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Is this the age of megaquakes?

April 19, 2011 1 comment

msn

Kyodo / Reuters

Buildings tossed together by the tsunami is seen in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan March 12, 2011. Scientists are asking if another megaquake will strike in the next six years.

By John Roach

First there was the earthquake and tsunami in Sumatra in 2004. Chile was shaken and lashed violently a year ago. Japan is still reeling from the twin disasters on March 11. It seems as if the Earth has woken from a long slumber and is violently re-jiggering its plates. Is there any truth to the notion?

The question of megaquake clustering, which I explored in the days following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, was a hot topic of conversation Thursday at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting in Memphis, Tenn., according to various media reports.

There, Charles Bufe, a seismologist retired from the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, said the spate of recent megaquakes is very similar to a string of seven magnitude 8.5 or greater quakes that struck between 1950 and 1965. The intervening decades, he noted, were quiet.

Bufe and USGS colleague David Perkins analyzed the clustering and concluded that Read more…

EU set to unveil neutral net neutrality plans

April 19, 2011 Comments off

The European Commission will unveil proposals to foster a neutral and competitive Internet on Tuesday (19 April), drawing praise from big industry for its cautiousness while consumer groups and activists lament its lack of substance. 

Background

Tim Berners Lee, often dubbed ‘the father of the Web’, ranks among the high-profile personalities to have publicly lobbied for regulation to mandate the neutrality of the Internet. However, others have argued that regulation is unnecessary and would threaten innovation.

At the heart of the issue is whether access to Internet services or content should be controlled and filtered rather than left free and provided according to the principle of ‘best effort’.

This principle implies that no provider can prioritise traffic on the Net for economic reasons. Instead, every user should be served with the providers’ ‘best effort’. This criterion has seen derogations in order to allow more professional use of the Internet. Therefore, a business user willing to pay more gets a faster and better connection.

However, extending this concept to many more users would run the risk of the majority getting such a poor service that it will prevent them from using the Internet. The borders between the two needs are currently being defined, and are subject to technological and regulatory developments.

The issue of net neutrality was first debated in the US a while ago, and is now generating intense debate in Brussels. It was also included in the EU’s review of telecoms rules (EurActiv 12/06/09).

While the US has long since passed legislation to ensure an open Internet, the EU has been struggling to catch up.

In a draft proposal seen by EurActiv, the European Commission does its homework on possible infringements of net neutrality but prefers to adopt a Read more…

Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant?

April 19, 2011 Comments off

globalresearch

Confused and often conflicting reports out of Fukushima 1 nuclear plant cannot be solely the result of tsunami-caused breakdowns, bungling or miscommunication. Inexplicable delays and half-baked explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) seem to be driven by some unspoken factor.

The smoke and mirrors at Fukushima 1 seem to obscure a steady purpose, an iron will and a grim task unknown to outsiders. The most logical explanation: The nuclear industry and government agencies are scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan’s civilian nuclear power plants.

A secret nuclear weapons program is a ghost in the machine, detectable only when the system of information control momentarily lapses or breaks down. A close look must be taken at the gap between the official account and unexpected events.

Conflicting Reports

TEPCO, Japan’s nuclear power operator, initially reported three reactors were operating at the time of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Then a hydrogen explosion ripped Unit 3, run on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (or MOX). Unit 6 immediately disappeared from the list of operational reactors, as highly lethal particles of plutonium billowed out of Unit 3. Plutonium is the stuff of smaller, more easily delivered warheads.

A fire ignited inside the damaged housing of the Unit 4 reactor, reportedly due to overheating of spent uranium fuel rods in a Read more…

PBOC’s Zhou Urges Cutting China’s $3 Trillion of Foreign-Exchange Reserves

April 19, 2011 1 comment

bloomberg

PBoC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China needs to reduce its foreign- exchange reserves as they exceed the level the nation requires, central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said.

The management and diversification of the holdings, which topped $3 trillion at the end of March, should be improved, Zhou said after a speech at Tsinghua University in Beijing late yesterday. The rapid accumulation is putting pressure on the sterilization operations of the People’s Bank of China, he said.

The nation’s foreign-exchange reserves climbed $197 billion in the first quarter, reflecting global imbalances that Group of 20 finance ministers agreed last week to address through deeper scrutiny of their economic policies. China’s surging holdings are fueling inflation that accelerated last month to the highest in 32 months, prompting the government to boost banks’ reserve requirements this week for the fourth time this year.

“Foreign-exchange reserves have exceeded the reasonable levels that we actually need,” Zhou said. “The rapid increase in reserves may have led to excessive liquidity and has exerted significant sterilization pressure. If the government doesn’t strike the right balance with its policies, the build-up could cause big risks,” he said, without elaborating.

The world’s second-biggest economy grew 9.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, faster than economists had forecast, and consumer prices climbed Read more…

New record: 26 million Americans now have diabetes

April 19, 2011 Comments off

naturalnews

(NaturalNews) More Americans than ever now have type 2 diabetes, according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty-six million Americans now have the disease, which is ten percent more than in 2008. And a shocking 79 million others have pre-diabetes, a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels that indicate pending insulin-production failure.

“These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes,” said Ann Albright, director of the diabetes translation division at CDC, in a statement. “We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.”

What is perhaps even more concerning than the sharp rise in diabetes cases is the even larger increase in pre-diabetes cases. According to data, the pre-diabetes rate jumped by nearly 40 percent since 2008. So if the entire pre-diabetic population eventually becomes diabetic, nearly one third of the entire U.S. population will eventually have diabetes.

Currently, 8.3 percent of all Americans, and 11.3 percent of people over the age of 20, now have diabetes. Twenty-seven percent of those that have it, or roughly seven million people, are not even aware of their condition. Based on trends, diabetes rates are only expected to continue to rise in the years to come.

In addition to physical lifestyle changes, there are many medicinal superfoods like almonds, green leafy vegetables, and camu camu, that can help to prevent and treat diabetes when incorporated as part of a healthy diet. Avoiding processed foods like soda that are rich in highly-refined sweeteners will also help to keep blood sugar levels low and prevent the destruction of the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin.

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March 9.0 Japanese quake set off tremors around the world

April 19, 2011 1 comment

ouramazingplanet

earthquake magnitude comparison

The earthquake that launched a series of disasters in Japan in March triggered micro-quakes and tremors around the world, scientists find.

The catastrophic magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of the Tohoku region of Japan March 11 set off tremors mostly in places of past seismic activity, including southwest Japan, Taiwan, the Aleutians and mainland Alaska, Vancouver Island in Canada, Washington state, Oregon, central California and the central United States. It was unlikely that any of these events exceeded magnitude 3.

Researchers noted, however, that temblors also were detected in Cuba. “Seismologists had never seen tremor in Cuba, so this is an exciting new observation,” Justin Rubinstein, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey at Menlo Park, Calif., told OurAmazingPlanet.

Part of the excitement of the find is the insight it could add into the inner workings of earthquakes.

“Studying long-range triggering may help us to better understand the underlying physics of how earthquakes start,” explained seismologist Zhigang Peng at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Quakes where normally quiet

Most of these micro-earthquakes and tremors occurred in places that already had high background levels of seismic activity, including California’s Geysers Geothermal Field and the San Andreas Fault. Some of the quakes occurred in low-activity areas, such as central Nebraska, central Arkansas and near Beijing.

“Seismologists generally think of the central U.S. as relatively Read more…

Pakistan urges end to US strikes

April 19, 2011 Comments off

presstv

Pakistan has called on the US to stop non-UN-sanctioned drone strikes in the country’s northern tribal belt as differences between Islamabad and Washington escalate.

The row between the US and its Asian ally over the scale of the unauthorized CIA drone operations in Pakistan’s North Waziristan were exposed last week.

Pakistan has repeatedly criticized the attacks which it condemns for violating the country’s sovereignty.

Washington, on the other hand, defends the strikes as necessary to fight the militants it claims to have holed up.

But Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that Washington should share better intelligence so Islamabad can take action against militants itself.

For several months, Pakistani diplomats and military officials have complained that they were being kept in the dark by the US administration’s non-UN-sanctioned military campaigns.

Politicians on both sides are disappointed with the results of investment of billions of dollars in the US military and civilian assistance since 2001 with Washington admitting in a recent report to Congress that the results of the spending fell short of expectations.

More than 1,180 people were killed by over 120 CIA drone strikes in 2010 alone, reports say.

The strikes have further fueled the anti-US sentiment already on the rise in the region.