Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MONUMENTAL SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Edge - Celestial Body 2012 VP113 Strongly Hints At The Possible Existence Of "PLANET X"!

March 26, 2014 - SPACE - Astronomers have found a new dwarf planet far beyond Pluto's orbit, suggesting that this distant realm contains millions of undiscovered objects — including, perhaps, a world larger than Earth.




The newfound celestial body, called 2012 VP113, joins the dwarf planet Sedna as a confirmed resident of a far-flung and largely unexplored region scientists call the "inner Oort Cloud." Further, 2012 VP113 and Sedna may have been pulled into their long, looping orbits by a big planet lurking unseen in these frigid depths.

"These two objects are just the tip of the iceberg," study co-author Chadwick Trujillo, of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, told Space.com. "They exist in a part of the solar system that we used to think was pretty devoid of matter. It just goes to show how little we actually know about the solar system."

Probing the depths

For several decades, astronomers have divided our solar system into three main parts: an inner zone containing the rocky planets, such as Earth and Mars; a middle realm housing the gas giants Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune; and an outer region called the Kuiper Belt, populated by distant and icy worlds like Pluto.

The discovery of Sedna in 2003 hinted that this map is incomplete. Sedna, which is about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) wide, has an incredibly elliptical orbit, coming no closer to the sun than 76 astronomical units (AU) and going all the way out to 940 AU or so at its most distant point. (One AU, the distance from Earth to the sun, is about 93 million miles, or 150 million km.)


Both 2012 VP113 and Sedna are currently nearly as close as they can come to the Sun. Notice that both orbits have
similar perihelion locations on the sky and both are much more distant than the outer planets and the Kuiper Belt.

The discovery images of 2012 VP113, which has the most distant orbit known in our Solar System. Three images of the
night sky, each taken about 2 hours apart, were combined into one. The first image was artificially colored red, second
green and third blue. 2012 VP113 moved between each image as seen by the red, green and blue dots. The background
stars and galaxies did not move and thus their red, green and blue images combine to show up as white sources.
Credit: Scott S. Sheppard: Carnegie Institution for Science


That puts Sedna in the far outer reaches of the solar system. For comparison, Pluto's orbit takes it between 29 and 49 AU from the sun.

And now astronomers know Sedna is not alone out there. Trujillo and Scott Sheppard, of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., discovered 2012 VP113 using the Dark Energy Camera, which is installed on a 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

Follow-up observations by the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory, also in Chile, helped Trujillo and Sheppard determine details of 2012 VP113's orbit and learn a bit more about the object.
The body comes no closer to the sun than 80 AU, and it gets as far away as 452 AU. About 280 miles

(450 km) wide, 2012 VP113 is large enough to qualify as a dwarf planet if it's composed primarily of ice, researchers said. (By definition, dwarf planets must be big enough for their gravity to mold them into spheres; the mass required for this to happen depends upon the objects' composition.)

The inner Oort Cloud


Objects as distant as Sedna and 2012 VP113 are incredibly difficult to detect; astronomers really only get a chance when the bodies near their closest approach to the sun.

Based on the amount of sky the scientists searched, Trujillo and Sheppard estimate that about 900 bodies larger than Sedna may exist in this faraway realm, which the astronomers dub the inner Oort Cloud. (The true Oort Cloud is an icy shell around the solar system that begins perhaps 5,000 AU from the sun and contains trillions of comets.)


Astronomers are discovering trans-Neptunian objects belonging to the Oort Cloud,
the most distant region of Earth'ssolar system. Credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

These images show the discovery of the new inner Oort cloud object 2012 VP113 taken about 2 hours apart on UT
November 5, 2012. The motion of 2012 VP113 clearly stands out compared to the steady state background stars
and galaxies.Credit: Scott S. Sheppard: Carnegie Institution for Science


The total population of objects in the inner Oort Cloud, in fact, may exceed that of the Kuiper Belt and the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, researchers said.

"Some of these inner Oort Cloud objects could rival the size of Mars or even Earth," Sheppard said in a statement. "This is because many of the inner Oort Cloud objects are so distant that even very large ones would be too faint to detect with current technology."

The study was published online today (March 26) in the journal Nature.

Planet X?

Astronomers don't know much about the origin or evolutionary history of Sedna and 2012 VP113 at this point. The objects may have formed closer to the sun, for example, before getting pushed out by gravitational interactions with other stars — perhaps "sister stars" from the sun's birth cluster, researchers said. Or inner Oort Cloud objects may be alien bodies that the sun plucked from another solar system during a stellar close encounter.

It's also possible that 2012 VP113 and its neighbors were knocked from the Kuiper Belt to the inner Oort Cloud when a big planet was booted outward long ago. This planet may have been ejected from the solar system entirely, or it may still be there in the extreme outer reaches, waiting to be discovered.


The dwarf planet 90377 Sedna, artist's illustration pictured, was discovered in 2003. It has a similar orbit to the newly
discovered 2012 VP113. The Carnegie study indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, up to
10 times the size of Earth, is possibly influencing the orbit of these two dwarf planets

Dr Linda Elkins-Tanton, of the Carnegie Institution said: 'This is an extraordinary result that redefines our
understanding of our solar system,' stock illustration pictured. The dwarf planets sit at the
very edge of the system in a region known as the Oort cloud

Indeed, certain characteristics of the orbits of Sedna, 2012 VP113 and several of the most distant Kuiper Belt objects are consistent with the continued presence of a big and extremely faraway "perturber," researchers said. It's possible that a planet roughly 10 times more massive than Earth located hundreds of AU from the sun is shepherding these bodies into their current orbits.

Such supposition is far from proof that an undiscovered "Planet X" actually exists, Trujillo stressed. But he did say that the door is open, noting that an Earth-mass body at 250 AU from the sun would likely be undetectable at present.

"It raises the possibility that there could be stuff out there of significant mass, Earth-mass or larger, that we don't know about," he said.

The picture should clear up as more inner Oort Cloud objects are found, allowing astronomers to put more constraints on the origin and orbital evolution of these frigid, distant bodies.

"I think it's a little hard to draw firm conclusions from two objects," Trujillo said. "If we were to have 10 inner Oort Cloud objects, then we could really start saying detailed things about the formation scenarios." - SPACE.



SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Meet The Mini-Saturn - Asteroid Chariklo Discovered In The Outer Solar System With Two Rocky Rings; First Rings Ever Observed Around A Small Planetary Object! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

March 26, 2014 - SPACE - It was thought that only planets have rings, but now an asteroid has proved experts wrong.


he remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to
have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and
Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the
result of a collision that created a disc of debris.

A rocky body orbiting the sun between Saturn and Uranus is girdled by two rings, scientists have learned.

Previously only giant gas planets, most famously Saturn, were thought to possess bands made up of dust, rocks and ice.

CHARIKLO - THE SURPRISING ASTEROID WITH TWO BELTS

  • Diameter: 155miles (250km)
  • Original location: In the Kuiper Belt
  • Present location: Largest member of the Centaurs
  • Rings: Two - comprised of ice particles and pebbles.
  • Width of the rings: Two miles and five miles  (3km and 7km)
  • Thickness of the rings: Few hundred metres
  • Distance between the rings: Five miles (9km)

The ringed space rock, called Chariklo, was originally located in the Kuiper Belt, which is a circling group of icy dwarf planets and comets at the edge of the solar system.

At some point it was thrown out of the belt and now exists as the largest member of a group of objects known as the Centaurs, which are small solar system bodies with a an elliptical axis between two outer planets.


Totally surprising: An asteroid orbiting the sun between Saturn and Uranus (illustrated) is girdled by two rings,
scientists have learned. It is the first time that such a small celestial body with rings has been observed

The discovery has shocked experts as previously only giant gas planets, most famously Saturn, were thought to
possess rings made up of dust, rocks and ice. An image of Saturn taken by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft is pictured.

Astronomers stumbled across the rings while using several telescopes to observe Chariklo, which has a diameter of 155miles (250km).

‘We were not even looking for rings, because they had never been observed around small objects like Chariklo, so it is a totally surprising discovery,’ said Dr Uffe Graw Jorgensen, from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

‘We could even determine incredible details about the rings. There are two separate thin rings, which are comprised of ice particles and pebbles.


WATCH: ESOcast - First Ring System Around Asteroid.

 

 WATCH:Artist's impression of ring system around asteroid Chariklo.



 


‘The two rings are only three and seven kilometres wide (two and five miles) and no more than a few hundred metres thick.

‘There are eight miles between the centres of the two rings and there is a nine kilometre (five mile) wide gap between them.

‘They have been measured at a distance of two billion kilometres with an accuracy of plus/minus a few hundred metres. It is really impressive.’

The discovery is reported in the latest edition of the journal Nature. - Daily Mail.




MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Death Toll In Washington's Apocalyptic Mudslide Rises To 24 With Dozens STILL Missing - Hope Fades That Any Survivors Will Be Found As Rescuers Recover Two More Bodies And Believe They Have Located Eight Others Underground! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

March 26, 2014 - WASHINGTON STATE, UNITED STATES - The death toll from Saturday's devastating landslide in Washington is expected to rise to 24 after increasingly desperate rescuers slogging through debris recovered two bodies and believed they had located eight more, the local fire chief said on Tuesday.


The devastation: This aerial photograph taken in the aftermath of the huge landslide that struck Oso in Washington
state on Saturday morning shows how the hillside collapsed - while the red-dots in the diagram (inset right)
represent the 30 + homes that have been leveled by the disaster

Painstaking: Searchers slowly move through a field of debris following Tuesday's deadly landslide that
left an estimated 24 people dead with dozens still missing
The official death toll rose to 16 with the discovery of the additional victims as crews searched under drizzly skies for survivors amid fading hopes that anyone could still be plucked alive from the massive pile of mud-soaked rumble.

'Unfortunately we did not find any signs of life today, we didn't locate anybody alive, so that's the disappointing part,' local fire chief Travis Hots told a media briefing.


 WATCH:  More Mudslide Victims Found.




'It’s unimaginable, the conditions out there they’re dealing with,' Hots said.

The grim discoveries came three days after the collapse of a rain-soaked hillside about 55 miles north of Seattle.

Searchers had warned they were likely to find more bodies in the debris field, which covered a neighborhood of 49 structures. Authorities believe at least 25 were full-time residences.


Quicksand: Rescuers user inflatable rafts to traverse the watery sludge and debris that has built up around the
rubble caused by the huge landslide that hit Oso on Saturday

 Hit like a bulldozer: Houses and other structures are shown flooded by the backed-up Stillaguamish River up-river
from the massive mudslide that killed at least 24 people on Saturday and left dozens missing

 Prayers: People gather Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at a candlelight vigil in Arlington, for the victims of
a massive mudslide that struck the nearby community of Oso, Washington

Authorities believe that the mudslide destroyed 35 homes, as well as 13 manufactured homes, including RVs, and at least one cabin.

As many as 176 people remained listed as missing three days after the slide on Saturday, tumbling over a river, across a state road and into a rural residential area where it swallowed dozens of homes near the town of Oso.

Officials said they were hoping that number would decline as some of those listed as missing may have been double-counted or were slow to alert family and officials of their whereabouts. Eight people were injured.

But the disaster already ranks as one of the deadliest landslides in recent U.S. history. In 2005, 10 people died when a hillside gave way and engulfed homes in La Conchita, California.

'We're all still hoping for that miracle but we are preparing for the other possibility,' Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said Tuesday afternoon.

And as the rain still fell on Tuesday night, about 200 people gathered in the cold at a park in Arlington to pray for the victims, friends and family of those lost.

'Hug each other. Wipe away each other's tears,' said Pastor Chad Blood with the Lifeway Foursquare Church in Arlington.


Hope: A flag, put up by volunteers helping search the area, stands in the ruins of a home left at the end of a deadly
mudslide from the now-barren hillside seen about a mile behind, on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Oso, Washington

More than 100 homes were affected by the collapse of the hill and the overflowing river
which now separates the town and covers one mile

The river's banks have collapsed and water is flooding after mud piled in from a hillside on Saturday,
and remains the same today

'People are just responding,' he said. 'When a need arises they just come and take care of it until we have to turn them away. I'm speechless at times, and so very proud of out community.'

Though authorities have said the chances were low of finding any more survivors in the cement-like mud blanketing the landscape, Hots said some 50 more searchers had been brought in to sift through the disaster zone in hopes of a miracle.

'This makes up over 200 responders that are here on site working very hard to locate victims and hopefully find somebody that is still alive. That is still our number-one priority out there,' he said.

'What we're finding is these vehicles are twisted and torn up in pieces.'

'It's amazing the force and magnitude what this slide has done.'

Another obstacle has been the chaotic nature of the debris field itself. In some places, the ground is covered by 15 feet of rubble.

'It's muddy in areas, it's like quicksand,' said Hots. 'One of the folks out there told me, "Chief, sometimes it takes five minutes to walk 40 or 50 feet".'

Searchers are also running into gasoline and septic discharge and dealing with ground that geologists warn remains unstable.

At one site in a square-mile zone of devastation that once contained a meandering river surrounded by rural homes, the landslide pushed a house onto the highway, leaving nothing intact but its cedar shake roof.

Operators of excavators with clawed buckets dug through the debris, and chaplains stood by to comfort searchers and families of the missing. Hots said dogs also were being used to identify potential buried bodies, which were dug out in some cases with bulldozers or other heavy equipment.

President Barack Obama, who was in Europe for a meeting with world leaders, signed an emergency declaration ordering U.S. government assistance to supplement state and local relief efforts, the White House said.


Set side by side, the two images show how the one-mile stretch of land looked before the disaster this
weekend which saw more than 176 go missing and killed 14

Search: From a helicopter, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary surveys the wreckage of homes destroyed in
Saturday's mudslide near Oso, Washington as the search for survivors grew on Monday to include
scores of people who were still unaccounted for

Devastation: Search and rescue personnel continue working the area of Saturday's mudslide, at Oso, Washington

Speaking at The Hague, where he was attending a summit, Obama began a news conference on Tuesday by addressing the disaster in Washington state and asking Americans to 'send their thoughts and prayers' to those affected by the disaster.

'We hope for the best, but we recognize this is a tough situation,' he said.

The president also called Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday to discuss the mudslide, according to Inslee's office.

Compounding the sense of urgency was a fear of flooding as water levels rose behind a crude dam of mud and rubble that was dumped into the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River by the slide.

The river was rising with rain on Tuesday, but had cut a channel through fresh mud and debris, lessening the chance of flooding, officials said.

A volunteer was injured Tuesday when he was struck by debris blown by a helicopter's rotor. The man was transported to a hospital for evaluation, but the injuries appear minor, Snohomish County sheriff's spokeswoman Shari Ireton said in a statement.

Near the southern perimeter of the slide, volunteers from a logging crew gathered to help move debris with chain saws, excavators and other heavy equipment.

Gene Karger said he could see six orange flags in the debris field, marking bodies they would be pulling out. Karger, a logger most of his life, said it was the first time he was involved in this kind of rescue work.

'You see parts of their bodies sticking out of the mud. It's real hard. It's that bad,' Karger said. 'There are people out there we know.'

Hots said about 200 responders using everything from heavy equipment and search dogs to their bare hands were working through the debris field Tuesday in rainy, wet conditions.

'We didn't locate anybody alive,' he said. 'We haven't lost hope that there's a possibility that we can find somebody alive in some pocket area.'

More than one mile of rain-soaked hillside collapsed onto the remote town, which is just five square miles in size, at 11am on Saturday.

Three days on, hundreds of rescue workers with dogs, aircraft and sonar equipment remain scouring the wreckage for survivors in the slide which has swamped a fifth of Oso's land.

But amidst the devastation, experts have revealed they predicted this would happen in 1999.

In a report filed with the US Army Corps of Engineers, geologists warned of 'the potential for a large catastrophic failure' 15 years ago.

'We've known it would happen at some point, we just didn't know when,' co-author Daniel Miller told The Seattle Times.

Geological reports warning the hill is in imminent danger of collapse date back to the 1950s.


Apocalyptic: Steve Skaglund walks across the rubble on the east side of Saturday's fatal mudslide

Here rescue workers are seen removing a body from the wreckage of homes destroyed by a mudslide near Oso
This is one of the six bodies found after emergency services expressed doubt over their ability to find the missing people

But the alerts, issued by experts every ten years, went unnoticed.

And in a press conference following Saturday's slide, the head of Snohomish County's Department of Emergency Management, John Pennington, said 'it was considered very safe'.

Mr Miller said he was shocked to see houses being built around the danger zone weeks after a slide in 2006.

The slide, which was thought to be caused by heavy rain, formed a new channel along the cliff-side, but carpenters immediately set to work erecting homes along it.

'Frankly I was shocked that the county permitted any building from across the river,' Mr Miller told the paper.

In fact, the area has long been known as the 'Hazel Landslide' because of landslides over the past half-century. The last major one before Saturday's disaster was in 2006.

'We've done everything we could to protect them,' Pennington said.

Patricia Graesser, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle, said it appears the report was intended not as a risk assessment, but as a feasibility study for ecosystem restoration.

Asked whether the agency should have done anything with the information, she said, 'We don't have jurisdiction to do anything. We don't do zoning. That's a local responsibility.'

No landslide warnings for the area were issued immediately before the disaster, which came after weeks of heavy rain. - Daily Mail.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Terror Grips Ebola-Hit West Africa - Fear, Confusion In Guinea As Death Toll Rises; Government Bans Bat Eating To Curb Ebola Spread, Warns On Rats!

March 26, 2014 - WEST AFRICA - Guinea battled Wednesday to contain an Ebola epidemic threatening neighbouring countries as fear and confusion gripped communities under siege from one of the deadliest viruses known to mankind.


Map of West Africa charting the spread of the Ebola outbreak, with facts about the disease (AFP Photo/)


Aid organisations have sent dozens of workers to help one of the world's poorest countries combat a haemorrhagic fever outbreak which has killed at least 63 people, many of whom have been confirmed as infected by Ebola.

"On Monday, two more deaths were reported in our area. People are really frightened," Joseph Gbaka Sandounou, a unit manager for Plan International in Guinea's south, was quoted as saying in a statement.

"They have seen people die in a matter of just two or three days. They are constantly worried who is going to be the next fatality."

The British-based charity said people of Guinea's southern forests -- the epicentre of the outbreak which began in February -- had been terrified by seeing neighbours bleeding severely as they were struck down by the virus.

"People have never experienced anything like this before. Rumours are rife among communities who are trying to come up with their own explanations," said Sandounou.


An electron micrograph image of an Ebola virus virion obtained March 24, 2014 from the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia (AFP Photo/Cynthia Goldsmith)

Ebola had never spread among humans in west Africa before February but five deaths being investigated in Liberia, one in Sierra Leone and others still being tested could bring the toll from the epidemic to above 70.

"We are not at the end of this epidemic, we continue every day to record a number of new cases or fatalities," said Guinea's chief disease prevention officer Sakoba Keita, confirming the two new deaths.

"But the daily incidence is lessening. We believe the peak has passed."

The tropical virus -- described in some health publications as a "molecular shark" -- causes severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea, the shutdown of organs and unstoppable bleeding in severe cases.

Scientists have examined 45 samples from victims of the epidemic, with 19 testing positive for Ebola, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement.


Fact file on the deadly Ebola virus (AFP Photo/John Saeki/gal)

Other highly-contagious tropical bugs, including Marburg and Lassa, can lead to similar symptoms but the authorities have not announced which pathogens were been picked up in samples where Ebola was not detected.

- Danger of panic spreading -

Sierra Leone warned on Tuesday that a 14-year-old buried recently may have been infected in Guinea, while the deaths of four women and a boy in Liberia are being tested for the killer virus.

Guinea has banned inhabitants of the south from eating bats, a common feature of the local diet, as the creatures are considered to be the natural host of the virus.

Transmission of Ebola to humans can come from wild animals, direct contact with another human's blood, faeces or sweat, as well as sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.


This picture taken on March 9, 2003 shows International Red Cross workers spraying disinfectant at Kelle hospital,
northwestern Congo, around the room of an Ebola patient (AFP Photo/Desirey Minkoh)


Doctors Without Borders, which is known by its French initials "MSF", said the spread of the disease was being exacerbated by people travelling to funerals in which mourners touch the dead person's body.

No treatment or vaccine is available, and the Zaire strain of Ebola detected in Guinea -- first observed in the Democratic Republic of Congo 38 years ago -- has a 90 percent death rate.

Guinea is among the planet's poorest nations despite vast untapped mineral wealth, with a stagnating economy, youth unemployment at 60 percent and a rank of 178th out of 187 countries on the UN's Human Development Index.

Plan, MSF and other aid organisations are providing treatment and sanitation facilities and relaying public health information, especially to schools, via the media and text messages.

"We are doing everything we can to treat the patients with dignity, whilst at the same time protecting the community and family from possible contamination," said MSF emergency coordinator Marie-Christine Ferir.

"We want to avoid the danger of the population panicking and it is important to transmit all the information necessary to understand the disease and how people can protect themselves." - Yahoo.


WATCH: The Ebola Virus.




Guinea Bans Bat Eating To Curb Ebola Spread, Warns On Rats
A man desinfects protection material at a warehouse of the Swiss branch of NGO Medecins sans Frontieres
(Doctors without Borders-MSF) on March 25, 2014 in Conakry, set to be used in areas plagued
by Ebola haemorrhagic fever (AFP Photo/Cellou Binani)

Guinea has forbidden the sale and consumption of bats and warned against eating rats and monkeys as the country combats a spread of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever with a mortality rate of as much as 90 percent.

“We discovered the vector agent of the Ebola virus is the bat,” said Remy Lamah, the country’s health minister, in an interview from the town of N’zerekore today. “We sent messages everywhere to announce the ban. People must even avoid consumption of rats and monkeys. They are very dangerous animals.”

In the west African nation, the Toma, Kissi and Guerze ethnic groups eat bats with the first two communities living in an area around the Ebola-stricken towns of Macenta, Gueckedou and Kissidougou. So far at least 63 people are suspected to have died in Guinea’s first recorded outbreak of the disease.

“The Kissi community eats bats and the epidemic is making a lot of devastation," Moriba Traore, an inhabitant of Gueckedou, said by telephone. “Families in villages lost eight or ten members and people are dying. We are afraid.” - Bloomberg.



MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Arab Summit Rejects Israel As "Jewish State" - Hamas PM Haniya Extols Martyrdom, Vows To Rock Tel Aviv With Suicide Bombers!

March 26, 2014 - MIDDLE EAST - The Arab League has refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, backing Palestine’s stance on the issue. The demand by Israel threatened to destabilize US-Palestinian peace talks, according to Arab leaders.


Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah (R) and Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil al-Araby
(L) speak to the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah during the 25th Arab League summit at Bayan
palace in Kuwait City on March 26, 2014 (AFP Photo / Yasser Al-Zayyat)

“We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state,” said the declaration, issued at the close of the two-day long meeting which has been taking place in Kuwait City. The leaders also criticized “the continuation of settlements, Judaization of Jerusalem and attacks in its Muslim and Christian shrines and changing its demographics and geography.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the necessity for Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state is at the forefront of the peace talks. He states that both Palestinian Arab dismissals of the plans are the “root of the conflict”.

Palestinians recognized Israel at the beginning of the peace talks some two decades ago. However, Netanyahu wants the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a “national homeland” – a move which would obliterate the right of return for Palestinians.

The problem is considered closely connected to the fate of Palestinian refugees who were forced from their homelands in 1948, and they regard Netanyahu’s demands as a means by which to address the question of Palestinian internally displaced persons.

The Palestinian Solidarity Committee-Seattle claims that the international community "has already recognized the Palestinian right of return. There is no reason that this right should not be fully recognized by the State of Israel.”

Their right of return, they argue, is entrenched in both the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13, 2) and The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Article 1, C).

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the summit Tuesday that during the previous eight months of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israel has only been working to throw obstacles in the way of peace.

Netanyahu told visiting world leaders in January:

“The root of the conflict is not the settlements. The root of the conflict is not and has never been the lack of a Palestinian state. The root of the conflict is the consistent refusal to accept the existence of an independent nation state for the Jewish people.”

Arab League leaders rejected the recognition of the Jewish State earlier this month in a statement in Cairo.

"The council of the Arab League confirms its support for the Palestinian leadership in its effort to end the Israeli occupation over Palestinian lands, and emphasizes its rejection of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state,” Arab foreign ministers said.

The US has already requested that Abbas make the move of recognition as a framework agreement is negotiated.

“In recognizing the Jewish state [the Palestinians] would finally make clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict,” Netanyahu stated in a concurrent speech to the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.

Abbas has been clear in stating that he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. - RT.



Hamas PM Haniya Extols Martyrdom, Vows To Rock Tel Aviv With Suicide Bombers
At a rally held on March 23, 2014 in Gaza to mark the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Sheik Ahmad Yassin, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said: "We yearn for martyrdom for the same goal for which our leaders died, just as the others love their seats of power." Haniya cried: "Out of the ruins, we shall rock Tel Aviv," and the crowds responded with chants of "Strike, strike Tel Aviv."

Following are excerpts from the speech, which was broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV.

Ismail Haniya
: From paralysis, Hamas will set out on its path. From weakness, the giant Al-Qassam [Brigades] will arise. Out of hunger, we shall create steadfastness, perseverance, and defiance. Out of pain, we shall weave the fabric of hope.

Out of deprivation, we shall establish the balance of terror. Out of the ruins, we shall rock Tel Aviv.

We our bare hands, we shall dig into the rock and do the impossible.

Man: Allah Akbar. All praise to Allah.

Crowds: Allah Akbar. All praise to Allah.

Man: March on, oh Hamas.

Crowds: March on, oh Hamas.

Man: March on, oh Hamas.

Crowds: March on, oh Hamas.

Man: You are the cannon, and we the cannonballs.

Crowds: You are the cannon, and we the cannonballs.

Man: Oh beloved Qassam fighter...

Crowds: Oh beloved Qassam fighter...

Man: Strike, strike Tel Aviv.

Crowds: Strike, strike Tel Aviv.

[...]

Ismail Haniya: All the decision-makers within Palestine and abroad must understand the message conveyed by this rally: Yes, we are a people that yearn for death, just as our enemies yearn for life. We yearn for martyrdom for the same goal for which our leaders died, just as the others love their seats of power.

We do not seek jobs or positions. I say to them: Take your jobs and seats of power, and leave us the homeland. Leave us the homeland.

Man: Allah Akbar. All praise to Allah.

Crowds: Allah Akbar. All praise to Allah.


WATCH: Hamas PM extols martyrdom.



- MEMRI.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Report For March 25-26, 2014 - New Eruption At Ecuador's Reventador Volcano Suggests New Eruptive Phase; Mild Strombolian Activity From Summit Crater At The Slamet Volcano In Indonesia; Increasing Activity And Explosions At Guatemala's Fuego Volcano; Lava Flow Continues At The Kilauea Volcano In Hawaii!

March 26, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.


Continuous ash emission and incandescent avalanches on Reventador's eastern flank (image: G. Taipe / IGP)

Reventador (Ecuador): The volcano has entered a new eruptive phase since yesterday, Ecuador's Institute of Geophysics (IGP) reported. Starting from 15:00 local time yesterday, increasing tremor was registered and steady ash emissions were observed. At night, incandescent blocks could be seen and heard rolling down from the crater where probably a new lava dome has started to appear.

Small pyroclastic flows descended on the eastern, southeastern and southern flanks of the volcano, probably as a result of re-mobilization of fresh lava and tephra deposits. These so-called secondary pyroclastic flows reached lengths of 500 m below the summit.

IGP assumes the most likely scenario for the evolution of the new eruptive episode is that activity continues at similar levels for a while. So far, lava avalanches and pyroclastic flows have been confined within the caldera, near the flanks of the main cone. So far, no reports of ash falls became available from communities in the nearby areas, suggesting that the eruption is still small. An important hazard remains in the form of lahars (mud flows), which can be generated by re-mobilization of loose material during heavy rainfall and would most likely threaten the bed and banks of the Quijo river.


Slamet (Central Java, Indonesia): Strombolian explosions of generally small size continue at irregular intervals.



Ash puff from a strombolian eruption at Slamet last weekend

According to our correspondent Oystein, who visited the volcano last weekend, "the eruptions observed were fairly small (strombolian activity) and the interval between the eruptions ranged from 30min to 3 hours, during the periods I had clear views and were able to observe. No booming noises could be heard during the eruptions or incandescent material observed."


Fuego (Guatemala): The volcano's activity has increased, INSIVUMEH and CONRED reported. The number of explosions rose to 8-14 per hour over the past days and the strongest ones produce ash plumes rising more than 1 km above the summit and drifted 12 km to westerly directions.


Seismic signal of Fuego (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH)


Seismic data also show an increase in tremor (internal vibration). INSIVUMEH thinks that a new lava flow and / or another paroxysmal phase at the volcano could occur soon.

The explosions at the volcano generated rumblings and shock waves that rattled ceilings and windows in villages Panimaché, Panimaché II, Morelia, Santa Sofia and others in the area at distances of more than 8 km.


Kilauea (Hawai'i): No major changes in eruption activity on Kilauea over the past week - lava lake at summit remains 45 m (148 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u crater. All surface flows on the east rift zone remain slow in progress, but continue to burn tree lines in the closed Kahauale`a reserve.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 26, 2014.

- Volcano Discovery.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - The World Bank Warns Russian Economy Will Shrink 1.8 PERCENT If Crimea Crisis Escalates!

March 26, 2014 - RUSSIA - The World Bank has dramatically cut Russia’s outlook from 2.5 percent GDP growth, saying in the worst case scenario the economy could shrink 1.8 percent in 2014, as the Crimea conflict is hitting confidence.




Russia’s economy may contract up to 1.8 percent in 2014, as the dispute with Ukraine could lead to further worsening of the consumer and business climate, says the World Bank study.

Since the political uncertainties around the Crimea crisis in early March 2014 led to an increase in market volatility, the World Bank developed two alternative scenarios for Russia’s 2014-2015 growth outlook. The projection is highly dependent on a recovery in business and consumer confidence and how the outcome of the geopolitical risks.

The optimistic World Bank projection of 2.2 percent GDP growth in December has turned.

“The low-risk scenario assumes a limited and short-lived effect of the Crimea crisis and projects 1.1 percent growth for 2014 and 1.3 percent for 2015,” said Birgit Hansl, World Bank Lead Economist and Country Sector Coordinator for Economic Policy in Russia and the main author of the Report.

"The high-risk scenario assumes a more severe shock to economic and investment activities if the geopolitical situation worsens, resulting in a contraction of 1.8 percent in 2014 and 2.1 percent growth in 2015. Also, global risks are expected to remain prominent with continuing higher overall market volatility,” she concluded.

Both scenarios don’t assume any trade sanctions against Russia by the West.

The Russian government expected the economy to grow 2.5 percent in 2014, but officials have already indicated the forecast may be revised in April.

2013 wasn’t a very successful year for the Russian economy. The GDP expanded at an estimated 1.3 percent in 2013, well below the projected rate of 3.6 percent.

The ongoing deterioration of the current account and higher volatility in capital outflows has triggered the ruble to come under increasing pressure. Meanwhile frail domestic demand has dragged the Russian economy close to stagnation. - RT.



MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: "Consequences Could Be Dire" - Record Cold Temperatures And One "Polar Vortex" After Another Points To An Impending Ice Age!

March 26, 2014 - UNITED STATES - "Coldest Mardi Gras Ever?" asked the New Orleans Times-Picayune as revellers sported long underwear under their costumes to cope with temperatures in the thirties. On the same day it was four degrees Fahrenheit at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, an all-time low - breaking a record set in 1873. Niagara Falls has frozen over twice this winter, and the ice cover on Lake Michigan reached 90 percent, matching the all-time record.




Record-low temperatures, so much snow that municipalities are running out of salt, and one "polar vortex" after another. What's going on? Where is the global warming we were warned about?

The temperature of the planet has not risen for the past seventeen years.

The climate models that were supposed to project "climate change" (global warming) on the basis of manmade carbon dioxide emissions have failed. The Climategate scandal gave us a glimpse of a corrupt scientific establishment scrambling to cover up that failure.

Instead, a different set of predictions is turning out to be true. The hard science that accurately predicts future climate trends is based not on alarmism about human activity; as a matter of fact, the entire C02 output of industry and modern transportation since the Industrial Revolution has actually resulted in a wholly beneficial warming of less than one degree Fahrenheit. These predictions show the behavior of the sun is the real driver of major climate changes.

Do we live in a special time when the laws of nature are suspended? No, we don't. Can we expect the relationship between the sun's activity and climate, which we can see in data going back several hundred years, to continue for at least another twenty years? Yes we can.

The Little Ice Age, from 1350 to 1900, was the coldest period in the last 8,000 years, which is what you would expect from the long-term cooling from the Holocene Optimum 8,000 years ago, when sea level was two meters higher than it is now. Sunspot activity began increasing in the mid-nineteenth century, and glaciers worldwide responded by beginning to retreat in 1859. Solar activity continued rising and in the second half of the twentieth century, the sun was more active than it had been for the last 8,000 years. In response, there was a gentle warming of the Earth's climate.

Unfortunately, solar activity didn't stay at a high level for very long. It tipped over into decline from 2003. And our climate has responded by cooling. California researchers Leona Libby and Louis Pandolfi, using data from redwoods in Kings Canyon in that state, accurately predicted both the warming "to around the year 2000" and the subsequent cooling in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times more than thirty years ago. More recently, a 2007 Finnish tree ring study came up with a very similar result. The Finnish foresters forecast a cold period beginning in about 2015 and bottoming in 2045. According to the Finns, this will be deeper and broader than any cold period of the last 500 years.

The consequences could be dire. As the world cools and the grain belt moves south to soils that are less productive, food prices will rise, threatening our standard of living - and the very livelihoods of millions in nations now wholly dependent on imported grain, particularly in the MENA region extending from Morocco in the West to Afghanistan in the west. Wheat yields in the developing world have already plateaued since peaking in 1996. Developed country grain yields have plateaued since 2000. The supply overhang has been absorbed in the last decade, and now grain prices are running up.

The abundance brought to us by the green revolution pioneered by Norman Borlaug and others - and the warmer Sun - allowed world population to explode from 2 billion in 1930 to 7 billion today. Given our cooler Sun, the Earth will struggle to support that rate of population growth.

My generation has known a warm, giving sun, but the next will suffer a sun that is less giving. A cold Mardi Gras this year will turn into a likely food shortage 15 years from now, and our world needs to focus on preparing for what's coming. - Daily Caller.



WAR DRUMS: Escalating Tensions On The Korean Peninsula - North Korea Test-Fires Ballistic Missiles In Defiance Of United States-South Korea War Games!

March 26, 2014 - NORTH KOREA - North Korea test-fired two medium range ballistic missiles in a move violating a UN Security Council ban. The launches come after test-firing of short range rockets, and coincide with annual joint US-South Korea war games.


A North Korean Taepodong-class missile (AFP Photo / Ed Jones)

The unannounced launches on Wednesday morning came less than ten minutes apart. The missiles were fired from Sukchon in the west of the country and flew over North Korea and into the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s Defense Ministry reported.

The missiles flew some 650 km rising as high as 160 km and traveling at over Mach 7, said ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok. This indicates the missiles were of the Rodong class, a single-stage liquid-propelled ballistic missile with an estimated range of up to 900 km, which can be fired from a mobile launcher.

"The missile launch constitutes provocations that violate the UN Security Council resolutions and add tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region," South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement. "The government calls on the North to immediately halt such provocations and fully comply with its obligations and promises with the international community."

A 2006 resolution of the UNSC, which was passed in the wake of its first nuclear test, prohibits North Korea from developing ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang defied the ban on several occasions. The latest example was the successful space launch of a satellite in 2012, which many countries saw as a veiled test of a long-range ballistic missile with military needs in mind.

Rodong launches are rare in North Korea, which has tested the missile twice, in July 2006 and in July 2009. North Korea is believed to have between 50 and 100 missiles of the type.


AFP Photo / KNS


The launches were criticized by the US and Japan, although Tokyo stressed that they will not affect planned talks with Pyongyang scheduled later this month. China called all relevant parties to show restraint and take steps to relax regional tensions.

The ballistic missile test comes shortly after North Korea conducted several launches of short-range missiles. South Korean military believe that the demonstration of force comes in response to joint war exercises.

"The North's pre-dawn missile launch is believed to be aimed at protesting against South Korea-US joint military exercises and demonstrating its infiltration capability in a show of force," Kim said.

The two-week exercises called Key Resolve ended in early March while the two-month training program Foal Eagle runs through mid-April. Washington and Seoul conduct such exercises annually, while Pyongyang protest them, saying the accompanying build-up of troops is a threat to its national security.

The launches on Wednesday came hours after a joint press conference in The Hague, where leaders of South Korea, the US and Japan held trilateral talks on the sidelines of a global nuclear forum.

They also coincide with the commemoration in South Korea of the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the warship Cheonan, in which 42 sailors were killed. Seoul says North Korea torpedoed the ship as it was taking part in naval exercises, an allegation that Pyongyang denies. - RT.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Impendent Fuel Crisis In Ukraine Will Crash The Country's Economy; Only Has Enough Gasoline For A Month!

March 26, 2014 - UKRAINE - According to a recent statement made by the energy minister Yuri Prodan, Ukraine will run out of gasoline in the next 29 days. Given Ukraine's dire economic situation, a fuel crisis will surely crash the country's economy.


Photo: RIA Novosti

Most oil refineries in Ukraine are owned by Russian companies or are operating on Russian crude oil. Since the beginning of political crisis, refineries have almost stopped producing gasoline and the imports of crude oil have ceased. "If we talk about fuel, we have a stable situation. We estimate that we have enough fuel for 28-29 days", Prodan told RBK Ukraine. Of course, a situation in which a country receives no crude oil imports and has insignificant stocks of fuel can't be described as "stable", but the current Ukrainian "government" is known for its unjustified optimism.

The situation with the natural gas supplies is just as bad. According to Prodan, Ukraine can access 2 bn cubic meters of natural gas from its underground storage facilities. This quantity should be enough for covering between 2.5 and 3 months of consumption. However, after April 1st all of the existing discounts on Russian gas price will be canceled. In the past, Ukraine was unable to pay for natural gas deliveries even at discounted prices so, there is doubt that a crisis-stricken illegitimate government is alble to pay for gas deliveries at full price.

After Ukraine's debt to Gazprom reached 2 billion dollars, the Russian gas giant warned that the next deliveries will only be made after advance payments. It is highly unlikely that the self-appointed authorities in Kiev will find the funds necessary for the payments. Yuri Prodan's hopes that "reverse supplies" from the EU can help were dashed by a recent statement made by Slovakian government which stressed that Bratislava will not increase supplies to Ukraine to a level that can be "detrimental" to the Slovakian economy. Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia, told the press that his priority is "to ensure the flow of Russian gas through Ukraine" and pointed out that although supplies from Slovakia can help Ukraine, his government is not in a position to fund such help.

Overall, the situation in Ukraine has not yet become a full-fledged fuel crisis but it is likely to evolve into one. Regardless of the source, imports of crude oil and natural gas will require advance payments in hard currency while the country's budget is empty. Self-appointed Ukrainian authorities expect help from the US and the EU, but so far no one in the West has come up with a solution and the funding for helping the so-called Ukrainian government. - VOR.


Ukraine Only Has Enough Gasoline For A Month
Фото: ИТАР-ТАСС
Nothing to see here, move along. While it appears the Russians are willing to pay the price of modest sanctions from the west to 'liberate' their fellow countrymen, the fallout from further tension with Ukraine could "boomerang" once again on the divided nation.

As RBC Ukraine reports, the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan said at a press conference today that "oil reserves will last for 28-29 days" in Ukraine. After that, the negotiation begins as Ukraine already owes billions for previously delivered gas - as Ukraine's storage levels more than halved in the last 3 months.

Via RBC Ukraine,
Stocks of petroleum products in Ukraine will last for 28-29 days, said at today's press conference, the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan.

"Speaking on the situation with oil, then ensure there is quite stable. Today oil reserves will last for 28-29 days," - he said, the " RBC-Ukraine . "

At the same time, the Minister noted the significant risk reduction in the supply and rising gas prices. As of March 25, 2014 in Ukrainian underground gas storage facilities located 7 billion cubic meters of gas.

"Up there can be about 2 billion is not the quantity that scares experts, it would be possible to hold only a week. It all depends on what kind of regime will be whether we can take about 20 million cubic meters. Meters of gas to reverse and so on "- said Prodan.

According to the company "Ukrtransgaz" abnormally warm winter 2013 2014. has reduced gas extraction from underground storage by an average of 37% compared to the same period last year: it was 60 million cubic meters per day.

In late December 2013. occupied at the time the post of Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Edward Stawicki reported that Ukrainian gas reserves in underground storage is 16.5 billion cubic meters.
We suspect any further military intervention will only crimp this supply even faster. - Zero Hedge.

WATCH: Collapsing Ukraine.





MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "Wherever We Step, There Seems To Be A Cave-In" - 150 Sinkholes In Five Months In And Around Kaski Village, Nepal; 7.3 MILLION Recommended To Control The Disaster!

March 26, 2014 - NEPAL - The land cave-in that appeared at Thulibeshi Phant of Armala, Kaski, today morning, has further terrorised locals.


Another sinkhole in Armala, locals terrified

The sinkhole has destroyed Krishna Prasad Paudel's cowshed. According to Paudel, the sinkhole appeared suddenly at 4:00 am today. "We evacuated a buffalo to a safe place. Otherwise, it would have been killed," said Paudel.

After a sinkhole appeared on land deemed safe by locals, they have been terrified.

"My family members did their best to fill the sinkhole with soil, but the cave-in has not stopped, Paudel said.

"The cave-in at the upper portion of the land has taken away our sleep," Parbati Acharya said. "The sinkhole has endangered the entire settlement. Wherever we step, there seems to be a cave-in. How can we save our property?" Acharya wondered.

Thulibeshi Phant has developed more than 150 sinkholes ever since it began around five months ago. The cave-ins have jeopardised a private school, 200 houses and vast swathes of arable land.

Secretary Ram Prasad Parajuli of Armala Disaster Concern and Construction Cooperation Committee said the sinkholes have destroyed water pipelines. "The sinkholes have damaged arable land," Parajuli said, adding, "Armala locals have incurred loss of Rs 90 million so far."

A high-level government committee formed to study Armala sinkholes had recommended Rs 7.3 million to control the disaster. Experts have warned of worse consequences if appropriate measures are not adopted to control sinkholes before the onset of monsoon. - The Himalayan Times.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Boat Capsize In Lake Albert, Uganda - 107 Bodies Found, Including 57 Children!

March 26, 2014 - UGANDA - Rescue workers in Uganda have so far recovered 107 bodies, including those of 57 children, after a boat capsized on Saturday on Lake Albert, a government minister has said.

Civilians have been involved in rescue operations.


The boat was taking refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo back to their home country when it capsized.

It had a capacity to carry only 80 passengers, but up to 250 people were on board, officials said.

Boat accidents are common in Uganda because of poor safety standards.

Boats are often overloaded and do not carry life jackets.

'Deeply shocked'


Uganda's Refugees Minister Hillary Onek said the police, the military's marine units and civilian fishing boats were all involved in rescue operations.

The 107 bodies recovered so far included 57 children, he said.

"The exact number of passengers on board has yet to be established," Mr Onek added.

On Monday, the UN high commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres said he was deeply shocked by the disaster.

"My thoughts are with those who have lost dear ones, and the survivors," he said in a statement.

"I am grateful to the government and other actors who have mounted a rescue-and-recovery operation and are assisting the survivors.''

The boat was one of two which left on Saturday from Uganda's Hoima district on the eastern side of the lake, which lies on the border with DR Congo.

The boats were carrying refugees who had been living at a camp in Uganda, and had decided to return to eastern DR Congo of their own accord, the UNHCR said. - BBC.



SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The European Southern Observatory To Hold Major Press Conference Today In Brazil To Announce "Surprise" Discovery In The Outer Solar System - "Unexpected Result" Will "Provoke Much Debate"?!

March 26, 2014 - BRAZIL -  The European Southern Observatory says its discovered something at the edge of our solar system that will "raise several unanswered questions and is expected to provoke much debate."




Here is the media advisory:
An international team of astronomers, led by Felipe Braga-Ribas (Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), has used telescopes at seven locations in South America, including the 1.54-metre Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, to make a surprise discovery in the outer Solar System.

This unexpected result raises several unanswered questions and is expected to provoke much debate. A press conference will be held in Brazil to present the new results and allow opportunities for questions.

Note that all information regarding these findings is under strict embargo until 19:00 CET (15:00 BRT) on Wednesday 26 March 2014.


ESO’s La Silla Observatory.


When: The conference will be held on 26 March 2014 at 14:30 local time (BRT) and will take place in Portuguese with a summary in English.

Who:
The conference presenters are:
  • Felipe Braga-Ribas, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Bruno Sicardy, LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Paris, France
  • Prof. Roberto Martins, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Prof. Julio Camargo, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Where: The event takes place in Observatório Nacional, Auditório do Grupo de Pesquisas em Astronomia (GPA), in the GPA/LINEA Building in Rua General José Cristino, 77, Bairro de São Cristovão, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20921-400, Brazil.

How: To participate in the conference and receive additional material, bona fide members of the media must get accredited by sending an email to Dr. Gustavo Rojas (ESON Brazil) at eson-brazil@eso.org. Members of the media may also request the feed URL from the contacts below. Questions can be sent by email to eson-brazil@eso.org in Portuguese or English. A limited number of journalists can participate via GoToMeeting online (please request access from eson-brazil@eso.org).

Contacts


Gustavo Rojas
ESON Brazil, Universidade Federal de São Carlos
São Carlos, Brazil
Tel.: +55 1633519795
Cell.: +55 16991554847
Email: eson-brazil@eso.org

Richard Hook
ESO, Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591
Email: rhook@eso.org - ESO.

Please check this space for updates as the story unfolds.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Chinese Officials Urge Calm As Depositors Again Line Up Outside Rural Banks; Three Days Of Bank Runs In Yancheng!

March 26, 2014 - CHINA -  The rumor spread quickly. A small rural lender in eastern China had turned down a customer's request to withdraw 200,000 yuan ($32,200).


People gather in front of a branch of Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank, in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, March 25,
2014. Hundreds of people rushed to withdraw money from a branch of a small Chinese bank on Monday after rumours
spread about its solvency, local media reported, reflecting growing anxiety among investors
as regulators signal greater tolerance for credit defaults. REUTERS/Stringer

Bankers and local officials say it never happened, but true or not the rumor was all it took to spark a run on a bank as the story passed quickly from person to person, among depositors, bystanders and even bank employees.

Savers feared the bank in Yancheng, a city in Sheyang county, had run out of money and soon hundreds of customers had rushed to its doors demanding the withdrawal of their money despite assurances from regulators and the central bank that their money was safe.

The panic in a corner of the coastal Jiangsu province north of Shanghai, while isolated, struck a raw nerve and won national airplay, possibly reflecting public anxiety over China's financial system after the country's first domestic bond default this month shattered assumptions the government would always step in to prevent institutions from collapsing.

Rumors also find especially fertile ground here after the failure last January of some less-regulated rural credit co-operatives.

Jin Wenjun saw the drama unfold.

He started to notice more people than usual arriving at the Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank next door to his liquor store on Monday afternoon. By evening there were hundreds spilling out into the courtyard in front of the bank in this rural town near a high-tech park surrounded by rice and rape fields.

Bank officials tried to assure the depositors that there was enough money to go around, but the crowd kept growing.


A man reads an announcement by the Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai in one of the bank branches in Yancheng,
Jiangsu province, March 26, 2014. A Chinese county official appealed for calm among bank depositors in the eastern city
of Yancheng on Wednesday as queues formed for a third straight day outside the branches of two small banks rumoured
to be in financial trouble. Police and security guards stood by as dozens of people formed a line outside a branch of
Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai, one of the two banks that have suffered a rush of withdrawals
this week on the outskirts of the city. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

In response, local officials and bank managers kept branches open 24 hours a day and trucked in cash by armored vehicle to satisfy hundreds of customers, some of whom brought large baskets to carry their cash out of the bank.

Jin found himself at the bank branch just after midnight to withdraw 95,000 yuan for his friend from a village 20 kms (12 miles) away.

"He was uncomfortable. It was late and he couldn't wait, so he left me his ID card to withdraw his cash," Jin said.

By Tuesday, the crisis of confidence had engulfed another bank, the nearby Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai.

"One person passed on the news to 10 people, 10 people passed it to 100, and that turned into something pretty terrifying," said Miao Dongmei, a customer of the Sheyang bank who owns an infant supply store across the street from the first branch to be hit by the run.

Claiming to be a Yancheng resident, one user of Sina Weibo's Twitter-like service repeated the story on Monday about the failed 200,000 yuan withdrawal, adding that "rumors are the bank is going bankrupt."

When later contacted by Reuters online, he said he had heard the rumor from his mother when she came back from town.

Huanghai and Jiangsu Sheyang banks declined to comment.

China's banks are tightly controlled by the state and bank bankruptcies are virtually unheard of, so the crisis has baffled many outsiders.

Yet in Sheyang, fears of a bank collapse resonate.

In recent years, this corner of hard-strapped Jiangsu province has experienced a boom in the number of loan guarantee, or ‘danbao', companies and rural capital co-operatives.

These often shadowy private financial institutions promised higher returns on deposits than banks, but many have since failed.

Qu Guohua, a spiky haired former migrant worker in his 50s, nearly lost 30,000 yuan in a credit guarantee scheme that went up in flames.


People gather in front of a branch of Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai in Yancheng, Jiangsu province,
March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

What saved him one day in January 2013 was a tip-off from a friend at a rural co-operative just down the street from the loan guarantee company where he had his money.

"He told me the other one was going to go out of business and I better go get my money quick," he said.

Qu managed to get his cash, but others behind him in line were not so lucky, he said.

That helps explain why lines formed so quickly once the rumors started circulating this week. Luck has it, he deposited the cash in a bank next door: Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank.

Banks are different than credit co-operatives and guarantee companies in that they are regulated by China's banking watchdog and subject to strict capital requirements.

On Wednesday, officials' painstaking efforts to drive that message home were in full swing.

Bank managers stacked piles of yuan behind teller windows in full sight of customers to try to reassure them that they had plenty of cash on hand. Local officials used leaflets, radio and television to try to calm nerves.

Near one of the troubled banks, a branch of the China Commercial Bank - one of China's ‘Big Four' state-owned banks - was running a ticker message on an electronic board over the entrance stating: "Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank is a legal financial organization approved by the state, just like us".

While small groups of depositors still gathered at several bank branches in and around this part of Yancheng, some arriving by motorbike, others by three-wheeled motor vehicles common in the Chinese countryside, there were signs that the banks' efforts were bearing fruit.

Jin said he did not panic when the rumors were spreading and on Wednesday, like many others, he made a deposit.

Others, like Qu, are holding their nerve.

On a visit to see his hospitalized daughter, he decided to nip into a local bank where he still has about 10,000 yuan - just for a look.

"I'm not nervous about my money in the bank. It's protected by national law." - Yahoo.