Friday, March 7, 2014

WORLD WAR III: Ukraine Base Under Siege - Russian Soldiers Storm Ukrainian Military Unit; Putin Rebuffs Obama's Warning On Crimea; 30,000 Russian Troops In Crimea; Moscow Backs Crimean Secession; Warns Retaliation Over Sanctions!

March 07, 2014 - UKRAINE - Russia said any U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine will boomerang back on the United States and that Crimea has the right to self-determination as armed men tried to seize another Ukrainian military base on the peninsula.

Russian soldiers move toward Ukraine military base. Reuters

In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against "hasty and reckless steps" that could harm Russian-American relations, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

"Sanctions...would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang," it added.

It was the second tense, high-level exchange between the former Cold War foes in 24 hours over the pro-Russian takeover of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after an hour-long call with U.S. President Barack Obama that their positions on the former Soviet republic were still far apart. Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

Putin, who later opened the Paralympic Games in Sochi which have been boycotted by a string of Western dignitaries, said Ukraine's new, pro-Western authorities had acted illegitimately over the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.

"Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law," he said.

Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the Ukrainian border guards' commander, said 30,000 Russian soldiers were now in Crimea, compared to the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.

On Friday evening armed men drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in Sevastopol, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. But no shots were fired and Crimea's pro-Russian premier said later the standoff was over.

Putin denies the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow's command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed his assertion.

The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War - resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after protests in Kiev that led to violence - escalated on Thursday when Crimea's parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia.

The region's government set a referendum for March 16 - in just nine days' time.


Turkey scrambled jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along its Black Sea coast and a U.S. warship passed through Turkey's Bosphorus straits on its way to the Black Sea, although the U.S. military said it was a routine deployment.

European Union leaders and Obama said the referendum plan was illegitimate and would violate Ukraine's constitution.

The head of Russia's upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between "the two brotherly nations".

Obama ordered visa bans and asset freezes on Thursday against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening Ukraine's sovereignty. Earlier in the week, a Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia constitute "a threat to international peace and security", after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum.

The EU, Russia's biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties "extremely unconstructive". It pledged to retaliate.


Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich's overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.

Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government's openness to economic reform and transparency.

The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms like ending gas subsidies.

Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.

In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.

In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being "in support of the Crimean people". Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as "Crimea is Russian land", and "We believe in Putin".


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilised world would recognise the result of the "so-called referendum" in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev's willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international "contact group" with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they "make us smile".

Demonstrators encamped in Kiev's central Independence Square to defend the revolution that ousted Yanukovich said they did not believe Crimea would be allowed to secede.

Alexander Zaporozhets, 40, from central Ukraine's Kirovograd region, put his faith in international pressure.

"I don't think the Russians will be allowed to take Crimea from us: you can't behave like that to an independent state. We have the support of the whole world. But I think we are losing time. While the Russians are preparing, we are just talking."

Unarmed military observers from the pan-European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were blocked from entering Crimea for a second day in a row on Friday, the OSCE said on Twitter.

The United Nations said it had sent its assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, to Kiev to conduct a preliminary humans rights assessment.

Ukrainian television has been replaced with Russian state channels in Crimea and the streets largely belong to people who support Moscow's rule, some of whom have harassed journalists and occasional pro-Kiev protesters.

Part of the Crimea's 2 million population opposes Moscow's rule, including members of the region's ethnic Russian majority. The last time Crimeans were asked, in 1991, they voted narrowly for independence along with the rest of Ukraine.

"With all these soldiers here, it is like we are living in a zoo," Tatyana, 41, an ethnic Russian. "Everyone fully understands this is an occupation." - Huffington Post.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Satellite Captures Massive Storm Swirling Off Antarctica - Extends THOUSANDS Of Miles From Its Center; Cloud Tail Stretches Nearly 3,500 MILES!

March 07, 2014 - ANTARCTICA - A European satellite that flew over Antarctica on Wednesday captured a massive storm churning in the ocean off its northern coast.

Satellite image of a storm off the north coast of Antarctica, seen on March 5, 2014.
Image: Simon Proud/EUMETSAT

The satellite — known as EUMETSAT, which monitors weather and climate from space — was conducting an overflight when it caught the late summer storm with swirling clouds extending thousands of miles from its center.

According to Simon Proud, a postdoctoral associate at MIT's atmospheric, oceanic and climate sciences program, the cloud tail stretches nearly 3,500 miles.

A EUMETSAT satellite showing a late summer storm swirling along the northern coast of
Antarctica on March 5, 2014. Image: Simon Proud/EUMETSAT

Of course, big storms and harsh weather are not unusual for Antarctica, one of the most treacherous and isolated places on Earth.

Earlier this year, a Russian research vessel that was trapped in the ice off East Antarctica for 10 days led to a international effort to rescue the 52 people onboard. - Yahoo.

MONUMENTAL FIRE IN THE SKY: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Captures The Bizarre First Ever Destruction Of An Asteroid - A Never-Before-Seen Event, Asteroid P/2013 R3 Fragments Into As Many As Ten Smaller Pieces; Breakup Enigma Baffles Boffins?! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

March 07, 2014 - SPACE - The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the never-before-seen break-up of an asteroid, which has fragmented into as many as ten smaller pieces. Although fragile comet nuclei have been seen to fall apart as they approach the Sun, nothing like the breakup of this asteroid, P/2013 R3, has ever been observed before in the asteroid belt.

Breakup images of P/2013 R3
Image: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)

"This is a really bizarre thing to observe — we've never seen anything like it before,” says co-author Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. "The break-up could have many different causes, but the Hubble observations are detailed enough that we can actually pinpoint the process responsible.”

"This is a rock. Seeing it fall apart before our eyes is pretty amazing," said David Jewitt of UCLA, USA, who led the astronomical forensics investigation.

The crumbling asteroid, designated P/2013 R3, was first noticed as an unusual, fuzzy-looking object on 15 September 2013 by the Catalina and Pan-STARRS sky surveys. Follow-up observations on 1 October with the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, revealed three co-moving bodies embedded in a dusty envelope that is nearly the diameter of Earth.

Image: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)

"Keck showed us that this thing was worth looking at with Hubble,” Jewitt said. With its superior resolution, the space-based Hubble observations soon showed that there were really ten distinct objects, each with comet-like dust tails. The four largest rocky fragments are up to 200 metres in radius, about twice the length of a football pitch.

The Hubble data showed that the fragments are drifting away from each other at a leisurely 1.5 kilometres per hour — slower than the speed of a strolling human. The asteroid began coming apart early last year, but the latest images show that pieces continue to emerge.

The ongoing discovery of more fragments makes it unlikely that the asteroid is disintegrating due to a collision with another asteroid, which would be instantaneous and violent in comparison to what has been observed. Some of the debris from such a high-velocity smash-up would also be expected to travel much faster than has been observed.

It is also unlikely that the asteroid is breaking apart due to the pressure of interior ices warming and vaporising. The object is too cold for ices to significantly sublimate, and it has presumably maintained its nearly 480-million-kilometre distance from the Sun for much of the age of the Solar System.

WATCH:   The breakup of asteroid P/2013 R3.


This leaves a scenario in which the asteroid is disintegrating due to a subtle effect of sunlight that causes the rotation rate to slowly increase over time. Eventually, its component pieces gently pull apart due to centrifugal force. The possibility of disruption by this phenomenon — known as the YORP effect— has been discussed by scientists for several years but, so far, never reliably observed. The Yarkovsky–O'Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack effect occurs when light from the Sun is absorbed by a body and then re-emitted as heat. When the shape of the emitting body is not perfectly regular, more heat is emitted from some regions than others. This creates a small imbalance that causes a small but constant torque on the body, which changes its spin rate.

For break-up to occur, P/2013 R3 must have a weak, fractured interior, probably the result of numerous ancient and non-destructive collisions with other asteroids. Most small asteroids are thought to have been severely damaged in this way, giving them a "rubble pile” internal structure. P/2013 R3 itself is probably the product of collisional shattering of a bigger body some time in the last billion years.

"This is the latest in a line of weird asteroid discoveries, including the active asteroid P/2013 P5, which we found to be spouting six tails,” says Agarwal. "This indicates that the Sun may play a large role in disintegrating these small Solar System bodies, by putting pressure on them via sunlight.”

P/2013 R3's remnant debris, weighing in at 200 000 tonnes, will provide a rich source of meteoroids in the future. Most will eventually plunge into the Sun, but a small fraction of the debris may one day blaze across our sky as meteors. - Daily Galaxy.

WORLD WAR III: Canada Aligns Itself With The United States Against Russia - Gives Russians 24 HOURS To Get Out Their Of Country; Declares Ukraine Invasion As An Act Of Aggression!

March 07, 2014 - CANADA - Nine Russian soldiers who were participating in military exercises in Canada have been  expelled from the country, as Ottawa continues to denounce Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, CTV News has learned.

A government source confirmed that the soldiers were informed Thursday afternoon that they had 24 hours to leave Canada.

Six of the soldiers were in Saint-Jean, Que., where they were learning English and French. Another two soldiers were participating in a training program at CFB Gagetown, and the ninth soldier was teaching Canadian soldiers Russian in Gatineau, Que.

The move comes days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that all planned bilateral activities between the Canadian Armed Forces and the military of the Russian Federation are suspended, including exercises such as NORAD’s Exercise Vigilant Eagle.

On Thursday, Harper said the government would not recognize the results of a referendum in Crimea on whether to join Russia because the region is “currently under illegal military occupation.”

Lawmakers in Crimea voted unanimously Thursday to leave Ukraine and join Russia. They have scheduled a referendum for March 16 so voters can weigh in on the decision.

The vote was denounced by the international community. In his statement, Harper once again criticized Russia’s incursion into the Crimean peninsula as “an act of aggression, a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, and of international law.

“Canada will not recognize a referendum held in a region currently under illegal military occupation. We will continue to view the situation in Ukraine with the gravest concern and will continue to cooperate closely with our G-7 partners and like-minded allies,” the prime minister said in a statement.

Later, after question period, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said “you can’t have a valid referendum in 10 days.”

“It’s unacceptable and it’s wrong and we won’t recognize it,” he told reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons.

The international community has been grappling with how to respond to Russia’s decision last weekend to move troops into Crimea in what Russian President Vladimir Putin described as a strategic move to protect both military interests and Russian-speakers in the region. World leaders and diplomats decried his rationale and weighed options for a response.

On Wednesday, Harper announced that Canada will send two representatives to join an international military observer mission to Crimea, as well as freeze assets of members of former president Viktor Yanukovych’s regime.

He also said Canada is suspending its participation in a joint commission to promote economic co-operation between the two countries, and is considering what financial aid it can offer to Ukraine.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s interim prime minister called the vote by Crimea’s lawmakers illegitimate, and a European Union official suggested that the West would not recognize the referendum’s result.

“This is our response to the disorder and lawlessness in Kyiv,” said Sergei Shuvainikov, a member of the Crimean legislature. “We will decide our future ourselves.”

Crimean voters will be given the option of voting “yes” or “no” to joining Russia, or of choosing a third option to remain part of Ukraine but with “enhanced powers.”

Russia says if Crimean voters elect to join Russia, legislation would be introduced to speed up the process.

Baird said Canada will continue to work with “friends and like-minded allies” to get Russia to reverse course.

When asked about concerns of right-wing elements in the interim Ukrainian government, Baird said Canada is encouraging the new government “to be fully representative of the diversity of the whole country.”

“I raised Canada’s concern about anti-Semitism, and said that all political leaders, whether they be in government or in opposition, should try to build a pluralistic Ukraine.” - Pakalert Press.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Israel Scrambles Jets To Syrian Border - After Syrian Planes Fired On Rebel Positions In The Area!

March 07, 2014 - MIDDLE EAST - Israel scrambled jets to its northern border with Syria on Friday, after Syrian fighter planes and a helicopter were spotted in the area.

Illustrative photo of an IAF F-16 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit/Flash90)

The Syrian aircraft were apparently firing on rebel positions near the border, according to Channel 2 News. They came within a few hundred meters of the Israeli border, the TV report said.

Syria’s planes pulled back after spotting the Israelis, reported Haaretz.

There was no direct contact between the two countries’ aircraft.

An Israeli military source said that Syrian activity in the area was not uncommon, but that an alert was raised when multiple planes were detected within a few hours, according to the report. It is very rare for Israel to scramble its jets in this way.

Channel 2 reported that Syrian planes have operated close to the border in the past, during the civil war, but that Syria has warned Israel in advance via the UN that they would be operating in the area. On this occasion, there was no such advance warning.

Assad says his troops are fighting Islamic extremists who want to destroy Syria. The now 3-year-old conflict — that started as a largely peaceful uprising against the Syrian president’s rule but turned into a civil war — has claimed at least 140,000 lives.

On Wednesday, IDF forces spotted two terrorists trying to plant explosives on the Israel-Syria border in the northern Golan Heights, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s office.

Soldiers opened fire at the suspects, and identified direct hits. The men belonged to an organization affiliated with the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah, the IDF said. - Times of Israel.

ICE AGE NOW: Great Lakes' Ice Cover Could Lead To Flooding, Chillier Spring - 91 PERCENT Covered!

March 07, 2014 - NORTH AMERICA - Like a boxer who knocked his rival to the mat and who then gets down on his knees to keep pummeling the poor guy, the wicked winter of 2014 may not be done with us yet.

This image, provided by NASA, shows the ice covering the Great Lakes.
Scientists worry the ice could complicate the coming spring.

Federal officials Wednesday marveled at the size of the ice sheet that as of this week covered 91 percent of the Great Lakes. That ice cover could produce problems long into the spring.

A fast melt could produce ice jams in rivers and streams that in turn cause flooding, said George A. Leshkevich, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

And even if that doesn’t happen, Leshkevich said, this winter’s deep freeze could make the spring colder than usual, as winds whipping off the frozen lakes continue to chill communities just when it’s supposed to be getting warmer.

Leshkevich and Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, joined reporters on a conference call Wednesday to discuss the effect all the snow, ice and cold might have on lake levels.

For Lake Erie, they projected minimal changes.

But for people who live near streams and rivers leading to the lake, trouble may await. That’s because streams and rivers are iced over, too.

“You could have runoff and ice jams, and any number of those things could result in flooding,” Leshkevich said. “Especially if you get a quick melt, you could get significant flooding in those areas.”

On top of that, 96 percent of the surface of Lake Erie is frozen. Even though that percentage is likely to shrink with warmer temperatures in the coming week, longer-term forecasts call for more cold later in March, and that might not be the end of it, Leshkevich said.

Deep into the spring, “the ice cover could allow the air to remain cold,” he said. “So yes, there is the potential for cooler conditions as air moves over the lake.”

Conditions are better in Lake Ontario, which is so deep that it never freezes to the same degree as the other lakes. Forty-three percent of the lake was ice-covered as of Tuesday.

But even the melting of Lake Erie ice and snow is not projected to end the trend of lower water levels.

“For Lake Erie, we expect water levels to remain above where they were a year ago but still slightly below average,” Kompoltowicz said.

That’s partly because there’s less snow on the ground in the territory surrounding Lake Erie than near the other lakes.

Lake Erie’s “snow-water equivalent” – the amount of water added to the lake when the snow melts – is currently a mere 1.8 inches, thanks in part to a brief February warm-up that melted some of the snowpack.

That warm-up didn’t extend to Lakes Michigan and Huron, where between four and eight inches of water will be added to the lakes when the snow melts, or to Lake Superior, which is expected to rise an astounding 9.5 inches.

The weather in the northern Great Lakes basin makes Buffalo’s winter seem not so bad after all.

Whereas Buffalo just surpassed the 100-inch total for snowfall last week, Gaylord, Mich., has recorded 162.6 inches. And Petoskey, Mich., has seen 167.3 inches of snow. Both cities are in the Lake Michigan snow belts.

So by summer, could a dip in Lake Erie on a warm day erase all memories of the wicked winter past?

Don’t be so sure.

Given all the ice on the lakes, “we could have cooler water temperatures through the summer and fall,” Leshkevich said.


Lake ice nearing historic levels

The Great Lakes may challenge the 1979 record for ice coverage.


Feb. 19, 1979: Record for ice cover on the combined lakes


March 4, 2014: This after the lake ice nearly hit 90 percent in February


Feb. 14, 1994: Last time lakes were 89 percent iced over

Note: Records first kept in 1973

- Buffalo News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Ice Storm Knocks Out Power To Over A Quarter Of A Million In U.S. Southeast - Storm Could Strengthen To Bring Freezing Rain, Sleet, Dangerous Ice And Snow Accumulations!

March 07, 2014 - UNITED STATES - A storm responsible for ice in portions of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday will continue to bring much of the same to parts of North Carolina and Virginia on Friday.

As Senior Meteorologist Mark Mancuso mentioned yesterday, "The storm could strengthen just enough to tap into just enough cold air in parts of northeastern Georgia, the Carolinas to portions of southern Virginia to bring some freezing rain, sleet and wet snow later Thursday into Friday."

Cities that have the best chance of seeing dangerous ice and snow accumulations on Friday include Greensboro, N.C.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Roanoke, Va. and Lynchburg, Va., to name a few.

Power outages across North Carolina early Friday morning were already passed 330,000 customers, and as freezing rain continues through midday, this number will only go up.

According to Winter Weather Expert Brian Wimer, "The storm can unload a half a foot of snow or more on the some of the mountains in western North Carolina and a couple of inches of snow over some of the mountains in southwestern Virginia."

The mountains along the eastern Tennessee border also have a chance at picking up a bit of snow.

According to Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "The odds favor freezing rain and sleet farther to the northeast over upstate South Carolina, central North Carolina to part of southern Virginia."

Enough snow or a wintry mix could fall in this swath to cover grassy surfaces and bring slippery travel, especially on bridges and overpasses. Ice will develop on trees limbs and could cause sporadic power outages.

There is a chance the storm may track far enough to the north to bring a little wintry mix to Washington, D.C, Baltimore, Dover, Del., and Atlantic City, N.J., on Friday.

The same strengthening storm can kick up winds and waves from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to southeastern Virginia, the Delmarva Peninsula and southern New Jersey late in the week. Tides are likely to run 1-2 feet above published levels.

Ice Storm Hits South Central States Tuesday

Cold air trapped near the ground Tuesday morning allowed a zone of freezing rain to develop in part of the South Central states.

Ice snarled traffic across portions of Texas and Louisiana early on Tuesday. The treacherous conditions and resultant accidents led to closures along portions of I-10, I-110, US 190 and other local roads across Louisiana.

WAFB 9 Louisiana's footage showed scenes reminiscent of Atlanta's late-January ice storm, which stranded motorists for as many as 24 hours.

Texas road crews were out in full force to sand the icy roads.

Meanwhile, Flightstats reports that the messy wintry weather forced the cancellation of more than 900 flights and delays of approximately 4,000 flights across the U.S. as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, with the highest numbers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Ice knocked out power to more than 21,700 customers of Entergy Louisiana, LLC, Entergy Texas, LLC, AEP Texas and Oncor. - AccuWeather.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Monster Black Hole From Early Universe Found Twisting Space At Half The Speed Of Light - Grown Via Mergers, Rather Than Pulling Material In From Different Directions?!

March 07, 2014 - SPACE - The discovery by astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's (ESA's) XMM-Newton, that the black hole in RX J1131 is spinning at over half the speed of light suggests this black hole, observed at a distance of six billion light years, corresponding to an age about 7.7 billion years after the Big Bang, has grown via mergers, rather than pulling material in from different directions.

Credit: Chandra Space Observatory,, and National Geographic

Prior to the announcement of this work, the most distant black holes with direct spin estimates were located 2.5 billion and 4.7 billion light-years away. This monster black hole rotates at roughly half the speed of light twisting space as it turns. The fast-spin points to how galaxies, such as ours, grew larger billions of years ago.

"If the growth is chaotic, then the spin of the black hole heads toward zero," says astrophysicist Emanuele Berti of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. "In that case, the black hole acts like a top given random kicks from side to side, which rob it of energy to spin." But if the structure of a growing galaxy is orderly, with vast clouds of hydrogen gas and the occasional smaller black hole flowing into its center to feed the central black hole steadily, its spin will increase.

"We're seeing a very rapid spin, which points to a more coherent structure to early galaxies during their formation," says Nature study co-author Mark Reynolds of the University of Michigan. How the Milky Way and stars like our sun formed appear to be better explained by understanding this formation.

The ability to measure black hole spin over a large range of cosmic time should make it possible to directly study whether the black hole evolves at about the same rate as its host galaxy. The measurement of the spin of the RX J1131-1231 black hole is a major step along that path and demonstrates a technique for assembling a sample of distant supermassive black holes with current X-ray observatories. Black holes are defined by just two simple characteristics: mass and spin. While astronomers have long been able to measure black hole masses very effectively, determining their spins has been much more difficult.

In the past decade, astronomers have devised ways of estimating spins for black holes at distances greater than several billion light-years away, meaning we see the region around black hole as they were billions of years ago. However, determining the spins of these remote black holes involves several steps that rely on one another.

"We want to be able to cut out the middle man, so to speak, of determining the spins of black holes across the universe," said Rubens Reis of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who led a paper describing this result that was published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Reis and his colleagues determined the spin of the supermassive black hole that is pulling in surrounding gas, producing an extremely luminous quasar known as RX J1131-1231 (RX J1131 for short). Because of fortuitous alignment, the distortion of space-time by the gravitational field of a giant elliptical galaxy along the line of sight to the quasar acts as a gravitational lens that magnifies the light from the quasar. Gravitational lensing, first predicted by Einstein, offers a rare opportunity to study the innermost region in distant quasars by acting as a natural telescope and magnifying the light from these sources.

"Because of this gravitational lens, we were able to get very detailed information on the X-ray spectrum – that is, the amount of X-rays seen at different energies – from RX J1131," said co-author Mark Reynolds also of Michigan. "This in turn allowed us to get a very accurate value for how fast the black hole is spinning."

The X-rays are produced when a swirling accretion disk of gas and dust that surrounds the black hole creates a multimillion-degree cloud, or corona near the black hole. X-rays from this corona reflect off the inner edge of the accretion disk. The strong gravitational forces near the black hole alter the reflected X-ray spectrum. The larger the change in the spectrum, the closer the inner edge of the disk must be to the black hole.

"We estimate that the X-rays are coming from a region in the disk located only about three times the radius of the event horizon, the point of no return for infalling matter," said Jon M. Miller of Michigan, another author on the paper. "The black hole must be spinning extremely rapidly to allow a disk to survive at such a small radius."

For example, a spinning black hole drags space around with it and allows matter to orbit closer to the black hole than is possible for a non-spinning black hole.

By measuring the spin of distant black holes researchers discover important clues about how these objects grow over time. If black holes grow mainly from collisions and mergers between galaxies, they should accumulate material in a stable disk, and the steady supply of new material from the disk should lead to rapidly spinning black holes. In contrast, if black holes grow through many small accretion episodes, they will accumulate material from random directions. Like a merry go round that is pushed both backwards and forwards, this would make the black hole spin more slowly. - Daily Galaxy.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - China Credit Markets Tumble Most In 3 Months As Default Spooks Lenders, Deals Pulled!

March 07, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - It's happened - China has suffered its first domestic corporate bond default as Chaori fails to meet interest payments on schedule and rather more surprisingly failed to receive a last-minute mysterious or otherwise bailout...

But hey don't sweat it, Moody's think it's great news...
Maybe tell the issuers that couldn't get their deals off today!!!
Of course what they mean is - maybe the market will finally start pricing in some real risk...
"Over the past few years, municipal governments and banks in China have stepped in to help distressed companies meet their bond payment obligations. These bailouts have led some investors to overlook the fundamental credit risks in bonds," says Ivan Chung, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.


"A default would likely make investors recalibrate their risk-return consideration for onshore bonds. Credit risk would play a more important role in pricing, thereby making the bond market more efficient in the allocation of capital," adds Chung.
 Chinese stocks are not happy

Wondering who's next? We explained here...

and there are a lot to come...

As Bank of America reports in an analysis by David Cui, the Trust defaults are about to get hot and heavy. To wit:
We believe that during April to July the market may see many trust products threatening to default, especially those related to coal mines. By our estimate, the first real default most likely could happen in May with a Sichuan lead/zinc trust product worth Rmb140mn. This is because the product is relatively small (so the government may use it as a test case), the underlying asset is not attractive (so little chance of 3rd parties taking it over) and we also have heard very little on parties involved trying to work things out. Whether this will trigger an avalanche of future trust defaults remains to be seen and this presents a key risk to the market in our opinion.
Ever since the specter of the first real domestic default on a Chinese corporate bond hovered over the markets, the Chinese credit markets have been leaking lower. The last 3 days have seen the biggest drop in Chinese credit markets in almost 4 months. That situation, wistfully occurring half way around the world while US equity markets press on to ever more exuberant (and ignorant) heights, meant at least 3 other Chinese firms pulled their bond issues today and, as Reuters reports, has "triggered widespread upheaval in the bond market." Banks are awash with liquidity (as indicated by low repo rates) but clearly unwilling to lend and external investors are now running scared.

The Chinese corporate bond market has suffered considerably in the last few days...

Even as repo rates have dropped (and CNY has strengthened) - repo rates at multi-month lows, CNY strengthening and stocks weak...

and SHIBOR at multi-month lows (suggesting plenty of liqudity at the banks but as we see below, a clear unwillingness to lend)...

And that has led to pulled issues...
Via Reuters,
The threat of China's first domestic bond default has prompted Suining Chuanzhong Economic Technology Development to delay a one billion yuan ($164 million) debt issue and two other companies have halted deals blaming market volatility.

The run-up in corporate debt since 2008, and overcapacity in sectors such as steel, coal and solar energy, have threatened the solvency of many borrowers.

Chuanzhong said late on Wednesday that the news that Chaori Solar was set to miss a coupon payment on Friday "triggered severe upheaval in the bond market", so it had delayed its bond deal.

Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding postponed a 300 million yuan issue of short-term commercial paper, while Xining Special Steel cancelled a 470 million yuan offering of medium-term notes, the companies said.

The deals are relatively small, but the delays underline the risk that an unprecedented default will make it harder for other companies to access capital.


Yields on corporate and enterprise bonds pushed higher after Chaori Solar's announcement. Five-year AA rated notes rose 8 basis points to 7.77 percent, the biggest increase since November 15, ChinaBond data showed.
This situation is being exacerbated as the lending is being cut to the indistries with the most slack - with the result (as we warned about in the past) that commodity-based collateral for all the shadow loans is getting hammered (through no real demand) and crushing the credit system (through haircuts and forced deleveraging as collateral values collapse)...

This is very negative for the Chinese economy which now more than ever is reliant on credit as its growth-driver... and the China credit-crisis indicator remains flashing red (2Y Swap - 2Y Bond spread)...

- Zero Hedge.

WORLD WAR III: "We Have Now Entered A New Cold War" - Obama Signs Executive Order Declaring Ukraine Crisis An "Extraordinary Threat" To National Security, Imposes Asset Freeze And Restricts U.S. Travel; U.S. Navy Confirms Missile Destroyer USS Truxtun Approaching The Black Sea; Russia Hits Back At America's "Barefaced Cynicism And Double Standards" Over Ukraine; Russia Sinks Own Ship To Block Ukrainian Navy Entry To Black Sea; "Russia Has Reportedly Halted All Exports To The US Of Russian Made Ammunition" Causing A Run On Ammunition; Putin Tells Obama That Russian-American Relations Shouldn't Be Sacrificed For Differences Over International Problems!

March 07, 2014 - UKRAINE - Russia looks set to slice off a part of Ukraine and keep it for itself.  With heavily armed Russian-speaking troops patrolling the streets, the Crimean Parliament voted Thursday to join Russia and put its decision to a referendum. The all-but-inevitable annexation of Crimea is moving forward, despite protests, warnings and threats from the U.S. and its allies.  We have entered a new Cold War.

The clash between Vladimir Putin's Russia and the forces arrayed in support of Ukraine's independence-minded leaders has crashed the vaunted "reset," ending hopes that Moscow and the West would smooth relations and work hand-in-hand toward common objectives. Nobody can predict with certainty how this conflict will end. But the world can already glean important lessons. Unfortunately, most of those lessons are cause for deep concern.

Obama Signs Executive Order Declaring Ukraine Crisis An "Extraordinary Threat" To National Security, Imposes Asset Freeze And Restricts U.S. Travel.
U.S. President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on Thursday "blocking property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Ukraine." The Executive Order concerns individuals who have sought to undermine the Ukrainian government, including "persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine." Those individuals, Obama declared, "constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States ..."  Obama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and State Department Secretary John Kerry agreed that the following qualifies an individual to be restricted in U.S. property and entry into the U.S.:  

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the crisis in
Ukraine, at the White House in Washington, on March 6, 2014.
(UPI/Michael Reynolds/Pool)
1. Those who are responsible, complicit in, or engaged in whether directly or indirectly in:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine

2. Those who have asserted governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without the authorization of the Ukrainian government;

3. Those who led an entity engaged in such activity described above.

4. Those who materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support, goods, or services that supported such activity described above.

5. Those who have owned, controlled, acted on or purported to act on behalf -- whether directly or indirectly -- any person whose property and interests in property are blocked by the Executive Order.

Invoking his presidential authorities, Obama has ordered that "All property and interests in property that are in the United States, or that ... come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch)" associated with the above-described individuals "... are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in ..."  In addition to freezing U.S. property, Obama ordered that anyone who meets the listed criteria may not enter the U.S.  For those affected by the order, Obama further outlined that no donations may be made to "any person whose property and interests are blocked."   - UPI.

WATCH:  Scold War - 'US economic leverage against Russia limited' (featuring Dr Angela Stent).

U.S. Navy Confirms Missile Destroyer USS Truxtun Approaching The Black Sea.
The nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS TRUXTUN (Photo from

The US Navy has confirmed that a guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment, decided long before the crisis in Ukraine, which has divided world powers.  The US Navy said in a statement that the USS Truxtun left Greece on Thursday on the way to the Black Sea and was going to conduct training with the Romanian and Bulgarian navy.  “While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region,” The US Navy said in statement.  “Truxtun’s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States,” the statement added.  The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February. 

The announcement comes after Turkish authorities confirmed on Wednesday they had given permission to a US navy warship to pass through the Bosphorus Straights, which is the only entrance to the Black Sea, it was reported in the Hurriyet Daily News.  However, Turkish sources told the Hurriyet Daily News that the ship in question was not the nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, as was suggested in some news reports. The USS George Bush is too heavy in terms of tonnage to meet the standards of the Montreux Convention, which governs what can and can’t access the Black Sea. 

WATCH: US Navy destroyer 'Truxtun' passes through Dardanelles towards Black Sea amid Crimea tension.


The Pentagon also said on Wednesday that US fighter jets would join NATO patrols on missions in the Baltic countries, which include Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.  On Sunday the Tass news agency reported that the guided missile frigate USS Taylor, which had been assigned to the Black Sea for the Sochi Winter Olympics, was still in the Turkish port of Samsun for repairs, after running aground on February 12.  Two Russian navy ships also entered the Black Sea through the Bosphorus on Tuesday, as well as a Ukrainian navy vessel which was heading for Odessa and not the Crimea. - RT.

Russia Hits Back At U.S. "Barefaced Cynicism And Double Standards" Over Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the US State Department of double standards and low-level propaganda after it published a list of President Vladimir Putin’s “false claims” about the events in Ukraine.  “The State Department is trying to play on a shamelessly one-sided interpretation of the events,” ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said on Thursday. “Surely, Washington cannot admit that they were nurturing Maidan [protests], encouraging the violent overthrow of the legitimate government, and thus clearing the way for those who are now pretending to be a legitimate power in Kiev.”  On Wednesday, one day after the Russian president's media conference on the events in Ukraine, the US State Department accused him of lying and published a “fact sheet” of Putin's 10 “false claims” surrounding the crisis.  Moscow said that it will not respond to such “low-level propaganda.”  “We will only say, yet again, that we are dealing with unacceptable arrogance and a pretense of having a monopoly on the truth,” Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website. 

WATCH: Inconvenient Truths - Mainstream media's mistakes on Ukraine.


The United States has “no moral right” to lecture about observing international laws and respecting the sovereignty of other states, the diplomat added.  “What about the bombing of former Yugoslavia or the invasion of Iraq over a fabricated cause?” Lukashevich pointed out.  There have been quite a few examples of American military foreign interventions when there was no real threat to US security: Vietnam, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Libya, and Panama.  “The Vietnam War claimed the lives of two million civilians, not to mention totally destroyed the country and polluted the environment,” the diplomat said. “On the pretext of providing security to Americans who simply happened to be in conflict zones, the US invaded Lebanon in 1958 and the Dominican Republic in 1965, attacked tiny Grenada in 1983, bombed Libya in 1986, and occupied Panama three years later.”  “Still, they dare to blame Russia of ‘armed aggression’ when it stands up for its compatriots – who comprise the majority of Crimea’s population – in order to prevent ultra-nationalist forces from organizing yet another bloody Maidan.”  Apparently, Washington cannot adequately handle the development of events which are not in line with American templates, Moscow said. But this is no reason to shift the blame, the ministry concluded. 

WATCH: Ron Paul - US has no right to lecture on Ukraine because of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya.

The two nuclear powers have been involved in a bitter dispute over the Ukrainian crisis, with Washington giving its backing to the coup-appointed government. The US has repeatedly accused Russia of “invading” the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, ignoring the fact that an existing 1997 agreement between Russia and Ukraine allows Moscow to keep up to 25,000 Black Sea Fleet troops in the peninsula.  Following the violent uprising which resulted in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich,Crimean authorities denounced the coup-appointed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The government of the republic – which comprises of mostly Russian speakers – asked Moscow to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.  Crimea is to decide in a March 16 referendum whether it wants to remain within Ukraine or join Russia. - RT.

Russia Sinks Own Ship To Block Ukrainian Navy Entry To Black Sea.
The decommissioned Russian anti-submarine vessel Ochakov lies on its side off the Black Sea shore, where
it was sunk to block Ukrainian naval vessels from entering the sea from their base. Photo: AP

An anti-submarine ship may have been the first casualty of the Russian incursion into Crimea, but it was hardly an act of violence, much less war: the Russian navy sank one of its own, junked vessels to create an obstacle, a Ukrainian official said on Wednesday.  Ukraine Defence Ministry spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Alexei Mazepa said Russian sailors pulled the anti-submarine vessel Ochakov out of a naval junkyard and sank it in the straits that connect the Black Sea with a body of water known as Donuzlav lake. He said the act was intended to prevent Ukrainian navy ships from leaving a nearby base and going to sea.  The sinking was the latest in a series of moves by Russian naval forces in the area that were jangling the nerves of Ukrainian officers.  

The Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva on patrol in the Black Sea. Photo: AP

Earlier in the week, the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, Admiral Alexander Vitko, visited Ukraine’s South Base, according to the deputy base commander, Captain Viktor Shmiganovsky. ''He asked me to invite all the officers and suggested that we collectively take up the Russian military allegiance oath and become part of the Black Sea fleet ... promising good pay and a bright future,'' Captain Shmiganovsky said. ''He insisted we do that to help protect Ukraine from extremist gangs.''  The officer said his boss, the base commander, retorted: ''Comrade admiral, we didn't see any extremist gangs here until you came with your men.''  

A Ukrainian navy sailor looks at the scuttled Russian ship from the Black Sea shore. Photo: AP

He said the admiral left ''in a rage''.  On Wednesday, the mouth of the bay was blocked by 10 Russian vessels including the formidable guided missile cruiser Moskva.  ''The Black Sea fleet can sail in the Black Sea, but it has no right to block our navy harbour like this,'' Colonel  Mazepa said.  Russia leases the port of Sevastopol and other bases in Crimea, which serves as the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet.  Russian troops have seized or blockaded a number of strategic facilities in Crimea, including Ukrainian military bases, leading to uneasy standoffs with Ukrainian troops.  While the Russians have mostly worn unmarked uniforms and the Kremlin has denied that they are, in fact, Russian military units, some were seen on Wednesday wearing regulation uniforms, with Russian epaulettes and insignia, a Ukrainian army officer said.  Ukrainian Colonel Andriy Matviyenko said about 200 Russian officers and soldiers arrived late on Tuesday night at the gate of a Ukrainian anti-aircraft brigade stationed in the resort city of Yevpatoria, about 96 kilometres north-west of Sevastopol. They made no attempt to hide their Russian military identity.  ''Their commander introduced himself as Colonel Dyatlov, commander of a Russian anti-aircraft unit, who demanded that we open up the gates, let him and his men in and allow them to put our anti-aircraft missiles back on duty under the control and guidance of the Russian armed forces,'' Colonel Matviyenko said.  ''I flatly said no, and they turned and left. They had no business being here, on Ukrainian soil.'' - SMH.

"Russia Has Reportedly Halted All Exports To The US Of Russian Made Ammunition" Causing A Run On Ammunition.

In recent months ammunition has slowly begun appearing on store shelves at major retailers in the United States. But after nearly two years of shortages that had ammunition manufacturers running their factories 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because of consumer demand and massive government purchases, it appears that another supply pipeline may have been cut.  If you don’t already have it then prepare to go without or pay double the price or more in coming days and weeks:

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy and fears of new control control legislation from the Obama administration, extreme shortages of ammunition have been sustained over the past 12-24 months, as panicked Americans have raided the shelves of Cabelas and gun-shows across the country buying literally every round they can get their hands on. Combined with multi-billion round purchases from gov’t 3 letter acronyms such as the DHS and FBI, (including even the USPS and IRS), the shortages have continued even as manufacturers have responded by drastically increasing production. Over the past 6-12 months, shortages of some calibers such as 7.62 used in the popular AK-47 semi-automatic weapon have been alleviated somewhat via massive imports of Russian production. That is about to change. The largest wholesale gun & ammo distributors in the US have informed us in private conversation today that a massive scramble is on for all 7.62 as Russia has reportedly halted all exports to the US of Russian made ammunition. Our distributor source informed us that yesterday they had several hundred thousand rounds of Russian made 7.62 TulAmmo, and after receiving word early today on the halt of Russian exports to the US, they have been completely wiped out of every last round in the past 10 hours! We have only several days supply of 7.62 on hand currently at SDBullion under normal market conditions, and expect it will disappear as quickly as 22 LR once word of the Russian export halt spreads. While Obama and Kerry threaten Russia with economic sanctions over the Ukranian crisis, it appears that Putin has quietly taken the first step and launched economic sanctions of his own against the US. We have a feeling that we are seeing only the beginning.  Via Silver Doctors
If this report is accurate, then the motivation may not necessarily be  to cut off ammunition to U.S. gun owners. Perhaps Russia is just ensuring that they have plenty of ammo on hand in the event that a Russian invasion of the Ukraine is initiated by Vladimir Putin.  Whatever the case, this report highlights, yet again, how important it is to have necessary supplies on hand before a major crisis, announcement or political shift.  When the Fukushima radiation plumes began making their way towards the United States and the Department of Homeland Security announced that Americans should have Potassium Iodide on hand to help fight thyroid absorption Americans across the country panicked. The price of a single bottle of KI went from the manufacturer suggested retail price of around $20 to a whopping $200 per bottle on auction web sites.  After Sandy Hook, as the anti-gun faction of our government began moving to restrict the ownership of firearms and ammunition, prices skyrocketed 300% and shelves were emptied within days.  And, as we’ve seen during critical emergencies like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as well as the ice storms that hit the eastern half of the United States in the last few months, grocery stores were cleaned out within hours.  If you’re one second late, you’ll be out of luck.  Develop a comprehensive preparedness plan today and start stocking up. - SHTF Plan.

Putin Tells Obama That Russian-American Relations Shouldn't Be Sacrificed For Differences Over International Problems.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters/RIA Novosti)

The presidents of Russia and the US have once again explained to each other by phone their diverging views on the situation in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin said he did not want relations to be sacrificed to their differences on just one issue.  An hour-long phone call on Thursday was initiated by Barack Obama several hours after he announced new visa restrictions and financial sanctions against Russians who the US accuses of contributing to the Ukrainian crisis.  “President Obama emphasized that Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response, in coordination with our European partners,” a White House press release reads.  President Putin told his American counterpart that the government, which came to power in Ukraine following a coup, is not supported by all of the country but “is imposing its absolutely illegitimate decisions upon eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.”  “Russia cannot ignore calls for help it receives in this situation and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” Putin said as cited in a Kremlin statement on Friday.  The Russian president emphasized that he regarded Russian-US relations as ones of paramount importance to guarantee stability and security in the world.  “These relations should not be sacrificed to differences over individual – even though very important – international problems,” the press release says.  Both the US and Russian presidents said that heads of their foreign offices, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov respectively, will continue intensive talks over Ukrainian crisis. 

On Thursday the parliament of Crimea, mostly Russian-speaking autonomous region and epicenter of the current tensions between Moscow and Kiev, made a decision to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia. That decision still has to be approved by a simple majority of Crimeans at a referendum scheduled for March 16.  The news was unwelcome by the coup-imposed government of Kiev, which described the Crimean referendum as illegitimate.  The reaction from the White House was a spontaneous briefing by President Obama, who said the referendum being considered in Crimea would violate international law if approved.  “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine,” Obama said. “In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”  Washington also announced on Thursday that the US had begun imposing sanctions against Russia, including visa restrictions against anyone “who threatens the sovereignty” of Ukraine.  EU leaders have also threatened Russia with sanctions, which could include visa bans, asset freezes and various economic restrictions unless it engages in direct talks with the coup-appointed Ukrainian government.  More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication.  Crimean authorities denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The majority of troops in Crimea switched sides in favor of the local authorities. - RT.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Newsweek Reveals Possible Bitcoin Founder Identity, Sparks Media Hysteria; "Founder" Flees Reporters In Car Chase, Denies Involvement Of The Very Troubled Virtual Currency!

March 07, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - A Japanese American man thought to be the reclusive multi-millionaire father of Bitcoin emerged from a modest Southern California home and denied involvement with the digital currency before leading reporters on a freeway car chase to the local headquarters of the Associated Press.

Image: Newsweek

Satoshi Nakamoto, a name known to legions of bitcoin traders, practitioners and boosters around the world, appeared to lose his anonymity on Thursday after Newsweek published a story that said he lived in Temple City, California, just east of Los Angeles.

Newsweek included a photograph and described a short interview, in which Nakamoto said he was no longer associated with Bitcoin and that it had been turned over to other people. The magazine concluded that the man was the same Nakamoto who founded Bitcoin.

Dozens of reporters, including a sprinkling of Japanese media, encircled and camped outside the man's two-story house on Thursday morning, accosting the mailman and repeatedly ringing the doorbell, to no avail. Police cruisers drove by several times but did not stop.

Several times, someone pulled back the drapes on an upstairs window.

Satoshi Nakamoto is surrounded by reporters as he leaves his home in Temple City, California, March 6, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/David McNew

In the afternoon, the silver-haired, bespectacled Nakamoto stepped outside, dressed in a gray sport coat and green striped shirt, with a pen tucked in his shirt pocket. He was mobbed by reporters and told them he was looking for someone who understood Japanese to buy him a free lunch.

Newsweek estimates his wealth at $400 million.

"I'm not involved in Bitcoin. Wait a minute, I want my free lunch first. I'm going with this guy," Nakamoto said, pointing at a reporter from AP. "I'm not in Bitcoin, I don't know anything about it," he said again while walking down the street with several cameras at his heels.

He and the AP reporter made their way to a nearby sushi restaurant with media in tow, before leaving and heading downtown. Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Bel Bruno followed the pair and described the chase in a running stream of tweets. Eventually, the pair dashed into the Associated Press offices in downtown Los Angeles.


In a later AP interview, Nakamoto said he was misunderstood in a key portion of the Newsweek story, where he tells the reporter on his doorstep, "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it."

Asked by the AP if he had said that, Nakamoto said, "No."

"I'm saying I'm no longer in engineering. That's it," he told the AP. "And even if I was, when we get hired, you have to sign this document, contract saying you will not reveal anything we divulge during and after employment. So that's what I implied."

"It sounded like I was involved before with Bitcoin and looked like I'm not involved now. That's not what I meant. I want to clarify that," the AP reported him as saying.

The Bitcoin Foundation, an advocacy group promoting the adoption of the digital currency, said "... We have seen zero conclusive evidence that the identified person is the designer of Bitcoin."

"Those closest to the Bitcoin project, the informal team of core developers, have always been unaware of Nakamoto's true identity, as Nakamoto communicated purely through electronic means," it said in a post on its website.

Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman told the AP that she stood by her story. "I stand completely by my exchange with Mr. Nakamoto. There was no confusion whatsoever about the context of our conversation - and his acknowledgment of his involvement in Bitcoin."


Fans see Bitcoin as a digital-world currency beyond government interference, while critics, whose ranks swelled with the recent bankruptcy filing by major bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, see a risky investment whose anonymity aids drug dealers and other criminals.

Nakamoto kept a low profile in part to avoid the attention of authorities, Newsweek said. On Thursday, the office of Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York's Department of Financial Services, was keen on speaking with him, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control. Its value soared last year, and the total worth of bitcoins minted is now about $7 billion.

In the Newsweek article, Nakamoto was credited by Bitcoin's chief scientist, Gavin Andresen, in working out the first codes behind the currency.

A man of few words who refused to discuss anything beyond the currency or even communicate outside of email, Nakamoto was described by his brother in the Newsweek article as "fickle and has very weird hobbies," including a penchant for model trains.

Japanese-born Nakamoto displayed an unusual aptitude for math as a child. He immigrated with his mother to California in 1959. He worked for defense and electronics company Hughes Aircraft, but never discussed work because much of it was classified, according to Newsweek interviews with several friends and relatives.

"He's very focused and eclectic in his way of thinking. Smart, intelligent, mathematics, engineering, computers. You name it, he can do it," Newsweek quoted Arthur Nakamoto, his younger brother, as saying. - Reuters.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Latest Incidents Of Fireballs Over The Earth - Fireball Explodes Over Yellowknife And Eye-Witnesses Says It Turned The Night Sky Blue; Mysterious Blast Lights Up The Skies Over Eastern Siberia; Fireball Lights Up New Mexico Skies; And Fireball Seen Over Mexico City!

March 07, 2014 - SPACE - The following constitutes the latest incidents of meteor fireballs seen in the skies over the Earth:

Fireball Explodes Over Yellowknife And Witness Says It Turned The Night Sky Blue.
Yuichi Takasaka took the picture from the verge of Vee Lake. "I was leading an Aurora Photography Tour,"
says Takasaka. "We had quite colourful auroras all night. All of sudden at 02:13 local time, one shooting
star started from Western sky and exploded towards North. It got so bright that I had to close my eyes like
someone used electric flash in front of me. A few minutes later, we could hear the huge explosion
from the direction of the fireball fell. What an exciting night!!!"

A fireball exploded and lit up the skies over Yellowknife early Thursday morning, but was not believed to have caused any damage.

One expert compared it to a similar incident that took place over Montreal last November. An image of the explosion was posted on the website of It was captured by a photographer who was leading a tour of the Aurora Borealis.

The exploding meteor was described as being so bright that it turned the night sky blue. Peter Brown, a physics professor at Western University in London, Ont., viewed the photo of the bright fireball, which he calculated was less than one metre in size.

He told The Canadian Press the fact that there was an explosion meant the object had probably penetrated deep into the atmosphere.

But Brown said that he was almost certain the explosive force was too weak to cause any damage. He added that the view of an exploding fireball is something that people might only see once a year.

The Western University physics professor noted the meteor that exploded over the skies of Montreal in November 2013 created a thundering boom, but it also shook houses.

The two fireballs over Yellowknife and Montreal paled in comparison to what happened over Chelyabinsk, Russia just over a year ago. That's when a meteor estimated to be about 10 tons exploded over the Ural Mountains on Feb. 15, 2013 with the power of an atomic bomb. The sonic blasts from that fireball shattered windows and injured about 1,000 people. - 680 News.

Mysterious Blast Lights Up The Skies Over Eastern Siberia.
An explosion of unclear origin illuminated the sky over eastern Siberia on Thursday morning, leaving frightened locals to speculate about an asteroid or malfunctioning rocketry, media reports said.

The blast, for which no official explanation has been offered, was witnessed by the population of the Kyrgydai village in Russia's Yakutia region, the news website said.

Two extremely grainy videos from surveillance cameras documenting the alleged blast - or at least a bright flash in the sky - are available on YouTube.

Reports said some debris apparently plummeted into the taiga after the explosion, but nothing had been recovered by the time of this article's publication.

 WATCH: Explosion over Siberia.


Locals speculated that an asteroid, a landing module from the International Space Station, or even a stray ballistic missile were responsible for the blast.

No man-made rocketry was publicly scheduled to fly over Yakutia on the date of the explosion. But the area has been hit by debris from Russian carrier rockets at least four times in the past.

Russia is building a new spaceport in the far-eastern Amur Region, but it is not to become operational until 2015.

A blast in the sky was also reported on Tuesday in the western Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk. Authorities offered no explanation, while locals joked about alien landings. - RIA Novosti.

Fireball Lights Up New Mexico Skies.
There was fire in the sky last night following by a huge boom. It happened last night about 11:45 and it was captured by the Lamy Observatory. The streak across the sky has been classified as a Meteor Fireball.

The classification is often determined by how bright it appears. In this case it was brighter than Venus and even the moon.

People in Albuquerque's north valley tell KRQE News 13 it was so loud their houses shook. They wonder if the meteor actually crashed here but there's no evidence it did.

WATCH: Fireball over New Mexico.



Fireball Seen Over Mexico City.
Here are two different Youtube videos of an alleged fireball over Mexico.

"Adrian Gamer" published the following video. The phenomenon was observed by several school children at the same time. They speculate on it being a "rocket," then a "missile."

WATCH: Fireball over Mexico City.


And "Manito Channel" shared this other video, expressing puzzlement as to the nature of the trail in the sky.

WATCH: Fireball over Mexico City.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Magmatic Intrusion Uplift - A Recap Of The Kamoamoa Fissure Eruption At The Kilauea Volcano In Hawaii On Its Third Anniversary! [PHOTOS]

March 07, 2014 - HAWAII - March 5, 2014, marked the third anniversary of the onset of Kīlauea Volcano’s four-day-long Kamoamoa fissure eruption. This brief episode marked the end of the eruptive vent established east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō in 2007 and presaged a return of activity to Puʻu ʻŌʻō that continues today.

Kamoamoa fissure eruption.

Months before the Kamoamoa eruption began, lava output from Kīlauea’s long-lived East Rift Zone eruption, ongoing since 1983, had started to wane. This was coupled with uplift and increased seismicity at the volcano’s summit and at Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Moreover, the lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, active at the summit since 2008, started to slowly rise. Lava flows also began to erupt within Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s crater.

The sudden onset of seismic tremor and elevated earthquake activity along Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone at 1:42 p.m., HST, on March 5, 2011, signaled the start of a magmatic intrusion uprift from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō. Rapid deflation started at Puʻu ʻŌʻō at almost the same time and at Kīlauea’s summit about 30 minutes later. Shortly afterward, most of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater floor began to subside, dropping 113 m (371 ft) in about 4 hours. Almost simultaneously, the lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit began to drain, falling about 143 m (469 ft) before stabilizing.

The Kamoamoa eruption began at 5:09 p.m., when lava reached the surface about 2 km (1.2 mi) southwest of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, forming a 1-km-long (0.6-mi-long) eruptive fissure. A second 1-km-long (0.6-mi-long) fissure opened early on March 6 farther to the southwest. These two fissures, designated as “eastern” and “western” fissures, were separated by 360 m (0.2 mi) of heavily cracked ground.

The eruption was initially sporadic, and activity migrated from one spot to another along both fissures and repeatedly started and stopped. On March 8, however, the eruption became focused near the western end of the western fissure and began to feed a fast-moving channelized ʻaʻā flow that bowled over ʻōhiʻa trees like matchsticks as it advanced downslope.

Lava reached the surface along an actively propagating fissure during Kīlauea Volcano’s
Kamoamoa eruption on March 5, 2011.

This activity continued unabated overnight, but late in the afternoon on March 9, the western fissure began to wane and finally shut down at about 10:30 p.m. that night, marking the end of the Kamoamoa eruption. The channelized ʻaʻā flow stalled soon afterward, having reached a total length of 3.3 km (2.1 mi).

Altogether, approximately 2.7 million cubic meters (3.5 million cubic yards) of lava erupted, and eruptive sulfur dioxide emissions averaged 8,500 tonnes/day—several times higher than Kīlauea’s normal East Rift Zone output at that time. The summit of Kīlauea dropped about 15 cm (6 in) over the course of the eruption, and the East Rift Zone at the eruption site spread apart by about 3 m (10 ft).

The Kamoamoa eruption was probably a result of the gradual shutdown of the previous East Rift Zone vent—the episode 58 vent—with no slow-down in the amount of lava entering the rift zone. This led to the pressurization of Kīlauea’s magma system, which was manifested as inflation at the summit and at Puʻu ʻŌʻō, spreading of the East Rift Zone, increased seismicity along the upper East Rift Zone, and rising lava levels within both the summit vent and Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s crater.

The pressurization culminated in the Kamoamoa fissure eruption, which diverted magma from beneath Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kīlauea’s summit, thereby causing Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s crater floor to collapse and the summit lava lake to drain, respectively. Once the excess pressure had dissipated, the pressure gradient between the summit and the East Rift Zone fissure was insufficient to sustain the eruption, and the Kamoamoa eruption stopped.

An early morning view of the fountaining we encountered at the western fissure on Sunday, March 6,
at 7:20 a.m. Particles were thrown up to 15 m (50 ft) high at this point and the intensity and
height increased over the next two hours.

Afterwards, the pressure climbed within Kīlauea’s magma storage areas and transport pathways as the supply of magma to the volcano continued unchanged. This renewed pressure led to the reappearance of the summit lava lake and eventually restarted eruptive activity at Puʻu ʻŌʻō, which remained the easiest pathway for magma to reach the surface.

Because of the excellent geological, geophysical, and geochemical monitoring of Kīlauea, progressions in eruptive activity, like those observed prior to the Kamoamoa eruption, can likely be recognized months in advance of any shifts in eruption style and/or location. At the moment, no such precursory activity is apparent. - Hawaii 24/7.