Archive for August 4, 2011

A Strong M-class solar flare headed for Earth

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A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Aug. 7th or 8th. Credit: SDO/AIA.

STRONG SOLAR ACTIVITY: For the third day in a row, active sunspot 1261 has unleashed a strong M-class solar flare. The latest blast at 0357 UT on August 4th registered M9.3 on the Richter Scale of Flares, almost crossing the threshold into X-territory (X-flares are the most powerful kind). The number of energetic protons around Earth has jumped nearly 100-fold as a result of this event. Stay tuned for updates.

INCOMING CLOUDS: At least two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are now en route to Earth, propelled toward us by eruptions in the magnetic canopy of sunspot 1261 on August 2nd and 3rd. Analysts at the GSFC Space Weather Lab have just produced a new 3-D model of the advancing CMEs. Click on the image to set the clouds in motion below:

Read more…

Near Record Arctic Ice Melt Opens Up Shipping Lanes

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Russian icebreaker '50 Years of Victory' reaches the North Pole on 01 July. Photo - T. Alekseeva

Russian icebreaker ’50 Years of Victory’ reaches the North Pole on 01 July. Photo – T. Alekseeva

Icebreaker-free shipping through the Northern Sea Route can now proceed following a near-record rate of Arctic ice melt, Russia’s environmental agency announced on Wednesday.

The Federal Hydrometeorological and Environmental Monitoring Service said that an expansive area of the Northern Sea Route has allowed for the opening of shipping lanes fit for cargo traffic between Europe and Asia.

A Belgium-owned tanker ship has already successfully transported oil condensate through the Bering Strait to a port in China.

The Northern Sea Route, sometimes referred to as the Northeast Passage,  is a shipping lane officially defined by Russian legislation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean specifically running along the Russian Arctic coast from Murmansk on the Barents Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait and Far East. The entire route lies in Arctic waters and parts are free of ice for only two months per year.

However, a 56% decline in ice extent in many areas has now left enabled marine shipping to continue through to the middle of autumn.

Bloomberg reported last month that Russia plans to revive a Read more…

Unemployment rose in 90 percent of U.S. cities in June

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Unemployment rates rose in more than 90 percent of U.S. cities in June, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Unemployment rose in 345 large metro areas during the month, according to the report. Rates dropped in 20 cities, and remained steady in seven.

The national unemployment rate increased in June to 9.2 percent.

The statistics show a drastic change in unemployment rates in recent months. In May, unemployment rates rose in only 210 cities. In April, rates decreased in nearly all metro areas.

In June, employers added just 18,000 jobs, the lowest number in nine months. It was also a sharp decrease from the average of 215,000 jobs that were added in February, March, and April.

Many of the highest unemployment rates were seen in metro areas that are college towns. Champaign-Urbana, Ill., the home of the University of Illinois, saw its unemployment rate rise from 6.9 percent in May to 9.6 percent in June. College towns in Read more…

Military Launches Unmanned Solar-powered Lighter-than-air Vehicle (Airship)

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Akron, Ohio – The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin launched the first-of-its kind High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator this morning, demonstrating a number of key technologies critical to development of unmanned airships.

The aircraft successfully launched at 5:47 a.m. out of the Airdock in Akron, Ohio. The airship reached an altitude of approximately 32,000 feet, however, a technical anomaly prevented the airship from attaining its target altitude of 60,000 feet and the HALE-D team decided to terminate the flight.
The aircraft descended without incident at 8:26 a.m. in southwestern Pennsylvania to a predetermined landing location. Lockheed Martin is coordinating with state and local authorities to recover the airship. We have confirmed that no injuries or damage were experienced during this landing in a heavily wooded area.

“While we didn’t reach the target altitude, first flights of new technologies like HALE-D also afford us the ability to Read more…

PM would accept pre-’67 lines as baseline for talks

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Israel to negotiate using 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, if Palestinians accept two states, one Palestinian and one Jewish.

With the Palestinians set to seek recognition of statehood at the UN in just a number of weeks, Israel said Tuesday it would be willing to accept the 1967 lines as a framework for talks as part of a package in which the Palestinians would recognize Jewish state.

Israeli officials said this framework would be a package deal whereby Israel would agree to entering negotiations using the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed upon swaps, as the baseline of talks; and the Palestinians would agree that the final goal of negotiations would be two states, a Palestinian one and Jewish one.

Israel raised the formula as officials from both parties, the US, EU and Russia are continuing to work on a document to provide a framework for a return to negotiations that could make a Palestinian bid at the UN superfluous.

According to this formulation, one official explained, each side would get something: The Palestinians would get the 1967 lines as the baseline, something they have long sought; and Israel would get Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel, according to the official, has made Read more…

Categories: Israel, Palestine Tags: ,

Why Oceania Matters

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Since World War II, the United States has devoted few resources to the promotion of peace and stability in Oceania. Instead, it has relied on Australia and New Zealand to maintain Western strategic influence in the region. However, faced with a rising China and other emerging security issues, many analysts believe that the United States can no longer take Oceania for granted. Indeed, without the support of the United States and other regional powers, some question whether Australia and New Zealand will be able to sustain their roles as the sole guarantors of peace and stability in the region indefinitely.

Few regional analysts have been as vocal as Ernest Bower, head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ recently launched Pacific Partners Initiative (PPI),on the issue.

‘Very few US policymakers understand the importance (of Australian and New Zealander contributions to peace and security in Asia since World War II)…these are important US partners, but their views aren’t sufficiently reflected in our policies. This has resulted in US policy not being robust enough to manage security issues in Asia-Pacific in the next century,’ he says. ‘If we don’t shift the policy focus, then we will Read more…

This Nebraska Village May Be Sitting On The World’s Largest Untapped Deposit Of Rare Earth Minerals

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elk creek nebraska

The next commodities boom town.

Image: Google Maps

A tiny town in Nebraska might be where the US wakes up from it’s decade-long hiatus from mining rare earth elements.

The Washington Times reports that Vancouver-based Quantum Rare Earths Developments Corp. announced that they have found significant amounts of rare earth elements and niobium in Elk Creek, a rural town of 112 people. The company and the US Geological Survey estimate that Elk Creek is potentially the “largest global resources of Niobium & Rare-Earth Elements.

Niobium is an element needed to make strong heat-resistant steel. Deposits of Niobium in Elk Creek surpassed Quantum’s estimates. The company found rich concentrations of “Europium, Gadolinium, Terbium and Dysprosium, associated with the Elk Creek Niobium Depositaccording to their website.

A Boom Town in Nebraska

Residents of the tiny town are Read more…

Broward tornado hit up to 90 mph wind speed, weather service says

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A twister that tore through a mile of Tamarac and North Lauderdale on Tuesday hit a maximum wind speed of 90 mph, the National Weather Service said on Wednesday.

No serious injuries were reported, most of the damage was Read more…

Aircraft Carrier Construction Well Underway in China

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Bill Gertz at the Washington Times has an article on Chinese aircraft carriers, a vogue topic these days.

China has begun work on its first aircraft carrier and probably will develop two or more, along with outfitting a former Russian carrier that is set to begin sea trials soon, Pentagon officials said.

“We expect China to build at least one indigenous carrier, probably two or more, but they have not revealed how many they intend to build, what the construction schedule will [be] or what their missions will be,” said a defense official familiar with intelligence assessments.

A second defense official said China regards aircraft carriers as key symbols of global power projection and is unlikely to build just two.

Other defense officials said assessments about the indigenous carriers are based on intelligence showing construction of the first indigenous carrier at the Changxing Island Shipyard in Shanghai.

The carrier appears in satellite photos to be similar in design to the Varyag, a Soviet-era carrier purchased by China that uses a sky-jump style takeoff ramp at the front of the ship.

What makes this article different is that it cites Read more…

Categories: China Tags: , , ,