Saturday, January 18, 2014

FUK-U-EARTH: The War On Mother Nature - China Starts Televising The Sunrise On Giant TV Screens Because Beijing Is So Clouded In Smog?!

January 18, 2014 - CHINA - The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city's natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises.

Virtual sunlight: The LED screen shows the rising sun in Tiananmen Square which is shrouded with heavy smog
on January 16, 2014 in Beijing, China. Beijing Municipal Government issued a yellow smog alert this morning.

The futuristic screens installed in the Chinese capital usually advertize tourist destinations, but as the season's first wave of extremely dangerous smog hit - residents donned air masks and left their homes to watch the only place where the sun would hail over the horizon that morning.

Commuters across Beijing found themselves cloaked in a thick, gray haze on Thursday as air pollution monitors issued a severe air warning and ordered the elderly and school children to stay indoors until the quality improved.

The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city's commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work.

'I couldn't see the tall buildings across the street this morning,' said a traffic coordinator at a busy Beijing intersection who gave only his surname, Zhang. 'The smog has gotten worse in the last two to three years. I often cough, and my nose is always irritated. But what can you do? I drink more water to help my body discharge the toxins.'

The city's air quality is often poor, especially in winter when stagnant weather patterns combine with an increase in coal-burning to exacerbate other forms of pollution and create periods of heavy smog for days at a time.

But the readings early Thursday for particles of PM2.5 pollution marked the first ones of the season above 500 micrograms per cubic meter.

Public announcement: The LED screen shows the slogan 'protecting atmospheric environment is everyone's
responsibility' on the Tiananmen Square which is shrouded with heavy smog on January 16, 2014 in Beijing, China.

The density of PM2.5 was about 350 to 500 micrograms Thursday midmorning, though the air started to clear in the afternoon. It had reached as high as 671 at 4 a.m. at a monitoring post at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

That is about 26 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World Health Organization, and was the highest reading since January 2013.

Serious air pollution plagues most major Chinese cities, where environmental protection has been long sacrificed for the sake of economic development.

Coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution. In recent years, China has beefed up regulations and pledged financial resources to fight pollution.

In the far northeastern city of Harbin, some monitoring sites reported PM 2.5 rates of up to 1,000 micrograms in October, when the winter heating season kicked off. In December, dirty air gripped the coastal city of Shanghai and its neighboring provinces for days, with the density of PM 2.5 exceeding 600.

Beijing authorities said the haze on Thursday had reduced the visibility to several hundred meters (yards) and that the severe pollution was likely to continue through Friday.

Beijing's mayor pledged on Thursday to cut coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and set aside 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) to improve air quality this year as part of the city's 'all-out effort' to tackle air pollution, state news agency Xinhua said.

tourist takes photos during a heavily polluted day on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.
Beijing's skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog Thursday as the capital saw the
season's first wave of extremely dangerous pollution.

The announcement by Wang Anshun came as the capital was blanketed in its worst smog in months. An index measuring PM2.5 particles, especially bad for health, reached 500 in much of the capital in the early hours.

A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20.

Coal-burning boilers inside Beijing's fifth ring road - covering the built-up area of the city - will be eliminated and measures taken against coal burning in the capital's periphery, Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.

WATCH: Beijing STARVED of natural light because SMOG is so thick.

The city also aims to ban all heavily polluting vehicles this year, cut new car registrations and promote new energy vehicles, Wang said.

Beijing reported 58 days of serious pollution last year, or one every six to seven days on average, Xinhua quoted Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, as saying.

Tourists in masks use mobile phone cameras to snap shots of themselves during a heavily
polluted day on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.

Separately, Xinhua said China had shut down 8,347 heavily polluting companies last year in northern Hebei province, which has the worst air in the country, as the government moves to tackle a problem that has been a source of discontent.

Local authorities will block new projects and punish officials in regions where pollution is severe due to lax enforcement, Xinhua cited Yang Zhiming, deputy director of the Hebei provincial bureau of environmental protection, as saying.

High pollution levels have sparked widespread public anger and officials concerned about social unrest have responded by implementing tougher policies.

Hebei, the country's biggest steel producer, is home to as many as seven of its 10 most polluted cities, Xinhua said, citing statistics published monthly by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Pollution in Hebei often spreads to neighboring Beijing and Tianjin.

Some small high-polluting plants are being relocated to remote areas to avoid oversight, Xinhua quoted Yang as saying. He said the government would 'beef up the industrial crackdown'.

Cause: Reports stated that local governments in China may soon face stiffer fines and administrative
punishment if found guilty of failing to implement pollution prevention measures.

China has drawn up dozens of laws and guidelines to improve the environment but has struggled to enforce them in the face of powerful enterprises.

On Wednesday, China's commercial capital, Shanghai, introduced emergency measures, allowing it to shut schools and order cars off the road in case of severe smog.

Hebei plans to slash crude steel output by 15 million tonnes in 2014 and cut coal consumption by the same amount as part of anti-pollution measures. - Daily Mail.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "This Came As A Surprise" - Sea Ice Cracks Causing Toxic Mercury Buildup In Arctic Air?!

January 18, 2014 - ARCTIC - Tiny tempests above cracks in Arctic sea ice help pull down toxic mercury and ozone from the sky — an unexpected new source of mercury pollution in the polar environment, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

An aerial photo of sea ice cracks, or leads, near Barrow, Alaska.

Low concentrations of mercury vapor, from sources such as coal-fired power plants and gold mining, pollute the atmosphere everywhere on Earth. The gas can travel thousands of miles from its source, even reaching the North and South poles.

Mercury leaves the atmosphere above the Arctic every spring. About 20 years ago, scientists discovered how it escapes: a strange chemistry triggered by the sun that takes place mainly along coastal areas. When the sun peeks above the horizon after a long, dark winter, the solar rays jump-start chemical reactions that quickly remove mercury and ozone from the lowest layers of the atmosphere. (The ozone destroyed during this process is a pollutant, not the protective ozone in Earth's stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere above the one humans live in, called the troposphere.)

One player in this chemical chain, molecular chlorine, recently was measured for the first time in the Arctic at surprisingly high levels of up to 400 parts per million, according to a separate study published Sunday (Jan. 12) in the journal Nature Geoscience. The high chlorine levels were tracked above Barrow, Alaska, in spring 2009. (Parts per million is a unit of volume that denotes, in this case, that for every million molecules of air in the region, 400 of them are chlorine.)

The mercury, a neurotoxin to humans and wildlife, ends up on snow and ice, and not all of it goes back into the atmosphere after the summer melt. "This adds hundreds of tons of mercury to the Arctic every year," said Daniel Obrist, an atmospheric scientist at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada and a co-author of today's Nature study.

Mercury Mixing
The chemical reactions stop once they "eat" all the mercury and ozone in the air just above Earth's surface. But recently, a campaign to better understand this unusual Arctic chemistry discovered that roiling air currents above cracks in Arctic sea ice — similar to the swirling turbulence above a pot of boiling water — can suck down more mercury from higher in the sky, about a quarter-mile (400 meters) up, restarting the chemistry.

"This came as a surprise," Obrist told LiveScience. "We would not have thought that this physical mixing would lead to a resupply of mercury."

While studying mercury chemistry during the Bromine, Ozone and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) field project near Barrow in 2009 and 2012, researchers discovered higher-than-expected concentrations of mercury above these sea-ice "leads," or cracks.

"When the leads open, we see a very quick increase in mercury concentrations," said Chris Moore, a co-author of the Nature study and an atmospheric scientist at the Desert Research Institute. "They jump from essentially zero to global background levels within a couple of hours." (The global background level is the atmospheric concentration of mercury; in the Arctic, it is 1.3 to 1.5 nanograms per cubic meter.)

Here's what happens: When Arctic sea ice cracks apart, relatively warm ocean water meets frigid polar air, causing atmospheric turbulence, Moore said. This mixes up the layered Arctic atmosphere, which would otherwise prevent the sunlight-triggered chemistry from reaching mercury higher in the sky.

Future Effects
The Arctic sea ice undergoes its biggest cracking and fracturing in the spring, at the same time as the sun reappears after winter. This raises the question of what will happen as the extent of Arctic sea ice changes in response to global warming.

"We really need to understand how these environmental processes may change in the future," Moore said.
"This is a very dynamic process, and it will change from year to year, depending on how much seasonal sea ice we have," he added. (Seasonal sea ice is year-old ice, unlike perennial ice that lasts longer than one freeze-thaw season.) "This transition to an Arctic that has more seasonal sea ice means there is potential for this mechanism to happen over a larger and larger area," Moore said. - TWC.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: "A Remarkably Rare Event" - Enormous Galaxy Formed When Universe Was 6% Of Its Present Size Puzzles Astronomers?!

January 18, 2014 - SPACE - Himiko, a "space blob" named after a legendary queen from ancient Japan, is an enormous galaxy, with a hot glowing gaseous halo extending over 55,000 light-years. Not only is Himiko very large, it is extraordinarily distant, seen at a time approximately 800 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 6 percent of its present size and stars and galaxies were just beginning to form.

How could such an early galaxy have sufficient energy to power such a vast glowing gas cloud? In search of the answer to this question, Richard Ellis, the Steele Family Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, together with colleagues from the University of Tokyo and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, undertook an exploration of Himiko using the combined resources of the Hubble Space Telescope and the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile's Atacama Desert. The data collected through these observations answered the initial question about the source of energy powering Himiko, but revealed some puzzling data as well.

The Hubble images, receiving optical and ultraviolet light, reveal three stellar clumps covering a space of 20,000 light-years. Each clump is the size of a typical luminous galaxy dating to the epoch of Himiko. Together, the clumps achieve a prodigious rate of star formation, equivalent to about one hundred solar masses per year. This is more than sufficient to explain the existence of Himiko and its gaseous halo. The observation of the three stellar clumps is exciting in itself, as it means that Himiko is a "triple merger," which, according to Ellis, is "a remarkably rare event."

But a surprising anomaly emerged when Himiko was observed by ALMA. Although the giant gas cloud was bustling with energy at ultraviolet and optical frequencies, it was comparatively sleepy in the submillimeter and radio ranges that ALMA detects. Ordinarily, intense star formation creates dust clouds that are composed of elements such as carbon, oxygen, and silicon, which are heavy in comparison to the hydrogen and helium of the early universe. When these dust clouds are heated up by the ultraviolet light emitted by the developing stars, the dust reradiates the ultraviolet light out into the universe at radio wavelengths. But ALMA did not receive significant radio signals from Himiko, suggesting that heavier elements are not present. Also missing was the spectral signature associated with the emission of gaseous carbon, something also common in galaxies with intense star formation.

Both of these nondetections—of substantial radio waves and of gaseous carbon—are perplexing since carbon is ordinarily rapidly synthesized in young stars. Indeed, carbon emission has heretofore been recommended as a tracer of star formation in distant galaxies. But, as Ellis and his fellow astronomers found, Himiko does not contain the dust clouds of heavier elements that astronomers find in typical energetic galaxies. Instead its interstellar gas is composed of hydrogen and helium—primitive materials formed in the Big Bang itself.

Ellis and his fellow astronomers did not come to this conclusion quickly. They first carefully ruled out several other possible explanations for Himiko, including that the giant blob is being created by the magnification of a foreground object by a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, or is being powered by a massive black hole at its center. Ultimately, the team concluded that Himiko is most likely a primordial galaxy caught in the moment of its formation between 400 million to 1 billion years after the Big Bang, a period astronomers term the cosmic dawn.

"Astronomers are usually excited when a signal from an object is detected," Ellis says, "but in this case it's the absence of a signal from heavy elements that is the most exciting result!"

Artist's rendition of Himiko at the top of the page is based on the results from the observations of ALMA and Hubble Space Telescope. Himiko is mainly composed of clean primordial gas with a little amount of heavy elements.

The Hubble images above (Figure 1) reveal three stellar clumps aligned over 20 thousand light years. Each clump has brightness comparable to a typical luminous galaxy at the epoch of Himiko, when the Universe was only 800 million years old. The gigantic hydrogen cloud (or space blob) engulfs the three clumps. No single bright core is found, ruling out the possibility that Himiko is powered by a supermassive black hole. By combining the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope data, the astronomers reveal intense star formation in Himiko. Matthew Ashby, a team member at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said "We find Himiko is converting gas into stars at a rate of about a hundred solar masses per year, several times more intensely than any known object at this epoch. This intense star production rate is probably sufficient to heat the vast space blob."

The most astonishing find, however, is that the ALMA data show no signal of carbon gas which is used as the index of star formation nor radiation from dust clouds within the system heated by young stars. The radio intensity of carbon gas emission is more than 30 times weaker than present-day galaxies with comparable star formation activities. Given the sensitivity of ALMA, this is truly remarkable.

In the first few minutes after the Big Bang, light elements, e.g. hydrogen and helium, are created. On the other hand, "heavy" elements such as carbon and oxygen are synthesized by nuclear fusion reactions in stars. "Himiko reveals no radio emission from either the solid or gaseous state of heavy elements." remarked Kotaro Kohno, a member of the team. "Star formation and associated supernova explosions normally create dust clouds composed of grains of carbon, oxygen, silicon and other elements. This dust is heated by ultra-violet radiation from massive newborn stars and the warm dust then re-radiates at radio wavelengths. Such radiation is not detected in Himiko. Even more surprising, we detect no emission from gaseous carbon".

As a result, the astronomers speculate that Himiko could be composed of primordial gas, a mixture of the light elements of hydrogen and helium created in the Big Bang. If correct, this would be a landmark discovery signaling the detection of a primordial galaxy seen during its formation.

The paper reporting the results of this research, titled "An Intensely Star-Forming Galaxy at Z ~ 7 with Low Dust and Metal Content Revealed by Deep ALMA and HST Observations," will be published in the December 1, 2013, issue of the Astrophysical Journal. The work was funded by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI Initiative), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). - Daily Galaxy.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "Whole Area Was Being Pulled Toward The Sinkhole" - The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole Has Grown To 26 Acres, Becoming A Chemical Lake, Swallowing Trees And Land; "A National Sacrifice Zone" For The Oil And Gas Industry! [LATEST VIDEOS FROM INFORMATIONAL MEETING]

January 18, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Assumption Parish and Texas Brine LLC officials involved with south Louisiana's 26-acre sinkhole agree that the disaster is far from over and that gas gathering below it is the danger.

Land sliding sideways at the unprecedented Louisiana sinkhole.
Cathleen Jones/Geology/NASA

From paradise to danger zone
3D seismic surveys show Bayou Corne's sinkhole in Assumption Parish is beginning to slow and stabilize. Recovery, however, is focused on another danger: natural gas gathering underneath a nearby aquifer.

Texas Brine and Assumption Parish held a meeting on the 14th to inform the community on the latest developments.

Vent wells siphoning gas from beneath the ground was the focus of the meeting.

The swamp monster sinkhole has established a pattern in the area: seismic activity occurs, the monster sinkhole burps up debris it had swallowed, a slough-in occurs, and the sinkhole grows accordingly.

It burps when air and gas from deep in the sinkhole bubbles up, causing not only debris, but also a hazardous oily substance to float to the top.

It has a "slough-in," swallowing trees and land on its edge.

In June 2012, locals reported gas bubbles in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou. By early August, 200 feet of ground had opened in the swamp. The Earth's surface slid sideways up to 10 inches (26 centimeters) before it collapsed into the Bayou Corne sinkhole, according to a new study based on recordings of what happened when the hole formed.

Cathleen Jones, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. said about the report of the slide, "Usually at a sinkhole, we expect to see vertical movement at the surface, some sort of subsidence. This horizontal motion is actually a new indicator people should be aware of."

Live Science reported last month:
The subtle surface changes revealed in the new study, published in the Dec. 13 issue of the journal Geology, could improve models of how the sinkhole formed, Jones said. "I think this can tell you something about the path between the cavern collapse, which is about a mile deep, and the surface," she said. The sideways flow was like water slipping into a bathtub drain, Jones said. "The fact that the movement was toward a center point might tell you something about the geometry of the path that went down to the void," she said. The subtle flow forms a pattern like a two-leafed clover, consistent with a cavern sidewall collapse as suspected by the USGS, Jones and NASA colleague Ronald Blom report.
The pit opened into a natural underground oil reservoir, releasing oil and toxic gases, such as methane and hydrogen sulfide throughout the hole and into the communities.

The disastrous hole has now grown to 26 acres and become a chemical lake. Officials had predicted it could grow as large as 30 football fields.

One of Texas Brine salt caverns that it leases from a salt dome company collapsed, causing the sinkhole.

That cavern had problems years ago. State officials knew that and quietly turned a blind eye to it, even when the problems prompted the company to abandon it.

Scientists now say that Texas Brine's cavern was too close to the outer edge of the entire 1-mile by 3-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome salt dome housing it.

Texas Brine is one of seven companies storing oil and gas-related chemicals, including butane, in the salt dome.

WATCH: Videos from the informational meeting held on January 14, 2014.

A class-action lawsuit against mining companies Texas Brine and Occidental Chemical was filed in federal court in May 2013.

Residents were told to evacuate and began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week.

The sinkhole is still growing, gobbling hundred-year-old trees and threatening Highway 70 south of Baton Rouge and west of New Orleans.

When Jones first learned about the sinkhole in April 2013, she suspected NASA's radar data would show little extra information, due to soggy ground in Louisiana's swamps interfering with radar imaging. She was wrong.

"The signal was so big it overwhelmed all that noise [from the soil moisture]," Jones said. "When I looked at the data, I thought, 'Wow, this is an enormous signature.'

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "The whole area was being pulled toward the sinkhole."

The area has become a "national sacrifice zone" for the oil and gas industry. - Examiner.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: The Reign Of Terror In Afghanistan Continues - At Least 21 Killed In Suicide Attack On Restaurant In Kabul Diplomatic Quarter!

January 18, 2014 - AFGHANISTAN - At least 21 people, mainly foreigners were killed in a suicide bomb attack which targeted a popular Lebanese restaurant in the diplomatic quarter in central Kabul, police said. The IMF confirmed that one of its representatives is among the dead.

Fawad, a worker of a Lebanese restaurant who was injured during a suicide bombing attack outside the restaurant,
looks at a damaged vehicle near the restaurant in Kabul January 18, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed that its resident, Wabel Abdallah, a 60-year-old Lebanese national was one of the victims of the attack.

"This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement.

Two British nationals were among those killed in a popular restaurant in Kabul on Friday, the Foreign Office in London said.

"We can confirm the death of a British national and we stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family," a spokeswoman said, declining to give further details.

The US Embassy also confirmed that at least two American citizens were killed in the attack.

A Russian citizen working for the UN mission in Afghanistan was killed in the attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The identities of the other victims and their nationalities remain unclear.

WATCH: 21 killed in suicide attack.

The blast hit the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood just after dark. Afghans and foreigners were among the dead, said Mohammad Zahir, Kabul's police chief. The nationalities of the foreign casualties were not immediately clear.

The UN said three of its employees were among those killed, according to UN spokesman Farhan Haq. "Three United Nations personnel, along with a number of those from other international organizations, are now confirmed dead," Haq said in a statement.

The attack started when a man wearing a suicide vest blew himself up outside the Taverna du Liban restaurant. Two more attackers tried to enter the restaurant, however were killed by guards, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi.

According to witness reports gunfire continued for about 20 minutes after the initial blast. The main road leading to the area was cordoned off.

The restaurant is popular with Afghan officials, foreign diplomats, aid workers and business people.

The Taliban claimed the responsibility for the attack saying they deliberately targeted foreigners, and in particular Germans.

"Based on primary reports of this attack a number of high ranking German officials were killed," a Taliban spokesman said as cited by Reuters.

This is the the second bombing in less than two weeks in Kabul. On January 4, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast at the entrance of a predominantly American military base Camp Eggers. No injuries were reported. - RT.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Lightning Strikes Hit South America - Lightning Breaks Finger Off Jesus Christ Statue In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Lightning Strike On Beach Kills Three In Argentina; Brazilian Woman Killed By Lightning On Sao Paulo Beach!

January 18, 2014 - SOUTH AMERICA - Here are three stories out of South America of deadly and destructive lightning strikes, as we continue witness the effects from our planet's magnetic polar migration.

Lightning Breaks Finger Off Jesus Christ Statue In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Lightning strikes the right hand of the statue Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 16, 2014.
Photo: EPA

Lightning has broken a finger off the right hand of Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

Father Omar, rector of the shrine that holds the statue, told the Globo radio station that lightning frequently strikes the nearly 100-foot tall statue, a symbol of Rio that overlooks the Brazilian city from the peak of the Corcovado mountain.

Its right hand had been damaged sometime ago, but the finger finally broke off in a storm late Thursday.

“They say lightning does not strike the same spot twice. But with the Christ it does,” the priest said on Friday.

A lightning rod and other equipment are in place “to protect the image,” but they do not always do the trick, he said.

Lightning flashes over the Christ the Redeemer statue on top of Corcovado Hill in Rio de Janeiro.
Photo: Getty Images

Father Omar noted that people who work at the site are usually warned in advance by city officials about electrical storms so they can ensure the safety of the thousands of visitors at the site on top of Corcovado mountain.

“I have already endured the situation of being at the Christ at a time of rain and a lot of lightning, and it is scary. But we have a plan to quickly take all visitors away from there,” the priest said.

The statue is set to be refurbished next month, so this and other damage are set to be fixed. - NY Post.

Lightning Strike On Beach Kills 3 In Argentina.
Flashes of lightning strike across the sky.
File photo

A lightning strike killed three people on a beach in Argentina Thursday and injured 22 others, state media reported.

"We were hiding in a tent to take shelter from the storm when we felt an explosion, and then I saw my friend thrown to the ground," Rafael Viñuela told the state-run Telam news agency.

He ran to find a doctor after seeing that his friend's arm was burned.

"When they arrived, they told us that he had died," he told Telam.

The state news agency reported that another victim, a 17-year-old, was playing soccer on the beach when the lightning hit, killing him and injuring several members of his family.

The storm struck the seaside community of Villa Gessell, located about 230 miles (375 km) southeast of the country's capital, around 5 p.m. Thursday. The injured victims included 16 adults and six children, a health official said, according to Telam.

It's summer in Argentina, and several witnesses told the state news agency they were vacationing in the area.

Buenos Aires province Gov. Daniel Scioli called the incident "a tragedy that surprised families" at the beach. - CNN.

Brazilian Woman Killed By Lightning On Sao Paulo Beach.
The mother runs towards the sea, waving her arms at her 11-year-old son as
she tries to get him to return to shore.

A mother was killed in front of her family when she was struck by lightning on a Brazilian beach. Rosangela Biavati a 36-year-old married mother of one, died instantly when she was hit by the bolt of electricity during a trip to Guaruja, a popular seaside resort on the coast of Sao Paulo.

The first photograph shows the victim heading towards the water with outstretched arms as she warns her 11-year-old son to get out of the sea because of the gathering storm overhead. The next image captures the electrical discharge streaking down.

A Mitsubishi pickup obscures the moment the bolt hits the woman as she steps towards the water’s edge but the tragic outcome is clearly evident in the following image in the sequence of shots. Three men, including the victim’s husband who is wearing white swimming trucks, drag her lifeless body onto the beach.

According to Rosângela's husband, his wife had gone to tell his son and nephews, who were swimming in the sea, to get out because of the bad weather. As she stepped into the water she was hit by a single bolt of lightning.

'The weather started to close in and we decided to leave. I was putting our bags into the car, and the kids were on the beach. 'The next minute my wife was lying on the floor. I received a mild shock,' said a distraught Leandro Lopes Santos.

The victim’s brother Elias Biavati added: 'When I saw my sister she was already lying on the ground and people were trying to revive her by massaging her heart.' According to the Biavati, another sister who was standing near to Roseangela when the lightning struck received a black eye.

The split second the lightning bolt hits Rosangela Biavati, obscured by a vehicle, in front of her horrified friends.

Rescue bid: Mrs Biavati is carried out of the surf and on to the beach before first aid is carried out on her.

'We are in a state of shock. My brother-in-law is devastated by the sudden death of his wife. We can’t believe how it happened - it could have been any one of us,' the victim’s brother said. A total of 13 members, all from the same family, had gone to the beach for the day. They arrived at midday but by 3pm the sunny weather had changed as storm clouds gathered and the weather became overcast and the atmosphere heavy.

Café owner Arionaldo Garrido, who was on the beach, said he quickly realised something was wrong. 'We had taken our tables inside because we could see a storm was coming. Several rays had already flashed across the sky and streaked down,' he recalled. 'Suddenly we heard a loud bang and saw several people running. We knew that something terrible had happened. It's a real tragedy for the family who have lost a wife and mother.'

Climatologist Rodolfo Bonafim, from environmental organisation Friends of Water, said that the lightning bolts are common around this time of year.  'There is a high incidence of lightning now because of an increase in heat and humidity. It’s more concentrated at this time during the summer than at other times in the year because the humidity is higher.

'The seaside area is also a region bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, making it a perfect zone for this type of inclement weather,' he said. - Daily Mail.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: "An Unprecedented, Very Serious Situation" - California Governor Jerry Brown Declares A Statewide Drought Emergency; The Worst Drought Since Records Began 100 Years Ago; Possible Water Shortages; Wildfire Burns Up 1,700 Acres Near Los Angeles, With More Expected!

January 18, 2014 - UNITED STATES - California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency for the state, saying it is facing "perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records (began) about 100 years ago."

Firefighters watch the Colby Fire on January 17. The blaze began before dawn Thursday, January 16, and
allegedly originated with three men camping in the foothills near Glendora, California, authorities said.

The governor's announcement, made in San Francisco, came as a wildfire burned Friday with only 30% containment in 1,700 acres of foothills of Los Angeles County near Glendora. An illegal campfire apparently ignited the wildfire, and fire officials cited drought conditions as contributing to the blaze.

In his declaration, the governor called for voluntary "20% conservation of our water use" statewide.

"It's important to wake all Californians to the serious matter of the drought and lack of rain," Brown told reporters. "We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation that people should pause and reflect on how dependent we are on the rain, nature and one other.

"This is an effort to call for arms," he continued. "That's the point of the declaration."

Brown said he would set into motion an initiative that would make water transfers easier between regions in the state.

The snowpack in California's mountains is at 20% of normal levels. The state's largest water reservoirs are below record lows, and the major waterways, including the Sacramento and the San Joaquin rivers, flow with "significantly reduced" water.

The wildfire burns in the hills just north of Glendora on January 16.

A helicopter carrying water flies over a burning residential area in Azusa, California,
as a man sprays water on his home January 16.

Since 2011, extremely dry conditions have parched the state.

Under the proclamation, Brown directed officials to take "all necessary actions" to address the drought, including assisting farmers and communities with water shortages. He directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters.

Ninety percent of California is in a severe drought, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. "This could be a giant fire year coming up," Myers added.

Meanwhile, about 800 firefighting personnel brought a Los Angeles-area wildfire under some control Friday, with 30% containment -- an improvement over 0% a day earlier.

"I've seen the sky turn gray from smoke before during fires here in Los Angeles, but this red sun was more eery than others," said CNN iReporter Corinne Shor from about a 20-minute drive away. "I could also smell the fire and my eyes started to sting."

About 3,600 people at one point were ordered to evacuate, though that number had fallen to about 1,600 as of late Thursday night, according to Angeles National Forest's update on the Incident Information System's website.

A firefighter monitors a wildfire, named the Colby Fire, that was burning just east of Los Angeles on Friday,
January 17. The fast-moving fire has spread to 1,700 acres in the foothills of Los Angeles County.

A helicopter drops water over homes in Glendora on January 16.

The number of evacuees fell even further Friday, when police in the inland Southern California city of Azusa announced that select residents could return to their homes at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. ET). Residents of Mountain Cove in that city, however, were not being let back in due to continued "concern for the roadway and homes in that area."

Meanwhile, a red flag warning was extended to Friday because of anticipated warm, dry breezes called Santa Ana winds, InciWeb said.

The blaze began before dawn Thursday and allegedly originated with three men camping in the foothills near Glendora, authorities said. The campers were tossing paper into a campfire, and a gust of wind spread embers, authorities said.

The three men, all in their early 20s, were arrested on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire, said Police Chief Tim Staab of Glendora. One man is from Glendora and another is from Irwindale, he said. The third man's home was not known. Bail was set Thursday at $20,000 for each.

"The way it's told to us is that all three of them were together at the time, sitting around this campfire," he said. "Breeze kicked up, and that's what caused this fire.

"It's not a camping area, but people do camp up in the hills above Glendora," Staab said.

The arrests were made after authorities received a call that at least two people were suspiciously walking away from the fire, the chief said.

Clouds of smoke from the fire loom over downtown Los Angeles on January 16.

The fire makes it way up a hill toward a house in Glendora on January 16.

The three men arrested were identified as Jonathan Carl Jerrell, 23; Clifford Eugene Henry Jr., 22; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, police said. They and their attorneys couldn't be reached for comment.

The wildfire, named the Colby Fire, destroyed two homes and injured one person Thursday morning, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

The injured civilian suffered minor burns, Osby told reporters.

"We predicted that this is going to be an intense fire season because this is the third year of an ongoing drought," he said.

There hasn't been a fire in Glendora's foothills since 1968, so the area has lots of brush and other fuel for a wildfire, authorities said. - CNN.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The H1N1 Pandemic Hits The United States As Flu Season Is Getting WORSE - CDC Says Illness Has Now Spread To At Least 40 American States; 95 Flu Deaths In California; 20 Children As Death Toll Doubles And It Is Not Yet Peak Season!

January 18, 2014 - UNITED STATES - State health officials expressed growing concern Friday over the number of deaths reported four months into flu season, saying that with one week left until normal peak period, the number of fatal cases statewide is rapidly approaching last year's entire total.

The California Department of Public Health reported a significant increase in the statewide number of flu deaths, declaring a total of 45 confirmed flu-related cases and an additional 50 pending. Officials were alarmed at the prospect of approaching 100 deaths so early in the season, when the number stood in single digits at this time last year -- five fatal cases in total.

"This appears to be a pretty severe season in terms of looking at mortality as a measure of severity." said Gil Chavez, deputy director and epidemiologist for the CDPH. "We have 45 confirmed and 50 under investigation -- that's 95 right there and we're not even to the peak of flu season."

Included in the confirmed total of 45 are two pediatric cases, Chavez said. He could not speak to whether the children -- one in San Mateo County and one in Los Angeles County -- had underlying medical conditions before their infection.

Officials said that of the 95 deaths either confirmed or under investigation as flu-related, a large majority of the victims were unvaccinated or had underlying conditions that put them at increased risk. Although officials did not have a specific number, they said most of the deaths were due to swine flu, also known as H1N1. They also could not immediately estimate what percentage of Californians have been vaccinated, calling the figure a "constantly moving target" that is calculated at the end of the season.

Dr. James Watt, chief of the CDPH Division of Communicable Disease Control, said that in general, the patients most vulnerable to the flu, particularly the swine flu, appear to be those with lung disease, heart disease, cancer, HIV infection, pregnant women, and residents who are obese.

A dose of intranasal vaccine is prepared at a San Jose elementary school during the H1N1 swine flu
outbreak in November 2009. (Gary Reyes/Staff file)

"We do know that unlike previous years, H1N1 is the predominant strain circulating, and when H1N1 predominates, there appears to be more fatalities," Chavez said. "We continue to be interested in getting as many people as vaccinated as possible. It's the one thing that is foremost in our agenda."

Chavez added that in addition to spotting vaccination shortages so they can intervene with a stronger supply, the CDPH is enhancing their monitoring of the epidemic by assisting the medical community in planning if facilities get overwhelmed with patients, and working with private industry to ensure the availability of antiviral medication.

Chavez and Watt agreed antivirals can work to treat influenza strains even if it's been several days since the onset, and recommended two antiviral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza, to treat this season's strain. They discouraged the use of antiviral Amantadine, citing various levels of resistance in this year's strain.

Officials are hopeful that the spread of the virus will taper as residents take steps to get themselves vaccinated and seek adequate treatment and isolation if they already have the flu. The normal peak season, after all, doesn't start until late January.

"What we don't know is if this is going to abate and we have equal mortality rates that just happened to peak early," Chavez said. "But as of now, we can certainly say that this is a season that started sooner." - Mercury News.

Flu activity continues to climb in the U.S., with 40 states now reporting widespread disease activity during the week of January 5 through 11 -- up from 35 states from last week’s report.

Each Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases new data on U.S. flu activity that the agency culls from state health departments on disease cases that occurred one week prior.

Ten children died of flu during the second week of 2014 according to the new figures, a number that doubles the entire count of this year’s 2013-2014 flu season to date, raising the toll to 20 pediatric deaths.

During the 2012-2013 flu season, which started early and was especially severe, 169 children died.

The CDC does not track exact number of adult death rates, but this week the flu season reached “epidemic” status because 7.5 percent of all U.S. deaths during the second week of January were due to flu and pneumonia illnesses, surpassing the CDC’s epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent.

Last week, about 6.9 percent of deaths were attributed to flu and pneumonia.

Typically flu hits young children and seniors over 65 the hardest, but this year’s primary disease-causing strain -- H1N1 -- also affects healthy young people between the ages of 18 and 64, Dr. Susan Rehm, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), told CBS News.

H1N1 was the strain responsible for the 2009 “swine” flu pandemic that killed more than 200,000 people worldwide.

The number of states with high disease activity fell from 20 states to 14 states in the latest report. But that doesn't necessarily mean the worst is behind us.

The flu season can be unpredictable, said Rehm, and while the CDC’s numbers reflect disease that has already happened, the agency can’t predict whether the flu season will get worse. Flu typically peaks between January and March.

“We won’t know when the peak is until we’re past it,” she said. That’s why, “It’s important to remember it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine.”

WATCH: Flu season getting worse in the United States.

The CDC recommends that all people age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine, including pregnant women. Estimates released in December by the CDC found only 40 percent of Americans have gotten a flu shot this year. Besides vaccination, taking daily actions like washing your hands with soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and staying home when you’re sick can reduce the spread of illness, Rehm pointed out.

Signs you have the flu include fever, aches, chills and tiredness that come on suddenly, with emphasis on the sudden onset, said Rehm. Otherwise it might be the common cold or another illness.

If you do have flu, a doctor could prescribe antiviral medications like Tamiflu and Relenza, which can reduce the severity of the disease and help prevent some of the more serious complications that lead to hospitalization, especially when taken within the first 48 hours of infection.

If you are feeling sick this flu season -- whether its influenza or the common, cold -- resist the urge to call your doctors to demand antibiotics, CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook warned last week.

“Viruses, are not treatable by antibiotics,” said LaPook. “Every year I have to talk over and over again to patients about this.” - CBS News.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Meteor Or Rockets - Two Bright Fireballs Seen Over Saudi Arabia And The Middle East?!

January 18, 2014 - MIDDLE EAST - According to several eye-witnesses, on January 16th, 2014 at 7:00 pm, two meteors flew in tandem over 186 thousand miles across Saudi Arabia from east to the west.

There have been other reports of the sighting, coming from Germany and other areas in the Middle East.

It is believed, based on these reports, that the fireballs possibly crashed into the Red Sea.

According to the reports, each meteor was estimated to have weighed up to 2 million pounds (1000 tons) and entered the atmosphere at over 34 thousand miles per hour!

WATCH:  Fireballs over the Middle East.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter were abuzz with talk of debris field from Comet ISON, and NASA's desperate attempt to cover up the nature of the many fireballs being seen all over the world in the last few months.

Here are several of the unedited initial sightings report, courtesy of the Lunar Meteorite Hunters:

Lunar Meteorite Hunters/Google Earth.

16JAN2014  Zaher Jeddah , Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 23:15:00 30 S-N, west side Red yellow Pale Yes 2 parts fallen It divided into 2 parts and continued the projectile

16JAN2014 Thousands of people Jeddah, Saudi arabia 18:05 UT It was slow West to east Big fire ball seen by thousands from all over the northern part of saudi arabia and from ceveral cities including Meddina city, Jeddah and eastern part of the country Very bright Maybe and other local websites wrote about it

16JAN2014 Ahmed Jamalullail Jeddah 23:10:00 Over 20 sec Looking towards North, Starts from NW to NE blue-greenish/no sound venus and blinking while breaking apart parts may have fallen towards east side to Jeddah's airport Video taken but show shiny dot as we were driving in the city.

16JAN2014 Rainier Vargas and family Jeddah, thaliyah cor Malik road past 11pm 30-40 west to east direction. white with touch of blue venus bright breaks into more fragments no photo or video taken.

However, according to Dr. Rob Matson of Aerospace, it has been determined that the event was caused by the re-entry of a rocket body:


It was the reentry of the CZ-3B rocket body (International Designation 2008-028B) that launched Chinasat-9 back in June 2008. The reentry track goes right over central Saudi Arabia

At the time of writing, there have been no official report from the Xichang Satelite Launch Center, NASA, the American Meteor Society or any other space agency, as to what exactly the objects were.