Saturday, October 25, 2014

'Godzilla' Sunspot Takes Aim, Ebola Update, Jerusalem A 'Ticking Timebomb'

'Godzilla' Sunspot Takes Aim: X-Class Flare Thought To Be Responsible For Widespread Power Outages

A massive sunspot dubbed ‘Active Region 2192′ has rotated into an earth-facing position. NASA says the Jupiter-sized magnetic anomaly on the sun is crackling with energy and several days ago it fired off an X-class flare right in earth’s direction. Then, yesterday, it launched another flare that was measured to be five times more powerful than the first.

Though the classification of both flares was fairly low and rated in the 1.0 to 2.0 X-class range, the earth’s power and internet infrastructure has experienced some unusual effects over the last 48 hours.

As of this morning, numerous power outages have been reported by internet providers, electrical utility companies, cable companies and even large inter-networks like and Amazon. The outages are being reported by users on Twitter all over the northern hemisphere, including from Canada all the way down to Boston. Many of the companies involved have suggested that the outages were planned or the result of wind storms, but what is curious is that at the very same time all of these outages were being reported on earth, the National Weather Service’s National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) announced that their space-based satellite systems stopped reporting data.

Coincidence? Perhaps.

But an alternate theory is that the solar flares emitted by AR 2192 have something to do with it. How else can we explain widespread outages for literally hundreds of thousands of people occurring almost simultaneously at key utility and internet nodes across thousands of miles on earth, and happening in tandem with a breakdown in communications from the NCEP’s weather monitoring satellite?

An X-class solar flare designated in the 1.0 to 2.0 range doesn’t usually take down power grids and communications infrastructure, though they have been known to temporarily knock out satellites and cause problems with Global Positioning Systems and radio communications.

The outages being reported by users are more than likely temporary without any permanent damage to the physical equipment involved in carrying the signals from point-to-point.

However, historical examples of large-scale outages resulting from solar flares have been well documented. In 1859 a massive solar flare known as the “Carrington Event” left newly developed Telegraph systems inoperable and reportedly even led them to explode and set stations on fire. In 1989 a geo-magnetic storm caused the collapse of Quebec’s hydro electric power station. The flare that took only 90 seconds to bring the electric company to its knees was a fairly powerful x15-Class discharge.

Given these examples, it’s not out of the question to suggest that a solar flare directly targeting Earth could potentially take out many modern day systems hooked into the grid.

In fact, 18 months ago the sun emitted what researchers called a “Carrington Class”solar flare. It just slightly missed earth, but had the sunspot been earth facing at the time it could have been the Kill Shot that took the majority of the planet back to the stone age.

Major Ed Dames, who has long proposed that a massive solar event known as the Kill Shot will eventually hit earth, says that when it happens, expect widespread global outages. Unlike what we experience with lower classification X-flares, however a Kill Shot will be a long-term event:

It’s a sentiment that has been expressed by many, including members of Congress, who say that that the threat of a massive solar flare is a clear and present danger to the United States and the world.

We are only one act of madness away from a social cataclysm unlike anything our country has ever known.
-Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Senior Member House Armed Service Committee
EMP is one of the small number of threats that could hold at risk the continued existence of U.S. civil society.
-Dr. Robert Hermann, Commissioner US Congress EMP Commission
Just one violent active region on the sun can cause continent-wide, perhaps even planetary-scale impacts to our critical infrastructure.
-John Kappenman, Principal Investigator US Congress EMP Commission
The Likelihood of a severe geo-magnetic event capable of crippling our electric grid is 100%.
-Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Senior Member House Homeland Security Committee

WHO: Number Of Ebola-Linked Cases Passes 10,000

More than 10,000 people have been infected with Ebola, according to figures released Saturday by the World Health Organization, as the outbreak continues to spread.
Of those cases, 4,922 people have died.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest ever outbreak of the disease with a rapidly rising death toll in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There have also been cases in three other West African countries, Spain and the United States.

The U.N. health agency said Saturday that the number of confirmed, probable and suspected cases has risen to 10,141. Its figures show about 200 new cases since the last report, four days ago.

Even those grisly tolls are likely an underestimate, WHO has warned, as many people in the hardest hit countries have been unable or too frightened to seek medical care. A shortage of labs capable of handling potentially infected blood samples has also made it difficult to track the outbreak. For example, the latest numbers show no change in Liberia's case toll, suggesting the numbers may be lagging behind reality.

On Thursday, authorities confirmed that the disease had spread to Mali, the sixth West African country affected, and on the same day a new case was confirmed in New York, in a doctor recently returned from Guinea.

To help fight Ebola, the U.N. humanitarian flight service airlifted about 1 ton of medical supplies to Mali late Friday. The seats of the plane were removed to make room for the cargo, which included hazard suits for health workers, surgical gloves, face shields and buckets, according to the World Food Program, which runs the flights.

"Speed is of the essence in this Ebola crisis. Agencies such as WFP and WHO are working every hour to confront together the virus as a matter of priority," said Denise Brown, the West Africa regional director for the U.N. food agency.

We’ve repeatedly warned that this strain of Ebola might be spread by aerosols.
But there is a fascinating and terrifying wrinkle to this …
You might assume that hot, steamy places would be more likely to spread deadly germs than developed countries. But the opposite might be true.
In 1995, scientists from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID)reported in the International Journal of Experimental Pathology:

We also demonstrated aerosol transmission of Ebola virus at lower temperature and humidity than that normally present in sub-Saharan Africa.Ebola virus sensitivity to the high temperatures and humidity in the thatched, mud, and wattel huts shared by infected family members in southern Sudan and northern Zaire may have been a factor limiting aerosol transmission of Ebola virus in the African epidemics. Both elevated temperature and relative humidity (RH) have been shown to reduce the aerosol stability of viruses (Songer 1967). Our experiments were conducted at 240C [i.e. 75 degrees Fahrenheit] and < 40% RH, conditions which are known to favour the aerosol stability of at least two other African haemorrhagic fever viruses, Rift Valley fever and Lassa (Stephenson et a/. 1984; Anderson et a/. 1991). If the same holds true for filoviruses [Ebola is a type of filovirus], aerosol transmission is a greater threat in modern hospital or laboratory settings than it is in the natural climatic ranges of viruses.

Peter Jahrling was one of the authors of the report.  Jahrling was discoverer of the Reston strain of Ebola, and is now chief scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
In 2012, scientists from USAMRIID published a report in the journal Viruses finding:
Aerosol transmission is thought to be possible and may occur in conditions of lower temperature and humidity which may not have been factors in outbreaks in warmer climates.
Given that this is the first time that Ebola has spread out of West Africa to cooler, dryer nations, we may soon find out whether or not high temperature and humidity really do suppress the spread of Ebola by aerosols.

Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry (Yesh Atid), formerly the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), warned on Thursday that the situation in Jerusalem is a “ticking time bomb” which will lead to a full-fledged third intifada.

"We are witnessing a very serious escalation in Jerusalem," Perry toldArmy Radio, a day after a terrorist attack in the capital and as riots by Arabs continue. "This escalation is on the verge of becoming an intifada.”

So far, the constant riots by Arabs in and around the capital, which have included rock and firebomb attacks, have been called the “silent intifada”. Perry said, however, that the escalation has reached such proportions that it is on the cusp of becoming a popular uprising.

"I'm not releasing the political leadership from responsibility, including its attitude toward the police," Perry said in the interview. "We should have begun a massive reinforcement of the police, Border Police and the intelligence agencies in the earlier stages. We could have avoided the escalation.”
"We need to be honest with ourselves," he continued. “Attacks in Jerusalem took place also when things were relatively quieter, clashes on the Temple Mount have taken place in the past, but when we look at the whole picture, this present escalation is a very serious one and may explode.”

Perry’s comments came hours after top security officials claimed that talk of a third intifada is overblown.

According to these officials, despite the attack Wednesday in Jerusalem, terror was still “local,” and not part of an organized Palestinian campaign, as the intifadas in 1987 and 2000 were.
Wednesday's deadly attack took place one day after the police announced the formation of a new task force to combat ongoing violence in Jerusalem.

The bad news: If they get everything working perfectly, from the targeting to the launcher to the multi-stage long-range missile itself to the warhead mounted on top, they might be able to take out a city or two on the west coast before we bomb them back to — I was going to say “to the stone age,” but in their case let’s say “slightly closer to the stone age.”

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula, said North Korea now is capable of building a miniaturized nuclear warhead, a step needed to complete development of a nuclear-tipped missile…
Such nuclear warheads would be small enough to fit on a ballistic missile and would be a major improvement to Pyongyang’s weapons technology. Gen. Scaparrotti said he believed North Korea also had developed a launcher that could carry an ICBM with a miniaturized warhead
Gen. Scaparrotti said North Korea may have gained know-how on warhead-miniaturization technology through its relationships with Iran and Pakistan.
If you’re looking for comfort here, take some from the fact that we’re building out our west-coast missile defense systems too. Every minute the NorKs spend perfecting their offensive capability is a minute we spend perfecting our defensive ones, and of course we’ll be more efficient with those minutes than they will. We may reach the point where our missile shield is sufficiently advanced that a NorK nuclear attack would be more analogous to suicide by cop than something that would seriously threaten an American city. And if you’re looking for really, really cold comfort, take it from the fact that a suicidal North Korea nuclear missile release might be aimed at South Korea and Japan rather than the U.S. If they’re going to pull the trigger on a decision that will end their civilization, logically they want some offensive bang for their buck. They’re more likely to get that by targeting their neighbors with short-range missiles, which are less likely to be intercepted because their in flight for less time and which might be allowed to launch by the U.S. and its allies on the assumption that it’s a test, than by targeting America with long-range ones.

Exit question: Per the excerpt, what sort of “know-how” about weaponizing nukes for long-range missiles has North Korea gained from Iran? I’d be curious to know that before Obama signs a big peace-in-our-time nuclear agreement with the mullahs.

Following intelligence received by the Jerusalem District Police of plans by young Arabs to disturb the peace at the end of prayers on the Temple Mount, district commander Major General Moshe Edri decided to restrict entry to the Temple Mount for Friday prayers.

 Large numbers of security forces are present Friday morning in the Old City and around Jerusalem pressure points such as Issawiya, French Hill and Silwan. The entrance to the Temple Mount is being restricted to male worshipers aged 40 or over, and women of all ages.
Thursday night an Israel police spokesperson said, "The police will operate decisively and show zero tolerance to anyone who tries to break the peace."
He also said that, "new intelligence gathering facilities including small surveillance balloons are being deployed. He called the buildup a "strategic decision" connected to the overall situation, not a response to Wednesday's killing of the 3 month-old baby in the Ammunition Hill light rail stop attack.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has been reported as saying that the violence has become intolerable, and he has vowed to restore order.

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