Wednesday, June 6, 2012

THE SYRIAN CRISIS: Prelude to a Military Invasion - Russia Condemns Hama Massacre as "Barbaric Violence," and Calls For Perpetrators to be "Severely Punished!

Russia condemns "barbaric" acts of violence near the city of Hama. Individuals who masterminded and committed these crimes must be tracked down and severely punished, states Russian Foreign Ministry.

Bodies of civilians, including women and children in the streets of Hama.
­There are certain forces which do not hesitate in organizing the most cruel and villainous provocations to disrupt Kofi Annan’s peace plan for the country, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich.

In response to the Hama tragedy, consolidation of international effort is vital to back up the Annan plan, he stressed. All external parties involved in solving the Syrian conflict must use their influence to put pressure on armed opposition groups, Lukashevich said.

"There are 49 confirmed and identified victims in Al-Kubeir, the majority of them from the Al-Yateem family," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory. "Among the dead are 18 women and children," he said, adding that six other people were also killed on Wednesday in a village near Al-Kubeir, which is in a farming area northwest of Hama city.

Earlier tolls from opposition groups had put the death toll at between 87 and 100. - RT.

WATCH: Syria slaughter - Up to 100 bound and slain in Hama massacre.

THE JAPAN TSUNAMI DEBRIS: "Clear Threat" to the American West Coast - 21-Meter-Long Japanese Concrete Dock Washes Ashore in Oregon!

A nearly 21-meter-long dock that floated ashore on an Oregon beach was torn loose from a fishing port in northern Japan by last year’s tsunami and drifted across thousands of kilometers of Pacific Ocean, a Japanese Consulate official said Wednesday.

A commemorative plaque on the dock showed it was one of four owned by Aomori Prefecture that broke loose from the port of Misawa on the northern tip of the main island, Deputy Consul Hirofumi Murabayashi said from Portland, Oregon.  One of the four docks turned up several weeks later on an island south of Misawa, but the other two are still missing, said Akihisa Sato, an engineer with Zeniya Kaiyo Service, the dock’s Tokyo-based manufacturer.  The docks weigh 165 tons each, Sato said.  The one that floated to Oregon was first spotted floating offshore Monday, and mistaken by several people for a barge, said Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. It washed ashore early Tuesday on Agate Beach, a mile north of Newport on the central Oregon Coast. It’s made of concrete with a metal pontoon and measures 21 meters long, 5.8 meters wide and 2.13 meters high. 

The distance between Japan and Oregon is roughly 8,050 kilometers.  A starfish native to Japan was among the marine life still clinging to the structure after the long voyage, Havel said.  “This is tsunami debris, not just from Japan, but from the tsunami itself,” Havel said.  John Chapman, a research scientist at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, said hundreds of millions of other organisms also hitchhiked across the ocean on the dock - some of which are invasive species never before seen on this part of the West Coast.  Among the organisms are a species of tiny crab that has run wild on the East Coast but not on the West, and a kind of algae that has hit southern California but not Oregon, Chapman said.  “This is a very clear threat,” he said. “It’s exactly like saying you threw a bowling ball into a China shop. It’s going to break something. But will it be valuable or cheap glass. It’s incredibly difficult to predict what will happen next.”  A radiation check of the dock came up negative, which was to be expected if the dock broke loose before the nuclear power plant accident triggered by the waves, Havel said. The parks department was overseeing efforts to identify and remove the dock. - Japan Today.
WATCH: Concrete dock washes ashore in Oregon.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: State Officials Warn of Growing Dangers of a Massive Mudflow on Mount Rainier - Could Produce Property Losses of up to $6 Billion!

A new report from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates that a volcanic mudflow (known as a ‘lahar’) from Mount Rainier could produce property losses of up to $6 billion to communities in the Puyallup Valley. 

“We now have a much better estimate of the economic impact of a major lahar flowing from Mount Rainier,” said Dave Norman, Washington State Geologist and manager of the DNR Geology and Earth Resources Division.” It’s not a question of if, but when, the next volcanic event will occur.”  The DNR report, “Loss Estimation Pilot Project for Lahar Hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington,” is based on data about several previous lahars from the volcano. Using loss-estimating software developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the report projects potential property damage costs if similar mudflows occurred again on Mount Rainier’s west side, as many geologists anticipate. 

Due to the weakened rocks that make up the upper west flank of Mount Rainier, the Puyallup Valley is considered highly susceptible to lahars. Lahar-related flooding has the potential to reach as far as the Commencement Bay and Elliott Bay, including the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.  In concert with the report released today, DNR has produced an online interactive map that allows users to track the potential pathways of lahars from Mount Rainier. The online map and today’s report are designed to assist emergency response, mitigation planning, and community preparation for lahar-prone areas.  Mount Rainier has produced major lahars every 500 to 1,000 years and smaller flows more frequently. The most recent major lahar to reach the Puget Lowland was the Electron Mudflow about 600 years ago. It was more than 100 feet thick at the community of Electron and as much as 20 feet thick at Orting.  Lahars, which have the consistency of wet concrete, can be caused by volcanic activity when an eruption of lava or hot gasses melts a glacier. They also can be produced by avalanches and earthquakes.  The DNR study was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. - WDNR.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Tipping Point - Earth Headed For Catastrophic Collapse, Researchers Warn!

Earth is rapidly headed toward a catastrophic breakdown if humans don't get their act together, according to an international group of scientists. Writing Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature, the researchers warn that the world is headed toward a tipping point marked by extinctions and unpredictable changes on a scale not seen since the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago.

This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012.
"There is a very high possibility that by the end of the century, the Earth is going to be a very different place," study researcher Anthony Barnosky told LiveScience. Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, joined a group of 17 other scientists to warn that this new planet might not be a pleasant place to live. "You can envision these state changes as a fast period of adjustment where we get pushed through the eye of the needle," Barnosky said. "As we're going through the eye of the needle, that's when we see political strife, economic strife, war and famine." Barnosky and his colleagues reviewed research on climate change, ecology and Earth's tipping points that break the camel's back, so to speak. At certain thresholds, putting more pressure on the environment leads to a point of no return, Barnosky said. Suddenly, the planet responds in unpredictable ways, triggering major global transitions.  The most recent example of one of these transitions is the end of the last glacial period. Within not much more than 3,000 years, the Earth went from being 30 percent covered in ice to its present, nearly ice-free condition. Most extinctions and ecological changes (goodbye, woolly mammoths) occurred in just 1,600 years. Earth's biodiversity still has not recovered to what it was.  Today, Barnosky said, humans are causing changes even faster than the natural ones that pushed back the glaciers — and the changes are bigger. Driven by a 35 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the Industrial Revolution, global temperatures are rising faster than they did back then, Barnosky said. Likewise, humans have completely transformed 43 percent of Earth's land surface for cities and agriculture, compared with the 30 percent land surface transition that occurred at the end of the last glacial period. Meanwhile, the human population has exploded, putting ever more pressure on existing resources.

The results are difficult to predict, because tipping points, by their definition, take the planet into uncharted territory. Based on past transitions, Barnosky and his colleagues predict a major loss of species (during the end of the last glacial period, half of the large-bodied mammal species in the world disappeared), as well as changes in the makeup of species in various communities on the local level. Meanwhile, humans may well be knotting our own noose as we burn through Earth's resources.  "These ecological systems actually give us our life support, our crops, our fisheries, clean water," Barnosky said. As resources shift from one nation to another, political instability can easily follow.  Pulling back from the ledge will require international cooperation, Barnosky said. Under business-as-usual conditions, humankind will be using 50 percent of the land surface on the planet by 2025. It seems unavoidable that the human population will reach 9 billion by 2050, so we'll have to become more efficient to sustain ourselves, he said. That means more efficient energy use and energy production, a greater focus on renewable resources, and a need to save species and habitat today for future generations.  "My bottom line is that I want the world in 50 to 100 years to be at least as good as it is now for my children and their children, and I think most people would say the same," Barnosky said. "We're at a crossroads where if we choose to do nothing we really do face these tipping points and a less-good future for our immediate descendents."
- Live Science.

THE SYRIA CRISIS: Prelude to a Military Invasion - New Horrific Massacre Reported in Mazraat al-Qubair, Hama; Security Forces Slaughter 78 to 86 Civilians; Including Women and Children!

Activists said pro-government militia men and security forces killed at least 78 people, including children, in Syria's central province of Hama on Wednesday. Some of those killed in the village of Mazraat al-Qubair were stabbed to death, the activists said, and at least 12 bodies had been burned.

The unconfirmed reports suggest that at least 40 victims were women and children. According to CNN, an activist reported that the Syrian army shelled Qubair for an hour on Wednesday evening. The anonymous activist said that "militias loyal to the regime raided the village and began executing people using knives and AK-47s." An activist told the BBC's Robin Lustig that there were "Dozens of civilians killed with knives." Qubair is a small farming village with a population of just 150 located 12 miles from Hama. If confirmed, the renewed violence will be the second massacre in Syria in less than two weeks. In May, over 100 people, including dozens of women and children, were killed in Houla, Homs province.
More from Reuters:
Both massacres have happened in the presence of United Nations observers, a 300-strong force sent into Syria to observe a ceasefire deal brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan. The truce was hardly observed by the government or the rebels, who last week said they would no longer honor the ceasefire because of recent killings.  There was no comment from the government, and events on the ground are difficult to verify as Syria tightly restricts access to international media.  Activists called for an immediate investigation.  "The Syrian Observatory for Human rights calls on the international monitors to go immediately to the area. They should not wait to tomorrow to investigate this new massacre," the British-based Observatory said in a statement.  "They should not give the excuse that their mission is only to observe the ceasefire, because many massacres have been committed during their presence in Syria."
- Huffington Post.
WATCH: Al Jazeera reports that up to 86 civilians have been killed.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "Super" Gonorrhea Sweeps the Globe, WHO Health Experts Warn - The Mutated Strain is Resistant to Antibiotics, Doesn't Produce Tell-Tale Symptoms!

Health officials are warning about a “super” strain of gonorrhea that is now sweeping the globe.  Scientists first discovered the antibiotic-resistant version of the sexually transmitted disease in Japan in 2008, and are worried about it spreading after cases cropped up in Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and Britain, the Associated Press reported. 

“This organism has basically been developing resistance against every medication we’ve thrown at it,” Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, a scientist in the World Health Organization’s department of sexually transmitted diseases, told the AP. “In a couple of years it will have become resistant to every treatment option we have available now,” she said.  Gonorrhea, sometimes known as the clap, is the second most common STD in the world after chlamydia, with some 106 million cases reported worldwide each year and about 700,000 in the U.S.  It typically causes abdominal pain, discharge and painful urination. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious conditions such as birth defects and fetus death.  It’s usually knocked out by a group of antibiotics known as cephalosporins, which can be taken orally or injected. 

But scientists say the meds have been no match for the new “superbug.”  Experts don’t know how wide the antibiotic-resistant strain has spread.  “The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg,” Lusti-Narasimhan said.  Even worse, the mutated strain doesn’t cause the telltale symptoms typically associated with regular gonorrhea.  “They used to say that if you have urethral gonorrhea [and you went to the bathroom], it would be like passing razor blades. It was that painful,” Francis Ndowa, the WHO’s former head specialist on STDs.  “Now people with gonorrhea sometimes ... only notice the discharge … it’s not that painful anymore.”  The WHO called for more research into new drugs and alternative treatments, while health experts encouraged anyone with the infection to take two or more antibiotics at the same time to reduce the chances of new strains developing. - NY Daily News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Southwestern Siberia, Russia!

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck southwestern Siberia, Russia on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 14:04:16 UTC.

The tremor was located at 51.729°N, 96.058°E with a depth of 17.8 km (11.1 miles). The epicentre was 108 km (67 miles) east of Kyzyl, Russia; 337 km (209 miles) northeast of Ulaangom, Mongolia; 382 km (237 miles) southeast of Abakan, Russia; and 3765 km (2339 miles) northeast of Moscow, Russia. There are no reports of any damage or injuries at this time.

According to Wikipedia, Russia is located on the Eurasian tectonic plate. The plate, which includes most of the continent of Eurasia (a landmass consisting of the traditional continents of Europe and Asia), with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia. It also includes oceanic crust extending westward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and northward to the Gakkel Ridge.  The eastern side is a boundary with the North American Plate to the north and a boundary with the Philippine Sea Plate to the south, and possibly with the Okhotsk Plate and the Amurian Plate. The southerly side is a boundary with the African Plate to the west, the Arabian Plate in the middle and the Indo-Australian Plate to the east. The westerly side is a divergent boundary with the North American Plate forming the northernmost part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is straddled by Iceland. The 1973 eruption of Eldfell, the volcano of the Icelandic island Heimaey, caused by the North American and the Eurasian plates pulling apart, is a result of divergent plate boundary forces.  The geodynamics of central Asia is dominated by the interaction between the North Eurasia and India Plates. In this area, many subplates or crust blocks have been recognized. These subplates or crust blocks form the Central Asian transit zone and the East Asian transit zone.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe and "Massive" Super-Cell Thunderstorms Slams Southern Alberta, Canada - Tornadoes, Hail, Flash Flooding and Strong Winds Damaged Trees and Downed Power Lines!

 At least two tornadoes touched down in southern Alberta fields Tuesday night, damaging trees and some out-buildings as a string of severe thunderstorms powered through southern parts of the province.  The first tornado touched down near Taber, while the other hit the ground north of Bow Island. 

Environment Canada confirmed a tornado touched down eight kilometres south of Taber.
Strong winds downed power lines, leaving many residents in the dark, and the “torrential” downpour sparked flooding that stranded motorists and flooded residences.  Spectacular lightning lit up the night sky across southern Alberta, including in Calgary.  Meteorologist Paul Dunphy called the storm massive and described it as a “flank” or line of storm cells all linked together.  “It’s probably one of the largest we’ve seen here for some time,” said Dunphy, who at 11 p.m. said the worst was yet to come. “It’s a super cell thunderstorm. There are several of them all in a line.”  Dunphy said rain was falling at a rate of 40 millimetres per hour.  The Taber tornado hit about eight kilometres south of the town at  8:36 p.m., according to Environment Canada.  The Taber Police Service called in extra staff at about 9 p.m. to manage all the calls. 

“It must have been blowing 130 kilometres per hour,” said police chief Alf Rudd. “There was hail mixed in it, too. It was very intense there for about 20 minutes.  “We have a lot of water around, a few downed tress and power lines down, but no one has been hurt.”  The second tornado touched down near Bow Island and continued to move northwest at 55 km/h, Environment Canada said at 10:53 p.m.  The fast-moving storm cells, with golf-ball sized hail and wind gusts, moved north from Montana.  It triggered several storm watches and warnings between 8 and 9 p.m. throughout southern Alberta.  By 10 p.m., the weather agency was tracking the line of severe thunderstorms extending from Calgary southeast to 45 kilometres west of Onefore near the U.S. border.  “It’s not just the tornadoes that are concerning, it’s the golf-ball sized hail, flash flooding and strong winds,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Blair Morrow. “It is a very bad system.”  The storm kept fire crews hopping with alarm calls for traffic accidents, electrical surges and flooding complaints as rain hammered the city.  “Right now there’s a three-foot lake on Barlow Trail southeast,” said battalion chief Al Magwood.  As of midnight, all the tornado warnings had been lifted. - Edmonton Journal.
WATCH: Eye-witness captures the massive storm over Taber.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Very Rare Magnitude 4.0 Quake Strikes Ireland - Strongest Tremor to Hit the Region Since 1984!

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has been recorded off the coast of Co Mayo this morning, close to the Corrib gas field.  A spokesman for the British Geological Survey, which monitors seismic activity in the UK and Ireland, said the quake happened just before 9am, 60km west of Aughleam near Belmullet.

A map from the British Geological Survey showing the location of this morning's earthquake off the
west coast of Ireland. The red stars show places where the quake was reported to have been felt.
It was at a relatively shallow depth of 3km.  Tremors were felt in counties Mayo, Sligo and Galway with some local radio stations receiving calls from listeners who described houses shaking.  Tom Blake, director of the Irish National Seismic Network, said the region had never experienced an earthquake of this size before.  The largest earthquake recorded in Ireland occurred in 1984 when a magnitude 5.4 quake struck off the coast of Wales causing tremors and structural damage along the east coast of Ireland. Micro tremors were felt in parts of north Co Donegal in January and March near Buncrana.  Minister for Energy and Natural Resouces Pat Rabbitte said all evidence so far pointed to this being a “naturally occurring earthquake”.  The epicentre was on a known fault line west of the Irish shelf, and was slightly larger than usual, he said.  Mr Rabbitte said there was “no link” to the Corrib gas field in Co Mayo, which was not in production. 

British Geological Survey seismologist David Galloway said the quake would have been felt in many areas of Connacht.  “We have been getting reports of the windows rattling, that the shaking felt like a lorry or some vehicle smashing into the back of the house, which is typical of the felt reports of earthquakes,” he said. “One report described it as like a steamroller going down the road.”  Mr Galloway said he had not heard of any damage to property and was not expecting any. “It is quite a small earthquake, it is only significant for the fact that the UK or Ireland does not get the big earthquakes of Italy or Turkey,” he added.  The area where it happened today is in the middle of a plate which is moving further from America, far from a faultline and hence the force was not on the scale of areas where they collide, like California or Japan.  There would not have been enough dislocation of the sea floor to create any big waves and there is no chance of a tsunami, that is not going to happen," he added.  “It is not a warning of anything bigger to come, we do not usually get the big earthquakes.” - Irish Times.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands of Dead Fish Raises Real Stink in ImperiaLakes, Florida!

Thousands of dead fish were floating in the phosphate pit outside Shirley Les' home in ImperiaLakes on Tuesday. 

String of cloudy days led to less oxygen in the water. Various bird species feed on the fish
after a fish kill at a pond water in ImperiaLakes.
Between the dead fish and the mass of vultures and water birds that came in to take advantage of the situation, this was a good time to say indoors.  "Terrible," is how she described the odor.  She said that hasn't bothered the storks, pelicans and cormorants that have joined the vultures.  Fish kills are a natural phenomenon in places like phosphate pits that have poor water quality and are green with algae. 

The problem occurs when there is a string of cloudy days. Without sunlight, the algae die, removing oxygen from the water. Without enough oxygen, many of the fish simply suffocate.  Most of the fish observed in the kill on the unnamed water body were tilapia and shiners. No game fish, such as bass, which require better water quality to thrive, were observed.  Fish kills have occurred periodically throughout Polk County for decades.  In addition to low oxygen levels tied to water pollution, some fish kills have also occurred following extreme cold spells. - The Ledger.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: The Collapse of the Euro Zone - Greece Still Going Broke, Now Faster and With More Broke-Ness!

If you could rely on anything in the past couple of years, it is that Greece is always going broke. Now it turns out that Greece is going broke faster than almost anybody expected. The Greek government is struggling to collect enough tax revenue to cover its immediate bills, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, leaving it about 1.7 billion euros shy of its budget goals. It may soon need to freeze government salaries and pensions, temporarily halt imports of food, fuel and medicine, or dip into cash intended to help Greece's gutted banks, the Times writes.

This comes less than three months after Greece received the first installment of a new, 130 billion-euro bailout package in March. The hard-fought bailout agreement with Greece's European rescuers involved excruciating belt-tightening that has helped make the country's deep recession even worse. That tends to have a dampening effect on tax revenue, as the U.S. government can attest. Austerity, in other words, is self-defeating, which is one reason the rest of the world is dragging Europe's biggest austerity fan, Germany, toward policies that favor economic growth instead. Austerity is also deeply unpopular politically, in Greece and elsewhere. That has ultimately led to Greek parliamentary elections on June 17, and those elections are curbing tax revenue, Bloomberg writes:
Tax evasion increases by an average 0.2 percent of annual gross domestic product in periods around Greek elections, as the bureaucracy that relies heavily on day-to-day control by politicians slows and tax collectors perform fewer audits, according to a study published last year by Spyros Skouras and Nicos Christodoulakis, a former finance minister, from the Athens University of Economics and Business.
Worries about a possible exit from the euro zone and a return to the drachma have also dissuaded Greeks from giving money to the tax man, Bloomberg writes. When tax collectors actually do venture forth to do their business in the famously tax-averse nation, the Times writes, they are countered with bullwhips, as in the case of a gas-station owner on the island of Santorini, or a radio station broadcasting their license-plate number as a warning. The world has recently grown weary of caring about Greece's money problems and has instead turned its attention to the money problems of Spain, which yesterday warned it was at risk of being shut out of the bond market and that its banks needed a multi-billion-euro bailout. The European Central Bank this morning stood pat on taking any more action to help Europe right now, in what might be an effort to force European politicians to make some hard choices and hammer out a long-term solution. Greece, which will likely need more bailout money or risk falling out of the euro zone, may be back on the agenda sooner than policy makers think. - Huffington Post.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Skywatchers Rejoice in the Rare Celestial Event - Ultra-High Definition View of the 2012 Venus Transit of the Sun!

It's something no one alive today will likely ever see again: The planet Venus crossing the sun — a small, black dot moving across the fiery face of our nearest star.

The transit of Venus across the sun is one of the rarest celestial sights visible from Earth, one that wowed scientists and amateur observers around the world Tuesday (June 5). The event, arguably the most anticipated skywatching display of the year, marked the last time Venus will cross the sun (as seen from Earth) for 105 years.  Only seven Venus transits have been witnessed since the invention of the telescope 400 years ago, and you'd have a long wait for the next one. It won't happen again until Dec. 11, 2117.  To celebrate the last transit of Venus in the 21st century, astronomers and skywatchers came together in many sites around the world. In the United States, NASA beamed images of the transit from an observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii (just one of many webcasts from many countries) and welcomed the public to its various space centers, including the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "It's truly inspiring to see so many faces here to share this moment with us," Natalie Batalha, the deputy science team leader of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, told visitors at Ames. "It's going to give you, I hope, a profound feeling of the grandeur of our own solar system. You're going to see Venus in person, with a spotlight shining on her." 

Tuesday's transit began just after 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) and lasted about six hours and 40 minutes. It was visible across North America, Europe, Asia and eastern Africa. Because of the International Date Line, some parts of the world saw the transit on June 6. Venus transits occur when Venus reaches a point in its orbit that brings the planet directly between the Earth and the sun. Since the tilt of Venus' orbit isn't exactly the same as that of Earth, the events are rare, occurring just four times every 243 years.  The transits occur in pairs eight years apart. Since the June 5 transit followed a previous Venus sun crossing in 2004, this is the last one of the current cycle. Venus and Mercury are the only planets that can be seen crossing the sun from Earth since their orbits are between our planet and the sun. The next Mercury transit will be on May 9, 2016.  Despite the extreme rarity of Venus transits, they hold a wealth of information about Venus, the sun and our solar system. Since the first documented observation of a Venus transit in 1639, astronomers have used the events to measure the size of the solar system, the intricacies of Venus' atmosphere, the width of the sun and more. - CS Monitor.
WATCH: Ultra-High Definition view of the 2012 Venus transit of the Sun.

WATCH: Skywatchers rejoice in the rare celestial event.

DELUGE OF "WILD WEATHER": The Australian Weather Anomalies Continue - Cyclone-Like Storms and Floods Wreck Havoc Across New South Wales & Victoria!

The army has been called in to help Victorian residents lay sandbags to fend off floodwater, after cyclone-like storms leave a trail of destruction along Australia's east coast.  The State Emergency Service says up to 70 properties at Lakes Entrance are under threat, with water from the state's torrential rainfall flowing towards the town and set to combine dangerously with high tides. 

A large tree blown over and blocking Coward Street at Mascot / Pic: Noel Kessel
Source: The Daily Telegraph
It says Australian Defence Force personnel have been deployed to help prepare the town where water is set to peak at 10pm (AEST) today.  Wind gusts of up to 90 km/h continue and a severe weather warning is still in place for coastal regions of NSW.  The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) told AAP it expects an easing of conditions over the next 24-36 hours but has issued warnings as strong winds and seven-metre waves hit the coast.  "We do have some very large swells and quite dangerous conditions along the coast," bureau senior meteorologist Rob Webb said. Emergency crews have restored power to more than 25,000 homes and businesses in NSW after the savage storms downed powerlines.  Crews worked throughout the night in Sydney, on the Central Coast and in the Hunter and managed to restore power to most homes by 11pm (AEST) last night.  "The main areas affected by yesterday's strong winds included parts of Sutherland, Bankstown, Darlinghurst, Manly Vale, Lane Cove, Terrey Hills, the NSW Central Coast and Newcastle," a spokesman for energy company Ausgrid said.  Repairs and safety checks are continuing on about 1000 homes and businesses in Blakehurst, Mona Vale and North Bondi.  The State Emergency Service (SES) has received 975 calls for assistance, mostly regarding fallen trees.  They are expecting more calls to come from the northern region of the state as bad weather continues.  "I'd imagine that 900 mark would push over into the 1000 mark," a spokeswoman for the SES told AAP.  Meanwhile, services on Sydney ferries have been suspended or cancelled due to the bad weather.  Shuttle buses are replacing ferry services between Manly and Circular Quay.  Buses will run in place of Cronulla to Bundeena ferry services.

The wild weather also disrupted flights.  Jetstar, Emirates and Tiger Airways were forced to either cancel or delay flights at Sydney Airport as fierce winds prevented ground handlers from unloading luggage.  "The wind is up to 35 knots or more. They (the ground handlers) can't get bags off the aircraft and there are knock-on effects," a Sydney Airport spokeswoman said.  Jetstar said eight flights on the Sydney to Avalon, Gold Coast and Melbourne return routes were cancelled. Tiger Airways said passengers on disrupted services were being accommodated. A NSW Police spokesman said about 10 pedestrians were involved in accidents with cars, including a 64-year-old woman with a suspected dislocated shoulder after being struck at Beecroft. Weather Channel senior meteorologist Tom Saunders said the most severe front should have passed Sydney overnight, with conditions easing today. "The low will head east away from the NSW coast allowing rain and winds to ease but a very large and dangerous swell about 5m will continue to pound the state's beaches," he said. Hollands Landing residents have been told to evacuate their homes immediately or risk being trapped by rising flood waters.  The State Emergency Service has warned the town could be isolated for several days if the road is cut off and properties are flooded.  SES spokesman Lachlan Quick said a large area was expected to be hit as surrounding catchments empty into the low-lying Gippsland Lakes.  “Isolation is a major concern. And people don’t really take into account the dangers they face. What if your water gets contaminated and you’re without electricity for three or four days? What happens to your mobile phone, your refrigerator? All that stuff has to be taken into account,” he said.  Bairnsdale's caravan park is also expected to be threatened by flooding, while the communities of Rosedale, Stratford, and Sale could see flood levels not experienced in more than five years.  Ten flood warnings were issued across the state this afternoon, eight of which are in the Gippsland region.  Mr Quick said “critical infrastructure” in Lakes Entrance, such as hospitals and other emergency facilities, was being sandbagged.  More than 500 volunteers from across Victoria have been mobilised to deal with the latest flood crisis, with operations centres as Moe and Bairnsdale working around the clock.  “We’re sending taskforces from around the state and sending them over there to relieve the crews that have been hardest hit,” Mr Quick said. - The Australian.
WATCH: Deluge of "wild weather" hits Australia.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Italy Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 25!

The number of people killed in two earthquakes that struck northern Italy in May rose to 25 on Tuesday, as aftershocks continued to spread fear among residents in the area. 

A woman holds a helmet that she found in front of a damaged building in Cavezzo near Modena May 30, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini
The latest victim was a woman admitted to hospital after being injured in the second of two deadly tremors to strike the area in just over a week, health authorities in Bologna said.  A man, also seriously injured by the second tremor, remains in hospital and his life is in danger, the authorities said.  A 6.0 magnitude earthquake on May 20 was followed by a similar-size quake nine days later, destroying businesses and making thousands homeless. 

The quake was the most deadly to strike Italy since 2009 when a tremor partially destroyed the central city of L'Aquila killing about 300 people.  The epicenter of the latest quake lies to the north of the city of Modena in what is one of the most productive regions of Italy.  Damages have been estimated at around 5 billion euros but could be higher as tremors continue to shake buildings in the area, preventing any resumption of reconstruction work. - Reuters.

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: Violently Weird Attack in Scott, Louisiana - Man Accused of Biting Off Chunk of Victim's Face!

A violent attack in Scott, Louisiana is eerily similar to a case out of Florida connected to the dangerous drug known as bath salts.  The disturbing attack in Florida ended when police shot and killed the suspect after he would not stop biting and chewing at another man's face. 

Now, a similar case over the weekend in Lafayette Parish.  "During the attack, the suspect bit a chunk of the victim's face off," said Scott Assistant Police Chief, Kert Thomas.  Police say 43-year-old Carl Jacquneaux knew the victim, Todd Credeur, and was upset over a domestic issue. Credeur declined an on-camera interview, but told KATC he was working in his front yard when Jacquneaux showed up at his house and attacked him. Credeur said he was shocked when Jacquneaux bit him on the face.  That's when Credeur said he sprayed wasp spray in Jacquneaux's face to try and stop the attack.

Police said he then left Credeur's house and showed up at another acquaintance's house in Carencro where he held him at knife point and stole a hand gun. It was there that deputies caught up with Jacquneaux and arrested him.  "Very unusual, it's not something we see everyday," said Thomas.  That unusual behavior could be due to drugs. Sheriff's deputies said Jacquneaux was clearly under the influence of some kind of drug. A friend of the victim said she believes he was using bath salts, a drug police said can cause a state of excited delirium and dangerous behavior.  "Extremely dangerous, a lot more dangerous than some of the drugs on the street," explained Thomas.  But police said we may never know if Jacquneaux was under the influence of bath salts, because no blood tests were performed before he was booked into jail.  Jacquneaux is charged with aggravated burglary, simple battery of the infirm, violation of probation, aggravated second degree battery and violation of protective orders. He remains in the Lafayette Parish Jail with a $312,500 bond.  Credeur was released from the hospital and is recovering at home. - KATC.
WATCH: Violent attack in Scott is eerily similar to a case out of Florida.

HIGH STRANGENESS, INDIGO CHILD OR X-MEN: The Case of the "Vietnam Firestarter" - Eleven Year-Old Girl in Ho Chi Minh City With the Ability to Set Things on Fire, Using Her Brain!

An 11-year-old girl in Ho Chi Minh City who reportedly sets things on fire by just being near them will be studied by an expert, a local university whose help her parents sought has said.

Promotional picture from the Universal movie Firestarter starring Drew Barrymore.
Dr Nguyen Manh Hung, director of Hong Bang University, told the family on Monday the school will send an expert who would constantly be with the girl, only identified as T., to observe and record all occurrences.  Hung made the decision after doing tests on her at home Tuesday, including a scan that found a red streak on the right side of her brain.  The streak disappeared when she wore a quartz clip on her wrist but then she felt uncomfortable as if electricity was coursing through her body.
Reporters surround the girl’s house.
Hung made the decision after doing tests on her at home Tuesday, including a scan that found a red streak on the right side of her brain.  The streak disappeared when she wore a quartz clip on her wrist but then she felt uncomfortable as if electricity was coursing through her body.
On the Left: Dr. Hung talks with reporters, indicating that the phenomenon only happens for priests, painters
or philosophers. On the Right: The little girl’s father talks with scientists.
Hung said the school would do further tests on the girl and her surroundings environment.  “She has a rare ability that needs to be studied.  “We will gradually eliminate possibilities one by one, then we will hopefully find out the actual cause of the phenomenon.”
The little girl’s third floor after the fire on May 12.
T. recently made headlines after her parents reported plastic and cloth substances around her went up in flames.  She can reportedly set things within a 20 meter radius on fire without having to focus on or touch them, though conclusive proof has to be obtained yet.  T. goes to school and, from all accounts, gets along normally with others. - Thanhnien News.

THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE: Order Out of Chaos - G7 Backs Fiscal Union in Europe, Vows to Help Solve Crisis!

After months of political rhetoric and fiscal sabre rattling, European leaders are being prodded by the world’s biggest countries to finally tackle the region’s debt problems before it is too late.  With Spain finally admitting it needs help to save its banking sector, finance chiefs of the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Tuesday pledged to help Europe look for ways to resolve its fiscal crisis. 

That followed a conference call by G7 finance ministers and central bankers, which Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had announced the previous day to reporters in Toronto.  Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney was also on the Tuesday call. The U.S. Treasury, which chaired that meeting, said in a statement that the G7 discussed “progress towards a financial and fiscal union in Europe” and agreed to monitor developments closely. No other details on the talks were released. 

For its part, Canada issued a statement after the call echoing those goals but also offering no firm action.  The larger G20 group of countries will hold its scheduled meeting in Mexico on June 18 and 19.  “They (G7 chiefs) agreed to monitor developments closely ahead of the G20 summit in Los Cabos,” the Canadian statement said.  The Bank of Canada did not issue a statement on the talks.  But Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in an interview with CBC’s chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge in London, said, “I don’t want to sound too alarmist, but we are kind of running out of runway here. - Financial Post.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Euro Zone Turning Into a "Catastrophe" - Moody's Downgrades Credit Ratings of Six German Banks!

Ratings agency Moody's has cut the credit ratings of six German banks and three in Austria.  The biggest bank affected was Commerzbank, Germany's second-biggest lender, which was cut from A3 to A2.  Moody's delayed a decision on the rating of Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank.

Commerzbank had its long-term rating cut and was put on negative outlook
"Today's rating actions are driven by the increased risk of further shocks emanating from the euro area debt crisis," Moody's said.  The downgrade indicates that Moody's thinks Germany would be hit if the euro crisis turned into a catastrophe, said BBC Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans.  "It brings the crisis in Southern Europe and Ireland closer to home in Germany," he said. The six German banking groups affected were Commerzbank, DekaBank, DZ Bank, Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen and Norddeutsche Landesbank. Moody's also cut the rating of the Italian bank UniCredit's German unit.  In Austria, it downgraded the three biggest banks: Erste Group Bank, UniCredit Bank Austria and Raiffeisen Bank International. 

The ratings agency said Austrian banks were also vulnerable to conditions in central and eastern Europe as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States. It also said that banks in Germany and Austria had a limited capacity to absorb losses.  In addition to having its rating cut, Commerzbank was placed on negative outlook, meaning Moody's is considering a further cut. The agency said that was because of the bank's exposure to the eurozone periphery, as well as its concentration of loans to single sectors and borrowers.  Another German bank, WGZ Bank, was not downgraded, but was placed on negative outlook as a result of its exposure to the debt of the eurozone's periphery.  The downgrades came as the focus remained on banks in weaker eurozone economies, amid fears that those in Cyprus and Spain could need more support.  The European Commission is due to announce plans later to make sure that failed banks do not have to be bailed out by taxpayers in future. - BBC.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: "Omen of a Coming Great Natural Disaster" - Tons and Tons of Dead Sardines Wash up on the Shores of Ohara, Chiba Prefecture in Japan?!

Something terribly fishy is going on at the fishing port of Ohara (pronounced Oh-hara) in Isumi City of Chiba Prefecture, and it has nothing to do with espionage or political corruption. There are tons and tons of dead sardines washing up on the shore, and not only is the sight disturbing, but the huge amount of dead fish is literally smelling up the entire surrounding area

According to the news, the dead fish started washing up around noon of June 3rd, and as of early afternoon on June 4th, the situation still remained pretty much out of control. The amount of dead sardines that has washed up is thought to total several dozen metrics tons, so you can imagine how bad the smell of rotting fish must be. We’ve seen the pictures uploaded onto Twitter, and the port looks completely filled with fish – it almost looks like a carpet of sardines.

It doesn’t seem likely that any fishing boats will be setting sail from this port soon. There are also, of course, the usual posts and comments on the internet on how this could be an omen, a sign of a coming great natural disaster. When we inquired with a local inn, we were told that the port was scheduled to be closed from June 1st to 5th, but given the emergency, local fishermen are currently out in full force trying to resolve the situation. Already more than 2 full days into the bizarre occurrence, the smell has to be almost unbearable, but the people of Ohara still have no idea when they will be able to get rid of all the sardines. We sincerely hope they will be able to solve the problem quickly. - Rocket News 24.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Swarm - 8 Quakes Rattle Santa Clara County, California?!

Santa Clara County saw eight earthquakes over the last week averaging a 1.6 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geologial Survey's website. 

The largest quake to hit the county had a preliminary reading of 3.5. Its epicenter was nine miles north of Morgan Hill and hit at 10:31 a.m. Sunday. A 1.6 aftershock clocked in at 11:22 a.m., emanating from the same location.  Gilroy’s closest quake was a weaker 1.1 on Saturday. This quake’s center was 10 miles east of the Garlic City and hit at 6:16 p.m.  Not to be left out of the South County quakes, San Martin saw a 1.2 shaker strike Wednesday, hitting at 7:41 p.m. It had an epicenter five miles northeast of the city.  Three quakes hit Los Altos in a matter of two days.

The first was a 1.2 on Thursday, striking at 1:14 p.m. It was followed by a stronger 1.7 at 3:17 p.m. the same day. A 1.6 on Friday at 2:16 p.m. rounded out Los Altos’ trembler trifecta. Each was three miles south of the city, about 20 minutes from Campbell.  Los Gatos had a close one with a 1.1 magnitude shaker hitting Lexington Hills Thursday. The tiny tremor struck at 9:42 a.m. three miles southeast of the small mountain community.  Hollister, just over 15 miles south of Gilroy, saw a single shaker on Friday. Coming in at a 1.4, this quake struck at 11:21 a.m. six miles northwest of the city, about 11 miles southeast of Gilroy. - Gilroy Patch.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Seismic Swarm - "Whopping" Number of Earthquakes Shake Around Hawaii Volcano!

A large number of earthquakes has been rattling the volcano area on Hawaii Island over the last few days. The quakes have been small, with no damage reported. Still, a handful of those temblors have been 3.0 magnitude and over.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s “Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii” page shows a constant swarm of quakes surrounding the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of the active Kilauea Volcano. We took a screen grab of the screen of the USGS HVO earthquake page, and it shows the long list stretching all the way back to Friday, June 1st. 16 earthquakes have already registered on the list before noon on Tuesday, Hawaii time. On Tuesday, the HVO staff makes mention of the quakes on their Kilauea volcano update page:
The GPS network recorded weak extension overall for the past few months with superimposed contraction and extension fluctuations corresponding to DI tilt events. Seismic tremor levels were generally low, decreasing from a peak around 11 am Sunday.

A whopping thirty-three earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea volcano: 4 deep earthquakes below the southwest rift zone, 3 beneath the west edge of the summit area, 7 within and below the upper east rift, 1 north of the middle east rift zone, 7 on south flank faults, and 11 mostly shallow long-period (LP) earthquakes within the Koa`e Fault Zone beneath the Kulanaokuaiki Camp Ground; a quick check this morning showed no obvious new cracking on the surface near the campground.

The rise of the Kilauea summit lava lake level in Halemaumau crater continued with several overflows of the inner ledge. At Pu`u `O`o, scientists report lava also rose within the east collapse pit; to the southeast, lava flows continued to advance on the coastal plain
. - Big Island Video News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Philippine Sea Plate - Moderate 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Taiwan!

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake has struck Taiwan on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 01:08:33 UTC.

The tremor was located at 22.386°N, 121.445°E with a depth of  8 km (5.0 miles). The epicentre was at 52 km (32 miles) southeast of Taitung, Taiwan; 123 km (76 miles) southeast of Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 158 km (98 miles) southeast of Chiayi, Taiwan; and 863 km (536 miles) north of Manila, Philippines. There have been no reports of any damage or injuries yet. China’s Taiwan island with the population of 23 million people is located in seismically active zone near the large tectonic fault on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. In 1999, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake took lives of more than 2000 people.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Philippine Sea plate is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over 600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the plate interface has been associated with few great (M>8.0) "megathrust" earthquakes. This relatively low seismic energy release is thought to result from relatively weakly coupling along the plate interface. These convergent plate margins are also associated with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate.

South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of Circum-Pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasian continental margin offshore China.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Disaster Precursor - Residents in Awe at Mysterious Ice Seen on Dogwood Tree in Trelawny, Jamaica, in Summer?!

"He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost." - Psalm 78:47.

Dogwood Tree with what appears top be ice in Trelawny.
Residents in Duncans, Trelawny are in awe due to what they say is ice growing from a Dogwood Tree.  The material which appears to be ice is cold to the touch and dripping fluid.  It’s said to be a foot long, wrapped around  a branch of the tree. - RJR News.
I have receive several reports that ice was seen on several branches, scattered throughout the large tree. Residents even set water containers to catch the droplets. Some used the liquid to wash their faces. There are no reports of any scientific evaluation from the University of the West Indies.

This anomalous sighting occurred at a time when the Caribbean island is experiencing a mild to severe heatwave, and also during summer, the warmest of the four temperate seasons. As I write, the current temperatures in Kingston, the capital city, are edging towards 95 degrees. I have not seen rain or any indications of it, in over a month. Chances of rains are very low, with the dry spell and warm conditions expected to continue into next week.

I will update this story, as soon as I can gather additional information.

EXTREME WEATHER: Wildfire Threatens Portion of California's Famed Sequoia National Forest!

A wind-driven wildfire raged in the Sequoia National Forest on Monday, devouring at least 1,700 acres of the park in the southern Sierra Nevada. More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze, dubbed the George Fire, and more resources were expected to arrive throughout the day, said Michelle Puckett, a fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service.

The George fire in the Sequoia National Forest.
Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service evacuated hikers and campers along the Lloyd Meadow Road and at several trailheads.  “We don’t know the number of people evacuated, but we do know that all hikers and campers are out,” Puckett told The fire grew from about 1,000 acres on Sunday to 1,700 acres on Monday. The fire was 25 percent contained. So far, the fire has consumed dead and downed trees in an area of the forest that hasn’t burned in 140 years, Puckett said.

She said fire was still burning away from the forest's legendary sequoia groves. When fully grown, sequoias can grow 20 feet in diameter and reach lofty heights of more than 250 feet. Puckett said the fire started Friday near a tree named for President George H.W. Bush, who signed a proclamation protecting all groves of giant Sequoias in the Sierra in 1992. The “George Tree” is located in the eastern edge of the Freeman Creek Giant Sequoia Grove, Puckett said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. - MSNBC.

THE SYRIAN CRISIS: Prelude to a Military Invasion - Syria Expels Western Diplomats!

Syria retaliated Tuesday for last week's expulsions of its diplomats from Washington and other capitals, barring or expelling a series of foreign envoys from 11 nations, including the United States. 

But the government of President Bashar Assad also consented to longtime international demands for augmented humanitarian access, agreeing to allow United Nations and other aid staffers to enter four strife-ridden provinces: Homs, Idlib, Daraa and Deir Elzour.  Human rights groups had complained about restricted access for aid, including food, medical assistance and shelter for victims of Syria's escalating violence. Some estimates say that more than 1 million Syrians are in need of help.  "Whether this is a breakthrough or not will be evident in the coming days and weeks and it will be measured not in rhetoric, not in agreements, but in action on the ground," John Ging, operations director for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Geneva. 

Opening up a humanitarian flow to Syria is one of the major objectives of the six-point peace plan worked out by Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League special envoy. Assad has been under intense pressure to show greater compliance with the faltering peace blueprint.  The concession on the humanitarian point may be meant to buy Assad's government more time on more contentious requirements in the six-point plan. Among them are the mandate that Syria pull back troops from populated areas, end the use of heavy weapons and allow people to demonstrate freely. Implementing those points, many observers say, would inevitably embolden the opposition and hasten Assad's fall.  Assad has blamed the unrest on foreign agitators and has been wary about outside scrutiny, even as allegations of human rights abuses multiply against both sides. - Miami Herald.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Kermadec Ridge - New Zealand Scientists Discover Hydrothermal Vents!

Scientists from New Zealand discovered a hydrothermal vent on an undersea volcano. During a three week expedition, they took samples from a variety of deep-sea habitats. The researchers from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have been studying four different undersea habitats: seamounts, hydrothermal vents, continental slope and canyons, at depths of between 2,297 and 4,921 feet (700 and 1500 meters). 

A sonar image of the Tangaroa Seamount.
"We were able to collect both underwater footage and specimens of chemosynthetic barnacles, mussels, and shrimps on Tangaroa Seamount, confirming active hydrothermal venting," says voyage leader Dr. Malcolm Clark.  "These animals are adapted to the specific combination of depth, temperature and chemical composition of the venting fluids."  The team hopes that the work will lead to a better understanding of how human activities such as seabed drilling, fishing and mining affect deep-sea communities. There are 50 submarine volcanoes stretching along New Zealand’s Kermadec Ridge. It's a significant feature of the Western Pacific, extending almost 932 miles (1,500 kilometers) to the edge of the New Zealand exclusive economic zone (EEZ) northeast of the Kermadec Islands. Hydrothermal vents associated with these volcanoes release hot water and gases with different chemical compositions, so specific communities have adapted to survive in each area.  "The benthic community on Tangaroa seamount, a combination of mussels and barnacles and shrimps, isn't unique, but differs from that found on a number of neighboring seamounts,” says Clark.

“The seamount communities were also very different from those we observed and sampled on the slope and canyons, which typically had muddy seafloor, rather than rocks. This trip confirmed our working hypothesis that the environments generated in these different deep-sea habitats vary in their characteristics, and they result in faunal communities that can differ, within close proximity. The implication is that the exploitation of one seamount could have an effect that is not the same as the seamount close by."  The information obtained from this voyage will be combined with the first voyage and analyzed over the coming year to determine the overall vulnerability patterns. These will then be used in ecological risk assessments to help improve environmental management.  "We collected thousands of specimens,” says Clark. “There is almost certainly something new, as typically almost 10 percent of what we catch in the deep sea is new to science or new to New Zealand. The voyage also sampled extensively in canyons which have not been surveyed before, and so the expectation is that there will be many new discoveries once the samples and photographic data are analyzed."  A short video highlighting some of the vent and seamount fauna discovered during the expedition is available on Vimeo here. The picture shows a squid found in the area. - Global Adventures.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Disturbance Continues Near Sumatra - 5.6 Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Western Indonesia!

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island on Tuesday, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. 

The quake struck 75 kilometres (47 miles) west of Banda Aceh just after 6:00 pm (1100 GMT) at a depth of more than 35 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.  An AFP correspondent in Banda Aceh said people ran from their homes as the ground shook for about 30 seconds.  Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.  The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 devastated Indonesia, where 170,000 people were killed, mostly in Aceh province. - Economic Times.
According to Wikipedia, the tectonics of Indonesia are very complex, as it is a meeting point of several tectonic plates. Indonesia is located between two continental plates: the Eurasian Plate (Sunda Shelf) and Australian Plate (Sahul Shelf); and between two oceanic plates: the Philippine Sea Plate and Pacific Plate. The Indian oceanic plate subducts beneath the Eurasian continental plate formed the volcanic arc in western Indonesia. This chain of active volcanoes formed Sumatra, Java, Bali and Nusa Tenggara islands. The Pacific and Australian plate movements controlled the tectonic of eastern portion of Indonesia. The tectonics processes in Indonesia formed major structures in Indonesia. The most prominent fault in the west of Indonesia is the Semangko Fault, a dextral strike-slip fault along Sumatra Island. The formation of this fault zone is related to the subduction zone in the west of Sumatra.  Palu-Koro fault is another major structural feature formed in the central part of Indonesia. This fault has similar orientation as the Semangko fault, extend from Koro in central part of Sulawesi, to Palu in the west coast of Sulawesi and extend across the Makassar strait to East Kalimantan.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Bright Fireball Seen Flying Over Caloundra, Australia!

Sunshine Coast astronomer Owen Bennedick is urging anyone who saw a meteorite near Caloundra last night to contact him. 

File Photo.
Mr Bennedick runs the Wappa Falls Observatory at Yandina.  He says he was with a group of people who saw a bright fireball in the eastern sky about 11:00pm (AEST).  "We were coming back from doing the lunar eclipse in Brisbane and on the way back ... about 11 o'clock on the southern end of the coast, a very, very large what we call a fireball or a bolloid entered the atmosphere," he said.  "It was so bright that we could see the smoke trail in behind it - very, very blue, white colour."  Mr Bennedick says it looked like the meteorite was heading towards the Caloundra area or it might have entered the water. - ABC News.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "Mysterious" Illness Kills 20 Children and Affects 36 Others in Bihar, India?!

Bihar health department today admitted that 20 children have died and 36 others are undergoing treatment for a "mysterious" disease in Gaya and Muzaffarpur districts in Bihar during the past fortnight, but ruled out that it was encephalitis.  State health department principal secretary Amarjit Sinha told reporters here that those afflicted do not bear symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis.

"I don't think any of them is affected by Japanese Encephalitis," he said while citing a Pune-based lab and MRI reports of the patients.  20 deaths -- nine children in Gaya and eleven children in Muzaffarpur -- had occurred in the past fortnight due to the disease, he said. A total of 36 children were still admitted in Muzaffarpur (31) and Gaya (5) with symptoms that include high fever and convulsions, he added. An action plan had already been formulated to tackle the disease and take precautionary measures, he said.

It has been ensured that the primary health centres in the two districts have the necessary medical facilities for treating the children. Sinha said assistance of Aganwari supervisors, Asha activists and others was also being taken to reach the mahadalit tolas in the two districts for spreading awareness on general preventive measures.  The symptoms of convulsions and high fever are also connected to heat stroke and malnutrition, he said. On the course taken to tackle the disease, he said an ICU for children was functional at A N Sinha Magadh Medical college hospital in Gaya and Shri Krishna Medical college hospital in Muzaffarpur.  He would undertake an inspection of the districts on Wednesday to review the situation. 35 people had died of Japanese Encephalitis in the districts last year. 
- Jagran Post.