Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DISASTER IMPACT: Cyclone Ita Hits The East Coast Of Australia - "Widespread Destruction," Worst-Hit Areas Could Go Weeks Without Power!

April 15, 2014 - AUSTRALIA - More than 6000 homes and businesses remain without power in the far north as Cyclone Ita begins to move away from the Queensland coast.

Ingham flooded after Cyclone Ita. Photo: Twitter

Ergon Energy has restored power to about 20,000 properties since noon on Sunday, although Premier Campbell Newman said the worst-hit areas could go weeks without electricity.

On Monday morning, Energy Minister Mark McArdle said vegetation damage and issues with access had made it difficult to restore power to parts of Kuranda and the Cairns northern beaches.

There were also 736 properties in Townsville that were waiting to be re-connected and 1100 customers offline in the Mackay, Whitsunday and Proserpine regions.

Gusts of 100km/h are forecast between Sarina, near Mackay, and Yeppoon, northeast of Rockhampton on Monday.

But the Bureau of Meteorology said the gales should start easing as Ita weakened to a tropical low and moved away from the coast.

Flooding caused by the cyclone has cut off roads from Ingham to Rockhampton, and further south the Sunshine Coast hinterland has copped a torrential downpour, with Mount Tinbeerwah drenched with 231 millimetres of rain.

Ingham, which is likely to be isolated for several days, was also split in half by an overflowing creek.

On Sunday, hardship payments were approved for the communities of Cooktown, Hope Vale, Wujal Wujal and Laura in the wake of Cyclone Ita.

The Premier said it was too early to estimate total the damage bill, he said but the destruction the cyclone had caused across the far north had been widespread.

Ingham flooded after Cyclone Ita. Photo: twitter

Mr Newman also urged people who had booked holidays in affected areas not to cancel, and to check the current conditions with tourism operators.

"People are cancelling, and frankly there's no reason for them to do so," he said.

Flooding caused the Bruce Highway to be closed in areas north of Townsville, with the storm also forcing temporary closures of the Cairns and Townsville airports.

And $1 million of damage was recorded in the indigenous community of Hope Vale, north of Cooktown, where a banana plantation was savaged.

Hairdresser Raewyn Golberg enters her salon the day after Cyclone
Ita sauntered through Cairns. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Pictures also emerged of the damage on Lizard Island, which was evacuated before Cyclone Ita made landfall on Friday.

The northern Great Barrier Reef island, about 270 kilometres from Cairns, is home to a holiday resort and the Australia Museum Lizard Island Research Station.

Photos published by News Corp on Monday showed huge palm trees snapped in half, and apparent damage to buildings and the island's luxury resort.

On Sunday, Lizard Island Research Centre director Lyle Vail said he was worried laboratories and equipment may have been damaged by the storm.

The SES said it had responded to 456 requests for help since midnight on Friday, including several swift water rescues.

There have been no reported deaths as a result of Cyclone Ita. - Brisbane Times.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes And Landslides Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Sinkhole Swallows Truck At Hickory Dickory Park In Auburn, Alabama; Wyoming Officials Eye Slow-Moving Landslide, Evacuate Residents; And Couple Discover Backyard Sinkhole In Schuyler Falls, New York! [PHOTOS]

April 15, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The following stories constitutes some of the latest incidents of sinkholes and landslides across the United States.

Sinkhole Swallows Truck At Hickory Dickory Park In Auburn, Alabama
Sinkhole opens at Hickory Dickory Park in Auburn

Auburn city work crews worked to dig out a truck partially swallowed by a sink hole in front of Hickory Dickory Park along East University Drive on Friday afternoon.

There were no reported injuries. An 18 to 21 inch pipe collapsed, causing the sinkhole.

Authorities have established bypass pumping and don't believe they will have any major issues cleaning it up. - WTVM.

Couple Discover Backyard Sinkhole In Schuyler Falls, New York
A sinkhole opened up in the backyard of a Schuyler Falls property. Highway departments from Plattsburgh
and Schuyler Falls teamed up to bring the resident enough sand to fill the sinkhole.
WPTZ/Alison Carey

Dennis Trost and his wife discovered a sinkhole last week in the backyard of their Schuyler Falls home.

"Well, it's scary when you hear all the stories. Then it happens to you and you don't know what the heck's going to happen," said Trost.

Since finding the sinkhole, Trost said the gaping hole has only grown. When the Highway Department officials arrived the hole was about 5 feet deep.

"We came running out and there was no dirt around but this big hole was here, so we kind of backed off and looked inside it because it was undermine quite a bit," said Trost.

Schuyler Falls Highway Department Superintendent John Rock said sinkholes are rare for the North Country, and it's often difficult to determine the cause.

"[Trost] said he's been here 20-something years and it wasn't filled in, so it must be an underground spring or something," said Rock.

Rock said another possibility is that there used to be a rotting tree in the spot which created an underground hole.

It's typically not the responsibility of a town highway department to fix a sinkhole on private property, but in this case the towns of Schuyler Falls and Plattsburgh teamed up to provide some sand for the homeowner.

"We'll bring some fill for him to put in the hole. See if it'll stay there and keep an eye on it and see if it goes down more," said Rock.

Trost said he was afraid the repairs would be costly and he's grateful for the help.

"I've seen it on TV where houses disappear in sinkholes and all of a sudden we've got one. The house is paid for and we can't afford to buy another one," said Trost. - WPTZ.

Wyoming Officials Eye Slow-Moving Landslide, Evacuate Residents
The 100-foot-deep landslide is moving so slowly that local officials have been able to see
how ground cracks are emerging and growing by inches each day.

A slow-moving landslide the size of two football fields is steadily tearing apart a hilltop house from the inside and has prompted the evacuation of about 50 people and several businesses in the well-known skiing town of Jackson, Wyoming, officials said Saturday.

The slow movement, however, has only a 5% chance of becoming the sort of violent landslide that killed 36 people last month in rural Washington state, said Roxanne Robinson, Jackson assistant town manager.

"You know, I think that's on everybody's mind, but I think our slide is different because it's slow moving. Theirs was catastrophic, and ours has been slowly creeping down the hill," Robinson said Saturday.

The 100-foot-deep landslide is moving so slowly that local officials have been able to see how ground cracks are emerging and growing by inches each day the past week. Crews use binoculars to keep an eye on the hill while they stand at a fire truck across the road.

A mandatory evacuation order issued Thursday to 46 residential units in the landslide zone remained in place Saturday.

Authorities count about 57 residents in the landslide area, but only 48 people have reported to a Red Cross check-in station, Robinson said. The remainder are still residing in their homes or may be away from home, she said.

"There are people living there who have refused to leave. That's their choice because we can't forcibly remove them," Robinson said. "On one side of the (hillside) road, we did have a sinkhole develop, and it's not safe to dig it out and put a man in the hole.

On Saturday, about 43 people were escorted to their homes to remove personal items and check on the security of their belongings, according to a press release from the town of Jackson.

Emergency personnel will continue to escort residents to their home Sunday. Starting Monday, escorts back to residences will be by appointment only, according to the press release.

Red Cross personnel trained a dozen local people Saturday to staff a public shelter they plan to open Sunday evening.

For now, officials are doing testing extending 100 feet underground to determine how big of a threat the slide is and what they can do to limit its impact, Robinson said. The town has hired a geologist to examine the matter.

At a minimum, a house atop a hill is unlikely to be inhabitable again because its interior wooden floor is splitting into two, Robinson said. The driveway is cracked by a 6- to 12-inch upward fissure in the ground, she added.

"What really struck me is the wood flooring, which is separating," she said. "One half of the house looks like it's on side of the slide area and the other half is definitely at the crest of the slide.

"We did a media tour yesterday," she said Saturday, "and after we did that, the geologist said, 'You can't do that anymore. It's dangerous.'"

The slow landslide began March 4 when the event moved a town water pumphouse and broke a 16-inch water main, sending water gushing into a two-lane highway, Robinson said.

The landslide is occurring about a mile west of the town center, on a stretch of highway that's home to a Walgreens that opened with the new year, two restaurants and a liquor store -- all of which are closed for now, Robinson said.

The broken water main forced local officials to lay a two-inch water line up the steep hill's surface to connect to 46 residential units -- houses and apartments -- in the landslide zone, Robinson said.

On Saturday, crews installed water tanks on the hill as a fire prevention measure because the temporary two-inch water line isn't sufficient for potential firefighting, Robinson said. - CNN.

Sliding Hillside Causes Evacuation In Jackson, Wyoming
Kristin Livingstone, right, watches her evacuated hillside neighborhood after spending a night away from her home
because of danger from a potential landslide in Jackson, Wyo., on Thursday. Brendon Newton, left, gets in touch with
others at an assembly point in a parking lot across the street from the threatened slope. Dozens of Jackson residents
who were evacuated after land began shifting on the hillside.

Local officials and dozens of evacuees kept anxious watch Thursday on a slowly sliding hillside that threatened to take out several homes and businesses in this resort town.

They also had an eye on the weather, hoping no rain or snow triggers a sudden, massive release of dirt and rock. Forecasters predicted a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain and snow this weekend.

People remained evacuated, since Wednesday, from 46 houses and apartment units. Authorities were escorting people back to their homes, temporarily, to fetch belongings.

"We're just wanting to make sure we have everyone out in case there's some kind of catastrophic release of the hillside," Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson said Thursday. "Even if it continues to be slow, it's going to be disruptive for access."

Four or five homes and an apartment building stood just above the area where officials first noticed the ground moving after some water pipes burst Friday. Below, at least three businesses including a newly built Walgreens pharmacy were at risk of being hit by a landslide.

The ground was bulging and creeping - not suddenly sliding - yet still doing a fair amount of damage by buckling and cracking pavement a couple of hundred yards or less from Jackson's main drag. One town councilman told the Jackson Hole News & Guide he toured a house in which the living room sloped downhill and kitchen cabinets had fallen off the wall.

Town officials were waiting to hear from geologists about whether the slide was slowing down or speeding up, or if the ground had stopped moving. Geologists had measured movement as deep as 50 feet underground, Robinson said.

Jackson officials say there is no danger like a landslide that killed at least 35 people in Washington state March 22, because residents have had plenty of time to evacuate. - The Oregonian.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Ebola Virus Spreads From West African Jungles To Urban Centers - Gambia Bans Flight From Ebola-Hit Nations As Death Toll Rises To 121!

April 15, 2014 - WEST AFRICA - An outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has been linked to the deaths of more than 120 people, according to the latest World Health Organization count.

There is no vaccine and no cure for the deadly virus, and its appearance in West Africa, far from its usual sites in Central and East Africa, has caused some panic.

Health workers are trying to contain its spread, tracking down anyone with whom the sick have had contact. Mali announced Tuesday that samples from all its suspected cases had tested negative for the disease.

Malian Health Minister Ousmane Kone said that the country had sent out 10 samples for testing at labs in the United States and Senegal, and all were declared negative for Ebola. There are no other known suspected cases in the country.

As of Monday, the U.N. health agency said it had recorded a total of 200 suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, the majority of which are in Guinea. That figure includes some of the Mali cases that the government now says are negative. The organization said the deaths of 121 people in Guinea and Liberia have been linked to the disease.

Officials have said the current outbreak could last months. - AP.

Ebola Spreads From Jungle To Urban Centers
More than 100 people have died from the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa. With no cure or vaccine, it is one of the most deadly of viruses, killing between 60 to 90 percent of those infected. Heath officials in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, have set up isolation centers and are screening at the airport.
Passengers with flu like symptoms -- fever, diarrhea, or joint pain -- aren’t allowed to fly.

WATCH: Ebola spreads from jungle to urban centers.


“It's probably one of the more complicated outbreaks because it is occurring in a very densely-populated urban area, unlike previous outbreaks,” he said by phone from Conkary, which has a population of 2 million.

Dr. Jagatic described it as the biggest known Ebola outbreak an urban area.

Health officials do not expect the virus to go global and stress that Ebola is not easy to catch, requiring direct contact with an infected victim’s bodily fluids. - NBC.

Gambia Bans Flight From Ebola-Hit Nations
The Gambia has banned flights from Ebola-hit west African countries from landing in its territory, airport officials told AFP on Tuesday.

Staff at Banjul International Airport said on condition of anonymity that President Yahya Jammeh had ordered airlines to cancel all flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

"This decision by the Gambian authorities has left prospective passengers travelling to Banjul ... stranded in these west African countries," said an airport official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Brussels Airlines, which transits in Freetown from Europe, is only allowed to drop passengers there, but not pick anyone up."

The outbreak in Guinea is one of the most deadly in history, with 168 cases "clinically compatible" with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, since the start of the year, according to the World Health Organization.

 WATCH:  Ebola virus.


The outbreak began in the impoverished country's southern forests, but has spread to Conakry, a sprawling port city on the Atlantic coast and home to two million people.

Neighbouring Liberia has reported 21 suspected cases, including 10 deaths.

Mali also has suspected cases but does not appear to have been included in the ban, while Sierra Leone, which has no suspected cases, is on the list of outlawed countries.

- Business 'now near ruin' -

There was no immediate official confirmation of the ban from the Gambia but an airport worker told AFP a letter dated April 10 enforcing the measures had been sent to airlines while Sierra Leone's government said it was in talks with Banjul over the issue.

Sierra Leone, where two suspected victims died and were buried before they could be tested, said it was not questioning the Gambia's right to take action but had no idea of the rationale behind the decision.

"The government of Sierra Leone is currently engaging the Gambian government on the issue and providing all details of the surveillance system put in effect against the disease," said government spokesman Abdulai Bayratay.

"We still have no confirmed laboratory test of any Ebola outbreak here and this has been certified by the WHO, working with our health teams.

"Sierra Leonean air passengers are travelling freely to Britain, Belgium and all over the world without hinderance."

Witnesses at Freetown's Lungi International Airport told AFP around 100 Sierra Leoneans, mostly traders, had been planning trips to the Gambia but had seen their flights cancelled.

"My business in now near ruin. I have accepted money from people planning for a wedding and I was due to return in few days time to deliver the goods but with the ban now on, I am in a jam," textile trader Alimamy Turay told AFP.

The Gambia, a country of about 1.8 million, is a finger of territory flanking the Gambia River, with Senegal on either side and a narrow Atlantic coastline.

Jammeh, 48, is often pilloried for taking unilateral and seemingly impetuous decisions as well as for rights abuses and the muzzling of the press.

In March, he said the former British colony would be dropping English as its official language and in 2008, he gave an ultimatum to gays and lesbians to leave his country, saying he would "cut off the head" of any homosexual found in the Gambia.

Two years later, the European Union cancelled 22 million euros ($30 million) of aid because of concerns over human rights and governance issues. - Breitbart.

AGE OF OBAMA: Societal Collapse, Federal Overreach, Civil Unrest And Precursors To The End Of The U.S. Corporation - Senator Harry Reid Says That The Battle With Nevada Cattle Rancher Cliven Bundy "IS NOT OVER" As Ron Paul Warns Feds Could Launch Waco-Style Assault Against Bundy!

April 15, 2014 - UNITED STATES -  Ron Paul appeared on Fox News with Neil Cavuto last night to warn that the federal government could be planning to launch a Waco-style assault against Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.

Expressing hope that last week’s events, during which Bundy supporters faced down armed BLM agents and forced them to release Bundy’s cattle, represented a new benchmark for Americans standing up against federal government intrusion, the former Congressman suggested that it would be naive to think that the feds have thrown in the towel.

“They may come back with a lot more force like they did at Waco with the Davidians,” said Paul, adding that he hoped the situation remained non-violent.

Host Neil Cavuto remarked that the potential for violence across the United States was on a “very slight trigger,” to which Paul responded, “That’s the great fear….especially if the financial crisis gets much worse which I anticipate.”

 WATCH: Ron Paul addresses Bundy Ranch dispute.

Concerns that the feds may be gearing up for a massive show of force directed against Bundy and his family were also shared by former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz. Richard Mack, who told radio host Ben Swann that Saturday’s stand down was a “ploy” to disperse the thousands of Bundy supporters who had gathered as part of a long term plan to isolate and target the Bundy family.

“If they do that kind of raid, I don’t believe there’s any way that could happen without bloodshed,” Mack told Swann.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn't been very vocal about the cattle battle showdown in recent days, but says "it's not over."

Reid tells News4's Samantha Boatman his take on the so-called cattle battle in southern Las Vegas. "Well, it's not over. We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over," Reid said.

Senator Reid made his comments after the unveiling of four brand new battery-electric buses for the RTC fleet.

WATCH: Sen. Reid on Cattle Battle: "It's not over."

During his appearance on Fox News, Paul made the wider point that the Bundy dispute would not have escalated if the issue of land ownership was made clearer, noting that in Texas for example there is no “public ownership,” whereas in states like Nevada “everybody owns it yet nobody owns it.”

“They had virtual ownership of that land because they had been using it….but it’s not clean enough, I think land should be in the states and I think the states should sell it to the people, it’s worked out quite well in big states,” said Paul, adding that publicly owned land only causes problems and wrangling between government, environmentalists, energy companies and ranchers.

“You need the government out of it and I think that’s the important point, if you don’t look at that you can expect more of these problems, especially when our economy gets into more trouble,” said Paul, adding that violence could be directed towards the feds when in reality the real problem is bad ideas and bad politics that need to be changed. - Info Wars.

THE THEATRE OF WAR: The World On High Alert As Ukraine Teeters On The Brink Of Civil War - Kiev Military Recaptures Eastern Airport, Pushes Tanks Toward Flashpoint Separatist City; At Least 4 Killed, 2 Wounded! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

April 15, 2014 - UKRAINE -  Ukrainian troops have seized an airfield in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, said anti-government protesters. Four people were killed and two injured, activists added. At the same time Slavyansk is being raided by the Ukrainian military.

Ukranian troops stand guard at a checkpoint near the city of Izium in the Kharkiv region of east Ukraine April 15, 2014.
(Reuters / Maks Levin)


Ukrainian troops approached the military airfield in armored personnel carriers between the eastern cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, the people’s militia located at the airfield told RIA Novosti on the phone.

“They started negotiating with the people’s militia, which is in control of the airfield. The shooting started unexpectedly. There are injured among the people’s militia, and there may be deaths,” they said.

WATCH: Kiev military storms occupied East Ukraine airfield, wounded reported.

Other members of the militia have blocked the entrance to Kramatorsk and are ready to defend the city, the activists added.

The activists who controlled the base said they were forced to retreat.

However, the city is still under the control of the people’s militia, the activists said.

“We were forced out of the airfield, but the city itself is under our control, we won’t allow [the Ukrainian troops] to enter,” one of the activists told Interfax.

WATCH:  Videos of military jets and helicopters flying over Kramatorsk, as the attack was launched, appeared on YouTube.


 The activists who controlled the base said they were forced to retreat.

“There are about 60 units of armored vehicles. They have been preparing for several days, and now they started to storm [the airfield]. The protesters blocked their way, they started shooting, there are wounded. Our people retreated. There are about 15 tanks, the other units are armored personnel vehicles,” another member of the people’s militia told RIA.

AP Video still.


At the same time, the eastern city of Slavyansk is being raided by Ukrainian troops, the head of the Donbass people’s militia, Sergey Tsyplakov, told RIA Novosti.

“Currently there is a major attack on Slavyansk, armored personnel vehicles are entering the city… there are many troops. The men are getting ready to defend [the city],” he said.

In turn, the Ukrainian media, quoting the Ministry of Defense, announced a special operation in Kramatorsk on Tuesday. However, they provided no further details.

This looks like war preparations. Checkpoint near region @Ruptly

 Anti-government protesters have been holding rallies in the south-eastern part of the country following the coup in Kiev on February 22. Activists have seized government buildings in most of the cities in the Donetsk region.

On Sunday, the Kiev government launched a crackdown operation in Slavyansk. Following the event, Ukraine’s Security Council approved a full-scale security operation in the country’s eastern regions. On Monday, coup-imposed President Aleksandr Turchinov signed a decree to officially begin a “special anti-terrorist operation” in the east of the country.

Yandex Maps

“There is a lot of military machinery here,” said one of the activists. “But the shooting hasn’t started yet.”

Moscow slammed Sunday’s order as “criminal.” It was issued by the coup-imposed acting President Aleksandr Turchinov, and approved a full-scale security operation in the country’s eastern regions. - RT.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The "Blood Moon" In Pictures - Spectacular Total Lunar Eclipse Turns Moon Red! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

April 15, 2014 - SPACE -  Night owls across much of North America had the chance to witness a total lunar eclipse on Tuesday. It is the first time the Earth, moon and sun have been in exact alignment for two and a half years.

The moon is seen as it begins a total lunar eclipse that will turn the moon red over Buenos Aires April 15, 2014.
(Reuters / Marcos Brindicci)

The event led to some stunning sights for those who braved the early hours to get a glimpse of the rare occurrence, with the moon changing color from bright orange to a blood red and brown, depending on the local weather conditions. Los Angeles and Dallas were two cities which had the best views of the phenomenon.

WATCH:  Total lunar eclipse turns Moon blood red.


A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth. This actually happens quite frequently, but it is rare for the alignment to be just right so that the Earth blocks out all the sun’s light and the moon goes almost completely dark. This is the first of four total eclipses, which will take place roughly every six months for the next two years. This is known as a tetrad and is very uncommon. The next one will be in 2032.

Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles said, “The fact that there are four lunar successions coming this year and next ... is unusual, but it's not the kind of thing astronomers get worked up about. It doesn't really mean anything, and it's a chance arrangement of gravity and the motions of objects in the solar system, primarily the Earth and moon.”

This composite image shows a sequence, from bottom left to top left, of the moon's transition during a
total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP)

Before the eclipse occurred, a small group of Christians believed the event was a biblical prophecy, which would lead to the end of the world.

John Hagee, pastor and author of ‘Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change,’ cited Joel 2:31 as evidence, which says: "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."

The moon is seen during a total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014, in Atizapan municipality, Mexico State.
(AFP Photo / Ronaldo Schemidt)

The moon is seen as it heads into a total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP)

Proponents of this biblical prophecy also say it coincides with two important Jewish holidays – Passover and Tabernacles – contributing to the significance of the event.

However, writing for EarthSky.org, Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd say that it’s no surprise that full moons coincide with important Jewish holidays, as the Jewish calendar is, after all, a lunar calendar.

“In any year, it’s inevitable that a full moon should fall on or near the feasts of Passover (15 Nissan) and Tabernacles (15 Tishri). Nissan and Tishri are the first and seventh months of the Jewish calendar, respectively,” they explained. - RT.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: "We Have Not Seen Anything Like This Before" - NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Spots Possible New Moon Forming Around Planet Saturn!

April 15, 2014 - SATURN -  NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn. Informally named "Peggy," the object may be a new moon. Details of the observations were published online today by the journal Icarus.

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn's A ring in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft could be
caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons. The image is adapted from one in a paper in the journal
Icarus, reporting the likely presence of an icy body causing gravitational effects on nearby ring particles, producing the
bright feature visible at the ring's edge. The object, informally called "Peggy," is estimated to be no more than about half
a mile, or one kilometer, in diameter. It may be in the process of migrating out of the ring, a process that one
recent theory proposes as a step in the births of Saturn's several icy moons.

"We have not seen anything like this before," said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University of London, and the report's lead author. "We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right."

Images taken with Cassini's narrow angle camera on April 15, 2013 show disturbances at the very edge of Saturn's A ring -- the outermost of the planet's large, bright rings. One of these disturbances is an arc about 20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) long and 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. Scientists also found unusual protuberances in the usually smooth profile at the ring's edge. Scientists believe the arc and protuberances are caused by the gravitational effects of a nearby object.

The object is not expected to grow any larger, and may even be falling apart. But the process of its formation and outward movement aids in our understanding of how Saturn's icy moons, including the cloud-wrapped Titan and ocean-holding Enceladus, may have formed in more massive rings long ago. It also provides insight into how Earth and other planets in our solar system may have formed and migrated away from our star, the sun.

"Witnessing the possible birth of a tiny moon is an exciting, unexpected event," said Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. According to Spilker, Cassini's orbit will move closer to the outer edge of the A ring in late 2016 and provide an opportunity to study Peggy in more detail and perhaps even image it.

Peggy is too small to see in images so far. Scientists estimate it is probably no more than about a half mile in diameter. Saturn's icy moons range in size depending on their proximity to the planet -- the farther from the planet, the larger. And many of Saturn's moons are comprised primarily of ice, as are the particles that form Saturn's rings. Based on these facts, and other indicators, researchers recently proposed that the icy moons formed from ring particles and then moved outward, away from the planet, merging with other moons on the way.

"The theory holds that Saturn long ago had a much more massive ring system capable of giving birth to larger moons," Murray said. "As the moons formed near the edge, they depleted the rings."

It is possible the process of moon formation in Saturn's rings has ended with Peggy, as Saturn's rings now are, in all likelihood, too depleted to make more moons. Because they may not observe this process again, Murray and his colleagues are wringing from the observations all they can learn. - NASA.

FUK-U-SHIMA: No Room For Error - Fukushima Basements Mistakenly FLOODED With 200 TONS Of Radioactive Water?!

April 15, 2014 - JAPAN - A pump at Japan’s battered Fukushima power plant has mistakenly flooded its basements with highly contaminated cooling-tank water. But the latest mishap follows a far more worrying discovery about one last year’s leak.

AFP Photo / Toru Hanai / Pool

About 200 tons of water ended up flooding the basements beneath the complex, although the water didn’t have a pathway to reach the ocean or leak out to any other areas, fortunately. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., ordered the leakage to be removed as soon as possible, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

The water has gathered beneath a cluster of facilities responsible for processing waste.

The scary part about this particular brand of tainted water has to do with its function to cool nuclear fuel rods in storage tanks. This catapults the amount of becquerels per liter of cesium into the tens of millions. The water had leaked before going through a purification process designed to reduce these levels.

The first signs of trouble came April 10, as water levels indoors suddenly weren’t being siphoned off, instead rising. But the discovery that four pumps used specifically to reverse the flow of water were active was only made two days later, on April 12. They weren’t switched off until the early evening the next day.

This is after the battered power plant saw close to a ton of toxic water escape a storage tank on Sunday. No contact with the ocean has been found.

Japanese media put that leak at 1,640 becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium, judging by the water remaining in the tank. TEPCO said one of its workers had found it in a tank some 700 meters away from the shoreline at about midday GMT Sunday.

The water didn’t manage to seep into the Pacific, because there’s no ditch around the area; however, it did manage to pour into the ground, according to one official, who reported damage to the lower part of the tank.

However, the mishaps don’t stop there. The leaks come on the heels of a far more worrying discovery about radiation amounts in an August incident last year.

TEPCO revealed Friday that the massive leak of 300 tons of toxic water in August is far more catastrophic than initially thought, after recalculating radiation levels.

Just as the government overturned the initiative for a nuclear-free Japan by 2030, amid public outrage, news emerged that the Pacific Ocean had received a dose of 280 million becquerels per liter of radioactive materials from the August 2013 leak. The Japan Times reports that the Nuclear Regulation Authority put the incident at Level 3 (out of a possible eight).

TEPCO had used data from 173 water samples it had collected by last October and found that its measurements could have been offset by bad formulas. TEPCO then used a theoretical formula to arrive at the new results by performing some extrapolations.

Cleaning up the power plant is becoming an increasingly complex and challenging task. While Japan has had to cut high energy costs by refusing to get rid of nuclear power, the price of cleaning up the area, siphoning off toxic water and decontaminating the plant will be a decades-long venture costing the country billions of dollars. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Global Seismic Uptick - Powerful 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Bouvet Island Region!

April 15, 2014 - BOUVET ISLAND REGION - No tsunami warning was issued following a very strong 6.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the Bouvet Island region.

Powerful 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Bouvet Island Region
USGS earthquake location map.

The shallow earthquake, was centered about 364 kilometres (226 miles) northeast of Bouvet Island, Bouvet Island and about 2279 kilometres (1416 miles) southwest of Hermanus, South Africa, at a depth of 11.7 kilometres (7.3 miles), the US Geological Survey reported.

No tsunami warning was issued for the South American and African regions, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

No damage or casualties have been reported. The USGS upgraded its pager status to ‘green’, meaning that “there is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.”  The USGS stated that "there are likely to be no affected structures in this region and no secondary effects are expected."

Powerful 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Bouvet Island Region
USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

According to Wikipedia, the Bouvet Island is an uninhabited subantarctic volcanic island and dependency of Norway located in the South Atlantic Ocean at 54°25.8′S 3°22.8′E. It lies at the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is the most remote island in the world, approximately 2,200 kilometres (1,400 mi) south-southwest of the coast of South Africa and approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi) north of the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.

The island has an area of 49 square kilometres (19 sq mi), of which 93 percent is covered by a glacier. The centre of the island is an ice-filled crater of an inactive volcano. Some skerries and one smaller island, Larsøya, lie along the coast. Nyrøysa, created by a rock slide in the late 1950s, is the only easy place to land and is the location of a weather station.

Bouvet Island. Wikipedia.

Glacier on Bouvet Island's west coast. Wikipedia.

The west coast of Bouvet Island. Wikipedia.

Bouvet is a volcanic island constituting the top of a volcano located as the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the South Atlantic Ocean.  93 percent of the island is covered by glaciers, giving it a domed shape. The summit region of the island is Wilhelmplatået, slightly to the west of the island's center. Below Wilhelmplatået is the main caldera responsible for creating the island. The last eruption took place 2000 BC, producing a lava flow at Kapp Meteor. The volcano is presumed to be in a declining state.