Thursday, January 2, 2014

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Bus Plunges Into 400 Feet Gorge In Western India After Colliding With A Truck - Killing At Least 30 People; 3 Missing!

January 02, 2014 - INDIA - A bus plunged into a 120-meter (400-feet) deep gorge on Thursday in western India, splitting open on the rocky ground below, killing at least 30 people, police said.


File photo.


The driver lost control of the bus after it collided with a truck on a road near Malshej Ghat, a hilly tourist spot about 160 kilometres northeast of Mumbai, police officer Raghunath Yadav said.

The death toll rose as rescuers found more bodies in the bus wreckage. Another police officer, Hemant Patel, said two or three people were unaccounted for by late afternoon.

Yadav said seven people were hospitalised for injuries, some of them in serious condition. The truck driver was also hurt but managed to keep the vehicle on the road.

Patel said the badly injured passengers were found scattered in the gorge as the bus was split open when it hit the rocky ground.

Their families rushed to the site in shock and later collected the bodies of their dear ones for cremation, he said. The bus was on an intercity route and carried all Indian passengers. - DAWN.



FUK-U-SHIMA: U.S. Government Orders 14 Million Doses of Potassium Iodide - Is The Huge Purchase Linked To Ongoing Fukushima Radiation Crisis, As Plumes Of Mysterious Steam Rise From Japan's Crippled Nuclear Reactor?!

January 02, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The Department of Health and Human Services has ordered 14 million doses of potassium iodide, the compound that protects the body from radioactive poisoning in the aftermath of severe nuclear accidents, to be delivered before the beginning of February.




According to a solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the DHHS asks contractors to supply, “potassium iodide tablet, 65mg, unit dose package of 20s; 700,000 packages (of 20s),” a total of 14 million tablets. The packages must be delivered on or before February 1, 2014.

Potassium iodide helps block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland and is used by victims of severe nuclear accidents or emergencies. Under current regulations, states with populations living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant are encouraged, but not required, to maintain a supply of potassium iodide.

A search of the FedBizOpps website returns no other results regarding the purchase of potassium iodide from any government agency, suggesting that the DHHS bulk buy of the tablets is unprecedented in recent times.

Image: Potassium Iodide (YouTube).
The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has prompted concerns that the purchase is connected to the threat posed by radioactive debris washing up on the shores of the west coast or the potential for another natural disaster occurring in Japan which could impact the U.S.
“Governments usually respond to disasters very similarly; first move is to avoid panic,” writes The West Wire. “The Japanese didn’t want to panic the world, or tarnish their honor and now, as a consequence of their reluctance, Japanese citizens and international aid personal find themselves in a horrible state of being.”

“Panic is usually avoided by keeping their citizens as blind to the truth as possible, until confrontation with the truth becomes inevitable. The crucial question at this juncture; “would our government be reluctant about warning us of potential disaster, in an attempt to avoid panic?” 14 million doses of Potassium Iodide say that might just be the case.”
Last month it was revealed that 71 U.S. sailors who helped during the initial Fukushima relief efforts are suing the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) after they returned with thyroid cancer, Leukemia, and brain tumors as a result of being exposed to radiation at 300 times the safe level.

TEPCO has repeatedly been caught lying in their efforts to downplay the scale of the disaster. In September it was confirmed that radiation readings around the power plant were 18 times higher than previously reported by TEPCO. After a tank leaked 300 tonnes of toxic water in August, groundwater radiation readings at the plant soared to 400,000 becquerels per litre, the highest reading since the nuclear accident occurred in March 2011.

Top scientists have warned that if another major earthquake hits Fukushima, which is almost inevitable, it would mean “bye bye Japan” and the complete evacuation of the west coast of North America.

Now that radioactive debris is hitting the West Coast of North America, numerous different animals and sea life are suffering from mysterious diseases, including 20 bald eagles that have died in Utah over the last few weeks alone. - Info Wars.



Plumes Of Mysterious Steam Rise From Crippled Nuclear Reactor At Fukushima.
AFP Photo / TEPCO

Meanwhile, fresh plumes of most probably radioactive steam have been detected rising from the reactor 3 building at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, said the facility’s operator company.

The steam has been detected by surveillance cameras and appeared to be coming from the fifth floor of the mostly-destroyed building housing crippled reactor 3, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s operator.

The steam was first spotted on December 19 for a short period of time, then again on December 24, 25, 27, according to a report TEPCO published on its website.

The company, responsible for the cleanup of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has not explained the source of the steam or the reason it is rising from the reactor building. High levels of radiation have complicated entry into the building and further inspection of the situation.

Three of the plant’s reactors suffered a nuclear meltdown in March 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the region. The plant is comprised of six separate water boiling reactors. At the time of the earthquake, reactor number 4 had been de-fueled and reactors 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance, thereby managing to avoid meltdowns.

Unlike the other five reactors, reactor 3 ran on mixed core containing both uranium fuel and mixed uranium and plutonium oxide, or MOX nuclear fuel. The Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.

In a similar incident, small amounts of steam escaped from the reactor 3 building in July 2013, Asahi Shimbun reported. However it was unclear where the steam came from. TEPCO said that radiation levels did not change, adding that the steam could have been caused by rain that found its way to the primary containment of the reactor, and because this vessel was still hot, the water evaporated. On 23 July the steam was seen again coming out of the fifth floor just above the reactor containment, the Japanese newspaper reported.

In November, TEPCO, responsible for the decommissioning of the plant, began the highly risky removal of over 1,500 potentially damaged nuclear fuel rods from reactor 4. The reactor is the most unstable part of the plant as it was offline at the time of the 2011 catastrophe and its core didn’t go into meltdown. Instead, hydrogen explosions blew the roof off the building and severely damaged the structure.One of the most dangerous operations attempted in nuclear history was a success as a total of 22 assemblies containing 50 to 70 fuel rods have been transported to a new storage pool. While the extraction of the fuel rods is a significant challenge for TEPCO, a more complex task of removing the cores of the stricken reactors is yet to come. - RT.



ICE AGE NOW: Winter Storm Hercules - At Least 1,600 Flights Put On Hold As Nor'Easter Storm Prepares To Dump Snow Across United States East Coast!

January 02, 2014 - UNITED STATES - With the new year still only hours old, the Northeastern United States is ringing it in with a major winter storm that’s threatening to upend travel plans and create dangerous driving conditions in numerous states.


Reuters / Brian Snyder

Snow has already begun falling in parts of New York and Massachusetts, canceling flights, closing down schools and making for slick, hazardous commutes. The nor’easter storm is expected to bring the region between six inches to well over a foot of snow, with the brunt of the accumulation occurring Thursday evening and into Friday morning.

Branded “Winter Storm Hercules” by the Weather Channel, the powerful front has already pounded much of the Midwest, dropping up to a foot of snow in some areas and causing close to 200 car accidents in southeast Michigan alone.

In Boston, the city is bracing for up to 14 inches of snow. Mayor Thomas Menino declared a snow emergency beginning at noon on Thursday, implemented a parking ban and announced that schools should not expect to reopen until Monday.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has declared a blizzard warning for much of Long Island, New York, from 6 p.m. Thursday evening until Friday. The area is expecting between eight and 10 inches of snow, with powerful winds reaching 45 mph.


The ocean continues to pound the sea wall in Scituate. Lighthouse Red beginning to flood.
 

 Other locations, such as Philadelphia, New York City and parts of New Jersey, aren’t expected to bear as much of a burden, although they could still receive up to seven inches of snow — more than enough to put weekend plans at risk for the millions of residents up and down the East Coast.

As with many storms, the people who should prepare for the worst are those traveling and commuting to work. Already, about 1,700 flights have been cancelled for Thursday, according to the airline tracking website FlightAware.com.


Deicing at this morning. Looks like hour or more delays for some flights...but still departing.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also advised city goers to leave their cars at home in case highways shut down due to heavy traffic and poor conditions.

"There will be travel problems," Hugh Johnson, a weather service meteorologist in Albany, New York, told the Associated Press. "It will be very cold."

As if the snowfall wasn’t enough of a problem, temperatures are expected to drop to nearly zero degrees Fahrenheit in many areas, sparking fears of electrical outages. The snow is not likely to be heavy enough to down power lines, authorities say, but isolated outages could occur.

Coastal towns in Massachusetts, meanwhile, are also bracing for the possibility of moderate flooding. With flood advisories in place for Cape Cod, North Shore and South Shore, the state’s emergency management department says it’s prepared to offer emergency shelter and other equipment if necessary. - RT.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Truck Swallowed Up By Giant Sinkhole On Hawaii Road With Woman Driver Still In It!

January 02, 2014 - HAWAII - Relentless rains pounding Hawaii’s ‘Big Island’ led to a truck being swallowed Monday in a sinkhole.


Swallowed whole: Velma Deluz's pickup truck was swallowed by this sinkhole,
but she escaped without any serious injuries.


Velma Deluz was driving to work around 5:30am when the road opened up and swallowed her truck whole – she fortunately escaped without any serious injury. The island received almost half a foot of rain from the storm.

Officials told local media the freak accident likely happened because the culvert the section of road was paved over likely shifted, causing the road to collapse.

Ms Deluz told KHNL about her terrifying plunge.

‘When I made the turn, the road just sucked me right in,’ she told the station. ‘I fell in and I tried to climb out the window because [the truck] fell on its side.’

The lucky woman climbed up out of the sinkhole and to safety before another car drove by, she said she suffered only minor rib injuries and is thankful to be alive.

Hawaii County Civil Defense spokesperson Darryl Oliveira blamed the collapse on a storm battering the island for most of Monday.


WATCH: Storm clouds over Hawaii.




‘It was spread out from Honoka'a to parts of Puna.  Pretty widespread windward side,’ he told KITV, adding the rains were ‘a big problem because of multiple landslides, a lot of debris, a lot of different areas of runoff.’

He further explained to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that ‘the rain had caused a culvert beneath the street to shift, which then triggered the roadway's collapse.’


Intense: This image from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea shows snow
on the ground Monday afternoon from a storm that passed over the Big Island.


Ms Deluz had the misfortune of driving over the collapsed roadway, but was lucky in her escape.
News footage from around the big island showed extensive flooding, mudslides and debris across roads.

‘It's been a while since we've had such heavy downpour with so much runoff,’ Mr Oliveira told the paper. ‘The ground's been pretty dry for a while. It's been drier than normal and now we're having heavier than normal rainfall.’

More than five-and-a-half inches was recorded Monday at Hilo Airport, almost a full inch more than the previous record set more than 60 years ago. - Daily Mail.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - WHO Says Five More People In The Middle East Are Infected With Deadly New Virus; 176 Confirmed Cases; 74 Have Died!

January 02, 2014 - MIDDLE EAST - Five more people have been infected with potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, the World Health Organization announced, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 176, of which 74 have died.


Egyptian medical workers wear masks as they leave the emergency section in King Fahad hospital
in the city of Hofuf, 370 kms East of the Saudi capital Riyadh (AFP Photo)

Health officials remain concerned about the virus which surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and so far has produced a mortality rate of around 40 per cent.

“People at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating,” the WHO wrote on its website.

“For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to,” the organization added.

Four of the new cases of the virus were reported in Saudi Arabia, one surfaced in United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this week, an elderly man from Riyadh died from a confirmed MERS case. The WHO said that the others infected were two female medical workers and a man from Riyadh who had contact with a confirmed case of the virus. In the United Arab Emirates a wife of a man previously confirmed as being infected has also contracted the decease.

MERS causes coughing, fever and pneumonia in humans. Even though the risk of spreading is low, cases so far have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.

MERS is not the same coronavirus as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which during the 2003 outbreak claimed the lives of 775 people across the globe. MERS comes from the same family but it is also related to a virus found in bats.

Cases since 2012 revealed a trend of the virus spreading between people who are in close contact. Some cases showed infected patients transmitting the virus to healthcare personnel.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the WHO there are no specific treatments for MERS-CoV infection.

Two weeks ago scientists found that MERS virus can also infect camels, reinforcing fears that animals may be a source of the human outbreak.

"This is definitive proof that camels can be infected with MERS-CoV, but based on the current data we cannot conclude whether the humans on the farm were infected by the camels or vice versa," Bart Haagmans of Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Centre, who led the study with other Dutch and Qatari scientists told Reuters. - RT.



FIRE IN THE SKY: A New Major Meteor Shower - Earth Might Be Sandblasted With Debris From Comet 209P/LINEAR On May 24, 2014!

January 02, 2014 - SPACE - The list of major meteor showers hasn't changed much in recent decades, but it has changed a little. Meteor showers are part of nature, after all, and the list of major showers shifts and changes slightly, as all things in nature do, with one shower or another becoming more or less exciting as the years pass.


Comet 209P/LINEAR on April 25, 2009 as captured by Michael Jager in Austria. © Michael Jager

In 2014, though, an exciting new meteor shower might come on the scene. This possible shower stems from a comet - Comet 209P/LINEAR - discovered in 2004. Comet 209P/LINEAR passed near the sun in 2009 and will pass near it again in early May, 2014. On the night of May 24, 2014 - if the predictions hold true - Earth might be sandblasted with debris from this comet, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars.

What we know about Comet 209P/LINEAR

An automated observing campaign, the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project (LINEAR), found this small and somewhat dim comet on February 3, 2004. The International Astronomical Union gave it the permanent number 209P on December 12, 2008.

P209/LINEAR is a periodic comet, that is, its orbit around the sun is relatively short so that we see the comet come close to the sun again and again. Comet 209P/LINEAR's orbit brings it near the sun in just over 5 years. Its next perihelion passage will be May 6, 2014.

The comet itself is not all that exciting. What's exciting is that calculations of the orbit of P209/LINEAR indicate that - in May 2014 - the comet's debris trails will pass close to Earth. Debris left behind by the comet may enter our atmosphere and burn up, creating a new meteor shower.

Will Comet 209P/LINEAR create a meteor storm?

In 2012, meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center were the first to announce that Earth was due for a May 2014 encounter with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Other meteor experts quickly confirmed this prediction and some did use the words "meteor storm." The most recent calculations, however, indicate we might get a strong shower, but perhaps not a storm of meteors.

In 2012, Jeremie Vaubaillon of The Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides in France told space.com:
So far,given the observations, we estimate a ZHR (zenithal hourly rate) of 100/hr to 400/hr, which is an excellent outburst! But this shower can become an exceptional one. Indeed, given the current orbit of the comet, all the trails ejected between 1803 and 1924 do fall in the Earth's path in May 2014! As a consequence, this shower might as well be a storm.
The more recent, less optimistic calculations come from Quanzhi Ye and Paul A. Wiegert, both at University of Western Ontario. Their work was published online in November 2013. In a report on their work at skyandtelescope.com, John Bochanski wrote that Ye and Wiegert's work suggests a rate of 200 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. Bochanski wrote:
But Ye and Wiegert warn that, given the current relatively weak dust production of the comet, rates could be much lower. With the low dust production, as well as the team's lower estimate of how many debris streams from the comet's previous passes are hanging around in this region of space, it's highly unlikely that we're in for a meteor storm (1,000 per hour) - although the team couldn't quite rule it out.
Will Comet 209P/LINEAR produce a meteor storm, or at least a strong meteor shower? As with all meteor showers, the only way to know is to go outside on the night of the predicted peak and see for yourself.


This hemisphere of Earth will be facing into the stream of debris left behind by Comet LINEAR on the night
of May 24, 2014. Skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. will be especially well
positioned to see the meteors. Image via meteor scientist Mikhail Maslov of Russia.


When to watch, and who is best placed on Earth

The peak night of the shower is predicted for May 24, 2014.

The meteors will radiate from the constellation Camelopardalis (camelopard), a very obscure northern constellation. Its name is derived from early Rome, where it was thought of as a composite creature, described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard. Nowadays we call such a creature a giraffe!

This constellation - radiant point of the May 2014 meteor shower - is in the northern sky, close to the north celestial pole, making this meteor shower better for the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere.

As for the predicted time of the shower ... skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. are said by the experts to be especially well positioned to see the meteors on the night of May 24, 2014.

Bottom line: On May 24, 2014 - if predictions hold true - Earth might be sandblasted with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars. Will it be a meteor storm? Most recent calculations say no, but it might be a strong-enough shower to be thrilling! - Earth Sky.