Colcord, Oklahoma, residents told to watch out for blood worms in water supply
(CNN) — The people of Colcord, Oklahoma, might need something a little stronger than Brita filters to remove the impurities from their drinking water.
Blood worms — small, red insect larvae — have been appearing in water glasses and filters in the rural town.
Authorities have warned Colcord’s 800 residents not to drink, cook with or brush their teeth with the worm-infested tap water.
Schools in the area have been closed since Tuesday as officials try to figure out where the bright-red creatures came from and how long it will take to get rid of them.
There are no known health effects from the worms, which range from about a quarter to a half inch in length. But local officials aren’t taking any chances, hand-delivering letters to residents warning them to stick to bottled water for the time being. continue
Shot down: David Cameron’s plans for military action in Syria defeated in Commons vote
As military preparations for Western intervention in Syria gather pace, PM suffers dramatic Commons defeat as Labour hardens opposition to air strikes
The prospect of British involvement in military action in Syria ended dramatically last night when David Cameron suffered a surprise and humiliating Commons defeat on the issue.
Despite concessions by the Prime Minister to opponents of military action, a rebellion by Conservative MPs and strong opposition by Labour saw the Government defeated by 285 votes to 272. continue
WAR DRUMS: THOUSANDS CROWD GAS MASK CENTERS IN HAIFA, TEL AVIV
Thousands of Israelis lined up outside gas mask distribution centers on Thursday, despite efforts by authorities to calm fears of being on the receiving end of a threatened Syrian retaliation should the US take military action against the Assad regime. The postal service, which oversees the distribution, said an angry mob forcibly took gas masks from a distribution center at the Hadar Mall in Jerusalem on Wednesday, leading to the site’s indefinite closure. A second center, on Shmuel HaNavi street, remained open. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers were deployed to maintain order in the northern city of Haifa, where more than 5,000 people jostled in line as they waited for their protective kits on Thursday. Crowds had swelled at the city’s only distribution center, a sports arena, long before its 8 a.m. opening time. By mid-morning 1,000 gas masks had been given out there to recipients who had waited as long as two and a half hours in the hot August sun, the Walla news site reported. More
MILITARY GUIDE LUMPS CHRISTIANS AND JEWS WITH ‘EXTREMISTS’
The Department of Defense classified Catholics, evangelicals, Jews and Mormons as religious “extremists” in military training materials, according to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. More than 1,500 pages of documents were just released to the chaplain group under the Freedom of Information Act. “Many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place,” Newsmax quotes the study guide. Trainees are warned that involvement with “extremist” organizations is “incompatible with military service and is, therefore, prohibited.” The documents also show that the military considered the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” list as a “reliable source.” “The U.S. military violated its appropriate apolitical stance and engaged in a dishonorable mischaracterization of multiple faith groups,” Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance, told Fox News. Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, shared Crews’ sentiments. “It’s disturbing insight into what’s happening inside Obama’s Pentagon,” Fitton said. “The Obama administration has a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism.” Charisma
MOST AMERICANS WANT THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“The State of the Bible 2013″ survey conducted by Barna Group on behalf of the American Bible Society has found that two-thirds of Americans think it is important for public schools to include in their curriculum values based on the Bible. Not only do 66 percent of U.S. adults think teaching the Bible in schools is important, but a whopping 75 percent are of the opinion that teaching about the Bible in public schools could help reinforce moral principles — a viewpoint shared by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. In general, 77 percent of those surveyed believe the morals and values of the nation are on a decline, and that a decline in Biblical literacy was one of the main causes (32 percent) in addition to the media’s negative influence (29 percent) and “corruption from corporate greed” (25 percent). There were reservations about endorsing a Bible-based curriculum, however, as nearly half (45 percent) of those who support the move were concerned that such a curriculum could end up favoring one religion over another. Another 32 percent were concerned of such a move possibly causing offense; 11 percent worried about children losing time from learning other subjects; and 9 percent found no valid reason to teach the Bible in schools. In a public statement on “The State of the Bible 2013″ survey, American Bible Society President Doug Birdsall suggested that students could benefit greatly from “the best selling book in history.” More
BLOOD FALLS, FIVE STORIES HIGH, SEEPS FROM AN ANTARCTIC GLACIER
In 1911, Australian explorer and geologist Griffith Taylor discovered a strange glacial feature in Antarctica, which is now known as Blood Falls. It’s a bright red waterfall, nearly five stories high, seeping through a crack in what’s now called Taylor Glacier, which flows into Antarctica’s Lake Bonney. Geologists first believed that the color of the water came from algae, but today the red color is known to be caused by microbes living off sulfur and iron in oxygen-free water trapped beneath the ice for nearly 2 million years. The hidden lake beneath Taylor Glacier sits beneath a quarter mile (400 meters) of ice and trickles out at the glacier’s end. It deposits an orange stain across the ice as its iron-rich waters rust on contact with air. More
DAYS OF LOT: CHRISTIANS SHOULD ‘REPENT’ OVER PAST TREATMENT OF GAYS, SAYS ARCHBISHOP
Christians should be ‘repentant’ about the Church’s past treatment of gay and lesbian people, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last night.
The Most Rev. Justin Welby told a group of traditional evangelical Christians that the Church’s historic support of homophobia was ‘utterly and totally wrong’.
He also acknowledged that many young people considered the Church’s views on same-sex marriage as ‘wicked’ and ‘plain wrong’. The Archbishop insisted he did not regret voting against gay marriage legislation, but acknowledged that such views were seen by many as akin ‘to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice’. The Marriage Act received royal assent in July and gay couples in England and Wales will be able to wed from next year. Yesterday, the Archbishop, speaking in London, said he stood by his decision to vote against gay marriage, which he believed was ‘rewriting the nature of marriage’. But he said the Church must respond to changing cultural attitudes. ‘If the same thing happened again I would vote the same way as I did then, but I am continuing to think and listen very carefully as to how in our society today we respond to what is the most rapid cultural change in this area than there has been for a very long time. We have seen changes in the idea about sexuality, sexual behaviour. More
PREMIUMS HIGHER UNDER OBAMACARE AS EMPLOYERS WEIGH DROPPING COVERAGE…
Republicans have long blamed President Obama’s signature health care initiative for increasing insurance costs, dubbing it the “Unaffordable Care Act.” Turns out, they might be right. For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they’re currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers’ monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act. Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won’t apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that’s only if employers continue to offer that coverage–something that’s looking increasingly uncertain. Already, UPS, for example, cited Obamacare as its reason for nixing spousal coverage. And while a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 49 percent of the U.S. population now receives employer-sponsored coverage, more companies are debating whether they will continue to be in the business of providing such benefits at all. Economists largely agree there won’t be a sea change among employers offering coverage. But they’re also saying small businesses are still in play. Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, a health care and public policy advisory firm, said there’s a calculation low-wage companies will make to determine if there’s cost savings in sending employees to the exchanges. More
FAST-FOOD STRIKES EXPAND ACROSS U.S. TO 50 CITIES, DEMANDING $15 AN HOUR
Fast-food workers in 50 U.S. cities plan to walk off the job today in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) and Wendy’s Co. to raise wages. Protests that began in New York last year are spreading to cities including Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is advising the strikers. About 200 workers showed up at the two-story Rock N Roll McDonald’s store in Chicago’s River North neighborhood this morning chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, poverty wages gotta go!” The non-union workers are demanding the right to organize and wages of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum of $7.25. They now make $9 an hour on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By simultaneously targeting the largest chains, including Yum! Brand Inc.’s Taco Bell and KFC, Subway and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW), organizers want to force a sector-wide response. “What the workers are trying to do is hold the corporations accountable,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU president. If the minimum wage were raised to $10.50, fast-food restaurants would see about 2.7 percent higher costs, according to a letter signed by economists in July in support of raising the federal minimum wage. The eateries could absorb those cost increases by raising menu prices and by allowing low-wage workers to get more of the business’s revenue, it said. More
ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND ‘HARBINGER’ FALLEN BRICKS
Isaiah 9:10 – “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.”
Isaiah 9:10 is the key verse around which the bestselling Christian book in America over the last two years was written. It is also the key verse around which the bestselling faith movie in America over the last two years was crafted. And now archaeologists have found some of the 2,700-year-old ruins that the obscure verse of the Bible is about. “The fortifications appear to protect an artificial harbor,” Tel Aviv University’s Alexander Fantalkin, leader of the excavations at the Ashdod-Yam archaeological dig, said about the discovery. “If so, this would be a discovery of international significance, the first known harbor of this kind in our corner of the Levant.” The find was announced at the end of the first excavation season at Ashdod-Yam in the contemporary coastal city of Ashdod, just south of Tel Aviv. At the heart of the fortifications is a mud-brick wall measuring more than 12 feet wide in some places, and 15 feet high. The wall is covered in layers of mud and sand that stretch for hundreds of feet on either side. When they were built in the 8th century B.C., the crescent-shaped fortifications would have defended an inland area covering more than 17 acres.More
WAR DRUMS: ISRAEL AND JORDAN UNDER SYRIAN MISSILE THREAT
]There is specific intelligence indicating that aside from possible retaliation against Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan could also be attacked with Syrian missiles in a Western military campaign targeting Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND. The intelligence has now led to the Jordanian army being placed on its highest alert, the officials said. The officials added that Saudi Arabia began moving tanks toward its border with Jordan while the U.S. and NATO are preparing the Jordanian army for various contingencies. Regarding Israel, a top official in the Syrian government told WND in an interview today that “all options are open” and that the Jewish state might be targeted. The official, speaking on condition his name be withheld, continued that Syria is confident its missile systems will be able to shoot hundreds of missile towards Israel in the case of a Western strike. The official further hinted Turkey and Jordan could also be targeted. WND
August 29, 2013 – JAPAN – It’s been erupting constantly for nearly 60 years, spewing out smoke and ash and sending shivers through the more than half a million people who live nearby. Japan’s Sakurajima volcano recently blasted 100,000 tons of ash more than five kilometers into the sky, reminding surrounding communities of its power and volatility. Volcanologists warn that the magma chamber beneath the mountain is about 90 per cent full, meaning that a large lava eruption cannot be ruled out. The ABC’s North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy traveled to Sakurajima in south-west Japan to see how people live with this rumbling giant. In legend, this belching giant was named for a beautiful goddess, the divine being venerated as the symbol of delicate earthly life. But Sakurajima is anything but delicate. It is the mother of all Japanese volcanoes. Sakurajima is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Some years it belches into life or erupts over 1,000 times and this bad-tempered beast is just eight kilometers from the 600,000 residents of Kagoshima. And recently Sakurajima showered this city with 100,000 tons of ash, turning day into night and sending people scrambling for cover. Its 500th eruption of the year sent plumes more than five kilometres into the sky and reminded everyone here just how vulnerable they are to the vagaries of this volcano. But mostly, Sakurajima is just a daily inconvenience. Volcanologist Masato Iguchi has been studying Sakurajima for more than 30 years, and while he’s not worried just yet about another big eruption, he does warn that pressure underneath the volcano is rising. Volcanologist Masato Iguchi said, “The magma level deep within the volcano is back to about 90 per cent of what it was before the 1914 eruption so we do have to worry about a big eruption in the long-term.” And while we were on Sakurajima, the volcano rumbles into life again, spewing out more ash and giving the people who live here some more cleaning to do. Across the small stretch of sea, the people of Kagoshima go about their business. They can only hope the goddess of the volcano can keep her temper for a little while longer. –ABC
August 29, 2013 – FRANCE – The French military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria if President Francois Hollande decides to do so, the defense minister said Thursday. But the chief of state, who met with the head of the Syrian opposition, stopped short of announcing military intervention over a suspected chemical weapons attack. Hollande offered his political and humanitarian support for the Western-backed Syrian National Council, but said the group will only be a viable alternative to Syrian President Bashar Assad if it has military credibility — and if the international community can stop the spiral of violence. The United States, France and Britain are believed to be preparing possible military action against Assad’s regime after an apparent poison gas attack in Syria on Aug. 21. U.N. experts are currently in Syria investigating the attack. “The Armed Forces are in a position to respond to the requests and the decisions of the president once he reaches that point” of committing French forces to an international intervention in Syria, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said. Hollande does not need French parliamentary approval to launch any military action that lasts less than four months. Hollande, who has spoken out strongly against Assad’s government, on Thursday stressed the importance of a political solution and making the Syrian opposition a stronger alternative, notably with increased firepower. Hollande said he told Syrian opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba that “France will offer all its help. Its political help, its support, as it we have for months. But also its humanitarian, material aid.” “Everything must be done to reach a political solution, but that will not happen unless the coalition is capable of appearing as an alternative, with necessary force, notably its army,” Hollande said. “We will only achieve this if the international community is capable of bringing a stop to this escalation of violence, of which the chemical massacre is just one illustration.” French military officials would not comment on reports Thursday that a French frigate has left southern France toward Syria to take part in an eventual military operation. France has a dozen cruise missile-capable fighter aircraft at military bases in the United Arab Emirates and the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. France’s military was at the forefront of the NATO-led attacks on Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, and led an intervention against extremists in Mali earlier this year. –ABC
Russia redeploys fleet in Mediterranean Sea: The redeployment of Russian Naval vessels in the Mediterranean Sea is part of a planned rotation and is not linked with the worsening situation in Syria, a Russian Naval spokesperson said Thursday. The statement comes after media reports had suggested that the grouping of Russian vessels in the Mediterranean Sea was to be changed in direct connection with events in Syria. Admiral Viktor Chirkov, commander of the Russian Navy, told ZvezdaTV channel Sunday that Russia “should have five or six vessels permanently deployed in the Mediterranean,” but did not say how many were already there. “The vessels in the Mediterranean, like those in other parts of the world, act under plans by the Russian Naval Command and General Staff, and fulfil tasks set,” the Naval spokesperson said. “On completion of these tasks, the vessels then either return to their bases, or are replaced by other vessels to complete the tasks set,” the spokesperson said, adding “This does not amount to a renewal of any grouping or groupings, it is a planned rotation.” The spokesperson for the Russian Navy did not share any further details with RIA Novosti regarding the ships involved, and said Navy General Staff decides what class of vessel to send. –RIA
August 29, 2013 – DAMASCUS – President Barack Obama is vowing that American retaliation for Syrian chemical weapons use would send a “strong signal,” as US intelligence officials readied briefings for Congress on evidence aimed at linking last week’s attack to President Bashar Assad’s government. But even as the US moves closer to possible military action, new hurdles appear to be slowing the formation of an international coalition to undertake military action. And questions remain about the strength of the case against Assad. “Russia blocked British efforts to seek a force resolution at the United Nations. British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country would hold off on joining any military efforts until a UN chemical weapons inspection team releases its findings – a step that is unlikely to happen until next week. Still, the Obama administration vowed to take action even without the backing of allies or the UN. The president said that while he had not settled on a response to last week’s purported chemical weapons attack near Damascus, he said the US has concluded that Assad’s regime perpetrated the attack, which killed at least 100 Syrians. “And if that’s so,” Obama said during an interview with NewsHour on PBS, “then there need to be international consequences.” Obama did not present specific evidence to back up his assertion that the Assad regime is responsible for the August 21 attack. US officials were also in search of additional intelligence to bolster the White House’s case for a strike against Assad’s military infrastructure. American intelligence intercepted lower-level Syrian military commanders’ communications discussing the chemical attack, but the communications don’t specifically link the attack to an official senior enough to tie the killings to Assad himself, according to three US intelligence officials.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence publicly. The administration was planning an intelligence teleconference briefing on Thursday on Syria for leaders of the House and Senate and the national security committees in Congress, US officials and congressional aides said. Officials also said an unclassified version of the report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence would be made public this week. The White House ideally wants intelligence that links the attack directly to Assad or someone in his inner circle, to rule out the possibility that a rogue element of the military decided to use chemical weapons without Assad’s authorization. That quest for added intelligence has delayed the release of the report laying out evidence against Assad. The report was promised earlier this week by administration officials. The CIA and the Pentagon have been working to gather more human intelligence tying Assad to the attack, relying on the intelligence services of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel, the officials said. Both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency have their own human sources – the rebel commanders and others who cross the border to brief CIA and defence intelligence officers at training camps in Jordan and Turkey. But their operation is much smaller than some of the other intelligence services, and it takes longer for their contacts to make their way overland. Britain added a hurdle to deliberations about a military strike on Wednesday when it went to the UN Security Council with a draft resolution that would authorize the use of military force against Syria. The British resolution would authorize “all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons.” Chapter 7 allows the use of international armed force to back up UN decisions. –SMH
UPDATE! Obama Plans Solo Attack on Syria After Snubbed by UK
Rolf Harris charged with 13 child sex offences
Fifth US warship deployed to Syria
The United States is sending a fifth warship towards Syria, defense officials said Thursday, upping the ante as a showdown between the US and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime remains all but declared.
A 505-foot-long guided missile destroyer, the USS Stout, has been sent to the Mediterranean Sea to assist the four US warships already deployed to await potential orders to strike Syria amid an international investigation into Assad’s reported use of chemical weapons to gas innocent civilians outside of Damascus last week.
Should the White House ask for an assault on Assad’s regime, the USS Stout and the rest of the seafaring fleet will join an arsenal of US, UK and French warheads already surrounding Syria in every which direction.
The Stout left its home port in Norfolk, Virginia more than a week ago with hundreds of soldiers on board en route to the Mediterranean. In the days since, however, Obama administration officials have suggested that the president has not taken the possibility of ordering a military strike against Syria off the table. Now should an assault be ordered from Washington, the US will have one more option at its disposal with regards to striking from the sea.
Norfolk’s WAVY News reported Thursday morning that the Stout was already on patrol in the eastern Mediterranean, but is now heading east to relieve one of the ships stationed within striking distance of Syria.
According to Sky News, a US defense official said the ship will replace the USS Mahan, but noted that both vessels may remain in place for the time being.
In an official Navy document, the Stout is said to be “equipped with the world’s most sophisticated weapon system,”
The Stout, said the Pentagon paper, “can guide vertically-launched standard missiles to intercept hostile aircraft and missiles at extended ranges.” It’s equipped to fire anti-ship cruise missiles as far away as 65 nautical miles and can perform a sea-to-land attack with deadly Tomahawk missiles.
Meanwhile, Pres. Obama is meeting with members of Congress on Thursday to discuss what the US intelligence community has discovered about the reported use of chemical gas last week.
Earlier in the week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration had not ruled out a strike, and that evidence linking Assad’s regime to chemical weapon use would merit a response that might include military force.
“[W]e have made clear for a long time, notwithstanding our views about the fact that we don’t envision US boots on the ground in Syria, that we retain—and the president retains—all options available to him in Syria, and that includes military options,” Carney said. “And that is the case here in response to this transgression.”
“Broadly speaking,” Carney said during a press briefing Tuesday at the White House, “I think it’s important to note that it is in the clear national security interest of the United States that the use or proliferation of chemical weapons on this scale not go unanswered. The consequences of a dissolution of that norm would be profoundly not in the interest of the United States or in the international community, in particular in this highly volatile region, but also around the world.”
On Wednesday, the Associated Press quoted two unnamed White House officials who said on condition of anonymity that the administration is struggling to decide what Syrian targets could be hit and what kind of response the US would want as a result.
“If there is action taken, it must be clearly defined what the objective is and why” and based on “clear facts,” one of those officials said.
“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” a second official told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity.
Now with a five ships all outside of Syria, at least for now, any strike against Assad’s regime could call upon more firepower than before.
As RT reported earlier this week, the US and its allies have all-but surrounded Syria. The US has military bases in the neighboring countries of Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and air-defense Patriot missiles are available to the north and south of Syria in Turkey and Jordan, respectively.
Additionally, at least one British cruise missile-carrying nuclear submarine and one French vessel could be sent towards Syria, and the US, UK and Turkey have airbases in the region that could assist with an air-to-land strike using F-16 fighter jets.
During Tuesday’s briefing, Carney said the president would consult with Congress before a strike but did not say explicitly that Obama would ask for permission. According to Carney, confirmation that Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons would violate international norms and warrant a response that would not be necessitated by congressional approval. Pres. Obama will reportedly make available a declassified intelligence report justifying any response aimed towards Syria should elect to take action.