Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: Greenland Glaciers Melting Faster Than Thought - Raising Sea Level Rise Fears!

March 18, 2014 - GREENLAND - Stability in the rapidly changing Arctic is a rarity. Yet for years researchers believed the glaciers in the frigid northeast section of Greenland, which connect to the interior of the country’s massive ice sheet, were resilient to the effects of climate change that have affected so much of the Arctic.

This series of photos, taken on an expedition to Greenland's North and South lake sites by a team from the University of
Washington and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in July 2010, give an up-close view of how quickly the
island's ice sheet is melting. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

But new data published Sunday in Nature Climate Change reveals that over the past decade, the region has started rapidly losing ice due to a rise in air and ocean temperatures caused in part by climate change.

The increased melt raises grave concerns that sea level rise could accelerate even faster than projected, threatening even more coastal communities worldwide.

“North Greenland is very cold and dry, and believed to be a very stable area,” said Shfaqat Khan, a senior researcher at the Technical University of Denmark who led the new study. “It is surprisingly to see ice loss in one of the coldest regions on the planet.”

The stability of the region is particularly important because it has much deeper ties to the interior ice sheet than other glaciers on the island. If the entire ice sheet were to melt -- which would take thousands of years in most climate change scenarios -- sea levels would rise up to 23 feet, catastrophically altering coastlines around the world.

Sea levels have risen 8 inches globally since the start of the 1900s, and current projections show that figure could rise another 3 feet by the end of this century.

Some recent research has suggested that Greenland’s ice loss may slow, but not all researchers agree. Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said the new study presented a novel analysis of the region and that other factors such as soot could contribute to even more rapid melt in Greenland and other parts of the Arctic.

An aerial view of Greenland's Gyldenlove Glacier, taken by NASA's Operation IceBridge flight.

This drainage channel draining Greenland's South Lake discharges its flow down this large moulin, the term for the holes
that open up within glaciers and drain water from the surface. Greenland is believed to have lost more than 1 million
metric tons of frozen water between 2006 and 2009. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

University of Washington graduate student Kristin Poinar and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists Mark
Behn and Sarah Das stand beside the shoreline of Greenland's North Lake during a July 2010 expedition.
(Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

Helheim Fjord in eastern Greenland, as seen from the NASA P-3B on an April 2013 IceBridge survey flight. One
of the largest in Greenland, Helheim Glacier drains into the ocean through this fjord.

This deep pool through which a substantial volume of water appears to have flowed is likely the site of
a moulin that formed in 2006. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

“These new measurements show that the sleeping giant is awakening and suggest -- given likely continued Arctic warming -- that it’s not going back to bed,” Box said in an email.

Greenland houses 680,000 cubic miles of ice in its ice sheet, which stretches up to 3 miles thick in some places and covers roughly three-quarters of the island. Glaciers stretch from this frozen mass in all directions, eventually meeting the sea.

In the past 20 years, some of these glaciers, particularly in the southeast and northwest, have dumped ever increasing amounts of ice into the ocean. That water has accounted for more than 15 percent of global sea level rise over that period.

Since the mid-1960s, climate change has helped drive average air temperatures up about 3.6°F across the Arctic, more than double the increase compared to mid-latitudes.

The rise in air temperatures has fueled a tumultuous decline in sea ice, which has also helped warm the region’s ocean waters. Around parts of Greenland, ocean surface temperatures rose 1.8° to 3.6°F between 1990 and 2011.

While the northwest and southeast section of Greenland have dramatically lost ice, researchers believed the northeast section was holding its ground. From 1978 to 2003, that was true, but ice loss has accelerated rapidly since mid-2003.

The Zachariae glacier has long acted as a sentinel on the northeast coast of the island, keeping ocean waters at bay from a 370-mile long stream of ice that stretches into the heart of Greenland’s massive ice sheet.

But a series of unusually warm summers around 2003 started to trigger glacial melt. At the same time, a spike in ocean surface temperatures also helped melt sea ice that normally acts as a buttress for the Zachariae and other glaciers in northeast Greenland.

Without reinforcement, the glaciers suddenly started to draw down more ice from on high and retreat faster.

With its drainage channel dammed, this lake did not drain in 2009, and in July 2010 it contained melt from one and a half
summers. The ice cover that formed over the winter shows the approximate extent of the lake
at the end of summer in 2009. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

At one time this channel was substantially deeper, but it has since filled with snow.
(Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

Although snow has dammed outflow from this lake, nearby melt streams continue to fill sections of the
canyon where snow has not accumulated. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

In the summer of 2010, this lake drained slowly as it overflowed through a large melt channel. This deepest region
of lake still contained water in early July. The heavily fractured lake bed demonstrates the dramatic nature
of several past lake drainages. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

In 2009, a moulin opened early in the summer near this location, so that a small lake formed only briefly. The dark
blue water in this July 2010 image indicates the location of a deep hole, which is the likely location of
a nearby moulin. (Photo by Ian Joughin PSC/APL/UW)

That fueled a feedback loop by allowing the anomalously warm ocean water to flow under the glaciers, helping them slide further to the sea. The Zachariae glacier is particularly susceptible to this process because the land under it slopes downward for miles inland, potentially inviting more ocean water to slide under it and further destabilize the glacier.

By 2012, the snout of the Zachariae glacier had receded more than 12.4 miles from its 2003 position. In comparison, the Jakobshavn glacier, located in southwest Greenland and long considered one of the fastest-changing glaciers on the island, has retreated 21.7 miles over the past 150 years.

Sea ice concentrations have climbed in recent years, yet the glaciers in the region are still losing mass faster than at any time in the past decade.

WATCH: Greenland Ice Sheet Disappearing.

The most dramatic form of ice loss comes during calving events, when large chunks of ice break off their ends and drift out to sea. Khan said glaciers in this and other parts of Greenland experience calving events 4-6 times a year.

The most famous event in Greenland occurred in August 2010 when an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan ripped away from Petermann glacier on the northwest side of the island. Another major chunk of ice also fell of the same glacier in July 2012.

While calving events garner headlines, Khan said understanding the underlying processes that lead to calving are much more important in determining the fate of glaciers around Greenland, but particularly Zachariae and other glaciers in the northeast.

“We really want to know what is going on beneath the glaciers,” he said. “This is the area where it may become unstable, causing retreat, thinning and huge dynamic ice loss.

“The northeast drainage area is twice that of Jakobshavn. Thus, here we have an area that could be Greenland’s largest contributor to sea level rise in a few years.” - TWC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - Over 100 Aftershocks Rock Chile Following 6.7 Temblor!

March 18, 2014 - CHILE - A massive earthquake and more than 100 aftershocks rattled Chile's Pacific coast Sunday, prompting Chilean authorities to briefly evacuate more than 100,000 people in coastal areas in case of a tsunami.

This Google Maps view shows the area of concern between Arica and Tocopilla.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 6.7-magnitude tremor struck offshore 37 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile at about 4:16 p.m. Just hours later, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit the same region.

The region has had a series of strong shocks since the quake earlier Sunday, registering between 4.9 and 5.2 magnitude.

Many children stayed away from school in Chile's northern coastal region Monday as aftershocks continued to rattle the area.

More than 100 aftershocks, including a tremor late Sunday of magnitude-6.2, had been recorded since the strong earthquake struck just offshore Sunday evening, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Most were imperceptible but a few unsettled residents of the coastal towns in northern Chile, leading some people to sleep in their cars or outdoors.

The initial quake caused only minor damage, though officials briefly evacuated more than 100,000 people from coastal zones.

Education officials in the Tarapaca region said about 60 percent of students missed classes Monday.

Franz Schmauck, Arica and Parinacota regional director of Chile's ONEMI emergency services office, told state TV that no damage was registered except for broken windows on some homes.

ONEMI's national director, Ricardo Toro, told reporters later that about 80,000 people were evacuated in the Tarapaca region, 3,000 in Arica and Parinacota region and 22,000 in Antofagasta region. He said the sea had risen almost 13 inches.

Chile's Emergency Office called for a return to normalcy and said offices and schools would be open on Monday.

"We're a seismic country and we have to return to our daily lives, we have to continue working," said the agency's national director, Ricardo Toro.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, river fronts and seaside resorts.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people. - TWC.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Seeds Of Climate Change - Western Wildflowers Blooming Longer?!

March 18, 2014 - CLIMATE CHANGE - From cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., peaking earlier than in decades past to grapevines unfurling new leaves this February in California, signs of spring now come sooner than they did a century ago. But climate change means more than just precocious bloom times, a new study finds.

Rocky Mountain wildflowers such as these blooms in Crested Butte, Colo., now peak
nearly a month earlier than in 1974, a new study finds. Credit: David Inouye

It turns out that relying on the first flowers of spring to gauge global warming may lead researchers to underestimate the full impact of climate change. Though some flowers may unfurl earlier because of warming, some plants shift their blooms to later in the season instead, according to the study, published today (March 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For example, in the Rocky Mountains in the United States, the bloom season now lasts a month longer than in the 1970s, because flowers appear both sooner and later than before, the study found.

"It's important to take a closer look in order to understand all the ways that climate change affects these wildflower communities," lead study author Paul CaraDonna, an ecologist at the University of Arizona, said in a statement.

CaraDonna and his co-authors examined nearly 40 years of wildflower records from the Rocky Mountains. Since 1974, researchers with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory have counted every flower in 30 plots near the lab's home in Crested Butte, Colo. — more than 2 million blooms in all.

The flowers grow at an elevation of 9,500 feet (2,895 meters). In the past century, a combination of less snowfall and warmer spring temperatures has caused snow to melt earlier there, which can trigger earlier bloom times.

Of the 60 plant species the researchers studied, only seven moved their entire bloom cycle to earlier than it had been 40 years ago, the researchers found. That means the flowers start, peak and finish sooner. About half of the 60 plants are beginning to bloom earlier, but only about one-third are reaching their peak bloom earlier, while others are producing their last blooms later in the year, the study found.

Native Rocky Mountain wildflowers, such as these lupines and columbines, may not flower together in
the future as the plants' bloom times shift in response to a warming climate. Credit: David Inouye

The date of the first spring flower advanced by more than six days per decade over the course of the study, and the last flower of fall first appears about three days later every decade. Overall, these changes boosted the wildflower season by more than a month, the researchers said. The bloom season, which used to run from late May to early September, now lasts from late April to late September.

The researchers plan to study the effect the changing bloom times will have on migratory birds and local insects. Because the same number of flowers is now spread out over more days, at peak bloom time, there may be fewer flowers.The flowering season is about one month longer than it used to be, which is a big change for a mountain ecosystem with a short growing season," study co-author Amy Iler, an ecologist at the University of Maryland, said in the statement. - Live Science.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 4.4 Magnitude Earthquake Is A Wake-Up Call On Los Angeles' Unknown Faults - 11 Aftershocks Hit Westside After Monday Tremor!

March 18, 2014 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - They are not as familiar as the freeways, but Southern California's major faults — such as the San Andreas, Newport-Inglewood and San Fernando — have become familiar markers on the local landscape.

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake Is A Wake-Up Call On Los Angeles' Unknown Faults
USGS earthquake map of the California area over the last 7 days.

But Monday's 4.4 earthquake in Encino is a reminder that the seismic danger extends well beyond those fault lines. The quake, which caused no damage but was the largest in the Los Angeles area in four years, erupted on a little-noticed fault deep under the Santa Monica Mountains.

The temblor surprised seismologists because it was the strongest to hit directly under the Santa Monica Mountains in the 80 years "since we started recording earthquakes in Southern California," Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said. Until now, experts recorded only magnitude 1 to 3 quakes there.

Monday's 6:25 a.m. temblor showed that for all that is understood about quakes, much remains unknown. Southern California's most destructive earthquakes in the last generation — the 5.9 Whittier Narrows in 1987 and the 6.7 Northridge in 1994 — occurred on faults unknown to scientists before the shaking began.

"Clearly, earthquakes happen in places you don't expect," said Thomas Heaton, director of Caltech's Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory. "The bigger the earthquake, eventually, you really are surprised to find an earthquake on a fault you didn't know about."

Monday's earthquake was about 900 times weaker than the Northridge earthquake. The amount of earth that moved during the quake was probably the size of a football field; by contrast, blocks of earth 10 miles by 10 miles moved during Northridge, Hauksson said.

Still, the shaking was felt as far as Santa Barbara and San Clemente.

The temblor caused the fault to slip for only a fraction of a second, but it was enough to shake awake millions of Angelenos. The shaking lasted seconds longer.

"I've been through a lot of earthquakes. This one felt just more violent," said teacher Jennifer Graham, who was at her boyfriend's home near the epicenter.

The quake started underneath an upscale hillside neighborhood near Mulholland Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard.

At the home of Debbie Seidel, a 42-year-old mother of two, there was a fallen mirror resting on a chest that did not shatter. Her daughter's shoe rack had come unhinged and was spilling items to the ground.

Seidel's husband later texted her, "Our house is the epicenter."

"It was fast and hard," she said. "You felt that it was close. It was intense, but super short."

Seidel said she heard from some neighbors who reported "nothing bad, just scared nerves and curious kids who are living through this for the first time."

The shaking was actually worse farther from the epicenter on top of the soft, soil-filled Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

That's because the quake's waves "bounce back and forth" within the basin and valleys, "so you get this bowl of Jello effect," Hauksson said.

A few miles away, in communities such as Westwood, Sherman Oaks and Beverlywood, the quake packed a punch.

11 Aftershocks Hit Westside After Monday's 4.4 Earthquake
USGS earthquake seismic shakemap of Monday's 4.4 magnitude quake.

A magnitude 2.6 earthquake that hit Brentwood at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday was 11th aftershock since a magnitude 4.4 temblor struck in nearby Encino a day earlier, seismologists say.

No major damage or injuries were reported immediately following Monday's jolt -- the most significant temblor in Southern California since a magnitude 5.5 earthquake rocked Chino Hills in 2008.

Immediately after Monday's quake, seismologists warned the public to expect aftershocks, with some registering above magnitude 2.0.

Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the California Geological Survey, said "some of them are real little guys," a small group of the aftershocks have been above magnitude 2.0.

The largest so far have been magnitude 2.6, one of which was downgraded from an earlier measurement of 2.7, Caltech spokeswoman Deborah Williams-Hedges said.

Susan Garcia of the U.S. Geological Survey said there were at least four aftershocks in the first 90 minutes after the magnitude 4.4 temblor.

A 5% chance that Monday's earthquake was a prelude to a larger event along the little-noticed fault deep under the Santa Monica Mountains had diminished greatly by Tuesday morning to just 1%.

"As the day goes on, the chances get smaller and smaller," Drysdale said.

Monday's quake surprised seismologists because it was the strongest to hit directly under the Santa Monica Mountains in the 80 years "since we started recording earthquakes in Southern California," Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said. Until now, experts recorded only magnitude 1 to 3 quakes there. - LA Times.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Israel Strikes Syrian Army Headquarters And Artillery Batteries After Border Blast - One Dead, Eleven Wounded!

March 18, 2014 - MIDDLE EAST - Israel hits several Syrian military and security targets that 'enabled and aided' Tuesday's attack on IDF troops which left four Israeli soldiers wounded, IDF Spokesman says.

Illustration: An IAF drill, December 26, 2013 Photo by Reuters

IDF forces struck a number of Syrian military and security targets connected to the blast that injured four Israeli soldiers on Tuesday, the IDF Spokesman said early on Wednesday.

The attack killed one person and wounded seven others, Syria's armed forces said, warning that the attacks endangered stability in the region.

The targets, which included military headquarters, artillery batteries and a training base belonging to the Syrian military, "enabled and aided in the carrying out of [Tuesday's] terror attacks," the statement read. "The IDF retains the right to act in any way and at any time it sees fit to protect the citizens of Israel."

The strikes were carried out in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights, the spokesman said.

Soldiers from the Israeli Army Artillery battery unit are deployed on alert near the border with Syria
on March 19, 2014, in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet in public remarks that Israel's "policy is clear. We hurt those who hurt us."

Netanyahu also alluded to Israeli air strikes against weapons shipments, saying that Israel had taken action during the Syrian conflict to "thwart, as much as we can, the transfer of arms by sea, air and land."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in a statement that the Syrian army had aided and abetted Tuesday's attack.

"We hold the Assad regime responsible for what happens in its territory and if it continues to collaborate with terrorists striving to hurt Israel then we will keep on exacting a heavy price from it and make it regret its actions," Yaalon said.

WATCH: Israel bombs Syrian Posts.

Four Israeli soldiers were wounded by a bomb that hit their jeep in the Golan Heights near the Syrian border on Tuesday afternoon.

Three of the wounded soldiers were in light and moderate condition and a fourth sustained serious injuries.

They were evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.

The blast that hit the Israeli army jeep was apparently caused by a roadside bomb planted near the border fence in Majdal Shams.

An initial investigation revealed that the soldiers had approached the border after suspicious figures were seen from the lookout tower. An explosive device was detonated when the soldiers exited the jeep.

Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, played down concerns of further clashes, saying there was "no desire for escalation" on Israel's part and noting the air force was capable of carrying out attacks far more dramatic than Wednesday's pre-dawn strikes.

"There is no spillover here," Yadlin told Army Radio, referring to the roadside bombing. "When the other side changes the rules of the game, Israel has to make clear it carries a very high price. I think [Syrian President Bashar] Assad understands the price," said Yadlin, who heads Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. - Haaretz.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Higher Food Prices On The Horizon - Beef Prices Post Biggest Surge In A Decade!

March 18, 2014 - UNITED STATES - In today’s Journal, a Wisconsin woman explains her first-hand experience of the rising costs of food. A Labor Department report out Tuesday shows she is on to something.

Beef Prices Post Biggest Surge In A Decade

What Americans paid for everything from haircuts to new cars barely rose, but the price of food alone was 0.4% higher in February from the prior month. Costs for meats, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs drove the gains. Most notably, beef and veal prices surged — just as Terri Weninger, a married mother of three in Waukesha, Wis., has learned.

“Things are definitely more expensive,” the 44-year-old said. “I can’t believe how much milk is. Chicken is crazy right now, and beef—I paid $5 a pound for beef!”

Prices for beef saw their biggest monthly change in February since November 2003. That was when fears of mad-cow disease abroad led to a spike of export demand for U.S. beef. When the disease was later confirmed in domestic cattle, prices shot down. - WSJ.

Higher Food Prices On The Horizon

Dive Brief:
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that retail food prices will rise between 2.5% and 3.5% this year, up from 1.4% last year. The inflation comes despite sharp decreases over the past year in grain prices, which includes corn, after a big U.S. harvest.
  • Federal forecasters estimate retail food prices will rise as much as 3.5% this year, the biggest annual increase in three years. The prices for many agricultural products have risen as the result of a drought-induced scarcity.
  • In the U.S., the increase in food costs comes from higher meat and dairy prices, due in part to tight cattle supplies after years of drought in states such as Texas and California and the increasing demand for milk from Asian countries. Prices for fruit and beverages like coffee are also on the rise.

Dive Insight:

Dry weather bears much of the blame for shortages. California, a pivotal agricultural producer in the U.S., is suffering from drought conditions, which affects both crops and and livestock production. In Brazil, an absence of rain has resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of arabica coffee: Arabica-coffee figures hit a two-year high of $2.0505 a pound on March 13. Cocoa prices have also soared up 12%.

Food prices have increased 2.8%, on average for the past 10 years, which puts them at a higher inflationary level increase than all goods, which rose 2.4%. Dealing with higher food prices is challenging for food producers, restaurants, and retailers, and it's not a simple matter to pass on the cost to consumers when there is strong competition. Absorbing the cost, on the other hand, cuts into profit margins that are already thin. This means they will have to come up with a strategy to stay viable at a time when consumers shop carefully and frugally. - Food Dive.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Space Rock Craze Hits South Korea After Meteor Shower!

March 18, 2014 - SOUTH KOREA - A corner of South Korea is in the grip of a frenzied hunt for valuable space souvenirs, following a rare meteor shower there last week.

Illustration of a meteor shower. Meteor showers occur when hundreds of meteors -- fragments of dust and rock that burn
up as they pass through the Earth's atmosphere -- light up the sky in a spectacular display (AFP Photo/Desiree Martin)

Hundreds of people have been scouring hills and rice paddies for meteorites near the southeastern city of Jinju after the shower on March 9, some of them armed with GPS devices and metal detectors, according to media reports.

"Media hype claiming that chondrites (a type of meteorite) could bring you a bonanza sparked the fever for space rocks," an official from the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea (CHAK) told AFP.

Local greenhouse owners have put up signs warning off trespassers after the first large chunk of rock, weighing around nine kilograms (20 pounds), was found in a greenhouse near Jinju.

A second piece weighing four kilograms was found by another local resident.

Scientists confirmed that both rocks, found in the two days after the meteor shower, had come from space.

A US meteorite-hunter has been handing out business cards in the local area, asking people to sell him any shards they find, the Korea JoongAng Daily said.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won suggested the government should secure them for research or as a natural monument.

The CHAK official said the agency would designate any meteorites found as cultural assets to stop them from being taken out of South Korea.

Ownership of the meteorites remains a legally grey area because of the lack of relevant provisions in South Korean civil law, the official added.

A space rock was last found on its soil in 1943, when the Korean peninsula was under Japan's colonial rule.

Meteor showers occur when hundreds of meteors -- fragments of dust and rock that burn up as they pass through the Earth's atmosphere -- light up the sky in a spectacular display.

Meteorites are meteors that do not burn up completely, surviving the fall to Earth. - Yahoo.

PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: The Protests In Venezuela Lose Momentum As Maduro Toughens His Response - Country Crippled By High Inflation And Consumer Prices; Rampant Food Shortages; And Flawed Economic Policies; Citizens Unable To Find Flour, Milk And Diapers!

March 18, 2014 - VENEZUELA - Fewer Venezuelans came out to protest against the government over the weekend after President Nicolás Maduro threatened to use the military to “liberate” middle-class districts from makeshift barricades.

A Venezuelan protests against President Nicolás Maduro near burnt vehicles in San Cristobal, Venezuela,
on March 17, 2014.  George Castellano/AFP

A march against alleged Cuban infiltration of the armed forces attracted a few thousand people Sunday in the Caracas borough of Chacao, the heart of the month-long anti-government protests that have taken 28 lives. Similar rallies in past weeks drew more than 10,000 people.

At night, National Guard troops in Chacao dispersed a few hundred protesters with tear gas and water cannons as residents shouted “assassins” from surrounding apartment blocks and removed manhole covers to block the advance of Chinese-made armored trucks. To reduce the shortages of goods that are fueling the protests, the central bank has said it will start a new foreign currency system this week that will allow companies and individuals to buy and sell dollars at a price determined by the market.

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro warned demonstrators in an address to thousands of soldiers gathered in support of the president on March 15. He then played John Lennon’s song, “Give Peace a Chance.”

A tougher police response and fatigue from daily marches have drained some of the momentum from the protest movement, said David Smilde, senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization.

“Venezuela has been experiencing a progressive criminalization of protest over the past couple of years, with repression rarely seen under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez,” Smilde said by email from Caracas Sunday. “As the inherent flaws of economic policies and political model” make Chávez’s revolution “increasingly fragile, the government seems more willing to rely on force.”

Central Bank President Nelson Merentes said Sunday Venezuela’s economy “is a crisis.”

“You’ve got inflation, you have shortages and growth that’s not robust,” he said in an interview on the local Televen network. “Venezuela has the ability to overcome this not-so-good patch.”

Two women walk by National Guard members deployed at opposition stronghold Altamira square, in Caracas on March 17, 2014.
Venezuela’s authorities deployed hundreds of security forces into the opposition stronghold to
stamp out protests in Caracas against the government.  Leo Ramírez/AFP

Consumer prices rose 57 percent in the 12 months through February and the central bank stopped publishing data on shortages after last month’s report showed that more than one in four basic goods were unavailable in shops at any one time.

To cut the illegal contraband of subsidized products, Maduro said Sunday the government will issue citizens with electronic cards for food purchases in state supermarkets. The so-called Secure Supply Card is to protect the people from speculators and not a way to ration food, the president told a rally of supporters in the capital.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he’s ready to talk to Maduro about ending protests after boycotting at least two other meetings with the president.

“This debate needs to happen,” Capriles said in a separate interview on Televen Sunday.

Opposition parties and students have vowed to continue protesting across the country until Maduro releases political prisoners, improves the supply of products and ends police repression. The president has called the protesters “fascists,” charging them with attempting a “slow-motion coup” against him with help from the U.S. - Tico Times.

Venezuela In Turmoil For Lack Of Flour, Milk And Diapers
People line up to buy goods at a store in Caracas, Venezuela. LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images

Alvaro Villarueda starts his morning the same way every day — putting in a call to his friend who has a friend who works at a Caracas, Venezuela, supermarket.

Today, he's looking for sugar, and he's asking his friend if he knows if any shipments have arrived. As he talks on the phone, his wife Lisbeth Nello, is in the kitchen.

There are 10 mouths to feed every day in this family — five of them children. The two youngest are still in diapers.

"The things that are the scarcest are actually what we need the most," Nello says. "Flour, cooking oil, butter, milk, diapers. I spent last week hunting for diapers everywhere. The situation is really tough for basic goods."

Student-led demonstrations have been roiling Venezuela for more than a month. At least 28 people have been killed and dozens wounded in confrontations between security forces and those who have taken to the streets.

The list of grievances — rising crime, inflation — is long, but the main one for many is the scarcity of basic foodstuffs.

As with everything in Venezuela, the reasons given for the food shortages depend on political affiliation. The government says it's the result of unscrupulous businessmen waging an economic war and hoarding by regular people afraid of shortages.

Those in the opposition blame a system that imposes price controls, the lack of money to buy imports and problems in the supply chain after the expropriation of farms and factories by the socialist government.

Whatever the reasons, the shortages have meant that Nello spends a lot of time in long lines. It's usually the women who have to go to the shops and her house is no exception.

"When we find out there is something we need in one of the supermarkets, we have to jump and get up very early to get down there," she says.

The family lives on a hillside with only makeshift stairs to get to their home. It's a long way to the market, and once there, the lines often take hours, with hundreds of people standing in them. She says she feels they have become like ants, always carrying supplies home.

An informal barter system has developed as well, Nello says. If she has extra coffee, she can trade it for cooking oil. It's a way of avoiding the long waits for staples.

"We are always helping each other," she says. "We are sending messages to other members of the family when we find out something is in the market."

All supermarkets these days have security to make sure that customers stay in line and obey government-imposed limits on what they can buy, and that no one causes a riot.

In the slum of Antimano, women are standing in line in front of a shop. They say they don't know what's on offer, but they are queuing anyway, a sign of how worried people are that they won't get what they need.

Inside the market, the manager, Roger Escorihuela, takes me around and points out that the shelves are not bare.

There are cereals, eggs and pastas and fancy jams, but the staples that are subject to price controls — black beans, butter, corn meal, the list goes on — are missing, he says.

He acknowledges he never knows what will be delivered each day by his trucks which is why people have to phone around to find out what's available. But he insists there is no shortage, and everyone gets what they need, eventually.

At least this day, he's proven right. A woman walks in looking for toilet paper, but the shelves are bare.

Then she spots the last roll, fallen behind the shelf. She gleefully grabs it and rushes to pay. - NPR.

WORLD WAR III: Treaty To Accept Crimea, Sevastopol To Russian Federation Signed - National Geographic Maps Crimea As Part Of Russia; West Furious As Crimea Accepted Into Russia; G8 Suspend Russia's Participation In Their Meetings; Two Killed In Shooting Near Crimea Military Research Center As War Fears Grow!

March 18, 2014 - CRIMEA, RUSSIA - Russia and Crimea have signed treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the Russian Federation following President Putin’s address to the Parliament.  Russia’s President Vladimir Putin requests parliament to ratify the agreement that would see both Crimea and the city of Sevastopol joining Russia.  “I ask you to consider the adoption of two new subjects of the Federation: Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol,” Putin told Parliamentarians.

Treaty To  Accept Crimea, Sevastopol To Russian Federation Signed
RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky

Crimea was represented by Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov and Sevastopol mayor Aleksey Chaly, who signed the treaty. The two were accompanied by Crimean top official Vladimir Konstantinov.  “Since the adoption of the Russian Federation Republic of Crimea in structure of the Russian Federation two new entities - of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Federal importance Sevastopol – have been created,” the text of the treaty reads.  The Treaty enumerates 10 articles which will come into effect after ratification.  Russia will guarantee that the people who live in Crimea and Sevastopol will be given the right to keep their native language as well as the means and conditions for learning it.  Thus, article 3 of the treaty stands that there will be three official languages in Crimea and Sevastopol: Ukrainian, Russian and the language of Crimean Tatars.  Starting from the day of accession, the people of Crimea and Sevastopol are considered as Russian citizens, according to Article 5.  As it was agreed, the transition period will be acting till January 1, 2015. During this time, both sides will resolve the issues of integration of the new subjects “in the economic, financial, credit and legal system of the Russian Federation.”Crimea has already officially introduced the ruble as a second currency along with the Ukrainian hryvna, which will remain an official currency until January 1, 2016.

 National elections to the state bodies of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol have been slated for September 2015.  Until then the now acting Parliament of Crimea and the Council of Ministers of Crimea as well as the Legislative Assembly of the city of Sevastopol will continue their work.  The document will be sent for approval to the constitutional court, and then to ratification in the parliaments of Russia and Crimea.  Russian lawmakers will meet with a parliamentary delegation from Crimea and Sevastopol on March 19 to review strategic aspects of cooperation, including "the prospects for the political and financial establishment of the Republic of Crimea."  "A number of lawmakers will meet with our colleagues from Crimea and Sevastopol at 10:30 local time (0630 GMT)," said the speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament, Sergey Naryshkin.  Treaty signing came after President Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly.  Putin stressed that the results of the referendum, in which more than 83 percent of Crimean residents came to polling stations and more than 96 percent of those voted for rejoining Russia, leave no room for equivocation.

WATCH: Signed - Crimea, Sevastopol ink historic treaty to join Russia.


The referendum on independence in Crimea was conducted in strict accordance with democratic principles and international law, he pointed out. He dismissed criticism of the Crimean referendum, citing Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence as an example of self-determination praised by the West.  The president recalled the history of Crimea, saying its cultural, religious and spiritual ties bind it with the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, which explains the attitude Russians have towards the peninsula.  "There are graves of Russian soldiers on the peninsula whose courage enabled Russia to make Crimea part of the Russian Empire in 1783," Putin said. "Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars and other peoples lived side by side in Crimea preserving their originality, traditions, language and religion."  He said Crimea had dark pages in its past, particularly the persecution of Crimean Tatars and other minorities in the USSR. The authorities of Crimea seek to recompense for those ills.  "There was the period, where the Crimean Tatars experienced injustice· It is necessary to adopt political, legal measures to finalise the process of rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatars. The measures should restore their rights, their good name fully," Putin said.  One such move would be accepting the language of Crimean Tatars as an official language in Crimea on a par with Russian and Ukrainian.

 Putin lashed out at former Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, under whose rule Crimea was attached to Soviet Ukraine without any regard for Crimeans’ wishes and in violation of the laws of the time.  Crimean separation from Russia was reinforced again after the split of the Soviet Union, Putin said. This could be partially blamed on Moscow too, as it hailed the so-called “parade of sovereignty” of the Soviet Republics.  Russia has since respected the results of the USSR’s dissolution, including Crimea being part of Ukraine.  Russia’s position was based on the assumption that Ukraine would remain a friendly partner respecting the historic ties between the two countries. Russia continues and will continue to view these relations as very important, the president said.  Putin criticized several governments in Kiev for neglecting average Ukrainians, seeing the country as a source of profit.  He said he sympathized with Ukrainians who took to the streets of Kiev in protest against President Yanukovich, whom they saw as profoundly corrupt.  But the current authorities who replaced Yanukovich after an armed coup are to a large degree controlled by radical nationalists, Putin stated.  Those same radicals have voiced threats against Ukrainians who resist their rule, particularly those living in Crimea.  Turning a blind eye to those threats and the moves of the current authorities, which violated the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, would be betrayal on the part of Russia, Putin said.

National Geographic Maps Crimea As Part Of Russia
A map showing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation was briefly showcased Tuesday on
Wikipedia's English-language entry for Russia. (image from wikipedia.org)

“We map the world as it is – not as people would like it to be,” National Geographic’s map-making authority says, as the educational entertainment giant prepares to mark Crimea as part of Russia after the parliament officially ratifies the measure.  Juan Jose Valdes, NatGeo’s geographer, chief editor and research director for the map-making division, emerged from a meeting with the magazine’s editorial, legal and cartographic authorities on Tuesday, where the decision was made to give the area a temporary special shading (like the Gaza Strip or the West Bank), until permanent coloring after the Russian parliament approves the treaty signed by President Putin and the Crimean authorities.  When the parliamentary vote takes place later in the week, “the document will be revised to indicate that the change has officially occurred and Crimea is officially part of Russia, then we will identify Crimea with the Russian boundary tint,” Valdes told the U.S. News.  “As you can only surmise, sometimes our maps are not received in a positive light by some individuals who want to see the world in a different light,” the director explained, which is not the case with other map makers. Rand McNally, another leader in atlas and map production, will not be making any changes to its maps.  The company spokesperson, Amy Krouse said “we take our direction from the State Department.”  This latest opposition between the camps is yet another brick in the political standoff that has gripped Russian-Western relations after the latter’s refusal to recognize Crimea’s joining Russia. In the run-up to the referendum on secession, many, including Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have denounced it as illegal. The US, EU, Japan and Canada have imposed sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials.  Meanwhile, the map war is already in full swing. While policies are still being worked out, there was a situation this morning on Wikipedia’s English-language page for Russia. Several hours ago, the map reflected the new agreement, but was later changed back to depicting Crimea as a territory outside Russia.  Google has continued to show Crimea as part of Ukraine.  But Russian search giant Yandex has had the most original solution so far - to display Crimea's belonging in a fashion appropriate to the geographical area from which Yandex Maps is viewed. This will be done, as is currently on different websites, by recognizing the user's IP address.  At the time this news was published, National Geographic has not yet introduced the proposed changes.

West Furious As Crimea Accepted Into Russia
A woman jumps for joy during a broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin's address to the
Federal Assembly in Sevastopol March 18, 2014. (Reuters / Baz Ratner)

Following the signing of the treaty of accession of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation, there has been an outspoken backlash and threats from key G7 members, who are organizing a meeting next week.  At the signing on Tuesday, Crimea was represented by Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov and Sevastopol mayor, Aleksey Chaly, who added his name to the treaty. The two were accompanied by Crimean parliamentary speaker, Vladimir Konstantinov.  Shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin added his name to the agreements, US President Barack Obama announced that Western leaders would be gathering to decide the next course of action. Among G7 members addressing the agreement between Crimea and Russia were the US, France, Germany and the UK.  “The meeting will focus on the situation in Ukraine and further steps that the G7 may take to respond to developments and to support Ukraine,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement, “We would not recognize this attempted annexation,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in a briefing.  G7 leaders have already suspended arrangements for a G8 summit, which had been scheduled to take place in Sochi in June because of disagreements over Ukraine.  As meetings were held in Warsaw between US Vice President Joe Biden, Estonian President Toomas Ilves and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Biden announced that Russia would see ‘additional sanctions’ from the US and the EU if the country continued to ‘annex’ Crimea.  “Russia has offered a variety of arguments to justify what is nothing more than a land grab,” Biden stated.

US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk address a press conference after
their meeting in Warsaw, Poland on March 18, 2013. (AFP Photo / Janek Skarzynski)

 Tusk expressed additional concerns to a televised news conference: “Russia's annexation of Crimea can't be accepted by the international community including Poland. In one moment this changes the country's (Ukraine) borders and the geopolitical situation in this region of the world,” Tusk announced.  Estonian President Toomas Ilves reiterated at the meeting that a US presence in Europe is absolutely vital.  “It is important to immediately resume dialogue to develop a solution to the crisis,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday. He added that Ki-moon has urged that all parties involved avoid escalation, saying they need “to work to find a solution that would not be contrary to the UN Charter, and does not violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”  President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, tweeted on Tuesday that the EU “does not and will not recognize the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation.” In a joint statement released by Barroso and president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, they called the referendum in Crimea “illegal and illegitimate,” noting that “the European Council will discuss the situation in Ukraine at its meeting this week and agree on a united European response.”  British Prime Minister David Cameron stated that the decision to “annex” Crimea would result in Russia facing “serious consequences” for the alleged breach of international law. “I will push European leaders to agree further EU measures when we meet on Thursday,” read the statement published on the Number 10 website, adding that it sent a “chilling message” across Europe.  The strongly-worded statement was released shortly after the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announced suspension of bilateral military cooperation with Russia, which included the cancellation of a pre-arranged joint naval exercise with both France and the US, and the visit of a Royal Navy ship to St. Petersburg.  “It was regrettable to hear President Putin today choosing the route of isolation, denying the citizens of his own country, and of Crimea, partnership with the international community and full membership of a range of international organizations,” Hague told Parliament.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (AFP Photo / Ben Stansall)

French President Francois Hollande weighed in, stating that he ‘condemned’ the decision. “France does not recognize either the results of the referendum ... or the attachment of this Ukrainian region to Russia,” he asserted.  German Chancellor Angela backed her European counterparts, accusing Russia of violating international law through “the absorption [of Crimea] into the Russian Federation”. It emerged later on Tuesday that Merkel had discussed the situation with Obama on the telephone to make efforts “to continue coordinating response to the situation in Ukraine,” Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser wrote on Twitter.  Hollande announced that he was hoping for a “strong and coordinated European response” to be arranged at the next European Council meeting, planned for March 20-21.  On Monday, some 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials fell under the impact of travel bans and asset freezes from the EU. It was previously made known that the EU had compiled a list of some 120-130 names of senior Russian officials who may fall victim to travel bans and asset freezes as part of sanctions. The US introduced similar visa bans and asset freezes on 11 Russians and Ukrainians on the same day.  Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated on Tuesday that Western sanctions would “lead nowhere” and there would be retaliation. “This does not bother me - on the contrary, I'm proud,” stated close Putin aide, Vladislav Surkov, told reporters, "I consider this a kind of political Oscar from America for best male supporting role,” he added.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Western sanctions against Russia over Crimea are unacceptable and warned of consequences in the future.  "[Crimea] republic residents made their democratic choice in line with the international law and the UN charter, which Russia accepts and respects," the statement said, "while the sanctions introduced by the United States and the European Union are unacceptable and will not remain without consequences."  “Canadian PM Stephen Harper put me on the list,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin stated on Twitter. Rogozin is on both US and Canadian sanctions lists. “Looks like they're also looking for my accounts and villas. They wish!” he said, having earlier reminded the international community that he had no assets in the US.  NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has condemned Russia for signing the treaty of accession with Crimea, saying Moscow has embarked on a "dangerous path," Reuters reports.  "I condemn President [Vladimir] Putin's announcement of new laws incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation," Rasmussen said in a statement.  "Russia has disregarded all calls to step back into line with international law and continues down the dangerous path...There can be no justification to continue on this course of action that can only deepen Russia's international isolation. Crimea's annexation is illegal and illegitimate and NATO allies will not recognize it."

WATCH: 'US thinks it's superior, rules only apply to inferior nations' - ex Australian PM.

Two Killed In Shooting Near Crimea Military Research Center
Two people – a self-defense member and a Ukrainian soldier – were killed after a sniper opened fire from a partially inhabited building near a military research center in Simferopol.  Earlier, a fake Twitter account supposedly belonging to Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov had stated that a sniper had indeed been arrested, but that information has since been disproved by all relevant authorities.  As RT producer Lida Vasilevskaya arrived at the scene, the perimeter of the Ukrainian military topography and navigation center was already surrounded by men in camouflage and the situation was "calm."  The local Interior Ministry said in a press release that shooting came from a house under construction opposite the center and targeted Crimean self-defense units as well the military center itself. 

“Earlier today self-defense units were informed that a group of armed men had been discovered in a partially inhabited building,” the press release said. “As the self-defense were taking measures to check, they came under fire, presumably from a sniper rifle,” police said, adding that the shooting came “in two directions from one spot.”  One self-defense unit member was killed and another wounded, police said. One Ukrainian soldier from the military research center was also killed, and another was wounded.  Crimea police and Prosecutor's Office staff are investigating the attack.  According to RT information, the scene of the shooting is a small Ukrainian military topography research center, and the majority of the staff who work there are women. The center’s area is rather small, and servicemen have only six machine guns and three Makarov guns to provide security. The center reportedly decided to join up with Crimea and Russia and was preparing paperwork to go over.  Aksyonov told Russia’s Channel One that this attack is reminiscent of the Maidan sniper shootings.  “At the moment two people are dead as a result of a provocation, a sabotage. The situation allows me to conclude that the same techniques that were used at Maidan are being used now because most likely one attacker fired at both sides – one Ukrainian serviceman and one man from the self-defense forces of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea were killed.”  “The location of the sniper was identified,” he added.  The commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Aleksandr Vitko, has also agreed that "there was a sniper there, just like on the Maidan."  Earlier, Ukrainian servicemen told RT that last night unknown groups tried to break into several military bases, but self-defense units managed to prevent them from entering.  “Guys from self-defense told me today that they were afraid of provocations," Lida Vasilevskaya tweeted. 

WATCH: 2 killed in shooting near Crimea military research center, 'sniper detained'.

The Crimean Interior Ministry did not rule out a provocation aimed at complicating the situation in the city after Crimea and Sevastopol were accepted into the Russian Federation.   Immediately after the attack, despite the initial confusion and lack of verified details of what exactly happened in Simferopol, as well as a stream of conflicting reports, Kiev claimed that “Russian soldiers started shooting at Ukrainian servicemen."  “This is a war crime without any statute of limitations," coup-appointed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk told a meeting at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.  In another immediate reaction to the accident, acting President Aleksandr Turchinov authorized Ukrainian troops stationed in Crimea to use firearms to “defend their lives."  Ukrainian armed forces commander Mikhail Kucin, has also informed his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov that the authorization has been given.  In a phone conversation with Gerasimov, Kucin has emphasized de-escalation and a political solution to the crisis, rather than a violent one.

G8 Suspend Russia's Participation In Their Meetings
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said the Group of Eight suspended Russia’s participation in their meetings. However, President Putin is still invited to visit France on June 6.  “At the moment, he is still invited. As for the G8 as a political formation for the dialogue of all big states together, we have decided to suspend the participation of Russia, there will be seven countries that gather [for the summit] – without Russia,” Fabius told Europe 1 radio.  France plans to hold a grand celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Allied Forces landing in Normandy.   Following Sunday's referendum in Crimea in which over 96 percent of the population voted to join the Russian Federation, the US imposed sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials. The EU, in its turn, applied sanctions against 21 officials.  French defense and foreign ministers postponed their visit to Moscow that was scheduled for Tuesday in attempt to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.  Fabius called the crisis the biggest since the end of the Cold War, but called for calm.  "We want firmness to prevail and for Putin to not go any further, but at the same time we want to de-escalate the situation via dialogue," said Fabius in an interview with France 2 television on Monday.  If Russia expanded its influence into the eastern Ukraine, then “there will be a reaction, including with force", Fabius told France 2 TV, quoted by Reuters. "Ukraine has already mobilized some people and we cannot allow Russia to do simply anything." 

WATCH:  Russia's participation in G8 meetings suspended due to 'land grab'.


However, several Russian officials who were included on the list noted that they didn’t have any property or assets abroad.  Earlier, the EU list was announced, including 13 Russians and eight people from Crimea. The sanctions were visa bans and financial restrictions.  The EU sanctions are to be in force for six months, said Federica Mogherini, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, after EU ministers and officials met in Brussels.  However, some top officials think that the current measures will see both Russia and the world community suffer.  “We are all reluctant to impose sanctions because Russia will probably respond and we'll all suffer as a result. But Russia is leaving us no choice. And the European Council has decided, if there is no movement on Russia's part to correct the position, then I'm afraid we'll have no - no choice on Monday,” Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said.  The Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner pointed out that the reaction illustrates double standards of the West.  “It’s impossible to continue trying to present oneself as the guarantor of the global power when basic criteria are picked depending on the country that’s involved. In the case of the Crimean referendum, it turns out it’s bad, and if the Falkland Islands want their self-determination, it’s good. It doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny,” she said.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: The United Nations Official Prophecy Of Doom - Global Warming Will Cause Widespread Conflict, Displace Millions Of People And Devastate The Global Economy!

March 18, 2014 - CLIMATE CHANGE - Climate change will displace hundreds of millions of people by the end of this century, increasing the risk of violent conflict and wiping trillions of dollars off the global economy, a forthcoming UN report will warn.

The report predicts that climate change will reduce median crop yields by
2 per cent per decade for the rest of the century

The second of three publications by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due to be made public at the end of this month, is the most comprehensive investigation into the impact of climate change ever undertaken. A draft of the final version seen by The Independent says the warming climate will place the world under enormous strain, forcing mass migration, especially in Asia, and increasing the risk of violent conflict.

Based on thousands of peer-reviewed studies and put together by hundreds of respected scientists, the report predicts that climate change will reduce median crop yields by 2 per cent per decade for the rest of the century – at a time of rapidly growing demand for food. This will in turn push up malnutrition in children by about a fifth, it predicts.

The report also forecasts that the warming climate will take its toll on human health, pushing up the number of intense heatwaves and fires and increasing the risk from food and water-borne diseases.

While the impact on the UK will be relatively small, global issues such as rising food prices will pose serious problems. Britain’s health and environmental “cultural heritage” is also likely to be hurt, the report warns.

According to the draft report, a rare grassy coastal habitat unique to Scotland and Ireland is set to suffer, as are grouse moors in the UK and peatlands in Ireland. The UK’s already elevated air pollution is likely to worsen as burning fossil fuels increase ozone levels, while warmer weather will increase the incidence of asthma and hay fever.

Coastal systems and  low-lying areas

The report predicts that by the end of the century “hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and displaced due to land loss”. The majority affected will be in East Asia, South-east Asia and South Asia. Rising sea levels mean coastal systems and low-lying areas will increasingly experience  submergence, coastal flooding and coastal erosion.

Food security

Relatively low local temperature increases of 1C or more above pre-industralised levels are projected to “negatively impact” yields of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions. The report forecasts that climate change will reduce median yields by up to 2 per cent per decade for the rest of the century – against a backdrop of rising demand that is set to increase by 14 per cent per decade until 2050.

The global economy

A global mean temperature increase of 2.5C above pre-industrial levels may lead to global aggregate economic losses of between 0.2 and 2.0 per cent, the report warns. Global GDP was $71.8trn (£43.1trn) in 2012, meaning a 2 per cent reduction would wipe $1.4trn off the world’s economic output that year.

Human health

Until mid-century, climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating problems that already exist, the report says. Climate change will lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, with examples including a greater likelihood of injury, disease and death due to more intense heatwaves and fires; increased likelihood of under-nutrition; and increased risks from food and water-borne diseases. Without accelerated investment in planned adaptations, climate change by 2050 would increase the number of undernourished children under the age of five by 20-25 million globally, or by 17-22 per cent, it says.

Human security

Climate change over the 21st century will have a significant impact on forms of migration that compromise human security, the report states. For example, it indirectly increases the risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, inter-group violence and violent protests by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.

Small-island states and other places highly vulnerable to sea-level rise face major challenges to their territorial integrity. Some “transboundary” impacts of climate change, such as changes in sea ice, shared water resources and migration of fish stocks have the potential to increase rivalry among states.

Freshwater resources

The draft of the report says “freshwater-related risks of climate change increase significantly with increasing greenhouse gas emissions”. It finds that climate change will “reduce renewable surface water and groundwater resources significantly in most dry subtropical regions”, exacerbating the competition for water. Terrestrial and freshwater species will also face an increased extinction risk under projected climate change during and beyond the 21st century.

Unique landscapes

Machair, a grassy coastal habitat found only in north-west Scotland and the west coast of Ireland, is one of the several elements of the UK’s “cultural heritage” that is at risk from climate change, the report says. Machair is found only on west-facing shores and is rich in calcium carbonate derived from crushed seashells. It is so rare and special, that a recent assessment by the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism described it as an “unknown jewel”.

The IPCC also warns of climate threats to Irish peatlands and UK grousemoors and notes an increasing risk to health across Europe from rising air pollution – in which the polluted UK is already in serial breach of EU regulations. - The Independent.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - 28 Year-Old Investment Banker Jumped To His Death In Manhattan; Becomes The TWELFTH In Financial World This Year!

March 18, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - A New York City investment banker is dead after allegedly jumping from his apartment building, continuing an alarming streak of suicides that has descended upon the financial world.

Kenneth Bellando (image from Facebook)

The latest death occurred on March 12, when 28-year-old Kenneth Bellando was found on the sidewalk outside his six-story Manhattan apartment building.

According to the Daily Mail, police investigators said the case was still under investigation, but that they do not suspect a third party to be involved and that Bellando – who had been working for Levy Capital since January – likely took his own life.

Before moving into his last position, the New York Post reported Bellando worked as an investment banker at JP Morgan Chase. His brother, John Bellando, also works at JP Morgan as an investment officer; the Post stated that multiple emails by John Bellando were presented as evidence during Senate hearings regarding the “London Whale” trading scandal.

Kenneth Bellando’s death now marks the 12th time this year that an employee in the financial world has taken his or her own life around the globe. Bellando graduated from Georgetown University in 2007, and is the youngest banking professional to commit suicide this year.

Although positions in the banking world can be especially lucrative, they’re also known to place an extreme amount of stress and pressure on individuals. It’s unclear whether or not Bellando’s death is related to pressure at work, but just last month psychologist Alden Cass told CNN Money that investment banking is particularly demanding.

Kenneth Bellando apparently jumped to his death from this building on the East Side on March 12.
Photo: Matthew McDermott

"Out of all the sections of finance, no position do I know of that's more extreme in terms of the emotional endurance one has to have than investment banking," said Cass, who also co-wrote “Bullish Thinking: The Advisor's Guide to Surviving and Thriving on Wall Street.”

The recent string of suicides began in January, when Deutsche Bank AG's William Broeksmit, 58, was found hanged in his home on January 26 after reportedly committing suicide. Two JP Morgan employees are also believed to have taken their own lives after falling from buildings in London and Hong Kong.

Autumn Radtke, the CEO of the digital currency exchange firm First Meta, was also found dead outside her apartment in Singapore earlier this month. - RT.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Volcano Report For March 18, 2014 - Updates On Etna, Karymsky, Sinabung, Dukono, Kilauea, Santiaguito And Fuego!

March 18, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): There have been no significant changes in activity. Mild strombolian explosions continue at the summit vent of the New Southeast Crater (NSEC) and lava emission continues to feed flows from the effusive vents at the eastern side of the cone.

Glow from weak strombolian activity at Etna's NSEC

The active lava flow into the Valle del Bove

Karymsky (Kamchatka): Intermittent strombolian to vulcanian explosions continue at the volcano. This morning, VAAC Tokyo reported an ash plume at 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude extending SE from Karymsky.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The volcano continues to be active with no significant changes, but an overall decreasing trend. Lava effusion feeds the viscous lava extrusion lobe on its southern flank, which has been mainly growing on its eastern side.

Sinabung volcano yesterday (steam indicates hot areas on the lava lobe)

No significant pyroclastic flows have occurred recently, only frequent smaller rockfalls. Small ash plumes continue to be regularly visible on satellite imagery.

The most recent report by VSI shows that seismicity has decreased overall. Hybrid earthquakes, indicators of rock fracturing by magma moving into the system, have disappeared. This suggests that pressure and magma supply rate have dropped a lot and that the eruption could be ending in a near future.

Dukono (Halmahera): Intense explosive activity, probably strombolian-type, continue at the volcano. Darwin VAAC reports ash plumes at 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude extending 80 nautical miles to the SW.

Kilauea (Hawai'i): Lava lake at Kilauea summit remains stable at a high point of 37m (124ft) and despite rainy and windy conditions over the weekend, the summit glow viewing is still clear and as bright as ever from the Jaggar Museum.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity remains essentially unchanged. Viscous lava flows are active on the E and SW sides of the Caliente dome.

INSIVUMEH warns against the potential of hot lahars that the current and expected heavy rainfalls could trigger, re-mobilizing loose pyroclastic material that has been accumulating at the feet of the dome. The draining riverbeds of Nima I, Nima II, Samala, and San Isidro are the areas most at risk.

Fuego (Guatemala): Strombolian activity at the volcano has decreased a bit. Weak to moderate explosions occur at irregular intervals typically in the range of 1 hour, eject abundant incandescent lava to 100-150 m above the crater and generate avalanches on the upper slopes. The lava flow has stopped being active.

Strombolian eruption from Fuego last night

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 18, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.