Sunday, December 28, 2014

TWILIGHT ZONE: Anomalies, Mysteries, Coincidence And Synchronicities - The Missing AirAsia Flight Is THIRD Malaysia-Linked Incident This Year; AirAsia Had A Clean Safety Record; Pilot Asked To Deviated From Flight Plan; Relative Of Missing AirAsia Flight Reportedly Received Text Message Saying "All Are Alive", As Was The Case With Missing Malaysia Flight 370,...?!

Graphic illustration: Andre Heath.

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man ... a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. Next stop The Twilight Zone."
- Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone.

December 28, 2014 - SOUTHEAST ASIA
- The disappearance Sunday of AirAsia Flight 8501 was the third air incident this year involving Malaysia, where budget carrier AirAsia in based. Here's a look at the two other disasters, as well as the latest missing flight, which went missing with 162 people aboard less than an hour after taking off from Surabaya, Indonesia, for Singapore.

Missing flight is 3rd Malaysia-linked incident

The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 on March 8 triggered one of modern aviation's most perplexing mysteries. Flight 370, carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, vanished without a trace, sending searchers across vast areas of the Indian Ocean. An initial multinational operation to locate the wreckage far off Australia's west coast turned up empty, without a single piece of debris found.

After a four-month hiatus, the hunt resumed Oct. 4 with new, more sophisticated equipment, including sonar, video cameras and jet fuel sensors aboard three ships that will spend up to a year in a desolate stretch of the sea, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) west of Australia.

The 60,000-square-kilometer (23,000-square-mile) search area lies along what is known as the "seventh arc" — a stretch of ocean where investigators believe the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed, based largely on an analysis of transmissions between the plane and a satellite.

Officials initially ruled out terrorism, but conspiracy theories have endured. Until the wreckage is found and examined, it will be impossible to say for sure what happened to the plane.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 17All 298 passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when, according to Dutch air crash investigators, it was likely struck by multiple "high-energy objects" that some aviation experts say is consistent with a missile strike.

Hunks of the wreckage were transported to the Netherlands by trucks and will be reassembled in a hangar. However, international teams seeking to retrieve remains and salvage evidence have had difficulty reaching the crash site due to clashes between Ukrainian government troops and Russian-backed separatist rebels. Six victims have yet to be identified.

A high-ranking rebel officer has acknowledged that rebels shot down the plane with a ground-to-air missile after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military plane. Russian media, however, claim the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian jet.

The Dutch Safety Board's final report may rule out one or the other scenario, but it will not seek to attribute responsibility.

Dutch prosecutors, meanwhile, are coordinating an international criminal investigation into the downing, but have yet to name any suspects or say when or how charges might be brought.

An Indonesia AirAsia flight with 162 people aboard, most of them Indonesians, disappeared Sunday over the Java Sea, triggering a search involving several Southeast Asian nations.

Contact with Flight 8501 was lost about 42 minutes after the single-aisle, twin-engine A320-200 jet took off from Surabaya airport in Indonesia for Singapore.

It was not immediately clear whether it had any satellite tracking devices on board.

Malaysia-based AirAsia, led by Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, has dominated cheap travel in the region for years. AirAsia Malaysia owns 49 percent of its subsidiary, AirAsia Indonesia. It said the plane was on the submitted flight plan route when the pilots requested deviation due to weather before communication was lost.

AirAsia, which has a presence in most of Southeast Asia and recently in India, has never lost a plane before and has a good safety track record. - Daily Mail.

AirAsia Carriers Have Clean Safety Record

© REUTERS/ Olivia Harris/Files

Until Sunday, AirAsia and its regional affiliates enjoyed a nearly flawless safety record, with no fatal accidents involving their planes, according to aviation industry experts.

The Malaysian discount carrier was launched in 2001 with two planes when entrepreneur Tony Fernandes and his partners bought the defunct airline for a token sum of 25 U.S. cents.

The airline has quickly grown to become the biggest carrier in Malaysia and is among the pioneers of discount air travel in Asia, setting up affiliates in several countries. From its onset, AirAsia has made safety one of its top priorities, according to the airline, having invested significantly in pilot training and aircraft-maintenance programs.

Before Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 went missing Sunday morning, AirAsia had a track record of no fatal accidents, though it did have a number of “runway excursions,” technical jargon to describe an aircraft skidding off the runway or tarmac, something that experts said happens at many airports from time to time.

“AirAsia has had a good safety record. Indonesia’s safety record has been on the blemish due to some previous incidents but AirAsia is a very well-run carrier and [Indonesia AirAsia] has escaped safety issues so far,” said Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor for industry publication Flightglobal.

However, he said it was too early to determine any cause for Flight QZ8501’s disappearance, noting it could take months before authorities find out what happened.

AirAsia also operates a relatively new fleet of Airbus jets, with the young age of the planes helping to reduce maintenance issues. Airbus delivered the aircraft that went missing to the carrier in October 2008.

As part of AirAsia’s expansion plans in Southeast Asia, the group in 2004 bought a 49% stake in a small Indonesia airline, and later renamed the carrier Indonesia AirAsia.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database showed only one minor incident involving Indonesia AirAsia that took place in May 2007, when one of its Boeing Co 737 jets made a hard landing, causing some damage to its fuselage. No injuries were reported and the aircraft was later repaired.

AirAsia also has affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, and plans to relaunch in Japan as it expands further. AirAsia and Indonesian rival Lion Air have, between them, outstanding orders for more than 1,000 planes.

The European Commission in 2007 banned all Indonesia-based airlines from flying planes into European Union airspace out of safety concerns after a series of fatal incidents in Indonesia. The commission since 2009 has taken several airlines off the list, including Indonesia AirAsia and Garuda Indonesia, the Indonesian flag carrier, citing safety improvements.

Meanwhile, Lion Air, which is AirAsia’s main competitor in Southeast Asia, is still on the EU air-safety list, which bans some 308 airlines from 21 countries from operating in European airspace, according to information on the EU website. - WSJ.

Pilot asked to deviate from flight plan...?!

The known route of AirAsia Flight 8501

With the disappearance Sunday morning of yet another plane from Southeast Asia, the day unfolded here with scenes that have grown tragically familiar: the series of news conferences by government and airline officials, the mounting of a huge search-and-recovery operation, the families gathered at the airport tearfully awaiting word.

Indonesian authorities began and then had to suspend an air search for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 passengers and crew members after it lost contact Sunday morning with air traffic control.

By nightfall Sunday, Indonesian officials said they had spotted no sign of the plane in the area over the Java Sea but had to stop their search because of bad weather and darkness. The air search was to be continued Monday morning.

Flight QZ8501 — an Airbus A320-200 jet — was bound for Singapore and lost contact at 6:17 a.m. local time (6:17 p.m. Saturday in Washington). The break in communications occurred 42 minutes after takeoff from the Indonesian city of Surabaya and roughly an hour before its scheduled landing at Changi Airport, Indonesian authorities said.

AirAsia said in a statement that the plane’s pilot had requested to deviate from the submitted flight plan because of weather before communication was lost. - Washington Post.


Graphic illustration: Andre Heath.

As stated before, Flight QZ8501’s disappearance comes on the heels of two other major airplane disasters this year — all with a Malaysia connection. AirAsia is a budget airline based in Malaysia, although the plane that lost contact belonged to AirAsia’s Indonesian affiliate. In March, Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, with 239 people on board; it is still missing. In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine; all 298 people aboard died.

In the case of Flight 370, one of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.

A migrant worker in the room said that several other workers from his company were on the plane, including his brother-in-law. Among them, the QQ accounts of three still showed that they were online, he said Sunday afternoon.

Adding to the mystery, other relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers' numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up.

In the case of AirAsia, Sputnik News is reporting today that  "a relative of a missing passenger has reportedly received a text message from an unknown sender, stating that the plane made an emergency landing and all passengers are alive. The Indonesian Transportation Ministry is examining these claims."

Flight 370's disappearance was so strange, that even mainstream journalist such as CNN’s Don Lemon entertained all sorts of theories about the missing plane, including the chance something “supernatural” happened. On one show, he actually asked panelists about the possibility a black hole was involved.

Lemon brought this up along with other “conspiracy theories” people have been floating on Twitter, including people noting the eerie parallels to Lost and The Twilight Zone, and wondered, “is it preposterous” to consider a black hole as a possibility?

Mary Schiavo, a former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said, “A small black hole would suck in our entire universe, so we know it’s not that.”

Here’s another theory I’ll just throw out there: what about the plane entered a wormhole into another dimension? I don’t know if that’s how the science works, though.

WATCH: Here's the video, via CNN:

Following, Flight 370's inexplicable disappearance, Natural News offered the following supernatural explanations, which now seems quite applicable to the current situation involving AirAsia's Flight QZ8501:

Four mind-bending possibilities, none of which seem possible

This brings up the immediate bind-bending question of how electronic devices on a commercial flight that vanished still appear to be connected to the internet. The explanations for this defy everything we think we know about reality:

• Mind-bending possibility #1, the "kidnapped" explanation: The plane somehow landed somewhere without leaving a radar signature of any kind, all the passengers are being held hostage there (and are thus still alive), their mobile devices are somehow within cell tower range and yet for some reason have not been confiscated. (This explanation seems extremely unlikely.)

• Mind-bending possibility #2, the "Stargate" explanation: A teleportation portal of some kind exists in the skies, through which the plane inadvertently flew and was teleported somewhere else. Yet, astonishingly, electromagnetic signals can still make it through the portal, and the two sides of the portal remain in contact across the radio spectrum. (This explanation sounds like pure science fiction and also seems extremely unlikely, yet we must at least acknowledge that modern physics has already demonstrated the instantaneous teleportation of information across apparently infinite space due to the "non-locality" of entangled electrons as described in quantum theory.)

• Mind-bending possibility #3, the "failed search" explanation: This far more mundane explanation supposes that the massive, multi-day search for plane wreckage and debris simply hasn't stumbled upon the correct location yet. The fact that airplane black boxes broadcast homing signals adds to the skepticism that this explanation holds any water, as it is extremely unlikely that the airplane's black boxes could have been obliterated. Nevertheless, this explanation still seems far more believable than supernatural explanations.

• Mind-bending possibility #4, the "advanced military weapons" explanation: Some military entity, either human or non-human, was testing an advanced weapon capable of either instantly obliterating large airborne objects or teleporting them to another place (or dimension). This explanation seems incredibly far-fetched, but then again, barely a hundred years ago, so did the idea that machines could ever fly at all. Related to this is the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment which some believe caused a U.S. Navy ship to vanish and reappear.

We must first stick to mundane explanations until more searches can be conducted

As someone who is trained in the sciences, I remain very skeptical that Flight 370 vanished for supernatural reasons, yet its disappearance unquestionably defies all known conventional explanations so far.

The vanishing of aircraft over the ocean is not without precedent, either. According to historical records, the so-called "Bermuda Triangle" causes both ships and aircraft to vanish for reasons that defy apparent scientific explanation. While the disappearance of ships can theoretically be explained by underwater volcanoes emitting large quantities of gas that mix with ocean waters and cause ships to immediately lose bouyancy, there has never been any convincing scientific explanation behind the disappearance of the many aircraft there. Click here for a list of the top 10 mysteries of vanishing aircraft, including some lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

With each passing day that this search goes on without finding any debris from the fight, it is incredibly reasonable to at least entertain supernatural possibilities in the quest for answers. At some point, if no debris ever appears, we must expand our window of possibilities to include what military strategists refer to as "unknown unknowns." - Natural News.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Hyper-Real Robots Being Prepared For Mass Commercialization, That Will Replace Receptionists, Dead Loved Ones, Pop Stars... And Even Sex Dolls; Unnervingly Human Androids Coming To A Future Very Near You!

Eerie: Android engineers have recently been able to overcome the 'Uncanny Valley syndrome', where androids elicit a response
of revulsion because they look almost, but not quite, human

December 28, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY
- Chillingly life-like robots are causing a storm in Japan – where their creators are about to launch them as actresses, full-size mechanical copies for pop idol fans, and clones of the dearly departed.

There is even talk that the naturalistic, even engaging, she-droids may be taken up as men as partners in the not-too-distant future.

This is the news: This robot has been deployed to read the news at a Tokyo museum

Android Asuna was a star attraction at Tokyo Designers’ Week showcase earlier this month and she is one of a series of geminoids, as their inventor dubs them, that are ripe for commercialisation say their creator robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro.

Gobsmacked men attending the show told MailOnline that she was well made, very convincing and had a nice voice. One man joked that Asuna would make 'a good date; a cheap date!'

From others, covering their mouths in astonishment at Asuna’s realistic skin and facial expressions, the frequent response from the public was 'sukoi' which translates as 'amazing' in English.

Asuna is so convincing that many bowed respectfully before requesting politely to take her photo or join a selfie.

Unable, for now, to use some of the advanced artificial intelligence (AI), face and voice recognition systems that some Japanese robots coming on the market now use, Asuna relies on a camera rigged behind her that is relayed to a remote human controller to give her life.

This so-called tele-presence enables Asuna to come alive, taking on the operator’s personality.

A fully independent version of the geminoid is expected in 10 years using all the above technologies to make her virtually indistinguishable from humans says Mr. Takeshi Mita, CEO of A-Lab in Tokyo, the company working with Prof. Ishiguro to make Asuna and her kind commercial.

'We already have 20 year's experience making androids in the lab. So in 10 years we will marry AI and life like geminoids in perfection,' he told MailOnline.

'We had been focusing on perfecting her skin, facial expressions, and so on, so for now Asuna is really just a head. Now we are working on her arms and torso to give very natural, fluid body language.'

Future: A fully independent version of the geminoid is expected in 10 years to make her virtually indistinguishable from
humans depending on developments in artificial intelligence

Darling: Asuna was the star attraction at Tokyo Designers’ Week recently where visitors were floored by her

Everything about Asuna’s appearance has been painstakingly honed to make her more life-like.

From the superior quality of her silicon skin to the secret animatronic muscles that move her eyes and drive her facial expressions.

Previous attempts by Ishiguro's team had been dismissed as unconvincing and prone to what is known as the 'Uncanny Valley syndrome'.

This is a term coined by another Japanese professor of robotics, Masahiro Mori. It describes the response of revulsion and creepiness when faced with something that looks almost, but somehow not quite, human.

As robots become as dexterous as Asuna at mimicking humanity, so the theory goes, the syndrome will erase itself.

Being loved by a robot?' Levy says. 'It sounds a bit weird, but someday, for many, many people, being in love with a robot will be just as good as love with a human. - Author David Levy

Already Asuna and other androids from A-lab have had a taste of the limelight, appearing on stage and voicing actors lines using tele-presence. 

Asuna's next performance will be in an opera to prove her credentials as a singer. An Ishiguro geminoid is also appearing on stage in Paris now.

'One application we have is to turn her into an international pop idol,' says Mr. Mita.

Already Japan is in thrall to virtual idols such as Hatsune Miku, who is basically a hologram that 'sings' words and music created for her on a computer using 'vocaloid' technology.

Her tunes often outsell those sung by her flesh and blood musical rivals in Japan.

A-lab also hopes to tap into another big business in Japan - the popularity of fantasy figurines that appeal to Japan’s legions of nerdy men or 'otaku'.

Most such dolls are just a few centimetres high and often represent an idol or a manga character often scantily clad.

Frenzy: Fembots such as these are causing a storm in Japan at the moment because of recent breakthroughs in technology that
have made them so life-like. However some work is still to go on artificial intelligence

Have a nice day: An 'Otonaroid' greets guests to Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation,
making unnerving life-like eye contact as she converses while hooked to a tele-presence system

As A-lab is working with highly respected Prof. Ishiguro, Mr. Mita says the company has ruled out producing androids that might be used for sex.

But a spokesman working with Ishiguro’s lab says it is not a great leap of imagination to think similar robots, given the advancement in robotics and silicone skin technology, will be used for sex.

'Physical relations will be possible in general with such androids,' said Takahashi Komiyama.

'Androids for the sex industry are a definite possibly. Some have even fallen in love with Ishiguro’s geminoids. So we can't rule those relationships out.'

Japan already boasts the world’s most advanced sex dolls from firms such as Kanojotoys or Orient Industries based in Tokyo.

Around £6,000 buys the very superior Yasuragi 'dutch wife' sex doll with extras such as movable eyes and flexible fingers and a skin texture its makers say is indistinguishable from the real thing.

Lady Gaga was so impressed with their quality that she asked the Japanese firm to make dolls in her own image.

'It is not inconceivable,' said an Orient Industries spokesman, 'that we will be making android life partners in the near future.'

David Levy, author of Love and Sex With Robots predicts that as robots become more sophisticated, growing numbers of adventurous humans will enter into intimate relationships with these intelligent robots.

Speaking at the First International Conference on Human-Robot Personal Relationships, held last week, he says that AI will progress to the point where human-robot dating will be commonplace.

'Being loved by a robot?' Levy says. 'It sounds a bit weird, but someday, for many, many people, being in love with a robot will be just as good as love with a human.

'Real-life loved ones can also be reproduced faithfully by cloning them to comfort the bereaved', Mr Mita pointed out.

These completely unnerving baby-like telenoids are designed to show the minimum required human-like expressions
and are most popular at the museum because they straddle the creepy/acceptable barrier

Sexbot: Hyper-real sex dolls are already on sale in Japan. Experts say it won't be long before android versions of them will be manufactured

Androids can now also take on a variety of human jobs such as receptionist and even news readers.

To prove the point two fem-bots from Ishiguro’s stable have been working in those posts since June this year at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

The more mature 'Otonaroid' greets guests to the museum, making terrifying life-like eye contact as she converses while hooked to a tele-presence system that the public can also play with.

'Kodomodroid' (child android) is viewable at the museum through an art like installation in an all white room where she sits without rest all day lip-synching the day’s news perfectly from an AI source.

They are joined by the most compelling/repelling android of them all who incidentally happens to be the most popular among the Ishiguro droids on show.

The thoroughly unnerving baby-like Telenoid, sports a simplistic mannequin head with stunted arms and legs that also speaks by proxy from a control box maned by museum visitors.

Confronted with the rather formal reception-droid, Japanese housewife Koari IIda says she couldn’t decide if Otanaroid was human or not.

'If you have talk to her getting closer is a good idea, so she seems more natural and less creepy close up,' she said. 'But it’s great fun robo-chatting.'

Asked if she would like Otanaroid at home as a baby sitter if mum was out. Rika replied: 'No, Mum is my robot!' - Daily Mail.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Ferry Catches Fire En Route From Greece To Italy - Evacuation Of 466 Passengers And Crew Being Complicated By Dangerous Weather Conditions!

Passengers trapped on burning ferry in Adriatic Sea called Greek TV stations to plead for help

December 28, 2014 - ADRIATIC SEA
- 466 passengers and crew are being evacuated from an Italian car ferry that caught fire near a Greek island on Sunday morning. The evacuation is being complicated by strong winds and lack of places in lifeboats, according to the media.

Fire broke out on an Italian Norman Atlantic car ferry traveling from western Greece to eastern Italy at around 6.00 am local time (0400 GMT), coast guard officials said on Sunday.

"The captain has requested the evacuation of the ship, according to initial information," spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos said.

The international evacuation effort including Italian and Albanian forces is complicated by dangerous weather conditions with strong winds blowing in the area northwest of Corfu.

FILE PHOTO (AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen)

The ferry has 411 passengers and 55 crew on board, as well as 222 vehicles. An official told Sputnik news agency that within the framework of the rescue operation some 150 people had already been transferred from a lifeboat to a container ship that had been sailing nearby.

The captain of the ferry, owned by ANEK, a Greek company, is Italian, and 278 on board are Greek. There are people of several other nationalities from countries such as Germany, Austria, Turkey, France and the Netherlands, according to Reuters.

A Greek TV station got comments of some passengers, who dramatically described the evacuation.

Google Maps

"They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no coordination," one said, as cited by Reuters. "It's dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching... we opened some boxes and got some life vests, we are trying to save ourselves."

Nikos Papatheodosiou’s phone call was more emotional: "We are burning and sinking, no one can save us. Please help us! Don't leave us!"

Several people reportedly jumped into the water, but it is unclear whether there are any casualties. However, cold winter temperatures will lessen their chances of survival if this is the case.

Rescue helicopters and a C-130 search-and-rescue support aircraft have been sent to the scene. Seven nearby ships havebeen instructed to take passengers and crew members from the ferry, said Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, according to AP.

Major rescue under way after fire breaks out on Norman Atlantic ferry

"We are doing everything we can to save those on board and no one, no one will be left helpless in this tough situation,"
Varvitsiotis told reporters, as cited by Reuters. "It is one of the most complicated rescue operations that we have ever done."

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has already contacted his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi to coordinate the rescue efforts, government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi told the Greek TV-channel Skai. “It is a very difficult rescue operation,” she said, as cited by TASS. The ferry lost control in Greece’s waters, so the responsibility for the operation falls on Athens. - RT.

ICE AGE NOW: Snow And Icy Weather Sweeps Across Europe, Stranding Drivers - UK Travel Chaos As Snow And Delayed Engineering Works Wreak Havoc; 15,000 Vehicles Trapped By Snow And Ice In Savoy, Switzerland!

A man clears the street during snowfall in Wiesbaden, Germany, Saturday Dec. 27, 2014. Weather forecasts
predict colder temperatures and snowfall for Germany.   © Arne Dedert

December 28, 2014 - EUROPE
- Snow and icy weather swept through parts of Europe on Saturday, stranding drivers overnight and leaving thousands of homes without power in Britain.

Snow also covered parts of Switzerland and southwestern Germany, and more than 20 centimeters (nearly eight inches) of snow has fallen in higher parts of Germany's Black Forest.

Many motorists in Britain were forced to abandon their cars or were trapped in vehicles for hours after becoming snowed in. Dozens of people traveling from Sheffield to London spent the night in a church after their bus became stuck.

Parts of northern England saw 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) of snow. Western Power Distribution said 36,000 customers were without power, and another 69,000 had short interruptions to supplies. Staff worked through the night to reconnect customers, but thousands in the East Midlands region were still affected.

Liverpool's John Lennon Airport and Leeds Bradford International closed late Friday as workers cleared snow from the runways. The airports have reopened.

British weather forecasts predict more snow showers, mainly in the north, though the main threat would be ice on roads.

WATCH: Winter hits Europe hard.

The snow was welcomed in the French Alps, which have seen hardly any since the start of the ski season. But with up to 60 centimeters (2 feet) predicted this weekend above 2,000 meters (yards) altitude, one of the busiest vacation weeks of the year looked more promising - if drivers could reach the mountains.

Traffic jams snarled many of France's major highways on Saturday, with more than three-quarters of the country under severe weather watch. Only 7,000 drivers of 36,000 expected were able to reach their destination in Savoie, one of the Alps regions, according to the Interior Ministry. Emergency shelters have been set up along the way for potentially thousands who are going to be forced to stay on the road overnight.

In the north, the port of Calais closed because of wind gusts.

Snow and ice led to a roughly 20-kilometer (12.5 mile) traffic jam on the A8 highway near Stuttgart in southern Germany.

Parts of Germany's south and west saw more than 10 centimeters (4 inches) of fresh snow, helping some ski areas which had been struggling. - The Bismarck Tribune.

UK travel chaos as snow and delayed engineering works wreak havoc

Crowds of passengers queue outside Finsbury Park Station in north London December 27 2014
(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)
British commuters who are wearily used to travel and public transport hold-ups found that snow and delayed engineering works on the East Coast mainline meant that many had to abandon their journeys.

A £200 million (US$311 million) engineering project to install overhead power cables on the East Coast mainline just north of King’s Cross, scheduled for Christmas and Boxing Day, has overrun – meaning that trains are being terminated at Finsbury Park, a few miles north, or Peterborough.

The result has been chaos and overcrowding, as Finsbury Park only has four platforms – compared to a dozen at King’s Cross. Other trains have simply been cancelled, meaning the ones that are running are massively overcrowded.

The West Coast mainline from Euston is also closed for engineering works, so the only viable routes north are by East Midland Trains from St Pancreas or from Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill – meaning that these routes will also be severely overcrowded.

A spokesman from the Department for Transport laid the blame for the delays on Network Rail.

WATCH: Transportation delays and long lines at Finsbury Park.

“It is extremely disappointing that Network Rail’s engineering works have overrun and will affect travellers during this festive season, passengers will be rightly annoyed,” he said.

The Office of Rail Regulation is to launch an investigation into the major disruption to passengers caused by the delayed engineering works, and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is demanding an explanation from Network Rail – which is responsible for the UK’s rail infrastructure.

Britain’s airports were faring little better, with a number of flights from Manchester delayed. In one case, a pilot resorted to phoning the police.

A pilot for Germanwings on a flight from Manchester to Hamburg became so frustrated with the three-hour wait to get his plane de-iced that he ended up dialing 999.

There was only one vehicle at Manchester airport capable of de-icing planes, and after getting no reply following several attempts to contact airport authorities, the pilot phoned police in desperation.

“It was getting pretty hot and all the food was gone. There was about 150 people on the plane, people were getting frustrated. No-one was coming back to the pilot, so eventually he called the police. He said he couldn't tell us anything because he couldn't get hold of anyone – he said no one was responding,”
said Mr. Adam, one of the passengers, as quoted by British media.

“Spent a week in an alpine country and where do we get stranded thanks to snow? Manchester airport,”
passenger Natalie Merchant told the Daily Mail.

Once police left the plane, some passengers went with them. Others remained on board and were diverted to Hanover.

Other flights, including routes to Belfast and Paris, were unable to take off. Liverpool and Leeds Bradford airports were closed Friday night, but have now re-opened.

In other developments, 36,000 people in the west of the country were left without power on Friday night. Many of those were still suffering disruptions to their electricity throughout Saturday. In the East Midlands, hundreds of homes are still without power. - RT.

15,000 vehicles trapped by snow and ice in Savoy, Switzerland

Snow and ice in the French Alps have stranded 15,000 vehicles, snarling up holiday traffic to and from ski resorts, French media report.

The country declared an orange weather alert, its second-highest, as local authorities scrambled to put up motorists for the night.

One man died when his vehicle slid into a ravine in the Isere region.

The government asked drivers to "exercise the utmost caution" and avoid travel if possible.

Three people died in other snow-related incidents across France earlier this week, according to French daily Le Monde.
Cars stuck near Les Saisies ski resort in Savoy

Snowy conditions in the French Alps are expected to persist into Sunday, followed by freezing weather next week when Paris should see its first frosts in more than a year, French weather forecasters say.

Local gyms and community halls were opened up as shelters in the Savoy region on Saturday.

Motorists seeking accommodation "stormed" the Chambery exhibition centre, according to a live page (in French) on the website of Le Dauphine Libere newspaper.

Snow fall as vehicles move bumper-to-bumper along the motorway near Albertville, on December 27, 2014 as they make their way into the Tarentaise valley
in the heart of the French Alps, home to many of the famous French ski resorts. (AFP Photo / Jean-Pierre Clatot)

People walk at the Les Saisies ski resort in Savoie, central-eastern France, as snow falls on December 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Jean-Pierre Clatot)

People put snow chains on their tires as snow falls on December 27, 2014 on the road to the Les Saisies ski resort in Savoie, central-eastern France.
(AFP Photo / Jean-Pierre Clatot)

A man uses a snow plow to clean the road as vehicles drive past on December 27, 2014 on the road to the Les Saisies ski resort in
Savoie, central-eastern France. (AFP Photo / Jean-Pierre Clatot)

Eleven hours

British driver Gavin Rigby told BBC News he had taken 11 hours to drive between Val d'Isere and Bourg Saint Maurice - a journey which would normally take 30 minutes.

Mr Rigby, who is returning to the UK with his family from a skiing holiday, said they had received no help from the French authorities, and had had to rely on other motorists for information.

WATCH: Snow strands holiday makers in French Alps.

He felt most sorry for the drivers who had, unlike himself, set out without snow chains.

"The police should have got people to fit chains this morning after half a metre [20 in] of snow fell last night," he said, as he prepared to travel on through the night.

Strong winds caused damage elsewhere in France, shutting the port of Calais, where an anti-migrant fence was partially toppled.

Closer to Paris, the celebrated gardens of Versailles were closed to the public because of gales.

Heavy snow caused disruption to roads in Germany too, causing a 25km (16-mile) traffic jam on the A8 motorway near Stuttgart. - BBC.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

December 28, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Second manatee found dead in a month, South Mississippi

This is the manatee that washed ashore in Waveland

Marine biologists are in Waveland this morning. They rushed to Hancock County after getting reports that a dead manatee washed ashore.

Representatives from IMMS say this is the second manatee to be found in Mississippi waters this month. They call this a "very unusual" trend, because during the winter, manatees aren't normally in the northern Gulf of Mexico. They usually migrate to Florida.

According to the Save the Manatee Club, "Manatees can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas - particularly where seagrass beds or freshwater vegetation flourish. Manatees are a migratory species. Within the United States, they are concentrated in Florida in the winter. In summer months, they can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts, but summer sightings in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are more common."

Manatees are an endangered species. - WLOX.

Second dead whale found in December on Odisha Coast, India

In the second incident of its kind this month, the carcass of a large whale was found at the Gouda Nuagaon beach under Krushnaprasad block near Brahmagiri in Odisha's Puri district today.

The dead whale measuring around 30 feet in length, 12-15 feet in girth and weighing approximately 10 tonnes was sighted by villagers at about 2 pm today.

Curious villagers have gathered in huge numbers on the beach to have a glimpse of the large aquatic mammal. Awestruck by the size of the dead creature, the villagers said they had never seen anything like in their lifetime. - Bhubaneswar Buzz.

Indiana man killed by his own pit bull terrier on Christmas Day

A 40-year-old man who gave his pit bull a rawhide bone as a Christmas gift was attacked and killed by the dog.

Edward L. Cahill was found dead on the living room floor with bite marks on his arms and face, the Porter County coroner said. Cahill was home alone with his two pit bulls on Christmas morning when he gave Fat Boy a bone. When his wife arrived home later in the afternoon, she found Cahill in a pool of blood and the dog nearby.

WATCH: Man mauled to death by own pitbull on Christmas Day.

Coroner Chuck Harris said investigators know Fat Boy attacked Cahill because the other dog was locked in a bedroom.

"He loved his dogs. That's all I can say, and I think it's something that just went wrong," Cahill's wife Blanca Rodriguez said.

Animal control officers used a Taser on the dog to control Fat Boy and remove it from Cahill's home. The dog was later euthanized. - UPI.

Four lost flamingos fly NORTH for the winter and turn up in Siberia

Chilly: One flamingo was spotted ambling along the snowy bank of the Usa River in Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region

It could be a severe case of bird-bird, or strange weather patterns causing confusion, but at the moment scientists remain baffled about instances of flamingos flying north to bitterly cold Siberia for the winter, instead of south.

Four flamingos recently touched down in various parts of Siberia, to the astonishment of locals, in temperatures as low as -30C.

One landed in the Evenkia district of vast Krasnoyarsk region, which is just 310 miles south of the Arctic circle.

A strange place to be for a bird common in Africa, southern Europe and south Asia that likes warm climates.

It landed near Petr Sidorkin, a hunter who, luckily for the unusual visitor, wasn't in the mood for targeting exotic birds, the Siberian Times reported.

Four flamingos recently touched down in various parts of Siberia, at the locations indicated on the map, to the astonishment of locals

Four flamingos recently touched down in various parts of Siberia, at the locations indicated on the map, to the astonishment of locals

On the advice of local wildlife experts he and his wife fed it carrots, fish and minced beef, the paper said, and then took it to Royev Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk. Sadly, the bird did not survive.

It had frostbitten legs and a low body temperature from minus 30C conditions, the paper said.

Another flamingo caused a flap when it landed near the Turochack district of the mountainous Altai Republic, startling a local dog - which promptly bit it.

Fortunately, it was nursed back to health first at the Novosibirsk Centre for the Rehabilitation of Birds of Prey, then at Novosibirsk Zoo, which said it has facilities in which the bird will be able to thrive.

Another flamingo swooped down onto an ice lake in the Tomsk region and was rescued by fishermen. It had suffered mild frostbite but was given a warm reception at Seversky Zoo, which recharged its batteries.

Lapping up the attention: A flamingo that swooped onto an ice lake in the Tomsk region was rescued by fisherman

Lapping up the attention: A flamingo that swooped onto an ice lake in the Tomsk region was rescued by fisherman

The fate of another flamingo that landed in Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo region, is unknown.

It was spotted ambling along the snowy bank of the Usa River, but flew off to an island in the river before local wildlife experts could catch it.

Alexey Vasilchenko, from 'Kuznetsk Alatau' Reserve, told The Siberian Times that there have been around two dozen instances of flamingos veering off course to Siberia in the past 100 years.

There is a population of flamingos in Kazakhstan, but that is far from the Siberian locations the four flamingos ended up at this year.

Flamingos like warm climates, like that found on Renaissance Island (pictured)

Some are known to migrate to Iran and India in the winter and one theory is that northerly warm fronts are fooling the birds into thinking they're going in the right direction, others think that it could just be faulty wiring in the birds internal compass.

These birds are far from the only ones migrating to a surprising spot.

Over 5,000 birds of at least 16 different species have made a sewage drain in Delhi their home.

Seasonal visitors including the Painted Stork, Sarus Crane, Black-Necked Stork, Black-Tailed Godwit and Black-Headed Ibis have all bedded down there.  - Daily Mail.

TWILIGHT ZONE: Another Airplane Goes Missing - AirAsia Flight Number QZ8501 From Indonesia To Singapore Confirmed Missing; Up To 162 People On Board; Massive Search Operation Underway!

December 28, 2014 - INDONESIA
- AirAsia flight number QZ8501, bound from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, has lost contact with air traffic control, the airline has confirmed. The missing flight is an Airbus A320-200 with up to 161 people on board.


Indonesia air transport authorities have provided details of the plane’s last position.

"We are coordinating with the rescue team and looking for its position. We believe it is somewhere between Tanjung Pandan, a town on Belitung island, and Kalimantan,"
Indonesia's air transportation director-general Djoko Murjatmodjo stated, as cited by AFP.

Also, air force spokesman Marsma Hadi Tjahjanto confirmed that the Air Force was using the last point of contact to conduct an air search.

Flight path of the airplane.

AirAsia has stated that there were 162 passengers on board: 156 Indonesians, one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one French, and three South Koreans.

The flight was due to land in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. local time (00:30 GMT) and was listed as “delayed.”

AirAsia has confirmed the plane has gone missing in a statement.

"At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available," the company said.

Friends, relatives of passengers await news of at Changi Airport

It added that "search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service."

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said that services have been “activated” to help Indonesia search for the missing flight.

An Emergency Call Center with the number +622129850801 has been established for family and friends of those who may have been on board the flight.

Airbus has said in a statement they will assist the French safety investigation authority (BEA) and other authorities responsible for looking into the missing flight.

There were several aircraft nearby the area where signal from #QZ8501 was lost.

The aircraft, they said, was delivered to Asia six years ago, and had “accumulated about 23,000 flight hours during some 13,600 flights.”

The plane could seat up to 180 passengers.

The company added that further factual information would be provided as soon as details had been confirmed and cleared by authorities.

WATCH: AirAsia flight QZ8501 with 160+ on board goes missing after take-off.


"The thoughts of the Airbus management and staff are with those affected by flight QZ8501,"
the statement read.

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is believed to be one of the safest air carriers in the world. Until today there have been only two incidents with its aircraft. In both cases they overran runways.

One took place in November 7, 2004, at Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu airport (Flight 104, Boeing 737). Another incident with Flight 5218 (Airbus A320-200) occurred in Malaysia’s Kuching on January 10, 2011. - RT.