Thursday, April 10, 2014

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - Strong 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Southwest Of Iquique, Chile! [MAPS+ESTIMATES]

April 10, 2014 - CHILE - A 6.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Chile, says the US Geological Survey.

Strong 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Southwest Of Iquique, Chile
USGS earthquake location map.

The epicenter of tremor was located 84 kilometers to the south-west of the port city of Iquique in the north of Chile, the same area of northern Chile where a massive 8.2 earthquake struck on couple weeks ago. The earlier quake, which caused a tsunami, killed six people and forced almost one million others to evacuate.

Two  powerful 7.6 and 6.4 magnitude aftershocks were also recorded following that quake.

Today's 6.0 quake nested at a depth of 17.5 kilometers (11 miles). There have been no official reports of damage or injury in Chile or Peru, according to Reuters.

Strong 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Southwest Of Iquique, Chile
USGS earthquake intensity map.

There is no threat of tsunami after the earthquake.

Hundreds of earthquakes have occurred along Chile's far-northern coast in the past two weeks, starting with a 6.7 magnitude quake that hit on March 16, causing the brief evacuation of 100,000 people in low-lying areas. No tsunami followed.

An 8.8 magnitude quake and accompanying tsunami hit central Chile in 2010, killing over 500 people and destroying 220,000 homes, among other damage.

Seismotectonics of South America (Nazca Plate Region).
The South American arc extends over 7,000 km, from the Chilean margin triple junction offshore of southern Chile to its intersection with the Panama fracture zone, offshore of the southern coast of Panama in Central America. It marks the plate boundary between the subducting Nazca plate and the South America plate, where the oceanic crust and lithosphere of the Nazca plate begin their descent into the mantle beneath South America. The convergence associated with this subduction process is responsible for the uplift of the Andes Mountains, and for the active volcanic chain present along much of this deformation front. Relative to a fixed South America plate, the Nazca plate moves slightly north of eastwards at a rate varying from approximately 80 mm/yr in the south to approximately 65 mm/yr in the north. Although the rate of subduction varies little along the entire arc, there are complex changes in the geologic processes along the subduction zone that dramatically influence volcanic activity, crustal deformation, earthquake generation and occurrence all along the western edge of South America.

Most of the large earthquakes in South America are constrained to shallow depths of 0 to 70 km resulting from both crustal and interplate deformation. Crustal earthquakes result from deformation and mountain building in the overriding South America plate and generate earthquakes as deep as approximately 50 km. Interplate earthquakes occur due to slip along the dipping interface between the Nazca and the South American plates. Interplate earthquakes in this region are frequent and often large, and occur between the depths of approximately 10 and 60 km. Since 1900, numerous magnitude 8 or larger earthquakes have occurred on this subduction zone interface that were followed by devastating tsunamis, including the 1960 M9.5 earthquake in southern Chile, the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world. Other notable shallow tsunami-generating earthquakes include the 1906 M8.5 earthquake near Esmeraldas, Ecuador, the 1922 M8.5 earthquake near Coquimbo, Chile, the 2001 M8.4 Arequipa, Peru earthquake, the 2007 M8.0 earthquake near Pisco, Peru, and the 2010 M8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake located just north of the 1960 event.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Large intermediate-depth earthquakes (those occurring between depths of approximately 70 and 300 km) are relatively limited in size and spatial extent in South America, and occur within the Nazca plate as a result of internal deformation within the subducting plate. These earthquakes generally cluster beneath northern Chile and southwestern Bolivia, and to a lesser extent beneath northern Peru and southern Ecuador, with depths between 110 and 130 km. Most of these earthquakes occur adjacent to the bend in the coastline between Peru and Chile. The most recent large intermediate-depth earthquake in this region was the 2005 M7.8 Tarapaca, Chile earthquake.

Earthquakes can also be generated to depths greater than 600 km as a result of continued internal deformation of the subducting Nazca plate. Deep-focus earthquakes in South America are not observed from a depth range of approximately 300 to 500 km. Instead, deep earthquakes in this region occur at depths of 500 to 650 km and are concentrated into two zones: one that runs beneath the Peru-Brazil border and another that extends from central Bolivia to central Argentina. These earthquakes generally do not exhibit large magnitudes. An exception to this was the 1994 Bolivian earthquake in northwestern Bolivia. This M8.2 earthquake occurred at a depth of 631 km, making it the largest deep-focus earthquake instrumentally recorded, and was felt widely throughout South and North America.

Subduction of the Nazca plate is geometrically complex and impacts the geology and seismicity of the western edge of South America. The intermediate-depth regions of the subducting Nazca plate can be segmented into five sections based on their angle of subduction beneath the South America plate. Three segments are characterized by steeply dipping subduction; the other two by near-horizontal subduction. The Nazca plate beneath northern Ecuador, southern Peru to northern Chile, and southern Chile descend into the mantle at angles of 25° to 30°. In contrast, the slab beneath southern Ecuador to central Peru, and under central Chile, is subducting at a shallow angle of approximately 10° or less. In these regions of “flat-slab” subduction, the Nazca plate moves horizontally for several hundred kilometers before continuing its descent into the mantle, and is shadowed by an extended zone of crustal seismicity in the overlying South America plate. Although the South America plate exhibits a chain of active volcanism resulting from the subduction and partial melting of the Nazca oceanic lithosphere along most of the arc, these regions of inferred shallow subduction correlate with an absence of volcanic activity. - USGS.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Global Seismic Uptick - Strong 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Managua In Nicaragua! [MAPS+ESTIMATES]

April 10, 2014 - NICARAGUA - A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck near the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

USGS earthquake location map.

It said the quake, very shallow at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km) and therefore more powerful, struck at 2327 GMT north of Managua, 14 miles (22.5 km) northeast of the town of Nagarote.

A magnitude 6.4 quake is capable of causing severe damage.

USGS earthquake intensity map.

The quake was initially reported as having a 6.2 magnitude.
- Reuters.

Tectonic Summary Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity
Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. Further east, from the Dominican Republic to the Island of Barbuda, relative motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate becomes increasingly complex and is partially accommodated by nearly arc-parallel subduction of the North America plate beneath the Caribbean plate. This results in the formation of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes (70-300 km depth) within the subducted slab. Although the Puerto Rico subduction zone is thought to be capable of generating a megathrust earthquake, there have been no such events in the past century. The last probable interplate (thrust fault) event here occurred on May 2, 1787 and was widely felt throughout the island with documented destruction across the entire northern coast, including Arecibo and San Juan. Since 1900, the two largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the August 4, 1946 M8.0 Samana earthquake in northeastern Hispaniola and the July 29, 1943 M7.6 Mona Passage earthquake, both of which were shallow thrust fault earthquakes. A significant portion of the motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate in this region is accommodated by a series of left-lateral strike-slip faults that bisect the island of Hispaniola, notably the Septentrional Fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the south. Activity adjacent to the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system is best documented by the devastating January 12, 2010 M7.0 Haiti strike-slip earthquake, its associated aftershocks and a comparable earthquake in 1770.

Moving east and south, the plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. Here, the North and South America plates subduct towards the west beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of approximately 20 mm/yr. As a result of this subduction, there exists both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted plates and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc. Although the Lesser Antilles is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the Caribbean, few of these events have been greater than M7.0 over the past century. The island of Guadeloupe was the site of one of the largest megathrust earthquakes to occur in this region on February 8, 1843, with a suggested magnitude greater than 8.0. The largest recent intermediate-depth earthquake to occur along the Lesser Antilles arc was the November 29, 2007 M7.4 Martinique earthquake northwest of Fort-De-France.

USGS plate tectonics map for the region

The southern Caribbean plate boundary with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela at a relative rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. This boundary is characterized by major transform faults, including the Central Range Fault and the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Faults, and shallow seismicity. Since 1900, the largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the October 29, 1900 M7.7 Caracas earthquake, and the July 29, 1967 M6.5 earthquake near this same region. Further to the west, a broad zone of compressive deformation trends southwestward across western Venezuela and central Columbia. The plate boundary is not well defined across northwestern South America, but deformation transitions from being dominated by Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west. The transition zone between subduction on the eastern and western margins of the Caribbean plate is characterized by diffuse seismicity involving low- to intermediate-magnitude (Magnitude less than 6.0) earthquakes of shallow to intermediate depth.

The plate boundary offshore of Colombia is also characterized by convergence, where the Nazca plate subducts beneath South America towards the east at a rate of approximately 65 mm/yr. The January 31, 1906 M8.5 earthquake occurred on the shallowly dipping megathrust interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts towards the east beneath the Caribbean plate at the Middle America Trench. Convergence rates vary between 72-81 mm/yr, decreasing towards the north. This subduction results in relatively high rates of seismicity and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km. Since 1900, there have been many moderately sized intermediate-depth earthquakes in this region, including the September 7, 1915 M7.4 El Salvador and the October 5, 1950 M7.8 Costa Rica events.

The boundary between the Cocos and Nazca plates is characterized by a series of north-south trending transform faults and east-west trending spreading centers. The largest and most seismically active of these transform boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone. The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (Magnitude less than 7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake. - USGS.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - U.S. Stocks Collapse, Nasdaq Plunges 3%, Worst Day Since 2011; Marc Faber Predicts That The 2014 Crash Will Be Worse Than 1987; Top Economists Warn Germany That EMU Crisis As Dangerous As Ever; And The IMF Warns Europe's Banking System Poses Threat To Global Financial Stability!

April 10, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - U.S. stocks were slammed on Thursday, with high-flying technology and biotech shares leading the declines that had the Nasdaq Composite posting its worst session in more than two years.

"The market is coming to its senses in some of the high-flying tech names; it looked like there were some pretty hefty amounts being paid for the prospect of eventual earnings. Any of us in the market more than 15 years feels the hot breath on the backs of our necks when we see such high prices being paid for tech stocks," said Jerry Webman, chief economist at Oppenheimer Funds.

"One of the interesting ironies is when you see a shift towards stocks with pretty low prices and away from momentum that tends to happen when the underlying economy is still growing," Webman added.

The Nasdaq Composite declined as much as 141 points, and ended down 129.79 points, or 3.1 percent, at 4,054.11, its hardest hit since November of 2011.

Momentum stocks including Tesla Motors, Facebook, Google, Priceline Group and declined, along with biotechnology companies, with Pacific Biosciences of California, Zogenix and ChemoCentryx among those hit.

"Clearly investors are nervous about high-flying momentum stocks. There is a rethink on whether better earnings and economic data will support a resumption of the momentum that was driving biotechnology and higher-flying technology stocks earlier in the year," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

"We're back to a valuation focus; investors are gravitating towards something tangible, like earnings and revenue," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

"We're entering earnings season and they are not going to have much to show. Investors want to see earnings and cash flow," said Ablin of new technology and biotech firms that have seen their shares run-up on bets for future performance.

EBay fell after reaching an accord with activist investor Carl Icahn to halt his proxy battle by saying it would appoint, at Icahn's urging, an independent director to its board. Family Dollar Stores slid after saying it would cut jobs and close hundreds of stores as the discount retailer struggles to reverse declining sales.

Rite Aid gained after the drugstore chain projected full-year revenue that beat expectations; Bed Bath & Beyond declined after forecasting quarterly profit beneath estimates. Shares of Ally Financial fell as the former financing arm of General Motors made its market debut.

After a 283-point plunge, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 266.96 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,170.22, with American Express leading losses that extended to all but two of its 30 components.

The S&P 500 declined 39.10 points, or 2.1 percent, to 1,833.08, with health care and technology pacing losses that extended to all 10 of its major industry sectors.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of investor uncertainty, jumped 15 percent to 15.89.

For every stock rising, roughly four declined on the New York Stock Exchange, where 802 million shares traded. Composite volume cleared 3.7 billion.

Equities began the day little changed, with upbeat economic data on the U.S. labor market offsetting disappointing export data from China. - CNBC.

Marc Faber Predicts That The 2014 Crash Will Be Worse Than 1987
Marc Faber says the stock market is setting up for a decline more painful than the sudden crash of 1987.

"I think it's very likely that we're seeing, in the next 12 months, an '87-type of crash," Faber said with a devious chuckle on Thursday's episode of "Futures Now." "And I suspect it will be even worse."

Faber, the editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, has recently called for growth stocks to decline. And he says the pain in the Internet and biotech sectors is just getting started.

"I think there are some groups of stocks that are highly vulnerable because they're in cuckoo land in terms of valuations," Faber said. "They have no earnings. They're valued at price-to-sales. And this is not a good metric in the long run."

WATCH: Marc Faber - Coming crash will be worse than 1987.

To be sure, there are prominent investors that disagree with Faber, among them legendary stockpicker Bill Miller, who said this week that conditions for a bad market simply don't exist.

But it's not just momentum stocks that Faber is wary of. He says that investors are coming to a stark realization.

"I believe that the market is slowly waking up to the fact that the Federal Reserve is a clueless organization," Faber said. "They have no idea what they're doing. And so the confidence level of investors is diminishing, in my view."

As investors adjust to this fact, and valuations shrink, he predicts a massive decline in the market.

"This year, for sure—maybe from a higher diving board—the S&P will drop 20 percent," Faber said, adding: "I think, rather, 30 percent. Who knows. But all I'm saying is that it's not a very good time, right now, to buy stocks."

Previously, in August 2013, Faber predicted that a 1987-style crash was coming. The S&P 500 is about 9 percent higher since he made that call. - CNBC.

Top Economists Warn Germany That EMU Crisis As Dangerous As Ever
Professor Michael Burda, from Berlin's Humbolt University, said the eurozone's
core problem is Germany's current account surplus
 Photo: AP

Council on Foreign Relations compares Germany's hardline stance with US policy towards Britain at the end of the Second World War. 

The eurozone debt crisis is deepening and threatens to re-erupt on a larger scale when the liquidity cycle turns, a leading panel of economists warned in a clash of views with German officials in Berlin.

"Debts above 130pc of GDP for Italy and 170pc for Greece are a recipe for disaster once we go into the next downturn," said Professor Charles Wyplosz, from Geneva University.

"Today's politicians believe the crisis is over and don't want to hear any more about it, but they have not tackled the core issues of fiscal union and public debt," he said, speaking at Euromoney's annual Germany conference.

Ludger Schuknecht, director-general of the German finance ministry, insisted that the debt-stricken states of the eurozone are well on the way to recovery, ending their EU-IMF rescue programmes successfully one by one. There is no need for any major shift in policy. "The strategy has been right. We need to bring down debt and this is now consensus," he said.

Mr Schuknecht, the chief architect of the EMU anti-crisis regime, said Europe's banking union may need tweaking but nothing more. "There are some loose ends. These will be tied in a timely manner," he said.

This optimism is sharply at odds with the view of almost every foreign-based economist attending the event. Charles Dallara, former head of the International Instititute for Finance and chief negotiator for global banks in Greece's debt-restructuring, said little has be done to put the eurozone on a viable footing, even if sovereign bond yields in southern Europe have fallen to record lows.

"We should not be distracted by what is happening in financial markets, and look at the underlying economies in Italy and Spain. The pace of recovery is so slow and painful that is going to be challenging for democracies," he said.

"There has been too much belt-tightening and not enough structural reform. Credit is continuing to shrink in the heart of the eurozone. What is needed is a collective effort across the entirety of the eurozone to boost confidence, with a new package of fiscal measures and an end to austerity. Imagine how powerful that would be," he said.

Benn Steil, from the Council on Foreign Relations, said Germany's refusal to allow the eurozone rescue fund (ESM) to recapitalise banks directly means there will be no back-stop in place to prevent problems spinning out of control if European banks fail stress tests later this year, as expected.

This ignores the key lesson of the US stress tests, where government capital lay in reserve to ensure the stability of the system. "There is the potential for a fresh crisis if they announce the stress tests without the ESM being able to recapitalise banks," he said.

While Mr Steil did not cite specific countries, there are concerns that some Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian lenders may fail tests as they grapple with a backlog of non-performing loans.

"Germany and the creditor states are going to have to decide whether they will accept fiscal transfers or whether it is best to wind down the project and let the eurozone unravel," he said.

Mr Steil compared Germany's hardline stance with US policy towards Britain at the end of the Second World War, when a prostrate UK emerged with the world's biggest debts - though US policy later changed. "We are hearing the same language as in the 1940s. The crisis was all the fault of lax policies in the debtor countries. It was precisely the way the US spoke when it was a creditor," he said.

Mr Steil warned that the achievement of primary budget surpluses in Italy and Greece may prove a Pyrrhic Victory since history shows that heavily-indebted countries are most likely to default once they have crossed this line and can meet day-to-day costs from tax revenue. "This is a good time for Greece to default," he said.

Professor Michael Burda, from Berlin's Humbolt University, said the eurozone's core problem is Germany's current account surplus - more than 6pc of GDP - and flat wages for a decade. "Germany has to become less competitive or the eurozone is not going to survive. You can't just save forever. It's mercantilism and we don't do that kind of thing anymore. All Germany has to do is to make its people happier by raising their wages," he said. - Telegraph.

IMF Warns Europe's Banking System Poses Threat To Global Financial Stability
The eurozone's creaking banking system poses a threat to global financial stability, the IMF has warned.
IMF says end of low US interest rates and sharp slowdown in China could also derail recovery
Photograph: Oliver Berg/EPA

The eurozone's creaking banking system poses a serious threat to global financial stability, according to the International Monetary Fund, which warned European leaders to accelerate plans to support weak banks and create a banking union.

In a report that forecasts a "Goldilocks" outcome of stable growth, IMF financial counsellor José Viñals said the end of low interest rates in the US, coupled with a failure by the Obama administration to monitor risky lending, a sharp slowdown in China and disruption to emerging markets could all upset expectations of a smooth recovery.

"Can the US make a smooth exit from unconventional policies? I call this the 'Goldilocks exit' – not too hot, not too cold, just right.

"This is our base line, most likely outcome. After a turbulent start, the normalisation of monetary policy has begun. But a bumpy exit is possible."

He said the eurozone's incomplete repair of bank and corporate balance sheets continued to place a drag on the recovery, while the widening gap between Germany and the poorest of the 18 member states was restricting the flow of funds around the currency zone and hampering the growth of smaller businesses. "Thus, further efforts must be made to strengthen bank balance sheets, through the European comprehensive bank assessment and follow-up, and to tackle the corporate debt overhang," he said.

The IMF, which published the global financial stability report on Wednesday, acts as lender of last resort to bankrupt countries and is one of many economic organisations to worry about the effects on global growth of the US attempting to behave as if the recovery is complete when many countries are still struggling to cope with the aftershocks.

Since last May's signal from the US Federal Reserve that interest rates would soon begin to rise, policymakers have been wary of the knock-on effects of a return to more normal rates in the US. The hint by former Fed boss Ben Bernanke caused a flight of investor capital from Turkey, Brazil and South Africa back to the US in the expectation of better returns.

Willem Buiter, chief economist at US bank Citi, told an audience at the IMF's spring conference that the US central bank was irresponsible to predict higher interest rates without putting in place insurance plans for countries that will be hit by the increased costs.

Buiter said greater co-operation was needed to insulate weaker countries from the ripple effects of policy changes in the US.

A refusal by the European Central Bank and its boss Mario Draghi to make borrowing cheaper for local banks was also a concern, he said.

"We talk about the US exiting loose monetary policy and low interest rates, but the eurozone has not yet even entered. Europe is too confident that everything will be OK when its banks are still in need of massive support," he said.

"The markets are strong, but investors are still sniffing the glue provided by Draghi and his declaration to do whatever it takes to rescue the euro."

Buiter said the banking union needed a €1tn fund to underwrite European banks and not the €55bn proposed by Brussels.

Alistair Darling, the Labour MP and former chancellor of the exchequer, said the banking union was desperately under-capitalised.

"In my experience €55bn only rescues one bank," he said.

"We kid ourselves into believing that it is all over and a banking crisis could never happen again. This is very dangerous. "

Viñals also explained that a repeat of the sub-prime loans disaster that sparked the financial crisis was also possible, though less in the housing market and more in the sale of corporate bonds. He said the value of low quality bonds, issued by companies with a high risk of going bust, was more than double the level over the last three years as the amount recorded before the crash.

While commending US regulators for being "on top of this", he said a panic could increase the costs of financing company debts and trigger a flurry of defaults and a second crisis.

Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, argued that the US economy was still fragile and in need of huge support from the central bank.

Signalling that many members of the Fed board support chair Janet Yellen's doveish stance, he said: "US unemployment is higher now than it was at its peak in the last recession. US workers are not in as strong a position to withstand shocks and face many obstacles to higher productivity and wages from technological and structural changes."

Viñals said emerging markets from Turkey to Indonesia could struggle in the face of rising interest rates, weakening corporate earnings, and depreciating exchange rates.

"Indeed, in this scenario, emerging market corporates owing almost 35% of outstanding debt could find it hard to service their obligations.

While the situation varies widely across countries, those economies under recent pressure also share some vulnerabilities in their corporate sectors," he said.

To solve issues that reveal the inter-connectedness of national economies, he said: "We need greater global policy cooperation as we are all in this together. This extends to monetary policy, financial regulation and supervision, and ensuring orderly market conditions." - Guardian.

EXTREME WEATHER: Smoky Brush Fire Rages Wild In New Jersey - Flames Leap 40 FEET HIGH; 250 ACRES Burned; Fire Was Near The Raritan Center Industrial Complex! [VIDEO+PHOTOS]

April 10, 2014 - NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES - A large brush fire with flames 40 feet high raged near Edison, N.J. Thursday, burning 250 acres and sending thick plumes of smoke into the sky.

A brush fire in Edison is burned the swamp grass of the north shores of the Raritan River Thursday.

The fire burned near the Raritan Center industrial complex, which houses hundreds of businesses, including day cares, hotels and a FedEx facility.

Wind gusts over 15 mph pushed the fire from Edison into Woodbridge, according to Edison Fire Chief Brian Latham.

After several hours, the fire was 95 percent contained, Latham said. A helicopter was being used to help douse the flames.

WATCH: Chopper 4 captured video of a large brush fire with flames leaping 25 feet high raging near Edison, N.J.

Officials said the state forest service would stay on site overnight to observe and make sure hot spots didn't flare up.

There was no immediate word about a cause. - NBC New York.

DISASTER IMPACT: The Death Toll Rises To 36 In Washington State Landslide, 10 Still Listed As Missing - President Obama Decares Area A Major Disaster; $42.1 MILLION In Damage, Search And Recovery Cost!

April 10, 2014 - WASHINGTON STATE, UNITED STATES - The death toll in the massive mudslide that devastated a Washington town more than two weeks ago has risen to 36, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Wednesday evening.

Searchers work at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)

Detectives with the Snohomish County sheriff's office were also able to cross another name off the list of missing from the Oso landslide and it's now down to 10 people.

Last week, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster for the damage, which makes programs available to individuals and businesses affected by the mudslide.

The declaration also provides help for debris removal and emergency measures such as barricades, sand bags and safety personnel.

Below are some facts and observations about this still-developing situation.

How Are the Bodies Processed?
When bodies or remains are found in the mudslide area, crews dig them out and they are flown by helicopter to a nearby landing pad where they are readied to move to the medical examiner's office in Everett, about 30 miles from the scene.

Once there, the bodies are moved to a tented area for decontamination, where they are cleaned in warm water. From there they are moved to the autopsy room where examiners take fingerprints, look for signs of dental work and identifying marks such as tattoos.

When that work is complete, remains are moved to a refrigerated area where they stay until funeral homes make arrangements for burial or cremation.

Why Does It Take So Long to Identify Bodies?

The process for identifying remains, some of which are partial, is careful work, especially when trauma is involved, Thiersch said.

"This isn't going into a room and saying, 'This is him,'" he said.

Searchers work at the scene of a deadly mudslide Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Oso, Wash.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Pool)

Standing trees and downed trees line the side edge of a massive mudslide Thursday, March 27, 2014,
that struck Saturday near Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool)

Workers use heavy equipment to clear trees and other debris, Thursday, March 27, 2014, as the search continued for
victims of the massive mudslide that struck Saturday near Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, Pool)

Efforts to identify using dental work, fingerprints or tattoos, can take time and if that doesn't work, officials turn to DNA testing. But that works best in cases in which a close family member can give a sample for comparison. They've only needed to use DNA testing to identify one of the slide victims.

At the same time, detectives are working to help determine identities by using information from families, social media accounts and belongings from the site.

How Many People Are Working There? What Do They Do?

The regular staff of about 12 at the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's office has been supported with dozens of professionals from King, Pierce, Skagit and Kitsap counties and members of the Air National Guard.

Medical examiners are working with pathologists, dentists and medical investigators to clean bodies, take fingerprints, and note tattoos or other distinguishing features. Detectives and other professionals do online research and call families to determine the identities of the victims.

How Do Workers Cope in These Difficult Situations?
People working at the medical examiner's office are doing everything from calling family members to cleaning bodies and the stress takes a toll.

On Wednesday, a therapy dog named Paddington comforted members of the Air National Guard and medical investigators.

WATCH: New Problems for Mudslide Rescuers.

A team of county mental health workers was expected to visit the office later this week to meet with workers one-on-one.

Medical examiner's office deputy director Dennis Peterson said staff has been so dedicated to the work that he's had to "kick them out" to force them to rest.

Financial Costs
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the mudslide caused about $10 million in damage to homes destroyed in the slide area and their contents.

He estimates further costs of $32.1 million for search and recovery efforts, and to remove all the debris. But he says the costs could go higher. - TWC.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Beemageddon - Britain's Honeybee Colony Deaths Among Worst In Europe, 29% Died In Winter Of 2012-13, Summer Losses Also High At 9.7%!

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man" - Albert Einstein.

April 10, 2014 - NEVADA, UNITED STATES - A landmark study has revealed the UK is suffering one of the worst rates of honeybee colony deaths in Europe.

Honeybee colony deaths in Britain are among the worst in Europe, according to a new study.
Photograph: Gurinder Osan/AP

In the cold winter of 2012-13, 29% of honeybee colonies in the UK died, with only Belgium suffering a higher rate of losses (34%) of the 17 countries surveyed. By contrast, only 5% of colonies in Italy were lost. Summer losses of colonies were also high in the UK, at 9.7%, with only France (14%) exceeding this.

The Epilobee study surveyed 31,800 colonies and is the first pan-European assessment of the rate of colony deaths. It provides a valuable baseline for future research but does not indicate the relative effects of factors such as disease, habitat loss and pesticide use in honeybee decline. Neither does it examine why some countries are worse affected.

The European commission said the study revealed mortality rates were better than had been expected. "These data show that, while higher bee colony mortalities do exist in some parts of the EU, bees are neither disappearing, nor is colony collapse disorder taking place."

But noted that it did not assess wild pollinators which, alongside honeybees, are vital in pollinating three-quarters of all food crops. "Scientific data on wild pollinators, including wild bees is scarce, but current indicators show a worrying decline. Preliminary results [of other research] already suggest that wild bees face a serious threat," said an EC statement. A recent European assessment of bumblebees indicated a quarter of the 68 species were threatened with extinction.

"While overwintering honeybee colony losses in Europe are variable and sometimes considered unacceptable, on the whole they are still much lower than in the US," said Prof Simon Potts from the University of Reading.

Prof David Goulson, a biologist at the University of Sussex, criticised the report: "It does seem odd that the EC spent over €3m on a project on bee health and the words pesticide and insecticide are not used once in the document."

The commission banned the use of specific insecticides linked to serious harm in bees from December 2013. The EC had requested that pesticide monitoring was included in the Epilobee project. It had requested that pesticide monitoring was included in the Epilobee project but, it said, experts from member states did not consider it "feasible" to do so.

The UK was one of a minority of nations to oppose the insecticide ban. - Guardian.

AGE OF OBAMA: Societal Collapse, Federal Overreach, Civil Unrest And Precursors To The End Of The U.S. Corporation - Monumental Standoff Continues At Nevada Ranch; Heavily-Armed Feds Surround Bundy Ranch, Confiscate Cattle; Militia Members Arrive; Many Ranch Protesters Tasered By Federal Agents And Attacked By K9s! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

April 10, 2014 - NEVADA, UNITED STATES - Militia groups are rallying behind a rancher whose cattle are being seized by the federal government.

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user@GMN Telemedia

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that two militia members from Montana and one from Utah have arrived at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.

“We need to be the barrier between the oppressed and the tyrants,” Ryan Payne of the West Mountain Rangers told the Review-Journal. “Expect to see a band of soldiers.”

Payne said that militias from New Hampshire, Texas and Florida are likely to join and stand with Bundy and stay at his ranch.

“They all tell me they are in the process of mobilizing as we speak,” Payne told the Review-Journal, adding that hundreds of militia members are expected.

Cliven Bundy has been grazing his cattle on public lands for 20 years.

The Review-Journal also reports that Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, was shot with a stun gun by law enforcement officers Wednesday and that the rancher’s sister, Margaret Houston, was pushed to the ground.

“I pulled the tasers out of him,” Cheryl Teerlink told the Review-Journal.

Lawmakers are adding their voices into the fray, criticizing the federal cattle roundup fought by Cliven Bundy who claims longstanding grazing rights on remote public rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said he told new U.S. Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze in Washington, D.C., that law-abiding Nevadans shouldn’t be penalized by an “overreaching” agency.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval pointed earlier to what he called “an atmosphere of intimidation,” resulting from the roundup and said he believed constitutional rights were being trampled.

Tensions are growing as people in the community of Bunkerville are trying to stop
federal agents from taking cattle off of public land.

Heller said he heard from local officials, residents and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and remained “extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electrical infrastructure.”

The federal government has shut down a scenic but windswept area about half the size of the state of Delaware to round up about 900 cattle it says are trespassing.

BLM and National Park Service officials didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to criticisms of the roundup that started Saturday and prompted the closure of the 1,200-square-mile area through May 12.

It’s seen by some as the latest battle over state and federal land rights in a state with deep roots in those disputes, including the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and ’80s. Nevada, where various federal agencies manage or control more than 80 percent of the land, is among several Western states where ranchers have challenged federal land ownership.

The current showdown pits Bundy’s claims of ancestral rights to graze his cows on open range against federal claims that the cattle are trespassing on arid and fragile habitat of the endangered desert tortoise. Bundy has said he owns about 500 branded cattle on the range and claims the other 400 targeted for roundup are his, too.

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by user@GMN Telemedia

BLM and Park Service officials see threats in Bundy’s promise to “do whatever it takes” to protect his property and in his characterization that the dispute constitutes a “range war.”

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, noted that BLM officials were enforcing federal court orders that Bundy remove his animals. The legal battle has been waged for decades.

Kornze, the new BLM chief, is familiar with the area. He’s a natural resource manager who grew up in Elko, Nev., and served previously as a senior adviser to Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid aide Kristen Orthman said her boss “hopes the trespassing cattle are rounded up safely so the issue can be resolved.”

Sandoval, a former state attorney general and federal district court judge, weighed in late Tuesday after several days of media coverage about blocked roads and armed federal agents fanning out around Bundy’s ranch while contractors using helicopters and vehicles herd cows into portable pens in rugged and remote areas.

“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,” the governor said in a statement.

Sandoval said he was most offended that armed federal officials have tried to corral people protesting the roundup into a fenced-in “First Amendment area” south of the resort city of Mesquite.

The site “tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution” and should be dismantled, Sandoval said.

BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon and Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover have told reporters during daily conference calls that free-speech areas were established so agents could ensure the safety of contractors, protesters, the rancher and his supporters.

The dispute between Bundy and the federal government dates to 1993, when land managers cited concern for the federally protected tortoise and capped his herd at 150 animals on a 250-square-mile rangeland allotment. Officials later revoked Bundy’s grazing rights completely.

Cannon said Bundy racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals.

 WATCH: Bundy ranch protesters tasered by Federal agents and attacked by K9s.

WATCH:  More Complete Info On Bunkerville.


Bundy estimates the unpaid fees total about $300,000. He notes that his Mormon family’s 19th century melon farm and ranch operation in surrounding areas predates creation of the BLM in 1946.

Since the cattle roundup began Saturday, there has been one arrest.

Bundy’s son, Dave Bundy, 37, was taken into custody Sunday as he watched the roundup from State Route 170. He was released Monday with bruises on his face and a citation accusing him of refusing to disperse and resisting arrest.

A court date has not been set.

His mother, Carol Bundy, alleged that her son was roughed up by BLM police.

Meanwhile, federal officials say 277 cows have been collected. Cannon said state veterinarian and brand identification officials will determine what becomes of the impounded cattle. - CBS Las Vegas.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Spectacular Video Shows A Huge And Strange Cloud Formation Engulfing Alicante Beach In Spain - Prompts Fears Of A Major Fire In The City; Reports Of Similiar Cloud Masses In Other Towns?! [VIDEO]

April 10, 2014 - SPAIN - A huge cloud was filmed engulfing the main beach in Alicante, causing concern among locals and holidaymakers and prompting debate as to its cause.

Unusual phenomenon: The huge cloud which rolled into the city of Alicante form the sea
caused concern among some locals at first

The huge white mass is seen rolling across the sands of Albufereta beach, obscuring everything in its path - despite an otherwise cloudless sky.

Some speculated that the cloud was smoke from a fire, while others compared the apocalyptic scenes to the smoke cloud left behind when thousands of firecrackers are set off for the Las Fallas festival in neighboring Valencia.

Spanish local Antonio Carlos Soria Hernandez posted the film showing the unusual phenomenon on his Facebook page and it soon went viral, with thousands of people sharing the short video.

Tourists and locals from other coastal towns in eastern Spain also reported similar cloud masses in Calpe, on the Costa Blanca, and the popular resort of Benidorm.

WATCH:  YouTuber captures huge cloud engulfing Alicante.


It was explained as a phenomenon that occurs when the cold sea meets the warmer air from inland, causing a huge cloud to form.

When the video was posted on Facebook, one user commented: 'I thought it was a fire'.

Mr Hernandez, who filmed the scenes, agreed, explaining: 'I saw it and ran down thinking it was exactly that... a fire and caught it on camera, the effect of the cloud is really beautiful.' - Daily Mail.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: "This Has Engendered Considerable Concern" - Droughts Worldwide May Have An Effect On American Dinner Plates!

April 10, 2014 - UNITED STATES - It’s been a long, cold and wet winter in parts of the United States. But in many parts of the world, from California to Southeast Asia, the land is parched from growing and persistent droughts. And that spells higher prices for many foods Americans put on the table during every meal.

That morning cup of coffee, for example, could cost a bit more as the beans rise to their highest prices in years due to a Brazilian drought. A salad at lunch full of fresh fruit and vegetables topped with slivered almonds may run a few more dollars a month as California's drought begins to boost prices for produce and nuts.

And the classic American dinner of a cheeseburger, French fries and a milkshake is already more expensive due to rapidly rising beef and dairy prices underpinned by drought.

From the American consumer's perspective, the good news is the drought will almost certainly not cause a food shortage, according to Richard Volpe, a research economist with the food markets branch at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington.

"We are a highly developed nation, highly industrialized, and our international trade relations in terms of agriculture are very strong and very adaptable," he told NBC News. "So food availability is not really a concern."

The most immediate concern for Americans is the drought in California, which holds strong potential to drive up prices, particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables as well as dairy, he explained.

As of now, however, "we don't have any data yet on the impact of this drought,” Volpe said.

The Consumer Price Index for food crept higher by 0.4 percent in February, but Volpe said the upward trend was driven by high beef prices, which are related to a feed and fuel price spike in 2007 and 2008 as well as lingering effects from the 2012 drought in Texas and Oklahoma.

Nevertheless, he and other market watchers are keeping a close eye on planting and harvest data out of California, as well as the impact of drought elsewhere around the world on commodities including coffee, cooking oils, and wheat.

Coffee perks up
Coffee futures prices are up more than 75 percent this year due to a lack of appreciable rain in the coffee growing region of eastern Brazil during January and February, which are critical months for plant development, according to the International Coffee Organization, a London-based trade group.

"This has engendered considerable concern around the size of the 2014/2015 world coffee crop, which is now likely headed toward a deficit compared to demand," the group said in its February market report, released on March 12.

"The impact on coffee prices will definitely roll down the pike," David Streit, an agricultural meteorologist and founder of the Commodity Weather Group in Maryland, told NBC News.

Hardest hit will be roasters that rely heavily on beans from Brazil, he noted.

Still, today's prices remain below the highs reached in 2011.

Healthy lunch to take a bite?
The drought in California could mean fewer fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. The state grew $45 billion worth of food in 2012, noted James Dunn, an agricultural economist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

"We are used to seeing these beautiful fruits and vegetables coming out of California that appear in Eastern markets," he explained to NBC News. "If they don't have water for them, we may not see as much of them, or they may not be in as good condition."

Even if the produce looks less desirable, he added, "It doesn't mean it is going to be cheap.”

Beef: It's not for dinner
Beef prices are already 4 percent higher than a year ago due in part to persistent drought dating back to 2012 in Texas, Oklahoma, and the Corn Belt, Volpe said.

"The most important factor is the inventory of cattle is at historic lows,” he said. “The number of cattle that we have in the United States right now is the same that it was in the 1950s," he said.

Add the fact that California is the leading dairy producer in the country, noted Dunn, and the price for cheese to top that burger may rise, too. So might the cost of milk and ice cream needed for a milkshake.

The fifth largest dairy producing state is Idaho, "which is also undergoing a drought. The dairy industry in Idaho is in a fairly concentrated area … and that is where the drought is,” Volpe said.

Cooking oil and a brewing El Niño

Fire burns a palm oil plantation in Siak, Riau, Indonesia, on March 1, 2014. Air quality has reached dangerous
levels as forest fires rage on in Indonesia's Riau province following a sustained period of dry weather.

Streit is also keeping an eye on the potential for drought in Indonesia and Malaysia to dent the region's palm oil harvest, which is used to make snacks such cookies, crackers, and microwave popcorn. The dryness would have to continue for another month to seriously hurt yields, he said.

If a palm oil shortage hits, the impact will be felt throughout the edible oils sector, noted Dunn. "It ends up trickling through the whole oil complex" — think soybean oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and olive oil.

A palm oil deficit could be exacerbated if an El Niño forms, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave even odds of happening in its latest watch, issued March 6.

The good news is an El Niño is could bring drought relief to California and the plains states, depending on when the rains fall, noted Volpe. "It is entirely possible that we get heavy rain that has almost no impact on the agricultural sector in the Central Valley." - NBC.

EXTREME WEATHER: Mississippi Mobile Homes Destroyed After Being Thrown 20 FEET HIGH In The Air By Tornado While The Family Were STILL INSIDE - Tornado Had Wind Speeds Of Up To 135mph! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

April 10, 2014 - UNITED STATES - A family was lucky to survive after a tornado threw their mobile home in Mississippi 20 feet in the air while they slept inside.

Flattened: Damian Barnes' mobile home in Mississippi was thrown 20 feet and destroyed
during a tornado that struck the area on Monday

An EF2-rated tornado – with wind speeds of between 111 and 135mph – struck Damian Barnes’ home near Collins, Covington County, in the early hours of Monday morning.

The tornado completely destroyed it and Barnes, despite being injured, managed to pull his girlfriend and two children from the wreckage.

Several other homes in the area were destroyed by the tornado and seven minor injuries reported.

The tornado struck on a night of severe weather across the U.S southeast.

Tragically, a nine-year-old girl was swept away and killed in Mississippi after the storms dropped nearly seven inches (18 centimeters) of rain there over the past two days.

Thunderstorms in central Alabama caused flash flooding and crews in small boats and military trucks had to rescue dozens of people from their homes and cars.

In Georgia a motorist in metro Atlanta was found dead after driving into a creek swollen with rainwater.

Devastating destruction: Eisenhower Duckworth picks his way through the debris at his house on
Lookout Hill Lane in Covington County near Collins, Mississippi, after the tornado struck.

The tornado struck Covington County in Mississippi on a night of severe weather across the U.S southeast.

Sorrow: Anjuana Owens salvages belongings from her bedroom at New Hopewell Heights Apartments near Collins after
the tornado took the roof off the building early on Monday, leaving her bed covered with debris.
All 12 units at the complex were heavily damaged.

Aftermath: An abandoned vehicle sits submerged by floodwaters on a road in a
mobile home park in Pelham, Alabama, on Monday.

Extreme weather: Firefighters rescue a family from their house, surrounded by floodwaters,
in a mobile home park in Pelham, Alabama.

Strong winds downed trees, power lines and snarled rush hour commutes. National Weather Service forecasters in North Carolina say video indicates a tornado touched down near the town of Belhaven in the eastern part of the state. Authorities say a pickup truck was lifted off the highway, injuring a man and his son.

In Pelham, just south of Birmingham, more than four inches (10 centimeters) of rain fell from 7 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday. Police and firefighters rescued people who became trapped in flooded townhomes and a mobile home park.

Dozens of cars had water up to their roofs. Rescue workers wearing life jackets waded through muddy water nearly to their chests to reach stranded residents. Hundreds of people in mobile homes on higher ground were isolated because water covered the only entrance to the complex.

Pelham Fire Battalion Chief Mike Knight said people realized at daybreak that the water, seven feet (2.1 meters) deep in some places, was surrounding their homes. Some people had to abandon cars after driving into areas where the flood water was deeper than expected.

 A development of townhomes along a creek in Pelham also flooded, with some units getting four to five feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) of water. Some residents went to their second floors to wait for the water to recede, while others evacuated.

WATCH: Tornado leaves damage outside Collins.

Shannon Martin said she had water up to the top of her toilet bowl in her first floor. She and a friend waded through flooded streets to get inside and floated out some of her belongings in a cooler.

Martin, a renter, said she had insurance to cover her belongings, but doesn't know where she will live. ‘I just moved here,’ she said.

At an apartment complex in the suburb of Homewood, rescue crews used a boat to help several residents and pets get out of flooded first-floor units. Mudslides toppled trees and blocked several roads.

Some roads in Birmingham became impassable due to flood waters and fallen trees, and schools delayed opening in many areas of central Alabama due to the heavy rains.

At one point, Birmingham-based Alabama Power Co. reported 11,000 homes and businesses without electricity. That was cut to about 4,500 Monday afternoon.

In Augusta, Georgia, where the Master's golf tournament is being held this week, practice round play was halted Monday two hours after it began. It was the first time in 11 years that weather washed out a Monday practice round. - Daily Mail.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "This Is Unprecedented" - Flood-Ravaged Solomon Islands Survivors Now Contending With Disease!

April 10, 2014 - SOLOMON ISLANDS - The flood-ravaged Solomon Islands was facing a new threat Monday as the first signs of disease emerged in camps sheltering thousands of displaced residents in the capital Honiara, aid workers said.

People search through the debris on the beach near the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara.
Photograph: Rachel Skeates/AFP/Getty Images

The official death toll stands at 21 after flash floods tore through the city last Thursday. But Save the Children’s Graham Kenna said the number of fatalities was certain to rise as hopes faded for another 30-40 people still listed as missing.

“We know that the missing people are not going to be found,” he told AFP. “They’re still scouring the waters off Honiara for them and they won’t be coming home.

“Now the main concern is disease. If there’s a major outbreak here a lot of people are going to get very sick or worse.”

Kenna said about 50,000 people across the island of Guadalcanal had been displaced, with some 10,000 taking shelter in camps in Honiara where hygiene was poor despite the best efforts of aid agencies.

He said cases of diarrhoea and conjunctivitis, both regarded as early indicators that populations are vulnerable to more serious diseases, had already been reported in the city, which was already a hotspot for the mosquito-borne dengue fever

"This is unprecedented, and I've seen earthquakes and tsunamis and other very bad flooding incidents,” said the
country director of Oxfam, Katie Greenwood. “But this flash flooding is unlike anything that I've seen
previously here in the country.”

“Our biggest worry is that prior to the flooding there was already a dengue outbreak here,” he said.

“Everybody’s very concerned that once the place dries out a bit these dengue mosquitoes will be absolutely rampant here. People are starting to make plans for a large-scale medical emergency.”

He said aid efforts were being hampered because much of Honiara’s infrastructure had been destroyed in the floods, but there was some good news when a New Zealand air force Hercules carrying humanitarian supplies landed on Monday.

Kenna said more aid was on its way but the challenge was delivering it in time to stop a major outbreak in the camps.

“Assistance is coming but it’s very difficult to get it in here,” he said. - Raw Story.

MONUMENTAL GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Death Toll Rises To 33 In Washington State Landslide - 12 Still Listed As Missing!

April 10, 2014 - WASHINGTON STATE, UNITED STATES - Officials in Washington state said Monday that the death toll from last month's mudslide in the town of Oso had risen to 33, with all but three of the bodies identified by the Shohomish County medical examiner's office.

This photo, taken April 3, shows workers use hand tools next to heavy equipment at the scene
of a deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash.AP

The latest name added to the list is Billy L. Spillers, 30, of Arlington. Like the others, he died of multiple blunt force injuries in the March 22 slide that crushed the residential area along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

His name had been on the list of missing.

The number of missing on Monday was 12, said Shari Ireton, spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff's office.

However, that figure does not necessarily correlate with the number of dead, said Kelly Stowe, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. The missing list remains fluid as names are added and removed.

Spillers was a Navy chief petty officer who lived with his wife, Jonielle, and their four children. She was at her nursing job when the landslide hit their house. Spillers' 4-year-old son survived and was rescued by a helicopter.

Spillers' daughter Kaylee, 5, and stepson Jovon Mangual, 13, have been identified among the dead. Two-year-old daughter Brooke is listed among the missing.

So far, more than 220 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, seeking individual assistance, FEMA spokesman David Mace said Monday as he announced the opening of three disaster recovery centers for slide victims.

FEMA workers and state representatives will provide "one-on-one, face-to-face counseling and assistance" at the centers in Arlington, Darrington and at the Oso fire station, Mace said.

As the search continues in the debris for bodies, the Army Corps of Engineers is working on a berm -- a big rock and gravel barrier. That will enable crews to pump water over the berm and drain an area where search teams want to work, said Steve Thomsen, county public works director. Engineers hope to finish the berm in a week.

A forecast of warmer and mostly drier spring weather this week should help. But rain showers Tuesday will cause the river to rise about a foot in the pool formed by the mudslide, the National Weather Service said. That's 2 or 3 feet below the high reached on March 30.

Highly sensitive instruments newly placed on the landslide mass and nearby hillside provide real-time measurement of even tiny earth movements, said Rick LaHusen of the U.S. Geological Survey. So far, scientists have seen "nothing that gives us any concern" for the safety of search crews. - FOX News.

THE AGE OF PUTIN & CHILDHOOD'S END: Precursors To The End Of The Petrodollar And The Collapse Of The United States Corporation - Russia And China About To Sign "Holy Grail" Gas Deal; Would Send Geopolitical Shockwaves Around The World!

April 10, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - Several weeks ago we reported that in response to ongoing alienation of Russia by the west Putin was aggressively setting the stage for Russia's eastward expansion, set to culminate with a "holy grail" gas deal with China.

We said that "while Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the "Holy Grail" energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis."

Reuters added
, reflecting on the recent trip of Rosneft executive chairman to Asia, that "the underlying message from the head of Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances.  The Holy Grail for Moscow is a natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West."

It's time for an update. According to Itar-Tass, "Russia's Gazprom and China are poised to conclude a gas supply contract in coming weeks, the first in a series of energy projects planned between the two countries. "We’re working now to sign a gas contract in May," said Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. "Consultations are continuing and Gazprom's leaders are holding talks with Chinese partners on the contract terms. We hope to conclude the contract in May and believe it should come into effect by the year end."

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (R), who is also the chairman of the Chinese side of the China-Russia energy
cooperation committee, and Arkady Dvorkovich, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Russian
side of the cooperation committee, sign meeting minutes after their meeting in Beijing,
capital of China, April 9, 2014.(Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

The key sticking point remains the price: "Base price is the only problem to be solved,” Dvorkovich said on Wednesday at a session of a Russia-China intergovernmental commission on energy co-operation, co-chaired by Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli." However, even if Russia concedes the topline to China, it will surely "more than make up for it in volume" to borrow a line from Amazon, and furthermore the geopolitical implications from such a deal, not to mention the increase in national leverage vis-a-vis its dealings with Europe and the West, will more than make up for any immediately revenue shortfalls.

But wait - there's more in the rapidly shifting geopolitical axis which increasingly positions Russias as a key commodity source for China:
In other plans, Russian company Novatek’s Yamal region LNG (liquefied natural gas) project was near ready for signing, Drovkovich said. Russia's Rosneft had several interesting plans "seeking to increase maritime supplies by several million tonnes per year,” he said.

“Russia and China have agreed to jointly develop gas fields in (Russia's far eastern) Sakhalin and East Siberia,” Dvorkovich said. “We have discussed co-operation in the coal sphere, agreeing to develop deposits, supply equipment and build electric power plants as well as providing China with additional electricity supplies”.

“We’re finding mutually advantageous decisions on certain projects that will allow us to implement them in the shortest period of time,” Dvorkovich added. Conditions were right to speed the Tianjin oil refinery project and to build a petrochemical facility, he said.
This is happening as Ukraine announced overnight that it won't import Russian gas in April due to the surge in price that Gazprom is demanding from the US proxy state, and following ongoing Gazprom invoiving of how much Ukraine owes it which at last count was well over $2 billion - an amount which we be funded from the still to be finalized western aid to be provided for Ukraine.

Of course, at this pace, Ukraine and even Europe, will become far less meaningful markets to Russia as Putin prepares to announce what indeed would be the holy grail of gas supply deals, one that reduces Russia's reliance on European energy imports and substantially raises Russia's relevance to China as the two countries increasingly become the bestest of buddies.

Which certainly is also why, as Bloomberg reported this morning, "in the talks between China and U.S.’s Hagel overnight, the Chinese are taking a different tack. Rather than argue the merits of the disputed islands/history, they seem instead to say that it’s none of the U.S. business to get mixed up in something in another part of the world and between two sovereign nations.

Bloomberg's conclusion: "Not only is this probably music to Putin’s ears, it also serves to ratchet up the tensions."

Just wait to see how "ratcheted up" tensions will be once Russia and China are finally locked into a bearhug of mutual codependence. - Zero Hedge.