Tuesday, February 8, 2011

VOLCANIC ALERT 8th FEB 2011 - 2nd Biggest Icelandic volcano 'set to erupt'

Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year's event.

Geologists detected the high risk of a new eruption after evaluating an increased swarm of earthquakes around the island's second largest volcano.

Pall Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, says the area around Bárdarbunga is showing signs of increased activity, which provides "good reason to worry".

He told the country's national TV station that a low number of seismometer measuring devices in the area is making it more difficult to determine the scale and likely outcome of the current shifts.

But he said there was "every reason to worry" as the sustained earthquake tremors to the north east of the remote volcano range are the strongest recorded in recent times and there was "no doubt" the lava was rising.

The geologist complained that the lack of coverage from measuring devices means he cannot accurately detect the depth and exact location of the increased number of localised earth movements. Source

Revolution 2011: The shaping of a New World Order

I remember the images well, even though I was too young to understand their political significance. But they were visceral, those photos in the New York Times from Tehran in the midst of its revolutionary moment in late 1978 and early 1979. Not merely exuberance jumped from the page, but also anger; anger fuelled by an intensity of religious fervour that seemed so alien as to emanate from another planet to a "normal" pre-teen American boy being shown the newspaper by his father over breakfast.

Many commentators are comparing Egypt to Iran of 32 years ago, mostly to warn of the risks of the country descending into some sort of Islamist dictatorship that would tear up the peace treaty with Israel, engage in anti-American policies, and deprive women and minorities of their rights (as if they had so many rights under the Mubarak dictatorship).

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When all else fails... US unemployment blamed on weather

The monthly report from the Labor Department reported that the weather prevented almost 1m people getting to work, and is likely to have contributed to job losses in the construction and transportation industries.

The world's largest economy created just 36,000 jobs in the month, far shy of the 146,000 forecast. But the weak number failed to dent hopes that the stronger consumer spending that has been evident in the past couple of month will eventually prompt companies to take on more workers.

"Weather did have in impact," said Sean Incremona, an economist at research group 4Cast. "I think these figures over the last couple of months probably understate to a degree the recovery in employment."

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A holy war in the making: Thailand and Cambodia troops in fresh border exchange

Cambodian and Thai troops have exchanged fire in a disputed border area for a third successive day, breaking a truce agreed by commanders.

The troops exchanged artillery and mortar fire in the area around the disputed Preah Vihear temple.

The fighting has so far claimed five lives since Friday and thousands of villagers have been evacuated

There has been tension in the region since Cambodia secured a World Heritage listing for the temple in 2008.

The most recent tension was sparked this month when a Cambodian court sentenced two members of a Thai nationalist movement to up to eight years in prison after finding them guilty of espionage.

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The police brutality video they don't want you to see

The Real China #4: "A New Shelter" - impoverished family faces uncertainty after a devastating flood washes away their home


In 2006, the Guangdong province of southern China suffered its worst floods in a century. Freak storms brought heavy rainfall. Houses were submerged, people were left stranded and daily life in the agricultural region was devastated.

When the world's media quickly moved on from the story, filmmakers Xiaolei Zheng and Lin Li decided to stay behind. They spent 12 months following one family as they struggled to build a new life in the face of adversity.

Life has been a constant struggle for the Ah family, but when a terrible flood destroyed their home in a small village it became a nightmare.

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East China wheat basket braces for worst drought in 200 years

JINAN, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- East China's Shandong Province, one of the country's major grain producers, is bracing for its worst drought in 200 years.

Liu Wei, deputy Party chief of Shandong, Monday told a meeting on drought relief mobilization that Party and local government agriculture officials of all levels should go to farms to ensure drought alleviation measures were being implemented.

"Provincial authorities should hold officials accountable if drought relief work is not well done," said Liu, deputy secretary of the Shandong Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Data from the provincial meteorological bureau showed the drought would be Shandong's worst in 200 years if there were no substantial precipitation by the end of this month.

The province has received only 12 millimeters of rain since September last year.

The central government Friday initiated a grade II emergency response in eight drought-ravaged provinces, including Shandong, under which the provinces began 24-hour weather monitoring and daily damage reports, and sent experts and relief materials to wheat growing areas.

The four-month drought had affected 35.1 percent of wheat crops -- 96.11 million mu (6.4 million hectares) -- accounting for 21.7 percent of total farmland in the provinces, the Ministry of Agriculture announced Monday.

The wheat growing area in the eight provinces accounted for more than 80 percent of the country's total, said a statement from the ministry's website on Friday.

Yin Changwen, spokesman of the Shandong provincial headquarters of flood-control and drought-relief, said Friday that water-efficient irrigation facilities under construction in Shandong were expected to supply 191 million cubic meters of water to farms this spring. Source

'Super pack' of 400 wolves terrorise remote Russian town after killing 30 horses in just four days

A 'super pack' of wolves has been terrifying a town after leaving more than 30 horses dead in just four days.

Four hundred bloodthirsty wolves have been spotted prowling around the edges of Verkhoyansk, in Russia, attacking livestock at will.

Twenty four teams of hunters have been put together to get rid of the wolves, with a bounty of £210 for every wolf skin brought to officials.

Stepan Rozhin, an administration official for the Verkhoyansk district in Russia, said: 'To protect the town we are creating 24 teams of armed hunters, who will patrol the neighbourhood on snowmobiles and set wolf traps.

'But we need more people. Once the daylight increases, the hunters will start shooting predators from helicopters.'

A pack of wolves this size is unheard of, with the animals usually preferring to hunt in smaller groups of just six or seven.

The massive group is believed to be made from hundreds of packs and has left animal experts baffled. Read more

Whales refloated after second stranding in Days and 3rd in matter of weeks - 8th Feb 2011

More than 100 volunteers helped Conservation Department staff successfully refloat 65 pilot whales that restranded in Golden Bay yesterday morning.

But 17 of the original pod of 82 whales that first became stranded at Puponga Point on Friday afternoon died during the weekend.

Three groups of whales beached over a 10-kilometre stretch from Triangle Flat, at the base of Farewell Spit, to Pakawau yesterday morning were kept hydrated by volunteers until being refloated on the high tide at 12.30pm.

Golden Bay DOC manager John Mason praised the big community effort and Project Jonah, a group of volunteers trained in saving whales, for the operation's success. "We were really thrilled.

"Considering the number of times the whales kept coming ashore, it was a very good result."

Mr Mason said the first group of whales to be refloated off Pakawau milled around in the water, waiting until the last group were refloated before they all swam off to deeper water. "It appears the whales must have a very well-developed social network," he said.

The whales were a mixed group of males, females, and calves. Two boats, including one loaned by a resident, were used to coax the whales further out to sea. DOC staff are still on alert in case any whales restrand.

Many visitors to the region helped to keep the stranded whales cool with wet sheets, constantly pouring on buckets of water. Volunteer Ryan O'Donnell, from Dunedin, said the whale rescue operation was an "amazing experience to be involved in". "I've swum with dolphins before but I'd never even seen a whale," he said.

More volunteers in wetsuits helped to coax the whales into deeper water as the tide came in. DOC ranger Simon Walls, who assisted in the rescue, instructed people to leave the whales in the position they'd been found in, rather than trying to move them on the sand.

"New evidence suggests that moving stranded whales causes them a lot of stress and pain," he said. Pilot whales are the most common whale species seen off the New Zealand coast. Source

Tremor terror: The tiny town that gets a dozen earthquakes EVERY DAY after gas drilling goes awry

A tiny American town has become one of the earthquake capitals of the world after suffering more than a dozen tremors every single day.

Residents of Guy in Arkansas have lived through thousands of minor quakes in just six months after gas drilling apparently destabilised the earth beneath them.

So frequent are the tremors - which go up to four on the Richter scale - that they have been given their own name: the Guy earthquake swarm.

Only a fraction have been felt and the only damage so far has been a cracked window of a snack bar.

Locals however have reported strange shifts in the ground, odd movements and bizarre noises as the Earth moves beneath them.

They claim that the tremors began when a gas company began drilling nearby in a geological formation called the Fayetteville shale.

The companies dig deep wells which are injected with water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to get access to to gas pockets.

Secondary wells have to be dug for disposal of the waste, putting further strain on the area.

Residents in Guy claim that when the wells appeared, including one opposite the school, the shaking started. Read More..

Another Japanese Volcano Erupts - 8th Feb 2011

And another volcano has erupted in Japan.
Minami-dake crater at Sakurajima, a volcano on Japan's southern island of Kyushu, erupted Tuesday, following volcanic explosions at Mt. Kirishima in the same region.
The volcano spewed plumes of smoke and ash up to 2,000 meters into the air.
Local authorities temporarily banned citizens from driving near the area due to the sheer amount of ash raining down from the volcano.
Japan's Meteorological Agency says it will maintain a level 3 alert for Sakurajima that bans access to the mountain.
The agency notes, however, that it cannot confirm that this eruption was linked to a series of recent eruptions on the island. Source

Note:

Major historical eruptions occurred in 1471-76, 1779, 1914-15, and 1946. Each of these emplaced large andesitic lava flows which modified the coastline of Sakurajima, indeed connecting the SE corner of the former island to the Oosumi Peninsula in 1914. To the west, still separated by about 4 km of water, lies the major city of Kagoshima, which frequently suffers from ashfall from the volcano.

Freezing temperatures kill 65 zoo animals in Mexico

An icy cold front that swept through northern Mexico over the weekend left 65 zoo animals dead, the zoo's owner told CNN on Monday.

Parrots, crocodiles and peacocks were among the victims of temperatures that dropped as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees Celsius) early Saturday morning at the Chihuahua Zoo in the city of Aldama, about an hour north of Chihuahua.

The alarming number of deaths, which represents about 10% of all of the zoo's animals, was the result of several compounding factors, owner Alberto Hernandez said.

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