Monday, December 10, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Tornadoes in Indonesia Increased 28-Fold in the Last 10 Years!

December 10, 2012 - JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Tornado events in Indonesia increased 28-fold in the last 10 years and occupies 14 percent of the total incidence of natural disasters.  This phenomenon Demand more serious attention to detect and anticipate to reduce disaster risks. 

Illustration: Residents try to salvage their belongings after their houses collapsed tornado struck the blows that
hit the village of Purwomartani, Kalasan, Sleman, on Friday (12/07/2012). Although there were no casualties,
but dozens of homes in three villages in the sub-district were damaged by this incident. 
COMPASS / FERGANATA INDRA RIATMOKO.
Head of Information, Public Relations and National Disaster Data Badang (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, in Jakarta, Sunday (09/12/2012), said all the events from 2002 to 2011 there has been a whirlwind 1564, or 14 percent of total disasters in Indonesia .  "In the last ten years the incidence of cyclones has increased 28-fold. If the events of 2002 only 14 times. By 2006, there were 84 events. Whereas in 2010 there were 402 events," he said.  Throughout the year 2011, tornado hit parts of Indonesia as many as 285 events with 21 people dead, 9081 people were displaced and 13,684 houses damaged. 


From January to November 2012, tornado occurred as many as 223 times. A total of 33 people died, 294 were injured, and one person missing.  Tornado disaster has an impact on the 41,675 people in Indonesia, the 2122 population was displaced. A total of 5083 houses were severely damaged and 1506 houses were slightly damaged.  According to Sutopo, before the 1990's, we rarely experience the whirlwind. In that period, the incidence of hurricanes is only known in a few areas that are typical in the area, such as wind gending in East Java, North Sumatra Bohorok wind, and wind beetles in West Java.  "But now the whirlwind reach areas that previously did not know. Shaped like a tornado also (for land) and cyclone (to the sea)," he said.  Finally, tornado occurred in Sleman, Yogyakarta on Friday (7/12). The disaster damaging 1016 houses in three districts in Sleman.  Another Bencan struck three districts, namely Kalasan, Ngemplak and Depok. A total of 18 people were injured dam 604 homes with minor damage, 302 were damaged, and 145 were heavily damaged. - Kompas [Translated].

BIG BROTHER NOW: Biometric Identification Explodes Worldwide - Changes to Privacy Laws Will Enable Police Access to Biometric Information Used in Passports and Licences!

December 10, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - Biometric facial scans taken for passports, drivers' licences or nightclub entry can now be stored in police and spy agency databases, under changes to Australia's privacy laws. Access all Areas. $1 for the first 28 days. Only $2.95 a week thereafter. The Gillard government's new privacy legislation has removed the ban on biometric data being handed to crime-fighting agencies. Officials say the move could be of immense benefit in fighting crime, although privacy lobbysists liken it to a "Big Brother" development. The Attorney-General's Department revealed that police will be able to ask private companies - including shops, pubs and clubs - to hand over their patrons' facial scans.

Changes to privacy laws will enable law enforcement agencies access to biomnetric information
used in passports and licences. The Daily Telegraph.
"These changes will allow, for example, a pub to pass on to police a face scan of someone involved in a glassing attack," a spokeswoman told News Ltd. "Or, police could ask a government agency to help them identify an alleged murderer through matching an image obtained via CCTV (closed circuit television) with client photos. "The spokeswoman said the Privacy Act would "not compel" any company or government agency to hand over biometric data to law enforcement bodies. Biometric data has now been reclassifed as "sensitive data", meaning government agencies must apply stronger privacy safeguards. "Information can only be shared with law enforcement agencies in strictly limited circumstances with increased privacy protections," the spokeswoman said. The power for police to store biometric data that was originally provided for a passport or driver's licence is buried within 290 pages of explanatory memorandum for the legislative amendments, passed during parliament's final sitting week this year. The document explains that the federal Information Commissioner will draw up guidelines for the transfer of biometric data to crime-fighting agencies. It cites a "practical example" of the change as "the automatic provision of biometric information and templates by a non-enforcement agency into a database operated by an enforcement body.


"This is currently a gap in the enforcement-related activity exception in the Privacy Act that prevents this increasing activity from occurring," it says. "The privacy safeguard for this new proposal is that the activity in question would be subject to ongoing oversight by the Information Commissioner through guidelines." Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman blasted the changes as a "Big Brother" invasion of privacy. He said law enforcement agencies must not be handed biometric data automatically, but should have to obtain a warrant. "This is increasing law enforcement agencies' access to data without judicial supervision," he said."(This type of scan) is something you never thought - let alone consented - would end up in a police database. Databases can be misused, and not just in totalitarian countries.' Mr O'Gorman said "wishy washy" guidelines drawn up by the Information Commissioner "will make you feel good, but they're just useless". "We need privacy cops out there investigating breaches," he said. The new legislation will take force in 15 months' time, to give government agencies and private companies time to comply. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Immigration Department already use biometric facial scans - a digital scan that shows a person's facial contours - stored on a microchip in passports. NSW, Victoria and Queensland are using biometric facial recognition technology in new licences. And some banks are considering introducing biometric voice recognition data on ATMs. Biometric scans are also growing popular with pubs and clubs to identify and screen patrons. - Herald Sun.

THE AGE OF OBAMA: Police State America - Feds Push For Mandatory Black Boxes In Cars Raises Privacy Concerns!

December 10, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A proposal from federal regulators to require automakers to install devices that record drivers’ “safety-related data” has some privacy advocates wondering exactly how the data might be used.


KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is calling for the so-called “black boxes” to be in every American car within two years. The proposed rule would require automakers to install event data recorders, devices that record vehicle speed and other related data, by Sept. 1, 2014. Regulators said a crash or air bag deployment typically triggers an EDR device, which collects data in the seconds before and during a crash. The EDR would record whether the brake was activated in the moments before a crash; crash forces at the moment of impact; information about the state of the engine throttle; air bag deployment timing and air bag readiness prior to the crash; and whether the vehicle occupant’s seat belt was buckled. NHTSA officials assured the public that EDRs do not collect “any personal identifying information or record conversations” and would instead provide key data that could prevent future accidents. But former NHTSA chief Mark Rosenker said questions remain over exactly how officials would acquire that data. “Unless they change the rules on this, which I doubt they will at this time, this data remains to be owned by the vehicle’s owner,” Rosenker said.

All new vehicles sold after July 2004 are required to disclose whether the vehicle is equipped with an EDR in the owner’s manual, and NHTSA officials estimate that approximately 96 percent of model year 2013 passenger cars and light-duty vehicles are already equipped with EDR capability. But Keith Crain, editor-in-chief of Automotive News, said the government must address issues surrounding ownership of any recordings made in a vehicle outfitted with an EDR. “Who owns the data?” Crain asked. “If you’re in an accident, can this data be used against you?” Members of the public will have 60 days to comment on NHTSA’s EDR proposal once the proposal is published in the Federal Register by visiting Regulations.gov. Click here (PDF) to read the proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. - CBS Los Angeles.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Stanford Geophysicists - Major Earthquakes Coming!

December 10, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Stanford geophysicists were well represented at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union last week in San Francisco. Included among the many presentations were several studies that relate to predicting ­– and preparing for – major earthquakes in the Himalaya Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. 

Map showing Himalayan Fault line - The Main Himalayan Thrust has historically been responsible for a
magnitude 8 to 9 earthquake every several hundred years. Credit Warren Caldwell/Stanford University.
A Big One In The Himalayas. 
The Himalayan range was formed, and remains currently active, due to the collision of the Indian and Asian continental plates. Scientists have known for some time that India is subducting under Asia, and have recently begun studying the complexity of this volatile collision zone in greater detail, particularly the fault that separates the two plates, the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT).  Previous observations had indicated a relatively uniform fault plane that dipped a few degrees to the north. To produce a clearer picture of the fault, Warren Caldwell, a geophysics doctoral student at Stanford, has analyzed seismic data from 20 seismometers deployed for two years across the Himalayas by colleagues at the National Geophysical Research Institute of India.  The data imaged a thrust dipping a gentle two to four degrees northward, as has been previously inferred, but also revealed a segment of the thrust that dips more steeply (15 degrees downward) for 20 kilometers. Such a ramp has been postulated to be a nucleation point for massive earthquakes in the Himalaya.  Although Caldwell emphasized that his research focuses on imaging the fault, not on predicting earthquakes, he noted that the MHT has historically been responsible for a magnitude 8 to 9 earthquake every several hundred years.  "What we're observing doesn't bear on where we are in the earthquake cycle, but it has implications in predicting earthquake magnitude," Caldwell said. "From our imaging, the ramp location is a bit farther north than has been previously observed, which would create a larger rupture width and a larger magnitude earthquake." Caldwell's adviser, geophysics Professor Simon Klemperer, added that recent detections of magma and water around the MHT indicate which segments of the thrust will rupture during an earthquake.  "We think that the big thrust vault will probably rupture southward to the Earth's surface, but we don't expect significant rupture north of there," Klemperer said. The findings are important for creating risk assessments and disaster plans for the heavily populated cities in the region.


Measuring Small Tremors In The Pacific Northwest.

The Cascadia subduction zone, which stretches from northern California to Vancouver Island, has not experienced a major seismic event since it ruptured in 1700, an 8.7–9.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the region and created a tsunami that reached Japan. And while many geophysicists believe the fault is due for a similar scale event, the relative lack of any earthquake data in the Pacific Northwest makes it difficult to predict how ground motion from a future event would propagate in the Cascadia area, which runs through Seattle, Portland and Vancouver...

Cascadia Quake Simulations. 
The slow slip and tremor events in Cascadia are also being studied by Stanford geophysics Professor Paul Segall, although in an entirely different manner. Segall's group uses computational models of the region to determine whether the cumulative effects of many small events can trigger a major earthquake.  "You have these small events every 15 months or so, and a magnitude 9 earthquake every 500 years. We need to known whether you want to raise an alert every time one of these small events happens," Segall said. "We're doing sophisticated numerical calculations to simulate these slow events and see whether they do relate to big earthquakes over time. What our calculations have shown is that ultimately these slow events do evolve into the ultimate fast event, and it does this on a pretty short time scale." - Palo Alto Patch.

THE PRIEST CLASS OF THE MAGI: The New World Order Of The Ages - Vatican Calls For World Government!

December 10, 2012 - VATICAN - The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for the establishment of World Government and a New World Order.

In a speech made at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on Monday December 3 2012, the Pope called for the “construction of a world community, with a corresponding authority,” to serve the “common good of the human family”.


As a means of defending global peace and justice, the pope’s vision for the establishment of World Government and a New World Order is supposedly not to create a new superpower, but a new governing body that offers to those (politicians) who are responsible for making decisions, criteria for judgment and practical guidelines.

The Pope was quoted as saying:
The proposed body (World Government) would not be a superpower, concentrated in the hands of a few, which would dominate all peoples, exploiting the weakest.
The Pope also described his vision as a “moral force” or moral authority that has the “power to influence in accordance with reason, that is, a participatory authority, limited by law in its jurisdiction.”

These latest remarks made by the Pope and the Catholic Church come as no surprise considering that in 2010 the Catholic Church sought the establishment of a new Central World Bank that would be responsible for regulating the global financial industry and the international money supply.

It was reported that the Vatican sought “a supranational authority” which would have worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide and control global economic policies and decisions.

China’s new push for closer ties with Russia, the growing intrusions from the United Nations with regards to control of the Internet and the latest remarks made by the Catholic Church all point to a new world order that will set in stone a path the world may not be able to recover from. - Activist Post.

DISASTER IMPACT: Super Typhoon Bopha Devastation - Death Toll Now Nears 900; Hundreds of Fishermen Missing; 40,000 Lost Their Homes; 12 Billion Pesos in Damages!

December 10, 2012 - PHILIPPINES - The number of people missing after a typhoon devastated the Philippines jumped to nearly 900 after families and fishing companies reported losing contact with more than 300 fishermen at sea, officials said.

Bodies of flash flood victims lie on the ground as villagers look for their missing relatives after Typhoon Bopha
hit New Bataan in Compostela province Dec. 10, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS).
The fishermen from southern General Santos city and nearby Sarangani province left a few days before Typhoon Bopha hit the main southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday, Civil Defense chief Benito Ramos said. The death toll has already surpassed 600, mostly from flash floods that wiped away precarious communities in the southern region unaccustomed to typhoons. Ramos said the fishermen were headed to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and to the Pacific Ocean. Coast guard, navy and fishing vessels are searching for them, and some may have sought shelter on the many small islands in the area.  "Maybe they are still alive," Ramos said Sunday.  Bopha was dissipating finally in the South China Sea after briefly veering back toward the country's northwest on Saturday, prompting worries of more devastation.  Rescuers were searching for bodies or signs of life under tons of fallen trees and boulders in the worst-hit town of New Bataan, where rocks, mud and other rubble destroyed landmarks, making it doubly difficult to search places where houses once stood.


Hundreds of refugees, rescuers and aid workers took a break Sunday to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on a big TV screen, only to be dismayed by their hero's sixth-round knockout.  Elementary school teacher Constancio Olivar said people fell silent when Pacquiao, a congressman who comes from the southern Philippines where the storm hit, fell heavily to the canvas and remained motionless for some time.  "It was like a double blow for me - this disaster and this defeat," said Olivar, whose house was destroyed in the storm. "We were all crestfallen. Everyone fell silent, stunned. It was like we saw a tsunami."  Nearly 400,000 people, mostly from Compostela Valley and nearby Davao Oriental province, have lost their homes and are crowded inside evacuation centers or staying with relatives.  President Benigno Aquino III has declared a national calamity, which allows for price controls on basic commodities in typhoon-affected areas and the quick release of emergency funds.  Officials said Sunday that 316 people were killed in Compostela Valley, including 165 in New Bataan, and 301 in Davao Oriental. More than 45 people were killed elsewhere. Nearly 900 are missing, including the fishermen and 440 from New Bataan alone.  Davao Oriental authorities imposed a curfew there and ordered police to guard stores and shops to prevent looting.  The typhoon destroyed about 18 percent of the banana plantations in Mindanao, causing losses estimated at 12 billion pesos ($300 million), according to Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association.  The Philippines is the world's third-largest banana producer and exporter, supplying international brands such as Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte. - AP.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The River of Fire at the Plosky Tolbachik Volcano - NASA Satellite Capture Images of Red-Hot Lava Flowing From a Volcano That Has Erupted in Russia After Lying Dormant For 36 Years!

December 10, 2012 - RUSSIA - These astonishing aerial images captured by a NASA satellite reveal molten lava spewing from a Russian volcano that suddenly erupted after lying dormant for 36 years.  The Plosky Tolbachik volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula burst into activity on November 27, sending clouds of ash almost 10,000 feet into the air, and leading some experts to warn it could go on to unleash an eruption as powerful as that seen from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokel in 2010, which caused more than a week of air traffic disruption.  Lava flows pouring from the mouth of the volcano - which appear like a river of fire in one infra-red image released by NASA - are reported to have destroyed two research camps and forced schools in nearby villages to close. - Daily Mail.

Molten: This infrared image of Tolbachik Volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula was captured by the Advanced Land Imager on NASA's Earth Observing 1 satellite - the area in red is hot lava spewing from the volcano.
Eruption: An ash cloud is seen rising from the Plosky Tolbachik volcano in Russia last week - before the
eruption on December 3 the volcano had lain dormant for 36 years.
Active: Some experts fear Tolbachik could unleash an eruption as powerful as Eyjafjallajökull's Icelandic blast,
which led to airspace over parts of Europe being closed in April 2010.
Composite: This composite picture released by NASA is made up of a pre-eruption image as a backdrop, with older lava flows shown in grey, overlaid with a post-eruption image, with hot lava picked out in bright yellow.

EXTREME WEATHER: Winter Storms Pounds Midwest America, Plains With Heavy Snow, Wind - Blizzard Conditions Cause More Than 600 Crashes In Minnesota!

December 10, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A potent winter storm pounded the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains on Sunday with heavy snow and strong winds, making traveling treacherous and prompting airlines to cancel scores of flights. The heaviest snowfall was expected from eastern South Dakota through southern Minnesota. Forecasters said up to 16 inches was possible in the hardest-hit areas, including up to a foot in and around Minneapolis.  A record snowfall of 10.2 inches was set at Twin Cities, MN on Sunday. The old record of 7.4 inches was set in 1961.   The snow, coupled with winds gusting as high as 40 mph, could produce whiteout conditions “making travel nearly impossible,” the National Weather Service said in a statement.  Minnesota State Police said more than 300 car crashes were reported from 9:30 p.m. Saturday to noon Sunday, none of them fatal.

Dec. 9, 2012: A snow plow clears off Old Homer Road, near Winona, Minn. The National Weather Service is
predicting a total accumulation of five to 10 inches by Monday morning. (AP/Winona Daily News).
And it wasn’t just the snow that was a threat. The weather service said temperatures were expected to plummet behind the system to well below zero over western Minnesota, with wind chill readings as low as 20 to 30 below.  “Travel will be very difficult and stranded motorists risk getting frostbite or hypothermia due to the frigid wind chill late this evening and tonight,” the weather service said. More than 150 flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were canceled due to the storm, airport spokesman Pat Hogan told The Associated Press.   Delta Air Lines said snow and icing conditions prompted it to cancel about 90 flights on Sunday.  The southern branch of the storm was expected to dump heavy snow in the Central to Southern Rockies, according to The Weather Channel’s Tom Niziol. “As the system continues south, snow will also spread southward across the mountains of New Mexico from Taos through Sante Fe where over a foot of snow is likely for this area,” he said.  Snow, strong winds and cold air were also expected to hit the Great Lakes region late Sunday night into Monday. - NBC News.

WATCH: Blizzard, travel warnings posted in North Dakota.


Blizzard Conditions Cause More Than 600 Crashes In Minnesota.
At least this time the Metrodome roof stayed up.  A slow-moving storm dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of the Upper Midwest, making roads treacherous or impassable and leading to at least one fatal crash.  The system dropped at least 16 inches of snow on Minneapolis on Sunday, the city's heaviest snowfall since a blizzard two years ago caused the Metrodome roof to collapse. This time around, stadium officials resorted to blasting the heat in an effort to melt snow from the roof as quickly as possible.  Blizzard conditions, blowing and drifting snow made visibility so poor that the state Department of Transportation pulled snowplows off some highways in southwest and west Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.  The Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 600 crashes by Monday morning, and at least 1,140 spinouts, according to Lt. Eric Roeske, and driving conditions remained hazardous. One person was killed in a crash involving a semi near Red Wing and injuries were reported in 63 other accidents, the patrol said.  A large contingent of snowplows worked to clear highways, ramps and bridges in time for the Monday morning commute in the Twin Cities. Airport operations were running normally. 


Other road accidents were reported in western Wisconsin including a jackknifed semi that closed a westbound lane of Interstate 94 near Menomonie, Wis., about 2 a.m. Monday. The storm also dumped more than a foot of snow on South Dakota at the weekend, forcing the closure of several interstates.  The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the far northwest of Wisconsin on Monday, with snow accumulations of up to 9 inches expected through noon. The skies were overcast in the Twin Cities early Monday, but no watches or warnings were in effect.  The Twin Cities' heaviest snowfall last winter was barely more than 4 inches on Dec. 3. But two years ago, the area was hit with 16.3 inches on Dec. 11, 2010, causing the Metrodome to collapse and forcing the Vikings to play the final two games of the season elsewhere. The project to restore the inflatable roof cost $22.7 million, and officials there weren't taking chances of a repeat Sunday.  Steve Maki, director of facilities for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, said they cranked up the heat after Sunday's Vikings-Bears game and planned to keep it that way until the storm passed.  Some school districts in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota canceled or delayed classes on Monday morning.  Around 150 flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were canceled Sunday due to the storm, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said. Flights were operating on time by Monday morning, according to the airport's website. - FOX News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 7.1 Magnitude Quake Rocks Banda Sea, Northwest of Saumlaki, Indonesia - No Immediate Tsunami Warning!

December 10, 2012 - INDONESIA - A magnitude 7.1 earthquake has struck the Banda Sea region, northwest off the coast of Saumlaki, Indonesia.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says the quake struck offshore, at 16:53:09 UTC local time and was located at 6.522°S 129.813°E. The quake was reported at a depth of 96 miles (155 kilometers).

The epicenter was 147 miles (236 kilometres) northwest of the city of Saumlaki, Indonesia; 210 miles (338 kilometres) southwest of Tual, Indonesia; 224 miles (361 kilometres) southeast of Ambon, Indonesia; 227 miles (366 kilometres) southeast of Amahai, Indonesia; and 322 miles (519 kilometres)  northeast of Dili, East Timor.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has no immediate tsunami warning following the quake, located northwest of Saumlaki, Indonesia. The NOAA website reports the earthquake was located too deep inside the earth to create a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.


The Banda Sea is a sea in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, technically part of the Pacific Ocean but separated from it by hundreds of islands, as well as the Halmahera and Ceram Seas. Indonesia is located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. Since 1900, there have been more than 22 earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.5 or greater recorded in the New Guinea region, according to USGS.com. The largest was in 1938 in the Banda Sea, which registered 8.5 but did not cause significant loss of life.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity.

The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate...  The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands. 


Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.  There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996... Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life. - USGS.

FIRE IN THE SKY: NASA Camera Captures "Fireball" Over Texas!

December 10, 2012 - TEXAS, UNITED STATES - Video footage of a "fireball" flashing in the sky over Texas has been captured by a NASA  camera.


The camera picked up the flash from NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in New Mexico. It was reported to have been seen from as far away as Houston and Louisiana.

NASA believes that a meteor entered Earth's atmosphere somewhere between Dallas and Houston. It has tracked fragments of it which fell to Earth north of Houston. - BBC.

WATCH: Fireball over Texas.

RED DAWN: Disaster Preparedness and Control of the Third Dimension Earth - The Chinese Goes MAJOR Shopping in the USA, Chinese Group Buys 80% of AIG Plane Unit For $4.2 Billion, Chinese Bid Wins Auction For A123!

December 10, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A Chinese group agreed to buy 80.1 percent of American International Group Inc. (AIG)’s plane-leasing unit for $4.23 billion in the nation’s largest acquisition of a U.S. company.  The International Lease Finance Corp. acquirers, led by New China Trust Co. Chairman Weng Xianding, have an option to buy another 9.9 percent, New York-based AIG said today in a statement. The transaction, which values ILFC at $5.3 billion, passes China Investment Corp.’s $3 billion purchase of a stake in Blackstone Group LP (BX) in 2007 as the biggest Chinese-U.S. deal.


Chinese Group Buys 80% Of AIG Plane Unit For $4.2 Billion.

The acquisition gives the group control of the world’s second-largest aircraft lessor as rising travel in China and Asia spurs demand for planes. AIG, which counts the U.S. government as its largest investor, is selling the Los Angeles- based unit as Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche focuses on insurance operations and works to reduce debt.  “This ILFC deal squarely places the leasing business where future growth will be,” said Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation. “There are large opportunities in China, but also in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.”  China and Indonesia will account for about 40 percent of all aircraft deliveries through 2026, with the two countries taking more than 500 planes each, he said.  AIG will record a $4.4 billion non-operating loss, which includes a $1.8 billion non-cash charge tied to tax assets, when the transaction meets criteria for “held for sale” accounting treatment, according to the statement. The deal is subject to approval by U.S. and Chinese regulators. - Bloomberg.

AIG Sale Of ILFC To Be Submitted For National Security Review.
AIG and the Chinese group that has agreed to buy AIG's aircraft leasing business ILFC will submit the deal to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for review, AIG said on Sunday.  AIG is selling up to 90 percent of ILFC to the group, which intends to leave the company based in the United States. The inter-agency committee, also known as CFIUS, vets foreign deals for security concerns. - Reuters.

Chinese Bid Wins Auction For A123.
A Chinese car parts maker has won the auction for bankrupt US battery maker A123 Systems, in a further success in international dealmaking for Chinese groups.  Wanxiang Group bid about $257m to win the auction for the battery maker, which supplies electric cars. The sale still requires the approval of the Delaware court where A123 filed for bankruptcy. The US group will formally submit the bid to the court for approval on Tuesday. The sale will also require the approval of the US Committee on Foreign Investment. - FT.


China Now Owns $7 Billion in U.S. Housing Market.
According to the National Association of Realtors, non-American buyers accounted for $82 billion in home sales last year. More than $7 billion of that is by the Chinese, who are now the second largest foreign home purchasers after Canadians. They're buying high-end, multimillion-dollar homes from California to New York and paying cash.  "They're probably the top 1 percent of the Mandarin speakers that are coming from China," said Brent Chang, a Coldwell Banker realtor in Southern California. "They're really the people who have their own businesses or maybe were part of the government." - FOX News

PLANETARY TREMORS: Peru's Capital, Lima, is Highly Vulnerable to a Major Quake!

December 10, 2012 - LIMA, PERU - The earthquake all but flattened colonial Lima, the shaking so violent that people tossed to the ground couldn't get back up. Minutes later, a 50-foot (15-meter) wall of Pacific Ocean crashed into the adjacent port of Callao, killing all but 200 of its 5,000 inhabitants. Bodies washed ashore for weeks.  Plenty of earthquakes have shaken Peru's capital in the 266 years since that fateful night of Oct. 28, 1746, though none with anything near the violence. 


The relatively long "seismic silence" means that Lima, set astride one of the most volatile ruptures in the Earth's crust, is increasingly at risk of being hammered by a one-two, quake-tsunami punch as calamitous as what devastated Japan last year and traumatized Santiago, Chile, and its nearby coast a year earlier, seismologists say.  Yet this city of 9 million people is sorely unprepared. Its acute vulnerability, from densely clustered, unstable housing to a dearth of first-responders, is unmatched regionally. Peru's National Civil Defense Institute forecasts up to 50,000 dead, 686,000 injured and 200,000 homes destroyed if Lima is hit by a magnitude-8.0 quake.  "In South America, it is the most at risk," said architect Jose Sato, director of the Center for Disaster Study and Prevention, or PREDES, a non-governmental group financed by the charity Oxfam that is working on reducing Lima's quake vulnerability.  Lima is home to a third of Peru's population, 70 percent of its industry, 85 percent of its financial sector, its entire central government and the bulk of international commerce.  "A quake similar to what happened in Santiago would break the country economically," said Gabriel Prado, Lima's top official for quake preparedness. That quake had a magnitude of 8.8. 


Quakes are frequent in Peru, with about 170 felt by people annually, said Hernando Tavera, director of seismology at the country's Geophysical Institute. A big one is due, and the chances of it striking increase daily, he said. The same collision of tectonic plates responsible for the most powerful quake ever recorded, a magnitude-9.5 quake that hit Chile in 1960, occurs just off Lima's coast, where about 3 inches of oceanic crust slides annually beneath the continent. A 7.5-magnitude quake in 1974 a day's drive from Lima in the Cordillera Blanca range killed about 70,000 people as landslides buried villages. Seventy-eight people died in the capital. In 2007, a 7.9-magnitude quake struck even closer, killing 596 people in the south-central coastal city of Pisco.  A shallow, direct hit is the big danger.  More than two in five Lima residents live either in rickety structures on unstable, sandy soil and wetlands that amplify a quake's destructive power or in hillside settlements that sprang up over a generation as people fled conflict and poverty in Peru's interior. Thousands are built of colonial-era adobe.  Most quake-prone countries have rigorous building codes to resist seismic events. In Chile, if engineers and builders don't adhere to them they can face prison. Not so in Peru.  "People are building with adobe just as they did in the 17th century," said Carlos Zavala, director of Lima's Japanese-Peruvian Center for Seismic Investigation and Disaster Mitigation. - NPR.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Plume Rises From the Ulawun Volcano in Papua New Guinea!

December 10, 2012 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Numerous volcanoes contribute to the landmass of the island of New Britain, the largest in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea.

NASA acquired image from November 30, 2012.
One of the most active of these volcanoes—Ulawun—is also the highest, with a summit elevation of 2,334 meters (7,657 feet). This astronaut photograph was taken during the most recent phase of volcanic activity at Ulawun. A white steam and ash plume extends from the summit crater of the stratovolcano towards the northwest.

The plume begins to broaden as it passes the southwestern coast of Lolobau Island approximately 23 kilometers downwind from its source. Note the image is oriented such that north is towards the lower left.


Ulawun volcano is also known as “the Father,” with the Bamus volcano to the southwest also known as “the South Son.”

The summit of Bamus is obscured by white cumulus clouds (not of volcanic origin) in this image. While Ulawun has been active since at least 1700, the most recent eruptive activity at Bamus occurred in the late 19th century. A large region of ocean surface highlighted by sunglint—sunlight reflecting off the water surface, lending it a mirror-like appearance—is visible to the north-northeast of Ulawun (image lower left). - Earth Observatory.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - VADER Drone-Based System Automatically Spots, Tracks People From 25,000 Feet!

December 10, 2012 - UNITED STATES - The Army is looking to award another three-year contract to keep the Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) system, first tested in 2009, up and running. VADER is capable of tracking individuals from 25,000 feet automatically and is just one of many quite incredible drone sensor systems like ARGUS, capable of capturing 36 square miles in a single image, or drone-based facial recognition and biometrics systems. Indeed, drone technology is rapidly advancing with everything from ground-based lasers enabling perpetual flight to solar-powered drones to silent drones to drone-launched EMP missiles to fully automated weapons systems (which some groups are already speaking out against) to tiny laser-guided bombs for small drones and more. While some might think these developments are not concerning since they are supposedly to be used in a warzone environment, such claims are nonsensical since the military is using drones in the United States already.

The Army’s Gray Eagle drone at an unknown airfield. (Image credit: U.S. Army).
The military is also operating drones domestically and sharing the data with law enforcement with 110 potential military drone bases already identified. In the Army’s recently published solicitation, it is revealed that they are looking for industry sources capable of providing “depot-level repair, sustainment, logistic/configuration management, engineering support, and acquisition of payloads and spares.” The VADER system itself is composed of multiple components, “the VADER Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)/Dismount Moving Target Indicator (DMTI)/Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) Radar and the VADER Exploitation Ground Station (VEGS) hardware/software components.” “Originally developed by the Pentagon’s blue-sky researchers at DARPA and built by Northrop Grumman, Vader was designed to spot and track people using two sensors working in combination, mounted to a Grey Eagle drone or manned aircraft, while operating up to an altitude of 25,000 feet and for hours at a time,” according to Danger Room.


VADER’s system tracks the target using a “ground moving target indicator” sensor which identifies moving objects and feeds the data into a digital map. “Next, the system cues a synthetic aperture radar to focus in and take high-resolution photographs,” Danger Room states. “The operators sitting back at Vader’s ground control station get a stream of both still images and a moving, almost real-time map of what’s shuffling around underneath. (It beats tracking people manually.)” According to W. Richards Thissel, a science and technology adviser at the Defense Department’s Joint IED Defeat Organization, the VADER sensors use an onboard processor to analyze data using “exploitation algorithms” in order to “detect, discriminate, and track vehicular and dismounted suspicious activity in near-real time.” “In general, ground moving target indicators work by detecting the Doppler shift that moving objects produce in radar return signals,” according to William Welsh of Defense Systems. “The VADER system is contained in a pod about the size of a Hellfire missile,” Welsh added. “DOD intends to deploy VADER on manned and unmanned platforms in the next several years for operational testing.” - ETL.