Saturday, March 28, 2015

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Los Angeles Train Crash, Causes Derailment - At Least 21 People Injured; Two People In Critical Condition!

A derailed Expo Line train near USC after it struck a car.

- At least 21 people were injured after a Metro train derailed when it crashed into two vehicles near the University of Southern California Saturday, according to officials from the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

The crash was reported at about 10:50 a.m.near the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.

Ten people were transported to nearby hospitals. The most serious of injuries included a driver that needed to be extricated from a vehicle who was in grave condition and the train operator who was in critical condition. The eight other transports were for minor injuries.

Many people were also treated at the scene of the collision.

Metro officials warned commuters to expect major delays on the Expo Line. Bus shuttles were requested between Jefferson Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. The line was expected to reopen by 8 p.m., Jose Ubaldo said, a Metro spokesman. - NBC Los Angeles.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Latest Report Of Volcanic Eruptions, Activity, Unrest And Awakenings – March 28, 2015!

March 28, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka) Another powerful vulcanian explosion occurred this morning at 10:03 local time at the volcano. An eruption column rose to approx. 10 km altitude.

Eruption column from Shiveluch this morning (photo: Y. Demyanchuck /

The eruption produced smaller pyroclastic flows from collapsing material at the base of the eruption column.

Aso (Kyushu)
Explosive activity and ash emissions have decreased or ceased. Bright glow and intense steaming/degassing from the main vent in the Nakadake crater however suggest the presence of a small lava lake.

Glow from Aso's Nakadake crater

Kuchinoerabu-jima (Ryukyu Islands)
Incandescence can be seen from the crater of the volcano, suggesting mild activity (e.g. release of very hot gasses) continues. Since its last eruption in August 2014 the volcano remains at alert level 3 (out of 5).

Glow from Shin-Dake crater

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano is currently in a very active phase. During the past 24 hours alone, at least 14 vulcanian explosions occurred, the largest of which produced ash plumes that rose to 11-13,000 ft (3-4 km) altitude.

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea)
An ash plume from the volcano was observed last night, extending at 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude approx. 50 km to the NE (VAAC Darwin).

Colima (Western Mexico): Strong explosions continue to occur. An eruption at 08:20 local time this morning produced several pyroclastic flows that traveled down the western flank of the volcano:

Pyroclastic flow from Colima this morning

WATCH: Volcanic eruption at Colima.

Villarrica (Central Chile)
Activity remains stable with intermittent mild strombolian explosions and light ash emissions.

Bright glow can be seen at night, suggesting that the magma column inside the conduit stands very high.

Volcano Activity Summary as of March 27, 2015:

Currently erupting:

Ambrym (Vanuatu)
: active lava lakes in several craters (updated 14 Aug 2013)
Aso (Kyushu): intense strombolian activity from main vent in Nakadake crater (updated 27 Mar 2015)
Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): strombolian explosions, ash plumes up to 500 m, extrusion of a small lava dome with rockfalls (updated 4 Nov 2014)
Colima (Western Mexico): Irregular small to moderately large explosions (updated 27 Mar 2015)
Copahue (Chile/Argentina): ash venting (updated 4 Dec 2014)
Dukono (Halmahera): thermal anomaly, probably small explosive activity in summit crater (updated 25 Mar 2015)
Erebus (Antarctica): active lava lake in summit crater (updated 8 Dec 2014)
Erta Ale (Ethiopia): active lava lake in northern pit crater, active hornito with intermittend flow in southern crater (updated 11 Jan 2013)
Fuego (Guatemala): intermittent strombolian explosions (updated 13 Mar 2015)
Ibu (Halmahera, Indonesia): stromolian and phreatomagmatic explosions (updated 14 Nov 2014)
Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): growing lava dome, incandescent avalanches (updated 5 Feb 2015)
Karymsky (Kamchatka): occasional small explosions, thermal anomaly (updated 25 Mar 2015)
Kilauea (Hawai'i): new lava flow from vents on NE flank of Pu'u 'O'o (updated 13 Aug 2013)
Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands, Japan): growing island (updated 19 Jan 2015)
Nyiragongo (DRCongo): active lava lake in summit crater (updated 26 Feb 2014)
Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania): effusion of natrocarbonatite lava inside the crater (updated 8 Jul 2013)
Poas (Costa Rica): phreatic explosions (updated 14 Oct 2014)
Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): degassing, sporadic explosions, slowly growing lava dome (updated 4 Mar 2015)
Rabaul (Tavurvur) (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): lava fountains, ash emissions from Tavurvur cone (updated 12 Sep 2014)
Raung (East Java): Large Strombolian explosions (updated 18 Mar 2015)
Reventador (Ecuador): intermittent weak to moderate explosions, occasional lava flows (updated 16 Mar 2015)
Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): ash venting, intermittent explosions (updated 27 Mar 2015)
Sangay (Ecuador): likely strombolian eruptions at summit crater (updated 13 Mar 2015)
Santiaguito (Guatemala): small explosions from the Caliente dome and active lava flow (updated 3 Feb 2015)
Semeru (East Java, Indonesia): growing lava dome, lava flow, strombolian activity (updated 26 Nov 2014)
Shiveluch (Kamchatka): growing lava dome (updated 26 Mar 2015)
Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): continuing pyroclastic flows (updated 20 Feb 2015)
Soputan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): active viscous lava flow, explosions, rockfalls, pyroclastic flows (updated 9 Mar 2015)
Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): strombolian activity (updated 16 Feb 2015)
Villarrica (Central Chile): pulsating gas and ash emissions (updated 27 Mar 2015)
Yasur (Tanna Island, Vanuatu): ash emissions, weak strombolian explosions (updated 14 Aug 2013)
Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): intermittent ash emissions (updated 25 Mar 2015)

Eruption warning / minor activity:

Augustine (Cook Inlet (SW Alaska))

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): ash emissions, lava dome growth (updated 27 Mar 2015)
Bezymianny (Central Kamchatka Depression): steaming, weak seismic activity (updated 3 Jul 2014)
Etna (Sicily, Italy): sporadic weak ash emissions from New SE crater (updated 19 Apr 2014)
Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): possibly lava lake in summit crater (updated 5 Dec 2014)
Kavachi (Solomon Islands): no eruption since 2007 (updated 16 Jun 2014)
Kerinci (Sumatra): seismic unrest (updated 5 Jun 2013)
Kirishima (Kyushu): degassing, alert lowered (updated 25 Oct 2014)
Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): degassing, probably mild strombolian activity in summit crater (updated 26 Mar 2015)
Krakatau (Sunda Strait, Indonesia): degassing (updated 31 Mar 2014)
Kuchinoerabu-jima (Ryukyu Islands): steaming, incandescence at main crater (updated 27 Mar 2015)
Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): small explosions, lava flow? (updated 13 Sep 2014)
Lopevi (Vanuatu): eruption warning (updated 16 Dec 2014)
Manam (Papua New Guinea): seismic unrest (updated 20 Mar 2015)
Mayon (Luzon Island): steaming (updated 18 Dec 2014)
Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): ash emissions (updated 16 Dec 2014)
Nyamuragira (DRCongo): active lava lake (updated 29 Nov 2014)
Ontake-san (Honshu): steaming, low seismic activity (updated 18 Dec 2014)
Pacaya (Guatemala): ash emissions (updated 7 Feb 2015)
Papandayan (West Java): strong hydrothermal activity, increased seismicity (updated 6 May 2013)
Pavlof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): steaming, elevated seismic activity (updated 22 Dec 2014)
Piton de la Fournaise (La Réunion): new eruption on 4 Feb 2015 (updated 16 Feb 2015)
Rasshua (Central Kuriles)
Rincón de la Vieja (Costa Rica): phreatic explosions from crater lake (updated 21 Sep 2014)
Sacabaya (Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina)
San Cristobal (Nicaragua): possible ash emission on 11 April (updated 9 Mar 2015)
San Miguel (El Salvador): elevated seismic activity, pulsating gas emissions (updated 28 Jan 2015)
Shishaldin (United States, Aleutian Islands): mild explosive activity, intermittent more intense phases (updated 20 Mar 2015)
Slamet (Central Java): intense strombolian explosions (updated 12 Jan 2015)
Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): weak strombolian activity at summit vents (updated 13 Mar 2015)
Tungurahua (Ecuador): steaming, sporadic small explosions (updated 4 Mar 2015)
Turrialba (Costa Rica): ash eruptions (updated 16 Mar 2015)
Ubinas (Peru): sporadic ash emissions (updated 20 Mar 2015)
Ulawun (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): degassing, ash venting (updated 5 Aug 2013)

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Effects Of Magnetic Polar Migrations - Welcome To The "DOUBLE EL NINO" And More Extreme Weather Anomalies!

El Niño Makes Atlantic hurricanes less likely.  Credit:NOAA/ National Climatic Data Center

March 28, 2015 - EARTH
- We’re about to experience a “double El Niño” — a rare weather phenomenon that climatologists had warned about several months ago

That means two consecutive years of the concentration of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that brings West Coast storms, quiet hurricane seasons in the Atlantic and busy ones in the Pacific. The danger is that this could mean more than a few months of odd weather, but instead usher in a new phase of climate change. Last year was the warmest year on record; 2015 looks set to be even warmer.

“One way of thinking about global warming from the human influences is that it's not just a gradual increase, but perhaps it's more like a staircase, and we're about to go up an extra step to a new level,” says climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Normally, the warm water from an El Niño spreads across the Pacific and cools as it evaporates. The increased moisture in the air leads to thunderstorms and tropical storms. That hasn’t happened as much as anticipated over the last year.

“The moisture in the atmosphere triggers a lot of thunderstorms and tropical storms, but in general that atmospheric connection has not been anything like as strong as we normally expect in El Niño events, and as a result, the warm water is sort of sitting there, and it hasn't petered out,” Trenberth explains. “The energy has not been taken out of the ocean, and there's a mini global warming, so to speak, associated with that.”

Damage in Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, following Hurricane Odile. El Niño can intensify stories in the Pacific Ocean, making
parts of Mexico more vulnerable. Credit: Wikimedia user TheAustinMan CC BY-SA 2.0.

What kind of temperature increase are we talking about? Trenberth says it could mean a rise of two- or three-tenths-of-a-degree Celsius, or up to half a degree Fahrenheit. The change could occur “relatively abruptly,” but then stick around for five or 10 years.

While those numbers may seem small, in the context of global climate, a shift of that magnitude could have devastating consequences.

“With that kind of an increase, there is about 2 percent increase in the moisture in the atmosphere, which feeds into all the weather systems that occur, and it gets concentrated and magnified by all of the storms, so you can get double or quadruple the effects,” Trenberth says.

This is the exactly the kind of intensifying effect that climate scientists have warned about for years. As oceans heat up, more moisture goes into the atmosphere, which feeds more storms.

Portions of Mono Lake in Mono Country California dried up in August 2014 due to the severe drought in the state. An agreement with the city of Los Angeles
reduces the city's water use as the lake level falls in an effort to keep it from drying up completely. Credit: Wikimedia user Hike395, CC BY-SA 4.0Add caption

“The rough ride is partly what we expect to see with global climate change by the fact that the oceans are generally warming up, that puts more moisture into the atmosphere above the oceans, which gets sucked into all of the weather systems that occur, makes those weather systems more vigorous, a little stronger, the rainfalls are heavier, even the snowfalls are heavier as a consequence of that.”

The one short-term positive that Trenberth notes is that this year’s El Niño isn’t as strong as past ones. But the overall trends are clear, and the El Niño just accelerates some of what we’ve already seen: Drought in places like California or Brazil’s Northeast, and more intense hurricane season in the Pacific.

“We're seeing this around the world that these extremes — ironically drought in some places, floods in other places — are really causing a lot of difficulty in many places around the world,” he says.  - PRI.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: White House Declares War On "Superbugs" - Unveils $1.2 BILLION Plan To Combat Drug-Resistant Bacteria; CDC Estimates These Bacteria Cause 23,000 DEATHS And 2 MILLION Illnesses Each Year In The U.S.!

- The Obama administration has unveiled a $1.2 billion plan to combat drug-resistant bacteria, also known as 'superbugs.' Five out of six Americans are on antibiotics, and 23,000 die annually of drug-resistant infections.

Released to the public on Friday, the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria envisions efforts to rein in over-prescription of antibiotics by doctors, use of “medically important antibiotics” in food animals, and the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, while promoting the development of new and more effective antibiotics for human use.

We know that 5 out of 6 Americans are prescribed antibiotics each year. That adds up to 262 million antibiotic prescriptions annually,” president Obama said in an exclusive interview with WebMD. “And studies have consistently shown that a lot of America’s antibiotic use is unnecessary.

One of the main causes of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is the use of antibiotics when they are not needed, the president said. Drug-resistant infections are on the rise: according to government statistics, there are two million infections a year in the US, resulting in 23,000 deaths.

The plan envisions $1.2 billion in funding to various government agencies. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would begin research on new antibiotics, while the Department of Agriculture is to start reducing “irresponsible use” of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. A newly created Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, with up to 30 members managed by the HHS, would be entrusted with oversight of the plan.

We’re seeing an increase in drug-resistant organisms that are affecting every community,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Tom Frieden told The Hill, “and are at risk, really, to undermine much of modern medicine.
U.S. President Barack Obama.(Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)
The CDC would use the $264.3 million increase in funding to develop prevention programs in every state, potentially forestalling 600,000 infections and $8 billion in medical costs, Dr. Frieden said.

Some questions remain as to where the money would come from. President Obama says some of the funding is already in the 2016 budget, but it appears the rest will have to get approval from the Republican-controlled Congress.

Wherever we can act without Congress, we will. But to get the whole job done, we need Congress to step up," Obama told WebMD.

The plan has already faced some criticism for not going far enough to reduce antibiotic use in agriculture. Industrial farming accounts for the vast majority of antibiotic consumption in the US, and is on the rise around the world.

The plan continues to allow the routine feeding of antibiotics to animals that live in the crowded conditions endemic to industrial farms,” said a statement by environmentalist group Natural Resources Defense Council. - RT.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Plane Crash Near Stephenville, Texas - Sends Two People To Hospital With Serious Injuries!

A small plane crash just north of Stephenville early Friday morning sends two people to the hospital with serious injuries.

March 28, 2015 - TEXAS, UNITED STATES
- A professional rodeo cowboy crashed his plane while making an emergency landing Friday morning, injuring himself, his girlfriend and their two dogs.

The Texas Department of Public Safety confirms 32-year-old pilot York Gill and 30-year-old Christy Stransky had engine trouble moments after taking off from Clark Field Municipal Airport in Stephenville at about 10 a.m.

Jaci Harris lives along the highway and said she looked out her back window just seconds before the plane crashed.

“I happened to kinda glance out the window and I saw the plane just hit the ground on its belly and then it slid down the road and across the highway,” she said. “By the time I made it to the front door it was already flipped over.”

Harris said it appeared as if Gill was trying to land the plane in her field and she’s grateful he didn’t hit her house.

“If he was just a few a football field lengths closer to my house, it would’ve been, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to your right now,” she said.

According to DPS Trooper Dub Gillum, the crash was reported just after 9:00am after the pilot of the small Piper aircraft attempted to land on Hwy 67 after a report of engine problems.

Gill, a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, tried to land the plane on U.S. Highway 67 but due to traffic ended up off the road and in a ditch where the single-engine Piper PA-32R flipped over.

The DPS said Gill and Stransky, who were coherent when flown to Fort Worth's John Peter Smith Hospital, said they were on the way to a wedding in Wharton.

The hospital said Friday evening Gill was in serious condition and Stansky was in fair condition with injuries that are not life threatening. They will spend at least one night in the hospital.

DPS officials said the dogs were taken to a local vet where one was believed to be in serious condition.

“You know, it’s a sad deal. And we wish him the best,” said Billy Huckaby, announcer for the Stockyards Championship Rodeo in Fort Worth.

WATCH: A professional rodeo cowboy crashed his plane while making an emergency landing Friday morning, injuring himself, his girlfriend and their two dogs.

Huckaby told NBC 5 Gill has competed several times at the Stockyards over the years, and that he is well-respected in the industry.

“He’s a great guy. He’s a rodeo cowboy. He’s one of the top Team Ropers in the world. Unfortunate accident earlier today,” Huckaby said.

NBC 5 has learned the plane's registration with the Federal Aviation Administration shows Gill as the owner and that he has a pilot's license.

Officials with the FAA and DPS are investigating the crash. - NBCDFW.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: "It's Been A Devastating Day,... It's Critical, Scary,..." - Three Homes Evacuated After Massive Landslide In Des Moines, Washington, Forcing Salt Water State Park To Shut Down; Authorities Concerned The Soil Hasn't Stopped Moving! [VIDEO + PHOTOS]

At least two houses were damaged in a landslide near Salt Water State Park in Des Moines on March 27, 2015.

- Three homes have been evacuated after a landslide near Salt Water State Park in Des Moines on Friday, according to South King County Fire.

"It has been a devastating day," said one homeowner as he quickly gathered his pets and a few belongings before evacuating. "Everyone is safe. So that is the most important thing."

Deputy Chief Vic Pennington said the area is considered a sensitive area.

"It's not considered a slide area but it is a serious, critical, sensitive land area here. Over the years, I have learned that they have had a few small slides but nothing to this extent," Pennington said.

Authorities are concerned because the soil hasn't stopped moving.

"It will be a couple of days while the thing settles down," said Des Moines Building Official Larry Pickard.

A home owner first noticed activity around 8:30 a.m., but didn't report it until it got worse around 3 p.m.

The houses are located at 250th and 8th Avenue South.

"Things like this are scary and something you always think about living this close to the edge," said Jaimee Swindall, who lives a couple door down from the homes that were evacuated.

WATCH: 3 homes evacuated after landslide in Des Moines.


There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The fire department is assessing the slide from the water and ground to determine the extent of the damage.

Puget Sound Energy turned off the gas and electricity to the homes that were evacuated due to the slide. - KING5.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake Rattles Crete, Greece!

March 28, 2015 - CRETE, GREECE
- A 5.5 magnitude earthquake has hit northeast of the island of Crete, Greece, according to a preliminary reading by the US Geological Survey.

The tremor struck at 1:34 am local time on Saturday, with the epicenter located 83 miles (133 km) ENE of Iraklion, Crete, Greece.

There are no reported casualties but the quake was strong enough to worry locals in Crete and the neighboring Greek islands.

Earthquakes have historically caused widespread damage across central and southern Greece, Cyprus, Sicily and other neighboring regions.

Last year a series of strong earthquakes on the island of Kefalonia damaged hundreds of homes and injured more than a dozen people. - The Greek Reporter.

FUKUSHIMA: Government Report States That Plutonium At 1,000,000 Bq/m3 Was Detected In The Ocean Off Fukushima - "Contaminated Waters Will Be Transported Rapidly To East" Across Pacific; This Is "The MOST IMPORTANT Direct Liquid Release Of Artificial Radioactivity Into Sea EVER KNOWN;" Scientists Warn, "Remember, It's NOT JUST CESIUM That's Released"! UPDATE: Cutting-Edge Tech To Scan Fukushima For Nuclear Fuel, FLOPS In Front Of Reporters!

Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees wearing protective suits and masks walk toward the No. 1 reactor building.
(Reuters / Toru Hanai)

March 28, 2015 - JAPAN
- Contamination of the marine environment following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP) represents the most important influx of artificial radioactivity released into the sea ever recorded…

The direct liquid releases from FDNPP represent the largest influx of artificial radioactivity into the sea ever occurring over a short period of time on a small spatial scale… Although controlled releases of liquid effluent from the Sellafield reprocessing plant can be compared in terms of total quantities, they have occurred over several years (1970-1980) instead of days, weeks and months as in the case of the FDNPP accident…

[W]hatever the detailed current direction at the time of the accident is, water mass fluxes were governed by the generally strong Kuroshio and Oyashio currents that are stable at this scale… Contaminated waters will be transported rapidly to the east…

Contamination of the marine environment following the accident at the FDNPP represents the most important direct liquid release of artificial radioactivity into the sea ever known… - Pascal Bailly du Bois (IRSN), Pierre Garreau (IFREMER), Philippe Laguionie (IRSN), Irène Korsakissok (IRSN), 2014 - Comparison between modelling and measurement of marine dispersion, environmental half-time and 137Cs inventories after the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Supplementary material for study: Database of seawater measurements
(XLS spreadsheet)

Remember, its not just cesium isotopes that were released… What about plutonium?… Surface ocean in June 2011 see slightly elevated Pu – from direct discharge? - Ken Buesseler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and Mitsuo Uematsu (Univ. of Tokyo) (PDF).

- ENE News.

Cutting-edge tech to scan Fukushima for nuclear fuel, flops in front of reporters

Reuters / Shizuo Kambayashi

A presentation of state-of-the-art technology aimed to show the location of nuclear fuel molten debris at the crippled Fukushima plant in Japan ended in a flop, raising concerns about the $5 million project.

Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) tasked Japanese tech giant Toshiba to come up with a solution after the nuclear plant was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

After four years of research, Toshiba has developed a technology, which relies on muons in finding the nuclear fuel’s location.

Those tiny cosmic-ray subatomic particles are capable of going through almost anything except for the heavy elements like uranium and plutonium used for nuclear fuel.

The company plans to erect two tall walls right next to each reactor to shoot out muons through them to create an image of what’s inside – similar to medical X-rays.

Previously, the muons have been successfully used to scan volcanoes, ship’s cargoes and even the Egyptian pyramids.

But the technology’s presentation Friday turned into an epic fail as a programming glitch, which wasn’t fixed in time, prevented it from displaying any images of muons at all.

Reporters who arrived at Toshiba's research center, near Japan’s capital Tokyo, only saw “huge equipment, metal with lots of wirings and blinking little lights, in a giant garage-like building, and on its side,” AP reported.

The hardware shown to the press wasn’t the one to be later used at the plant, the agency added. The location, state or shape of the nuclear fuel at the Fukushima reactors remain unknown, despite it being crucial for the plant’s decommission.

Last week, TEPCO performed a similar scan on the plant’s No. 1 reactor core, and announced that“a considerable amount of fuel had melted inside the nuclear pressure vessels.”

However, the scan didn’t look at the bottom of the reactor where the molten fuel was likely to gather.

The company insisted that it plans “to scoop out the melted fuel little by little, rather than burying it in concrete.”

Toshiba said it plans to complete setting up the “muon trackers” at the power plant by March 2016.

However, Tadashi Yotsuyanagi, Toshiba’s muon project manager, said that the technology would not be able to get the complete image near the bottom of the reactor.

The heavy radiation is likely to throw the sensors off and may also harm the health of workers erecting the walls, he added.

Earlier this week, Japanese government auditors blamed TEPCO for wasting more than one-third of the 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in taxpayers’ money that the company received for cleaning up the plant.

The auditors described a number of expensive machines and untested measures which were employed by the plant’s operator, but brought no result.

They also said that the cleanup was dominated by a single Japanese company, despite calls from authorities for greater transparency and involvement of foreign experience.

TEPCO replied to the allegations by saying that, despite some of the hardware operating for short periods of time, all of the equipment had contributed to stabilizing the plant. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Northern Chile - No Tsunami Warning! [TECTONIC SUMMARY + MAPS]

USGS earthquake location

March 28, 2015 - CHILE
- A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck northern Chile today, but there was no immediate word of any injuries or damage.

The earthquake struck at 16:36:52 UTC – at a depth of 109.3km,  40km northeast of Calama, near Chile’s border with Bolivia, according to the United States Geological Survey.

USGS shakemap intensity

Chile is one of the world's most seismic countries and is prone to tsunamis because of the way the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera ever higher.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of South America (Nazca Plate Region)

The South American arc extends over 7,000 km, from the Chilean margin triple junction offshore of southern Chile to its intersection with the Panama fracture zone, offshore of the southern coast of Panama in Central America. It marks the plate boundary between the subducting Nazca plate and the South America plate, where the oceanic crust and lithosphere of the Nazca plate begin their descent into the mantle beneath South America. The convergence associated with this subduction process is responsible for the uplift of the Andes Mountains, and for the active volcanic chain present along much of this deformation front. Relative to a fixed South America plate, the Nazca plate moves slightly north of eastwards at a rate varying from approximately 80 mm/yr in the south to approximately 65 mm/yr in the north. Although the rate of subduction varies little along the entire arc, there are complex changes in the geologic processes along the subduction zone that dramatically influence volcanic activity, crustal deformation, earthquake generation and occurrence all along the western edge of South America.

USGS plate tectonics for the region

Most of the large earthquakes in South America are constrained to shallow depths of 0 to 70 km resulting from both crustal and interplate deformation. Crustal earthquakes result from deformation and mountain building in the overriding South America plate and generate earthquakes as deep as approximately 50 km. Interplate earthquakes occur due to slip along the dipping interface between the Nazca and the South American plates. Interplate earthquakes in this region are frequent and often large, and occur between the depths of approximately 10 and 60 km. Since 1900, numerous magnitude 8 or larger earthquakes have occurred on this subduction zone interface that were followed by devastating tsunamis, including the 1960 M9.5 earthquake in southern Chile, the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world. Other notable shallow tsunami-generating earthquakes include the 1906 M8.5 earthquake near Esmeraldas, Ecuador, the 1922 M8.5 earthquake near Coquimbo, Chile, the 2001 M8.4 Arequipa, Peru earthquake, the 2007 M8.0 earthquake near Pisco, Peru, and the 2010 M8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake located just north of the 1960 event.

Large intermediate-depth earthquakes (those occurring between depths of approximately 70 and 300 km) are relatively limited in size and spatial extent in South America, and occur within the Nazca plate as a result of internal deformation within the subducting plate. These earthquakes generally cluster beneath northern Chile and southwestern Bolivia, and to a lesser extent beneath northern Peru and southern Ecuador, with depths between 110 and 130 km. Most of these earthquakes occur adjacent to the bend in the coastline between Peru and Chile. The most recent large intermediate-depth earthquake in this region was the 2005 M7.8 Tarapaca, Chile earthquake.

Earthquakes can also be generated to depths greater than 600 km as a result of continued internal deformation of the subducting Nazca plate. Deep-focus earthquakes in South America are not observed from a depth range of approximately 300 to 500 km. Instead, deep earthquakes in this region occur at depths of 500 to 650 km and are concentrated into two zones: one that runs beneath the Peru-Brazil border and another that extends from central Bolivia to central Argentina. These earthquakes generally do not exhibit large magnitudes. An exception to this was the 1994 Bolivian earthquake in northwestern Bolivia. This M8.2 earthquake occurred at a depth of 631 km, which was until recently the largest deep-focus earthquake instrumentally recorded (superseded in May 2013 by a M8.3 earthquake 610 km beneath the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia), and was felt widely throughout South and North America.

Subduction of the Nazca plate is geometrically complex and impacts the geology and seismicity of the western edge of South America. The intermediate-depth regions of the subducting Nazca plate can be segmented into five sections based on their angle of subduction beneath the South America plate. Three segments are characterized by steeply dipping subduction; the other two by near-horizontal subduction. The Nazca plate beneath northern Ecuador, southern Peru to northern Chile, and southern Chile descend into the mantle at angles of 25° to 30°. In contrast, the slab beneath southern Ecuador to central Peru, and under central Chile, is subducting at a shallow angle of approximately 10° or less. In these regions of “flat-slab” subduction, the Nazca plate moves horizontally for several hundred kilometers before continuing its descent into the mantle, and is shadowed by an extended zone of crustal seismicity in the overlying South America plate. Although the South America plate exhibits a chain of active volcanism resulting from the subduction and partial melting of the Nazca oceanic lithosphere along most of the arc, these regions of inferred shallow subduction correlate with an absence of volcanic activity.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Chaos In Yemen And The Rise Of An Arab Army - Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Sisi Endorses Joint Military Force To Defend Arab Nations As Warplanes Pummel Yemen Rebels; Saudi Arabia Wants To Build Nuclear Weapons; Israel Says Yemen Is Part Of Iran's Mideast Master Plan, As Obama Forges Nuclear Deal With Tehran!

Arab coalition warplanes bombed rebel camps in Yemen Friday in a second straight day of strikes led by Saudi Arabia,
which accused Iran of "aggression" across the region.

March 28, 2015 - MIDDLE EAST
- The meltdown in Yemen is pushing the Middle East dangerously closer to the wider regional conflagration many long have feared would arise from the chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring revolts. What began as a peaceful struggle to unseat a Yemeni strongman four years ago and then mutated into civil strife now risks spiraling into a full-blown war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran over a country that lies at the choke point of one of the world’s major oil supply routes.

Arab warplanes pummel Yemen rebels as Hadi meets allies

Arab warplanes pounded Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen for a third night while President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi held summit talks in Egypt Saturday with regional allies seeking to prevent his overthrow

The deeply tribal and impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, on the front line of the US battle against Al-Qaeda, is the scene of the latest emerging proxy struggle between Middle East powers.

An Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf monarchies, is battling to avoid having a pro-Iran regime on its doorstep, as Shiite Huthi rebels tighten the noose around Hadi's southern stronghold.

Air strikes against the rebels could last up to six months, Gulf diplomatic officials said, voicing fears that they could face retaliation at home by Iran.

Heavy strikes shook the rebel-held capital Sanaa for a third consecutive night until dawn on Saturday, residents said.

"It was an intense night of bombing and the windows shook," said a foreigner working for an international aid organisation in Sanaa.

"People want to leave but there are no flights out of Yemen," she said.

According to an AFP photographer, it was the most violent night of raids heard in the capital since the Saudi-led operation began.

He said the bombing was felt throughout the night until dawn.

The air strikes apparently mainly targeted arms depots and other military facilities outside Sanaa, witnesses said.

Saudi Arabia says more than 10 countries have joined the Arab coalition defending Hadi, who arrived in Egypt on Friday to join allies at a weekend summit, a day after he surfaced in Riyadh.

He went into hiding earlier in the week as rebel forces bore down on his refuge in the main southern city of Aden and a warplane attacked the presidential palace.

- 'Unprecedented' threats -

The Arab summit, which opened Saturday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, is expected to back the offensive against the rebels and approve the creation of a joint military force to tackle extremists.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told fellow Arab leaders the region faced "unprecedented" threats.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman vowed that the military intervention his government is leading would continue until it brings "security" to the Yemeni people.

The situation has become increasingly tense in Aden with rebel forces clashing with anti-Huthi militiamen in several areas, raising fears that Hadi's last bastion could fall.

On Friday, at least eight people were killed in fighting around the city's international airport.

Saudi warships evacuated dozens of foreign diplomats from Aden hours before the kingdom launched air strikes on the advancing rebels, state television said Saturday.

The official SPA news agency said that 86 people had been pulled out on Wednesday.

It was only announced after their arrival at a Saudi naval base in Jeddah on Saturday aboard two vessels.

Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition forces, speaks to the media next to a replica of a Tornado fighter jet,
at the Riyadh airbase in the Saudi capital on March 26, 2014 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Saudi Arabia has vowed to do "whatever it takes" to prevent Hadi's overthrow, accusing Shiite Iran of backing the attempted takeover by the Huthi rebels, who have seized swathes of the country.

Hadi called for the Saudi-led military intervention to continue until Shiite Huthi rebels surrender and their leaders are brought to justice.

"I call for this operation to continue until this gang surrenders and withdraws from all locations it has occupied in every province," he told an the summit.

But experts say the kingdom will be reluctant to send in ground troops for fear of getting bogged down in a protracted conflict.

- US support -

US President Barack Obama said Washington shared a "collective goal" with its regional ally to see stability in Yemen.

Obama offered support to King Salman in a phone conversation as it emerged the US military had rescued two Saudi pilots forced to eject from their fighter jet over the sea off Yemen after a technical problem.

Amid the air raids and scattered fighting, a call for a ceasefire was issued by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, suspected of being allied with the rebels.

Dozens of civilians are reported to have been killed in Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm against the Huthis and their allies.

An army unit loyal to Saleh, along with Shiite militiamen, captured two towns in Abyan province to the east of Aden, military sources said.

The rebels have also clashed with Sunni tribes as they push south.

Iran has reacted furiously to the air strikes, calling them a violation of Yemen's sovereignty.

"Any military action against an independent country is wrong and will only result in a deepening crisis and more deaths among innocents," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

The conflict has raised a major hurdle to Washington's longstanding drone war against Al-Qaeda militants who have exploited the power vacuum since Saleh's downfall in 2012.

Washington has pledged logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led campaign. - Yahoo.

Ousted Yemeni president calls on his people to stage peaceful protests as Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Sisi endorsed the creation of a joint military force to defend Arab nations

Men carry the body of a child they uncovered from rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi airstrikes near Sana Airport in Yemen on March 26. 
Hani Mohammed / Associated Press

Yemen's ousted leader gave an impassioned speech to Arab leaders Saturday and called on his people to stage peaceful protests in opposition to the takeover of the country by Shiite Houthi rebels.

Speaking at the Arab summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi spoke about "dark forces" influencing his nation.

He branded the Houthi militias the "stooges of Iran" and directly blamed the Islamic Republic for creating chaos in Yemen and forcing him to flee the country.

He described being besieged for more than two months before finally having to leave his hideout in the coastal city of Aden earlier this week as the militias pushed south.

The escalating conflict in Yemen was high on the agenda as Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen continued for a third night.

The coalition taking part in the attacks believe Iran is providing vital support to the Houthis, a claim Iran and the Houthis deny.

The summit is being attended by representatives from more than 20 Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman said the military operation would not stop until Yemen was stable and secure.

It will continue "until it achieves its goals for the Yemen people to achieve security," he said.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Sisi endorsed the creation of a joint military force to defend Arab nations.

Sisi said the Arab world was at a critical crossroads and facing unprecedented difficulties.

"The challenges are grave," he told the Arab leaders. "It is a huge responsibility, heavy and burdensome."

Sisi said military action in Yemen was "inevitable."

"We reject any intervention in our own affairs," he said, but unlike Hadi neither he nor Salman mentioned Iran by name.

As tensions continued to escalate in Yemen, 86 Arab and foreign diplomats mostly from the United Nations were evacuated from Aden on boats.

In the capital Sana around 200 foreigners were also gathered at the airport and preparing to leave. - LA Times.

Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons

'It is not something we would discuss publicly'
Saudi Arabia will not rule out building or acquiring nuclear weapons, the country’s ambassador to the United States has indicated.

Asked whether Saudi Arabia would ever build nuclear weapons in an interview with US news channel CNN, Adel Al-Jubeir said the subject was “not something we would discuss publicly”.

Pressed later on the issue he said: “This is not something that I can comment on, nor would I comment on.”

The ambassador’s reticence to rule out a military nuclear programme may reignite concerns that the autocratic monarchy has its eye on a nuclear arsenal.

Western intelligence agencies believe that the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60% of Pakistan’s nuclear programme in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice, the Guardian newspaper reported in 2010.

The two countries maintain close relations and are sometimes said to have a special relationship; they currently have close military ties and conduct joint exercises.

The Saudi Arabian regime also already possesses medium-range ballistic missiles in the form of the Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force.

In addition it has significant nuclear expertise in the form of a civilian nuclear programme of the kind Iran says it wants to develop.

In 2012 the Saudi Arabian government threatened to acquire nuclear weapons were neighbouring regional power Iran ever to do so.

“Politically, it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom,” a senior Saudi source told The Times newspaper at the time.

The United States and other Western allies say a deal with Iran on its nuclear programme is possible. Iran denies it is building nuclear weapons. - Independent.

How the Yemen conflict risks new chaos in the Middle East

People carry the body of a man killed in an airstrike on a marketplace in Saada. Naiyf Rahma/Reuters

With negotiators chasing a Tuesday deadline for the framework of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, it seems unlikely that Iran would immediately respond militarily to this week’s Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, analysts say.

But the confrontation has added a new layer of unpredictability — and confusion — to the many, multidimensional conflicts that have turned large swaths of the Middle East into war zones over the past four years, analysts say.

The United States is aligned alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and against them in Yemen. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have joined in the Saudi offensive in Yemen, are bombing factions in Libya backed by Turkey and Qatar, who also support the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The Syrian conflict has been fueled by competition among all regional powers to outmaneuver one another on battlefields far from home.

Not since the 1960s — and perhaps going back even further — has there been a time when so many Arab states and factions were engaged in so many wars, in quite such confusing configurations, said Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“It’s so dangerous,” he said.

The trigger for this latest flare-up was the march toward the headquarters of Yemen’s president in the southern port city of Aden by the Shiite Houthi militia, which overran the capital, Sanaa, several months ago.
By Thursday, when the Saudi-led coalition’s strikes were launched, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had fled to Riyadh, and the Houthi rebels seemed poised to seize control of most of the rest of the country.

For Saudi Arabia, which regards itself as the guardian of Sunni interests in the region, the advance of the Shiite Houthis represented far more than a threat to a Sunni ally, analysts say.

It was the culmination of years of humiliating Iranian expansion throughout the Middle East that has seen Sunni influence shrink at the expense of Iran and its allies, and Saudi interests seemingly abandoned by the United States, said Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center.

For Saudi Arabia, which regards itself as the guardian of Sunni interests in the region, the advance of the Shiite Houthis represented far more than a threat to a Sunni ally, analysts say.

It was the culmination of years of humiliating Iranian expansion throughout the Middle East that has seen Sunni influence shrink at the expense of Iran and its allies, and Saudi interests seemingly abandoned by the United States, said Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement holds sway in Lebanon; Iranian-backed fighters have been instrumental in propping up President Bashar al-
Assad in Syria; and in Iraq, ­Iranian-backed militias wield power over more territory than the Iraqi army.

With its intervention in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is serving notice that it will no longer tolerate Iran’s unchecked expansion — nor will it count on the United States to protect its interests in the Middle East, Alani said.

“It started with Lebanon, then Syria, then Iraq and now Yemen. It’s like a domino, and Yemen is the first attempt to stop the domino,” he said. “Now there is an awakening in the region, a counterstrategy, and Yemen is the testing ground. It is not just about Yemen, it is about changing the balance of power in the region.”

Alani blamed the United States and its pursuit of a deal with Iran for the expansion of Iranian influence that triggered the Saudi intervention.

“It is not only the Iranian nuclear bomb that is an issue, it is Iranian behavior that is equal to a nuclear bomb,” he said.

Another motive cited by Saudi officials for the intervention was the fear that the advance of an Iranian-allied Shiite militia through the mostly Sunni southern part of Yemen might trigger a stampede of support among Yemen’s Sunnis for al-Qaeda — and perhaps even for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The official al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, already loosely controls a large swath of the country. The Islamic State’s assertion of responsibility for a wave of attacks against Shiite mosques in Sanaa last week suggested that the Sunni group is gaining a foothold there.

As Egyptian warships steamed toward the Yemeni coast and the United Arab Emirates joined the Saudi air force in bombing targets in Yemen on Friday, veiled threats from Iran underscored the potential for escalation.

An Iranian parliamentarian told the semi­official Fars News Agency that the Houthis possess missiles capable of hitting up to 500 kilometers, or about 300 miles, inside Saudi Arabia. An unidentified official quoted by the agency said the Houthis were preparing to block access to the Bab al-Mandeb strait, which commands access to the Red Sea, through which the Egyptian warships are sailing.

The United States has pledged that it will act to ensure no interruption to shipping through the strategically vital seaway, which links the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.

So far, however, Iran’s threats have been largely rhetorical. Analysts doubt Iran would be prepared to jeopardize the substantial influence it has acquired elsewhere in the region for the sake of Yemen, a far lesser prize than Iraq, Syria or Lebanon, where its network of alliances brings access to the Mediterranean and the borders of Israel.

In a lengthy speech Friday night, the Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah poured scorn on Saudi Arabia’s attempt to influence the outcome of the Yemeni conflict, saying that it is doomed to fail “because these are the laws of God.”

Nasrallah stressed that he did not speak for Iran but said that Iranian and Hezbollah viewpoints usually coincide.

He suggested that negotiations would be preferable to an escalating war.

“There is still time. There is still a chance. Arab countries . . . instead of becoming partners in spilling the blood of the Yemeni people, let there be an initiative to go to a political solution,” he said.

Saudi officials have also indicated that they are hoping the strikes will persuade the Houthi leaders to call off their advance and return to talks intended to form a government in which they are represented along with Hadi. Saudi officials said Friday that there were no immediate plans for a ground incursion, although they said one could not be ruled out.

But there has been no indication that the defiant Houthis are willing to return to the negotiating table, and there is also a risk that the airstrikes, which have so far killed dozens of people, will only further polarize Yemen.

“What if the strikes don’t stop the advance? A ground campaign is absolutely the last thing the Saudis want. Where is the political track? How will it be formed?” asked John Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Iraq and Saudi Arabia who is now the Bahrain-based executive director of the Institute for International and Strategic Studies in the Middle East.

Failure to reach a deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the Iran nuclear talks are underway, would only further increase the uncertainties — and perhaps encourage Iran to retaliate, he said.

“The negotiations are one of the guarantees that things won’t blow up,” Jenkins said.

A failed offensive in Yemen would also risk further empowering extremists, much as Egyptian and Emirati airstrikes in Libya have served to deepen and widen that country’s civil war, said the Carnegie Endowment’s Wehrey.

“It’s hard for me to see how the Saudis will bring this to a decisive end that will restore their people in Sanaa and diminish ISIS and al-Qaeda,” he said. “In Libya, airstrikes polarized the existing civil war and opened the way for ISIS, and I’m afraid of the same thing happening in Yemen.” - Washington Post.

Israel: Yemen is just part of Iran's Mideast master plan

Israel:  Iran's Supreme Council. Plans for regional domination. (Photo: AFP)Add caption

Operation Storm of Resolve, designed to rescue Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's regime from the clutches of the Houthi rebels, began with an exercise in misdirection. At midnight between Wednesday and Thursday, the first squadron of Saudi Arabian fighter planes launched attacks on targets in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a – air force bases, arms depots belonging to the rebels, the palace of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and a reserve forces base in the south of the city that was taken by the rebels last month.

The strike caught the rebels by surprise. At a meeting earlier on Wednesday night between Houthi rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and ousted president Salah, the two had coordinated an assault on Aden, Yemen's second-largest city.

"If Aden falls," the ousted president promised, "Yemen will fall, and the forces will be able to turn their attention to the greater task at hand – taking control of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait for the purpose of overseeing marine traffic into the Red Sea."

With the Arab response slow in coming, despite threats voiced by senior advisers to the Saudi king, the rebel commanders in Yemen were sure they had at least 24 hours in which to mount operations in the field before the Arab foreign ministers met in Sharm el-Sheikh for an emergency summit. They knew that the battle for power in Yemen would top the agenda, but believed that they'd have until the end of the summit on Friday afternoon before a green light was given to amass an Arab force to take action in Yemen. The also failed to foresee a powerful military strike and believed that time was on their side.

"We decided to take action against the rebels in Yemen without getting the approval of the Arab League," the spokesman for the Saudi Royal Palace said on Thursday morning, following a night of air strikes on Sana'a and the retaking of the airport in Aden.

It's been revealed, meanwhile, that in behind-the-scenes discussions, four Arab states agreed to join the air strikes under the command of the Saudi defense minister, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

During a tour Wednesday of the Saudi-Yemen border, Salman issued a stern warning to the rebels. "We are committed to the security of the Yemeni people," he declared. "If you continue to undermine the stability and threaten Saudi Arabia, you will get hit hard."

A spokesman for the Houthi rebels responded in kind, commenting: "We have already proved to you in 2009 how easy it is to invade the territory of the kingdom. Your army is weak. Today we are more skilled. When we decide to invade, we won't stop in the city of Mecca, but will continue on to Riyadh to topple the government institutions."

President Hadi, meanwhile, has gone underground. "He is in a secure location and is monitoring the military operation," his spokeswoman declared. And a status on the president's Facebook page reads: "We are currently taking measures to restore internal stability to our country. We will fly the flag of Yemen and not the Iranian flag over our homeland."

Washington isn't helping

The situation in Yemen took a turn for the worse some two months ago, when the Houthis, a Shiite opposition group founded in 1992 by Iran, managed to seize control of the capital, Sana'a. President Hadi and his prime minister, Khaled Bahah, were forced to announce their resignations. The Yemeni parliament rejected the resignations in an effort to preserve the government institutions, but Hadi insisted, and the government and parliament were dissolved.

With the Houthis not satisfied with the president's resignation and threatening to assassinate him, Hadi got the message and went into hiding. "If you force me to stay in my position, he told the commanders of the Yemeni military, "the terrorists will get to me and eliminate me."

The Houthis then took control of the presidential palace in Sana'a, and their commander, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, declared: "We are staying here to conduct the fight against al-Qaeda in Yemen."

Al-Houthi deliberately failed to make mention of the president-in-hiding and the collapse of the institutions of power: For him, the excuse was and remains the Sunni terrorist organization, which has set up an affiliate group in Yemen. On his way to shake the regime in Saudi Arabia, he has to block the terrorists.

While making efforts to enlist the help of his neighbors in the Gulf, Hadi has also appealed to the UN Security Council in New York, asking that it declare Yemen a no-fly zone and thus put an end to Iran's supply by air of weapons, military equipment and thousands of instructors and fighters to the rebel forces.

The UN secretary-general is "checking" and "considering," and is definitely "concerned" – but he has yet to call a special session to discuss the grave ramifications of the situation in Yemen. And the United States, too, hasn't helped much at all. After Washington "forgot" to add Iran's name to the annual list of countries that sponsor terrorism, it is in no hurry to send force to Yemen. "We won't participate in the operation, but we will provide assistance," the White House announced on Thursday.

The Gulf States know by now not to rely on the Obama administration: Washington is engrossed up to its neck in fine tuning the nuclear deal with Iran; and as far as the US administration is concerned, Yemen can go ahead and sink deeper into a bloody conflict. Last week, after the attacks at the mosques in Sana'a that killed 137 people, the United States withdrew its 125 advisers who had been living in Yemen for years as "training instructors," but were actually involved in gathering intelligence on irregular movements in the Gulf.

President Hadi, the Pentagon's protégé, got the message. He internalized the fact that if Yemen doesn't enlist the help of its neighbors in the Gulf, Iran will continue to make progress towards its ultimate goal – regime change in Saudi Arabia.

A Red Sea nightmare

From the perspective of the West, Yemen has always been a remote and uninteresting country. It is the poorest country in the Arab world, with a primitive economy, massive unemployment and a very high level (60 percent) of illiteracy. Of the 27 million citizens, two-thirds are Sunni Muslims and one-third are Shiite.

"The ayatollahs of Iran seek to take control of the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb so they can determine who can cross the Red Sea to the Suez Canal," says Dr. Yasser bin Hilal, a political science lecturer at the University of Sana'a, who traveled to Washington in an attempt to shake up the administration and the intelligence agencies.

"If they are successful, it will also affect the movement of ships sailing with goods from the Far East to the port of Ashdod in Israel. Try to picture the nightmare scenario – fighters in the uniforms of the Revolutionary Guards directing maritime traffic, boarding cargo ships, checking the cargoes and crew, and blocking passage to anything that doesn't serve their interests."

For its part, Saudi Arabia is issuing statements that could have been written in Jerusalem. "Iran is an aggressive state that is intervening and operating forces in the Arab world," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said this week at a joint press conference with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond. "Its nuclear weapons are a threat to the Gulf and the entire world."

He then went on to convey a message to the Obama administration, saying: "Striking a deal that Iran doesn't deserve is not right. Think, too, about the dangerous ramifications of the Iranians' 'second plan.'"

This "second plan", about which Israeli intelligence officials have been warning for the past five years, involves Iran's desire for Shiite control over the Arab world, with the ultimate objective being control over the Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

"We're dealing with two parallel courses of action," says influential Saudi media pundit Jamal Khashoggi. "If they halt the nuclear program by means of military force or a diplomatic move, as the Americans a currently trying to do, the Iranians will still be left with the threatening alternative of 'creeping progress' on the ground, throughout the Arab world.

"They are goal-oriented. They have a map of objectives to achieve on the road to Saudi Arabia." - YNET News.

Iran and powers close in on 2-3 page nuclear deal, success uncertain

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L), US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (2L), Robert Malley (3L), of the US National Security Council, European Union High
Representative Federica Mogherini (C), Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi (2R), Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) and others
wait for a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel on March 27, 2015 in Lausanne. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

Iran and major powers are close to agreeing a two- or three-page accord with specific numbers as the basis of a resolution of a 12-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, officials have told Reuters.

As the French and German foreign ministers arrived in Switzerland on Saturday to join talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Western and Iranian officials familiar with the negotiations cautioned that they could still fail.

Kerry and Zarif have been in Lausanne for days to try to reach an outline agreement by a self-imposed deadline of March 31 between Iran on the one hand and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China on the other.

"The sides are very, very close to the final step and it could be signed or agreed and announced verbally," a senior Iranian official familiar with the talks told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Other officials echoed the remarks while warning that several crucial issues were still being hotly debated.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on arrival: "I hope we can get a robust agreement. Iran has the right to civil nuclear power, but with regard to the atomic bomb, it's 'no'."

"The talks were long and difficult," he added. "We have moved forward on certain points, but on others not enough."


The negotiations, under way for nearly 18 months, aim to hammer out an accord under which Iran, which denies any ambition to build nuclear weapons, halts sensitive nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk of a war in the Middle East.

Ahead of another meeting with Zarif on Saturday, Kerry said he expected the discussions to run late. Zarif added that the meetings would run through "evening, night, midnight, morning".

The British and Russian foreign ministers were due to arrive in Lausanne over the weekend, along with a senior Chinese official.

If agreed, the document would cover key numbers for a comprehensive agreement between Iran and the six powers, such as the maximum number and types of uranium enrichment centrifuges Iran could operate, the size of uranium stockpiles it could maintain, the types of atomic research and development it could undertake, and details on the lifting of international sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

Two officials said it was likely that most of the outline agreement would be made public, though some said certain sections would be kept confidential.

Several Iranian officials denied that Iran was close to agreeing an outline document, but a Western diplomat who confirmed the Reuters story said the comments were aimed at a domestic audience.


One of the key numbers is expected to be the duration of the agreement, which the officials said would have to be in place for more than 10 years. Once it expired, there would probably be a period of special U.N. monitoring of Tehran's nuclear program.

The framework accord should be followed by a comprehensive deal by June 30 that includes full technical details on the limits set for Iran's sensitive nuclear activities.

It remains unclear whether the framework deal will be formally signed or agreed verbally. The Iranians have expressed concern that a written agreement would limit their negotiating space when the technical details are worked out.

The officials cautioned that, even if such a preliminary deal was done in the coming days, there was no guarantee that agreement would be reached on the many technical details.

Some details have been out in the open for months. An Iranian government website said in November that Washington could let Iran keep some 6,000 early-generation centrifuges, down from nearly 10,000 now in operation.

Along with the timetable for the lifting of U.N. sanctions, officials say the biggest sticking point in the talks remains centrifuge research and development. They say Iran wants to conduct advanced centrifuge research at the underground Fordow site, but the Western powers dislike the idea of Iran operating centrifuges there.

The deal would call for U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions to be lifted according to a specific schedule, though some could be lifted very quickly, the officials said. - Yahoo.