April 5th, 2014
(Reuters) - Earthquakes rattled residents in Oklahoma on Saturday, the latest in a series that have put the state on track for record quake activity this year.
One earthquake recorded at 3.8 magnitude by the U.S. Geological Survey rocked houses in several communities around central Oklahoma at 7:42 a.m. local time. Another about two hours earlier in the same part of the state, north of Oklahoma City, was recorded at 2.9 magnitude, USGS said.
Those two were preceded by two more, at 2.6 magnitude, and 2.5 magnitude, that also rolled the landscape in central Oklahoma early Saturday morning. A 3.0 magnitude tremor struck late Friday night in that area as well, following a 3.4 magnitude hit Friday afternoon.
Austin Holland, a seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey who tracks earthquake activity for the USGS, said the earthquake activity in the state is soaring.
"We have had almost as many magnitude 3 and greater already in 2014 than we did for all of 2013," Holland said.
Last year's number of "felt" earthquakes - those strong enough to rattle items on a shelf - hit a record 222 in the state. This year, less than four months into the year, the state has recorded 253 such tremors, according to state seismic data.
"We have already crushed last year's record for number of earthquakes," Holland said.
For bigger quakes, so far this year the state has recorded 106 at 3.0 magnitude and above, according to Holland. For all of last year the state had 109 at 3.0 and above.
In November 2011, Oklahoma suffered a 5.6 magnitude quake that damaged more than a dozen homes and several businesses.
Oklahoma recorded 278 earthquakes from 2008 through 2013 that have registered on the Richter scale at a magnitude of 3.0 or greater, a level that can shake objects inside a home.
Before that, from 1975-2008, the state on average recorded less than six earthquakes a year (End article).
Refocus End-note on nuclear blasts and quakes, from the USGS:
" Scientists agree that even large nuclear explosions have little effect on seismicity outside the area of the blast itself. The largest underground thermonuclear tests conducted by the United States were detonated in Amchitka at the western end of the Aleutian Islands, and the largest of these was the 5 megaton test code-named Cannikin that occurred on November 6, 1971 that did not trigger any earthquakes in the seismically active Aleutian Islands. On January 19, 1968, a thermonuclear test, code-named Faultless, took place in central Nevada. The code-name turned out to be a poor choice because a fresh fault rupture some 4,000 feet long was produced.
Seismograph records showed that the seismic waves produced by the fault movement were much less energetic than those produced directly by the nuclear explosion. Locally, there were some minor earthquakes surrounding the blasts that released small amounts of energy.
Scientists looked at the rate of earthquake occurrence in northern California, not far from the test site, at the times of the tests and found nothing to connect the testing with earthquakes in the area."
So, if nuclear detonations can't dislodge a fault into producing any meaningful seismic activity, how can the squirting of a relatively small amount of water into the ground, as in fracking, have more of an effect than a 5 megaton nuclear blast?
--The Reporter's ridiculously unfounded and unsupported assertions peppered throughout the article--
-Most earthquakes occur naturally. But scientists have long linked some small earthquakes to oil and gas work underground, which can alter pressure points and cause shifts in the earth.
-Oil and gas exploration has increased in recent years across the country, spurred by U.S. efforts for energy independence. Modern hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is one particularly controversial technique.
-Wastewater disposal related to the fracking is suspected by many scientists to contribute to the earthquake activity. Millions of gallons of wastewater are typically trucked from a fracking site to wells where the water is injected thousands of feet underground into porous rock layers.
-That work, if done near a fault, can trigger larger quakes, according to several recent scientific studies.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Dan Grebler)
April 5th, 2014
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April 5th, 2014
Sky watchers are getting ready for an evening of special viewing when a total lunar eclipse arrives just after midnight on April 15.
What's more, this begins a rare sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years.
YOUR TAKE: Share your eclipse, starry sky photos
Some Christians see this series of so-called blood moons as linked to a biblical prophecy of the End Times.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up so the Earth's shadow falls on the moon, darkening it.
The one on April 15 will begin at 1:20 a.m. on the East Coast, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.
"Eclipses are one of the few astronomical events that can easily be enjoyed with the naked eye," though a pair of binoculars brings it into even greater focus, said astronomy writer Gary Kronk.
As it begins, "the Earth's shadow will make a slow crawl across the moon's face, appearing as if there is an increasingly large 'bite' taken out of the moon," said Deborah Byrd with EarthSky.org, an online science magazine.
At first, the full moon will just appear to be a little darker than normal, "but eventually people will notice a much darker arc moving across the moon, with a distinct rusty reddish-brown color," said astronomer Gerald McKeegan at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, Calif.
The bloody red color the moon takes on during an eclipse is caused by refraction of sunlight by the Earth's atmosphere."It is the same effect that you see when the sun turns reddish-orange at sunset, only in this case the refracted sunlight projects all the way to the moon," McKeegan said.
This eclipse also features an extra astronomical quirk. Mars will appear "as a fiery red 'star' next to the moon. Together red Mars and the red shadow on the moon's face should be a spectacular sight and an incredible photo opportunity," said Byrd.
The only downside to this month's lunar eclipse is that it comes very late at night for most of America.
However, many observatories and science museums will have special events during the eclipse. For those where it's cloudy, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will be streaming the event live.
The April 15 eclipse marks the start of a lunar tetrad. That event occurs when there are four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six full moons.
A book out last year, Four Blood Moons: Something is about to change, suggests the event could be a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
In it, John Hagee writes that the red disks of the moon during the full eclipses are referred to in the book of Joel 2:31: "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
The other three eclipses of this lunar tetrad are on Oct. 8 of this year and then April 8 and Sept. 28 of 2015.
Tetrads are by no means unknown, says Byrd. There will be a total of eight lunar tetrads between 2001 and 2100.
April 5th, 2014
A Missouri-based gun manufacturer announced this week that it will release a line of “New York Compliant” rifles, a market-based response to the Empire State’s strict new gun laws.
“With the continual trampling of the 2nd Amendment in New York, Black Rain Ordnance is proud to announce their ‘New York Compliant’ rifles,” the group said in a statement on its website. “These rifles feature all of the quality and craftsmanship of the standard BRO-lines, but with the added features that allow for legal possession.”
Features that make Black Rain Ordnance’s new rifles compliant with New York’s guns laws include: No pistol grip, a non-threaded muzzle fixed stock, 10-round low capacity approved magazine and a Lo-Pro gas block “without the evil bayonet lug.”
“We are proud to be an all American Company that produces true Made in the U.S.A. products,” the company told TheBlaze in an email.
April 4th, 2014
WASHINGTON – Momentum is building behind what would be an unprecedented effort to amend the U.S. Constitution, through a little-known provision that gives states rather than Congress the power to initiate changes.
At issue is what's known as a "constitutional convention," a scenario tucked into Article V of the U.S. Constitution. At its core, Article V provides two ways for amendments to be proposed. The first – which has been used for all 27 amendment to date – requires two-thirds of both the House and Senate to approve a resolution, before sending it to the states for ratification. The Founding Fathers, though, devised an alternative way which says if two-thirds of state legislatures demand a meeting, Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”
The idea has gained popularity among constitutional scholars in recent years -- but got a big boost last week when Michigan lawmakers endorsed it.
Michigan matters, because by some counts it was the 34th state to do so. That makes two-thirds.
In the wake of the vote, California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter pressed House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday to determine whether the states just crossed the threshold for this kind of convention. Like Michigan lawmakers, Hunter's interest in the matter stems from a desire to push a balanced-budget amendment -- something that could potentially be done at a constitutional convention.
“Based on several reports and opinions, Michigan might be the 34th state to issue such a call and therefore presents the constitutionally-required number of states to begin the process of achieving a balanced budget amendment,” Hunter wrote.
“With the recent decision by Michigan lawmakers, it is important that the House – and those of us who support a balanced budget amendment -- determine whether the necessary number of states have acted and the appropriate role of Congress should this be the case."
If two-thirds of the states indeed have applied, the ball is presumably in Congress' court to call the convention.
But Article V is rather vague, and it's ultimately unclear whether 34 states have technically applied. In the past, states like Oregon, Utah and Arizona have quietly voted to approve the provision in their legislature.
But some of the 34 or so have rescinded their requests. Others have rescinded, and then re-applied.
Alabama rescinded its request in 1988 but in 2011, lawmakers again applied for a convention related to an amendment requiring that the federal budget be balanced. It was a similar story in Florida in 2010.
Louisiana rescinded in 1990 but lawmakers have tried several times, unsuccessfully, to reinstate the application since then.
It's unclear whether the applications still count in these scenarios.
Some constitutional scholars like Gregory Watson, an analyst in Texas, say once states ask, there may be no take-backs.
“There is a disagreement among scholars as to whether a state that has approved an application may later rescind that application,” Watson told The Washington Times. “If it is ultimately adjudicated that a state may not rescind a prior application, then Ohio’s 2013 application for a Balanced Budget Amendment convention would be the 33rd and Michigan’s 2014 application would be the 34th on that topic.”
Others say if a state changes its mind, it can no longer be part of the 34.
Even if the requisite number of states have applied, questions remain about how such a convention would work -- and whether, as Michigan wants, such a convention could be limited to only discussing a balanced-budget amendment.
It still may be a long shot, but some analysts are warning about the unintended consequences of such a move.
In Louisiana, Budget Project Policy Analyst Steve Spire argued against the state's resolution, saying the convention could permanently damage the nation’s political system.
The last time there was a successful amendment was more than four decades ago – the 26th Amendment which changed the voting age to 18. States ratified the 27th Amendment on congressional pay increases, but it took more than 200 years to do it.
More from Barnini Chakraborty at Fox