Friday, April 29, 2011

Dollar Hits Weakest Level Since July 2008

MARKETWATCH, NEW YORK — The dollar fell to its weakest level since July 2008 on Friday, then pared losses after U.S. data on spending and incomes. The ICE Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, has fallen for a fifth week—the longest string of losses since September—as traders become more comfortable with the diverging monetary polices of the U.S. and Europe. The index fell as low as 72.834, its lowest point since July 2008. It recently traded at 72.99, from 73.111 in late U.S. trade Thursday. The dollar index is down 1.2% so far this week, ...

SOLAR WATCH: Coronal Hole Faces Earth

April 29, 2011 - Coronal holes are places where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows the solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach Earth on April 30th-May 1st. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of geomagnetic activity at that time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wal-Mart shoppers are 'running out of money'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Wal-Mart's core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday. "We're seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure," Duke said at an event in New York. "There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact."

Economic growth slows, inflation surges

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2011, Reuters) – Economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter as higher food and gasoline prices dampened consumer spending and sent inflation rising at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years.
Another report on Thursday showed a surprise jump in the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits last week, which could cast a shadow on expectations for a significant pick-up in output in the second quarter.

UPDATE: Tornado death toll soars to 231

'I don't know how anyone survived' Tornadoes sucked up homes, spewed debris and cut huge paths of destruction across six southern states. Alabama was hardest hit with 149 dead.

Video of the Tornado that destroyed Tuscaloosa

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Dangerous' tornado watch issued for parts of southeast

April 27th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

[Updated at 12:32 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued a "particularly dangerous situation" tornado watch for portions of southeastern Arkansas, northeastern Louisiana and much of Mississippi until 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET). A particularly dangerous situation watch is issued when there is a high risk of multiple strong tornadoes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blackout shuts down gasoline refineries

Texas refineries owned by BP, Valero and Marathon, are knocked offline by a blackout.
April 26, 2011: 3:42 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A blackout knocked out power to a BP refinery -- the third-largest gasoline refinery in the country -- as well as facilities operated by Marathon and Valero in Texas City, Texas on Tuesday. Spokesmen for Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO, Fortune 500) and Valero Energy Corp. (VLO, Fortune 500) said that power had been restored and the refineries are in the process of coming back online. Combined, the two refineries produce 290,000 barrels of gasoline a day. Valero spokesman Bill Day said the power went out at 6 a.m. ET time and was restored by 7:30 that morning. He said the refinery could take "several hours to a couple of days" to completely come back online.

Coffee Prices Hit 34-Year High

CHICAGO (CBS) — That morning cup of coffee is going to cost you more. Coffee prices are at a 34-year high — $3 a pound. Yet coffee drinkers plan on grinding out the extra cash because they need that cup of Joe, CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports. “I like the taste of it. It keeps me up,” medical student Linda Russo says. In countries like Ethiopia, people can’t do without it.

ALERT: Extremely Dangerous Tornado Situation Today

By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist
Apr 26, 2011; 10:50 AM ET

An extremely dangerous outbreak of tornadoes will endanger many lives and property from northeastern Texas into Arkansas, northern Louisiana, northwestern Mississippi and western Tennessee late today into tonight.
These are the same areas that were just hit by tornadoes Monday into Monday night, and today's outbreak is expected to be worse than Monday's. Large, long-track tornadoes are a major concern through tonight.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lightning bolts appear to strike near White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Thunderstorms rolled through Washington, D.C., and a photographer captured lightning that looks like it hit very close to the White House. The storm brought several cloud-to-ground lightning strikes along with heavy rain, hail and gusty wind to the nation's capital Sunday night. The photos were shot and posted on the Internet by Eddie Gehman Kohan. He writes that it happened at about 8:30 p.m. EDT.,0,818309.story

Apophis: The Asteroid Nested in Uncertainty

Author: John Lake

April is an important month for those concerned or perhaps obsessed with the asteroid Apophis, the “Serpent that dwells in darkness.” In 2002, following the discovery of the fate-laden space traveler, it was thought that an impact of the asteroid with Earth was probable; scientists were recalling the end days of the giant dinosaurs that once walked the Earth. In the years since then the potential for impact has been studied and is now considerably lower; basically the figure is about 2% to 3%; even lower probabilities have been seen in reliable media.

Gold settles at record above $1,500

(MarketWatch) — Gold settled at a record and silver rallied 2.4% Monday as inflation fears kept investors attracted to precious metals, which were also helped by a weaker dollar. Gold for June delivery added $5.30, or 0.4%, to end at $1,509.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, it hit an intraday record of $1,519.20 an ounce. That was gold’s sixth consecutive high-water mark and its eighth straight day of gains. May silver rallied $1.09, or 2.4%, to $47.149 an ounce. It had traded as high as $49.82.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

SKYWATCH: Meteor shower from comet's tail

Every year in late April Earth passes through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), and the encounter causes a meteor shower--the Lyrids. This year the shower peaks on Friday morning, April 22nd. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the hours before dawn. Forecasters expect 10 to 20 meteors per hour visible from dark-sky sites.

White House to prepare citizens for earthquakes

By Jordy Yager - 04/21/11 10:10 AM ET

The Departments of Homeland Security and Education are reaching out to millions of people in central U.S. states to get them to participate in an earthquake preparedness drill.
In an event called the “Great Central U.S. Shake Out,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are reaching out to areas in the Midwest that could be impacted by an earthquake along the New Madrid fault line.
According to the event’s website, more than 2.5 million people have committed to taking part in Thursday’s drill in which participants will be told how to react in the event of an earthquake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New U.S. terrorism alert system, scraps colors

9:27 a.m. EDT, April 20, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday unveiled a new warning system to alert Americans about specific terrorism threats, formally pushing the much-ridiculed color-coded warnings into the trash bin.
The new alerts will warn of either an "imminent threat" or an "elevated threat" with a summary of the potential threat as well as an expiration date. They could be extended, but unlike the old system there will not be an over-arching warning. Under the new system, an "elevated" threat will include a credible threat of terrorism while an "imminent" threat would warn of a credible, specific and impending threat.
The new alerts will include the potential geographic area and the mode of transportation or critical infrastructure potentially targeted in the threat, the Homeland Security Department said. Some alerts may only go to law enforcement or those directly affected by the threat, rather than the public.
The alerts that are published will be done through the media as well as social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

(Reuters News service)

Oil Prices top $111 a barrel

By Claudia Assis and Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Crude-oil futures pushed past $111 a barrel Wednesday after a weekly inventories report showed an unexpected supply decline and the dollar weakened.
Crude for June delivery /quotes/comstock/21n!f:cl\m11 CLM11 +2.50% gained $2.98, or 2.8%, to $111.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. A close around that level would be oil’s highest since April 8.
OPEC seeks price increases
Spending by OPEC countries to quell unrest over the past several months has resulted in efforts by the oil cartel to raise oil prices.

Texas burning 'from border to border'

Dallas (CNN) -- Texas firefighters Wednesday battled blazes that have scorched over one million acres and have been burning for more than a week, according to the Texas Forest Service.
"We're actually seeing Texas burn from border to border. We've got it in west Texas, in east Texas, in north Texas, in south Texas -- it's all over the state," Texas Forest Service spokeswoman April Saginor told CNN Radio. "We've got one in the Dallas area that's four fires that have actually merged together."
Saginor said firefighters from 34 states are now in Texas battling blazes that, over the past two weeks, have destroyed more than 170 homes.
"Some (fires) are over 100,000 acres and they've been burning for over a week, so that's our priority right now," Saginor said, "to put out the big ones."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gold Price Hits Record

Gold Tops $1,500 on Outlook for Escalating U.S. Debt, Dollar
By Kyoungwha Kim and Pham-Duy Nguyen - Apr 19, 2011 1:09 PM ET

Gold futures rose to a record $1,500.50 an ounce as U.S. debt concerns weighed on the dollar, boosting demand for the precious metal as an alternative investment.
The greenback dropped against the euro on speculation that the European Central Bank will continue to raise borrowing costs as some nations struggle to contain sovereign debt. Standard & Poor’s yesterday revised its long-term outlook of U.S. debt to negative from stable. Before today, gold climbed 31 percent in the past year, and silver prices doubled.

Crews battle wildfires amid severe Texas drought

'It was unbelievable, just horrific. There were horses on fire, buildings on fire'

The Associated Press
LUBBOCK, Texas — Firefighters battled Monday to contain several large blazes that have burned hundreds of square miles of rural Texas and destroyed dozens of homes since last week, getting reinforcements from out of state as they struggled against some of the worst wildfire conditions in state history.
One firefighter was in critical condition at a Lubbock hospital with severe burns suffered while fighting a Panhandle wildfire, officials said.
Powerful winds that sent walls of flame through parched ranchland in and around the West Texas communities of Fort Davis and Midland, incinerating more than 60 homes during the weekend and killing livestock and horses, took pity by directing the fires to largely unpopulated open spaces north and east of the cities.

Freeze Tag, Wiffle Ball Deemed Dangerous in New York

State creates “risky list” of activities to promote safety at summer camps.
Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 | Updated 11:28 AM EDT

Dodgeball, Red Rover, Wiffle Ball – those time-honored kids’ games, along with activities like Steal the Bacon and Capture the Flag – have been deemed dangerous by the state as part of an effort to tighten regulations for summer camps in the area. Any indoor or outdoor recreational program that offers two or more organized activities, including one that falls on the “risky list” determined by state officials, will be considered a summer camp under the new rules and subject to the associated regulations.

Historic tornado outbreak: 3 days, 241 tornadoes, 14 states

By Heather Buchman
Posted Apr 18, 2011 @ 10:09 AM

State College, Pa. -- 17 April 2011 -- reports from Thursday, April 14, to Saturday, April, 16, devastating tornadoes rampaged across communities of the southern United States. Cities and towns from Oklahoma to North Carolina were assaulted by the deadly twisters.
The tornado outbreak led to a total of 241 tornado reports in 14 states over the three-day period. This will likely rank this tornado outbreak among the largest in history.

Earthquake Rattles San Francisco Bay Area

April 18, 2011
A 3.7 magnitude earthquake shook parts of the Bay Area, including Alameda, at about 3 p.m. Monday on the 105th anniversary of San Francisco's Great Quake of 1906.
Bay City News—An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.7 (initial reports said first 3.8 and then 3.4) rattled parts of the Bay Area on Monday afternoon. The quake, which occurred at 2:57 p.m., was centered about two miles southeast of Pacifica, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake was felt in parts of the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Oakland.

Big Pacific quake felt in New Zealand

Apr 18, 2011, 22:49 GMT

Wellington, New Zealand - A massive magnitude-6.4 earthquake recorded early Tuesday in the Pacific Ocean was felt more than 1,600 kilometres away in Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island, news reports said.
Seismologists at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) said the quake struck near the Kermadec Island group. It was centred 33 kilometres below the sea, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wall St slides, Nasdaq falls 2 percent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks slid on Monday, with the Nasdaq falling 2 percent, after ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut its long-term outlook on the United States and another step by China to stem growth reignited worries about the global economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI - News) dropped 229.70 points, or 1.86 percent, to 12,112.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (^SPX - News) dropped 22.15 points, or 1.68 percent, to 1,297.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index (^IXIC - News) dropped 54.50 points, or 1.97 percent, to 2,710.15.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tornadoes 2011: An interactive look

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gold rallies to record; silver hits 31-year high

Gold futures rise as U.S. dollar weakens

By Deborah Levine and Virginia Harrison
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold futures climbed by as much as $16 an ounce Friday to trade in record territory, with silver hitting its highest levels in over three decades, as inflation concerns flared up in the U.S. and elsewhere, boosting investment demand for the precious metals.

Tornadoes threaten NASCAR fans at Talladega

12:03 PM
By John David Mercer/US Presswire
The Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway will draw more than 100,000 NASCAR fans on Sunday. They might want to keep an eye on weather reports today, to make sure the track known as "The Big One" survives a possible test from Mother Nature today.
Tornado warnings are up throughout Alabama, threatening the large crowd of campers and RV users that's expected to attend today's events at the track.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


2011 April 14 20:50:19 UTC
47 km (29 miles) WSW of Rivas, Nicaragua
76 km (47 miles) SSW of Granada, Nicaragua
93 km (57 miles) S of MANAGUA, Nicaragua
1650 km (1025 miles) ESE of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico

Suicide Rates in U.S. Increase as Economy Declines

Suicide rates in the U.S. tend to rise during recessions and fall amid economic booms, according to study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suicides reached a record high of 22 people per 100,000 in 1932 during the Great Depression, CDC officials said in a report published online today in the American Journal of Public Health. That was double the rates seen in 2000, when 10 people per 100,000 took their lives as the economy prospered, the study found.
The study is the first to link business cycles and suicide rates among specific age groups, according to the Atlanta-based CDC. People in their “prime working ages” of 25 to 64 years old are the most likely to commit suicide during recessions, the study found.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inflation Actually Near 10% Using Older Measure

By: John Melloy, Executive Producer, Fast Money

After former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was appointed in 1979, the consumer price index surged into the double digits, causing the now revered Fed Chief to double the benchmark interest rate in order to break the back of inflation. Using the methodology in place at that time puts the CPI back near those levels.
Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter.
Since 1980, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has changed the way it calculates the CPI in order to account for the substitution of products, improvements in quality (i.e. iPad 2 costing the same as original iPad) and other things. Backing out more methods implemented in 1990 by the BLS still puts inflation at a 5.5 percent rate and getting worse, according to the calculations by the newsletter’s web site,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SOLAR ALERT: A G1-class geomagnetic storm is in progress

April 12, 2011
Sparked by a high-speed solar wind stream which is buffeting Earth's magnetic field. High latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

US deficit up 15.7% in first half of fiscal 2011

WASHINGTON — The US budget deficit shot up 15.7 percent in the first six months of fiscal 2011, the Treasury Department said Wednesday as political knives were being sharpened for a new budget battle.
The Treasury reported a deficit of $829 billion for the October-March period, compared with $717 billion a year earlier, as revenue rose a sluggish 6.9 percent as the economic recovery slowly gained pace.

Arctic seashells lead to discovery about global warming

The study suggests current levels of carbon dioxide, which are on par with what they were 3.5 million years ago, may not be low enough to stop the polar ice caps from melting, and could still result in a 2 C increase in the Arctic. An increase this small may mean Arctic temperatures 16 C warmer than today by 2100.
"Our data from the early Pliocene, when carbon dioxide levels remained close to modern levels for thousands of years, may indicate how warm the planet will eventually become if carbon dioxide levels are stabilized at the current value of 400 parts per million," said UCLA assistant professor Aradhna Tripati in a press release.

Japan ups nuke crisis severity

Apr 12, 6:25 AM (ET)
TOKYO (AP) - Japan raised the crisis level at its crippled nuclear plant Tuesday to a severity on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, citing high overall radiation leaks that have contaminated the air, tap water, vegetables and seawater. Japanese nuclear regulators said they raised the rating from 5 to 7 - the highest level on an international scale of nuclear accidents overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency - after new assessments of radiation leaks from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since it was disabled by the March 11 tsunami.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake Shortened Days, Increased Earth's Wobble

Richard A. Lovett
for National Geographic News

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan on March 11 was powerful enough to shorten Earth's day by 1.8 microseconds and throw an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) into the planet's wobble, scientists say.
That doesn't mean shockwaves from the event somehow knocked Earth off its north-south axis, around which the planet revolves.
Instead the quake shifted what's called Earth's figure axis, an imaginary line around which the world's mass is balanced, about 33 feet (10 meters) from the north-south axis.
Earth naturally wobbles slightly as it spins, because shifting surface mass such as melting glaciers and moving ocean currents can throw the planet off balance.
Data from high-precision GPS instruments show that parts of Japan shifted by as much as 13 feet (4 meters) as the fault plates lurched due to the earthquake. This allowed scientists to calculate how much Earth's overall mass distribution had shifted and thus how much the wobble was affected.

Jittery Japan rocked by 6.6 earthquake Monday

KESENNUMA, Japan – Monday’s quake rattled nerves one month to the day after 3-11, as Japanese call March 11’s triple seismic, ocean and nuclear disaster, echoing the U.S. reference to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The aftershock weighed in at magnitude 6.6, far short of the 7.4 quake that rocked Japan Thursday, killing four.

The latest temblor briefly knocked out power at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, which has been belching radiation as workers struggle to control its reactors. The quake occurred a few hours after 2:46 p.m. Monday, when people across Japan held a moment of silence to honor those who died exactly a month before.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Space rocks have landed in Tennessee

- April 6th

That's the conclusion of researchers who recorded a brilliant fireball streaking over the Smoky Mountain state on Wednesday evening. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office reports: "On April 6th at 8:21:57 CDT, NASA all-sky meteor cameras detected a very bright fireball moving north across the state of Tennessee. First detected 52 miles above the Arnold Air Force base near Tullahoma, the meteor was brighter than crescent Moon and was approximately 2 feet in diameter, with a weight of 200 lbs. It was last recorded 30 miles above the town of Woodbury, Tennessee, moving at a speed of approximately 9 miles per second (32,400 mph)."

Oil rises to $113 as stocks slip

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks dropped on Friday, as oil and gold prices spiked and investors await news about the pending government shutdown.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 85 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 (SPX) and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) were each down nearly 1%. With less than an hour before the close of trading, stocks were near their lows for the day.
Oil prices surged to nearly $113 a barrel Friday, a day after Japan was hit with another earthquake. At the same time, the price of unleaded gasoline rose 1.4 cents overnight to a nationwide average of $3.74, according to motorist group AAA.

Earthquakes rock Phillipines volcanoes

April 8, 2011, 7:49pm

MANILA, Philippines -- Taal Volcano rocked nine times Friday while Mt. Bulusan had three earthquakes in the past 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
Phivolcs said Taal is still under Alert Level 1 and warned residents not to venture into the main crater since carbon dioxide emissions may be fatal in spite of the findings that steaming activity at the thermal area was weak. But no imminent eruption is forecast.
On the other hand, Mt. Bulusan recorded only three volcanic earthquakes until early morning yesterday and the emission of white smoke was weak at the southeast and northwest thermal vents.

5.2-magnitude quake jolts Philippines

8 April 2011, 11:11 PM
MANILA — A moderate 5.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the Philippines early Saturday, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or tsunami warnings issued.
The earthquake struck at 2:29 am (18:29 GMT) around 105 kilometres (65 miles) southwest of Olongapo on the Philippines’ Luzon island and 125 kms southwest of the capital Manila, the US Geological Survey said.
People in the Philippines have been nervous about a potential killer quake following the devastating ones to have hit Japan and New Zealand recently.
Like those countries, the Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire — a belt around the Pacific Ocean dotted by active volcanoes and tectonic trenches.

12/21/12: End of the world as we know it?

You have probably heard about the famous Mayan Long Calendar that is set to end its final baktun (cycle) on December 21st, 2012. This end has caused many to sit up and take notice because they are uncertain of what it signifies. The Mayan calendar 2012 deadline is one that has gripped the imagination of everyone from researchers of the Mayan culture. There are a plethora of clues, but putting the pieces together is something that can be quite difficult. This is another reason why there has been so much speculation about the event that will take place on that day. One theory that has been put forth is that this date signifies a rare alignment of the Milky Way galaxy that only occurs once every twenty five thousand years. Some researchers believe that this rare alignment is something that could cause a shift of the magnetic poles.

This is something that has happened before in the distant past, and if it were to happen now it could usher in great and dramatic changes for mankind. The problem is that if the magnetic poles shift it will essentially affect the geographic and weather patterns across the entire globe.

Another clue to the Mayan calendar predictions for 2012 is that there are also signs that this date will be significant in another celestial matter, the return of Planet X. This planet was originally referred to as Nibiru by the Sumerians, and according to their mythology was the home planet of a race of beings known as the Anunnaki that originally created humanity. Whether or not this is a realistic scenario, there is some scientific evidence of a planet that only orbits through our solar system once every three thousand six hundred years. If this planet were to collide with another planetary body or cause a massive disruption in our orbits, then this too could be dangerous for all of humanity.
Mayan Calendar and Solar Flares

Another thing that may coincide with the 2012 deadline is a powerful solar flare. While it is not uncommon for the sun to release solar flares on a regular basis, these are not usually large enough to cause major disruptions or problems. However, some scientists who have researched this phenomenon claim that the sun could release a substantially larger solar flare during this period. If this were to happen it could cause a lot of problems, and some of them could be very severe. So, could this be something that the Mayan calendar was referring to?

With all of the evidence of coinciding astronomical events occurring during this Mayan calendar 2012 time period, there is a good possibility that there is something to this date. While it is unclear of what will happen, the best way to make sure that you are doing everything possible to prepare for a major life changing event is to visit the link below. This way you can make sure that you are keeping in a constant loop of information about the Mayan countdown while at the same time doing everything that you possibly can to make sure that you and your family remain safe.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gold Prices Hit 30-Year High

Updated: Apr 07, 2011 7:33 AM EDT
closed Wednesday at just under $1,460 an ounce

Oil moves past $110 a barrel on earthquake in Japan and falling dollar

April 7th, 2011 1:49 pm ET
Oil moved over $110 on April 7th, and is up over $1.21 as news from Japan came in of another earthquake that shocked the mainland earlier this morning.  The price has also risen against the falling dollar as new European Union (ECB) rate increases have made the Euro the strongest against the dollar in several months.
There are many stong indications that today's rise in price will continue in the market.  Brent Crude has risen over $120 a barrel since last week, and a report that came out of Saudi Arabia predicted that oil could go as high as $200 to $300 a barrel should ongoing Middle Eastern turmoil cross over into the kingdom nation.

7.4-magnitude earthquake strikes off coast of Japan

2011 April 07 14:32:41 UTC
Earthquake Details
Magnitude    7.4
    * Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 14:32:41 UTC
    * Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 11:32:41 PM at epicenter
Location    38.253°N, 141.640°E
Depth    25.6 km (15.9 miles)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

SOLAR WATCH: Unstable sun filament

An active filament of solar magnetism is snaking around the sun's
southeastern limb today. Measuring more than 200,000 km along its sinuous backbone, the
vast structure is in a constant state of motion.

High Radiation in Japanese Fish Raises Concerns

FDA Will Screen Japanese Imported Fish for Radiation

Are you green around the gills with Monday's news that Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. is dumping tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean? Experts say there's no need for worry--at least for now.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will require seafood imported from Japan to be checked for radiation before it enters the food supply. But even with the new screenings, no one in the U.S. government is saying "stop eating tuna."
"Other food products from this area, including seafood, although not subject to the Import Alert, will be diverted for testing by FDA before they can enter the food supply," the FDA said in a prepared statement. "FDA will also be monitoring and testing food products, including seafood, from other areas of Japan as appropriate."
More specifically, an FDA spokesperson told ABC News that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "is screening everything from Japan." However, screening does not entail testing all the seafood. all the testing of the seafood. In fact, the FDA inspects less than 2 percent of seafood, according to Winona Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.
"FDA couldn't possibly with existing staff test all of the food that's being imported," Hauter said. "They inspect less than 2 percent of seafood. Their resources are really stretched."
Since screening, the FDA confirmed finding three food products from Japan that contained radioactive isotopes, although they were "all too low to cause adverse events."
So far, the FDA said that every piece of seafood that has been imported to the United States is safe.
Offshore from the Fukushima plant, the seawater is now testing at levels off the charts -- 7.5 million times more radioactive than the legal limit.
"I can't go out to fish because of the radiation," one Japanese fisherman told ABC News. "I cannot do anything."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

UPDATE: NASA: Space junk passes less than 4 miles from space station

(CNN) -- A piece of space junk, determined a couple hours earlier not to be a threat to the crew aboard the International Space Station, passed within four miles of it Tuesday, NASA said.
The space agency had been monitoring a piece of a Chinese satellite that was destroyed in 2007 and had warned the crew to begin making plans to take shelter in the Russian Soyuz capsule if necessary.
However, tracking data showed the debris would not come close enough to warrant an evacuation of the station, NASA said in a statement issued after the crew was given the all-clear signal.
The debris passed 6.07 kilometers from the space station, or about 3.77 miles, said NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries. The crew was given the all-clear signal at 2:41 p.m., NASA said, less than two hours before the 4:21 p.m. estimate officials had given for when the debris was expected to pass by the station.
The current space station team is made up of NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

May 21, 2011: Is it really Judgment Day?

"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man."
- Revelation 9:5
On May 21st, Judgment Day will begin and the rapture (the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will occur at the end of the 23-year great tribulation.  On October 21st, the world will be destroyed by fire (7000 years from the flood; 13,023 years from creation).

May 21, 2011 will mark the second coming of Christ, or at least that's what some Christian groups believe.
The date was calculated by Harold Camping, the leader of an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, which is based in Oakland, Calif. Camping's date is based on his interpretation of the bible.
Camping's group isn't the only one following his apocalyptic prediction though. A number of loosely affiliated websites and radio broadcasts have created a movement independent of churches that have organized to proclaim the day as the end of the world.
Billboards, bus stop benches, and travelling caravans of RVs from Bridgeport, Conn. to Little Rock, Ark. are being used to spread the word, according to the AP. Allison Warden (pictured) has been helping to organize the campaign not only through billboards and post cards, but through the web, using her site We Can Know.
Camping, 89, says the bible acts as a calendar by which the dates of prophecies can be calculated. "Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he told the AP.
While this isn't the first time that the end of the world has been predicted, there are many believers that will adhere to the date, even if it passes. "It would be like telling the Wright brothers that every other attempt to fly has failed, so you shouldn't even try," Chris McCann, who works with eBible Fellowship, told the AP.

Ozone layer faces record 40 pct loss over Arctic

GENEVA (AP) — The protective ozone layer in the Arctic that keeps out the sun's most damaging rays — ultraviolet radiation — has thinned about 40 percent this winter, a record drop, the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday.
The Arctic's damaged stratospheric ozone layer isn't the best known "ozone hole" — that would be Antarctica's, which forms when sunlight returns in spring there each year. But the Arctic's situation is due to similar causes: ozone-munching compounds in air pollutants that are chemically trigged by a combination of extremely cold temperatures and sunlight.
The losses this winter in the Arctic's fragile ozone atmospheric layer strongly exceeded the previous seasonal loss of about 30 percent, the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization in Geneva said.
It blamed the combination of very cold temperatures in the stratosphere, the second major layer of the Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and ozone-eating CFCs from aerosol sprays and refrigeration.
"This is pretty sudden and unusual," said Bryan Johnson, an atmospheric chemist who works in the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.
Atmospheric scientists concerned about global warming focus on the Arctic because that is a region where the effects are expected to be felt first.
"The Arctic stratosphere continues to be vulnerable to ozone destruction caused by ozone-depleting substances linked to human activities," the U.N. weather agency's secretary-general Michel Jarraud said.
Although the thinner ozone means more radiation can hit Earth's surface, the ozone levels in the Arctic remain higher than in other regions such as in the equatorial regions, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose recent Arctic findings mirror those of the U.N. agency.
Ozone losses occur over the polar regions when temperatures drop below -78 degrees Celsius (-108 Fahrenheit) and iridescent ice clouds form. Sunlight on icy surfaces triggers the ozone-eating reactions in chlorine and bromine that comes from air pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, once widely used as refrigerants and flame retardants in household appliances.
"As sunlight returns, it all comes together to trigger significant thinning of the ozone," Johnson explained.
"Mostly the concern, for the Arctic ozone depletion, is for people that live in northern regions, more towards Iceland, northern Norway, the northern coast of Russia," he added, saying they should be more careful outside, wearing sunscreen and sunglasses.
As of late March, the U.N. said, the thinning ozone was shifting away from the pole and was covering Greenland and Scandinavia.
For the planet, Johnson said, there's the concern that "if this were to happen every year — even though the ozone naturally regenerates itself — you might see a trending downward of the atmospheric ozone layer."
After scientists raised warnings in the early 1970s — later earning a Nobel Prize — virtually all the world's nations agreed to the 1987 treaty called the Montreal Protocol to cut back on CFCs used in air conditioning, aerosol sprays, foam packaging and other products.
But the compounds have long atmospheric lifetimes, so it takes decades for their concentrations to subside to the pre-1980 levels agreed to in the Montreal Protocol. The ozone layer outside the polar regions isn't expected to recover to pre-1980 levels until sometime between 2030 and 2040.
The ozone treaty also encourages industries to use replacement chemicals less damaging to ozone.
Some scientists say if that treaty hadn't been adopted, two-thirds of the world's protective ozone layer would be gone about a half-century from now and the CFCs, which also are long-lived potent greenhouse gases, would have pushed the world's temperature up an extra few degrees.
Arctic ozone conditions vary more than the seasonal ozone "hole" that forms high in the stratosphere near the South Pole each winter and spring, and the temperatures are always warmer in the Arctic than over Antarctica.
Because of the changing weather and temperatures that some Arctic winters experience, there have been times where there is almost no ozone loss, and others when the exceptionally cold stratospheric conditions has led to substantial ozone depletion, U.N. scientists say.
This year, the Arctic winter was warmer than average at ground level but colder in the stratosphere than normal. Average Arctic temperatures in January range from about -40 to 0 C (-40 to 32 F) and in July from about -10 to 10 C (14 to 50 F).
U.N. officials say the latest losses — unprecedented, but not entirely unexpected — were detected in satellite observations and weather balloons that show at what altitudes the ozone loss is occurring.
UN ozone:

Space junk threatens Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A small piece of space junk drifted dangerously close to the International Space Station on Tuesday, prompting NASA to order the three astronauts to seek shelter in their attached capsule.

Mission Control gave the order after determining there was not enough time to steer the orbiting outpost away from the space junk.

The debris — estimated to be about 6 inches square — is from a Chinese satellite that was deliberately destroyed in 2007 as part of a weapons test. It was projected to pass within three miles of the space station, warranting a red threat level, NASA's highest.

Just last Friday, the space station had to move out of the way of an orbiting remnant from a two-satellite collision in 2009.

Debris is an increasingly serious problem in orbit, because of colliding and destroyed spacecraft. At 5 miles a second, damage can be severe, even from something several inches big. Decompression, in fact, is at the top of any spacefarers' danger list.

More than 12,500 pieces of debris are orbiting Earth — and those are the ones big enough to track.

Mission Control notified the crew of the latest threat Tuesday morning, a few hours after the risk was identified. The three crew members are Dmitry Kondratyev, the station's Russian commander, American Catherine Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli.

The orbit of the space junk is extremely erratic, and there's quite a bit of atmospheric drag on it, said NASA spokesman Josh Byerly. Experts monitored the debris into the early afternoon, to determine its exact path.

It's possible the risk of a collision might diminish. If that happened, the three station residents would not have to close themselves off in the Soyuz spacecraft. They arrived at the station in the Soyuz last December. The spacecraft serves as a lifeboat in case of an emergency. It will be used at the end of their six-month mission to deliver the crew back to Earth in May,

But if the risk level remains red, the astronauts would have to remove ventilation lines running from the space station's major modules, seal the hatches to the rooms, and switch the radio channels so they can remain in contact with flight control teams in Houston and Moscow.

They would need to float into the Soyuz capsule about 10 minutes in advance of the time of closest approach — currently projected to be 4:21 p.m. Eastern Time — and remain inside for at least 15 minutes afterward.

The last time a station crew took refuge in a Soyuz was in 2009. That time, the crew had less than an hour's advance warning. This time, the astronauts had nine hours' notice.

A fresh three-person crew is en route to the 220-mile-high outpost after rocketing away from Kazakhstan. That Soyuz is due to arrive Wednesday evening.