."

The large ash plume from Klyuchevskoy drifting east over Kamchatka this morning. (Terra satellite image)

WATCH: Video of last night's impressive activity with lava fountains and lava flows all over the flanks of the volcano: 

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for October 19, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Latest Happenings In Space - Planet Mars Shines As Bright As A First Magnitude Star As Comet ISON Makes Its Flyby; Faint Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Observed; Video Captures Stunning Auroras Dancing Across The Skies With The Glow Of The Full Moon; NASA's All-Sky Cameras Sees 25 Fireballs Intersecting With Earth Over The Last 3 Days!

October 19, 2013 - SPACE - Here are several stories of the latest happenings in space.

GREEN COMET, RED PLANET: Comet ISON, which will fly through the atmosphere of the sun on Nov. 28th, is now flying past the planet Mars. The green comet and the Red Planet are just 1o apart in the eastern sky before dawn. Parks Squyres photographed the odd couple from his private observatory in SaddleBrooke, Arizona, on Oct. 16th:

Mars is almost as bright as a 1st-magnitude star, easy to find in the constellation Leo near the blue star Regulus. The comet, on the other hand, is invisible to the unaided eye. Mid-sized backyard telescopes are required to see it.

"I used a Celestron 11-inch telescope," says Squyres. "The image is a stack of 80 15-second exposures."

WATCH: Comet ISON Meets Mars. 

The comet is green because its vaporizing nucleus emits diatomic carbon, C2, a gas which glows green in the near-vacuum of space. Mars is red because its rocky surface is widely rusted. The two colors make a heavenly ensemble. Amateur astronomers, if you have a GOTO telescope, enter these coordinates, and let the exposures begin.

Several days ago, I posted the following statement from renown author and astrophysicist Professor James M. McCanney, from an interview conducted on the Republic Broadcasting Network with host John Moore:

"Comet ISON approached and is now past Mars. Mars went comet. I and other people observed it. The coma around Mars is extremely visible. This is an event that we have not seen in thousands of years."
Looks like he was quite right.

FAINT ECLIPSE OF THE HUNTER'S MOON: As Oct. 18th came to a close, a dusky shadow fell across the southern half of the full Hunter's Moon. It was a faint "penumbral" lunar eclipse. Observing from the Canary islands, Frank A. Rodriguez Ramirez photographed the Moon (left) two hours before and (right) at the moment of maximum eclipse:

"We had bad weather for the eclipse," says Rodriguez Ramirez. "I captured these pictures between small holes in clouds."

A penumbral eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the pale outskirts of Earth's shadow. It is much less dramatic than a total lunar eclipse. In fact, when observers are not alerted beforehand, they often do not realize an eclipse is underway. Nevertheless, the subtle shadow of Earth is visible to the naked eye if you know it's there. Scan the Space Weather gallery for more examples.

WATCH: Penumbral Highlights. 

MOONLIGHTS: "For five nights in a row we have seen amazing auroras above Abisko National Park," reports tour guide Chad Blakley of Abisko, Sweden. "Last night I spent most of the evening on the shore of Lake Torneträsk. I was able to capture several thousand images of the Northern Lights dancing over the lake while the glow of the full Moon illuminated the nearby mountain peaks." After daybreak, he put the images together to make a must-see video:

WATCH: Aurora Borealis over Abisko National Park - October 17, 2013.

 "I have spent countless nights out under the auroras but there was something very special about listening to the waves gently crash along the shore as the lights played overhead," says Blakley. "I think I have the best job in the world!"

The auroras could continue dancing in the nights ahead--especially on Oct. 21st when a solar wind stream is expected to reach Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the stream arrives.

FIREBALLS: Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.

On Oct. 16, 2013, the network detected 15 fireballs. (12 sporadics, 1 chi Taurid, 1 southern Taurid, 1 Orionid).

On Oct. 17, 2013, the network reported 6 fireballs.(5 sporadics, 1 southern Taurid).

On Oct. 18, 2013, the network reported 4 fireballs.(3 sporadics, 1 epsilon Geminid).

In these diagrams of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

Heads up. Keep your eyes on the sky.

SOURCES: SLOOH | Space Weather.

THE AGE OF OBAMA & CHILDHOOD'S END: Precursors To The End Of The U.S. Corporation And The Collapse Of The FAILED White Supremacy Paradigm - U.S. Debt Jumps $328 BILLION IN ONE DAY, Tops $17 TRILLION For The First Time; U.S. Dollar Slips And Fed Worries Continue, As China And Japan Step Up Push For Alternative Currency!

October 19, 2013 - UNITED STATES - U.S. debt jumped a record $328 billion on Thursday, the first day the federal government was able to borrow money under the deal President Obama and Congress sealed this week.

U.S. Debt Jumps $328 BILLION IN ONE DAY, Tops $17 TRILLION For The First Time.

The debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday.

The $328 billion increase shattered the previous high of $238 billion set two years ago.

The giant jump comes because the government was replenishing its stock of “extraordinary measures” — the federal funds it borrowed from over the last five months as it tried to avoid bumping into the debt ceiling.

Under the law, that replenishing happens as soon as there is new debt space.

In this case, the Treasury Department borrowed $400 billion from other funds beginning in May, awaiting a final deal from Congress and Mr. Obama.

Usually Congress sets a borrowing limit, or debt ceiling, that caps the total amount the government can be in the red.

But under the terms of this week’s deal, Congress set a deadline instead of a dollar cap. That means debt will rise by as much as the government spends between now and the Feb. 7 deadline.

Judging by the rate of increase over the last five months, that could end up meaning Congress just granted Mr. Obama a debt increase of $700 billion or more.

Republicans initially sought to attach strings to the debt increase, but surrendered this week, instead settling on a bill that reopened the government and included some special earmark projects, but didn’t include any spending cuts.

Democrats insisted that the debt increase be “clean,” meaning without any strings attached. They say the debt increase only allows Mr. Obama to pay for the bills he and Congress already racked up, and that it doesn’t encourage new spending. - Washington Times.

U.S. Dollar Slips As Fed Worries Continue.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to keep its easy-money policies in place for longer following the partial U.S. government shutdown pushed the dollar close to its lowest point of the year against the euro and U.S. Treasury debt prices to their highest point since July.

Yields on the 10-year Treasury note, which move inversely to prices, touched 2.538%, the lowest level since July 24, according to CQG. The dollar continued its slide against major rivals, including the euro, the yen and the pound. The euro recently bought $1.3686 from $1.3676 late Thursday, while the pound fetched $1.6186 from $1.6165. The greenback traded at ¥97.71 from ¥97.93.

The drop in the dollar and the rise in Treasury debt prices were set in train earlier this week after lawmakers reached a temporary solution to raise the so-called debt ceiling, showing that investors doubt the Fed can start to reel in its stimulus measures—a process dubbed tapering—for as long as economic performance and data is compromised by the now-ended shutdown, and as long as the risk of repeat shutdowns lingers.

"As policy remains uber accommodative, the dollar has adjusted downwards," said Scott Jamieson, head of multi-asset investing at Kames Capital in London, with $24 billion under management.

"While we have been inclined to see tapering next year, the market is only now coming to appreciate this," said analysts at Brown Brothers Harriman. "After the September disappointment, surveys suggest that a majority shifted their expectations to December. Now in light of the fiscal drag and new uncertainty, the mid-January and mid-February limits on spending and debt issuance will loom large at the December Federal Open Market Committee meeting, and likely reduces the possibility of tapering then. The focus is likely to shift to the March 2014 FOMC meeting for the first tapering," they said.

U.S. stocks traded mostly higher. The S&P 500 added 0.4% to 1740, pushing further into record territory. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.8% to 3893. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged behind, dropping 0.2% to 15370.

On Thursday, stocks staged a late-session comeback that helped push the S&P 500 to an all-time high close of 1733.15.

European stocks edged higher, supported by the late bounce in the U.S. and encouraging Chinese growth figures.

Now that Congress has temporarily approved a bill to raise the debt ceiling, attention is likely to shift back to earnings and fundamentals. And as investors reassess their expectations for any withdrawal of stimulus from the Fed, all eyes will be on the economic data that was delayed by the partial government shutdown. The next focus will be September's nonfarm payrolls report, which is due on Oct. 22. - WSJ.

China And Japan Step Up Push For Alternative Currency.
Photo By Petar Kujundzic / Reuters/Reuters Fri, 18 Oct, 2013

Deal or no deal, the U.S. Congress' dance with default impressed policymakers and investors in China and Japan with just how vulnerable their own economic revival plans are to the next political tantrum on Capitol Hill.

The 11th-hour agreement on Wednesday between Congressional Republicans and Democrats to raise the limit on U.S. government borrowing and end a 16-day government shutdown also averted a default on U.S. Treasury bonds that had threatened the global economy and financial system.

But Congress gets another chance to hold U.S. creditworthiness hostage early next year ahead of a new February 7 deadline to approve a debt ceiling increase.

"We're glad a deal has been struck," said a Japanese policymaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But the uncertainty will remain and it will be the same thing all over again early next year."

He and other Japanese officials say they have already developed contingency plans that include flooding Japan's banking system with cash to keep markets functioning however panicked investors become. And analysts say China, whose Communist leaders are due to hold a key policy meeting next month, may step up a push for global acceptance of its currency, the yuan or renminbi, as an alternative to the U.S. dollar in international trade.

"They might actually consider accelerating the process," said Vincent Chan, head of equity research at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. "You strengthen the case of making the renminbi a genuine international currency, because the Americans are unreliable."

Perhaps no two economies outside the United States have more at stake in Washington's recurring drama than Japan and China.

Not only are they the second- and third-largest economies, but they lend Washington more money than any other single nation. China held $1.28 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities at the end of July and Japan owned $1.14 trillion. A default would likely have devastated the value of their holdings.

More than that, though, both nations have adopted policies to revitalize their own economies that to some extent rely on the improving economic appetite, stable currency and increasing indebtedness of the world's largest economy.

China is trying to deflate a dangerous credit bubble and wealth imbalances with a series of reforms that include slowly easing controls on moving money into and out of the country and allowing its currency to gently appreciate.

Analysts predict investors faced with a U.S. default would try to sell dollars for yuan, forcing China's central bank to either buy up dollars at a time when the government issuing them isn't honoring its obligations or allow a rapid increase in the yuan's value that would hurt exports and worsen the country's credit bubble.

In a sign of such market pressure, the yuan hit a record high on Friday for a fifth consecutive day against the dollar, partly as investors worried about the economic impact of the U.S. shutdown.

"If China allows the yuan to rise sharply, it could be very risky given the possible asset bubbles in the country," said He Yifeng, an economist at Hongyuan Securities in Beijing.

Japan, meanwhile, is trying to end 20 years of deflation and anemic growth with a blend of policies named for their chief proponent, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "Abenomics" relies on reviving domestic consumption and investment in part by weakening the yen, boosting the earnings and stock prices of giant exporters like Toyota Motors Corp and Hitachi Ltd.

A U.S. default would likely prompt investors to buy yen.

"That would undoubtedly pose a headwind against Abenomics, which has much depended on a weak yen and higher share prices buoyed by the feel-good mood it has generated," said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Securities in Tokyo.

A default also stands to hamper a U.S. recovery and with it a nascent rebound in global exports. A default in the first quarter of 2014 would hit just as Japan's economy girds for an April sales tax increase and as China's economy loses the effects of accelerated public works spending and re-stocking of inventories.

There are no bond markets large enough to give China and Japan an alternative to U.S. Treasuries for the dollars they accumulate selling exports. So the prospect of another U.S. default drama next year is likely to lend new urgency to China's preferred solution: conducting less trade in dollars and more in renminbi.

About 18 percent of China's total trade is settled in yuan and it has registered a sharp increase this year after stagnating for most of last year.

Much of the increase has come in China's trade with economies outside the United States or the European Union, its biggest demand centers, although it accelerated plans to internationalize the currency with agreements this month with Britain and the European Central Bank.

Achieving more trade in yuan, however, means giving China's trading partners a place to invest their renminbi as easily as they invest their dollars in U.S. Treasuries now.

That means opening China further to foreign investment, a realization that could strengthen the hand of officials advocating faster reform.

"China can only be strong when its currency is a real alternative," said Chan at Credit Suisse. "But to be an alternative you have to have an open market." - Yahoo.

WAR DRUMS: Israeli Strike Coming - United States Watching For Signs Of Israeli Strike On Iran As Warmonger Netanyahu Makes Case For A Preemptive Strike On Tehran?!

October 19, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - China is seeking greater access to U.S. technology, including space know-how, but has been blocked because Beijing’s space program is run by its military, which is developing high-technology space warfare capabilities, including missiles, killer satellites and lasers.


Talks in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program are triggering fears within U.S. intelligence agencies that Israel is hardening its stance on Iran and could conduct a military attack to stave off what the Jewish state believes is a delaying tactic for Tehran to buy time to build nuclear weapons.

The clearest indicator of growing Israeli concerns, according to defense officials, is the recent large-scale Israeli air force drill Tuesday in the northern part of the country. The exercises along the northern border and over the Mediterranean were considered unusually large.

An Israeli defense source told Israel’s Walla! news outlet: “Changes have recently occurred in the Middle East. The [Israeli Defense Force] is preparing for those changes in both the closer and more distant perimeters, and yesterday’s exercise was intended to signal the IDF’s serious intention of dealing with those problems and thwarting them.”

Additionally, Israeli air forces conducted long-range fighter exercises last week involving in-flight refueling practice.

The talks in Geneva have produced press reports that the Obama administration is preparing to ease sanctions on Iran following conciliatory statements by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. last month.

Israeli Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steinitz, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Wednesday that Israel would welcome an agreement to end Iran’s nuclear arms program.

But Israel remains concerned that “Geneva 2013 could become Munich 1938,” Mr. Steinitz said, referring to the agreement appeasing Nazi Germany’s seizure of Czech territory in the months before the outbreak of World War II. - Washington Times.

Netanyahu Makes Case For A Preemptive Strike On Tehran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset plenum (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a thinly veiled defense of a possible Israeli preemptive strike on Iran during a Knesset commemoration Tuesday of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.

In a speech to MKs about the war, in which Israel was surprised by a coordinated Arab invasion on the northern and southern fronts, Netanyahu explained that IDF soldiers who fought in the bitter battles of that war “saved us from paying the price of complacency.”

“In the end we won a great victory, but the lessons of the war have stayed with us these 40 years,” Netanyahu said.

“The first lesson is to never underestimate a threat, never underestimate an enemy, never ignore the signs of danger. We can’t assume the enemy will act in ways that are convenient for us. The enemy can surprise us. Israel will not fall asleep on its watch again,” he vowed.

The second lesson, he added, was that “we can’t surrender the option of a preventive strike. It is not necessary in every situation, and it must be weighed carefully and seriously. But there are situations in which paying heed to the international price of such a step is outweighed by the price in blood we will pay if we absorb a strategic strike that will demand a response later on, and perhaps too late.”

Netanyahu added: “A preventive war, even a preventive strike, is among the most difficult decisions a government can take, because it will never be able to prove what would have happened if it had not acted. But the key difference between the [1967] Six Day War and the [1973] Yom Kippur War lies first of all in the fact that in the Six Day War we launched a preventive strike that broke the chokehold our enemies had placed on us, and on Yom Kippur the government decided, despite all warnings, to absorb the full force of an enemy attack.”

The prime minister is engaged in a blitz of international meetings and interviews warning against any slackening of international sanctions directed at the Iranian regime over its nuclear enrichment program. Netanyahu has openly threatened that Israel would unilaterally attack the Iranian nuclear program if it was allowed to advance to the point where Iran was able to develop a nuclear weapon.

Sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office suggested the Tuesday speech was directed at the Iranian issue.

Netanyahu also offered hints at Israel’s negotiating position in peace talks with the Palestinians.

“The third lesson” of the war, he said, “is the strategic importance of buffer zones. [Israel’s] control of the Golan [Heights] and the Sinai Peninsula [in 1973] prevented an enemy penetration deep into the country” in the first days of the war.

Press reports sourced to leaks from the peace talks with the Palestinians have suggested in recent days that Israel seeks to retain security control over the Jordan Valley as a buffer zone to the east.

And, Netanyahu said, “there is a fourth lesson: Peace is attained from a position of strength. In the Yom Kippur War, despite the enemy’s excellent opening position, they learned they could not best us with weapons. Five years later, [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat and [prime minister Menachem] Begin signed a peace deal, and later [peace accords were signed] with Jordan.

“Now we are engaged in a serious investment in [making] peace with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu added. “Peace was achieved when our neighbors understood we are powerful and will not disappear.”

Later Tuesday, while observing a training exercise of the 7th Armored Corps Brigade on the Golan Heights, Netanyahu spoke about the P5+1 nuclear talks underway in Geneva between Iranian nuclear negotiators and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

“I think that it would be a historic mistake to ease up on Iran without it dismantling the nuclear capabilities it is developing,” Netanyahu said. “Iran is now on the ropes, and it is possible to employ sanctions at their fullest in order to achieve the desired result. I hope that the international community will do this, and I call upon it to do so.” - Times of Israel.

DISASTER IMPACT: Death Toll Climbs To 175 In Philippines Earthquake - Over 8,600 Homes Destroyed; 17 People Still Missing!

October 19, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - The death toll from the magnitude-7.2 earthquake in the central Philippines rose Saturday to 175, authorities said.

People walk along a damaged road in the province of Bohol after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake
hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, October 15.

The massive quake, which struck Tuesday, also destroyed more 8,600 homes, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in Quezon City.

WATCH: Initial reports and scenes from the Philippine earthquake.

The bulk of the casualties were in Bohol province.

A crane sifts through the rubble of Our Lady of Assumption Parish Church in Dauis on October 15.

Earthquake victims receive care in the parking lot of a government hospital in Cebu on October 15.

The Church of San Pedro in Loboc appears to be heavily damaged after the quake on October 15.

Cars lie under rubble outside the GMC Plaza Building in Cebu on October 15.

People gather outside damaged buildings in Cebu on October 15.

Rescuers pull a man from the rubble in Cebu on October 15.

In an update issued Saturday, the council said 17 people were still missing.

The quake was centered about 620 kilometers (385 miles) south-southeast of Manila, near Catigbian, and its depth was 20 kilometers (12 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Philippines disaster council gave the quake a slightly higher rating: 7.2 magnitude.

WATCH: Devastating - Video of church crumbling as deadly earthquake hits Philippines. 

The quake hit on a national holiday in the Philippines. - CNN.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Wildfire Inferno In Australia - Hundreds Of Homes Destroyed; Over 100 Firefighters Battling Flames From 98 Different Fires Over Thousands Of Acres; Mass Evacuations; One Death!

October 19, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Bush fires blazing in Australia's New South Wales claimed their first victim Friday after a man died of a suspected heart attack defending his home against the blaze on the NSW Central Coast.

Australian media reports said Walter Lindner, 63, collapsed while battling alongside his neighbor to save his heritage-listed homestead. He was rushed to hospital but was later pronounced dead.

Meanwhile, more than 20 bush fires continued to burn uncontrolled across the state despite the easing weather conditions, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Two people comfort each other as they look at the remains of their home on Friday, October 18, after a
devastating bushfire passed through Winmalee in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Firefighters counted
98 fires across the state as of late Thursday, according to the state's Rural Fire Service. Earlier Thursday,
the fire service tweeted that 34 blazes were still out of control.

Smoke fills the sky above the Winmalee Country Club in Winmalee on October 18.

Authorities say hundreds of homes have been lost with the worst hit areas in the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage area to the west of Sydney, sending thick plumes of smoke into the air.

Firefighters were battling 98 fires across New South Wales as of late Thursday, according to the state's Rural Fire Service. Earlier Thursday, the fire service tweeted that 34 blazes were still out of control.

WATCH: Australia bush fires scorch homes.

More than 100 firefighters were battling flames in Heatherbrae, where one fire has so far destroyed 3,500 hectares (8,649 acres), the service said.

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell warned at a news conference Thursday that hundreds of homes could be destroyed by the time the crisis is over.

He paid tribute to the efforts of the emergency responders battling the flames.

A helicopter works to extinguish bush fires burning near Winmalee, west of Sydney, on October 18.

The charred coastline of Catherine Hill Bay near Wyong, Australia, is seen on October 18.

 The Wallarah House, a historic site, sits burned to the ground in Catherine Hill Bay on October 18.

Firefighters fought scores of bush fires in Australia's New South Wales early October 18.

 Smoke and ash from wildfires in New South Wales blanket the Sydney skyline on Thursday, October 17. Seven major blazes were burning across the state, fanned by high, erratic winds in unseasonably warm weather.

Smoke looms over Sydney University on October 17 in this photo taken by iReporter Alison Burke Griffiths.

Resident Sean Butler walks with his face covered after fighting fires with other residents at the
historic township Newnes Junction, north of Lithgow, on October 17.

Thick smoke rises from a bush fire burning near Springwood in the Blue Mountains near Blacktown,
west of Sydney, on October 17.

Smoke from bush fires fill the sky over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on October 17.

Smoldering remains are seen in the township of Newnes Junction on October 17.

Smoke fills the sky over Sydney on October 17.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he would consider it lucky if
less than 100 homes were destroyed.

Thousands of people were evacuated as emergency warnings were enacted for bushfires burning
out of control near in the Blue Mountains, and near Newcastle.

"Today's conditions, both the hot, dry conditions but also the wind conditions, have contributed to the difficulties faced by firefighters and communities on the ground," he said.

"This difficult, damaging and dangerous day and these conditions are not going to be over quickly," he said. "Weather conditions are changing. It will take some days to see the end of these fires, and I suspect if we get through that without the loss of life, we should thank God for miracles."

WATCH: Bush fires raging in Australia.

Footage broadcast by CNN affiliate Seven Network showed flames consuming homes.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has issued emergency warnings for the most risky situations.

They include the State Mine Fire, a large bush fire moving from Lithgow toward Bilpin, in the Blue Mountains, which has burned more than 20,000 hectares (more than 49,000 acres) of bushland, firefighters said.

Another blaze threatens homes in the Springwood area of the Blue Mountains. - CNN.

NASA's Aqua Satellite Captures The Massive Fire.

October 17, 2013, will go down as one of the worst fire days New South Wales has seen in recent years. By 6:30 p.m. local time, 90 wildfires burned, 36 of them out of control and threatening communities near Sydney, Australia. Dry vegetation, high temperatures (above 34° Celsius or 93° Fahrenheit), and erratic winds gusting to 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour combined to create extremely dangerous fire conditions.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image at 2:50 p.m. (3:50 Universal Time) on October 17. Fires are outlined in red; to the east, smoke pollution was a problem in populated coastal communities. The densest plume hangs directly over Sydney, though the brighter white streak is probably a cloud.

Nearly 100 fires burned across New South Wales on October 18.

The largest fire shown here is the State Mine fire, burning in the Blue Mountains near the Lithgow area. The fire has burned more than 20,000 hectares and damaged an unknown number of properties, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. To the southeast is the dangerous Linksview Road fire, burning near the community of Springwood.

Thousands of people have been evacuated because of the fires, and all affected communities have received emergency warnings. Between the State Mine and Linksview Road fires, hundreds of homes may have been destroyed, ABC News reported.

The third large fire in the image is the Hall Road fire. Despite its size, the blaze has caused little damage and is nearly under control. It may be a few days before the other fires are under control. Weather conditions are expected to improve, but the fire danger will remain high. - Earth Observatory.