September 10, 2013 – AUSTRALIA – Scientists in Victoria are attempting to learn more about the increase in the number of earthquakes in the Gippsland region. Seismologists are describing the region as an earthquake hotspot. There were only 50 earthquakes recorded up until 2009, but since then there have been 700. The activity has been particularly high in the Strzelecki Ranges which lie between the Latrobe Valley and the Gippsland coastline. Locals have been intrigued by the tremors for years. Gary Gibson from the University of Melbourne says the motion in Gippsland is high. “There are other spots that are active for a period of time but they’re active for a geologically short period, maybe 100,000 years or something and they go quiet. And they’ve got no long term evidence of continued motion,” he said. “Whereas the motion in Gippsland here, the rate of earthquake activity we have at the moment is high. The geology suggests that the average over the last few million years is probably even higher.” There are eight seismographs planted in the ground along fault lines meters below the surface around Gippsland to monitor the tremors. They are so sensitive that they can record the vibrations of approaching footsteps. One of them is on Neville Cliff’s beef farm. “We’ve had some good earthquakes come through here. You can hear them coming. It’s like an express train coming and the house shakes,” he said. “How many farmers got a seismograph? People tell me how many cattle they’ve got and how many acres they’ve got and I say well have you got a seismograph?”
Honors student Dan Sandiford recently finished a study on the seismic activity of areas with fractures in the rock bed, called faults. He looked at whether the activity was related to faults in the Gippsland area. “The question really is, are those faults still active? Are the earthquakes that are happening and have been recorded here in the modern era related to those faults? The study suggested that those earthquakes did happen on faults and those faults are some of the largest ones which are known in the area,” he said. Gary Gibson says it is hoped the research will have some impact on building regulations in the area. “One of the problems with living in an inactive area is firstly that your building standards don’t take serious consideration of the type of earthquake that is going to affect us,” he said. “The way you try and avoid problems with earthquakes is you don’t want buildings to collapse under any circumstances so they have to be designed to withstand it.” –ABC.net
September 10, 2013 – INDONESIA – Mount Lokon in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, erupted again at 6:30 a.m. local time on Monday, spewing volcanic material from the Tompaluan Lokon crater up to 1,500 meters in the air. “The lava flow reached several northern area villages, namely Pineleng, Tanawangko and Tateli,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in Jakarta on Monday, as quoted by Antara news agency. Sutopo said the explosion was heard as far away as Minahasa, which is 10 kilometers away from the volcano. Mt. Lokon has been erupting continuously for years, as such, for the local residents watching the volcano erupt is normal. Moreover, the volcanic materials have made the farming land in Tomohon fertile. The status of the volcanic activity remains at Siaga or “alert” (level 3), Sutopo explained. He said Mt. Lokon had erupted tens of times since the alert status was announced on July 24, 2011. “The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center [PVMBG] has warned local residents and visitors to stay outside and to not go within a 2.5-kilometer radius of the Tompaluan crater,” said Sutopo. He added both BPBD Tomohon and North Sulawesi had developed and introduced contingency plans to mitigate the impacts of the eruption on local residents. –Jakarta Post
Israel warns Syria reprisals would come “in the harshest way possible” –would topple Assad from power
September 10, 2013 – SYRIA – Israel will ensure that Syrian leader Bashar Assad will not remain in power if he attacks Israel, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) said Monday. The statement was the clearest warning to Assad delivered by a top Israeli figure since the escalation of tension between Syria and the United States. Speaking following Assad’s warnings of “repercussions” if America struck his country, Liberman said such threats could not go without response. “The supreme Israeli interest is to remain outside the conflict,” Liberman wrote on his Facebook page. “There are many figures trying to drag us in. We have successfully avoided that and we should continue in the future. That is why Bashar Assad’s threats in various media outlets to expand the conflict to neighboring countries bother me. Israel has no interest, will or intention to take part in the Syrian civil war, but Assad must understand in the clearest way possible that if he and his regime do not leave us a choice and he attacks Israel or transfers chemical weapons to Hezbollah, Israel will respond in the harshest way possible, including toppling his regime.”
Liberman complained that the Syrian civil war had become “the cruelest conflict of the 21st century” and that there was no end in sight. He said there was no quick military or diplomatic solution that would be satisfactory. Mentioning the United States, Britain, China, Russia and the United Nations, Liberman said the entire world had an interest in stopping the bloodshed, adding that the failure of the international community thus far at that task was very worrying. In a speech to Yisrael Beytenu activists last week, Liberman was careful to heed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request not to respond to US President Barack Obama’s controversial decision to wait to decide whether to attack Syria until he received congressional approval. “We aren’t the reason for what is happening in Syria,” Liberman told the crowd. “The entire civil war did not start because of Israel or because of our conflict with the Palestinians. We have no interest in becoming part of what is happening there. But I recommend not testing us or dragging us in, because we are ready.” –Jerusalem Post
RT says Syrian rebels plan chem attack on Israel from Assad-controlled territories: situation dangerous, volatile
September 10, 2013 – SYRIA – A chemical attack may be launched on Israel by Syrian rebels from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation,” multiple sources told RT. The report comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed that Syria puts its chemical weapons arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction in order to prevent a possible military strike against the war-torn country. Moscow also urged Syrian authorities to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The offer has already been passed over to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Monday. “We don’t know if Syria will accept the offer, but if imposing international control over chemical weapons stored in the country can help to avoid military strikes, we are immediately going to start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has welcomed Moscow’s initiative, “based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Muallem said later on Monday. Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice made a statement saying that Damascus’ alleged “use of chemical weapons against its own people” posed a threat to US national security. “The use of chemical weapons also directly threatens our closest ally in the region, Israel,” she said, speaking at the New America Foundation in Washington. –RT
Israeli PM cancels trip to Italy: The ongoing Syrian crisis has compelled Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cancel a planned trip to Italy this week, government sources confirmed Monday. A few weeks ago Netanyahu planned a trip to Rome where he was to meet Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had planned to be there at the same time. Kerry met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in London on Monday. Netanyahu shelved the Italy trip, the sources said, because he felt “that he needed to be here” at this time. Over the last few days Netanyahu has spent a great deal of time in what officials in his office call “security consultations,” either meetings with the seven-man security cabinet, or high-level security briefings. He has not spent much time during this period at public events. Indeed, Netanyahu did not give a single Rosh Hashana interview this year, something traditionally done by prime ministers. One possible reason for this, beyond severe time constraints as a result of monitoring the Syrian situation, is so that he would not have to answer any questions about Syria or the possibility of a US attack. Netanyahu has been careful to say almost nothing about the Syrian situation – beyond that Israel is not involved but would respond severely if attacked – over the last two weeks. He has also directed his ministers not to comment on the matter, something that for the most part they have upheld. –Jerusalem Post
UN plan to seize chemical weapons: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Syria to immediately agree to transfer chemical weapons and chemical precursors to a safe place within the country for international destruction. Ban said Monday he will also propose to the Security Council that it unite and demand an immediate chemical weapons transfer should U.N. inspectors conclude that such weapons were used in an attack Aug. 21 in a suburb of Damascus. He said he is also considering asking the council to demand accountability for an alleged chemical weapons attack. Ban spoke shortly after Moscow’s surprise announcement that it was pressing its ally Syria on a similar proposal — to move its chemical weapons to areas under international control to avoid a U.S. military strike. –ABC News
Israel has defied international pressure by continued seizure of Palestinian lands to expand its illegal settlements, Press TV reports. Tel Aviv is grabbing agricultural lands in the Jordan Valley and al-Quds (Jerusalem) in order to expand its illegal settlements in the area. Meanwhile, Palestinian human rights groups warn that Israel’s policy of land expropriation may cause a humanitarian crisis. “The Israelis have been attempting to control the land in Jordan Valley.… They are only focusing on the subject today because it is in the media and suddenly the world knows,” said Fayez Abbas, Palestinian political analyst. Israel has announced tenders for about 3,100 housing units in East al-Quds and the occupied West Bank since the resumption of the so-called peace talks in July.
The Israelis have intensified their settlement building activities since the start of the negotiations which means they are not serious about the peace talks, Jamal Juma, the coordinator for the Stop the Wall campaign, told Press TV on September 4. On September 3, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in their latest round of talks. According to reports, chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni attended the meeting. The officials presented their views on different issues, but no agreement was reached. The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts made to establish peace in the Middle East. More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands. Press TV
Fans hoping to watch their favorite Canadian minor league baseball team got a little extra bang for their buck this week when what some witnesses described as a UFO flew through the sky behind the right field fence. The sighting occurred in the sixth inning of a game between the Vancouver Canadians and the Everett Aquasox at the Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver on Sept. 3. The Vancouver Sun playfully called the appearance of the object a “cosmic intervention,” noting that after the sighting the home team went on to win the game. Video posted online shows a fairly saucer-like object ringed with lights. The object is visible for a few seconds, but the camera does not stay trained on it long enough to get a good look. Fans at the game also reported seeing something in the sky, with some taking it as a lucky sign for their team. British Columbia local news site The Province speculated that the “levitating,” “shiny blue something” may have been a kite or a remote-controlled helicopter. But so far, no one has come forward to offer an official explanation.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post reached out to Marc Dantonio, chief photo/video analyst for the Mutual UFO Network, the world’s largest UFO investigative organization. He also consults on many U.S. government and military projects as well as network television UFO specials. ”I examined the video segment. I think that if someone was trying to create a UFO hoax using computer generated imagery, then they chose a very poor video with which to do it since there was no reaction at all from anyone, nor the videographer,” said Dantonio. Dantonio told HuffPost in an email that the Canadian UFO is very much like one thathe created for National Geographic a few years ago. ”I suspect much more strongly, based on the way it was sideslipping to our right a bit while leaning slightly to that side, that this was likely either a lit up kite or a small drone-type object like we created for a Nat Geo show. This object’s behavior matches either one of those possibilities in the short video snip of it here that we can see. ”The stability makes this more likely a flying small hobby-type drone.” Huff Post
Small business owners who thought they were off the hook for ObamaCare regulations until 2015 may be in for an expensive wake-up call next month. Beginning Oct. 1, any business with at least one employee and $500,000 in annual revenue must notify all employees by letter about the Affordable Care Act’s health-care exchanges, or face up to a $100-per-day fine. The requirement applies to any business regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act, regardless of size. Going forward, letters are to be distributed to any new hires within 14 days of their starting date, according to the Department of Labor. Earlier this summer, the employer mandate, which states that every business with at least 50 or more full-time employees must offer workers acceptable coverage or face a $2,000 penalty per-worker, per-year, was pushed back until 2015. But the Oct. 1 employee-notification deadline stands. Keith McMurdy, partner at FOX Rothschild LLP, says the $100 per-day fine has been “unfortunately overlooked” by many small businesses, and the dollar amount on the penalty comes from the general per-day penalty under the ACA. “The PPACA has a general $100-a-day penalty for non-compliance. Since this requirement is in the FLSA there are also penalties there. So the general consensus is that some penalty applies and probably the general provision,” McMurdy tells FOXBusiness.com. Joeseph Dutra, president and CEO of Kimmie Candy Co., has 30 employees and brings in more than $500,000 in revenue annually, which means he has to notify workers of the exchanges by Oct. 1.
He had no idea. “My understanding is that a lot of businesses don’t know what the requirements are under the law,” Dutra says. “So many businesses don’t have a designated HR department.” Joe’s “HR department” is his son, John Dutra. John says the business was aware of the Oct. 1 deadline for notifying workers about the exchanges, but did not know about the $100 penalty. He says while the company will continue to offer benefits to its employees as it currently does, the costs it will pay for coverage overall will increase by 4%, thanks to ACA regulations. Ray Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, says many businesses are likely unaware of this potential fine coming down the pike for failure to comply, and that it’s unclear how the government will be implementing the $100-per-day penalty. “It’s a steep fine—when you start tallying up all of the costs, businesses need to start figuring out ‘am I better off just not offering coverage and paying the penalty?’” he says. “And there is no easy answer. With this, you are dealing with the threat of a $100-a-day penalty fine, but you also have to go through the process of notifying everyone, so on and so forth, so there are no easy ways out for business owners.” Keating says it’s simply another example of how the law will cost both businesses — and government — more cash. “Government costs are what so many ObamaCare supporters have glossed over,” he says. “In general, the overall costs of subsidies and expanded programs like these things are what small business owners are concerned about, and the Obama folks are avoiding it.” The White House declined to comment on how the fine would be implemented, but deferred to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which says education on this FLSA requirement has been part of “any and all outreach that SBA does with small business owners.” The agency says it has participated in more than 750 ACA-related events with more than 30,000 small business owners and community stakeholders since February 2013. Fox Business News
A set of three mysterious satellites has experts guessing about the Chinese space program’s intentions. No one really knows what the Chinese are up to, and everything is speculation. That appears to be the consensus of space experts tracking a set of Chinese spacecraft. Some have speculated that the Chinese are testing possible anti-satellite technology, while others have described the satellites as prosaic probes meant to sharpen the country’s overall space skills. Under debate are the orbital antics of several newcomers to space — the Chinese satellites Shiyan-7, Chuangxin-3 and Shijian-15 — which all launched into orbit together on July 20. Experts are also discussing the actions of China’s elder spacecraft Shijian-7, which launched more than eight years ago. One of the trio of new Chinese satellites, Shiyan-7 (SY-7, Experiment 7), has since made a sudden maneuver. That satellite had already finished a series of orbital alterations that put it close to one of the companion satellites with which it was launched, the Chuangxin-3 (CX-3). ”Suddenly, however, it made a surprise rendezvous with a completely different satellite, Shijian 7 (SJ-7, Practice 7), launched in 2005,” noted Marcia Smith, a space policy analyst and founder and editor of SpacePolicyOnline.com.
Soon after the July launch, it was known that one of the three satellites carried “a prototype manipulator arm to capture other satellites,” a tool that might be “a predecessor of an arm destined to be aboard China’s large space station, set for launch in 2020 or soon thereafter,” wrote Bob Christy on zarya.info.(SpacePolicyOnline.com also reported the news.) Christy could not confirm at the time which of the three satellites carried that arm. When the three satellites were hurled skyward in July, the Chinese language press specifically discussed “space debris observation,” “mechanical arm operations” and the testing of “space maintenance technologies,” said Gregory Kulacki, a senior analyst and China project manager within the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program. ”This suggests one possible project for the mission is the experimental collection of space debris,” Kulacki told SPACE.com. The recent July 20 launch also resembles the lofting of the Changxin 2 and the Shiyan 3 satellites in November 2008, Kulacki said. Changxin 2 was an Earth observation microsatellite, while Shiyan 3 was an experimental spacecraft designed for space weather experiments, he said. Full Story
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Tuesday that his country “will not give up one iota” of its nuclear program. Rouhani told clerics that his government wouldn’t cede “its absolute right” on what he called “the nuclear issue,” AFP reported, quoting the semi-state run Mehr news agency in Iran. Also Tuesday, Rouhani said he could reach out to world leaders about resuming nuclear talks during the UN General Assembly later this month in New York. The report, by the official IRNA news agency, quoted the president as saying that he could seek dialogue to try to get the negotiations back on track. The report gave no further details. Talks between Iran and world powers were last held in April amid deadlock over Western efforts to rein in Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is scheduled to meet the EU’s Catherine Ashton later this month, as the two sides look to restart talks about Iran’s nuclear program. For years Israel, the US and other Western countries have charged that Tehran’s nuclear program has military purposes, and the international community has imposed harsh sanctions against Iran. The Islamic republic claims it only seeks reactors for energy and medical applications.The Times of Israel
It’s a stunning turn of events that could change everything on Syria. Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country’s leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. The development, reported by Syrian state television and Russia’s Interfax news agency, came a day after the idea bubbled up in the wake of what appeared to be a gaffe by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It quickly changed the debate in Washington from “Should the U.S. attack?” to “Is there a diplomatic way out of this mess?”Syrian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday his country had agreed to the Russian proposal after what Interfax quoted him as calling “a very fruitful round of talks” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday. Details of such a transfer have yet to be worked out, such as where the arms would go, who would safeguard them and how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons. The United States, France, Great Britain and other nations suspect the Syrian government of using chemical weapons repeatedly in its two-year-old civil war — including an August 21 incident that U.S. officials say killed more than 1,400 people. Syrian officials have blamed rebel forces. Despite the lack of details, the Russian idea was still gaining traction. On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed support for the concept. Tuesday, China welcomed the proposal, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying it would safeguard stability in the region.
Syrian ally Iran welcomed the proposal, and Germany expressed interest. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France would go to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday with a proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons, but said France — whose president has already expressed a willingness to punish Syria over its alleged use of the arms — will not accept delays in the transfer. ”We need quick results,” Fabius said. Even Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, a proponent of a military strike on Syria, said the idea was worth exploring. ”I’m very, very skeptical,” he told CNN’s “New Day.” “But the fact is, you can’t pass up this opportunity — if it is one.” Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia’s working on a “workable, clear, specific plan” and said it would be presented soon. A senior administration official involved in Syria policy told CNN that U.S. officials are talking with France and others about how the proposal could be quickly advanced, and to find ways to determine whether Russia and Syria are serious about the idea. ”There are a lot of good questions and there is understandable skepticism,” the official told CNN’s John King. “But today is better than yesterday. We would rather have a situation where it is possible there is a diplomatic solution in the offing than one with no choice but to pursue military action.” The idea first surfaced Monday, when Kerry — responding to a reporter asking what Syria could do to stop a U.S. attack — suggested that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week.” ”He isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously,” Kerry added. His spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, sought to roll back the comments, saying the secretary was simply responding to a “hypothetical.” But Lavrov quickly seized on the comment, suggesting publicly that it would be a way to avoid a U.S. strike on Syria. Administration officials at first batted down the proposal. A U.S. official who declined to be identified by name said Monday afternoon that no one in the administration was taking the proposal seriously. But before long, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf was saying the United States would take a “hard look” at the idea.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said administration officials were “highly skeptical,” but had to take a look. By Monday night, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Obama was calling the idea a “potentially positive development.” ”We’re going to run this to ground,” Obama said. He said the United States will work “to see if we can arrive at something that is enforceable and serious.” But, he said, the idea could simply be a stalling tactic, and Obama said he will continue to press his case for military action. He is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday night. ”If we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference,” Obama said Monday. “On the other hand, if we don’t maintain and move forward without a credible threat of military pressure, I don’t think we’ll actually get the kind of agreement I’d like to see.” The opposition Free Syrian Army urged the world not to buy into the idea of transferring control of the chemical weapons, which it called a trick. ”Here we go again with the regime trying to buy more time in order to keep on the daily slaughter against our innocent civilians and to fool the world,” said Louay al-Mokdad, a spokesman for the group. CNN
Obama: We will rally support from world
8-Year-Old Bride Dies from Injuries on Wedding Night
Fox News: Syria Sign of Biblical End Times?