Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Latest Happenings In Space - Geomagnetic Storm Category G1 Is Predicted As The Sun Explodes With Impulsive M4.2 Solar Flare, Filament Eruption, Tsunami Of Plasma, And Loud Burst Of Shortwave Radio Static; Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) Explodes With Stellar Brightness; And NASA's All-Sky Cameras Sees 66 Fireballs Intersecting With Earth Over The Last Two Days, 37 Sporadics!

October 23, 2013 - SPACE - Here are several stories of the latest happenings in space.

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: According to the latest release from NOAA / Space Weather Prediction Center, a geomagnetic storm Category 1 is predicted:

Space Weather Message Code: WATA20
Serial Number: 554
Issue Time: 2013 Oct 23 1901 UTC

WATCH: Geomagnetic Storm Category G1 Predicted

Highest Storm Level Predicted by Day:
Oct 24:  None (Below G1)   Oct 25:  G1 (Minor)   Oct 26:  None (Below G1)


Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 60 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
Spacecraft - Minor impact on satellite operations possible.
Aurora - Aurora may be visible at high latitudes, i.e., northern tier of the U.S. such as northern Michigan and Maine.

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at

IMPULSIVE M4.2 SOLAR FLARE: A rapid release of energy registering as an M4.2 solar flare was detected around Sunspot 1875 at 21:20 UTC. Impulsive solar flares are not known to produce large coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The threat will remain in place for further moderate to strong expolsions around the active regions as it continues to rotate into a direct Earth facing position.

Attached is an image capturing the impulsive M4.2 solar flare around Sunspot 1875.
Image by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

CHANCE OF FLARES: Fast-growing sunspot AR1875 has developed a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class solar flares and a 5% chance of X-flares on Oct. 23rd.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2013 Oct 22 2118 UTC
Maximum Time: 2013 Oct 22 2118 UTC
End Time: 2013 Oct 22 2119 UTC
Duration: 1 minutes
Peak Flux: 220 sfu
Description: A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Oct 22 2122 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1955 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

FILAMENT ERUPTION: A large filament located in the northern hemisphere erupted very early Tuesday morning and launched a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. So far it looks like a majority of the plasma was directed to the north of the Sun-Earth ecliptic plane. 

Here is an updated look at the magnetic structure of Sunspot 1875 on Tuesday night. The region
remains fairly complex and retains a Beta-Gamma-Delta magnetic classification.

The eruption occured squarely on the Earthside of the sun, but the CME is not squarely Earth-directed. The bulk of the ejecta will fly north of the sun-Earth line. Nevertheless, the CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 24-25. It might even merge with a pair of minor CMEs traveling ahead of it. If so, the combined impact would be more likely to spark a geomagnetic storm. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

WATCH:  M4.2 Solar Flare & Huge Filament Eruption.

SOLAR TSUNAMI AND RADIO BURST: Sunspot AR1875 erupted on Oct. 22nd (21:20 UT), producing an impulsive M4-class solar flare and a loud burst of shortwave radio static. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft of New Mexico was listening at the time of the eruption. "I knew this flare was a strong one by the force of the radio shock front," he says. "It nearly lifted me out of my chair!" Click on the image to hear what emerged from the loudspeaker of his radio telescope:

Advice: Listen to the sound file using stereo headphones. The two channels correspond to two radio frequencies--21 and 28 MHz.

At the time of the flare, Ashcraft was also monitoring the sun using an "H-alpha" solar telescope tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen. The telescope recorded a tsunami of plasma emerging from the blast site. "It's the shadowy wave that races away to the right of the sunspot," Ashcraft points out.

The tsunami was the source of the radio emission. Shock waves at the leading edge of the tsunami cause plasma instabilities in the sun's atmosphere. Those instabilities, in turn, generate shortwave radio emissions. Ashcraft is a regular listener of the sun and he classifies the Oct. 22nd outburst as "one of the strongest radio blasts of the solar cycle so far. Hopefully it bodes well for future activity."

COMET EXPLOSION: Almost 450 million km from Earth, Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) has exploded. Amateur astronomers are reporting a 100-fold increase in the comet's brightness compared to predictions, and the comet's atmosphere or "coma" now resembles that of exploding Comet 17P/Holmes in 2007. Using a remotely-controlled 0.5 meter telescope in New Mexico, European observers Ernesto Guido, Martino Nicolini and Nick Howes took this picture of the spherical explosion on Oct 21st:

"The predicted magnitude of the comet on Oct. 20th was about +14," says Guido. "Now it is close to +8.5." This is below the threshold for naked-eye visibility, but bright enough for backyard telescopes equipped with digital cameras.

Prompted by the reports of Guido et al, Romanian amateur astronomer Maximilian Teodorescu observed the comet on Oct. 22nd, confirming  its brightness and spherical structure. "It looked exactly like Comet Holmes back in 2007," says Teodorescu.

Located in the constellation Coma Berenices, Comet LINEAR X1 rises in the east about an hour before the sun. The low altitude of the comet in morning twilight is a challenge. "I could not see the comet through the eyepiece of my 4.5 inch refracting telescope," adds Teodorescu, "but the camera detected it easily enough."

The outburst does not necessarily signal a disintegration of the comet. Possibly, a local vein or cavern of deep ice in the comet's nucleus has been exposed to sunlight. Rapid evaporation of fragile ices could account for the comet's bigger- and brighter-than-expected atmosphere. Monitoring in the nights ahead might reveal clues to what happened ... and when. Resources: 3D orbit, ephemeris, sky map.

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. 22, 2013, the network reported 38 fireballs. (22 sporadics, 12 Orionids, 4 southern Taurids)

On Oct. 23, 2013, the network reported 28 fireballs. (15 sporadics, 10 Orionids, 2 epsilon Geminids, 1 southern Taurid)

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]

SOURCES: Solar Ham | NOAA/SWPC | Space Weather.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Mega-Fire In Australia - Inferno Expected To Generate Abnormal High-Altitude Cloud!

October 23, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - A bizarre weather phenomenon known as a fire cloud is likely to form over the fire raging between Lithgow and Bilpin if weather conditions deteriorate from Tuesday, as predicted, say fire analysts.

The unique weather phenomenon - also called a pyrocumulus - occurs when a large fire is coupled with an unstable atmosphere.

Interactive image of the extreme fire:

Rural Fire Service spokeswoman Natalie Sanders said the State Mine fire, which stretches across more than 42,000 hectares, had generated a pyrocumulus last Thursday and similar, unstable conditions were forecast for Wednesday.

''If these fires are still going strong, there's a potential for that to happen again,'' she said.

WATCH: What can we expect from fire behaviour? Lightning generated by fire and fire tornadoes are all phenomena that maybe witnessed as the fires continue to rage across the Blue Mountains.

Andrew Sullivan, a leading bushfire behaviour researcher with the CSIRO, said the phenomenon required a fire generating a significant amount of heat.

As it burned, the hot air it released would rise as a column into the atmosphere. As air moved upwards, it was quickly replaced by cooler air, a process that produced a convection column.

In very large bushfires, these hot-air columns could be ''enormous'' and rise high into the atmosphere carrying a large amount of water vapour - one of the main combustion products of fire.

A firefighter puts in containment lines on the Darling Causeway, near Bell, Australia, on October 21.

A volunteer firefighter works to put out a fire near the Monkey Creek Cafe in Bell on Sunday, October 20.

An unstable atmosphere meant that the column could rise higher and higher into the atmosphere, where the temperature was cool enough for the water vapour to condense into a pyrocumulus cloud, said Dr Sullivan, a senior research scientist.

''It's a cloud formed by the presence of the fire,'' he said.

While the clouds typically did not contain enough water to rain and extinguish the fire, under certain conditions they could generate lightning.

''In some cases, the lightning has hit the ground downwind of the fire and started new fire,'' he said.

For a large convection column to form, a significant amount of heat needed to be released from the fire, a process that was related to the amount and rate the fire burned through fuel.

List of active fires - click on the icons for more information. Source: NSW Rural Fire Service.

While extensive fires with large convection columns could generate strong winds, they did not change the behaviour or direction of the fire, Dr Sullivan said.

''There is this confusion [where] people think a fire has gotten so big that it's created its own weather and it can do whatever it wants,'' he said. ''Well, it doesn't.

''A fire will still follow the laws of physics and move in the direction the prevailing wind is driving it.''

But, under certain circumstances, fires could generate vortices, or fire tornadoes, with very high wind speeds that could cause significant damage. - SMH.

MONUMENTAL UNIVERSE CHANGES: "Other Universes Are Pulling On Our Universe" - New Planck Data Triggers Controversy!

October 23, 2013 - SPACE - Is our universe merely one of billions? Evidence of the existence of 'multiverse' revealed for the first time by a cosmic map of background radiation data gathered by Planck telescope. The first 'hard evidence' that other universes exist has been claimed to have been found by cosmologists studying new Planck data released this past June. They have concluded that it shows anomalies that can only have been caused by the gravitational pull of other universes.

"Such ideas may sound wacky now, just like the Big Bang theory did three generations ago," says George Efstathiou, professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University."But then we got evidence and now it has changed the whole way we think about the universe."

Scientists had predicted that it should be evenly distributed, but the map shows a stronger concentration in the south half of the sky and a 'cold spot' that cannot be explained by current understanding of physics. Laura Mersini-Houghton, theoretical physicist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Richard Holman, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, predicted that anomalies in radiation existed and were caused by the pull from other universes in 2005. Mersini-Houghton will be in Britain soon promoting this theory and, we expect, the hard evidence at the Hay Festival on May 31 and at Oxford on June 11.

Dr Mersini-Houghton believes her hypothesis has been proven from the Planck data that data has been used to create a map of light from when the universe was just 380,000 years old. "These anomalies were caused by other universes pulling on our universe as it formed during the Big Bang," she says. "They are the first hard evidence for the existence of other universes that we have seen."

Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit writes in his blog, Not Even Wrong, that in recent years there have been many claims made for “evidence” of a multiverse, supposedly found in the CMB data. "Such claims often came with the remark that the Planck CMB data would convincingly decide the matter. When the Planck data was released two months ago, I looked through the press coverage and through the Planck papers for any sign of news about what the new data said about these multiverse evidence claims. There was very little there; possibly the Planck scientists found these claims to be so outlandish that it wasn’t worth the time to look into what the new data had to say about them.

"One exception," Woit adds, "was this paper, where Planck looked for evidence of 'dark flow'. They found nothing, and a New Scientist article summarized the situation: 'The Planck team’s paper appears to rule out the claims of Kashlinsky and collaborators,' says David Spergel of Princeton University, who was not involved in the work. If there is no dark flow, there is no need for exotic explanations for it, such as other universes, says Planck team member Elena Pierpaoli at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “You don’t have to think of alternatives.'"

"Dark Flow" sounds like a new SciFi Channel series. It's not! The dark flow is controversial because the distribution of matter in the observed universe cannot account for it. Its existence suggests that some structure beyond the visible universe -- outside our "horizon" -- is pulling on matter in our vicinity.

Back in the Middle Ages, maps showed terrifying images of sea dragons at the boundaries of the known world. Today, scientists have observed strange new motion at the very limits of the known universe - kind of where you'd expect to find new things, but they still didn't expect this. A huge swath of galactic clusters seem to be heading to a cosmic hotspot and nobody knows why.

Cosmologists regard the microwave background -- a flash of light emitted 380,000 years after the universe formed -- as the ultimate cosmic reference frame. Relative to it, all large-scale motion should show no preferred direction. A 2010 study tracked the mysterious cosmic 'dark flow' to twice the distance originally reported. The study was led by Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

"This is not something we set out to find, but we cannot make it go away," Kashlinsky said. "Now we see that it persists to much greater distances - as far as 2.5 billion light-years away," he added.

Dark flow describes a possible non-random component of the peculiar velocity of galaxy clusters. The actual measured velocity is the sum of the velocity predicted by Hubble's Law plus a small and unexplained (or dark) velocity flowing in a common direction. According to standard cosmological models, the motion of galaxy clusters with respect to the cosmic microwave background should be randomly distributed in all directions. However, analyzing the three-year WMAP data using the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, the authors of the study found evidence of a "surprisingly coherent" 600–1000 km/s flow of clusters toward a 20-degree patch of sky between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela.

The clusters appear to be moving along a line extending from our solar system toward Centaurus/Hydra, but the direction of this motion is less certain. Evidence indicates that the clusters are headed outward along this path, away from Earth, but the team cannot yet rule out the opposite flow.

"We detect motion along this axis, but right now our data cannot state as strongly as we'd like whether the clusters are coming or going," Kashlinsky said.

The unexplained motion has hundreds of millions of stars dashing towards a certain part of the sky at over eight hundred kilometers per second. Not much speed in cosmic terms, but the preferred direction certainly is: most cosmological models have things moving in all directions equally at the extreme edges of the universe. Something that could make things aim for a specific spot on such a massive scale hasn't been imagined before. The scientists are keeping to the proven astrophysical strategy of calling anything they don't understand "dark", terming the odd motion a "dark flow".

A black hole can't explain the observations - objects would accelerate into the hole, while the NASA scientists see constant motion over a vast expanse of a billion light-years. You have no idea how big that is. This is giant on a scale where it's not just that we can't see what's doing it; it's that the entire makeup of the universe as we understand it can't be right if this is happening.

The hot X-ray-emitting gas within a galaxy cluster scatters photons from the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Because galaxy clusters don't precisely follow the expansion of space, the wavelengths of scattered photons change in a way that reflects each cluster's individual motion.

This results in a minute shift of the microwave background's temperature in the cluster's direction. The change, which astronomers call the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (KSZ) effect, is so small that it has never been observed in a single galaxy cluster.

But in 2000, Kashlinsky, working with Fernando Atrio-Barandela at the University of Salamanca, Spain, demonstrated that it was possible to tease the subtle signal out of the measurement noise by studying large numbers of clusters.

In 2008, armed with a catalog of 700 clusters assembled by Harald Ebeling at the University of Hawaii and Dale Kocevski, now at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the researchers applied the technique to the three-year WMAP data release. That's when the mystery motion first came to light.

The new study builds on the previous one by using the five-year results from WMAP and by doubling the number of galaxy clusters.

"It takes, on average, about an hour of telescope time to measure the distance to each cluster we work with, not to mention the years required to find these systems in the first place," Ebeling said. "This is a project requiring considerable followthrough."

According to Atrio-Barandela, who has focused on understanding the possible errors in the team's analysis, the new study provides much stronger evidence that the dark flow is real. For example, the brightest clusters at X-ray wavelengths hold the greatest amount of hot gas to distort CMB photons. "When processed, these same clusters also display the strongest KSZ signature -- unlikely if the dark flow were merely a statistical fluke," he said.

In addition, the team, which now also includes Alastair Edge at the University of Durham, England, sorted the cluster catalog into four "slices" representing different distance ranges. They then examined the preferred flow direction for the clusters within each slice. While the size and exact position of this direction display some variation, the overall trends among the slices exhibit remarkable agreement.

The researchers are currently working to expand their cluster catalog in order to track the dark flow to about twice the current distance. Improved modeling of hot gas within the galaxy clusters will help refine the speed, axis, and direction of motion.

Future plans call for testing the findings against newer data released from the WMAP project and the European Space Agency's Planck mission, which is also currently mapping the microwave background.

Which is fantastic! Such discoveries force a whole new set of ideas onto the table which, even if they turn out to be wrong, are the greatest ways to advance science and our understanding of everything. One explanation that's already been offered is that our universe underwent a period of hyper-inflation early in its existence, and everything we think of as the vast and infinite universe is actually a small corner under the sofa of the real expanse of reality. Which would be an amazing, if humbling, discovery.

The image at the top of the page shows the most distant object we have ever observed with high confidence, according to Wei Zheng, the leading astronomer of the team at Johns Hopkins University who that noticed the galaxy on multiple images from both the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. At 13.2-billion years old, we are technically seeing this galaxy when it was very young, but its light is only reaching Earth now. - Daily Galaxy.

STORM ALERT: Powerful Typhoons Headed For Japan, Could Worsen Situation At The Fukushima Nuclear Plant - Typhoon Francisco Is Weakening, But Expected To Lash Region With Heavy Rainfall; Super-Typhoon Lekima Forms In The Western Pacific Ocean As The Strongest Storm Of 2013; Just 1 Week After Typhoon Wipha Killed 31 People With Floods And Mudslides!

October 23, 2013 - JAPAN - After drying off from the worst storm since 2004, Japan is preparing to spend another wet weekend.

As Japan recovers from one typhoon, another is on its doorstep. Typhoon Wipha struck the country just a week ago. Typhoon Francisco, the 27th storm in the Western Pacific this season, is now on its way to the island, packing sustained winds near 150 km/h with gusts of 222 km/h and is moving west-northwestward at 15 km/h.

  The MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of Super Typhoon
Francisco in the Pacific Ocean that clearly showed its eye on Oct. 20 at 0130 UTC.
NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Projected path of Typhoon Francisco (left) and Typhoon Lekima (right).

The storm is expected to make landfall near Tokyo Friday or Saturday as a category one typhoon. As of Tuesday afternoon, the storm was about 530 km southwest of Okinawa, Japan.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued warnings and advisories for much of the eastern part of the country. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), the storm is generating wave heights of up to 13.1 metres in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.

WATCH: Western Pacific Weather Update for October 23, 2013. 

Typhoon Francisco is approaching eastern Japan but will turn to the northeast as it weakens, with help from Super Typhoon Lekima. Although the cyclone has been follow a track similar to deadly Typhoon Wipha from last week, Francisco will curve to the northeast before reaching much of Japan. Francisco remains a typhoon for now, but has weakened greatly since reaching its peak intensity early this week. However, more weakening is expected over the next few days.

AccuWeather's projection for Francisco.

Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) projection.

Sideswiping southeastern Japan, periods of heavy rain are still expected to impact the country through the first half of the weekend.  As much as 150-250 mm (6-10 inches) of rain are expected between Miyazaki and Oshaka. Across the Tokyo metropolitan area, one of the hardest hit by Typhoon Wipha, rainfall totals between 25-75 mm (1-3 inches) is forecast through Saturday night. 

Much of southern and eastern Japan has already had a considerably wet October, with some areas doubling their normal monthly rainfall totals thus far. The additional rain to come with Francisco will only add to the threat for flooding and mudslides with the heaviest rain. Unlike Wipha, the winds from Francisco will be noticeably lighter. Sustained winds are expected to gust up to 30 mph, with isolated gusts to 40 mph on the coastal areas of eastern Kyushu, southern Shikoku and southern Honshu.

AccuWeather's projected rainfall from Francisco.

Last Wednesday, Typhoon Wipha killed at least 31 people, 28 of whom perished in floods and mudslides on the island of Izu Oshima about 60 miles south of Tokyo. In the capital, trains were delayed, about 500 flights cancelled and 64% of the city’s public schools were closed or opened late.

A string of typhoons and heavy rain have also dogged efforts to contain water contaminated by radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Last Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it had drained some of the water accumulated within several containment barriers during the heavy rainfall brought by Typhoon Wipha. It said that the drained water, while contaminated, had radioactive levels within its safety limits.

WATCH: Western Pacific Weather Update for October 24, 2013. 

Francisco is already causing problems for mariners in the region. A Tuna fishing boat issued a distress call this afternoon and has since gone missing near Okinawa. No more information has been received beyond that. Coast Guard is currently en route to their last known position. 

  All fishermen on board were seen waving to the Coast Guard Helo as it flew over head. They are still in rough seas though and hopes they return home safely.

Conditions will continue to go down hill for coastal areas during the overnight hours. The southern half of Okinawa where the bulk of the islands population is is forecasted to see winds peak at 40-50G65kts on Thursday early morning through evening. A few gust could even get higher than this nearing the 65kt threshold.A total of 150mm of rainfall will also fall across the main island of Okinawa as the outer rain bands from the storm impact the area. This will be reserved to the western sea boards and along coastal areas. If you’re in a sheltered area of course the winds will be much lower.

Image: MIMIC.

Due to the slow movement of Francisco the gusty winds around Tropical Storm Strength should not completely taper off until the overnight hours on Thursday in to Friday. By Friday morning though Francisco should start to pick up its pace and weaken dramatically as it skirts the Japanese coastline with the center of circulation staying off shore.  Typhoon Lekima will then influence Francisco to cause it to swing away from the Japan Coastline due to a Fujiwara effect. Still though moisture from Francisco and a Stationary boundary supported by a upper level trough over Japan will bring the main threat of heavy rainfall across the area. The heaviest is forecasted to fall in Shikoku where 250-350mm will be seen along the pacific coast.  Expect low lying urban and river flooding in Tokyo along with dangerous waves near coastal areas. Areas of heaviest rainfall could see the risk of mudslides by Friday Evening in to Saturday Morning.  The worst being on Shikoku the Kii-Pennisula and the Izu islands which are still recovering from the impacts of Typhoon Wipha.

JMA track.

Daily Satellite Update.

Additionally, Super Typhoon Lekima pushing northward in open waters of the Pacific will be pulling Francisco southward.  This means it may get absorbed by Lekima thus moving east towards the storm and away from Japan. Lekima, which strengthened to a super typhoon Wednesday morning, EDT, was estimated to have a central pressure of 905 mb, making it the strongest typhoon of the 2013 season.

SOURCES: Global News | AccuWeather | WSJ | Western Pacific Weather.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Fukushima Radiation Worse Than Feared And The Worst Is Yet To Come - Heavy Rains Overflow Barriers Surrounding Fukushima Water Tanks; Expert Say Situation Calls For International Emergency Work As A Lead-Based Underwear Is Designed In Japan To Help Fight Contamination?!

October 23, 2013 - JAPAN - IAEA experts are trying on the ground to sort out work to do away with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. But the situation grows increasingly tense despite all efforts by the government.  

Experts Declare That Fukushima Radiation Worse Than Feared.
Photo: EPA.

Hundreds of tons of radioactive water leaked out of the reservoirs and reached the subterranean waters just days ago. It may have likewise leaked into the ocean, says an expert in nuclear physics and nuclear power generation, Igor Ostretsov, Doctor of Engineering.  “I am absolutely certain that the radioactive water leaks into the ocean have never stopped, because the plant molten corium is continuously cooled. The water used in the cooling is then stored in radioactive water storage tanks. A lot of radioactive water has been accumulated there to date. A lot of water is required for cooling. The tanks are actually non-durable and often overfilled, resulting in overflows. But this is not reported unless a pipe bursts”.  A state of emergency should now be declared throughout the world community. Japan needs international control, Tokyo can’t manage it on its own. Whatever the world nations can offer to cope with the situation should be used, or else the northern part of the Pacific will be contaminated. Discharging radioactive water into tanks and keeping them is pointless. Japan clearly needs an immediate extraordinary solution.  As of today, the radiation levels around the plant are so high that staying there for four hours would be lethal for a person. But the Japanese either failed or chose not to use the experience of Russian liquidators who tackled a similar situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, says Professor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Vladimir Kuznetsov.  “Japan has been unsuccessfully trying to get the situation under control for more than two years now, under the supervision of the IAEA. But the situation is worsening by the week. Neither Japan, nor the International Atomic Energy Agency is capable of controlling the situation. The decisions made are known to be wrong. We had a concrete cover for the crippled Chernobyl reactor in six months after the accident, while in Japan they still have nothing now that two and a half years have passed since March 11th, 2011.

Background radiation is 400 times the normal levels in towns just 10 kilometres away from the crippled nuclear plant”.  A complete removal of the plant equipment will take almost 50 years. How long the rehabilitation of radiation-affected residents of the area around the Fukushima plant may take is anyone’s guess. So far, the locals have been facing really grave problems, the vice president of the committee to restore the coastal area of the city of Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, Toru Yabe, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.  “Restoration has been very slow. Many people have been living in temporary housing for 2.5 years now; they still have no homes of their own. They may just as well live there for 3 or even 4 years", Toru Yabe said.  Dispelling the myth that building nuclear power plants in seismically active areas is safe has become an important lesson taught by the Fukushima disaster. It has been brought home to the Japanese for dozens of years that the situation is under control and they should have no fears. But it turned out that the elements are unpredictable and that humanity is defenceless against nature despite all of their technological progress.  In short, Professor Streltsov believes that Japan has entered the post-Fukushima period of development, one that will be qualitatively different in all parameters of social being. It would stand to reason to assume that the entire world has entered a new paradigm of development. And yet, there is no alternative to nuclear power production due to natural resource scarcity, ecological problems caused by hydrocarbon burning and the short payoff period of nuclear power-generating units.  Nuclear power plant accidents are, unfortunately, unavoidable. But proper use of technology, due regard for the international experience and close compliance with safety procedures can minimize the consequences and bring fresh hope to humanity. - Voice of Russia.

WATCH: Fukushima is collapsing - The worst is coming... 

Heavy Rains Overflow Barriers Surrounding Fukushima Water Tanks.
AFP Photo / TEPCO.

Water has overflowed at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is attempting to discern the quality of the water and possible radioactive substances which could have been spilled.  TEPCO announced on Monday that the water overflowed in 12 areas of the plant.  Heavy rains caused water to flow over the barriers of an artificial embankment which surrounds a dozen tanks of radioactive water at the plant. TEPCO reported that liquid containing a source of beta radiation was found beyond the levees.  The company said the incident was “due to heavy rain in the Tohoku region.” Company specialists are attempting to identify the amount of leaked water and the radiation levels present in the liquid.  Radioactivity levels in a well near a storage tank at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have risen immensely, the plant’s operator earlier reported, fueling ongoing concern about the impact of radiation on the surrounding environment.  Last Wednesday, heavy rains brought with Typhoon Wipha caused reservoirs for collecting rainwater to overflow. The natural disaster was described by weather forecasters as the strongest in a decade, leaving at least 17 people dead and 50 others missing in its wake.  Workers at the Fukushima plant had to pump rainwater out of protective containers surrounding approximately 1,000 tanks holding radioactive water. It is thought that the heavy rains lifted contaminated soil.  Shortly afterwards, radiation levels were found to have skyrocketed.

TEPCO officials said Friday that they detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances - including strontium - at the site of a well near a storage tank. The level was 6,500 times higher than readings taken Wednesday, according to NHK World.  The news showed that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater, according to the officials. In August, the same storage tank leaked over 300 tons of contaminated water.  Earlier this month, TEPCO announced that 430 liters of polluted water had spilled from a tank as the company’s employees tried to remove rainwater dumped at the plant by recent typhoons. The contaminated water may well have flowed into the sea, TEPCO said.  However, estimates still may be unreliable. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) raised doubts at the beginning of the month. A preliminary report published in the Japanese press concluded that estimates of radioactive substances discharged at the plant provided by the Japanese authorities, TEPCO, and other entities may have underestimated the impact of the disaster.  The power plant was disrupted in March 2011 by a massive earthquake and tsunami which wreaked havoc at Fukushima and sparked a nuclear crisis in which meltdowns occurred in three reactors.  It was considered to be the world’s worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.  In September, a senior utility expert at Fukushima, Kazuhiko Yamashita, said that the plant was “not under control.” TEPCO downplayed his comments, saying that he had only been talking about the plant’s waste water problem – not the facility as a whole. - RT.

Expert Say Situation Calls For International Emergency Work.
Photo: EPA.

Sharp radiation growth was registered in ground water samples throughout just one day, October 18th, in the area of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. Tritium concentrations, for example, exceeded the admissible values 6,500 times. This is the gravest situation since the 2011 Fukushima accident.  The area of the nuclear meltdown remains open and is being cooled by flowing water, says an expert in nuclear physics and nuclear power generation, Igor Ostretsov.  "Radioactive water keeps coming and should be stored somewhere, Igor Ostretsov says. They have deployed a great number of tanks there and keep bringing more. There must be no place left by now for still more tanks to store radioactive water in. A lot of water has been naturally spilled out, since the tanks just cannot hold all the water. Workers have recently done something wrong, causing massive water discharge. They’ve built a border dyke 100 metres deep, but subterranean waters are deeper still. This way the radioactive water makes it to the ocean. I can’t make out just why the Japanese are reluctant to take strong measures. Japan is clearly unable to cope with the situation on its own, so what’s needed is an international emergency effort."  The Fukushima plant operator, - the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is incapable of regulating or controlling the processes under way at the nuclear plant, says the co-chairman of the Ekozashchita, or ecological protection, international ecological group, Vladimir Slivyak.  "The Company is actually reacting to emergencies as they occur, Vladimir Slivyak says. When something happens, they start considering the situation. In other words, they are absolutely unable to control the situation. By far graver problems may arise at the Fukushima plant than the ones we now know of. Now, Friday’s jump in radiation levels most likely means fresh leaks."  TEPCO is going to go ahead with its effort to decontaminate soil, to prevent more radioactive leaks from seeping into ground water. Igor Ostretsov again.  "The only method to be used is evaporation, but this is not a radical decision, since it is not 100% efficient. In other words, we don’t have absolute technologies."  Scientists believe thorium power engineering could be a solution. This means any heavy elements are burned down through the use of accelerator. The future of nuclear power production, as well as the doing away with the aftermath of the Fukushima plant accident are due to be addressed by an international conference at the European Nuclear Research Organization, CERN, later this month. - Voice of Russia.

Lead-Based Underwear Designed In Japan To Help Fight Fukushima Disaster.
Photo from

A Japanese company has invented carbon wetsuits and lead-based underwear that can protect against radiation amid the growing aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. It comes as Japan fights to stop the flow of radioactive water leaking into the sea.  Three of the Fukushima plant’s nuclear reactors were damaged by an earthquake-triggered tsunami on March 11, 2011, which led to a nuclear disaster. The plant has been accumulating radioactive water ever since.  Designed in an effort to protect Fukushima clean-up workers, Osaka-based swimwear company Yamamoto Corporation unveiled the anti-radiation garments on Thursday.  The company claims that the wetsuit made from stretchy rubberized kneaded carbon can stop 100 percent of beta radiation.  The swimwear - which weighs only three kilograms - is completely fused so the contaminated water cannot seep through. The suit therefore protects the person wearing it from aftermath illnesses such as cancer, according to its makers.  Yamamoto Corporation is also working on lead-based underwear which protects the lower part of the spine and abdomen from harmful gamma rays. The underwear’s weight is 3.4 kilograms.

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 “The clothes which protect from two kinds of radiation - beta and gamma rays –as described above are the first development of such kind in the world,” the company said in a statement.  Due to be released in November, the wetsuit will cost just over US$1,000, while the underwear will cost around $825.  Meanwhile, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has suggested in a report that Japan’s government may have underestimated by 20 percent the internal radiation that cleanup workers received after the nuclear disaster occurred . UNSCEAR used data provided by the Japanese government, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and other entities to assess the amount of radioactive substances discharged during the crisis, The Asahi Shimbun reported. It also analyzed radiation doses in around 25,000 people who worked at the plant no later than October 2012.  The UN committee also revealed that the tests conducted had failed to account for some types of radiation, adding that the nuclear plant’s employees were tested after a significant delay.  TEPCO, the plant’s operator responsible for the clean-up, said on Friday that radioactivity levels in a well near a storage tank on the Fukushima premises have immensely risen. The company detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances at the site - a level 6,500 times higher than readings taken on Wednesday, NHK World reported. The news comes as TEPCO struggles to cope with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster. - RT.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Bulletin Of The Seismological Society of America - 8,000 Seattle Buildings Face Landslide Threat In Big Quake!

October 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - You already know Seattle is due for a devastating earthquake, but a new study shows one more thing to worry about: Landslides.

Ann Rice walks passed earthquake damage Thursday, March 1, 2001 in Tumwater, Wash. The Northwest
survived the region's strongest earthquake in a half-century with limited injuries and no permanent scars.
Damage estimates hit $2 billion Thursday as experts examined buildings, bridges, dams and roads.
(AP Photo/The News Tribune, Dean J. Koepfler)

Published Tuesday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, the study found that damage from earthquake-triggered landslides will be worse and more widespread in Seattle than previously thought.

The study focused on the Seattle Fault, a 30-mile fracture that runs east-west through Seattle, under CenturyLink Field and over to Issaquah. Capable of inflicting mass damage, it's due for another rupture, but no one knows when.

"A major quake along the Seattle Fault is among the worst case scenarios for the area since the fault runs just south of downtown," said Kate Alltstadt, a University of Washington doctoral student and co-author of the study.

Why Seattle is particularly vulnerable to earthquake-triggered landslides: First, the city sits on a known earthquake
fault and a sedimentary basin that amplifies seismic waves. Secondly, Seattle is full of hills. The red areas
show landslide risk zones. (Not shown is amount of rain, which makes things worse).  Source: Kate Allstadt,
Art Frankel and John Vidale, from 2013 earthquake landslide funded by U.S. Geological Study.

Here's a textbook guide on types of earthquake sources near Seattle. The megathrust quake often called
"the big one" will come from the subduction zone. That's where the Juan de Fuca plate is squeezing under
the North American plate. The Seattle fault is also a source of potentially deadly "crustal" quakes,
due to their relative shallowness to the surface. Source: U.S. Geological Survey.

Then there's Seattle's rain and craggy topography, a recipe for landslides. Allstadt and the research team wondered: How would a magnitude 7.0 quake along the Seattle Fault affect the city's crumbly slopes?

Answer: Catastrophe. The study found that thousands of landslides would ravage Seattle's coastal bluffs and southern neighborhoods. More than a 1,000 buildings would be in hazard zones of collapsing hills, the study found. But that when the soil was dry.

A far worse threat loomed when hills were soggy. More than 8,000 buildings would be in potential danger if a major earthquake hit after a rainy spell.

Pioneer Square is pictured after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Seattle in 1949. Eight people were killed.
(Photo: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, copyright MOHAI, 1986.5.2353)

Paul Riek is pictured checking his car in Pioneer Square to see if it starts after a magnitude 6.8 quake hit Seattle
and the region on Feb. 28, 2001. (AP Photo/Stevan Morgain)

"A lot of people assume that all landslides occur in the same areas, but those triggered by rainfall or human behavior have a different triggering mechanism than landslides caused by earthquakes, so we need dedicated studies," said Allstadt, who's also a seismologist with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

The Seattle Fault last ruptured in 900 A.D., at an estimated magnitude 7.4. It wreaked geologic havoc, sending chunks of forest into Lake Washington. Seattle was not yet a city then, and the next rupture has the deadly potential to bring down thousands of homes.

When will this happen? One estimate puts the quake recurrence at every 750 years. Another says every 200 to 12,000 years. One thing is known: Seattle is due; the fault last ruptured more than 1,100 years ago. - Seattle PI.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - The Remains Of Unknown Animal Found On The South Downs In England, Baffles Experts?!

October 23, 2013 - ENGLAND - The discovery of a skeleton found in a field which borders Washington and Wiston has baffled experts.

Mystery animal has baffled experts.

Dog walker Jodie Salmon, 23, of Goring, was walking near Chanctonbury Ring on Thursday (October 17) when she came across the grisly remains.

After first believing it to be a snake, on a closer look she then thought it could possibly be the bones of a big cat.

She described the skeleton as being between approximately five or six feet long.

Wildlife experts are yet to confirm its identity. - WS County Times.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: "First Time They've Seen Anything Like This" - Thousands Of Fish Dead In Dried Up Deschutes River In Oregon?!

October 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The search is on to find answers to why so many fish have been found dead in a dried-up channel of the Deschutes River southwest of Bend.

Dropping water levels in the Deschutes trapped the fish in a channel near Lava Island resulted in the death of hundreds if not thousands of fish. But officials said water levels are routinely lowered at this time of year, and this result appeared to be new and unexpected.

Kim Brannock, who moved to Bend from Portland a few months ago, said she was running Thursday on the river trail when she noticed very little water between the banks.

"As I came up and noticed that the side channel, which is pretty significant when the water is coming through, was completely empty," Brannock said. "I knew that there had to be a lot of dead fish."

She was right: Piles of trout and whitefish could be seen up and down the dry channel.

"It broke my heart to see that many fish, also to see really like vibrant, really big trout too, that just laid there and suffered," Brannock said.

She added that several people had stopped to take pictures while others tried to save some of the fish from a pool of water that was badly depleted of oxygen.

After several calls to friends and family, Brannock and her husband, Lee, decided they would go back to the pool early Friday morning to try and save as many fish as possible.

"People were kind of laughing, 'Oh you're going to go down there and save a few fish.' I was like, 'Yeah, because it's about trying to make a difference,'" Brannock said.

Around 8:30 a.m. Friday, Brannock, her husband and daughter, along with a neighbor, hiked in to the pool.

"We found this pool shortly afterwards, which last night was at least like another 18 inches higher, and it was filled with fish," Brannock said.

For several hours Friday, the team, along with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, moved 500 to 600 fish from the shrinking pool, nearly a quarter of a mile to the main channel of the Deschutes. ODFW officials estimated there were about 3,000 whitefish and sculpin found dead in five pools that had gone or were going dry.

For the last few days, the water level has been dropping on the Central Oregon river.

"At the end of irrigation season, we'll drop reservoir outflows down to begin storing water through the storing season throughout the winter," said Oregon Water Resources Region Manager Kyle Gorman.

Water managers say because Wickiup Reservoir is so low, they are not releasing much downstream.

"Compared to the previous two years, we had to drop the outflow down to fulfill water rights," Gorman said.

The most puzzling thing: Water managers say they've done nothing different than in years past -- and they also noted this isn't the worst it's been, in terms of river levels.

WATCH: Thousands of fish found dead in dried-up river channel.

"Hopefully, somebody will figure out what did happen (to the fish) this year, as to previous year,s and then find a solution so it doesn't happen again," Gorman said.

Many observers say it's the first time they've seen anything like this.

"I sort of consider this community all about wildlife and the outdoors," Brannock said. "It kind of feels like a dirty little secret to me. I'm kind of surprised, disappointed for sure." - KTVZ.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus - Veterinary Scientists Track The Origin Of A Deadly Emerging Pig Virus In The United States!

October 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Veterinary researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have helped identify the origin and possible evolution of an emerging swine virus with high mortality rates that has already spread to at least 17 states.

The sudden emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which belongs to the coronavirus family,
has caused economic and public health concerns in the United States.

A team of researchers led by Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, has used virus strains isolated from the ongoing outbreaks in Minnesota and Iowa to trace the likely origin of the emergent porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) to a strain from the Anhui province in China. The virus, which causes a high mortality rate in piglets, was first recognized in the United States in May of this year.

“The virus typically only affects nursery pigs and has many similarities with transmissible gastroenteritis virus of swine,” said Meng, who is a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. “There is currently no vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the United States. Although some vaccines are in use in Asia, we do not know whether they would work against the U.S. strains of the virus.”

The researchers determined not only that the three U.S. strains of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus are most closely related to the Chinese strains of the virus, but also that the U.S. strains likely diverged two or three years ago following an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain in China. They published their findings on the “Origin, Evolution, and Genotyping of Emergent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Strains in the United States” in the Oct. 15 issue of the American Academy of Microbiology’s journal, mBio.

According to the study, the U.S. strains of the virus share 99.5 percent of their genetic code with their Chinese counterpart. Allan Dickerman, a co-author of the paper and research assistant professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, performed the molecular clock analysis to determine that the divergence of the U.S. and Chinese virus strains coincides with a porcine epidemic diarrhea virus outbreak in China back in December of 2010. Meng said it is unclear whether the U.S. strains of the virus diverged in China or in the United States.

The sudden emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which belongs to the coronavirus family, has caused economic and public health concerns in the United States.

“The ongoing outbreaks of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in humans from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula and the historical deadly nature of the 2002 outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus create further anxiety about the emergency of PEDV in the United States due to the lack of scientific information about the origin and evolution of this emerging coronavirus,” wrote Dr. Yao-Wei Huang, the first author of the paper and a former research assistant professor at the veterinary college who is now a professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Researchers have found no evidence that the virus can spread to humans or pose a threat to food safety. They did, however, come across additional evidence that the U.S. strains share several genetic features with a bat coronavirus — findings which point to an evolutionary origin from bats and the potential for cross-species transmission.

Though commonly accepted that the virus spreads through the fecal-oral route, Meng said that scientists have not yet ruled out the possibility of other transmission routes. Symptoms include acute vomiting, anorexia, and watery diarrhea with high mortality rates in pigs less than 10 days old.

“Veterinarians need to recognize the symptoms of the disease, and with the lack of a vaccine in the United States, practicing strict biosecurity and good sanitation procedures on the farm are important for prevention and control of this deadly disease,” Meng added.

The research team also included Dr. Pablo PiƱeyro, an anatomic pathology resident at the veterinary college; Dr. Long Li and Dr. Li Fang of the Hangzhou Beta Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory of Hangzhou, China; Dr. Ross Kiehne of the Swine Veterinary Center in St. Peter, Minn.; and Dr. Tanja Opriessnig of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is a leading biomedical teaching and research center, enrolling more than 500 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students, master of public health, and biomedical and veterinary sciences graduate students. The college is a partnership between the land-grant universities of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland. Its main campus in Blacksburg, Va., features the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and large animal field services which together treat more than 79,000 animals annually. Other locations include the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., and the Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park, Md. - VT News.

FUK-U-EARTH: The War On Mother Nature - SUPER SMOG In Northern Chinese City Closes Schools, Cancels Flights And Halts Buses!

October 23, 2013 - CHINA - Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in one northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season.

The manager for U.S. jazz singer Patti Austin, meanwhile, said the singer had cancelled a concert in Beijing because of an asthma attack likely linked to pollution.

Residents with masks on their faces are seen under heavy smog in Harbin, northeast China's
Heilongjiang province, on October 21, 2013.

Winter typically brings the worst air pollution to northern China because of a combination of weather conditions and an increase in the burning of coal for homes and municipal heating systems, which usually starts on a specific date. For the large northern city of Harbin, the city’s heating systems kicked in on Sunday, and on Monday visibility there was less than 50 metres, according to state media.

“I couldn’t see anything outside the window of my apartment, and I thought it was snowing,” Wu Kai, 33, a housewife and mother of a baby boy, said in a telephone interview from Harbin. “Then I realized it wasn’t snow. I have not seen the sun for a long time.”

She said her husband went to work in a mask, that he could barely see a few meters (yards) ahead of him and that his usual bus had stopped running.

A woman walks in the smog in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province, on October 21, 2013. AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images

Streets and cars are seen under heavy smog in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province,
on October 21, 2013. 

“It’s scary, too dangerous. How could people drive or walk on such a day?”

The density of fine particulate matter, PM2.5, used as an indicator of air quality was well above 600 micrograms per cubic meter — including several readings of exactly 1,000 — for several monitoring stations in Harbin, according to figures posted on the website of China’s environmental protection agency. They were the first known readings of 1,000 since China began releasing figures on PM2.5 in January 2012, and it was not immediately clear if the devices used for monitoring could give readings higher than that.

A safe level under WHO guidelines is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

Primary and middle schools and some highways were closed, said authorities in the city, which is in China’s northernmost province bordering Russia. At least 40 flights to destinations in southern China and Beijing among others were cancelled or postponed at Harbin’s Taiping International Airport on Monday morning.

Austin’s management team said the 63-year-old singer had been treated in a hospital Friday morning for an asthma attack in combination with a respiratory infection. She returned to her hotel later Friday to rest, but was unable to perform at her Beijing concert scheduled for Friday evening. Her Saturday night concert in Shanghai went ahead.

A man pushes a bike onto a bridge during a day of heavy pollution in Harbin in northeast China's
Heilongjiang province Monday Oct. 21, 2013.
AP Photo

A policeman gestures as he works on a street in heavy smog in Harbin, northeast China's
 Heilongjiang province, on October 21, 2013. 

A man cycles in the smog in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province, on October 21, 2013.

Her manager, Barry Orms, said Monday that Austin, as an asthma sufferer, would have been “affected by the amount of pollution.” He said that it wasn’t their goal to place blame, and that “Patti has expressed our belief that the Chinese government can be a leader in this very important issue.”

On the morning ahead of her concert Friday, Beijing’s air was visibly polluted, with the city’s environmental monitoring centre warning children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses to reduce outdoor activity.

China’s major cities have some of the world’s worst smog. The government was long indifferent to the environment as it pursued economic development, but has begun launching some anti-pollution initiatives after mounting public frustration.

Last month, China’s Cabinet released an action plan that aims to make a small reduction in the country’s heavy reliance on coal to below 65 per cent of total energy usage by 2017. According to Chinese government statistics, coal consumption accounted for 68.4 per cent of total energy use in 2011. - National Post.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Animal Behavior & Disaster Precursors - Venomous Spider Outbreak Shuts British School?!

October 23, 2013 - ENGLAND - An English school has been forced to close after an outbreak of "false widow" spiders, the latest in a series of sightings of Britain's most poisonous arachnid.

Dean Academy in the western Forest of Dean region would shut its doors on Wednesday while experts dealt with the eight-legged invaders, vice principal Craig Burns said in a statement.

The spiders, which resemble the potentially deadly black widow, have colonised parts of southern England for more than a century although they are thought to have spread in the last 25 years, according to Britain's Natural History Museum. - Reuters.