Friday, February 14, 2014

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - The United States Government Lays Groundwork To Confiscate Your 401k And IRA; This Is Happening NOW!

February 14, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - This morning Reuters obtained a leaked proposal disclosing that European Union officials are looking for new and innovative ways to fund their immense debt levels.




As noted by Zero Hedge, they’re no longer turning exclusively to central bankers to simply print more money as needed. Because last year’s bank bail-in forcing the confiscation of funds from average depositors in Cyprus worked so well, EU regulators and bankers have determined that they’ll use a similar method to fund their future endeavors.
In a nutshell, and in Reuters’ own words, “the savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.”

The solution? “The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing”, the document said.”
Mobilize, once again, is a more palatable word than, say, confiscate.
This is what happens when governments run out of money.

But if you think this is limited to just Europe, then consider the words of President Barack Obama in his recent State of the Union address.

For all intents and purposes, a similar groundwork is being laid right here in America.

They’ve already taken over the health care industry… why not nationalize our retirement savings while they’re at it?

(Reprinted with permission from Sovereign Man. You can read the full analysis here.)

This is basically the offer that the President of the United States floated last night.


And like an unctuously overgeled used car salesman, he actually pitched Americans on loaning their retirement savings to the US government with a straight face, guaranteeing “a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. . .”

This is his new “MyRA” program. And the aim is simple– dupe unwitting Americans to plow their retirement savings into the US government’s shrinking coffers.

We’ve been talking about this for years. I have personally written since 2009 that the US government would one day push US citizens into the ‘safety and security’ of US Treasuries.

Back in 2009, almost everyone else thought I was nuts for even suggesting something so sacrilegious about the US government and financial system.

But the day has arrived. And POTUS stated almost VERBATIM what I have been writing for years.

The government is flat broke.Even by their own assessment, the US government’s “net worth” is NEGATIVE 16 trillion. That’s as of the end of 2012 (the 2013 numbers aren’t out yet). But the trend is actually worsening.

In 2009, the government’s net worth was negative $11.45 trillion. By 2010, it had dropped to minus $13.47 trillion. By 2011, minus $14.78 trillion. And by 2012, minus $16.1 trillion.

Here’s the thing: according to the IRS, there is well over $5 trillion in US individual retirement accounts. For a government as bankrupt as Uncle Sam is, $5 trillion is irresistible.

They need that money. They need YOUR money. And this MyRA program is the critical first step to corralling your hard earned retirement funds.

At our event here in Chile last year, Jim Rogers nailed this right on the head when he and Ron Paul told our audience that the government would try to take your retirement funds:

 WATCH: Jim Rogers and Ron Paul on IRA Confiscation.

 

I don’t know how much more clear I can be: this is happening. This is exactly what bankrupt governments do. And it’s time to give serious, serious consideration to shipping your retirement funds overseas before they take yours.

As former Congressman Ron Paul notes, the government will stop at nothing.

“They’ll use force and they’ll use intimidation and they’ll use guns, because you can’t challenge the State and you can’t challenge the State’s so-called right to control the money,” warns Paul. “It’s already indicated that they will confiscate funds and they will [confiscate] pension funds.”

This didn’t just happen over night. The move to make this reality has been going on for quite some time. The first time it was mentioned publicly in any official capacity was at a 2010 Congressional hearing:
Democrats in the Senate on Thursday held a recess hearing covering a taxpayer bailout of union pensions and a plan to seize private 401(k) plans to more “fairly” distribute taxpayer-funded pensions to everyone.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee heard from hand-picked witnesses advocating the infamous “Guaranteed Retirement Account” (GRA) authored by Theresa Guilarducci.

In a nutshell, under the GRA system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a “fair” pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions.  This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending.
You’d think that such an idea would be immediately dismissed by the American public, but it has only gained steam since, as evidenced by a 2012 hearing held at the U.S. Labor Department:
The hearing, held in the Labor Department’s main auditorium, was monitored by NSC staff and featured a line up of left-wing activists including one representative of the AFL-CIO who advocated for more government regulation over private retirement accounts and even the establishment of government-sponsored annuities that would take the place of 401k plans.

“This hearing was set up to explore why Americans are not saving as much for their retirement as they could,” explains National Seniors Council National Director Robert Crone, “However, it is clear that this is the first step towards a government takeover. It feels just like the beginning of the debate over health care and we all know how that ended up.

Such “reforms” would effectively end private retirement accounts in America, Crone warns.
A few years ago the government of the United States of America nationalized nearly 1/6th of our economy when they took over the health care system with forced mandates. In the process they essentially took control of $1.6 trillion in yearly industry revenues.

But that’s nothing compared to private savings. The total amount of retirement assets in America, including 401k, IRA and savings accounts is around $21 trillion. With our national debt coincidentally approaching the same, the government sees big money and potentially a way out of our country’s fiscal disaster.

This will start voluntarily with the MyRA and other state-sponsored programs. But when not enough Americans are making it their patriotic duty to turn over their funds to their government, they’ll mandate compliance with the stroke of a pen just as they did with the Patient Affordable Care Act.

And just like Obamacare it will be enforced by the barrel of a gun. Failure to comply will mean confiscation without recourse and prison time.

All they need now is a trigger.

And that trigger will likely come in the form of another stock market collapse. Wipe out Americans’ in a stock market crash and scare the heck out of them with more economic bad news, and millions of our countrymen will be all too willing to hand it over to Uncle Sam. Panic is a powerful motivator and what better way to get people on board than by threatening them with squalor and destitution in their old age if they don’t go along with it?

Government officials have been actively working to make this a reality for years. The Europeans are doing the same.

You can put your head in the sand or cover your ears and pretend this is not happening, but that won’t change the outcome.

They will take everything they can get their hands on. - SHTF Plan.



FUK-U-SHIMA: TEPCO Reveals Record Cesium Level In Fukushima No. 1 Well - After Hiding Dangerous Fukushima Radiation Levels For Months!

February 14, 2014 - JAPAN - A record high level of radioactive cesium has been found in groundwater beneath the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it operator TEPCO revealed.


AFP Photo / IAEA / Files


On February 13, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported 37,000 becquerels of cesium-134 and 93,000 becquerels of cesium-137 were detected per liter of groundwater sampled from a monitoring well earlier that day.

Water samples were taken from the technical well, located next to the second power unit, some 50 meters from the coast. These figures (the total reading) are the highest of all the cesium measurements taken previously.

Experts do not rule out that radioactive water is leaking from an underground tunnel, which is located close to the second power unit on the seashore.

However, no exact reason for such a significant increase of radioactive cesium content in the groundwater has been given so far.

Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported that the amount of radioactive chemicals seems to be increasing. On Feb. 12, the same sampling well had produced a combined cesium reading of 76,000 becquerels per liter.

Earlier Japan's nuclear regulator slammed the stricken Fukushima plant operator for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) accused TEPCO of lacking basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

On Thursday, fears of new leaks surfaced in Japanese media, as the same newspaper reported two cracks in a concrete floor of the No. 1 facility near radioactive water storage tanks.

TEPCO suggested some contaminated water from the melting snow may have seeped into the ground through the cracks, stretching for 12 and 8 meters.

The leakage of radiation-contaminated water is posing a major threat to Japan’s population and environment and to the international community since the March 2011 disaster.


TEPCO Hid Dangerous Fukushima Radiation Levels For Months
AFP Photo / Kimimasa Mayama

Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) is again in the midst of controversy for failing to timely report on record radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. It is now blasted for holding back strontium measurements since September.

TEPCO on Wednesday revealed that it detected 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive Strontium-90 in a groundwater sample taken some 25 meters from the ocean as early as last September, Reuters reports. The legal limit for releasing strontium into the ocean is just 30 becquerels per liter.

Although the reading was alarmingly five times the levels taken at the same spot two months prior to that, TEPCO decided not to immediately report it to the country’s nuclear watchdog. That is despite Strontium-90 being considered twice as harmful to people as Cesium-137, which was also released in large quantities during the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011 caused by powerful earthquake and tsunami.

According to a TEPCO spokesman cited by Reuters, the decision was due to “uncertainty about the reliability and accuracy of the September strontium reading,” which prompted the plant’s operator to reexamine the data.

However, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) officials say no data came up until now despite repeated demands to TEPCO.

“We did not hear about this figure when they detected it last September. We have been repeatedly pushing TEPCO to release strontium data since November. It should not take them this long to release this information,” Shinji Kinjo, head of the NRA taskforce on contaminated water issues at Fukushima, told the agency.

Top NRA officials, including the watchdog’s chairman, have lashed out at TEPCO for “lacking a fundamental understanding of measuring and handling radiation” while responding to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“This is not an appropriate way to deal with the desire of the public [for transparency] and in particular, the regulator, which is now very closely regulating issues related to public health, the environment and so on,” Martin Schulz, a senior research fellow at the Fujitsu Research Institute, has said.

On Thursday, fears of new leaks surfaced in Japanese media, as Asahi Shimbun reported two cracks in a concrete floor of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 facility near radioactive water storage tanks. Some contaminated water from the melting snow may have seeped into the ground through the cracks stretching for 12 and 8 meters, TEPCO said.

Earlier last year, TEPCO came under criticism for letting radioactive water leak from a tank at Fukushima and also concealing the fact for some time.

Days before Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games last September, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed that contaminated water at Fukushima was “under control” and vowed to provide some $500 million to help contain it. - RT.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To The Total Collapse Of The White Supremacy Paradigm - The Euro-Zone Crisis Is Just Getting Started; The Project To Impose Political Union Is Bringing ECONOMIC RUIN To Europe!

February 14, 2014 - EUROPE - The project to impose political union is bringing economic ruin, making the legitimacy of the EU project ever more vulnerable. On the face of it, they seem worlds apart. Switzerland’s referendum vote against the free movement of labour, the ruling by the German Constitutional Court on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) attempts to save the euro, and the warning to Scotland that it won’t be allowed to keep the pound if it votes for independence – these might seem unrelated, but in truth they are all part of an increasingly explosive stand-off between the forces of national sovereignty on the one hand, and political and economic integration on the other.


In countries more obviously affected by the euro’s financial crisis, disillusionment with the European project and its institutions is already extreme. Traditional centrist parties are finding it ever harder to hold the line. Photo: AP

With elections in May likely to give rise to the most Eurosceptic parliament in the EU’s history, Europe’s long-running financial and economic crisis is threatening to spill over into an all-encompassing political one. According to Berlin and Brussels, Europe’s dark night of the soul – its most serious crisis since the Second World War – is now essentially behind us, with the promise of a slowly recovering economy and renewed political harmony to come. To my mind, it has hardly begun. Europe’s epic attempt to impose political union on widely divergent countries is being broken on the back of economic hardship, popular discontent, and financial disintegration.

Virtually all successful currency unions start with political union, and then proceed through shared insurance, institutions, and fiscal arrangements to a common form of exchange. Europe, it hardly needs saying, is trying to do it the other way round; it has forced monetary union on an unsuspecting public, and now, via the resulting financial crisis, hopes to bulldoze through the shared fiscal and political arrangements that might eventually make it work, culminating ultimately in a United States of Europe.

Supporters of Scottish independence propose a still stranger approach. They want to scrap what hitherto has proved a relatively successful political and fiscal union but, for the time being at least, keep the pound. Yesterday, George Osborne, Ed Balls, Sir Nicholas Macpherson and other members of the Westminster elite came together to deliver the inevitable verdict: the Scots cannot have national sovereignty as well as monetary union with the rest of the UK, whatever fiscal rules might be put in place to help sustain such an unstable construct. They must choose between self-rule and economic union.

It is a similar choice that now faces Switzerland, and indeed, Europe as a whole. Even in Germany, which so far has largely escaped the ravages of the eurozone crisis, the schism is becoming ever more apparent.

Last week, the German Constitutional Court did a remarkable thing; it outsourced final assessment of the ECB’s policy of doing “whatever it takes to save the euro” to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This seemingly innocuous passing of the buck can be read two ways. To believers in the European project, it’s a positive development which removes a key threat to evolution of the single currency into a more sustainable form. Germany seems to have given up its right to veto whatever it deems to be monetary financing of struggling governments, and instead given the final say to the ECJ, which because it nearly always adopts an integrationist approach, is almost certain to give the thumbs up.

But there is a less benign way of looking at the German court’s ruling, for it contained a sting in the tail. Yes, the ECJ must decide, but the judges then went on to say that the ECB’s policies did indeed amount to monetary financing and were therefore in all probability illegal.

Next to God and the Bundesbank, there is no higher or more trusted authority in Germany than the Constitutional Court, so when the ECJ determines to contradict it, there’s going to be an almighty backlash. German acquiescence in the euro will begin to fracture.

In countries more obviously affected by the euro’s financial crisis, disillusionment with the European project and its institutions is already extreme. Traditional centrist parties are finding it ever harder to hold the line.

One of the points made in the Treasury’s analysis of Scotland and the pound is that if political commitment to currency union is thought to be lacking, then financial speculation against it will become self-fulfilling, creating capital flight, reinforcing economic problems and increasing the pressures for an exit.

In the eurozone, the will among senior policymakers to make the single currency work is undoubted, but they are increasingly out of touch with voters and are steadily losing their legitimacy. This progressive disconnect between the mainstream political class and its support base was at its most evident in reaction to the outcome of the Swiss referendum. Immediate retaliation was threatened. A similar kind of invective is reserved for British proposals to limit labour migration.

Yet Europe’s elite must know that all high-income countries would vote the same way as the Swiss given the chance. The arrogance of political leaders who think they know better may have been tolerable as long as Europe was growing. But today they deliver only economic ruin, making their position, and the legitimacy of the EU project, ever more vulnerable.

Stir all this together, and we see a possibly irresistible pull back to the principles of national sovereignty at a time when survival of the euro requires the very reverse – greater levels of fiscal, political and economic integration. A titanic struggle looms. And they say the eurozone crisis is over. - Telegraph.



EXTREME WEATHER: Infrastructure Collapse - Up To 100 Cars Pile-Up On Pennsylvania Highway As Solar Glare And Icy Driving Conditions Make For Treacherous Commute; "Plan X" Enacted To Shutdown Traffic On The Turnpike!

February 14, 2014 - PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES - Several huge multi-car pile-ups totaling 100 vehicles have shut down part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Friday morning, as icy driving conditions made for a treacherous commute.


Rescue and fire personnel assist on the scene of a 100 car chain reaction pileup accident on the Pennsylvania
Turnpike eastbound February 14, 2014 in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. (AFP Photo / William Thomas Cain)


The first crash occurred close to 8 a.m. and set off a chain reaction of accidents involving roughly 75 vehicles, while a separate crash managed to snare another 30 cars or so, according to CBS Philadelphia.

So far, up to five individuals have been hospitalized, though no fatalities have been reported.


WATCH: Raw Video - Massive Pennsylvania Turnpike Pileup .

 


There’s no word on exactly what caused the pile-ups, but local news station Fox 29 said the first accident took place around 7:40 a.m. and involved a tractor trailer. That accident triggered a chain reaction of collisions, which state police believe was caused by the icy road and people driving too fast.

 Despite the icy conditions, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission told Fox 29 that they had lifted the 45 mph ban early Friday morning. That decision could’ve led drivers to believe the roads were less hazardous than they really were.

"We just started seeing a lot of minor accidents, a lot of cars trying to brake but they couldn't brake in time," said reporter Jeremy Haas of NBC Philadelphia.


Rescue and fire personnel assist on the scene of a 100 car chain reaction pileup accident on the Pennsylvania
Turnpike eastbound February 14, 2014 in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. (AFP Photo / William Thomas Cain)

NOTE: Turnpike Rep Mimi Doyle suggests drivers get off at Ft Washington if traveling
eastbound. @NBCPhiladelphia

Major PA Turnpike multiple accidents, at least 50 vehicles, piled up behind semis. @NBCPhiladelphia

Rescue and fire personnel assist on the scene of a 100 car chain reaction pileup accident on the Pennsylvania
Turnpike eastbound February 14, 2014 in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. (AFP Photo / William Thomas Cain)

Rescue and fire personnel assist on the scene of a 100 car chain reaction pileup accident on the Pennsylvania
Turnpike eastbound February 14, 2014 in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. (AFP Photo / William Thomas Cain)

Rescue and fire personnel assist on the scene of a 100 car chain reaction pileup accident on the Pennsylvania
Turnpike eastbound February 14, 2014 in Feasterville, Pennsylvania. (AFP Photo / William Thomas Cain)

Smashed vehicles await assistance as dozens of flipped-over cars, jack-knifed tractor-trailers and vehicles
skidded off the Pennsylvania Turnpike during the morning commute, shutting down the major thoroughfare
near the Bensalem interchange in Pennsylvania, February 14, 2014. (Reuters / Tom Mihalek)

Drivers stand outside of their cars as traffic is backed up following a multi-car and truck accident during
the morning commute, shutting down the major thoroughfare near the Bensalem interchange in Pennsylvania,
February 14, 2014. (Reuters / Tom Mihalek)

In addition to the road itself, glare from the sun could have also played a role in the crashes, potentially making it more difficult for drivers to react adequately.

 According to NBC, the Turnpike Commission enacted “Plan X” soon after the accidents occurred, which allows officials to shut down traffic on the turnpike and reroute traffic off of it. Although the eastbound lanes were the only ones in which accidents occurred, westbound traffic was also stopped periodically in order to let all emergency vehicles through.

Even so, after one hour, many emergency vehicles had not arrived at all the crash sites. At least 100 cars not involved in the pile-ups have been stranded on the turnpike as well. When Plan X is implemented, officials typically expect the turnpike to be shut down for hours.

 At least one car was overturned during the morning’s events, while one tractor trailer was jackknifed by another vehicle. Speaking with Fox 29, motorist Steven Coney said he was only going 25 mph when he tried to brake, but his car slid out of control and made a 360 degree turn. He thought he was safe after that, but a tractor trailer then crashed into his vehicle.

"His back end slammed into my front windshield," Coney said. "I could've died." - RT.



GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: The Caribbean Faces Threat Of BIGGEST TSUNAMI Ever Recorded - This Could Devastate Coastlines From Florida To Brazil, Following Volcanic Eruption In The Canary Islands!

February 14, 2014 - CARIBBEAN - The Caribbean could be at risk from a mega-tsunami that scientists warn could devastate coastlines from Florida to Brazil following a volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands.




The monster wave generated by part of a mountain collapsing into the sea would be the biggest ever recorded and would be an unstoppable force, travelling at speeds of up to 500mph.

The massive wall of water would likely make first landfall on the West Saharan coast of Morocco, where the wave could measure as much as 330ft from trough to crest.

The greatest destruction was nevertheless expected in the built-up coastal areas of the Caribbean, Florida and Brazil, according to a new forecast by Dr Simon Day of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College London.

The tsunami could reach heights of 130ft to 164ft throughout the region and travel several miles inland, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Earlier research by Dr Day had predicted that a future eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands was likely to cause the western flank of the mountain to slide into the sea.

Dr Day, working in conjunction with Dr Steven Ward of the University of California, has now produced an updated model that predicts more accurately the size of the tsunami and the areas it will impact.




The model predicts that after the landslide the tsunami would travel a distance of almost 155 miles in just 10 minutes and would reach the Caribbean and Florida in eight or nine hours.

The forecast goes on to predict that a wall of water 164ft high could smash into the coasts of the Caribbean and Florida, while Brazil’s northern coast could be hit by a wave more than 130ft high.

According to Dr Day: "The collapse will occur during some future eruption after days or weeks of precursory deformation and earthquakes.

"An effective earthquake monitoring system could provide advanced warning of a likely collapse and allow early emergency management organisations a valuable window of time in which to plan and respond.

"Eruptions of Cumbre Vieja occur at intervals of decades to a century or so and there may be a number of eruptions before its collapse. Although the year-to-year probability of a collapse is therefore low, the resulting tsunami would be a major disaster with indirect effects around the world.

"Cumbre Vieja needs to be monitored closely for any signs of impending volcanic activity and for the deformation that would precede collapse." - Caribbean 360.


NOTE: This post was contributed by Jacqui Chasson.


SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Electric Universe - Mysterious Energy Ribbon At The Edge Of Solar System Is A "Cosmic Roadmap" For The Instellar Magnetic Field!

February 14, 2014 - SPACE - A strange ribbon of energy and particles at the edge of the solar system first spotted by a NASA spacecraft appears to serve as a sort of "roadmap in the sky" for the interstellar magnetic field, scientists say.


An all-sky map made by the IBEX spacecraft shows a surprising bright ribbon of emission coming from
the edge of the solar system. Credit: Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)

By comparing ground-based studies and in-space observations of solar system's mysterious energy ribbon, which was first discovered by NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) in 2009, scientists are learning more details about the conditions at the solar system's edge. The study also sheds light into the sun's environment protects the solar system from high-energy cosmic rays.

"What I always have been trying to do was to establish a clear connection between the very high-energy cosmic rays we're seeing [from the ground] and what IBEX is seeing," study leader Nathan Schwadron, a physicist at the University of New Hampshire, told Space.com.

 Previously, maps from ground-based observatories showed researchers that clusters of cosmic rays — extremely high-energy particles that originate from supernovas — are correlated with the IBEX ribbon. The ribbon is roughly perpendicular to the interstellar magnetic field while cosmic rays stream, on average, along the interstellar magnetic field. (The particles themselves are created from interactions between the solar wind and interstellar matter.)

In the longer term, Schwadron said work like this will help scientists better understand more about the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space. This is a region that only one mission — NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft — has reached so far, and scientists know little about what that environment is like.


Cosmic ray intensities (left) compared with predictions (right) from NASA's IBEX spacecraft. The similarity between these observations and predictions supports the local galactic magnetic field direction determined from IBEX observations made from particles at vastly lower energies than the cosmic ray observations shown here. The blue area represents regions of lower fluxes of cosmic rays. The gray and white lines separate regions of different energies—lower energies above the lines, high energies below. Credit: Nathan Schwadron/UNH-EOS


 Travelling through the transition zone

The sun's sphere of influence in the solar system is known as the heliosphere. The sun's "solar wind" of high-energy particles flows within the heliosphere and pushes back against high-energy cosmic rays originating in interstellar space. The transition zone between these two regions is called the heliosheath.

Here's where a mystery arises: Voyager 1's measurements of the magnetic field from the edge of interstellar space show a starkly different direction of the magnetic field inferred in the IBEX ribbon, Schwadron said.

"At that point, you say to yourself what’s wrong? What could possibly be the issue? It seems like we now have good independent confirmation that the IBEX ribbon is ordered by the interstellar magnetic field, and we know that Voyager 1 takes fairly good measurements," Schwadron said.


WATCH:  NASA | IBEX Provides First View of the Solar System's Tail.




The few studies examining this issue, showing little consensus. An October paper co-authored by Schwadron in Astrophysical Journal Letters argued that Voyager 1 could be measuring interstellar plasma coming in through magnetic field lines, but may still be in the heliosheath itself. This stands in contrast to findings from NASA and other science groups saying Voyager 1 is definitively in interstellar space.

The researchers noted that Voyager 1 is picking up its information "at a specific time and place", but IBEX's data is collected and averaged across vast distances, so that could also lead to discrepancies.

"What is really missing here is our understanding of the physics," Schwadron said, adding that reconnection between magnetic field lines could be an example of something that changes the conditions of the boundary region.

The research was published today (Feb. 13) in the journal Science Express and includes participation from several United States research institutions. - SPACE.



MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The BIGGEST Rescue Mission Since The Blitz - Flood-Ravaged Britain Is Battered In Relentless Gloom By "MULTI-PRONGED" Weather Front With 80mph Winds, Snow, Two Inches Of Rain In Just Six Hours... And Now Even FIRE; Former Global Empire Now Petitioning Prime Minister To Use FOREIGN AID CASH To Tackle Floods! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

February 14, 2014 - BRITAIN - Britain faces a ‘multi-pronged attack’ of wind, rain and snow today – as emergency services mount their largest rescue operation since the Blitz.  Forecasters warned that 80mph gales will rip into the South coast, up to two inches of rain could fall in just six hours and high ground in the North will be hit by snow.


Flames: A line of fire could be seen this morning after the power lines ignited the highly flammable peat bog.
Blaze: Large parts of Borth Bog on the west coast of Wales are on fire after
high-voltage power lines collapsed overnight.
Smoke: The bog, also known as Cors Fochno, was set ablaze overnight as the extreme weather continues.
Clear-up: David Cameron talks to a builder who is helping to repair a house which was damaged in Blackpool.
Meeting: Mr Cameron talks to representatives of the police, fire service, military and power companies in Blackpool.
Blizzards: A car is abandoned in the snow in County Durham after several weeks of severe weather across Britain.

The turbulent conditions even prompted a massive fire on the west coast of Wales, when downed power lines apparently ignited the peat in Borth Bog, sending up a line of flames and throwing smoke over the adjoining town.  It came as the Government’s chief fire and rescue adviser said the crisis has prompted the biggest emergency response in 70 years. Peter Holland revealed that 70 per cent of the fire and rescue services in England and Wales were involved in the flood relief effort.


WATCH:  Stunning aerial views of flood devastation along Thames.




He said: ‘We are now facing the largest deployment that has taken place since the Second World War.’  The Environment Agency has 17 severe flood warnings - which mean a risk to life - in place in the Thames Valley, Somerset and Gloucestershire, as well as 131 flood warnings across England and Wales and 246 flood alerts.  Last night, two cyclists were killed in a flood-hit village in Berkshire by a car which was apparently fleeing from police after they arrived to investigate reports of a dangerous incident.  David Cameron said he was 'very sorry' for the suffering caused by the extreme weather as he again promised to do 'whatever it takes' to help those affected. 


Freeze: The scene this morning showed how residents of northern England have seen their homes buried in snow.

Stuck: Motorists found themselves stranded in deep snow on a road which runs from Cumbria to County Durham.

Battered: A house in Burnley had its facade ripped off and thrown into the street overnight thanks to high winds.

Battered: A house in Burnley had its facade ripped off and thrown into the street overnight thanks to high winds.

Trouble: Alan Hayward, left, and Jeff Anderson, right, try to recover Mr Anderson' Porsche from his garage in Staines.

Extreme: A motorist is helped by two passengers after getting stuck in snow in Hartside, Cumbria yesterday.

Visiting Blackpool in Lancashire to view relief efforts, the Prime Minister told ITV1's Daybreak: 'People need to be reassured that we will do whatever it takes to help people during this very difficult time.'  He added: 'Of course I am very sorry for any way that people have suffered.  'What we have tried to do is stand up the emergency response arrangements as quickly as we could.  'Obviously, we are facing a very difficult time because we have got the wettest start to the year for 250 years and these are extraordinary weather events, but we are fighting on every front to help people.  'We have deployed the military, we have got thousands of sandbags being put around people's houses, over 300,000 people had their electricity reconnected last night.  'If you look at the state of our flood defences, over 1.3 million homes have been protected by the flood defences that are in place.  'We are making sure that today, before the next rise in the level of the Thames over the weekend, we do everything we can to protect more homes and protect more communities.' 


Destruction: A pylon near Houghton le Spring in Tyne and Wear was knocked over by high winds yesterday morning.

Collapse: The roof of a car wash was damaged in the storms in Whalley Range, Manchester yesterday.

Caution: A van drives slowly along Hartside Pass in Cumbria as the north-west of England remains blanketed in snow.

Action: A snow plough clears the roads in Northumberland after days of extreme weather.

Destruction: A tree which was uprooted in Chorlton, a suburb of Manchester, by high winds and storms.

Gust: A tree was blown onto the roof of a hose in Bridlington, Yorkshire yesterday.

As the weather worsens, record numbers of families are flying out to the sun this weekend for half-term break.   Flights and package holidays are fully booked as millions escape one of Britain’s wettest winters yet.  More than a million people will fly out of Heathrow this weekend and a spokesman for Gatwick said demand has risen by 7 per cent from last year to 912,000.  Around 473,000 people will fly from Manchester Airport, while 120,000 will go from Luton and 250,000 will leave Stansted.  There was a brief respite yesterday after Wednesday night’s storms caused chaos across the country, with hurricane-force winds of up to 108mph cutting the power in more than 150,000 homes. - Daily Mail.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Kelud Volcano Erupts Violently - Killing 3; Seven Airports Closed; 75,000 People Evacuated; Alert Remains At The Highest Level! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

February 14, 2014 - INDONESIA - A volcano eruption in Indonesia killed three people and forced tens of thousands more out of their homes, the disaster management agency said Friday.




Two died from smoke inhalation while the third was hit by a collapsing wall. Officials had originally reported two deaths due to falling building debris.

Mount Kelud in the eastern part of the main island Java has been spewing ash for at least two days high into the air, as a smoke plume has risen from out of its crater into the sky.

The government raised its eruption alert to its highest level overnight, and authorities have ordered an evacuation of all residents in a 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) radius of the volcano in eastern Java.






At the height of the crisis Friday, 100,000 people evacuated, but that number later dropped to more than 75,000.

Seven airports closed due to volcanic ash, which filled the skies and can lead to jet engine problems.

Lightning was seen striking the volcano's peak as it spewed debris, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

The nation's volcanology agency said other smaller eruptions could happen. Authorities urged people to stay outside the 10-kilometer radius.

Pictures from the scene show large black plumes rising over Mount Kelud, raining pebbles and ash on the surrounding area.


WATCH: Indonesian volcano erupts, killing 3 and grounding flights.



WATCH:  Volcanic ash blankets towns & villages in Java, Indonesia.

 


The military has been called in to help evacuate people from the area to nearby shelters.

Mount Kelud last erupted in 2007, but it has recently ramped up activity in the past 10 days.

In 1990, an eruption killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds.

Indonesia is part of the vast "Pacific Ring of Fire," an area of colliding continental plates where powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions often occur. - CNN.



ICE AGE NOW: Great Lakes Ice Cover Is The Largest We've Seen This Century - 78.7 PERCENT Covered! [PHOTOS+GRAPH+MAP]

February 14, 2014 - GREAT LAKES, UNITED STATES - One effect of the persistently cold winter of 2013-2014 is showing up on the world's largest group of freshwater lakes.


MODIS satellite image of the Great Lakes on Feb. 7, 2014. Bright white in this image shows mainly clouds over
the Great Lakes, however, you can see lake ice in southern and western Lake Michigan, southern Lake Superior,
and far western Lake Erie. (UW-SSEC/Google Earth)

According to an analysis by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, ice covered 78.7 percent of the Great Lakes on February 6. Not since early 1996 has ice been so widespread on the Great Lakes.

This is an abrupt turn around from the past four winters, during which the peak ice coverage remained around 40 percent or less. As you can see in the graph below, the 40-year average is just over 51 percent.

Dating to 1973, the two years with the largest ice coverage were 1979 (94.7 percent peak) and 1994 (90.7 percent).


Yearly peak Great Lakes ice coverage (percent) from 1973-2013. (NOAA/GLERL)

Ice on Lake Michigan as far as you can see to the horizon in Feb. 2014.
(Louise Olson via The Weather Channel Facebook page)

When looking at individual lakes, just over 92 percent of Lake Superior, just under 88 percent of Lake Huron, almost 95 percent of Lake Erie, and around 53 percent of Lake Michigan is ice covered. Much deeper Lake Ontario is only about 29 percent of ice covered.

As a result, caves near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are now open to foot traffic, thanks to sufficiently thick ice on Lake Superior.

Winter weather expert for The Weather Channel, Tom Niziol, noted the current Great Lakes ice cover was pacing quite close to that from early February 1977, another year in which the peak ice cover topped 90 percent.


Latest Great Lakes comparison to winter 1977, its getting closer!! @TomNiziol


Let's compare the current ice cover to the early February ice cover in the two standard-bearing years mentioned above:
  • Feb. 5, 1979: 66.8%
  • Feb. 7, 1994: 83.6%
So, we're pacing ahead of 1979 but behind 1994.

Will the cold persist to allow the ice to continue to spread?

Through most of the upcoming week, temperatures will remain generally much colder than average over the Midwest and Northeast.

Beyond that, there are some preliminary indications the cold may finally ease up the following week, but that outlook remains too uncertain at this time. - TWC.



GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - 20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire! [MUST READ]

February 14, 2014 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - If you have been waiting for the "global economic crisis" to begin, just open up your eyes and look around.  I know that most Americans tend to ignore what happens in the rest of the world because they consider it to be "irrelevant" to their daily lives, but the truth is that the massive economic problems that are currently sweeping across Europe, Asia and South America are going to be affecting all of us here in the U.S. very soon.




Sadly, most of the big news organizations in this country seem to be more concerned about the fate of Justin Bieber's wax statue in Times Square than about the horrible financial nightmare that is gripping emerging markets all over the planet.  After a brief period of relative calm, we are beginning to see signs of global financial instability that are unlike anything that we have witnessed since the financial crisis of 2008.  As you will see below, the problems are not just isolated to a few countries.  This is truly a global phenomenon.

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have inflated an unprecedented financial bubble with their reckless money printing.  Much of this "hot money" poured into emerging markets all over the world.  But now that the Federal Reserve has begun "tapering" quantitative easing, investors are taking this as a sign that the party is ending.  Money is being pulled out of emerging markets all over the globe at a staggering pace and this is creating a tremendous amount of financial instability.  In addition, the economic problems that have been steadily growing over the past few years in established economies throughout Europe and Asia just continue to escalate.

The following are 20 signs that the global economic crisis is starting to catch fire...

#1 The unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 28 percent.

#2 The youth unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 64.1 percent.

#3 The percentage of bad loans in Italy is at an all-time record high.

#4 Italian industrial output declined again in December, and the Italian government is on the verge of collapse.

#5 The number of jobseekers in France has risen for 30 of the last 32 months, and at this point it has climbed to a new all-time record high.

#6 The total number of business failures in France in 2013 was even higher than in any year during the last financial crisis.

#7 It is being projected that housing prices in Spain will fall another 10 to 15 percent as their economic depression deepens.

#8 The economic and political turmoil in Turkey is spinning out of control.  The government has resorted to blasting protesters with pepper spray and water cannons in a desperate attempt to restore order.

#9 It is being estimated that the inflation rate in Argentina is now over 40 percent, and the peso is absolutely collapsing.

#10 Gangs of armed bandits are roaming the streets in Venezuela as the economic chaos in that troubled nation continues to escalate.

#11 China appears to be very serious about deleveraging. The deflationary effects of this are going to be felt all over the planet. The following is an excerpt from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's recent article entitled "World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice"...

China's Xi Jinping has cast the die. After weighing up the unappetising choice before him for a year, he has picked the lesser of two poisons.
The balance of evidence is that most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong aims to prick China's $24 trillion credit bubble early in his 10-year term, rather than putting off the day of reckoning for yet another cycle.
This may be well-advised for China, but the rest of the world seems remarkably nonchalant over the implications.
#12 There was a significant debt default by a coal company in China last Friday...
A high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, in the latest sign of financial stress in China's shadow bank sector.
#13 Japan's Nikkei stock index has already fallen by 14 percent so far in 2014.  That is a massive decline in just a month and a half.

#14 Ukraine continues to fall apart financially...
The worsening political and economic circumstances in Ukraine has prompted the Fitch Ratings agency to downgrade Ukrainian debt from B to a pre–default level CCC. This is lower than Greece, and Fitch warns of future financial instability.
#15 The unemployment rate in Australia has risen to the highest level in more than 10 years.

#16 The central bank of India is in a panic over the way that Federal Reserve tapering is affecting their financial system.

#17 The effects of Federal Reserve tapering are also being felt in Thailand...
In the wake of the US Federal Reserve tapering, emerging economies with deteriorating macroeconomic figures or visible political instability are being punished by skittish markets. Thailand is drifting towards both these tendencies.
#18 One of Ghana's most prominent economists says that the economy of Ghana will crash by June if something dramatic is not done.
#19 Yet another banker has mysteriously died during the prime years of his life.  That makes five "suspicious banker deaths" in just the past two weeks alone.

#20 The behavior of the U.S. stock market continues to parallel the behavior of the U.S. stock market in 1929.

Yes, things don't look good right now, but it is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning.

This is just the leading edge of the next great financial storm.

The next two years (2014 and 2015) are going to represent a major "turning point" for the global economy.  By the end of 2015, things are going to look far different than they do today.

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  Global debt levels have grown by 30 percent since the last financial crisis, and the too big to fail banks in the United States are 37 percent larger than they were back then and their behavior has become even more reckless than before.

As a result, we are going to get to go through another "2008-style crisis", but I believe that this next wave is going to be even worse than the previous one.

So hold on tight and get ready.  We are going to be in for quite a bumpy ride. - Activist Post.



MONUMENTAL SNOWPOCALYPSE: "Catastrophic, Crippling, Paralyzing,..." - First Snowstorms, Now THUNDERSLEET; U.S. Northeast Is Hit By RARE Meteorological Phenomena As "Mammoth Dome Of Arctic Air" That Has Left 800,000 Without Power, Killed 21 And Grounded More Than 7,000 Flights, Now Threatens To Dump MORE Snow; Over 100 MILLION People Affected; Only Florida Had No Snow On Thursday; Up To 15 Inches Of Snow In New York; State Of Emergency Declared In New York; Panic Buying Deplete Store Shelves; Utility Workers Scramble To Restore Power! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS+MAPS]

February 14, 2014 - UNITED STATES - First snow fell onto the ground in 49 states on Thursday and then thundersleet hit as the season's deadly winter storm pummeled the Northeast, dumping a foot of snow on cities, knocking out power to more than half a million residents and grounding thousands of flights.


Terrifying: Clouds cover the U.S. Northeast and move away from the South in this water vapor view
taken by NOAA on Thursday morning.
Covered: A snow depth map released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals that ever state - except Florida - had snow on the ground on Thursday, with the Midwest and Northeast hardest hit.
Ice storm: An image shows activity in the far corner of the country on Thursday into Friday as the
winter storm set to pummel the Northeast.

Only Florida was free of snow, according to a map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday - and even the mountains of Hawaii and California had a sprinkling of the white stuff, USA Today first reported.  But it was the Northeast that suffered the most: New York was slammed with up to 15 inches of snow, while Boston could still see eight inches and Philadelphia could get 11 inches.  Baltimore endured 15 inches of snow, while nearby in Washington D.C., the city all but shut down after 11 inches accumulated in some areas overnight. Federal offices and the city's two main airports were closed, and streets were nearly deserted during the normally frantic commute.  And forecasters warned that it's not over yet. Snow is expected to fall throughout the evening in Baltimore before heading further north to Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine on Friday. In cities including New York, the rain will slow and icy rain will begin to fall instead.  The snowstorm, which started out in the southern states on Wednesday, canceled more than 14,000 flights nationwide today, killed as many as 21 people and left more than 800,000 residents without power across 14 states.  Among the dead was a pregnant woman who was struck and killed by a mini-snowplow in a New York City parking lot as she loaded groceries into her car.  'Snow has become a four-letter word,' lamented Tom McGarrigle, a politician in suburban Philadelphia. 


White-out: Utility crews drive cautiously down U.S. 220 south during the
winter storm on Thursday Roanoke, Virginia.

Snowed in: Cars of travelers are covered in deep snow February 13, 2014 at the long term parking lot at Dulles
International Airport (IAD) in Virginia near Washington, DC. Ronald Reagan National Airport
and Dulles International Airport were closed early Thursday.

Snowball: Snow covers the infield at Turner Field, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Atlanta. As crews worked to restore
power to hundreds of thousands of Georgians, forecasters hoped warmer temperatures and
sunshine would melt ice-coated roads across the state.

Open wide: Stephen Garcia works on a giant snow sculpture of a shark in the front yard of his home,
in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Snow and ice covers homes in Augusta, Georgia on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Augusta was among the hardest
hit areas in this week's winter storm and many residents are still without power.

ere we go again: A lone cross country skier braves the cold and snow to ski near the U.S. Capitol as
a major snow storm hits the Washington area Thursday.

In New York, Min Lin, 36, died after she was struck by a utility vehicle with a snowplow attached to it as it backed up outside a shopping center in Brooklyn. Her nearly full-term baby was delivered in critical condition via cesarean section.  No immediate charges were brought against the snowplow operator.  And as much of the nation curled up in the warm at home the snow turned to slush and a rare meteorlogical phenomenon known as thundersleet hit the Northeast.  Thundersleet is exactly what it sounds like - thunder and lightning hitting at the same time as freezing rain or sleet.  It is extremely rare, according to a 2009 article from Scientific American which notes that 'less than 1 percent of observed snowstorms unleash thundersnow, according to a 1971 NSW study.'  'I understand the desire to keep schools open,' Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city's union, told Politicker. 'The only thing that trumps that is safety. Having students, parents and staff traveling in these conditions was unwarranted. It was a mistake to open schools today.' 


Grounded: US Airways planes sit at their gates as work crews continue to clear snow
from runways at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

Blustery: A man braces his umbrella while walking through the snow in New York as heavy snow
and high winds made for a tough commute.

Stuck: A person walks through the heavy snow in New York City on Thursday where snow continues to fall.

Wreck: Emergency personnel examine the wreckage of a train carrying crude oil
after it derailed near Vandergrift, Pennsylvania on Friday.

Pummeled: A map shows the effects of major winter storm driving from the Gulf of Mexico
toward the East Coast, showing power outages.

Stranded: A passenger kills time with a nap as work crews continue to clear snow from
the runways at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

Battle: Commuters wait on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority platform
for a train in heavy snow in the Queens borough of New York.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio came under fire for deciding to keep schools open - a choice some called a 'mistake'.  A de Blasio spokeswoman declined to comment but noted that city schools have only had 11 snow days since 1978. In the past, de Blasio has said keeping schools open is important for working parents.  At a press conference on Thursday morning, de Blasio said five to eight inches of snow had fallen so far, but he expected up to 14 inches by the end of the storm tomorrow morning. He said that the city had put 1,900 snow plows on the roads and 475 salt spreaders, as well as 800 workers shoveling at bus stops, streets and fire hydrants - but urged people to clear their own walks and stay off the road, if possible.  'Stay off the roads,' he instructed. 'Mass transit is your best option.'  On Thursday morning, Governor Andre Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for the mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island regions.  More snow will also coat New Jersey, which has seen 11 separate snowfalls this season. North Jersey has had a total of 42.5 inches of snow according to gauges at Newark Liberty International Airport, which makes this the sixth snowiest season since official records started in 1931.


WATCH: South, Northeast U.S. Struggles With Storm.

 

WATCH: New Jersey Hammered by Snow Storm.

 
   
WATCH:  NY Pregnant Woman Killed by Plow, Baby Delivered.

 

WATCH: From New England to Georgia, East Coast Digs Out.




Detroit and Toledo in Ohio, are enduring their snowiest month on record, according to the National Weather Service.  Luis Gray, 52, a porter in Washington, D.C., started his workday shoveling about 7am. Gray said he normally takes the bus to work, but it wasn't running, so he got a ride. He said he'd stay home after work and watch TV, then 'hopefully the bus will be running again'.  In Frederick, Maryland, Cory Cheeks worked his pickup through a 4-foot plow pile only to find the road at the end of his hotel parking lot still blocked by snow. The Fredericksburg, Virginia resident was reluctantly preparing for a day of online training, convinced he could have driven 30 miles to Rockville for a face-to-face session if his supervisors hadn't canceled it.  'It's a very powdery snow. It's not very heavy at all,' Cheeks said. 'I could go to work right now, even in my truck. It might not be the smartest idea, but it could be done.'  With flights and driving out of the question for thousands, Amtrak has also suspended some service in the Northeast, South and Mid-Atlantic regions.  In the South, armies of utility workers labored to turn the lights - and the heat - back on for hundreds of thousands of Southerners. Across the nation, more than 90 per cent of the country's 116 million homes will face higher heating bills because of the cold blasts, USA Today reported. 

 
Threat: A weather map shows the wintry weather heading up the East Coast and reaching into the
Northeast throughout Thursday and into Friday, when it will start to rain.

Snow day: Another map shows how much snow areas of the North East can
expected into Friday; New York will be hit with 6 inches, Boston could see 8.

There was also havoc on the roads in the Deep South, which remained a world of ice-laden trees and driveways after several unusual days of sleet and snow. Snow was forecast to stop falling and temperatures to rise in most of the state by late morning, but ice remained a concern.Drivers in and around Raleigh, North Carolina, became snarled Wednesday in huge traffic jams and abandoned cars in scenes reminiscent of motorist woes in Atlanta during a storm two weeks earlier.For some on slick, snow-covered interstates in the snow-covered state, commutes that should take minutes lasted hours after many got on the highways just as soon as snow and sleet began at midday.But in Atlanta, many streets were eerily quiet this storm, with drivers heeding dire warnings to stay off the roads - although state troopers say they worked more than 200 crashes in Georgia.And in South Carolina, more accustomed to occasional hurricanes, some could only relate the damage from ice-snapped tree limbs to that of bygone Hurricane Hugo. Even normally balmy Myrtle Beach, cars were coated in thick ice that also frosted palm trees and kiddie rides by the shore.'I hate driving on this,' grumbled South Carolina resident Mindy Taylor, 43, on her way for rock salt, kitty litter or anything else to melt the ice. 'Hopefully it'll warm up by the weekend and it will all melt. I'm ready for Spring.'In Alabama, forecasters gleefully spoke of weekend temperatures reaching the 60s after inches of snow or sleet in its northern parts.


Accumulation: Oretha Bailey clears her car of snow in Silver Spring, Maryland on Thursday
after as many as 15 inches of snow fell overnight.

Bleak: In Washington, D.C., q man walks along the snow covered Vietnam Memorial.
Some parts of the area were hit with 11 inches of snow.

Hidden: Snow covers a line of vehicles as a man digs out during a winter snow storm in Winchester, Virginia.

Ice boxes: Mailboxes are covered with snow on Wichman Road in Beckley, West Virginia,
where the governor asked residents to stay home.

Ice combined with wind gusts up to 30 mph snapped tree limbs and power lines. About 350,000 homes and businesses lost electricity in Georgia, South Carolina had about 245,000 outages, and North Carolina around 100,000. Some people could be in the dark for days.As he did for parts of Georgia, President Barack Obama declared a disaster in South Carolina, opening the way for federal aid. There, a winter storm warning remained in effect, but the wintry mix was forecast to wrap up Thursday morning.Some Southerners who two weeks ago reveled in the so-called 'snow jam' sounded tired this time of sleet and ice encasing highways, trees and even the tombstones of a cemetery replete with Confederate graves.Charter school teacher Bethany Lanier, 32, was walking in a mostly empty square in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur with Lindsay Futterman, 30, as they debated whether to get a drink at a pub.If classes are canceled Friday, the charter school students will have missed nine days of school. To make up days, administrators have canceled a three-day break.'Now, we're out because we have cabin fever,' Lanier said as Futterman added: 'It's kind of annoying now.'Many Southerners took to makeshift sleds on the ice and snow, with at least seven people hospitalized in sledding accidents just in Georgia.Four people were hurt sledding in a kayak that crashed into a pole, said Fire Chief Ricky Pruit in Cleveland, Georgia. One victim suffered leg injuries, another was knocked unconscious and lost several teeth, and the other two refused treatment, he said. Three people were killed when an ambulance careened off an icy West Texas road and caught fire. On Tuesday, four people died in weather-related traffic accidents in North Texas, including a Dallas firefighter who was knocked from an I-20 ramp and fell 50 feet. In Mississippi, two traffic deaths were reported as well as in North Carolina. Also, a Georgia man apparently died of hypothermia after spending hours outside during the storm, a coroner said.In Atlanta, which was caught badly unprepared by the last storm, area schools announced even before the first drop of sleet fell that they would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Schools were also closed for Thursday.


Alternate transport: Marilyn Newton uses her cross-country skis as she travels through
the snow in a greenway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Downed: Workers remove trees and snapped power lines brought down during the
winter storm on Wednesday in Doraville, Georgia.

Damage: Millions of people are in the path of the storm that proved too much even for some police officers,
pictured. Rescue crews has to pull a Hamilton County, Tennessee, sheriff's officer who slid
off the road and became trapped inside his vehicle on Wednesday.

Panic buying: A Publix grocery store's depleted shelves are seen Tuesday ahead of the catastrophic winter
storm about to hit metro Atlanta and the South on Wednesday and Thursday.

Many businesses in the corporate capital of the South shut down, too.The scene was markedly different from the one Jan. 28, when thousands of children were stranded all night in schools by less than 3 inches of snow and countless drivers abandoned their cars after getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours and hours.'I think some folks would even say they were a little trigger-happy to go ahead and cancel schools (Tuesday), as well as do all the preparation they did,' said Matt Altmix, who was out walking his dog in Atlanta on Wednesday. 'But it's justified.'North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory urged people to charge their cellphones and find batteries for radios and flashlights because the storm could bring nearly a foot of snow in places such as Charlotte.'Stay smart. Don't put your stupid hat on at this point in time. Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your neighbors,' McCrory said.In a warning issued early Wednesday, the National Weather Service called the storm across the South 'catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective. Eli Jacks, a meteorologist with National Weather Service, said forecasters use words like 'catastrophic' sparingly.'Sometimes we want to tell them, "Hey, listen, this warning is different. This is really extremely dangerous and it doesn't happen very often",' Jacks said.This kind of language was first used in May 1999 for a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. Forecasters called it a 'tornado emergency' to make sure the public knew it was not a typical tornado.'I think three-quarters of an inch of ice anywhere would be catastrophic,' Jacks said.But the Atlanta area and other parts of the South are particularly vulnerable because there are so many trees and limbs hanging over power lines. When the ice builds up on them, limbs snap and fall, knocking out power.'There is no doubt that this is one of Mother Nature's worst kinds of storms that can be inflicted on the South, and that is ice. It is our biggest enemy,' Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said.The winter storm could bring a thick layer of ice and cause widespread power outages for days - potentially to millions of people. Delta, which operates its busiest hub in Atlanta, canceled more than 1,400 flights nationwide across Tuesday and Wednesday. U.S. Airways, which operates a major hub out of Charlotte, canceled more than 330 flights on Tuesday and another 540 on Wednesday.But, if the storm comes anywhere near to predictions, it is expected that up to 10,000 fights will be canceled through till Friday when the storm is expected to disperse.So bad are the backlogs in hotels across Atlanta and the South that Delta is allowing its staff to sleep in their planes because they cannot find them rooms to stay in. - Daily Mail.