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Thursday, October 25, 2012

signs of an eruption on heard Island 1200 miles north of Antarctica

Signs of an Eruption on Heard Island

Clad in pristine snow and glacial ice, Mawson Peak appears quiet. However, reports by Volcano Live and heat signatures detected by a satellite suggest recent activity at the volcano.

Although not definitive, this natural-color satellite image also suggests an ongoing eruption. The dark summit crater—much darker than Mawson’s shaded southwestern face—is at least partially snow-free. There is also a faint hint of an even darker area—perhaps a lava flow—within. Shortwave infrared data shows hot surfaces within the crater, indicating the presence of lava in or just beneath the crater. Heavy cloud cover camouflaged what may have been a plume that erupted less than an hour after the image above was captured.

Because the volcano is located on the inaccessible Heard Island, 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) north of Antarctica and 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) southeast of Africa, satellites are the primary means of monitoring Mawson Peak. This image was acquired on October 13, 2012 by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite.

Natural Hazards

Iran supreme leader: U.S. and Israel are trying to divide Muslims

'NATO and Zionist agents are trying to divert the deluge-like movement of Muslim youth and bring them into confrontation with one another in the name of Islam', says Khamenei.

Iran's most powerful authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday accused the United States and Israel of fomenting divisions among Muslims to undermine Islamic uprisings across the Middle East.


Turkish media: US keeping 70 Nuclear bombs in military base in Turkey

[B]SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)[/B] — There are nearly 70 American B61 nuclear bombs in Turkey, a Turkish news agency disclosed, adding that all of them are deployed in the Turkish Incirlik air base in Adana.

The greater part of these bombs is the property of the US army, and Washington reserves the right to use them in case of need., Haberturk news agency reported.

Until 1995 from 10 to 20 B61 bombs were deployed in two other air bases in Turkey, but later all of them were transferred to the Incirlik Air Base, it said.

According to the report, Turkey was given the US nuclear weapons in line with Washington's interests in the region which allowed the US army to transfer them to another place in case of the outbreak of dangerous clashes in the region.

However, the problem is the means of transport for the bombs, because the Turkish side, despite repeated requests by the US, still opposes deployment of aircraft in Incirlik which are capable of transferring nuclear bombs.

Analysts are of the opinion that Turkey is itself capable of transferring the B61 nuclear bombs by using F16 planes.

Bank Santander profits sink 90% on bad property loans

Spanish bank Santander has said its quarterly profits fell by more than 90% after taking provisions for bad property loans in its local market.

Net income fell to 100m euros (£81m) in the third quarter from 1.8bn euros in the same period last year, it said.

The bank also said that UK profit fell 21% to 337m euros in the three months.

So far this year Santander has set aside 3.5bn euros for provisions for property losses - a problem facing all Spanish banks.

The Spanish government has found itself in financial difficulty since the 2008 global financial crisis caused a big crash in the country's over-heated property market, and many fear that it will need a full bailout on top of the banking loan that has already been agreed.

Santander said that total problematic property assets amounted to 18.5bn euros.

"The bank's capacity to generate profit enables us to set aside hefty real estate provisions in Spain in 2012 and significantly increase non-performing loan coverage," Santander chairman Emilio Botin said.

Loans grew in emerging market such as Latin America and Poland and declined in economies that are "deleveraging" - that is, cutting down on debt - such as Spain and Portugal, the bank added.

Spain is struggling with a shrinking economy and 25% unemployment.

Spain's banks will need an injection of 59.3bn euros to survive a serious downturn, an independent audit recently calculated. However, Santander - along with six other banks - was found to have no need for extra capital.

The Spanish government is still hoping to avoid requesting a bailout from the eurozone rescue funds, but many think this is inevitable.


The bombed Sudanese factory produced Iranian Shehab missiles

The Yarmouk Complex of military plants near Khartoum, whicht was bombed five minutes after midnight Wednesday, Oct. 24, by four fighter-bombers, recently went into manufacturing Iranian ballistic surface-to-surface Shehab missiles under license from Tehran,DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose. Western intelligence sources have not revealed what types of Shehab were being turned out in Sudan but they believe the Yarmouk’s output was intended to serve as Tehran’s strategic reserve stock in case Iran’s ballistic arsenal was hit by Israeli bombers.

The Israeli Air Force has a long record of pre-emptive attacks for destroying an enemy’s long-range missiles in the early stages of a conflict. In June 2006, for instance, the IAF destroyed 90 percent of Hizballah’s long-range missiles in the first hours of the Lebanon war.

Videos of the explosions caused in the air raid over Sudan showed large quantities of phosphorus flares in the sky suggesting that a large stockpile was demolished along with the manufacturing equipment.

Western sources did not divulge information about the comings and goings of Iranian missile specialists or whether the Bashir government had given Tehran permission to stage attacks from Sudan against Middle East targets, in return for the allotment of a number of missiles to the Sudanese army. All they would say is that the complex's structures had been completely leveled by the aerial bombardment and subsequent fire.

Sudan accused Israel of the attack and stated it reserved the right to respond at a time and circumstances of its choosing. Israeli officials declined to comment in answer to questions.

If Indeed Israel was responsible for the bombing raid, it is possible to postulate the following objectives:

1. Its air force flew 1,800-1,900 kilometers to reach the Sudanese arms factory, a distance longer than the 1,600 kilometers to the Iranian underground enrichment site of Fordo. This operation may have been intended to show Tehran that distance presents no obstacles to an Israeli strike on its nuclear program.

2. The IAF has an efficient in-flight refueling capability.
3. The raid would have degraded Iran’s ability to retaliate for a potential Israel or US attack.

If it was conducted by Israel, it would add a third item to the list of backdoor assaults in which Iran and Israel appear to be engaged in the past three months.

On August 17, the power lines to Fordo were sabotaged, interrupting the work of enrichment taking place there and causing some of the advanced centrifuges to catch fire.

On Oct. 6, an Iranian stealth drone was launched from Lebanon into Israeli air space and photographed its most sensitive military sites as well as the Dimona nuclear reactor before Israel brought it down.


Chinese ships enter disputed Senkaku waters

Japan's Coast Guard said the four Chinese surveillance ships were spotted within a 12-nautical mile zone that Tokyo considers its territorial waters near one of the disputed islands in the East China Sea early Thursday morning.

The ships refused to leave, saying the area was Chinese territory, according to Atsushi Takahashi, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's headquarters in Okinawa, which has jurisdiction over the islands. He said it was the first time Chinese ships had entered the territorial waters since Oct. 3.

Japan's Foreign Ministry lodged a strong protest with China's ambassador in Tokyo.

The naval activity near the uninhabited islands called the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China comes after officials from Japan and China held talks last week in Shanghai to discuss the dispute. The dispute has heightened tensions between the nations in recent months.

Chinese ships have been frequenting waters near the islands, also claimed by Taiwan, since Japan's government nationalised them last month, a decision that sparked violent demonstrations across China. The ships have generally kept out of the 22-kilometer zone.

Japanese air force officials, meanwhile, say there has also been a spike recently in Chinese air operations resulting in emergency "scrambles" by Japanese fighter jets to keep them from entering Japan's airspace.

According to statistics released by the Defense Ministry, fighters were dispatched 54 times between July and September in response to possible incursions of Japanese airspace by Chinese warplanes. That was up sharply from the three previous months, before the tensions heightened, when there were 15 such scrambles.

A ministry official said virtually all of the incidents were in airspace over the East China Sea.

Both countries have been flexing their military muscles to bolster their claims to the islands, which are strategically located and surrounded by rich fishing grounds, along with potentially lucrative reserves of undersea natural resources.

Last week, China held exercises involving 11 vessels from its East China Sea fleet and the civilian marine surveillance and fishery administration agencies, along with eight aircraft, state media said.

While the exact location of the exercises wasn't known, state TV showed the vessels and aircraft operating near shore, not on the high seas or close to the disputed islands.

The Telegraph

Federal Reserve stands firm on bond-buying program

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it is standing firm on its plan to stimulate the economy for the near future and will keep up its open-ended bond-buying program.

Wrapping up a two-day policy meeting, the Fed made little change to its latest policy statement after declaring last month that it would take aggressive new action to bolster economic growth to try to drive down unemployment. At the time, the central bank said it would buy $143 billion of mortgage bonds through the rest of the year and, using surprising new language, would continue to support the economy even when the recovery shows signs of strengthening.

In Wednesday’s statement, the Fed said it is concerned that unless it continues to provide stimulus, “economic growth might not be strong enough to generate sustained improvement in labor market conditions.”

It noted that consumer spending has quickened but that business investment has slowed. Inflation also picked up because of higher energy prices but is stable overall, the Fed said.

“Growth in employment has been slow, and the unemployment rate remains elevated,” the policy statement said. Repeating its language from last month, the Fed said its policies will “remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”

Before deciding on any policy changes, the Fed is likely to spend more time taking stock of last month’s aggressive actions. Fed measures have pushed interest rates — especially mortgage rates — super low to stimulate borrowing and investment. Six weeks in, the results are a mixed bag.

Mortgage rates have come down. Freddie Mac reported last week that the average rate on a 30-year-mortgage was at 3.37 per­cent, down from 3.55 percent before the Fed’s stimulus announcement. But that drop might overstate the new measure’s success, as banks are pocketing much of the reduction in interest rates.

The stock market has been slightly down in the past month. But the Fed actions do not seem to have affected inflation or other market measures in any significant way.

The central bank has two legal mandates: maximizing employment and keeping prices stable. The Fed has an inflation target of 2 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate has come down to 7.8 percent after the recession drove it above 8 percent for several years. But other, less volatile measures of employment suggest a very sluggish recovery. The European financial crisis has eased a bit, but there is a worrisome slowdown in China and other emerging markets.

The housing market has shown signs of a modest recovery, but there is a looming end-of-year “fiscal cliff” of sharp spending cuts and tax increases that are likely to push the economy into recession if Congress does not take action to stop it.

Many forecasters expect substandard economic growth and little progress in bringing down joblessness over the next year, suggesting the Fed will have to follow through on its decision to continue the stimulus program.

Analysts are likely to pay much more attention to the Fed meeting Dec. 11 and 12, when the central bank will need to decide whether to continue its purchases of mortgage bonds into the new year. It will also consider whether to continue to purchase long-term Treasury bonds, which it has been doing at a pace of $45 billion per month since June.

In December, the Fed could also announce more specific conditions for when it would change policy. The issue of more clarity on future Fed decisions has been the subject of much debate within the central bank and among outside economists.

The Fed says it will hold interest rates ultra-low through mid-2015, but some outside economists say the Fed should offer the public more detailed guidance. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans, for example, has suggested that officials announce that the Fed will hold interest rates down until the unemployment rate reaches 7 percent or inflation reaches 3 percent.

Although many at the Fed favor Evans’s proposal, there is wide disagreement about what conditions to set for continuing or pulling out of policy actions.

All Fed members voted in favor of Wednesday’s action except Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, who has long opposed the central bank’s stimulus campaign.

The Washington Post

'Three parent embryos' created from human eggs

'Three-parent embryos' have been created from human eggs for the first time in a breakthrough for a therapy which could eradicate a host of rare genetic disorders

Embryos containing DNA from three parents have been created from human eggs for the first time in a breakthrough for a therapy which could eradicate a host of rare genetic disorders.

Eggs containing DNA from two women were fertilised and grown into healthy embryos in a lab experiment by researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in the US.

The technique is designed for women who have mutations in tiny structures known as mitochondria, which can result in a range of devastating conditions including muscular dystrophy.

It involves taking chromosomes from the mother's egg, which carry 99.8 per cent of her DNA, and placing them in a donor egg which has healthy mitochondria but has had its own chromosomes removed.

The eggs were fertilised by sperm and almost half developed into healthy embryos. The resulting children would have inherited 99.8 per cent of their DNA from their parents, but also a tiny fraction from the donor.

Writing in the Nature journal, the researchers reported that half of the embryos developed abnormally, but identified improvements in their technique which could improve its success rate.
The Telegraph

United Nations using biometrics to identify refugees in Senegal

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in partnership with theSenegalese government, recently launched a campaign to provide digitized, biometric ID cards to some 19,000 refugees. Approximately 14,000 refugees are from Mauritania, which is experiencing a long-standing border dispute with Senegal that has resulted in ethnic violence.

Since April 1989, about 60,000 Mauritanians have fled to Senegal and Mali. UNHCR provided assistance to the Mauritanian refugees in northern Senegal until 1995 and facilitated the reintegration of 35,000 refugees who decided on their own accord to return to Mauritania between 1996 and 1998.

More than 24,000 Mauritanians were repatriated from Senegal under a program launched in 2008 and completed in March this year.

The biometric ID cards supplied by the UN’s refugee agency include a picture of the holder as well as fingerprints and biographical data. They are aimed at easing local integration and they guarantee the holder the same rights as Senegalese citizens, including the right to residence in the country and to travel to member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The card has been distributed to all refugees aged five years or above, but does not grant the right to vote. The identification cards are important due to high instability in region emanating from the terrorist threat emerging in Mali from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and its splinter group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, which are both using Northern Mali as an operating base.

Biometric Update.com

The Image of the Beast Explained

'StingRay' facilities blanketing surveillance