September 5, 2013 – COSTA RICA – The United States Geological Service (USGS) recorded a magnitude 6.0earthquake 44 km west of Sardinal, in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province at 6:29 a.m. this morning. The USGS reports that the quake struck at a depth of 41.7km. ICR has received reports of shaking in the popular tourist destination and beach community of Playas del Coco, described as three strong jolts over the course of about a minute. The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica (OVSICORI) has yet to record the event, but reported a magnitude 3.8 temblor 39 km southwest of Manzanillo de Santa Cruz, also in the province of Guanacaste, a few minutes after the event reported by USGS. OVSICORI reports that quake having struck at a depth of 5 km. There are no reports of injuries or damage at this time. Today marks one year to the day when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the Nicoya Peninsula, also in the province of Guanacaste, on September 5th, 2012. That quake occurred at 8:42 a.m. local time. –Inside Costa Rica
President Obama stated that “as a commander in chief” he has the right to order a military strike against Syria without congressional approval. However, he said that Capitol Hill support would strengthen the response to the alleged chemical attack. “As commander in chief I always preserve the right and the responsibility to act on behalf of America’s national security. I don’t believe that I was required to take this to Congress. But I did not take this to Congress because I think it’s an empty exercise,” Obama said during a news conference in Stockholm on Wednesday, after a meeting with the Swedish prime minister. Obama’s comments came shortly after he managed to win the support of key politicians on his plans to launch a “limited” strike on Syria. On Tuesday, Democrat and Republican leaders in Congress announced that that the United States should respond to Syrian President Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. The vote is expected early next week, after Congress reconvenes on September 9. Obama is confident that lawmakers will authorize his request for the military strike against the Syrian regime.
“I believe congress will approve it because I think that America recognizes that as difficult as it is to take any military action even one as limited as we’re talking about, even one without boots on the ground. That’s a sober decision,” he said. The president said that America recognizes that “if the international community fails to maintain certain norms, standards and laws governing how countries interact and how people are treated, then over time this world become less safe.” Obama also said that his decision to seek congressional approval for his plan was not just a symbolic gesture. ”I think that it is very important for the Congress to say that we mean what we say. I think we will be stronger as a country in our response if the president and Congress do it together,” he said. Obama added that the “red line” he mentioned last year while speaking about Syria’s use of chemical weapons was drawn “by the world” when its leaders signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, rather than by him personally. “I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.” Congress “set a red line” when it ratified that treaty, he added. “Congress set a red line when it indicated in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability Act, that some of horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for.” Obama also declared that the entire international community’s credibility is at stake when it comes to the conflict in Syria. “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America’s and Congress’s credibility is on the line.” Meanwhile in Washington, key congressional committees are holding hearings and discussing the draft resolution on the military attack on Syria.The Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee approved on Wednesday the presidential plan to strike Syria. Obama’s plan progressed a step further on Tuesday when it received backing from party leaders in Congress. However, only 36 percent of the American population support the initiative, an ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed. “By this time, [after] 13 years of war, people and the military have no faith in anything the government has to say at all. They are sick and tired of the war, and the government has no credibility with the rank and file in the military,” Marine veteran Gordon Duff told RT. RT
In one of the most dangerous constitutional violations Liberty Institute has ever seen, the City of San Antonio is voting today on a so-called nondiscrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in a way that stifles free speech and tramples on religious liberty. Although the ordinance has gone through revisions since first proposed, it remains a serious violation of Americans’ constitutional and statutory rights. This week, Liberty Institute sent a second letter to city officials in response to the revised ordinance. In the letter, Liberty Institute’s president and CEO, Kelly Shackelford, states: “Ultimately, in its present state, the Proposed Ordinance is a cloudy and confusing collection of poorly thought out and conflicting statements that could be much more clearly and cleanly handled by simply including a broad religious liberty exemption to protect the free speech and religious liberty rights of both individuals and organizations that have religious objections to the requirements mandated by the Proposed Ordinance.” Liberty Institute attorneys warn it is unconstitutional for any government, including the San Antonio City Council, to prohibit the free exercise of religion and make it a “thought crime” to hold traditional biblical views on sexuality.
The Two Biggest Shocks
The biggest shock is that this proposed ordinance is expected to pass. But perhaps just as troubling is the fact that such discrimination is not merely the project of a “fringe” political faction. That is because the driving force behind the law is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. Castro served as co-chair for the President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and is considered to be a “rising star” in the Democratic Party. He is often compared to the president, and with the push for this divisive ordinance, it seems he shares the Obama administration’s hostility toward religious freedom.
Coming to Your Town?
“The ripple effect of this law could go far beyond San Antonio,” Shackelford says. “This is not something that just affects residents of San Antonio. This should alarm every American who values their religious freedom.” Hostility toward religious freedom is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and based on the many cases we see across the country, an ordinance like this may be headed to your city very soon. The good news is that Liberty Institute and its team of experienced constitutional attorneys are committed to stopping laws such as these. They believe this and similar ordinances can be defeated in court, and they intend to do so. Charisma
WAR DRUMS: Turkey has deployed military units along its southern border with Syria, reports say amid speculations that the US may launch a military strike against the Arab country. Turkish news agency Dogan said on Thursday that a 20-vehicle convoy with a tank contingent was deployed to the border area of Yayladagi in Hatay province on Wednesday, and was followed by 15 more vehicles Thursday, AFP reported. Tanks, missile launchers and anti-aircraft guns on hilltops near the border town of Kilis were aimed at Syria, state-run TRT television said. State-run news agency Anatolia also said that an already enlarged troop presence on the southern border would also be reinforced.
Six Patriot missile batteries, supplied by fellow NATO members, have been also been deployed in the area, which would be used in the event of a military action in Syria. Turkey, which has sided with the militants fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, has a border with Syria that stretches for more than 900 kilometers (559 miles). The United States and its allies, including Turkey, say there should be an attack on Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey would take part in any international coalition against Syria. ”We have said that we are ready to take part in any kind of coalition and we perceive this as a coalition of volunteers,” Erdogan said without elaborating, shortly before leaving for the Group of 20 meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.Washington says it has obtained evidence proving the Syrian army was behind the chemical attack near Damascus on August 21, which killed hundreds of Syrians.
The Syrian government has repeatedly said that the deadly attack was carried out by militants operating inside the country in a bid to draw in a foreign military intervention. A former member of a city council in Hatay province has told Press TV that the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey. “Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria,” Mohamad Gunes said.“The Syrian president has no reason to kill his own people,” he added. People in the southern province also said the weapons were used by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants and not the Syrian government. ”America and Israel had al-Qaeda use chemical weapons in order to push us into war; none of us wants war here. In the history of Hatay, we all lived peacefully side by side, now there is Mossad, CIA and al-Qaeda all over the place. We are worried that they might use chemical weapons against us,” said Farid Mainy, a Hatay resident and an activist. The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the number of Syrian refugees, who have fled the country’s 29-month-long conflict, reached two million. “Syria is hemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the UNHCR said. The UN refugee agency also said some 4.2 million people have also been displaced inside Syria since the beginning of the conflict in the Arab country. PressTV
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — US President Barack Obama pressed fellow world leaders on Thursday to support a US-led strike on Syria, but he ran into opposition from Russia, China and even the European Union — which condemned the deadly recent chemical weapons attack in Bashar Assad’s country but declared it too soon for military action. “The use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed,” Obama insisted during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit, where he mostly made his case behind the scenes. China’s G-20 delegation spokesman, Qin Gang, was among those who countered, saying: “War isn’t the fundamental way to solve problems in Syria.” Obama’s public and private diplomatic wrangling partly was intended to ratchet up pressure on lawmakers back in Washington as they debate authorizing military action. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a use-of-force resolution this week, but the measure’s prospects in the full Senate and the House of Representatives are uncertain. The prospect of military action against Syria overshadowed the global growth agenda at the two-day G-20 summit, which opened Thursday in this historic Russian city on the Baltic Sea. Leaders did, however, hold a lengthy discussion about the crisis during a four-hour dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of Syria’s strongest backers.
The dinner at St. Petersburg’s Peterhof Palace stretched into the early hours of Friday and ended with an elaborate fireworks and laser light display. White House advisers said Obama was seeking “political and diplomatic” support from his international counterparts, not necessarily military cooperation. And Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said the type of action the US is contemplating “does not come with significant requirements of international participation.” While Obama has long called for the ouster of Assad, a deadly chemical weapons attack near Damascus two weeks ago pushed the US to the brink of military action for the first time during Syria’s civil war. The US position on Syria has increased tensions with Putin, one of Assad’s most important economic and military backers. Putin has blocked efforts at the United Nations to take action and has questioned intelligence reports American officials say link the chemical weapon deployment to the Syrian leader. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that the United Kingdom had fresh evidence that was being examined at British laboratories. Ahead of the US president’s arrival in St. Petersburg, Putin told The Associated Press in an interview that it was “completely ridiculous” to assert that Assad was behind the use of deadly gases against Syrian citizens.
The Kremlin also announced it was boosting its naval presence in the Mediterranean, where the US has five destroyers on standby for a military strike. In keeping with the economic theme of the meeting, Chinese officials said military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, particularly oil prices. The European Union also was skeptical about the effectiveness of military action. EU President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters in St. Petersburg that the August chemical weapons attack “was a blatant violation of international law and a crime against humanity,” but he said a political, not military, solution was needed in Syria. “While respecting the recent calls for action, we underscore at the same time the need to move forward with addressing the Syrian crisis through the UN process,” Van Rompuy said. The US, too, backs a political resolution in Syria, but has largely given up on efforts at the UN, where Russia has blocked Security Council efforts to punish Assad. Rhodes said Thursday that the Obama administration was “highly skeptical” that Russia would take a different posture if the US sought new resolutions at the Security Council. At the UN on Thursday, US Ambassador Samantha Power said “Russia continues to hold the Council hostage and shirks its international responsibilities.” She blamed the structure of the Security Council, which lets five major nations hold veto power — Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain. In Syria itself, Assad’s troops battled al-Qaida-linked rebels for a second day over the government-held Christian village of Maaloula. Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, said the fighters included members of the of al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group. For much of last week, it appeared Obama was ready to launch a strike against Assad’s government without authorization from either the UN or the US Congress.
But he made an abrupt reversal on Saturday, announcing he would hold off on a military response and ask Congress for a vote in support. The White House has refused to say whether Obama would go forward with a strike if lawmakers vote against using force. With one eye on Washington, Obama on Thursday lobbied lawmakers from afar, and he canceled a planned trip to California for next week to stay in Washington and make his case as votes near. Back home, his administration continued its full-scale sales job with another round of closed-door meetings for lawmakers about intelligence on Syria. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said officials showed a DVD on chemical weapons with “what pinpointed eyes mean, what the convulsions mean” when nerve agents affect people. She said all senators would receive a copy. “It’s horrendous,” Feinstein said. The administration has focused on influencing lawmakers who will vote, but opinion polls show little desire by the general public for military intervention in Syria. “It weighs on me,” Feinstein said of the lack of popular support. “There’s no question: What’s coming in is overwhelmingly negative.” An AP survey of senators found 34 supporting or leaning toward military action, 26 opposed or leaning against, and 40 undecided. Among the undecided senators is Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. “What the effects of a military strike would be are not clear,” Wyden said. While intelligence information on the recent chemical weapons attack has been provided to members of Congress, the public hasn’t had the same access — a point Feinstein recognized, saying: “But you see, then they don’t know what I know. They haven’t heard what I’ve heard.” The Senate resolution authorizes the “limited and specified use” of the U.S. armed forces against Syria, restricts military action to 90 days and bars American ground troops from combat. The measure is expected to reach the Senate floor next week. The timetable is more uncertain in the Republican-led House, where the resolution is expected to face greater opposition. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., have both backed military action in Syria, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to sway enough other members of their party. Despite widespread condemnation of the chemical weapons attack from allies, there are few countries likely to join the US in undertaking military action if Obama moves forward with a strike. France has been the most favorable, though French officials said they were awaiting the outcome of the votes in Washington and would not proceed alone. Obama and French President Francois Hollande were to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the summit Friday. The Times of Israel
The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has sidestepped opportunities to respond to atheists’ demands that the words “under God” be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, but that apparently has in no way blunted the campaign to censor that traditional statement about the nation’s founding. For example, a case now is pending before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts that was brought by the American Humanist Society and others alleging that the words, which are recited voluntarily by students in the state’s schools, are unconstitutional. “The left argues that the Pledge of Allegiance somehow discriminates against the godless, but fails to show evidence of said discrimination,” said the EagleRising.com blog. “What they miss is that the affirmation of God in our society is what protects the unbeliever from discrimination. If there are no moral absolutes attributable to a Righteous and Holy God, then every man should be free to do what is right in their own mind. “This is what the left argues for without considering the consequences – without an absolute moral law one cannot judge evil.
If one cannot judge evil by an absolute code, then it is left to the will of the majority to decide what is right and what is wrong. Once that happens, the rights of the minority no longer exist.” The oral arguments in the case by a couple from Acton on behalf of their children were held Wednesday, and the opinion from the high court is expected to come sometime over the next several weeks. In this specific case, David Niose, a lawyer representing the American Humanist Association, said the words in the Pledge are discriminatory even for those who do not recite it. “The exercise itself still discriminates. It defines patriotism a certain way,” he told the justices, according to a report at Boston.com Legal representatives for the school district being sued explained the Pledge is not mandatory, and there is no religious bias present. Boston.com reported, “Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told the justices that the phrase ‘under God’ has a long history as an expression of a ‘political philosophy’ and is not a religious declaration.” He explained over history the term has been used to restrict the power of a king, and now of governments. The couple, whose identities were withheld, started the case in 2010 claiming a violation of the state’s school anti-discrimination policies. A lower court judge ruled against the atheists. That’s been a familiar position for those who in recent years have challenged the reference to “God” in the Pledge. According to Becket officials, the last two decades have featured several major challenges to the words “under God.” For example, a case that started in 2000 ended up with the U.S. Supreme Court dismissing it on a technicality, sidestepping an opportunity to edit the Pledge. In two other cases, starting in 2005 and 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to step in and overturn lower court decisions in favor of the words “under God.” “After three failed attempts to strike down ‘under God’ on the federal level, atheist advocates now seek to challenge it on the state level in Acton-Boxborough, Mass.,” the organization explained. WND has reported over recent months on several confrontations over the inclusion of “God” in the Pledge, even once when Rev. Al Sharpton appeared in a “Lean Forward” ad for his network MSNBC where he recited a bit of the Pledge of Allegiance. He left “God” out. But included lesbians. More
Wal-Mart workers and supporters launched protests in at least 15 cities Thursday, urging the world’s largest retailer provide higher wages, better jobs and the right to unionize. OUR Wal-Mart, a coalition including Wal-Mart workers, community organizers and the United Food & Commercial Workers organized day-long protests, urging Wal-Mart to pay full-time wages of $25,000 a year, or $12 an hour. It says many of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million associates are part-time employees averaging just $8.80 an hour. The Wal-Mart protests – which follow last week’s broader, widespread strikes among fast-food industry workers seeking $15 an hour wages from fast food chains – were scheduled for Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Orlando, Minneapolis and Washington D.C., where Wal-Mart is threatening to cut expansion if it’s required to pay a city mandated “living wage” of at least $12.50 an hour. At least three current or former Wal-Mart employees were arrested in New York City Thursday morning for disorderly conduct as they attempted to deliver a petition to the office of Wal-Mart director Chris Williams. The independent board member is CEO of New York-based investment bank Williams Capital Management Trust. About three dozen protesters, some wearing green shirts with OUR Wal-Mart stenciled on them, participated in the rally. More
If the House voted today on a resolution to attack Syria, President Barack Obama would lose — and lose big. That’s the private assessment of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who are closely involved in the process. If the Senate passes a use-of-force resolution next week — which is no sure thing — the current dynamics suggest that the House would defeat it. That would represent a dramatic failure for Obama, and once again prove that his sway over Congress is extraordinarily limited. The loss would have serious reverberations throughout the next three months, when Obama faces off against Congress in a series of high-stakes fiscal battles. Several Republican leadership aides, who are counting votes but not encouraging a position, say that there are roughly one to two dozen “yes” votes in favor of military action at this time. The stunningly low number is expected to grow a bit. But senior aides say they expect, at most, between 50 and 60 Republicans to vote with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who support the president’s plan to bomb Syria to stop Bashar Assad from using chemical weapons on his people. That would amount to less than one-third of the House Republican Conference.
That would mean the vast majority of the 200 House Democrats will need to vote with Obama for the resolution to pass. But Democrats privately say that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) can only round up between 115 and 130 “yes” votes. High-level congressional sources believe there is some time — but not much — for Obama, Boehner and Pelosi to turn things around. But any vote to authorize an attack on Syria will be extraordinarily close, according to people in both parties with direct knowledge of the political dynamics in the House Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus. Boehner and Cantor back the president’s plan for “limited, proportional” strikes in Syria. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is not convinced it’s the right decision. McCarthy’s calculus seems to be more in line with many House Republicans — he has spoken to many of his allies in the last week, and the support for a U.S. strike on Syria is incredibly low, sources familiar with those discussions says say. House leaders plan to takes up the Syria resolution only if it passes the Senate first. The political climate, of course, can change. Pelosi is a legendary whip and has an uncanny ability to move her members. Since Congress is not in session, many lawmakers haven’t been lobbied by the Obama administration or attended its classified briefings. Obama hasn’t taken to the Oval Office to address the nation about Syria — many hope he’ll do that when he returns from the G-20 in Russia. The White House has already canceled a planned presidential trip to Los Angeles on Monday so the president can lobby lawmakers. And rank-and-file House Republicans — especially some key members — are holding back their positions, waiting to see what happens next week when Congress returns.
“Republicans have traditionally tended to break toward the president” on national security and defense issues, noted a senior GOP aide. But this aide estimated that the resolution to bomb Syria has only a “30 to 40 percent chance of passing right now.” POLITICO reported on Thursday that Obama administration officials have reached out directly to one-third of Congress in the last two weeks — at least 60 senators and 125 House members — with more contacts to come, according to a White House aide. And AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, is poised to mount a major blitz next week in support of the Syria resolution, officials with the group said. AIPAC lobbyists and their supporters have been speaking directly to a number of lawmakers, especially senators, said House and Senate aides. “At the end of the day, a lot of these Democrats are going to be with the president,” said a House Democratic aide close to the issue. “Because the choice is to vote against [the Syria resolution] and turn the president into a lame duck and destroy his credibility, or swallow it and vote for something that you’re not wild about. When you’re faced with that kind of decision, most of these fence-sitters are going to come aboard.” Politico
A video has emerged of an opposition rebel militant in Syria apparently confessing to using chemical weapons in order to follow Osama Bin Laden’s mantra of killing women and children. The individual in the clip, Nadeem Baloosh, is a member of an insurgent group called Riyadh Al Abdeen, which is active in the Latakia area of Syria. Baloosh speaks of “chemicals which produce lethal and deadly gases that I possess,” before going on to state, “We decided to harm them through their women and kids.” Baloosh ponders if it is acceptable to harm women and children before quoting the Koran, “Fight them as they fight you. ” He goes on to quote Osama Bin Laden (whom other rebel groups have openly praised). “We’ll kill their women and children like Sheikh Osama Bin Laden said – “until they cease killing our women and kids,” he states. Baloosh goes on to talk about the Syrian Army approaching the area where his rebel group was located, before stating, “So we had the idea that this weapon was very powerful and effective to repel them, we announced if they approached one meter, everything is permitted.” “We will strike them in their homes, we will turn their day into night and their night into day,” adds Baloosh.
BREAKING NEWS: Iran will support Syria “until the end” in the face of possible US-led military strikes, the chief of Iran’s elite Quds Force unit was quoted Thursday by the media as saying. Iran is Syria’s main regional ally and some analysts believe a wider goal of US President Barack Obama’s determination to launch a strike against the Damascus regime is to blunt Tehran’s growing regional influence and any consequent threat to Washington ally Israel. ”The aim of the United States is not to protect human rights … but to destroy the front of resistance (against Israel),” Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani was quoted as saying. ”We will support Syria to the end,” he added in a speech to the Assembly of Experts, the body that supervises the work of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He did not elaborate on the nature of the support and Iran has constantly denied allegations by Western powers that it has sent military forces to prop up President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime.
A year ago, the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said that members of the Quds Force foreign operations unit were in Syria but only to provide Assad’s government with “counsel and advice”. Soleimani accused the US of using its claims that Syria’s forces had unleashed chemical weapons on civilians last month as a “pretext” to try to topple Assad’s regime. Iran’s Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan, meanwhile, ruled out sending troops or weapons to Syria. ”The Syrians do not need us to provide them with weapons because they have a defensive anti-aircraft system themselves,” he was cited in the local media as saying. President Hassan Rowhani said Iran will do “everything to prevent” an attack on the Syrian regime, according to extracts from statements he made before the Assembly of Experts published in the media. ”Any action against Syria is against the interests of the region but also against the friends of the United States in this region,” he said. ”Such action will help nobody.” The US, France and other countries accuse Assad’s forces of launching chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, which they say killed hundreds. Obama is seeking congressional backing as well as broader international support for punitive strikes on Assad’s regime. Iran has warned that any military action against Syria risks sparking a broader regional conflagration. Yahoo News
BREAKING NEWS: Despite the fact that the political decision to send warships, apparently, it was decided a long time, we know about it is just now from unofficial sources. Thus, the Chinese military blog that specializes in articles about military equipment the United States, Russia and China, said that several Chinese ships already close to the shores of Syria, citing its sources in the PLA. The authors openly admit that the ships would not be in any way involved in a potential conflict, but only observe the actions of NATO and Russian ships. What kind of ships were sent to the coast of Syria is unknown. Meanwhile, the social network Vkontakte citing a confidential source was reported that a Chinese ship Jinggangshan project was seen when passing the Red Sea toward the Suez Canal. ”2:00 this pepelats back among us in the direction of the Suez Canal.Board number 999. Speed 14 knots, judging therefore has specific instructions to be at some point. We are now in the Red Sea somewhere in the center, “- wrote the author. By tail number is later found out that this is a Chinese amphibious assault ship dock Jinggangshan, which can carry on board a landing craft air cushion or other bulky loads. Recall that, according to several sources in Syria might be Chinese counterparts S-300 systems. Meanwhile, this information officially confirmed no one, and the Chinese amphibious ships were seen in the ports of Syria. Source
As he touched down in St. Petersburg on Thursday morning, President Obama greeted his host Vladimir Putin with a handshake and a smile. But the cordial greeting belies the tinderbox the two leaders are sitting on, as they posture and deliberate over a potential U.S. strike on Syria — one of Russia’s closest Mideast allies. Putin escalated concerns about the fallout from any strike when he indicated in an interview published Wednesday that his country could send Syria and its neighbors in the region the components of a missile shield if the U.S. attacks. U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified this week that the Russians might even replace any military assets the U.S. destroys in a strike. The warnings raise the possibility of a supposedly “limited” strike on Syria turning into a proxy tit-for-tat between Russia and the U.S. Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., went further during a hearing on Syria on Wednesday, pressing military officials on what the U.S. would do “if Russia decided to strike at us in that theater.” ”We can certainly say that Russia would have options to strike us in that theater in retaliation for us striking their ally,” he warned. Dempsey declined to engage in that discussion, saying only that “Russia has capabilities that range from the asymmetric, including cyber, all the way up through strategic nuclear weapons. And again, it wouldn’t be helpful in this setting to speculate about that.” Secretary of State John Kerry, though, said the Russians have made clear they don’t intend to go to war over a strike on Syria. Perhaps more likely is that Putin’s government would continue to aid and prop up the Assad regime, undermining any gains made by a U.S. strike. ”Putin will live up to what he says,” Fox News military analyst retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said.” If we destroy Syrian military technology, Putin will replace it.” Putin said in a published interview this week that he’d reconsider the status of a suspended S-300 missile defense contract. ”We have a contract for the delivery of the S-300s. We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn’t been completed,” he said. “We have suspended it for now. But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world.” The possibility for Russia stepping up its role in the region makes Obama’s visit to Russia all the more critical. Though the president has nixed a formal one-on-one sitdown with Putin during the G-20 summit, he is expected to speak with the Russian leader on the sidelines. Though he said Wednesday that U.S.-Russian relations have “hit a wall,” he said he’d continue to engage Putin. ”It is not possible for Mr. Assad to regain legitimacy in a country where he’s killed tens of thousands of his own people,” Obama said. “So far, at least, Mr. Putin has rejected that logic.” Obama added: “I’m always hopeful, and I will continue to engage him.” Obama’s challenge to change Putin’s mind comes as China warns that any military action against Syria will push up oil prices and hurt the world economy. Speaking in St. Petersburg Thursday, Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said that “Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price — it will cause a hike in the oil price,” before citing estimates that a $10 rise in oil prices could push down global growth by 0.25 percent. Guangyao also urged a U.N.-negotiated solution to the chemical weapons standoff. Like Russia, China is a major arms supplier to Syria and holds veto power over any Security Council resolution. The White House went out of its way to say Obama would not hold bilateral discussions with the Russian leader while in St. Petersburg. Instead, Obama will formally meet on the summit’s sidelines with the leaders of France, China and Japan, though a senior administration official said the two presidents will have a chance to speak. Russia’s resistance is a key reason why the U.N. Security Council so far has not gotten on board with U.S. calls for action in response to the alleged chemical weapons strike against Syrian rebels on August 21. Putin has been among the loudest critics on the international stage of Obama’s push for a military strike in Syria. He reportedly blasted the push on Wednesday as an “act of aggression.” He has said in recent interviews that a strike would be illegal if the United Nations does not support it. The president said Wednesday there was far more than his own credibility at stake in responding to the chemical weapons attack. ”I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line,” he said. “The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of world population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent.” He added that Congress set its own red line when it ratified the treaty. With Obama in Europe, his top national security aides were to participate Wednesday in public and private hearings at the Capitol to advance their case for limited strikes in retaliation for what the administration says was a deadly sarin gas attack by Assad’s forces in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 with one abstention to authorize the use of force against Syria Wednesday, the first in a series of votes as the president’s request makes its way through Senate and House committees before coming before the two chambers for a final vote, probably sometime next week. Fox News
WAR DRUMS: The helicopter landing craft docked in Haifa Wednesday for refueling and R &R for the 800 Marines aboard and crew before joining the US flotilla opposite Syria next week. Debka
WAR DRUMS: The Shiite Hizballah has transferred 10,000 fighters to Damascus ahead of a US strike on Syria, according to various sources in Lebanon. The Lebanese organization has “called on all its officers and members to man their positions.” Hezbollah fighters have left their regular positions and checkpoints in southern Beirut, turning off their mobile phones so that they could not be traced. The Hizballah force is assigned the main onus of defending the Syrian capital in the event of a US military attack, while also preparing to launch a rocket attack on Israel, depending on the okay from Tehran. Debka
It’s supposed to be a summit about the global economy, but the debate over possible military strikes for Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons is already overshadowing the G-20 conference this week. The meeting in Russia will pit two leaders with polar opposite views on Syria — U.S. President Barack Obama, who wants to launch limited military strikes against the Syrian regime, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country stands by its longtime ally in the Middle East. The views of the 18 other countries at the G-20 run the gamut — but could be influenced by whatever happens in St. Petersburg. Calls for intervention in Syria intensified after an alleged chemical weapons attack in rebel strongholds last month left about 1,400 people dead, according to U.S. estimates. Obama has been at the forefront of calls for a military response, along with French President Francois Hollande.
But some world leaders took the summit spotlight to stump against military action. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that while the international community “cannot remain idle” in the face of Syria’s apparent chemical weapons use, “there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.” ”Only a political solution can end the terrible bloodshed, grave violations of human rights and the far-reaching destruction of Syria” he said. “Too many lives have already been lost and too many people have suffered for too long and lost too much.” Pope Francis also spoke out, sending a letter Thursday to Putin in his role as host of the G-20 summit, urging a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis and calling military intervention a “futile pursuit.” ”Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community,” Francis wrote. “Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.” More
BREAKING NEWS: Three Russian warships crossed Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait Thursday en route to the eastern Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, amid concern in the region over potential US-led strikes in response to the Damascus regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons. The SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye, accompanied by the two landing ships Minsk and Novocherkassk passed through the Bosphorus known as the Istanbul strait that separates Asia from Europe, an AFP photographer reported. The Priazovye on Sunday started its voyage from its home port of Sevastopol in Ukraine “to the appointed region of military service in the eastern Mediterranean”, a military official told the Interfax news agency. Russia, a key ally of Damascus, has kept a constant presence of around four warships in the eastern Mediterranean in the Syrian crisis, rotating them every few months. It also has a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus whose origins date back to Moscow’s close relationship with Damascus under the Soviet Union. Moscow vehemently opposes the US-led plans for military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the chemical attack outside Damascus last month. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that any US Congress approval for a military strike against Syria without UN consensus would represent an “aggression”. Yahoo News
If bugs make you squeamish, be thankful you don’t live in Oklahoma. Swarms of crickets have invaded the Sooner State recently, prompting grossed out Oklahomans to share photos of the harmless, chirping insects. Oklahoma State University entomologists say a combination of heat and drought this summer has fueled the cricket invasion, reported NewsOn6. Yet there actually fewer crickets than last year. “These outbreaks seem to occur after periods of prolonged dry weather in spring and early summer followed by rainfall in July and August,” said OSU’s Rick Grantham in a university press release. “Extensive soil cracking may be an important factor.” One exterminator told KRMG, “This time of year is their mating season.” The invasion, which began in late August, may last as long as eight weeks. Another expert told KTUL that the insects will feed on each others’ carcasses, so residents should avoid stomping on them. One upside to the invasion? Male crickets’ chirps can serve as a crude thermometer. According to KOCO meteorologist Brad Sowder, the number of chirps a single cricket makes in 14 seconds, plus 40, is “very close to the actual air temperature.” Huff Post
I want to make available this very informative and exciting 2 Part Series to those who would like to know more on how Signs from the Heavens are once again happening preparing us for coming Wars, Prophetic Events and the Soon Return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Part One of a Two Part message that will take you in to the Past, Present and Future regarding Cosmic Signs from Heaven and Prophetic Connections. On Part 2 of this Series I will illustrate how we are seeing repeated signs in the Heavens and on Earth that took place prior to major Empire transitions, War and Coming Judgment. This message will soon be available on CD or DVD below.
A video game that is currently in development will aim to create empathy for women seeking an abortion, as its players attempt to overcome various challenges to end their pregnancies. Choice: Texas is the invention of professor Carly Kocurek and self-professed feminist and Buddhist Allyson Whipple. The two state that they decided to create the game in light of the laws that have been passed in the state of Texas, which they believe place “burdensome” restrictions upon women seeking an abortion. “Texas women seeking abortion face considerable obstacles, even if they are financially stable,” the women outline in a YouTube video promoting the game. “Those who can afford abortion still have to deal with mandatory ultrasounds, biased counseling, long waiting periods, parental consent requirements for minors and contentious legislative changes that could cause a number of Texas clinics to shut down.” Kocurek and Whipple also opine that women face “class-based restrictions” to abortion, “such as income, job flexibility and transportation options.” Therefore, Choice: Texas aims to create “awareness, understanding and empathy” for abortion-minded women. While the game is still in development, details and plans have been released in an attempt to generate interest. Players can choose from various difficulty levels and select from one of five characters, all of which represent women seeking to obtain an abortion. One of the characters is a 19-year-old bartender that is living with her parents, and another is a 35-year-old lawyer that is in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend but doesn’t want to have children with him. Other avatars will include a high school student, a mother facing a “high-risk” pregnancy and a woman that lives below the poverty line.
“I would hope that this game would put a more concrete, human face on the issue, that players would not see these women as evil or shameful, but understand the difficult–often impossible–situations they’re in, and the difficulties they faced in making and achieving their choice,” Whipple told Persephone Magazine. Kocurek and Whipple state that they plan to promote their game at conferences and events, and are currently working to raise money to finish the creation. However, many have been horrified at the concept of Choice: Texas, and find it disturbing that the practice of ending the lives of unborn children can be reduced to something as trivial as a video game. “Will the game … actually show the true horrors of images of babies dismembered, acid-burned, torn limb from limb, skulls crushed, suctioned and slaughtered?” one commenter asked. “The whole story isn’t being told if they leave these facts and images out of the game. The fact that someone may have ‘difficulty’ obtaining an abortion pales in comparison to the suffering and pain and innocent baby undergoes in the process!” “Whatever happened to Mario Kart Racing or Sonic the Hedgehog?” inquired Cortney O’Brien of TownHall.com. “Shame on Kocurek and Whipple for developing a game that misleads kids into thinking pro-life legislators are the villains and abortions are worthy causes for which to fight. Abortion restrictions should not invoke ‘empathy,’ but celebration. Yes, having a baby does cause some financial strain, but one important avenue I’m sure Choice: Texas does not provide gamers is the option to guide characters to crisis pregnancy centers, many of which are more than willing to help struggling mothers.” Christian News Network
Changes to health insurance premiums are expected to vary widely by state and age as a result of implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” according to a Manhattan Institute for Policy Research analysis. On average, rates will increase 24 percent in the 13 states for which data is available, but rates will decrease in some states while rising dramatically in others. The analysis is preliminary and will be updated as more state’s data become available. Of the 13 for which data is available, nine will have rate increases and four will have rate decreases. New Mexico is, so far, expected to have the largest rate increase at a whopping 130 percent. Maine residents could enjoy the largest rate decrease with a 71 percent drop. The other four states that will see rate increases are Vermont (97 percent), South Dakota (83 percent) and Connecticut (59 percent). The other three states that will see rate decreases are Colorado (34 percent), Ohio (30 percent) and New York (27 percent). Rate changes can also vary greatly by age in some states. For instance, in California, a 27-year-old is expected to see a 23 percent increase, a 40-year-old is expected to see a 14 percent increase, and a 64-year-old is expected to see a five percent decrease. In some states, the changes could also vary slightly by gender.
In New Mexico, for instance, a 27-year-old male will likely see his premium rise 146 percent while a 27-year-old female would only have to pay 132 percent more. Forbes has an interactive map where you can see the expected changes in your state, and view age and gender comparisons. The map will be updated and all the data should be available by the end of the month, before the ACA begins on Oct. 1. The map will also be updated to include a feature to help people decide whether it will be cost effective to get insurance through the health insurance exchanges set up by the ACA. In an article for Forbes, Avik Roy, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, noted that 27-year-old men are expected to have the highest average premium increase at 43 percent. Older Americans are also expected to be more heavily hit. For instance, 64-year-old women will see an average rate increase of 27 percent, which is much higher than the 10 percent average rate increase for 40-year-old women. The biggest surprises, Roy added, were Vermont and Ohio. He expected Vermont rates to decrease and Ohio rates to increase, but the opposite will occur – Vermonters will pay more and Ohioans will pay less. The findings for Ohio were so surprising that Manhattan Institute researchers ran the numbers several times to make sure there was no mistake. Christian Post
It’s well understood that incomes went up in the 1980s and 1990s but stagnated from 2000 to 2007. The median income fell sharply during the 2007-2009 recession and has yet to recover. The new study, which will be published as part of a Russell Sage Foundation book later this year, breaks down income trends since 1979 into various causal factors, then projects how demographic changes will affect median income through 2050. The biggest factor helping to boost incomes between 1979 and 2000 was the growing percentage of women in the workforce, along with rising earnings for those women. Starting around 2000, however, the contribution of female workers to income growth plateaued. Around the same time, male earnings began to fall, detracting from income growth. Two other trends will exert powerful influence on incomes in the future: the aging workforce and the growth of minorities—especially Hispanics —as a percentage of the overall population. As the baby boomers retire, the U.S. population will become top-heavy with a larger portion of lower-earning seniors. And since average earnings for blacks and Hispanics are lower than the national earnings average, the median income will fall as lower earners become a greater percentage of the workforce. These trends alone could reduce the median income by 0.43 percentage points per year between now and 2020, 0.52 points per year between 2020 and 2030, and 0.2 points per year between 2030 and 2040. By then, most baby boomers will have headed to the great planned community in the sky, and the aging of the workforce will ease.
But the changing racial makeup of the country will still cut median income by 0.24 points annually between 2040 and 2050. Those numbers might sound small, but over time they would add up to a significant loss of purchasing power for the typical American and a long era of decline for the nation as a whole. A typical worker earning $50,000 today would earn only about $48,400 by 2020 if his or her income fell by the amounts projected in the study. The worker’s income would fall to about $45,900 in 2030, $45,000 in 2040 and to less than $44,000 in 2050. In a society built upon consumer power and the idea that succeeding generations leap ahead of preceding ones—rather than fall behind them—four decades of falling incomes could be catastrophic. The study only makes income projections relating to demographic changes. Other changes could either offset those income declines, or exacerbate them. Future tax hikes or cutbacks in Social Security—some combination of which seems likely, to deal with mounting government debt—would reduce income even more, for instance. On the other hand, demographic changes aren’t written in stone. “We could change some of this if we wanted to,” says Burkhauser, one of the study authors. “What we need to do is come up with better education, better training and a greater effort to encourage blacks and Hispanics to stay in the labor force.” If incomes for lower-earning groups were to tick upward, that would obviously boost incomes overall. That might happen if new immigration laws encouraged highly educated foreigners to come to America and start businesses, similar to the way Canada attracts talented foreigners, for example. It’s also possible there could be widespread innovations that inject fresh prosperity into the economy. Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight recently calculated that new sources of domestic oil and gas could significantly boost business activity in the United States and add $3,500 to the typical household’s income by 2025. It would be foolish to hope for such deliverance while ignoring basic economic problems, but America, among other things, is the land of the lucky break. Maybe one more is coming. Yahoo News
Next time you’re going to complain about lugging a few bags back from the grocery store on foot, you should really take a look at Nathan Yau’s most recent data visualization. The statistician behind Flowing Data has plotted the nation’s food deserts, which by definition is any place residents have limited access to grocery stores, and it’s pretty staggering how far some people have to travel just to pick up common goods. A couple months back Yau looked at the location of major grocery stores across the country—which parts of the nation shopped at HyVee, which shopped at Publix and so on. If you mentally overlap the maps, you start to see gaping holes where there’s seemingly no place to buy food at all. “That eventually got me wondering about the reverse,” Yau says. “Where there aren’t many nearby grocery stores.” Using the Google Places API, Yau search for the nearest grocery store every 20 miles (this included smaller stores–not just the major chains he plotted in his last visualization). “I chose those increments, because there’s some rough agreement that a food desert is a place where there isn’t a grocery store within 10 miles,” he explains, adding that in pedestrian cities the standard is closer to a mile. “And if you consider searches every 20 with a 10-mile radius you’ve got a fairly comprehensive view.” Zoomed in, each dot you see on the map is a grocery store, and the red lines represent how far a town is from the nearest.
The longer the line, the farther the distance from a store. If you’ve ever driven across Nevada on the Loneliest Highway, it makes sense that the state is covered in red starbursts until you get to the areas surrounding Las Vegas and Reno. Likewise, if you zoom in on Montana, you can see how the length of red line increases gradually as you move into the eastern, more mountainous part of the state. And the spots where the red lines are faint or fade into the background? Those are the spots where groceries are aplenty. The map is an interesting look at reverse population density, and it does take stock of a very real problem. But it would be fascinating to be able to zoom in and analyze the issue more closely at the urban level, where food deserts are a major concern. Yau touches on this idea in the original post, and concedes, “Of course, there are still other considerations like transportation, food cost, and population, but I think this view is a good start.” Wired
Indonesia – A new eruption could be underway at the volcano. VSI raised the alert to 3 (Siaga, alert) on a scale of 1-4, following the observation of incandescent lava at the summit and glowing rockfalls on the eastern side into the Batuawang ravine. Strong degassing generates a plume rising up to 500 m. Satellite images show a hotspot at the summit as well. These observations suggest that new magma has been arriving at the summit where mild strombolian activity is taking place. If this activity increases, the occurrence of dangerous pyroclastic flows is a likely scenario, similar to what happened at Fuego volcano in Guatemala a few days ago. All news about: Karangetang volcano. Extinction Protocol
Chinese Army has occupied 640 square km in three Ladakh sectors, says report
The shocking revelation came in a report submitted by the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Headlines Today has accessed the details of the damning report, submitted by former foreign secretary and NSAB chairman Shyam Saran to the PMO on August 12.
According to the report, patrolling limits set by incremental PLA area denial in eastern Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir have now become the de facto LoAC.
The resulting area denial is effectively a loss of 640 sq km across three sectors in Depsang, Chumar and Pangong Tso, the report said.
It said Indian troops are no longer able to access at least four points on the patrol line, thereby denying an area earlier accessible to them.
Moreover, after PLA incursions in April and May, Depsang Bulge is no longer accessible to Indian forces.continue
Russia gave UN 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for Aleppo sarin attack
By Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Foreign Staff
BERLIN — Russia says a deadly March sarin attack in an Aleppo suburb was carried out by Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, and it has delivered a 100-page report laying out its evidence to the United Nations.
A statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry website late Wednesday said the report included detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians collected at the site of the alleged attack, Khan al Asal in northern Syria. The attack killed 26 people.
A U.N. spokesman, Farhan Haq, confirmed that Russia delivered the report in July.
Inmates in California’s 33 prisons may “marry” their same sex lovers
SACRAMENTO, September 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a lower court order blocking California’s Prop. 8 ban on gay “marriage,” the California Department of Corrections announced this week that inmates in the state’s 33 prisons may “marry” their same sex lovers, effective immediately.
The only catch? At least for now, due to “security concerns,” prisoners cannot marry each other.
“Effective immediately, all institutions must accept and process applications for a same sex marriage between an inmate and a non-incarcerated person in the community, in the same manner as they do marriages between opposite sex couples,” M.D. Stainer, director of the Division of Adult Institutions wrote in a memo issued August 30.
Admitting that this may require some creative interpretation of state code regulating marriages of inmates, Stainer instructed prison officials that “the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ … shall be interpreted to be gender neutral where necessary (i.e. ‘bride may be a male and ‘groom’ may be a female in a same sex marriage).”
But jailhouse lovers dreaming of a prison yard ceremony will have to put their dreams on hold. Anyone lucky enough to have found love within the prison walls will –at least for now – have to wait until at least one of them is released in order to make things official, according to the memo.
“(I)n furtherance of security concerns and other legitimate penological interests, a currently incarcerated inmate shall not, at this time, be permitted to marry another currently incarcerated inmate.”
Al-Qaeda Vows to Slaughter Christians After U.S. ‘Liberates’ Syria
Al-Qaeda in Syria eagerly awaits America to come to its rescue
While U.S. leaders continue pushing for war against the Syrian government, today “Al-Qaeda-linked rebels,”reports AP, “launched an assault on a regime-held Christian mountain village in the densely populated west of Syria and new clashes erupted near the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday… In the attack on the village of Maaloula, rebels commandeered a mountaintop hotel and nearby caves and shelled the community below, said a nun, speaking by phone from a convent in the village. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.”
Arabic news agency Al Hadath gives more information concerning this latest terror attack on Syria’s Christians, specifically how the al-Qaeda linked rebels “terrorized the Christians,threatening to be avenged on them after the triumph of the revolution.”
Thus al-Qaeda terrorists eagerly await U.S. assistance against the Syrian government, so they can subjugate if not slaughter Syria’s Christians, secularists, and non-Muslims — even as the Obama administration tries to justify war on Syria by absurdly evoking the “human rights” of Syrians on the one hand, and lying about al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria on the other.
Update: New information including video of attack can be accessed here
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