Friday, November 15, 2013

DISASTER IMPACT: Are Philippines Officials Only Handling Out Food To The People Who VOTED For Them - Shocking Claim That MILLIONS In Other Areas Are Being Left To Fend For Themselves After Typhoon?!

November 15, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - The survivors of Typhoon Haiyan are in desperate need of food and water and a huge relief effort is under way – but a shocking claim has emerged from an aid worker in the Philippines that government officials are prioritising aid based on who they think will vote for them.

The worker told MailOnline that the system there is so corrupt that he feared he would ‘vanish’ if he was identified.


Shocking: An aid worker has claimed that the Philippine government is distributing aid based
on voting patterns. Pictured is the devastated Leyte province.


He said: ‘Relief is not being distributed fairly in the Philippines. The government is prioritising the areas that vote for them. This is happening with all the large aid. The government is holding funds back and distributing on vote.’

However, a spokesman for the Disaster Emergency Committee said: ‘The DEC has had no reports from our member agencies that aid is being prioritised by the Philippines government on the basis of potential political support.

‘The DEC charities will fight tooth and nail to make sure aid goes to survivors according to their need alone, without regard for irrelevant factors such as people’s political views, religion or race.’

The claim makes for horrifying reading as pictures of survivors desperately pleading for food and water are beamed around the world.


Horrifying: The worker explained that this issue with distribution wasn't just happening on a national level –
but at a village level, too. Pictured is the ravaged city of Tacloban.

Powerful: A computer-generated image of super typhoon Haiyan making
landfall over the Philippines on November 7.

Desperate: The words 'SOS, Food, H20, Help!!!' are painted on the roof of a house as seen from a
Philippine Air force helicopter in the super typhoon devastated Leyte Province.

Make-shift: Survivors carry metal sheets they've collected and
head back to their destroyed village of Marabut.


The worker explained that this issue with distribution wasn’t just happening on a national level – but at a village level, too.

He said: ‘It is being reported to us by the locals in one village that the head of the Baranguays [villages] gave additional vouchers for relief packs to families they favoured. So by the end of the relief, even though we had given exactly the right number of packs for the number of families in the village, several went without.

‘They were all telling us that it was done by favouritism.’

The worker was distressed that ‘only Leyte and Tacloban are getting the international coverage’ and that the plight of those in other, more remote, areas of the Philippines was being made worse because ‘no one even knows about them’.

He added: ‘I don’t want to upset people over here it’s very corrupt and I don’t want to vanish.’

The Philippine government, meanwhile, has defended its efforts to deliver assistance to victims of the typhoon.

‘In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough,’ Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in Tacloban, most of which was destroyed by the storm one week ago.


 WATCH: Philippine popular town left in ruins.




‘The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can't reach everyone.’

The number of confirmed dead jumped more than 1,200 to 3,621, Eduardo del Rosario, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Friday.

 Some officials estimate that the final toll, when the missing are declared dead and remote regions reached, will be more than 10,000. At least 600,000 people have been displaced.

The pace of the aid effort has picked up over the last 24 hours, according to reporters who have been in the region for several days. Foreign governments are dispatching food, water, medical supplies and trained staff to the region. Trucks and generators are also arriving.

But many people complain that the amount of food being given out is too small.

Renee Patron, 33, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was in Guiuan city on eastern Samar province when the typhoon struck, told the Associated Press news agency: 'The government's distribution system is not enough.


Generous: America and its allies have rushed to the aid of the Philippines. Here American military
personnel load relief aid on to a US Navy Seabee helicopter from the USS George Washington
carrier at a landing zone in Tacloban

Beauty amongst the despair: A rainbow forms over the airport in Tacloban

Escape: Survivors wait for a military plane that will carry them to Manila at Tacloban airport

A soldier assists young survivors to the military plane at Tacloban airport

'They are handing out small food packets to each household. But when you have three families inside one home, one little packet is not enough.'

Her friend, Susan Tan, whose grocery store and warehouse were completely looted after the typhoon, is despondent but determined to carry on with her life and help others.

She's now using her empty warehouse as a center from where people can make calls on a satellite phone she got from a friend who works for local telecoms company Smart. There has been no cell phone service in the town since last Friday.

'This was my store. Now's it's a relief center and a call center,' said Tan, 43. 'It was ransacked by panicked... people desperate for food. There was no way to control them. We had stocked up on food for the Christmas holidays. They took everything, and not just the food. They ransacked my office too, anything they could find. They took away our furniture.'

Now, the barren blue shelves are empty. Still, it is serving a purpose, with about 100 people queued up outside waiting to make calls. The free calls are limited to one minute each.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told The Associated Press that armed forces have set up communications lines and C-130 transport planes are conducting regular flights to Tacloban, the capital of Leyte.

While the navies of the United States and its allies rushed to the aid of the typhoon-hit Philippines, a state-of-the-art Chinese hospital ship has stayed at home and in doing so has become a symbol of China's tepid response to the crisis.


WATCH: Philippine typhoon survivors struggle to cope.




 The decision not to deploy the 14,000-tonne Peace Ark, one of the newest and biggest hospital ships in the world, is one that contrasts with a recent charm offensive across Southeast Asia by China as it seeks to bolster ties and ease tension over the disputed South China Sea.

Even China's usually hawkish Global Times, a tabloid owned by the People's Daily state mouthpiece, on Friday called for the Ark to sail to the Philippines, where an international naval flotilla, headed by a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, is delivering food, water and medicine.

Initially, China pledged $100,000 in aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan roared across central islands a week ago, and a further $100,000 through the Chinese Red Cross - figures dwarfed by multi-million dollar donations from countries and corporations around the world.

Even Swedish furniture chain Ikea and beverage giant Coca-Cola have done more than the world's second-largest economy for the Philippines. - Daily Mail.



PLANETARY TREMORS: Monumental Seismic Swarm - More Than 3,500 Aftershocks Hit Philippines After Last Month's Powerful 7.2 Earthquake!

November 15, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs) continues to monitor neighboring fault lines that may have been triggered by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake last Oct. 15.

Phivolcs science research specialist Robinson Jorgio told the Cebu City Council yesterday that they are doing the monitoring amid fears that the recent earthquake could trigger another earthquake.


USGS earthquake location for the October 15 earthquake.


Jorgio appeared before the City Council yesterday in an executive session to orient the body of existing fault lines in Cebu.

There are four fault lines in Cebu, he said.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 Senior Geologist Maria Elena Lupo said one fault is located 30 to 40 meters above Buhisan dam.

A fault is a discontinuity in the surface of the ground. In cases of earthquake, there is a “focus,” which is the point of origin of the earthquake.

The epicenter is then the surface immediately above the focus.

Difference

Jorgio also explained the difference between magnitude and intensity. The former is the energy released while the intensity is the strength of the effect of the earthquake, which essentially pertains to the shaking.

Aftershocks are mostly qualified through intensity.

Since the earthquake last month, more than 3,500 aftershocks were recorded but only about 101 were felt.

The latest was the 10:26 a.m. aftershock yesterday, said Jorgio.

As to when the aftershocks will stop, Jorgio said these were supposedly only for two to three weeks. Tomorrow, it would have been a month since the earthquake in Cebu and Bohol and the aftershocks continue to jolt the people.

Aftershocks, explained Jorgio, are still earthquakes. These are lower-intensity quakes that follow the main earthquake and is called as such because the origin is the same.

Also after the Oct. 15 earthquake, Jorgio said they discovered tension cracks in Boljoon.

These tension cracks may result in a landslide during heavy rains because water will seep into the cracks, prompting water saturation.


The USGS recorded the M7.2 earthquake last October 15 at approximately 2km northeast of the city
of Catigbian on Bohol Island, between Sagbayan and Balilihan. USGS

“Earthquakes are random, cannot be predicted and cannot kill. The buildings kill the
people,” said Jorgio.

During the session, Jorgio presented what would happen to Cebu if a 7.2-magnitude were to occur and its epicenter would be in Cebu.

“Many well-built buildings are considerably damaged. Concrete dikes and foundations of bridges are destroyed by ground settling or toppling.

Tombstones may be displaced, twisted or overturned. Utility posts, towers and monuments may tilt or topple. Water and sewer pipes may be bent, twisted or broken,” describes intensity 8.

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake happening in Cebu translates to intensity 8 and would be “very destructive.”

The scenario frightened councilors, prompting Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella to appeased them by saying that Jorgio was only talking hypothetically and there is no indication that it would be happening. - Sun Star.



FIRE IN THE SKY: Monumental Signs In The Heavens - The Website SPACE.com Says Comet ISON Increased Nearly 16 TIMES In Brightness In Just 72 Hours; Now Visible To The Naked Eye After Outburst!

November 15, 2013 - SPACE - Get ready for a stellar show. The much-anticipated Comet ISON is now visible to the naked eye according to reports from many observers.

Comet ISON — the potential "comet of the century" — has suddenly brightened in an outburst of activity with just two weeks to go before it literally grazes the surface of the sun.


Amateur astronomer Bruce Gary captured this view of the brightening Comet ISON on Nov. 14, 2013,
from Hereford, Ariz. Credit: Bruce Gary

 In recent months, Comet ISON has repeatedly befuddled forecasters trying to anticipate just how bright it will ultimately become. But earlier this week, the comet's brightening trend again seemed to sputtering and stalling, but more recent observations suggest a sudden and radical upsurge in brightness.

Comet ISON lightens up, literally

Comet ISON is now in full outburst mode, becoming many times brighter over just the past few days. Astronomers measure the brightness of objects in the night sky as magnitude, in which the brighter an object is, the lower its magnitude number. The human eye can perceive objects as faint as magnitude +6.5.


WATCH: Two Comets to Fly By Mercury.



According to veteran comet observer, John Bortle, Comet ISON was shining only at magnitude +8.5 on Monday (Nov. 11) morning — more than six times too dim to be visible to the unaided eye. But by Wednesday morning, the comet’s brightness had increased three-fold brightening to +7.3.

If that was a surprise, an even bigger one was waiting for Bortle on Thursday morning (Nov. 14).


Photographer and amateur astronomer Justin Ng of Singapore captured this view of
Comet ISON on Nov. 4, 2013.  Credit: Justin Ng/www.justinngphoto.com

Astrophotographer Mike Hankey sent in a photo of Comet ISON, taken on Nov. 10, 2013, from his location
in Auberry, CA (near Fresno). He has been imaging ISON regularly since Sept 21 and
noticed a more prominent jet in recent days.

"Ready to go at 4:45 a.m. but I couldn't figure out what the funny-looking, blotted, star that came into view was," Bortle said. "[Was my] seeing that bad? But, no, the 'blotted star' was, in fact, at the comet's position! Getting to the point, the little but intensely condensed, globular cluster-looking comet was a whopping magnitude 5.4 — two full magnitudes brighter than just 24 hours ago! This makes for a three magnitude total rise since my observation on Monday."

 In just 72 hours, Comet ISON increased nearly 16 times in brightness.

Carl Hergenrother, acting co-coordinator of the comet section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, has confirmed Bortle's observations.


WATCH: Comet ISON's Growing Tails and Lovejoy's Coma.



"ISON has dramatically brightened over the past few days," Hergenrother told SPACE.com via email. "The latest observations put the comet around magnitude 5.7 to 6.1 which is a 2+ magnitude increase from this weekend. My own observations from this morning in 10x50 and 30x125 binoculars show a nice 'lollipop' comet with a very condensed blue-green head and a long narrow tail. The tail was over 1 degree in length even in the 10x50s. The comet may continue to brighten as the outburst is still in its early stages."

Unmistakable comet outburst

Long Island amateur Dennis Wilde was also impressed by ISON’s appearance in the predawn sky Thursday morning.

 "ISON, while not as large as the full moon, was an impressive sight in the eyepiece," Wilde said. "The coma was compact with a very bright apparent nucleus, very bright green in color. The tail was very thin and bright near the coma and widened slightly as it extended out to almost 3.5 degrees as seen in the 15". It wasn't huge or extraordinarily bright but it was a great view nonetheless. I viewed the coma at up to 490x and it was uniformly dense and bright. There was no indication of the start of any breakup. After finding it with the telescope it was quite easy to pick out the coma with the [binoculars]."

This outburst is not completely unusual since ISON has demonstrated short "spurts" of brightening over the past few weeks, but they were quickly followed by abrupt slow-down in its brightening trend.

So will the current outburst persist until the comet arrives at the sun on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28)?


An hour before sunrise on Monday morning, November 18, catch a sight of the elusive planet Mercury,
with brightening Comets ISON and Lovejoy as a bonus. Credit: Starry Night Software

 "Whether by chance we have caught the comet at the peak of the outburst is certainly debatable (to me rather improbable) and it may well still brighten further," Bortle said.

"The comet may continue to brighten as the outburst is still in its early stages," Hergenrother said. "Whether this outburst will be a short-lived event or the beginning of a more active phase is still to be seen."

This sudden upsurge in brightness is certainly very good for a comet that until now seemed to be running well behind in brightness predictions. It seems now that we can feel a little more optimistic about this enigmatic object putting on show for us later this month on into early December.

 Comet ISON was first discovered by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok in September 2012. The comet is officially designated C/2012 S1 (ISON), with ISON standing for International Scientific Optical Network.


The deep-frozen Comet ISON could blaze spectacularly as it whips past the sun at Thanksgiving 2013.   
SPACE.com infographic.   Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com contributor


The comet is rapidly approaching its Nov. 28 perihelion and as a result it is becoming more and more difficult to observe low near the east-southeast horizon in the dawn sky. Still, observers with access to a clear horizon may be able to follow ISON for about another week.

Next Monday morning (Nov. 18), ISON will be passing close to the bright 1st magnitude star Spica in Virgo. Using the handle of the Big Dipper, sweep an arc to the brilliant orange star Arcturus. Then continue that arc on to Spica. Using binoculars, ISON should still be readily be visible as a fuzzy star with a short tail.

Will it still be visible to the unaided eye?  Check it out for yourself! - SPACE.



TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - United Nations Committee Meets To Decide Whether To Outlaw "Killer Robots" As Mind-Reading Robots Are Coming Ever Closer!

November 15, 2013 - TECHNOLOGY & THE FUTURE - 'Killer Robots' could be made illegal if campaigners in Geneva succeed in persuading a UN committee, meeting on Thursday and Friday, to open an investigation into their development. The first steps towards the outlawing of "killer robots" could be taken on Thursday, as a UN committee meets to decide whether to investigate banning the controversial technology.

UN Committee Meets To Decide Whether To Outlaw "Killer Robots."


Campaigners are hoping that representatives from 117 states gathering for a two-day annual meeting in Geneva will agree to an inquiry into the development of the machines, which they say pose a serious threat to the world.

"People initially accused us of being in some kind of fantasy world," said Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at Sheffield University, and one of the founders of the Stop the Killer Robots coalition. "But now they have realised that significant developments are already under way.

"At the moment we already have drones, which are supervised by humans – I have a lot of issues with these, but they can be used in compliance with international law.


BAE Systems' Taranis, a semi-autonomous unmanned warplane, that will use stealth technology and
can fly intercontinental missions and attack both aerial and ground targets
 Photo: HANDOUT


"What we are talking about however is fully-automated machines that can select targets and kill them without any human intervention. And that is something we should all be very worried about."

The UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) brings together representatives to discuss issues such as the use of chemical gases and landmines.

France is currently chair of the organisation, and campaigners are hopeful that Ambassador Jean-Hughes Simon-Michel, chairman of the CCW, will persuade delegates to support an inquiry. Just one veto to the proposal, however, would prevent it being discussed.


The X-47B (GETTY IMAGES)



No country has admitted to developing this kind of technology – although Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International UK's Arms Programme Director, said that Britain, the US and Israel were the countries thought to be furthest down the road of development.

"We are not talking about Terminator-style robots," said Mr Sprague. "It is most likely to be a drone – or something even more mundane, like a row of computer banks that look through the data, find the target and then call in the order for an attack.

"The UK has said that we would never develop systems that operate without a level of human control. But what does that mean? It could be as little as someone keeping a vague eye on a series of computer monitors."

The campaigners maintain that there is a well-founded fear that computer-controlled devices could "go rogue" – or be hacked, jammed or copied by terrorists. They also say that we should not hand decisions over whether something is right and wrong to machines.


Israel's Iron Dome system (GETTY IMAGES).


Professor Sharkey and his team point to the British development of BAE Systems' Taranis, which was tested last month – a semi-autonomous unmanned warplane, that will use stealth technology and can fly intercontinental missions and attack both aerial and ground targets.

Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis will follow a set flight path using on-board computers to perform manoeuvres, avoid threats and identify targets. Only when it needs to attack a target will it seek authorisation from a human controller – and experts fear that this human authorisation could eventually be dispensed with.

South Korea has invested in developing a robot – the SGR1 – equipped with machine guns and grenade launchers, which it has tested to guard its border with North Korea. The robot uses infrared sensors to detect targets from up to two miles away and shoot them – although the manufacturers, Samsung Techwin, say that it remains under human control.

“The robots are not being deployed to replace or free up human soldiers,” said Huh Kwang-hak, a spokesman for Samsung Techwin. “Rather, they will become part of the defence team with our human soldiers. Human soldiers can easily fall asleep or allow for the depreciation of their concentration over time.

“But these robots have automatic surveillance, which doesn’t leave room for anything resembling human laziness.”

To illustrate their point, Samsung Techwin produced a Hollywood-style six minute advert for the technology, featuring invading "badies" clad in face paint being identified by the SGR1 and halted by the voice of operators working from the base.

The United States navy, meanwhile, have since the 1980s used a radar-controlled gun system on its ships – which campaigners say could become totally automated.

Raytheon, the manufacturers, describe the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System as "a self-contained package" which "automatically carries out functions usually performed by multiple systems – including search, detection, threat evaluation, tracking, engagement, and kill assessment."


The Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (ALAMY)

 Last month more than 270 engineers, computer experts and robotics scientists from 37 countries signed a statement demanding the ban of the further development of automated systems on such robots.

They said in a joint statement that given the limitations and unknown future risks of autonomous robot weapons technology, their development and deployment should be made illegal.

"Decisions about the application of violent force must not be delegated to machines," they said.

And in April, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Weapons and Protection of Civilians heard a briefing from the campaigners.

Admiral Lord West, who was at the briefing, said: "I find the idea of artificial intelligence doing targeting and weapon delivery quite abhorrent, and I believe we need to do something to make that illegal globally. I think it is extremely dangerous."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “The MoD has absolutely no intention of developing any weapons systems that do not require any human involvement.

"Remotely-piloted aircraft systems used to protect ground troops in Afghanistan are all controlled by highly-trained military pilots and the rules of engagement are the same as for conventional weapons. There are no plans to replace skilled military personnel with fully autonomous systems.”

If France succeeds in getting an agreement in the meeting this week, a group of experts will be convened to assess the technology and report back on their recommendations. Campaigners are hopeful that the technology could be banned in a similar way to the 1995 CCW prohibition of lasers which can be used to blind people.

"We are a way off a total ban, but this would be a vital first step," said Professor Sharkey. "There are a lot of tripwires to be stepped over first and obstacles to be navigated first.

"We are not calling for the ban of all robots in the military. We just want to see the end to those which, without any human intervention whatsoever, can choose who lives or dies."  - Telegraph.




Mind-Reading Robots Coming Ever Closer.
From left, Shikha Chaganti, Anca Ralescu and Gaurav Mukherjee use brain-computer interface to distinguish
which brain signal corresponds with the body's performance of a particular intended action.
(Credit: Image courtesy of University of Cincinnati)

If you think with the release of every new i-device the world is getting closer to thought-controlled smart tech and robotic personal assistants, you might be right.

And thanks in part to work led by the University of Cincinnati's Anca Ralescu, we may be even closer than you realize. Professor Ralescu of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computing Systems will discuss her team's research aims and current progress on brain-computer interface at the International Human-Centered Robotics Symposium (HuCeRo). The University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) will host the symposium on Nov. 14-17 at UC's Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center. The symposium aims to bring together leading researchers and engineers in the fields of robotics, computer science, material science and brain-computer interaction. Ralescu's presentation will be Nov. 17.

Brain-computer interface uses electroencephalography (a measure of the brain's electrical activity) to help distinguish which brain signal corresponds with the body's performance of a particular intended action. In these experiments, Shikha Chaganti, a graduate student in computer science advised by Ralescu, specifically targeted brain impulses generated when a person thought about going from a sitting position to standing and vice versa. Computers process this data -- which can be reinforced by combining it with measures of electrical activity in muscle -- in order to detect these brain signals and interpret their intent. The idea is to allow a person to use thought alone to communicate with a computer about the intent to move.

"The problem is quite difficult," Ralescu says. "We are experimenting with processing the signal and selecting useful features from it, and designing a classifier capable of distinguishing between the these two transitions -- sitting to standing and standing to sitting."

Ralescu's work eventually could be used in conjunction with another project being presented at HuCeRo by UC's Gaurav Mukherjee, a master's student in mechanical engineering in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), and Grant Schaffner, an assistant professor in UC's Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. Mukherjee and Schaffner designed and built a spring-assisted leg exoskeleton that can help people with impaired mobility. By integrating Ralescu's brain-computer interface into the exoskeleton, someone using the device could think, "I'm going to stand," and they'd receive a robotic boost as they rose to their feet.

Ralescu also says HuCeRo will feature discussion of UC's development of an interdisciplinary curriculum for human-centered robotics.

"The idea of human-centered systems in general, and human-centered robotics in particular, is not new. But to some extent things were just not in place. Some technology or other was either missing or too expensive," Ralescu says. "To my knowledge, there is no formal curriculum in this area in any university. If UC moves forward with creating such a curriculum, it could be among the first of its kind. So UC would be a pioneer in establishing such a curriculum."

In addition to the contributions from UC graduate students Chaganti and Mukherjee, Ralescu's work has benefited from interaction with Jonathan Adam Wilson, a postdoctoral fellow in pediatrics at UC and of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Tomasz Rutkowski of the University of Tsukuba and the Brain Science Institute at RIKEN in Japan; and Christoph Guger, CEO of Guger Technologies in Graz, Austria. - Science Daily.



MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Fish Suddenly Die In A River In Surabaya, Indonesia?!

November 15, 2013 - INDONESIA - Gara-gara DO (dissolve oxygen / oxygen content) were dissolved in water decreases, thousands of different kinds of fish such as Achilles, jendil, wader, bader, sili, and tilapia were there in Kali Surabaya munggut (drunk) at the location of the floodgates Gunungsari Surabaya.


Kali Surabaya [revelation / Xinhua]

Head of Water Resources Water Services Division III Perum Jasa Tirta (PJT) I, Taufiqurrachman when met at his office, Wednesday (13/11/2013) said that conditions in Surabaya now experiencing dropouts due to Surabaya and surrounding cities have not experienced the rainy season.

"The average DO for two days is still below 2 mg / liter. Though ideally the normal DO in the range of 3-4 mg / liter," he explained.

Taufiqurrachman PJT I added from the data by means of water quality monitor (Water Quality Monitoring System) known to the point of lowest DO reach 0 mg / liter at 17 Coral Pilang station point. That is, at that point the water has no dissolved oxygen and fish will certainly munggut and die.

"To overcome this we add water discharge Kali Surabaya by taking water from the sluice Mlirip Mojokerto," he explained.

Just a note, a similar incident last munggut fish occurred in May 2012 ago. When the pollution of Sugar Factory Gempol crepe are the cause.

Of the number of fish that NOD was greater, because the areas affected by pollution across the county / city of Mojokerto, Gresik, Sidoarjo, to Surabaya. - Skala News. [Translated]



FIRE IN THE SKY: Once-In-A-Lifetime Shot Captures Exploding Meteor!

November 15, 2013 - SPACE - I've been shooting photos for 20 years. I've made my living in the profession for the last 15. I can count on one hand the number of times that everything lined up perfectly and a truly rare image was created.


© Scott Rinckenberger


Now, I don't want to toot my own horn about this shot, but the fact that, during a 30 second exposure, after a 10 second timer (during which I hopped down from the roof of my truck where the camera was on a tripod, and joined the scene by the fire), a meteor (or so they tell us) would enter the sky EXACTLY in the corner of the frame and explode in the very part of the frame that needed balance, just as I had finally worked out the correct exposure and lighting to match the foreground with the night sky, is beyond rare. It's a non-chance. There is no way to plan for something like this. No way to even hope for it.

But lest you get the impression that I'm subscribing to a lifestyle of reliance on freakish luck, there is a deeper game at play here. Namely this: If you shoot enough arrows, eventually you'll pull a Robin Hood and split the arrow that was already a bulls-eye. When I took this shot, it was the final day of my project shooting fall landscapes in the American West. Five weeks previous, I had left Seattle in my truck with no mission beyond creating and sharing beautiful photography as I chased good weather almost all the way to the Mexican border. Every morning, I was up shooting the sunrise.

Every night, I was posted up somewhere scenic to shoot the close of another day in the great outdoors. From the Olympic rain forest to the Tetons, Yosemite to Zion, I was on an epic hunt. And, to be perfectly honest with you, toward the end of the trip, despite the thousands of images taken, and the extremely enthusiastic feedback from the world at large, I was disappointed that I hadn't captured a single transcendent image; an image that would make me want to burn my camera, a la Jimmy Hendrix.

Nonetheless, I needed a closing shot for the project. A shot that said, 'thanks for joining me on this journey, and here's to living the good life under nature's roof'. So there I was, on the last night in the field, going through the motions. Legitimately not inspired, but professionally committed. Apologies to the idealists out there, but after a month of shooting the evening sky, you just plain get a little bit numb. But you've got to respect the process and do the work. Find a cool campsite, get a photogenic camp and fire setup, tweak the fire and tent to match the brightness of the stars, shoot a test image, make adjustments, shoot an image, another round of tweaks, shoot a photo, that looks pretty good, how about another for good measure, and WHAMMY!

My pal Hayden was the other guy at the campfire. His favorite part of the story? My response after I had climbed back up on the roof of the truck to review the image that I was hoping beyond hope I had captured. In my head: Exposure? Check. Focus? Check. EXPLODING METEOR? CHECK! And verbally (very quietly): "I'm done." And those of you who know how the mind of an artist works, being done is a rare and beautiful thing.  - Scott Rinckenberger.



MASS MAMMAL DIE-OFF: Unusual Mortality Event - Scientists Looking For Answers After Hundreds Of Dead Turtles Wash Ashore On The Beaches Of Central America?!

November 15, 2013 - CENTRAL AMERICA - Hundreds of sea turtles are washing up dead on the beaches of Central America and scientists don't know why.

One hypothesis is that the killer is a potent neurotoxin that can be produced by algae during red tides, which are large accumulations of algae that turn sea water red or brown.

A map showing the most recent discoveries of dead turtles.


A dead Eastern Pacific green sea turtle on the Costa Rican coast. Source: Supplied

What puzzles scientists is the fact that red tides have come and gone before without taking such a deadly toll on turtles.

Another theory is that the use of explosives by Costa Rican fishermen.

Making things worse, some of the turtles that are dying are endangered species.

Eastern Pacific green sea turtles began appearing on the shores of northwestern Costa Rica in the past week. Most recently, the Nicaraguan conservation group Paso Pacifico found 28 dead turtles off the coast of San Juan del Sur, just north of the Costa Rican discoveries.

In El Salvador, from late September to the middle of October, 114 sea turtles were discovered dead on Pacific coast beaches, according to the environment ministry.

They were black turtles (Chelonia agassizii), Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and ones that are a cross between the two.

Scientists throughout Central America are alarmed, and the only laboratory that specialises in turtles is taking tissue and organ samples in a bid to figure out what is going on.

The death toll elsewhere is high - 115 so far this year in Guatemala, 280 in Costa Rica and an undisclosed number in Nicaragua. Another 200 died in late 2012 in Panama.

And in Nicaragua there is yet another problem: the turtles showed up weeks late, at the end of September, to crawl up onto the beach and lay their eggs.

"Some say it could be due to climate change, sea currents or the techniques used by fishermen,'' said biologist Ivan Ramirez of the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nicaragua (Fundenic).

The head of wildlife and ecosystems at the Salvadoran environment ministry, Nestor Herrera, said the strongest hypothesis over the death of the turtles is that they were killed by saxitoxin - which affects the nervous system and can be produced by a red tide.

In one area of El Salvador's coast, dogs that started eating dead turtles stopped breathing and died almost instantly.

In 2006, saxitoxin killed about 500 sea turtles in El Salvador, and four years later, another 100 died of the same cause.

However, there is a red tide almost every year, while such widespread turtle deaths have never happened before, said Angel Ibarra, coordinator of Ecological Unity of El Salvador, who added more study is needed to shed light on the phenomenon.

Others worry that the recent spate of turtle deaths can be traced more directly to human activity.

In Guatemala, the National Council of Protected Areas said some turtles are caught up by industrial-size fishing boats that drag nets along the sea bed and capture everything in their path, a process called trawling.

And drift net fishing, in which very long nets float behind a ship and near the surface of the water, could also be a threat to turtles.

Jose Leonidas Gomez, who works with a sea turtle conservation project in El Salvador, said turtles discovered dead on one beach were found not to have eaten, so it is presumed they got caught in nets.

Biologist Fabio Buitrago of Nicaragua's Fundenic said turtles are also being killed by fishermen who use explosives, among other techniques. "The fishermen themselves say so,'' he said.

Antonio Benavides, a veteran turtle conservationist in El Salvador, said protecting the creatures is all the more difficult because the mortality rate for juveniles is already high.

Only one out of a thousand babies that hatch and make it out into the sea ever returns to the beach as an adult to lay eggs.

Fertility is yet another issue: in September scientists in Honduras said turtles on one beach laid 40 per cent fewer eggs. - The Australian.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: High-Speed Indian Train Ploughs Into Herd Of Elephants, Kills Seven!

November 15, 2013 - INDIA - An official says a passenger train has killed seven elephants and injured another 10 of a herd crossing railroad tracks in eastern India.




West Bengal state Forestry Minister Hiten Burman said Thursday that the train travelling at 80 kilometres per hour ploughed into a herd of nearly 40 elephants in Chapramari forest in Jalpaiguri district on Wednesday evening.

Burman says railway authorities have ignored requests from his department to have trains travel at slower speeds in the elephant corridor.





Dozens of elephants have died in India in recent years after being struck while crossing railroad tracks that run through national parks and forests.

India's wild elephant population was recently estimated at about 26 000. - Times Live.




FIRE IN THE SKY: Meteorite Fall Creates Panic In Bangladesh District!

November 15, 2013 - BANGLADESH -  A meteorite falling in the areas bordering Bangladesh created panic among the residents of the Garo Hills region. The meteorite, which fell inside Bangladesh, lit up the night sky around 10.30 pm last night. It was eagerly watched by the residents living along these areas.


File photo.

The meteorite fell close to the Dumnikura BoP in the Sherpur district of Bangladesh, just beside the international border and the impact was heard even 40 km away from the area where it fell. Dumnikura is a border outpost in the South Garo Hills, very close to where five police personnel were killed last week.

A resident of the neighbouring Dalu village in West Garo Hills, Dipu Marak, was witness to the incident.

He said, "We heard a loud noise around 10.30 pm last night and immediately rushed outside. We were in a state of shock. The meteorite lit up the night sky and narrowly missed us."

Other local residents said the whole area shook under the impact of the fall and the light could be seen even on the Indian side of the border.

Panic-stricken people, who ran out of their houses, said that the sound resembled that of an aeroplane's at a close range. - AAM.



MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Massive Fish Kill In A Stream In Edremit, Turkey?!

November 15, 2013 - TURKEY - Through the center of the district of Edremit Stream mass fish deaths have been seen in recent days.




In particular, the tea is often seen around the Ring Road Bridge, acting on fish kills Edremit District Director of Food Agriculture and Livestock Huseyin Acar and aquaculture engineer, Dr. Ibrahim Türkgülü, large-scale investigations.

Fish deaths due to pollution, which took place tahmit Manager Huseyin Acar , "As a result of our investigations Edremit Brook set of household waste involved. Polluted by domestic waste Edremit River water oxygen depletion has occurred. It's led to the deaths of fish.


WATCH: Mass fish die-off in Turkey.




Oxygen themselves in order to get more oxygen to the remaining sides of the fish taking the big ones, small ones stand havasızlığa died "dedi.Hüseyin Acar, they identify areas where they are needed to stop the dirty water mixed tea was expressed at presentation. - Haberler. [Translated]



DISASTER IMPACT: Somali Region Appeals For Aid After Cyclone - UN Says As Many As 30,000 Need Help; Over 300 Dead; "Countless" Die-Off Of Animals; Entire Villages Destroyed; Roads And Homes Washed Away!

November 15, 2013 - SOMALIA - Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland has declared a state of emergency and is appealing for international aid after floods triggered by a cyclone killed at least 300 people and left hundreds missing.

The UN said some 30,000 people were in need of food, water, shelter and medical supplies, according to government estimates. Puntland's government has described the situation as a "disaster".


A cyclone that hit Somalia's north-eastern Puntland region at the weekend is known to have killed over
300 people and has caused extensive flooding. Many areas have been cut off. News and pictures
of the devastation are slowly emerging.

Thousands of livestock also died, and hundreds of homes were destroyed by the cyclone, known as 03A.
This man lost the majority of his flock, with 400 out of his 431 goats dying.

Camels too were affected by the surging waters. This camel was stuck in the mud and was
successfully rescued by young men using ropes.

Puntland forms the tip of the Horn of Africa and has its own government, but unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has not declared independence from Somalia, which has been unstable since 1991 when President Siad Barre was overthrown.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow, reporting from Puntland, said the situation was "grim" and that entire villages had been washed away by "raging floods".

He said the death toll was likely to rise as most of the affected villages were still cut off by the water.

"Aid is not reaching affected villages because of the damage done to infrastructure. [There are] long queues of stranded vehicles" on both sides of the road between the capital Garowe and the key port city of Bossaso.

'Livestock lost'

Our correspondent said large stretches of the road had been damaged and that officials had been sent on foot to try to reach affected areas.

"Torrential rains, high wind speeds and flooding has created a state of emergency, with 300 persons feared dead, hundreds others unaccounted for, and countless livestock lost," the government said in a statement.

The death toll could not be independently verified, but weather experts from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) confirmed flooding was severe.


A major bridge on the highway between the inland town of Garowe and coastal Bossasso was washed away.

It took several days for aid to reach one of the worst-affected areas, Karhis - between the districts of
Dangoroyo and Eyl - which rarely receives rain.

Puntland marines distributed dates, nutritious biscuits and sugar to those left destitute by the floods. This
family lost most of their possessions in the raging waters that swept away their compound of huts.

This woman, who thanked the marines for the food they gave her, said she had been separated from her family.
She also lost 90 goats in the floods.

Journalist Ahmed Awil Jama said about half a kilometre from where the marines were distributing food,
it was too dangerous to travel because of the fast-moving water. The authorities have appealed to
international aid agencies to help with air-drops of relief supplies, including clean water,
non-perishable food, tents, blankets and medicines.


"Given that Puntland is a semi-arid region, it rarely rains but when it does, to an extent we have seen... the impact is devastating," Hussein Gadain, a senior FAO technical adviser, said

Infamous pirate hotspots such as the port of Eyl - from where Somali men have launched attacks far out into the Indian Ocean - are some of the worst affected.


WATCH: Somali region appeals for aid after cyclone.




"Many fishermen are missing and feared dead, the storm has destroyed entire villages, homes, buildings, and boats," the statement added.

The World Food Programme said it was "working closely" with local authorities "to assess the needs in Puntland in the aftermath of the cyclone". - Al Jazeera.



DISASTER IMPACT: People In The Philippines Are Eating Rats And Stray Dogs After Running Out Of Food - Armed Looters And Food Rioters Causing Great Instability Around Tacloban Region!

November 15, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - Typhoon Haiyan, or “Yolanda” as it’s called locally – slammed into Southeast Asia late last week, devastating the Northern Islands of the Philippines.




Talk of aid flooding in to affected areas has been balanced with more talk of food and water shortages. Armed looters and food rioters caused instability around the area of Tacloban. Government officials are insisting that everything is getting to those suffering:

“Tacloban is relying almost entirely for supplies and evacuation on just three military transport planes flying from nearby Cebu. Aquino said 24,000 family food packs had been distributed in Tacloban on Sunday, while 18.7 billion pesos ($430 million) had been set aside from calamity funds, contingency funds, and savings for places hit by Haiyan. He said 22 foreign countries had provided aid.” 

Not so, says one resident: “People have resorted to eating the rats and stray dogs.”


WATCH: Philippine city puts typhoon toll above 4,000.




MacArthur in Leyte Province was one of the many small towns hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan, and although there were no reported deaths, food has became a pressing issue.

Cat Gonzales Mones of Manila said via Twitter that after two days she finally got into contact with family members, and they told her the lack of food is the main problem.

Patrick Hothersall, a Chicago resident whose wife Naume was in the town when the typhoon hit, told Epoch Times via email that he’s received information that the situation in MacArthur has gotten so intense that they’re eating animals.






“Before the typhoon there was a drought and an infestation of black rats,” he said. “People have resorted to eating the rats and stray dogs.”

Little information is available about the situation in MacArthur and a range of other towns that were hit by Haiyan, even five days after it struck.


WATCH: Survivors on tiny Philippine island left without help.




WATCH: Starting to rebuild in the Philippines.




Mayor Nones, who posted a picture of the town on his Facebook, said that most of the houses in MacArthur were damaged or destroyed.

Nearby Dulag and other towns and cities in the region, such as Ormoc City, were also hit hard, and suffered dozens of casualties.

Tacloban City in Leyte, northeast of MacArthur, was perhaps the worst hit city, with hundreds dead. - 21st Century Wire.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - Kuwait Reports Its First MERS-Coronavirus Cases!

November 15, 2013 - KUWAIT - Kuwait reported its first two cases of the deadly MERS coronavirus on Wednesday, the fifth Gulf Arab country where the strain has emerged since the outbreak began in neighboring Saudi Arabia last year.




A 47-year-old man is in a critical condition, Kuwaiti state news agency KUNA said, citing a statement from the Health Ministry. It gave no further details.

A second patient, a 52-year-old Kuwaiti citizen, recently travelled overseas, KUNA said in another report later on Wednesday, adding he had no contact with the first patient.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia. It has been reported in people in the Gulf, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain. Oman reported its first case last month and the patient died on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, where the vast majority of confirmed cases have been recorded, has confirmed 127 cases of the disease, of which 53 have died, since it was discovered in the kingdom more than a year ago.




Cases have also been reported in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The World Health Organization said in August the number of confirmed infections worldwide in the year from September 2012 had been 102. Almost half of those infected had died.

Scientists say they believe dromedary camels in the Middle East may be the animal "reservoir" that is fuelling the outbreak. - Reuters.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: HAZMAT Team Called To Scene Of Massive Chemical Plant Fire In Mt. Elliot, Detroit - Multiple Homes On The East Side Evacuated Due To Hazardous Materials; Level 3 Situation, With Level 4 Being The Worst!

November 15, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Multiple homes on Detroit’s east side were evacuated due to a fire and hazardous materials situation at a chemical company.





The two-alarm fire broke out at around 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Chemical Technology Incorporated in the area of Mt. Elliot and McNichols.

Officials said it was a level three HAZMAT situation; with level four being the worst.


WATCH: Detroit HAZMAT fire prompts evacuations.



Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said a three-block radius, between St. Louis and Luce, was evacuated.

“I was just laying in my bed and I heard a couple booms,” said Charlissa Matthews, who lives behind the plant. “And then I jumped up and I seen a lot of smoke; so, yeah, it was pretty scary.”

At nearby White Elementary, all students were sent home for the day.







DDOT, the Health Department and the Salvation Army were called to scene to help with the evacuations.

Billowing smoke was seen for miles and police asked people to avoid the area; but a spokesman for Chemical Technology told said that nothing in the smoke was dangerous to public health.

Company owner Giarard Weber was inside the building when the fire broke out.

“It was an accident,” Weber told WWJ’s Stephanie Davis. “A small fire started in an area and we got out, evacuated the building, and called 911.”






Weber said emergency response time was “very slow,” with firefighters showing up 30 minutes after the initial call for help. Otherwise, he said, the building might have been saved.

Taras Hayda who works at the Electric Tool Company about two blocks away, said black flames and smoke were shooting into the air from the roof.

“It’s a pretty bad odor that the smoke is smelling like …that I couldn’t tell you exactly,” Hayda said.

The fire was out by around 6 p.m., and evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes.

No one was hurt. - CBS Detroit.