Monday, May 19, 2014

DISASTER PRECURSORS: The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior - 70,000 Fish Turn Up Dead in Marina Del Rey, California; Thousands Of Sheep In Australia Die From "Banging Their Heads Till They Crack Open"; Deep Sea Dwelling Melon Headed Whale Rescued Near Brunswick Heads, Australia; Bizarre Fish Caught Off Pensacola Pier, Florida; Holy Mackerel, Fish Rain Down On Sri Lankan Village; Winter Floods Spark Invasion Of MONSTER Jellyfish In Britain; Young Seals, Sea Lions Starving In Record Numbers Along California Coast; And 20,000 Ducks Drop Dead In Beijing Suburb, Bird Flu Suspected?!

May 19, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

70,000 Fish Turn Up Dead in Marina Del Rey, California
hough officials have not said what caused a massive fish die-off in the waters off Marina del Rey over
the weekend, experts say low oxygen levels may be to blame.

Authorities are trying to determine what caused tens of thousands of fish to turn up dead in the waters off Marina del Rey over the weekend. The first report came in just after 9 p.m. Saturday at the A-Basin in the 13000 block of Tahiti Way, officials said. When Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies arrived, they discovered an estimated 70,000 dead anchovies floating in the water, along with other sea life, including sting rays and angel sharks.  It was not immediately known what caused the fish to die and wash up to the basin. A bait fish expert told NBC4 that Saturday night’s low tide combined with low oxygen levels may have been the cause of the massive die off.


WATCH: Kate Larsen reports from Marina del Rey for the NBC4 News at 11.




"Inside the marina here you have the sea walls that make it a confined space, so there's only a certain amount of oxygen in the water immediate to the fish," said bait expert Mike Spears. "It was a low tide, which means the water was going out, nothing was coming in from the ocean, so it was just stale water and they just suffocated in it, and everything around them suffocated, too."Matthew King of Heal the Bay said the weather may be to blame."Warmer temperatures can create algal blooms, which will suck up a lot of oxygen," King said. "That's happened in the past, and hot weather always has been associated with low oxygen levels in the water."On Sunday afternoon, workers hauled away about 175 garbage bags worth of fish, weighing an estimated 7,000 pounds. - NBC Los Angeles.


Thousands Of Sheep In Australia Die From "Banging Their Heads Till They Crack Open"
Thousands of sheep in Australia have been behaving 'like heroin addicts' after eating a deadly poisonous plant

Thousands of sheep in Australia are believed to have died after eating a poisonous plant that makes them “bash their heads on posts and rocks until they crack open”. The usually-rare toxic plant, misleadingly named the “Darling pea”, has spread rapidly in the aftermath of bushfires in New South Wales – which themselves caused devastation for sheep farmers in the area.  Now vets have said that many of the animals which survived the fires face a new and highly addictive threat.  North West Local Land Services regional veterinarian Bob McKinnon told the Sydney Morning Herald that once sheep started eating the plant they exhibit behaviour “similar to that of a drunk”.  “They lose weight to start with and then get staggery, the progression gets worse, they get unco-ordinated and depressed, they don't know where their feet are.”  He said that “staring eyes”, “head pressing” and “muscle tremors” were other symptoms, until eventually the animals “just go to a post and bang their head on it till they crack their heads open”. 

The task of bringing in herds that would normally take six hours instead takes “days”, Mr McKinnon said. “It’s like dealing with a thousand heroin addicts.”  Just one farming family in Coonabarabran said they had lost 800 sheep to the deadly plant. Stephen and Louise Knight said the animals were missing when they counted up the stock at shearing time.  “It was just devastating they weren't there when we went to get them.  “The fire was a distressing thing to have happen, we lost so many stock, fences, pasture - and then for it to come back with a terrible noxious plant like this, it's awful and very distressing.”  The plant, from the Swainsona family of desert peas native to Australia, has toxins which build up when sheep graze on it for extended periods. It attacks an enzyme involved in metabolism, ultimately crippling the animal’s central nervous system.  There is no cure, Mr McKinnon said, other than to “get the animals off it in time”. “But if they've been on it too long the damage has been done and it doesn't repair to where it should be,” he said. - Independent.


Deep Sea Dwelling Melon Headed Whale Rescued Near Brunswick Heads, Australia
A melon headed whale beached itself at Brunswick Heads.Scott Rolph/Early Bird Photography

Police and National Parks and Wildlife rangers attended the rescue of a melon headed whale on the beach south of Brunswick Heads yesterday morning.The rare coastal whale, more akin to a large dolphin, was found about 5.30am, 5km south of Brunswick Heads and was released back into deep water by local police.However, the marine mammal returned to shore soon after and beached itself again.A team of carers from National Parks and Wildlife, Ballina Seabird Rescue and Orrca Inc helped Seaworld veterinarians prepare the whale for transport in a special trailer to the Gold Coast aquarium.There the animal will undergo blood tests and treatment before being released back into the wild.Ballina Seabird Rescue spokesman Keith Williams, alias Capt Turtle, explained that the whale's sickness was not unlike Parvovirus in dogs.He said the whale would not end up as an amusement for Seaworld visitors. - The Northern Star.


Bizarre Fish Caught Off Pensacola Pier, Florida
FWC Facebook page

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials are working to identify a very unusual fish.  The specimen was caught off a pier in Pensacola, and as of Friday, was on its way to the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.  The fish has a long smooth tail with no fins, and looks almost prehistoric.  Researchers will confirm the ID of the species, and take a tissue sample for DNA analysis. - WFLA.


Holy Mackerel, Fish Rain Down On Sri Lankan Village


More than 100 pounds of fish recently rained upon a village in western Sri Lanka, reported the BBC. The fish probably came from a nearby river after being scooped up by a storm. Locals collected the fish, many of which still were living and flopping around.  Although it sounds like a Biblical curse, “fish rains” have occurred many times around the globe and have a natural explanation.  Meteorologists believe strong updrafts in storms pull water from rivers, lakes and oceans. Fish, frogs and other animals come with the water, then fall along with the rain. Sometimes the animals survive the journey, other times they are shredded or encased in ice.

Yoro, Honduras, celebrates an annual festival to commemorate the frequent fish rains in that town, reported Hablemos, an El Savadoreño magazine. The fish are native to the nearby Aguán River. Yoreños collect the fish, eat some in soups or roasted in cork husks and preserve others in jars. In 2003, fish fell in Talanga, another Honduran town, reported El Universo.  The first fish rain in Yoro occurred in the 19th century after Fr. Manuel de Jesús Subirana prayed for a miracle to end the starvation of Yoro’s citizens, according to local legend. After three days of prayer, the holy mackerel fell from the sky.  In 2010, hundreds of spangled perch fell on Lajamanu, a small town on the edge of Australia’s Tanami Desert, reported the Daily Mail. Japan experienced a rain of fish and tadpoles in 2009, reported the Guardian. The BBC reported that numerous two-inch-long fish fell on Norfolk, England in 2000. - Discovery News.


Winter Floods Spark Invasion Of MONSTER Jellyfish In Britain
Scientists claim the recent winter's wet weather has caused the unusual occurrence of huge jellyfish[BNPS]

Seaside visitors have recently been shocked to find giant barrel jellyfish - some the size of dustbin lids - washing up on the south coast.  One Dorset resident has already spotted more than 30 of the marine animals in his local area.  Scientists claim the recent winter's wet weather has caused the unusual occurrence of huge jellyfish around UK shores.  With a number of coastal rivers in the South-West having burst their banks, high levels of nutrients washed into the sea during Britain's deluge.  As a result the plankton, which jellyfish feed on, is so rich at the moment because of the amount of nutrients in the sea.  After being lured here from their usual warmer feeding ares in the Mediterranean, the jellyfish, which measure over 3ft in diameter, are being left stranded on the shore by south westerly winds and strong tides.  Weighing up to 35kg, barrel jellyfish can cause irritation to human skin.

Steve Trewhella, 50, a wildlife photographer, stumbled upon a live specimen as it floundered in the shallows off the Isle of Portland in Dorset.  Wearing a dry suit, Steve used an underwater camera to capture it.  Steve, from Wareham, has seen dozens of the giant creatures so far but believes that they are the tip of the iceberg.  He said: "I have seen around 30 jellyfish in the area so far, including live ones.  "They are very heavy creatures and they are continuing to become stranded because of the wind and tide.  "They are being washed into the shallow water and when the tide goes back out, they are left there.  "Jellyfish are a form of plankton and one of the possible reasons we are seeing such high numbers at the moment is because of the plankton bloom.  "The sea water is very cloudy and there are a lot of nutrients in it which could be because of the unusual winter we had.  "The sea has been very turbid and we had a lot of floodings in rivers, and as these feed into the sea, more nutrients may have been carried into it.  "Although I think the plankton bloom and jellyfish are part of the natural process, this could be to do with it.  "I think that the numbers we have seen so far are the tip of the iceberg and only a small percentage of how many really are in the harbour." - Express.


Young Seals, Sea Lions Starving In Record Numbers Along California Coast
A sea lion too young to eat fish is fed nutrients at Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Rescuers are scrambling to save a record number of young sea lions and seals along California's northern and central coast while scientists work to understand why the animals are beaching themselves - and in one case swimming and waddling all the way to an almond orchard near Modesto.  The emaciated and dehydrated pups are turning up along the 600 miles of coastline from Mendocino to San Luis Obispo monitored by the Marine Mammal Center. Many are too weak to move after washing ashore during their almost yearlong weaning.  The group has more than 1,000 volunteers who respond to reports of strandings by alarmed beachgoers and others. They clean, feed and medicate the hundreds of animals filling a rescue center in the Marin Headlands. Lately, they've been busy - and burning through 1,000 pounds of herring a day.  "The ones we are seeing are basically starving to death," said Dr. Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary sciences at the center, which has field offices in Mendocino, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. "It's definitely a mystery. We're hoping it's not the new norm."  As of Wednesday, the center had brought in 429 California sea lions, elephant seals, harbor seals and fur seals this year. That's well above the 291 animals admitted by the same date last year and surpasses the record of 388 animals for the time period, set in 1998.

Changing fish stocks 
Johnson said many of the animals may be struggling to find enough food because of changing fish stocks. Another suspected culprit is a huge recent bloom of toxic algae in Monterey Bay, which has killed sea birds and prompted public health officials to warn consumers not to eat certain types of fish and shellfish.  Algae blooms, also known as red tides, have proliferated in recent years and produce a neurotoxin that accumulates in shellfish, mussels, anchovies, sardines and herring, a primary food source for California's 300,000 sea lions. The neurotoxin, domoic acid, can cause memory loss, tremors, convulsions and death.  "It was first diagnosed in the Marine Mammal Center in 1998," Johnson said. "There was a huge outbreak of sea lions having seizures. Now that we recognize it, the Public Health Department is looking for it because it affects humans, too."  The record number of rescues comes a year after Southern California witnessed an almost 70 percent die-off of young sea lions - those born in summer 2012 - near the Channel Islands, where most American sea lions breed.  Government scientists perplexed by the hundreds of starving pups washing up in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties declared an "unusual mortality event" and began an investigation. Previous die-offs were blamed on domoic acid, El Niño conditions and leptospirosis, a bacterial infection.  Officials have not directly linked this year's strandings to the die-off. Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, said last year's stranded pups were around 6 to 8 months old - a few months shy of the 11-month point, when they typically venture out on their own.  The seals and sea lions beaching themselves in recent months are around the age when they finish weaning after being born last summer. Rescuers say they usually see more stranded pups this time of year - just not in such vast numbers.  "We probably won't have a whole understanding for a few years. In 2013, it was only the young animals that tried to do it on their own," Melin said. "Now this year there's lots of stranding going on, but those are a different age-class of pups."

Confused pup near Modesto 
In early April, workers at a ranch near Modesto were dumbfounded when they came across a confused sea lion pup in the middle of an almond orchard. The pup, later named Hoppie, reportedly swam up the San Joaquin River before waddling almost a mile into the orchard about 100 miles from the ocean.  Hoppie was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center, where he was nourished and treated for sores. The unlikely journey made headlines around the country, but experts stressed that it might have underscored a more serious problem for sea lions.  With beach weather beginning to arrive in Northern and Central California, experts are urging people who come across a seal or sea lion pup that appears healthy to leave it alone. Often, a mother will spend her days seeking food, leaving the pup behind.  Animals that appear to be ill, though, can be reported to the Marine Mammal Center's hotline, allowing trained volunteers to respond. If they determine the animal needs help, they will bring it to the rescue center, where crews of 30 people begin an aggressive rehabilitation regiment.  "We rescue, rehabilitate and release them as quickly as we can," Johnson said.

Rescue Efforts
429 Sea lions and seals treated at Marine Mammal Center in 2014.
291 Marine mammals treated during same span last year.
388 Record number of animals treated during span, in 1998.

- SF Gate.


20,000 Ducks Drop Dead In Beijing Suburb, Bird Flu Suspected


In news that is sure to set you off your next planned Beijing duck banquet, over 20,000 ducks in a poultry farm in suburban Beijing have died mysteriously in a single week, setting off fears that they might be the victims of bird flu.  The Beijing News reported this morning that tests were underway to determine what's causing the deaths, but results will not be available until tomorrow at the earliest.  Ducks at six farms in the northeastern suburb of Pinggu began experiencing the die-off last week, and as of last night deaths were still increasing. One farmer alone says he's lost 7,200 of the 7,800 ducks on his farm since April 29.  The same farmer said he was due to sell a good chunk of his flock on May 1, and in a little peek into the economics of raising ducks in Beijing, he said he typically sells each duck for between RMB 31 to RMB 33. The basic cost of raising one duck, he said, is about RMB 27. In a desperate attempt to stop the die-off, another of the farmers claims to have tried 30 different medicines on his ducks, all to no avail. - The Beijiner.





MONUMENTAL DELUGE & GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "The Situation Is Catastrophic" - Thousands Of Wartime Explosives Dislodged As Unprecedented Balkan Flooding Leads To Landslides; Over THREE THOUSAND LANDSLIDES; Death Toll Is Rising; Mass Evacuation Is Underway; Flood Damage Could Cost Over A BILLION EUROS! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

May 19, 2014 - THE BALKANS - While dozens of people have died as a result of massive floods sweeping the Balkans, leaving tens of thousands displaced, a new risk has been posed by unexploded wartime landmines that are now being exposed by 3,000 landslides.


Aerial view shows the flooded town of Obrenovac, 40 kilometers west of Belgrade, on May 19, 2014.
(AFP Photo / Alexa Stankovic)

“The consequences...are terrifying,” Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told a news conference on Monday. “The physical destruction is not less than the destruction caused by the war.”

Bosnia’s Mine Action Center warned on Monday that: “Water and landslides have possibly moved some mines and taken away mine warning signs,” Sasa Obradovic, a center official, told AFP.


WATCH: Aerial flood footage - "Worst in century" deluge hit the Balkans.




Teams have been assessing the threat and have issued a warning to residents.

Some 120,000 unexploded landmines were left buried in Bosnia after the 1992-1995 Bosnian War – approximately 2.4 percent of the Yugoslav republic is covered with both unexploded mines and similar devices.


An aerial view of the flooded city of Orasje May 18, 2014. Russian cargo planes and rescue teams from around
Europe on Sunday joined huge volunteer aid efforts in swathes of Serbia and Bosnia where at least
24 people have died in the worst floods in over a century.(Reuters / Dado Ruvic)

A man reacts near a house tilted by floods in the village of Krupanj, west from Belgrade, May 19, 2014.
(Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Destroyed vehicles in the flooded village of Gunja, in eastern Croatia, 18 May, 2014. (AFP Photo)

“They must be extremely cautious when they start cleaning their houses, land, or gardens, as the remaining mud could hide mines and other explosive devices brought by rivers,” Obradovic said.

Since the war ended, around 600 people have been killed in landmine blasts.

Record rainfall has caused catastrophic floods in Bosnia, Serbia and parts of Croatia, killing at least 47 people. More than one-quarter of Bosnia’s four million people have been affected. Some 2,100 landslides were set off in Bosnia by the heavy rainfall, while Serbia documented approximately 1,000.


WATCH: Thousands evacuated as record flood stuns Serbia.




While as many as 500,000 have had to evacuate their homes in Bosnia, at least 25,000 people have left their residences in Serbia.

"We have some indications that a half a million Bosnians have either been evacuated or have left their homes because of flooding or landslides," said Fahrudin Solak, the acting head of the civil defence service in Bosnia's autonomous Federation.


A girl sits on a matress with coloured felt pens and books in a collective centre for people evacuated from the flooded
town of Obrenovac on May 19, 2014 in Obrenovac, some 30km southwest of Belgrade. (AFP Photo / Alexa Stankovic)

How children see & . and UN join flood relief efforts @BenjaminPerks

Volunteers and police officers pass sandbags to reinforce the bank of the river Sava near Sabac, 100 kilometres
west of Belgrade, on May 19, 2014. (AFP Photo / Andrej Isakovic)

Workers use a backhoe and bulldozers to clear the earth after a landslide in the flooded village of Topcic Polje,
near the northern Bosnian city of Doboj, on May 19, 2014 (AFP Photo / Elvis Barukcic)

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic announced an urgent and complete evacuation of the Serbian town of Obrenovac, located some 30 kilometers from Belgrade.

The warning came after a sharp rise in the water level of the River Sava.

The number of deaths in the town has now risen to 13, stated Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, as reported by Itar-Tass. “It's hard to talk about the amount of flood damage,” he said, “but it could cost...hundreds of millions of euros...and some say about a billion.”


WATCH:  Tens of thousands flee as fatal floods sweep Balkans.

 


Rescue services have been urging people to head to their balconies or roofs wearing bright clothes to make themselves visible.

“The situation is catastrophic,” Bosnia's refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic, said on Monday as more casualties were anticipated. - RT.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - Saudi Arabia MERS Death Toll Reaches 173; Total Cases Is 537!

May 19, 2014 - SAUDI ARABIA -  Saudi health authorities reported Monday new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, taking to 173 the overall number of fatalities from the disease in the world's worst-hit country.


The latest person to fall victim to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was a 59-year-old man. (Reuters)

The health ministry said on its website that five people have died, including a 28-year-old woman in the port city of Jeddah, and a 32-year-old man in northern Tabuk.

A woman aged 69 died in Riyadh and a 55-year-old man died in the city of Mecca, home to Islam's holiest site which is visited by millions of pilgrims each year.

A fifth man, 59 died on Sunday in the western city of Taif.


Infographic: What is the MERS virus?

The ministry said the total numbers of infections has reached 537 case.

Other nations including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have also recorded cases, mostly in people who had been to the desert kingdom.

A local resident covers his mouth and nose while he walks down a main street in the Saudi capital Riyadh,
on April 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

MERS is considered a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that appeared in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Like SARS, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature. But MERS differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure. - Yahoo.



GLOBAL AWAKENING: Embracing Of Mother Nature And Detaching From European Vampirism - Russian Lawmakers Want To Impose Criminal Penalties On Those Conducting GMO Business!

May 19, 2014 - RUSSIA - In an act of lucidity and light that our own country should somewhat imitate, Russian lawmakers are considering equating GMO-related activities to a terrorist act or death threat, a criminal act that Russia says deserves the punishment which killers and creators of mass ecological and human genocide deserve.




A Russian newspaper, Izvestia, writes that criminal liability will be imposed on any act that involves producing, selling, or transporting genetically modified organisms, if Russian lawmakers get their way.

A bill supporting this ideaology was submitted to the Russian State Duma lower parliament house by the Duma agrarian committee as well as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) (who claimed the parliament’s bill was too mild.) Those initiating the bill suggest that criminal responsibility should be applicable to companies and government officials, but not to farmers who were convinced that GMOs were safe to grow. They believe individuals should only undergo disciplinary action, and not criminal charges.

The bill would also heavily fine companies for distorting or concealing information about the environmental impacts of GMOs. If this bill were to pass in the US, I’m sure Monsanto would go broke paying all the fines they would be subject to. They’ve paid off scientists and entire institutions, as well as our own FDA and EPA to conceal evidence about both health and environmental damage that GMOs cause.

Government officials  would be subject to a fine fine of 1,000-2,000 roubles, and legal entities like corporations to a fine of 10,000-20,000 roubels. Several of our Congress persons and Senators would be swimming in fines as well.


WATCH: No-No GMO - 'Time to support local organic framers'.




Kirill Cherkasov, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma agrarian committee, pointed out that tight regulation is needed since many GMOs have been insinuated into foreign market via the World Trade Organization. Cherkasov suggested that a package of amendments to the national laws regulating technical and economic aspects of GMO-related activities should be submitted by its autumn session.

Sometimes it seems our country has traded places with the cold war communists of days past. We may not agree with everything that Vladimir Putin does in the name of Russia, but at least he is willing to do what our President is not in the US – protect his people from genetically modified foods by keeping them out of the country. - Natural Society.



THE AGE OF PUTIN & CHILDHOOD'S END: Precursors To The End Of The Petrodollar And The Collapse Of The United States Corporation - Russia And China To Sign MONUMENTAL 30-Year Gazprom Gas Deal, As Putin States That Russia-China Ties Are At The Highest Level In History!

May 19, 2014 - RUSSIA/CHINA -  Russia and China are set to sign a long-awaited 30-year gas contract during a two-day meeting, when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Shanghai on May 20-21.


Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Chinese couterpart Xi Jinping.(AFP PHOTO / Alexei Nikolsky)


Gazprom, Russia’s largest natural gas producer, and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are set to sign a gas deal that will send 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year eastward to China’s burgeoning economy, starting in 2018.

Russia-China cooperation has reached its highest level ever, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of his visit to Shanghai, where a record package of documents is expected to be signed by the two nations.

Vladimir Putin: Now Russia-China cooperation is advancing to a new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. It would not be wrong to say that it has reached the highest level in all its centuries-long history.

Click HERE for the full transcript of the Russian president’s interview with Chinese Central Television, Xinhua news agency, China News Service, The People's Daily, China Radio International, and Phoenix Television.




The timing is almost flawless as Russia is looking to shield itself from Western sanctions by pivoting towards Asia, and China desperately needs to switch from dirty coal to more environmentally friendly natural gas.

“The arrangements on export of Russian natural gas to China have nearly been finalized. Their implementation will help Russia to diversify pipeline routes for natural gas supply, and our Chinese partners to alleviate the concerns related to energy deficit and environmental security through the use of ‘clean’ fuel,” President Vladimir Putin said.

The deal has been on the table for over 10 years, as Moscow and Beijing have negotiated back and forth over price, the gas pipeline route, and possible Chinese stakes in Russian projects. The gas price is expected to be agreed at between $350-400 per thousand cubic meters.

“Of course Russia wants to sell gas and resources at the highest possible prices. But because of the sanctions from European partners, we need to find a partner that can buy our gas long-term, which is why at the moment China looks very attractive to us,” Aleksandr Prosviryakov, a partner at Lakeshore International, a Moscow-based asset management firm, told RT at a Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) in Moscow ahead of the big meeting on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Gazprom chief Aleksey Miller sat down with his CNPC counterpart, Zhou Jiping, in Beijing to discuss final details, including price formulas.

Siberian pipeline to China

But the sticking point is how to finish the pipeline from Russia to China.

Currently there is one complete gas pipeline that runs throughout Russia to the Chinese border, “Siberian Power” which Gazprom broke ground on in 2007, three years after Gazprom and CNPC signed a strategic cooperation agreement in 2004.

The pipeline stretches across Russia’s Far East and after extension to China, it will deliver gas to the country’s populous north, near Beijing.

Gas could be delivered via Vladivostok, Russia’s eastern port city on the Sea of Japan, or through the city of Blagoveshchensk, an landlocked city in the Amur region.

However, to finish the project for 2018 delivery, Gazprom and CNPC need to come to an agreement on how to finish the proposed portion of the pipeline into China, which could cost between $22-30 billion, according to various estimates. Russia wants China to either pay or issue a loan for the project, which has been a delaying factor in talks.

In 2009, Beijing and Moscow signed a deal that Gazprom would supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year by 2015, but via the Altai pipeline, which would deliver gas to China’s Western Xinjiang province. Russia stopped work on this project in 2013 and prioritized the ‘Power of Siberia’ line. If and when both pipelines are activated, Russia could be pumping 68 billion cubic meters of gas annually to the world’s second largest economy.


Reuters / Heinz-Peter Bader

China, the superpower


Home to nearly 1.5 billion people, China’s demand for energy is rising faster than ever. In 2014, the country expects to increase natural gas imports by 20 percent, and import 186 billion cubic meters annually.

“This deal with Gazprom and cooperation with Russia shows that China is expanding, becoming bigger and bigger, and that this part of the world is dominated by China, India, and Russia, the US role is shrinking,” said Aleksandr Prosviryakov.

“China is the fastest growing economy. China is the biggest market in terms of volume and value. China is the next superpower and number one economy in the world,” Peter Panov, Chairman of Triotoni, a Singapore-based investment firm, told RT at the CACCI conference in Moscow.

Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky has said the deal is 98 percent ready. China has kept quiet on the subject.


 WATCH: Dollar Dive - China's economy soon to leave US far behind.




Europe remains Russia’s largest energy importer, having bought more than 160 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013. However, recent tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine have forced European ministers to rethink their dependence on Russian gas, a sentiment that has been openly voiced throughout the continent

“Now is the time for Russia to compromise a little bit so that they can lessen their dependence on Western Europe as a buyer of Russian gas. Diversification is a strategy for Russia to have good long-term business relationships with both Europe and China,” Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told RT at an Asian business gathering in Moscow on Wednesday.

“Needless to say, China is a very wise nation and will try and get the best out of both parties, and maneuver: give a little bit to Russia, and a little to the West,” Panov said.

Gas is an important element of the upcoming talks, but the leaders will discuss many aspects of Russia-China relations, including payments systems, military cooperation, and upcoming infrastructure projects.

A record amount of agreements are expected to be signed at the working meeting between Russia and China. Already 30 out of the 43 prepared agreements are expected to be inked, according to presidential aide Yury Ushakov, as reported by RIA Novosti. - RT.



THE EUROPEAN EXO-SKELETON: Animal And Human Hybrids Are Already Here - Crazed Euro-American Scientists Are "Playing God" And Have Now Created The Unthinkable, Animals That Are PART-HUMAN?!

May 19, 2014 - NEVADA, UNITED STATES - On a farm about six miles outside this gambling town, Jason Chamberlain looks over a flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs.


Sheep that have partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs are shown here at the
University of Nevada, in Sparks, Nev., on April 27.
Rich Pedroncelli  /  AP
The University of Nevada-Reno researcher talks matter-of-factly about his plans to euthanize one of the pregnant sheep in a nearby lab. He can’t wait to examine the effects of the human cells he had injected into the fetus’ brain about two months ago.

“It’s mice on a large scale,” Chamberlain says with a shrug.

As strange as his work may sound, it falls firmly within the new ethics guidelines the influential National Academies issued this past week for stem cell research.

In fact, the Academies’ report endorses research that co-mingles human and animal tissue as vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people.

Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer.

Biological mixing of species

But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.

In the past two years, scientists have created pigs with human blood, fused rabbit eggs with human DNA and injected human stem cells to make paralyzed mice walk.

Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep’s head?

The “idea that human neuronal cells might participate in 'higher order' brain functions in a nonhuman animal, however unlikely that may be, raises concerns that need to be considered,” the academies report warned.

Mice with human brains
In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells. Stem cell scientist Irving Weissman said his experiment could provide unparalleled insight into how the human brain develops and how degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s progress.

Stanford law professor Hank Greely, who chaired the ethics committee, said the board was satisfied that the size and shape of the mouse brain would prevent the human cells from creating any traits of humanity. Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice’s behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.

The Academies’ report recommends that each institution involved in stem cell research create a formal, standing committee to specifically oversee the work, including experiments that mix human and animal cells.

Weissman, who has already created mice with 1 percent human brain cells, said he has no immediate plans to make mostly human mouse brains, but wanted to get ethical clearance in any case. A formal Stanford committee that oversees research at the university would also need to authorize the experiment.

Harvesting human organs from sheep
Few human-animal hybrids are as advanced as the sheep created by another stem cell scientist, Esmail Zanjani, and his team at the University of Nevada-Reno. They want to one day turn sheep into living factories for human organs and tissues and along the way create cutting-edge lab animals to more effectively test experimental drugs.

Zanjani is most optimistic about the sheep that grow partially human livers after human stem cells are injected into them while they are still in the womb. Most of the adult sheep in his experiment contain about 10 percent human liver cells, though a few have as much as 40 percent, Zanjani said.

Because the human liver regenerates, the research raises the possibility of transplanting partial organs into people whose livers are failing.

Zanjani must first ensure no animal diseases would be passed on to patients. He also must find an efficient way to completely separate the human and sheep cells, a tough task because the human cells aren’t clumped together but are rather spread throughout the sheep’s liver.

Zanjani and other stem cell scientists defend their research and insist they aren’t creating monsters — or anything remotely human.

“We haven’t seen them act as anything but sheep,” Zanjani said.

Zanjani’s goals are many years from being realized.

He’s also had trouble raising funds, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the university over allegations made by another researcher that the school mishandled its research sheep. Zanjani declined to comment on that matter, and university officials have stood by their practices.

Allegations about the proper treatment of lab animals may take on strange new meanings as scientists work their way up the evolutionary chart. First, human stem cells were injected into bacteria, then mice and now sheep. Such research blurs biological divisions between species that couldn’t until now be breached.

Combining monkeys and people
Drawing ethical boundaries that no research appears to have crossed yet, the Academies recommend a prohibition on mixing human stem cells with embryos from monkeys and other primates. But even that policy recommendation isn’t tough enough for some researchers.

“The boundary is going to push further into larger animals,” New York Medical College professor Stuart Newman said. “That’s just asking for trouble.”

Newman and anti-biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin have been tracking this issue for the last decade and were behind a rather creative assault on both interspecies mixing and the government’s policy of patenting individual human genes and other living matter.

Years ago, the two applied for a patent for what they called a “humanzee,” a hypothetical — but very possible — creation that was half human and chimp.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office finally denied their application this year, ruling that the proposed invention was too human: Constitutional prohibitions against slavery prevents the patenting of people.

Newman and Rifkin were delighted, since they never intended to create the creature and instead wanted to use their application to protest what they see as science and commerce turning people into commodities.

And that’s a point, Newman warns, that stem scientists are edging closer to every day: “Once you are on the slope, you tend to move down it.” - NBC News.



FIRE IN THE SKY: May Camelopardalids - Will Comet LINEAR Produce A New Major Meteor Shower THIS WEEK, Earth Might Be Sandblasted By Comet Debris, If Predictions Hold True?!

May 19, 2014 - SPACE - The head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, Dr. Bill Cooke, often lets cameras do his sky watching for him.  He and his colleagues operate a nationwide network of automated fireball observatories that capture anything that burns into Earth’s atmosphere. 


Comet C/2012 X1 LINEAR shows a green coma from fluorescing gases and a short tail in this
photo made on Jan. 15, 2014. Credit: Rolando Ligustri

On the morning of May 24th, however, he plans to go out in person.

"There could be a new meteor shower, and I want to see it with my own eyes," says Cooke.

The shower is the May Camelopardalids, caused by dust from periodic comet 209P/LINEAR. No one has ever seen it before, but this year the Camelopardalids could put on a display that rivals the well-known Perseids of August.


Very different appearance of C/2012 X1 LINEAR during outburst on Oct. 21, 2013.
Credit: Ernesto Guido, Martino Nicolini & Nick Howes

"Some forecasters have predicted more than 200 meteors per hour," says Cooke.

Comet 209P/LINEAR was discovered in February 2004 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project, a cooperative effort of NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, and the US Air Force. It is a relatively dim comet that dips inside the orbit of Earth once every five years as it loops around the sun.

Two years ago, meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center announced that Earth was due for an encounter with debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Streams of dust ejected by the comet mainly back in the 1800s would cross Earth's orbit on May 24, 2014. The result, they said, could be a significant meteor outburst.


WATCH:  ScienceCasts - NASA on the Lookout for a New Meteor Shower .




Other experts agreed, in part. There is a broad consensus among forecasters that Earth will indeed pass through the debris streams on May 24th. However, no one is sure how much debris is waiting. It all depends on how active the comet was more a century ago when the debris streams were laid down.

"We have no idea what the comet was doing in the 1800s," says Cooke. As a result of the uncertainty, "there could be a great meteor shower—or a complete dud."


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

Comet 209P/LINEAR will sweep closest to the sun in early May of 2014. Two weeks later, dust particles
spread along its orbit may enter Earth’s atmosphere, creating a meteor shower.
Image by NASA / JPL / Horizons via skyandtelescope.com

The best time to look is during the hours between 6:00 and 08:00 Universal Time on May 24th or between 2 and 4 o'clock in the morning Eastern Daylight Time. That's when an ensemble of forecast models say Earth is most likely to encounter the comet's debris. North Americans are favored because, for them, the peak occurs during nighttime hours while the radiant is high in the sky.

"We expect these meteors to radiate from a point in Camelopardalis, also known as 'the giraffe', a faint constellation near the North Star," he continues. "It will be up all night long for anyone who wishes to watch throughout the night."


The constellation Camelopardalis is far to the north on the sky’s dome, close to the north celestial pole. It’s
the radiant point of the possible meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR. Chart via Wikimedia Commons.

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.
Visit Maslov’s website on the new meteor shower here.

Indeed, that might be a good idea. Because this is a new meteor shower, surprises are possible. Outbursts could occur hours before or after the forecasted peak.

In case of a dud, there is a consolation prize. On May 24th the crescent Moon and Venus are converging for a tight conjunction the next morning, May 25th. Look for them rising together just ahead of the sun in the eastern sky at dawn.

"That's a nice way to start the day," says Cooke, "meteors or not." - NASA.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Report For May 18, 2014 - Updates On Ubinas, Batu Tara And Fuego! [PHOTOS+GRAPHS]

May 19, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe, courtesy of  Volcano Discovery.

Ubinas (Peru):
Ash emissions have become near continuous and produce a plume extending approx 100 km to the NE of the volcano. Seismic activity is elevated.


Ash emission from Ubinas last evening
Current seismic activity at Ubinas (UB1 station, IGP)


Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): The volcano has entered a phase of more vigorous explosions again. In the past days, it produced a series of ash plumes that were detected on satellite imagery. VAAC Darwin reported volcanic ash drifting at 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude for 50 km to the west.


Fuego (Guatemala): Activity increased at the volcano during Friday-Saturday.


Fuego's lava flow yesterday morning

Near continuous mild to moderate strombolian explosions were observed and a new lava flow was erupted on the upper southern flank. Judging from the seismic signal, activity has decreased again today.


Seismic signal Friday evening (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH)

Current seismic signal (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH)



Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for May 18, 2014.


 -  Volcano Discovery.



GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Plagues & Pestilences - Coffee Prices Rise As Farmer Fight Devastating Fungus!

May 19, 2014 - GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS - The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to help Central American farmers fight a devastating coffee disease — and hold down the price of your morning cup.




At issue is a fungus called coffee rust that has caused more than $1 billion in damage across Latin American region. The fungus is especially deadly to Arabica coffee, the bean that makes up most high-end, specialty coffees.

Already, it is affecting the price of some of those coffees in the United States.

"We are concerned because we know coffee rust is already causing massive amounts of devastation," said Raj Shah, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

On Monday, he was expected to announce a $5 million partnership with Texas A&M University's World Coffee Research center to try to eliminate the fungus.

But the government isn't doing this just to protect our $4 specialty coffees, as much as Americans love them. The chief concern is about the economic security of these small farms abroad. If farmers lose their jobs, it increases hunger and poverty in the region and contributes to violence and drug trafficking.

Washington estimates that production could be down anywhere from 15 percent to 40 percent in coming years, and that those losses could mean as many as 500,000 people could lose their jobs. Though some countries have brought the fungus under control, many of the poorer coffee-producing countries in Latin America don't see the rust problem getting better anytime soon.

Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica have all been hard hit.

Much of the blander, mass-produced coffee in this country comes from Asia and other regions. Most of the richer, more expensive coffees are from small, high altitude farms in Central America. Because the farms are smaller, farmers there often don't have enough money to buy the fungicides needed or lack the training to plant in ways that could avoid contamination.

The rust, called roya in Spanish, is a fungus that is highly contagious due to airborne fungal spores. It affects different varieties, but the Arabica beans are especially susceptible. Rainy weather worsens the problem.

"We don't see an end in sight anytime soon," said Leonardo Lombardini of Texas A&M's World Coffee Research.


WATCH:
Consumer Alert - Coffee Fungus.




So far, major U.S. coffee companies have been able to find enough supply to avoid price increases. But some smaller outfits already have seen higher prices, said Ric Rhinehart of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Rhinehart said the worst-case scenario is that consumers eventually will pay "extraordinarily high prices for those coffees, if you can find them at all."

He said some very specialized varieties from a single origin — Guatemalan antigua coffees, for example — have been much harder to source. If the problem continues, he says, some small coffee companies either will raise prices or use blends that are easier to find, decreasing the quality of the coffee.

Larger companies such as Starbucks and Keurig Green Mountain Inc. have multiple suppliers across the region and say they have so far been able to source enough coffee.

"It's a little bit too soon to tell what the impact will be on supply and long term quality over time," said Lindsey Bolger, who heads up coffee sourcing for Keurig Green Mountain.

Still, the companies are trying to ensure that their future supply isn't affected, so they are working closely with growers on better practices that will help them avoid contamination.

"Supporting the farmer's ability to access information, technology and resources allows them to adapt to these uncertainties and ensures the longevity of our industry's supply chain," said Craig Russell, Starbucks Global Coffee executive vice president. Starbucks even bought a Costa Rican farm for research purposes.

USAID intends to work with Texas A&M to step up research on rust-resistant coffee varieties and help Latin America better monitor and respond to the fungus. The U.S. already collaborates with some of the coffee companies and other international organizations to finance replanting of different varieties of trees.

The effort is part of the Obama administration's Feed the Future program, which aims to rid the world of extreme poverty through agricultural development and improved nutrition.

While the effort has helped hungry children around the globe, "we're at risk of backtracking because of coffee rust," Shah says. - Breitbart.



PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Perpetual Revolution - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Warns That Egypt "Stands On The Precipice"!

May 19, 2014 - EGYPT - The former US president Jimmy Carter has warned Egypt that its transition to democracy after years of political turmoil is faltering, ahead of presidential elections later this month.


Protesters tear up Abdel Fattah El-Sisi presidential banners. Photograph: mahmoud shahin/Demotix/Corbis

The Carter Center will not be sending observers for Egypt's 26-27 May election, which many believe retired Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will win following the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year. However, the center will be sending a small team of experts.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Carter Center warned that "Egypt's political transition has stalled and stands on the precipice of total reversal," and said Morsi's overthrow deepened the political unrest in the country.

Egypt's military-backed interim government has declared Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group a terrorist organisation, as hundreds of its followers have been killed and thousands have been arrested.

"I am gravely concerned that Egypt's democratic transition has faltered," Carter said in the statement.

Al-Sisi will face leftist Hamdeen Sabahi in the election, but his win seems assured as he is riding a wave of nationalistic fervour. A Brotherhood-led coalition says it will boycott the election. Nearly 210,000 expatriates have cast their ballots in embassies and consulates around the world and voting will be extended for a fifth day, election commission head Abdel-Aziz Salman said Saturday.

Carter also called on Egypt's next president to take immediate steps to foster dialogue and political accommodation, "to ensure that the full spectrum of Egyptian society can participate meaningfully in politics”.

The Carter Center observed Egypt's parliamentary and presidential elections in 2012, which saw Morsi come to power as the country's first freely elected president. However, the Atlanta-based non-profit organization did not send monitors for Egypt's last two elections, both polls on the constitution. It cited the government's late release of monitoring regulations as its reason for not monitoring the constitutional vote under Morsi.

The European Union announced on Saturday that its election observers only will observe polling stations in Cairo, after not being able to meet its own requirements to observe elsewhere.As president, Carter oversaw negotiations in the late 1970s that led to Israel and Egypt signing longstanding peace accords following wars. The Carter Center, which he founded with his wife, has been monitoring Egypt closely since the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak. - Guardian.



FIRE IN THE SKY: NASA Preparing For A Possible Future Deep Impact Asteroid Armageddon-Type Event - Asteroid-Capture Mission May Test New Method To Defend Earth!

May 19, 2014 - SPACE - NASA's bold plan to park an asteroid near the moon may also test out a new way to protect Earth from dangerous space rocks.


In this concept image, the robotic vehicle descends to the surface of a large asteroid to collect a boulder
that it can redirect to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. Credit: NASA

Last year, the agency announced that it intends to tow a near-Earth asteroid into a stable lunar orbit, where it could be visited repeatedly by astronauts for research and exploration purposes. NASA officials are still ironing out the details of the mission, which may bag up an entire small space rock or snag a boulder off the surface of a large asteroid. If NASA decides to go with the boulder option, the asteroid-capture mission will also include a planetary-defense demonstration, providing the first in-space test of a so-called "enhanced gravity tractor," officials said.

Given enough lead time, asteroids on a collision course with Earth can be safely deflected using a handful of methods. One of these is the gravity tractor technique, in which a robotic probe flies alongside a space rock for months or years, gradually nudging it off course via a slight gravitational tug.

The greater the shepherding probe's mass, the stronger its gravitational pull is. And poaching a boulder off a potentially hazardous asteroid would allow a deflection mission to increase its mass significantly without having to pay any additional launch costs.


WATCH: NASA's Asteroid Redirect Misson In Brief.



"We'd go into this enhanced gravity tractor position after we retrieve the boulder and demonstrate that we have even more gravity attraction capability by doing that," Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) observations program, told reporters in March.

NASA has identified about a dozen promising candidates for the asteroid-capture mission, Johnson added — six or so for each of the two options. The best target for the boulder-grab mission may be Itokawa, a 1,750-foot-long (530 meters) space rock that was visited by Japan's Hayabusa probe in 2005.

The space agency wants astronauts to visit the redirected asteroid by 2025, to meet an exploration deadline set by the White House. In 2010, President Barack Obama directed NASA to get people to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025 and then on to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s.

The asteroid-capture mission remains in a "preformulation" phase at the moment, as NASA is still gathering data and sorting through ideas. The space agency hopes to have a basic mission concept in place by around the end of the year, officials have said.

In addition to the gravity tractor method, incoming space rocks could also be knocked off course with a direct hit by a "kinetic impactor," researchers say. (These techniques could also be combined in two coordinated space missions, slamming an asteroid with an impactor probe and then sending a gravity tractor out to finish the job.)

More extreme measures might be necessary for extremely large asteroids and space rocks detected with little warning time. In such cases, a nuclear bomb might be humanity's best — and perhaps only — option. - SPACE.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Deadly Colombia Bus Fire - Preliminary Death Toll Is 32 Children!

May 19, 2014 - COLOMBIA - At least 32 children were killed after a bus taking them home from a church event caught fire in northern Colombia on Sunday afternoon.


The charred remains of a bus, in which children died in, is seen in Fundacion, northern Colombia, May 18, 2014.
(Reuters)


"The preliminary death toll is 32 children," said local police chief general Rodrigo Gonzales, according to El Comercio.

Earlier, authorities in the northern town of Fundacion said that 26 minors were killed in the fire.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos lamented the tragic death of the children, expressing sympathies to their families. "The country is in mourning," he said on Twitter.


Colombian policemen stand alongside recovered bodies of children who died in a burned bus in
Fundacion, northern Colombia, May 18, 2014. (Reuters)

The mayor of Fundacion, Luz Stella Duran, said that 40 to 50 children were on the bus, accompanied only by the driver, as it traveled from Fundacion to the town of Bosconia. Around 10 children are receiving medical help, she added.

An investigation is underway into the cause of the fire. However there are speculations that contraband gasoline could have been behind the accident, El Tiempo newspaper reported.


Image from maps.google.com


Adan Leon, chief of Magdalena Police Department, said the tragedy occurred Sunday afternoon as the children were returning home from a church mass.

Pictures on local media and Twitter showed graphic images of charred bodies in a completely burnt vehicle. - RT.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Landslide In Georgia's Caucasus Mountains - 3 People Dead, 5 Still Missing!

May 19, 2014 - GEORGIA - A landslide in Dariali Valley in northern Georgia has severed the only road across the Caucasus Mountain Range. Five people are still missing.


The massive landslide may have killed three Turkish construction workers working on the Dariali hydro power project.
(Photo posted to Facebook by Iago Kazalikashvili.)

Locals say three Turkish construction workers died who were working on the Dariali hydro power station.

The pipeline that ships gas from Russia to Armenia is damaged. Rescue workers have now started to evacuate locals. Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze says the top priority is to reopen the road and get the pipeline back online.

The landslide happened in Dariali Valley in northern Georgia, on the Caucasus range near the Russian border. It severed the road connecting Georgia and Russia and the rock masses that tumbled down blocked off the Tergi river and may flood Larsi border crossing, a joint Georgian-Russian checkpoint, and adjacent areas of the Russian republic North Ossetia.

A rescue operation is underway. The government stated that 15 people had been rescued. Information about the death of three people, presumable Turkish workers working on construction of the nearby Dariali hydro electric station, has yet to be confirmed by officials.

The Georgian prime minister and president, as well as the energy minister and other officials are present on the ground.

Kaladze, the energy minister, told journalists that up to 1 million cubic meter of land crumbled into the river Tergi, thus blocking the water flow and severing the main road across the Caucasus, the Georgian Military Route, which was built in early 1800s by the Russian Empire to strengthen its hold over South Caucasus.

After the Abkhazian War in the early 1990s that severed main route connecting Georgia and Russia, and war with Russia in August in 2008 that blocked Roki tunnel for transportation from Georgia proper, the GMR is the sole artery connecting Georgia and Armenia with North Caucasus.

An unknown number of light vehicles and trucks are stuck in the road.

Locals say 3 Turkish construction workers working on the Dariali hydro power plant have died. Border guards and other workers found shelter in monastery, because the landslide destroyed their homes and the places they work.

Nugzar Kipiani, governor of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, said rescue teams, police and emergency workers are at the site of the accident. - FDW.