‘DUCK DYNASTY’ STAR: WE’RE USING HOLLYWOOD TO SPREAD GOSPEL
Alan Robertson, the newest cast member of Duck Dynasty, said that while Hollywood may have finally figured out that shows with Christian themes will get ratings, the cast is also using Hollywood to spread the gospel. ”For years, Hollywood missed a lot,” he told Religion News Service. “‘The Bible’ series earlier this year was wildly popular. You have to look at it as positive that they’re being aware. “ Duck Dynasty’s premiere was the most-watched nonfiction telecast in cable history, and Robertson said “authenticity rings true with the spiritual themes. There’s a lot of word-of-mouth marketing that you can’t beat.” He also noted that the cast’s relationship with Hollywood was mutually beneficial even though the producers still like to stereotype “redneck Christians.” ”It looks like they’re taking advantage of us, but we’re taking advantage of them to get the gospel preached,” he said. More
WAR DRUMS: PUTIN SAYS “NO EVIDENCE OF CHEMICAL ATTACK IN SYRIA” CONDEMNS “WAR RHETORIC”
Russia is continuing to defend its close ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. On Monday, reported Russia Today (RT), President Vladimir Putin told British Prime Minister David Cameron that Russia has no evidence of a chemical weapons attack having taken place in Syria or who is responsible. The two leaders held an urgent phone call on Monday afternoon regarding the Syrian crisis in the wake ofa sniper attack on UN chemical inspectors outside Damascus. “President Putin said that they did not have evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack had taken place or who was responsible,” a British government spokesperson was quoted by RT as having said after the call. Cameron stated that he was sure the alleged attack was instigated by Assad’s government forces, saying that he believed the opposition did not have the capacity to carry out such a strike. “The regime had also prevented UN access in the immediate aftermath, suggesting they had something to hide,” he told Putin. Both national leaders reaffirmed the stance that all G8 attendees took in June, “No one should use chemical weapons and any use would merit a serious response from the international community.” More
WAR DRUMS: US WILL MAKE LEGAL CASE FOR STRIKING SYRIA WITHOUT UN APPROVAL
The United States is preparing legal justification for the use of force against Syria with allies Britain and France that would circumvent the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China have vowed to block any resolution authorizing military intervention in the conflict. The US will detail its case soon, with military action possible in the coming days, sources told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. On Sunday, the US dismissed Syria’s decisionto grant UN inspectors access to the the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where Syrian rebels claim the army of nominal president Bashar Assad used sarin gas last week to kill hundreds of civilians as they slept. UN inspectors sat in their hotel rooms for five days after the attack, just five miles from the scene. The investigation that started Monday would be “too late to be credible,” the US said, as evidence of sarin lasts for a maximum of ten days. Russia has repeatedly warned the West against action in recent days, citing international law as prohibitive to any trilateral campaign. Last week, US President Barack Obama stated that action in Syria “without a UN mandate” might indeed violate international law. More
FRANCE IS HEADING FOR THE BIGGEST ECONOMIC TRAIN WRECK IN EUROPE
“The emotional side of me tends to imagine France, like the princess in the fairy stories or the Madonna in the frescoes, as dedicated to an exalted and exceptional destiny. Instinctively I have the feeling that Providence has created her either for complete successes or for exemplary misfortunes. Our country, as it is, surrounded by the others as they are, must aim high and hold itself straight, on pain of mortal danger. In short, to my mind, France cannot be France without greatness. – Charles de Gaulle, from his memoirs
Recently there have been a spate of horrific train wrecks in the news. Almost inevitably we find out there was human error involved. Almost four years ago I began writing about the coming train wreck that was Europe and specifically Greece. It was clear from the numbers that Greece would have to default, and I thought at the time that Portugal would not be too far behind. Spain and Italy clearly needed massive restructuring. Part of the problem I highlighted was the significant imbalance between exports and imports in all of the above countries. More
GREECE EXPECTED TO NEED ANOTHER $13 BILLION IN AID, BRINGING TOTAL BAILOUT TO MORE THAN $333BILLION, GERMANY SAYS
Germany’s commissioner to the European Union says he expects a future aid package for Greece to amount to a little more than 10 billion euros (US$13.36 billion) — which is much smaller than the country’s existing two rescue deals. Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s energy commissioner and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative party, said Saturday the third aid package should cover the years 2014-2016. In two bailout packages so far, Greece’s European partners and the International Monetary Fund have committed 240 billion euros (US$320 billion) in loans. This week, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said there will have to be another aid program after the current one expires next year. More
POWDER KEG: US MILITARY ACTION ON SYRIA COULD PUT ISRAEL IN FIRING LINE
Signals from the US suggesting a military response to the chemical massacre in Syria are growing louder, and Israel, it is safe to assume, is quietly making preparations to ensure it is ready for any retribution attacks. If and when Washington, together with its allies, launches a military strike on Syria, the move will not only target the Assad regime. A US military response will challenge the belligerent axis that stands behind Syria, made up of Iran, which is sending weapons and military advisers to Syria, and Hezbollah, which sent thousands of highly trained, heavily armed fighters to help keep the Assad regime alive. This axis, also known as the Shi’ite crescent, operates under Russian diplomatic cover, and gets military support from Moscow in the form of extensive sales of sophisticated arms. Iran, leader of the Shi’ite crescent, views Syria as its critical forward province. Now, the axis’s members will be thinking about how they should respond to a US military strike. Syrian officials have, since the outbreak of the civil war, issued threats in an effort to deter US intervention. A common theme running through many of the threats is a warning that any foreign intervention will result in a “fire that will engulf the region.” More
IT IS ILLEGAL TO FEED THE HOMELESS IN CITIES ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES
What would you do if a police officer threatened to arrest you for trying to share a sandwich with a desperately hungry homeless woman that really needed it? Such a notion sounds absolutely bizarre, but this is actually happening in major cities all over the United States. More than 50 large U.S. cities have adopted “anti-camping” or “anti-food sharing” laws in recent years, and in many of these cities the police are strictly enforcing these laws. Sometimes the goal appears to be to get the homeless people to go away. Apparently the heartless politicians that are passing these laws believe that if the homeless can’t get any more free food and if they keep getting thrown into prison for “illegal camping” they will eventually decide to go somewhere else where they won’t be hassled so much. This is yet another example of how heartless our society is becoming. The middle class is being absolutely shredded and poverty is absolutely exploding, but meanwhile the hearts of many Americans are growing very cold. If this continues, what is the future of America going to look like? More
August 26, 2013 – ROME, Italy – Italian experts have been puzzled by the overnight appearance of what looks like a volcanic geyser erupting steam and gases 5 meters into the air. What appears to be a new fumarole appeared near Rome’s International Fiumicino airport Saturday morning. A vent producing small geyser-like fountains of steam, water and mud was suddenly opened in the ground near a road crossing near Fiumicino. Geologists are currently examining the phenomenon. It is still a bit unclear whether it is not a man-made accident caused by a broken pipe or similar (which might well be the case). As La Repubblica statess, first inspections however indicate that it is in fact a new natural vent. Obviously, there are also already some speculations whether it could be related to volcanic activity. The nearest possibly still active volcanic system in the area is the Monti Albani, an old but possibly not yet extinct volcanic complex located 20 km SE of the capital. Its last known activity there took place about 20,000 years ago. New volcanic activity in the suburban area of Rome itself is certainly not a completely impossible, but quite unlikely scenario. More data will be needed to shed light on this. “From Mt. Etna in Sicily up to the Alban hills around Rome, there is a good deal of volcanic activity,” Alberto Basilli, a seismologist at the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology told theDaily Telegraph. –Volcano Discovery
August 26, 2013 – CALIFORNIA – A colossal wildfire raging across the western edge of Yosemite National Park swept further into the park on Sunday and forced the evacuation of some its camps due to heavy smoke, according to a park spokesman. The blaze on Sunday had come within 2 miles of a key reservoir that supplies most of San Francisco’s water. The so-called Rim Fire, which has burned 134,000 acres, caused the closure of the White Wolf area of the park on its western side, said Yosemite spokesman Tom Medema. Thirteen of 74 camps were occupied and evacuated, he said. The flames had consumed 15,000 acres within Yosemite, a park known for its waterfalls, giant sequoia groves and other scenic wonders, by Sunday afternoon, up from just over 12,000 acres in the morning, he said. “There’s no eminent risk from the fire but the smoke impact is so heavy that we’re evacuating those areas,” Medema said. He did not know how many people were evacuated but said that one of the camps had 25 occupants. Officials said they have no plans to shut down the entire park or its top attractions. The fire was threatening power and water supplies to San Francisco, about 200 miles to the west. On Sunday, it moved to within 2 miles of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which serves 85 percent of San Francisco with water, according to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue. The fire had been 4 miles from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir the day before. Jue said reservoir water remained clear on Sunday, despite threats of ash contamination.
“There are strike teams and crews in place right now to assist with fire protection” near the reservoir, Jue said. The fire also passed through two power structures that help supply San Francisco’s public facilities with electricity. Utility crews planned to make repairs on Sunday, Jue said. The utility commission has been drawing on power reserves and purchasing electricity since Monday due to the downed power structures. Jue said San Francisco power has not been disrupted. A 111,000-acre (44,920-hctare) fire near the resort town of Sun Valley in central Idaho was 82 percent contained on Sunday as the number of firefighters assigned to the blaze was reduced to several hundred from a high of 1,800, officials said. At its height a week ago, the blaze forced the evacuation of 2,250 homes in upscale developments in a scenic river valley known for a world-class ski resort and for premier hiking and biking trails that wind through the Sawtooth Mountains. The Rim Fire had destroyed 11 homes, 1,000 outbuildings and four commercial properties by Sunday. Evacuation advisories were lifted for roughly 2,500 residences in two Tuolumne County communities in California on Saturday, but at least 2,000 households were under evacuation advisories, Fleishman said. The 2013 fire season has already drained U.S. Forest Service fire suppression and emergency funds, causing the agency to redirect $600 million meant for other projects like campground and trail maintenance and thinning of trees to reduce wildfire risks, agency spokesman Mike Ferris has said. –Reuters
Primed to explode: U.S. warships move closer to Syria- Russia warns U.S. of consequences of intervention
The beginning of the end? Like so many places in the Middle East now: Beirut, Ramallah, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, huge swaths of the city now lie in ruins. Many of these war-torn cities will never recover. Is this our modern legacy for the future?
August 26, 2013 – SYRIA – Russia issued a stark warning today against renewed calls for foreign military intervention in Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week. In a pair of statements, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman drew comparisons between the current situation in Syria and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and urged countries “not to repeat the mistakes of the past.” Responding directly to comments by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about military contingency planning, Alexander Lukashevich said such remarks were “alarming.” Lukashevich reiterated Russia’s position that evidence the Syrian military was responsible for the suspected chemical attack was pre-fabricated in order to frame the government. He said statements by the United States, France, and Britain that blame government forces are “completely ignoring many facts pointing to the fact that this action as a provocation of the irreconcilable opposition.”
The White House has spent much of the weekend deliberating how to proceed, now that, as a senior administration official told ABC News, it has determined there is “very little doubt” that the Assad regime is responsible for the alleged chemical attack. “Based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts, and other facts, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident,” the official said. “We are continuing to assess the facts so the president can make an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.” White House officials also point out the attack was on rebel-held territory and apparently done using rockets that the rebels do not possess. The president has ordered his national security team to draw up possible strike options on Syria, but there is a divide in the White House on how forcefully to respond, although another official told ABC News if there is a strike, it must be “timely” — done soon enough to prevent another chemical attack. However, the White House does not want to act alone. U.S. officials are back channeling through the United Nations to see if Russia could be convinced to agree to a resolution. If there is no UN authorization, the United States would lead any possible strike, but, a senior official told ABC News “we do not want to do anything on our own.” U.S. allies must commit both “resources” and “political will” the official said. –ABC News
Britain, France, Turkey pledge response: British foreign secretary William Hague said today it would be possible to respond to chemical weapons use in Syria without the unanimous backing of the United Nations Security Council. UN inspectors will today visit the site of an alleged chemical weapon attack which killed hundreds last week, but Britain and the United States have made clear they believe the access was granted too late and that the Syrian government was behind the attack. “Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the UN Security Council? I would argue yes it is, otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, such crimes, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable situation,” Mr. Hague said on BBC radio. Britain has been among the major western governments calling for a strong international response to the alleged chemical attack. The French government said today there will be a “proportionate response” to the alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. Anti-government activists and Doctors Without Borders say that more than 300 people were killed in an artillery barrage by regime forces last Wednesday that included the use of toxic gas. Foreign minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio: “It will be negotiated in coming days.”
Mr. Fabius acknowledged that the lack of a UN blessing over action was problematic, but added: “All the options are open. The only option that I can’t imagine would be to do nothing.” In an interview published by a Russian newspaper today, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad dismissed claims his forces used chemical weapons and warned Washington that any US military intervention would fail. He said in an interview that attacking such an area with chemical weapons would not make sense for the government as there was no clear frontline between regime and rebel forces. “Of course we count on Russia to prevent any interpretation that aims to serve the objectives of US and western policies.” Turkey said today it would join any international coalition against Syria even if a wider consensus on action cannot be reached at the UN Security Council, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying this morning. “We always prioritize acting together with the international community, with United Nations decisions. If such a decision doesn’t emerge from the UN Security Council, other alternatives … would come onto the agenda,” Mr. Davutoglu told the Milliyet daily. “Currently 36-37 countries are discussing these alternatives. If a coalition is formed against Syria in this process, Turkey would take its place in this coalition.” -Irish Times
Mexico City Earthquake: Warning Awakens Residents as Aftershock Strikes
Smartphone alarms of an earthquake warning Monday morning roused Mexico City residents from bed for the second time in less than a week, but the earthquake that triggered the warning proved to be relatively harmless this time.
The tremor, rated magnitude 4.4 by the U.S. Geological Survey and 4.8 by Mexico’s National Seismological Service, was centered 29 miles east of Acapulco, near the town of San Marcos in the state of Guerrero. It appeared to be an aftershock of the magnitude-6.2 jolt that rocked the same area five days earlier on the morning of Aug. 21, causing damage to a number of buildings in Acapulco.http://www.weather.com/news/earthquake-warning-awakens-mexico-city-aftershock-strikes-coast-20130826
Allergy Tattoos: Should Kids Wear Warning Labels to School?
Temporary tattoos are not traditionally considered must-have back-to-school shopping items — but that could change. This year, some students with severe allergies are returning to class with their medical issues stamped on their skin for their own protection. continue
Florida man tries to kill 9-year-old girl in Best Buy bathroom: sheriff
29-year-old James Tadros lured the girl away from her mother, then – after forcing her into the women’s restroom – covered her head with a plastic bag and stuffed her face in a toilet. Employees of the Jacksonville store intervened and Tadros was arrested.
JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF’S OFFICE
James Tadros allegedly put a plastic bag over the head of 9-year-old girl and stuffed her head in a toilet of a Best Buy bathroom. Employees intervened and saved the girl.
A Florida man tried to kill a 9-year-old girl in a Best Buy bathroom, jamming a plastic bag over her head and stuffing her face in a toilet before employees intervened, authorities said.
Another customer heard the girl screaming and crying inside the women’s restroom at the Jacksonville store and notified store staff. An employee looked under the stall and discovered a horrific scene.
James Tadros, 29, had kicked and beaten the girl bloody and was forcing her head inside the toilet, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. continue
Landslides, floods kill 118 in Nepal during monsoon
Kathmandu: Floods and landslides in Nepal in the past two months have killed 118 people, wounding 31 others and leading to the disappearance of 56 more, the country’s home ministry said Friday.
Out of the 75 districts in Nepal, 46 districts have been affected by floods and landslides, Xinhua reported.
Around 12,000 people have been affected in the rain-triggered natural disaster, out of which, 10,000 have been entirely displaced. continue
BEIRUT — Unidentified snipers shot at and damaged a vehicle being used by U.N. chemical weapons investigators in Damascus Monday as they sought to reach the site of a suspected poison gas attack, a U.N. spokesman said.
“The first vehicle of the Chemical Weapons Investigation Team was deliberately shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers in the buffer zone area,” the spokesman said, adding the car was no longer serviceable and a replacement vehicle was being obtained.
The spokesman added: “It has to be stressed again that all sides need to extend their cooperation so that the team can safely carry out their important work.”
The team was trying to visit one of the sites of an Aug 21. attack in which, doctors and opposition activists say, suspected nerve agents killed hundreds of civilians in several outlying districts of the Syrian capital.
The U.N. investigation comes amid rising calls by Western powers for reprisals against President Bashar Assad’s government who they say was responsible for the attack.
Syria agreed Sunday to allow the inspectors to visit the sites. But the United States and its allies say evidence has probably been destroyed by heavy government shelling of the area over the past five days.
While much of the world has been reeling from catastrophic floods this year, much of the US has been suffering through an extended drought. The US government signaled the severity of the situation on Aug. 16 when it announced it would be curtailing water deliveries from the Colorado River due to record-low water levels in the Lake Powell reservoir in Utah. The move will affect millions of people, farms and businesses in the western United States.
“This is the worst 14-year drought period in the last hundred years,” Larry Walkoviak, an official with the US Bureau of Reclamation, said in a statement.
Shutting off the spigot grabs people’s attention but it belies an equally weighty if little-noticed dilemma: As climate change dries up water sources, the remaining infrastructure to deliver water is breaking down. According to a new report from Ceres, the Boston-based nonprofit that promotes corporate sustainability, the price tag to modernize pipes, pumping stations and other water infrastructure in the US will reach $300 billion by 2030.
But budget-stressed municipalities, which operate most of the water systems in the US, face a conundrum. Customers’ bills are based on how much water they use. But thanks to low-flow toilets and other water-efficient appliances, as well as successful efforts to promote conservation, revenues are dropping as customers use less water. That means less money to finance much-needed improvements to the water delivery system.
“At the heart of the issue is the inherent mismatch between the largely fixed-cost structure of drinking water service providers and the highly variable revenues they receive,” write Sharlene Leurig, who manages the Ceres insurance and water financing program, and Jeffrey Hughes of the University of North Carolina.
Take the situation confronting the Orange Water and Sewer Authority. The North Carolina utility saw its customer base grow from 13,000 to 21,000 between 1991 and 2012, but water deliveries—and revenues—remained flat. Why? Blame climate change, in part. A series of droughts over the past decade led to mandatory water conservation and once people became accustomed to using less water they continued their miserly ways, according to the report.
So what’s the solution? Charging households a fixed base fee would ensure a reliable revenue stream to finance improvements to the water system, while charging the biggest water consumers higher rates would both bring in more money while encouraging conservation.
Evangelista Anita Fuentes