September 12, 2013 – LYONS, Colo. (AP) — Heavy rains and scarring from recent wildfires sent walls of water crashing down mountainsides early Thursday in Colorado, cutting off mountain towns, forcing the University of Colorado to cancel classes, and leaving at least three people dead. Boulder County was hit hardest, with up to 6 inches of rain falling over 12 hours. But flooding was reported all along the Front Range, from Colorado Springs to north of Fort Collins. Capt. John Burt of the Colorado State Patrol said a storm cell moved over the mountains during the night, headed east over the Plains, then circled back around. The National Weather Service warned of an “extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation” throughout the region as the flooding forced people from their homes and caused mud and rockslides in some areas. “Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life,” the Weather Service warned throughout the morning. Boulder Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Gabrielle Boerkircher said many roads were blocked and volunteers were trying to help stranded people until emergency crews could arrive. Boerkircher told The Associated Pressone person was killed when a structure collapsed in the tiny town of Jamestown. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said another person was also found dead in northern Boulder. “We’re trying to get to Jamestown,” Boerkircher said of a mountain community northwest of Boulder. “A lot of towns need assistance, and we cannot get through.”
Two other structures in the area were also damaged and may have collapsed. To the south, Colorado Springs spokeswoman Kim Melchor said police conducting flood patrols found a body in Fountain Creek on the west side of the city early Thursday. National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Kleyla said a 20-foot wall of water was reported in Left Hand Canyon north of Boulder, and a firefighter radioed he was trapped in a tree. He said rescuers were trying to get through, but were blocked by debris. In Broomfield, U.S. Highway 287 collapsed when a culvert washed out, dumping three vehicles into the rushing water. Three people were rescued and had minor injuries. Near Lyons, about 2 feet of water was standing on U.S. Highway 36 as a normally shallow creek known for trout fishing spilled over its banks. At least one earthen dam gave way southeast of Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and water levels could rise downstream as authorities release more water to keep more dams from giving way. A National Guard helicopter requested to help pull people from their homes hasn’t been able to take off because of fog and low cloud cover throughout the area. –SF GATE
September 12, 2013 – STANHOPE, NJ — Four foxes have tested positive for rabies in Stanhope, an unusual occurrence that has prompted health officials to urge residents to get their pets vaccinated immediately. The rabies-infected animals were among five foxes destroyed by police and tested after they had charged two police officers and people walking their dogs in the vicinity of Lake Musconetcong. One woman was bitten on both ankles and her dog was also bitten by a fox today on Musconetcong Road. Her dog was one of two that bitten last week, police said. “This is unusual, four out of five is unusual. It’s an anomaly” Sussex County health administrator Herb Yardley said. “People need to have their animals vaccinated for rabies. Even pets that don’t go outdoors. If they get out just once, they could be exposed,” said Yardley, speculating that a single den of foxes could have been exposed in Stanhope after one of its members became rabid. Ralph D’Aries, chief of the rabies program at the county Department of Environmental and Public Health Services, said the woman who was bitten is undergoing treatment for her injuries and the dogs, who had been vaccinated, are being quarantined for 45 days as a precautionary measure. Another person was bitten on a shoe and another man was bitten on the back of his jeans, police said. Had the two dogs not been vaccinated, said D’Aries, they would face a much stricter quarantine regimen, including no exposure to humans or other animals for six months. “That’s cruel,” he said. More recently, Stanhope police destroyed a fox on Monday after it was “chasing people around” at a park near Lake Musconetcong, Police Chief Steven Pittigher said. Police are being especially vigilant about the possibility of rabid foxes in the area, said Pittigher. “If we see any animal showing signs of disease, we will destroy the animal,” he said. Hopatcong animal control officer Dale Sloat, who assisted in the Stanhope investigation, said residents should notify police if they see an animal exhibiting the following behaviors:
• Overly aggressive • Not afraid of people • Infrequent movement • It falls over while standing or walking • It walks or runs in circles.
Rabies, a viral disease that causes encephalitis in warm-blooded animals, can be fatal to humans if left untreated and is most commonly transmitted by dog bites. –NJ.com
September 12, 2013 – CANADA – The waters off British Columbia, Canada, are littered with dead starfish, and researchers have no idea what’s causing the deaths. At the end of August, marine biologist and scuba enthusiast Jonathan Martin was out on his usual Saturday dive with some friends when he noticed something unusual. “We just started noticing dead starfish that looked like they had their arms chopped off,” Martin said. They were sunflower starfish (Pycnopodia helianthoides), a major marine predator in the area that feeds mostly on sea urchins and snails. Like most starfish, the sunflower starfish can regenerate lost limbs—it can have up to 20—and can grow to be up to three feet (a meter) across. Since Martin was diving in an area frequented by crabbers, at first he thought the sunflower starfish had gotten caught in some of the crab traps and had lost limbs escaping. But Martin kept seeing large numbers of dead starfish as he and his friends swam to a marine park where such crab fishing is illegal. Martin knew then it wasn’t the traps that were causing the starfish deaths. After returning from the dive, he visited friends at a local dive shop who were active in marine conservation. Without any definitive answer, he shared photos on Flickr and videos on YouTube—taken at Lion’s Bay and Whytecliff Park in Vancouver—to try to get ideas from others about what was going on.
“It really struck a chord in other divers who were seeing it on Facebook and social media, both locally and as far away as California, who had been seeing similar things,” Martin said. “[The starfish] seem to waste away, ‘deflate’ a little, and then just … disintegrate. The arms just detach, and the central disc falls apart. It seems to happen rapidly, and not just dead animals undergoing decomposition, as I observed single arms clinging to the rock faces, tube feet still moving, with the skin split, gills flapping in the current. I’ve seen single animals in the past looking like this, and the first dive this morning I thought it might be crabbers chopping them up and tossing them off the rocks. Then we did our second dive in an area closed to fishing, and in absolutely amazing numbers. The bottom from about 20 to 50 feet [6 to 15 meters] was absolutely littered with arms, oral discs, tube feet, gonads and gills … it was kind of creepy.” Both Mah and Martin also wonder if a population explosion of the species, which began about three years ago, has something to do with the deaths. “It was an unprecedented increase, so maybe what we’re seeing is just sort of a bursting of the bubble. The animals just reached a density that was unsustainable,” Martin suggested. –National Geographic
Fungus blamed for salamander die-off in the Netherlands: ‘complete mystery why we are seeing this outbreak now’
September 12, 2013 – NETHERLANDS – A newly discovered fungus that feasts on the skin of amphibians is threatening to decimate a species of salamander in the Netherlands, according to new research. Fire salamanders are one of the most recognizable salamander species in Europe, and are characterized by their distinct yellow- and black-patterned skin. Since 2010, fire salamanders have been mysteriously dying off in the forests of the Netherlands. Now, scientists have identified a deadly fungus, called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (the second part of the name translates to “salamander-eating”), that they say is jeopardizing biodiversity and bringing fire salamanders close to the brink of regional extinction. Previously, a fungus species related to the salamander-eating variety was the culprit behind mass amphibian casualties around the globe. That fungus, named Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, is thought to have devastated more than 200 amphibian species worldwide, the researchers said. The fungus Bd also causes the disease chytridiomycosis, which has been labeled the most devastating infectious disease in vertebrate animals by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The detection of a new fungus that rapidly kills fire salamanders is an alarming development, said An Martel, a professor in the department of pathology, bacteriology and poultry diseases at the Ghent University in Belgium, and lead author of the new study. “In several regions, including northern Europe, amphibians appeared to be able to co-exist with Bd,” Martel said in a statement. “It is, therefore, extremely worrying that a new fungus has emerged that causes mass mortalities in regions where amphibian populations were previously healthy.”
The fungus can be spread between salamanders through direct contact, and although the researchers suspect it can also spread through indirect contact, they have yet to prove this type of transmission. The fungus typically invades the salamander’s skin, quickly killing the animal, the scientists said. Still, much is unknown about the newly identified fungus. Tests to infect midwife toads, which have been threatened by chytridiomycosis, have shown that these toads are not susceptible to the salamander-eating fungus. Nonetheless, the vulnerability of other species of amphibians to the disease is not yet known. “It is a complete mystery why we are seeing this outbreak now, and one explanation is that the new salamander-killing fungus has invaded the Netherlands from elsewhere in the world,” study co-author Matthew Fisher, a professor of fungal disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, said in a statement. “We need to know if this is the case, why it is so virulent, and what its impact on amphibian communities will be on a local and global scale.” By figuring out which species are at risk, scientists may be able to take steps to protect vulnerable populations in the wild, he added. “Our experience with Bd has shown that fungal diseases can spread between amphibian populations across the world very quickly,” Fisher said. “We need to act urgently to determine what populations are in danger and how best to protect them.” – NBC News
Book quote: “It’s clear these fungi outbreaks being reported around the world are no mere sporadic coincidence. The cluster pattern of outbreaks suggests a sudden explosion of fungi growth acceleration across the planet. Fungi inherently increase disease risks because they can produce offspring or infect their hosts simply by spreading spores in the air. Rising global temperatures, dust storms, and cosmic rays are unraveling the web of life of the biosphere across the planet by insidiously aiding in the transmission of fungal spores. We may not have much time left before the Earth is in the midst of a full-blown biological crisis and all life on the planet is under cross-sectional simultaneous threats of extinction.” –The Extinction Protocol, p. 206, 2009
September 12, 2013 – KAZAKHSTAN – Mortality of 3 thousand saiga antelopes has been registered in Akmola and Karaganda oblasts in central Kazakhstan, Tengrinews.kz reports citing the press-service of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Kazakhstan. About 1.5 thousand carcases of betpakdalinski saiga antelopes were found at southern, western and northern shores of Tengiz Lake. This type of saiga antelopes also inhabits lowlands and steppes. All the involved national and local authorities were informed about the animals’ die-off. The Ministry’s subordinate Committee of Forestry and Hunting in cooperation with the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems and Veterinary Service of Karaganda Oblast are investigating the die-off site. Measures to find out the scale and causes of the mortality are being taken. The Ministry held an emergency briefing and arranged a group that will investigate the causes of the occasion. The group includes representatives of Ecology Departments of Akmola and Karaganda Oblasts, Veterinary Services, Emergency Situation Department, Internal Affairs Department and Sanitary and Epidemiological Control Service. Saiga antelopes mortality was registered in Kostanay Oblast in May 2012. The approximate number of dead antelopes exceeded 600 that time. –Tengrin News
September 12, 2013 – NEW MEXICO – Officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish are puzzling over the mysterious deaths of more than 100 elk, apparently all within a 24-hour period, in rural New Mexico. The elk were found Aug. 27 on a 75,000-acre ranch north of the city of Las Vegas. Livestock deaths, by themselves, are not unusual — there are many things that can fell large animals, including predators, poachers, a natural or man-made toxin, disease, drought, heat, starvation, and even lightning. But so far wildlife officials have seemingly ruled out most of these possibilities: The elk weren’t shot (nor taken from the area), so it was not poachers. Tests have come back negative for anthrax, a bacteria that exists naturally in the region and can kill large animals. There seems to be no evidence of any heavy pesticide use in the area that might have played a role in the die-off. Though lightning strikes are not uncommon in the Southwest and in New Mexico specifically, killing over 100 animals at one time would be an incredibly rare event. It might be an as-yet unidentified disease, though killing so many at once — and so quickly — would be very unusual. Another possibility is some sort of contamination of the well or water tanks, but so far no toxins have been identified. Wildlife officials are hopeful that they will be able to identify the cause of death — if for no other reason that it would give peace of mind to ranchers and hunters.
Mass animal deaths are not uncommon. In just the past few weeks, massive die-offs of various animals have made news around the world. China’s Fuhe River was clogged last week with over 100 tons of dead silvery fish. Officials attributed the deaths to toxic levels of ammonia dumped into the river from a local chemical factory. Around the same time, scientists finally solved the riddle of what had mysteriously begun to kill off a type of salamander in the Netherlands beginning in 2010. The culprit turned out to be Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, a contagious fungus that eats the salamander’s skin. Odd livestock attacks also abound. Last December, an unknown animal attacked livestock in Shelby County, Ky., leaving many of the victims with gnawed or detached ears, including a goat named Polka-dot. In 2010, the Hispanic vampire beast el chupacabra (of course, never proven to exist) was blamed by some for the deaths of more than 300 goats in rural Mexico. The real cause: Officials found feral canines were the real culprits. Whatever killed the New Mexico elk was apparently neither a chemical spill nor a flesh-eating fungus, though the deaths remain a genuine mystery, at least so far. Tissue and blood samples are still being analyzed, and scientists hope to have answers soon. –Live Science
September 12, 2013 – OHIO – Veterinarians, health officials and dog owners are alarmed by the mysterious recent deaths of four dogs in Ohio. Some experts suspect the dogs may have died a few days after exposure to a virus that’s normally found in pigs. Three dogs in the Cincinnati area and a fourth dog near Akron died in August after exhibiting symptoms that included vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “We feel obligated to make sure pet owners are aware this is happening,” Erica Hawkins, communications director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, told the Dispatch. “Supportive therapies can be helpful if started early enough.” The three dogs from Cincinnati died last month after staying in the same kennel. The Akron dog that died was one of several in the Akron-Canton area that showed the same symptoms. A stool sample from the Akron dog tested positive for canine circovirus, a recently isolated virus. Circoviruses are spherical viruses (grouped within the family Circoviridae) that are commonly found in birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication Emerging Infectious Diseases. Until recently, the only mammals known to carry circoviruses were pigs. But in 2012, a 1-year-old dog in California was brought to the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital after being kenneled for three weeks. The dog had bloody diarrhea and was vomiting; because of the poor prognosis, the dog was euthanized and its tissue was sampled to determine the cause of death.
The tissue analysis showed that the dog had a new type of circovirus named DogCV. “Our results indicate that circovirus, alone or in co-infection with other pathogens, might contribute to illness and death in dogs,” the report stated. Not all infected dogs died, and the virus has been seen in dogs that appear healthy, indicating that some dogs may have an immunity to the virus. Viruses and bacteria that commonly infect just one animal species can evolve and “jump” from that species to another; this process is known as zoonosis. Medical experts believe that influenza, HIV, Ebola and dozens of other zoonotic diseases once only infected pigs, apes or other animals, but these viruses are now common among humans. Bats, in particular, are known as carriers of viral infections: Recent research suggests bats are reservoirs for more than 60 viruses that can also infect humans, and host more viruses per species than even rodents do. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is continuing to investigate the death of the four dogs in the state. “The laboratory confirmation [of circovirus] is important because the virus is newly isolated, however we are not prepared at this time to confirm that canine circovirus is the cause of the dog illnesses,” state veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey said in a statement. –Live Science
KENOSHA, Wisc. – Huge waterspouts were seen over the western side of Lake Michigan Thursday. Images of the spouts were captured by people in Kenosha, Wisc., south of Milwaukee near the Illinois border. Storm Team 8 says waterspouts are possible off the Michigan side of the lakeshore this weekend as cool air moves across the water. Waterspouts are not tornadoes — they are the result of a simpler process. They rarely exceed speeds of 50 or 60 mph, but they are still dangerous to boat or swim around. Woodtv.com
SEASIDE PARK, N.J. – September 12, 2013 (WPVI) – A raging fire that apparently started in an ice cream shop spread several blocks down a New Jersey shore boardwalk that was damaged in Superstorm Sandy and was being repaired. The fire was first reported around 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the 1800 block of the boardwalk in Seaside Park. Video obtained by Action News showed the fire at the Kohr’s custard shop.The fire has since grown and has engulfed a number of buildings, spreading into neighboring Seaside Heights. Images from Chopper 6 HD showed entire blocks up in flames. As it continued to rage three hours after it started, authorities said several firefighters and residents were being treated for smoke inhalation. There were no other early reports of any injuries. “It’s raging,” said real estate agent Michael Loundy, who works on tourism related projects with the borough of Seaside Heights as he watched fire companies battle the flames. “It is absolutely raging. The wind is blowing something fierce, making it very difficult for firefighters to fight.” He said fire crews were making a stand against the spread of the flames at DuPont Avenue, several blocks north of the boundary with Seaside Park to the south. Full Story
Many people won’t be aware of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1895, but one man doesn’t just know about the battle – he claims to have lived through it. Retired farmer Dhaqabo Ebba, from Ethiopia, says he is a staggering 160 years old, which would make him the world’s oldest living man. He claims to have clear memories of Italy’s invasion of his country in the 19th century. However, there is no birth certificate to prove his age. In a statement to Oromiya TV, he provided so much detail on the history of his local area that reporter Mohammed Ademo became convinced that Mr Ebba must be at least 160 years old. This would make him 46 years older than the oldest ever recorded man. ”When Italy invaded Ethiopia I had two wives, and my son was old enough to herd cattle,”said Ebba. He then recounted his eight-day horseback rides to Addis Ababa as a child – a journey that takes only a few hours today. As Ebba grew up in an oral society, there is no paper trail and no living witnesses to verify his age. However, if his claim can be medically confirmed, he would oust 115-year-old Misao Okawa, who is currently recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person. Fox News
Memphis TN – Memphis mother Erica Shead said she was angry after her daughter Erin, 10, told her Wednesday she wasn’t allowed to write about God for a school assignment. “It was so cute and innocent. She talked about how God created the earth and how she’s doing the best she can,” said Shead. Erin is a student at Lucy Elementary in Millington, Tenn. Shead said Erin was told she can’t use God as an idol for the assignment. She said her daughter was told to start over and pick another idol. “But my teacher said I couldn’t write about God. She said It has something to do with God and God can’t be my idol,” said Shead about what her daughter told her. Erin told her mother she was also not allowed to leave the assignment about God at school, that it must go home. On the second try, Erin chose Michael Jackson, which was acceptable. “How can you tell this baby, that’s a Christian, what she can say and what she can’t say?” Shead took her concerns to the school principal at Lucy Elementary Wednesday morning. “Can you show me this in a policy where this child cannot talk about God on paper,” asked Shead. Full Story
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represented 41 members of Congress and nearly 90,000 Americans in an amicus brief, on Wednesday called a federal district court decision dismissing a lawsuit aimed at removing the national motto, “In God We Trust,” from U.S. currency and coins a “welcomed and well-reasoned” decision. A federal district court issued an order Monday dismissing a federal lawsuit and soundly rejecting arguments made by Dr. Michael Newdow and the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the national motto on our currency violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The court noted there is an ample body of case law that can support only one conclusion: “The inclusion of the motto on U.S. currency … does not violate the Establishment Clause.” “The decision is welcomed and well-reasoned,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “Time after time, flawed legal challenges like this one are brought by atheists. And time after time, the courts soundly reject their attempts to change the historical and cultural landscape of America. In our amicus brief on behalf of members of Congress and nearly 90,000 Americans, we argued that the national motto poses no constitutional violations and must be dismissed. We’re extremely pleased that the court did just that.” Full Story
Many people ask, “Why does God put people under leaders who make serious mistakes and even some who are wicked?”
Look at the childhood of Samuel. (See 1 Samuel 2–5.) God, not the devil, was the One who put this young man under the authority of a corrupt priest named Eli and his two wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were priests as well. These men were very wicked. They took offerings by manipulation and force, and they committed fornication with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle.
Can you imagine if you were serving a minister who lived this kind of life? A minister who was so insensitive to the things of the Spirit that he couldn’t recognize a woman in prayer and accused her of being drunk! So fleshly that he was grossly overweight. So compromising that he did nothing about his sons, whom he had appointed as leaders, who were committing fornication right in the church.
Most Christians today would be offended and search for another church, telling others as they went of the wicked lifestyle of their former pastor and his leaders. In the midst of such corruption, I love the report of what young Samuel did: “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli” (1 Sam. 3:1).
But corruption took its toll: “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” (1 Sam. 3:1). God seemed distant to the entire Hebrew community. The lamp of God was about to go out in the temple of the Lord. Yet did Samuel go look
for another place to worship? Did he go to the elders to expose the wickedness of Eli and his sons? Did he form a committee to put Eli and his sons out of the pastorate? No, he ministered to the Lord!
God had placed Samuel there, and he was not responsible for the behavior of Eli or his sons. He was put under them not to judge them but to serve them. He knew Eli was God’s servant, not his. He knew that God was quite capable of dealing with His own.
Children do not correct fathers. But it is the duty of fathers to train and correct the children. We are to deal with and confront those whom God has given us to train. This is our responsibility. Those on our own level we are to encourage and exhort as brothers and sisters.
In this article, I am dealing with our response to those in authority over us. Samuel served God’s appointed minister the best he could, without the pressure to judge him or correct him. The only time Samuel spoke a word of correction was when Eli came to Samuel and asked him what prophecy God had given him the night before. But even then it was not a word of correction from Samuel, but from God. If more people would get hold of this truth, our churches would be different. Charisma
At the edge of the heliosphere, you wouldn’t know by looking whether you left the cradle of humanity behind and floated out into interstellar space. You would just see unfathomably empty space, no matter which side of the invisible line you were on. But scientists now have strong evidence that NASA’s Voyager 1probe has crossed this important border, making history as the first human-made object to leave the heliosphere, the magnetic boundary separating the solar system’s sun, planets and solar wind from the rest of the galaxy. ”In leaving the heliosphere and setting sail on the cosmic seas between the stars, Voyager has joined other historic journeys of exploration: The first circumnavigation of the Earth, the first steps on the Moon,” said Ed Stone, chief scientist on the Voyager mission. “That’s the kind of event this is, as we leave behind our solar bubble.” A new study in the journal Science suggests that the probe entered the interstellar medium around August 25, 2012. You may have heard other reports that Voyager 1 has made the historic crossing before, but Thursday was the first time NASA announced it. The twin spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977, 16 days apart. As of Thursday, according to NASA’s real-time odometer, Voyager 1 is 18.8 billion kilometers (11.7 billion miles) from Earth. Its sibling, Voyager 2, is 15.3 billion (9.5 billion) kilometers from our planet. Full Story
Boulder has set a record for its wettest 24-hour period. Ever. Prior to Wednesday, the single wettest day on record was July 31, 1919, when 4.80 inches of rain were recorded, according to Bob Henson, a science writer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Henson said that the latest official readings for Boulder show that from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 9:15 a.m. today, 7.21 inches of rain have fallen in Boulder, with amounts likely varying from a bit lower in northeast areas of the city to higher than that to the southwest. Additionally, the last three days of rain are more than Boulder has experienced in any month on record. Since the rain kicked in late Monday afternoon, Boulder has recorded 9.61 inches of rain, topping the 9.59 inches recorded in the entire month of May 1995. It is also by far the rainiest September ever for the city. ”Keeping in mind that Boulder records are a little bit spotty in places, but this is an extreme event for any month. But for the month of September, the heaviest rainfall (previously) was 3.05 inches, and that was Sept. 4, 1901,” Henson said.
“So we may have doubled that record, and no other September day has received more than three inches. This is a one-day record (for any month).” In fact, Boulder’s one-day record has not just been broken; it has been shattered. After the 4.80 inch reading in 1919, all runners-up rounding out the Top 10 for a 24-hour-period are readings of 3.6 inches or less. Also, all of those feel between April and early August. So both in totals and timing, Henson said, “This is an event that really stands apart.” Meanwhile, meteorologists have said that the dramatic events of the past 48 hours do not represent a 100-year flood, an event for which the city is said to be overdue, not having had one since 1894. The downpour that intensified Wednesday night — forcing evacuations, collapsing structures, flooding city streets and killing at least two — is currently being evaluated as somewhere between a 10-year and 25-year flood. Prior to the drenching of the past 24 hours, watchers in parts of Boulder had recorded up to 5 inches of rain through Tuesday. Full Story
The Syrian president, speaking to Russia’s Rossiya 24 state news channel, denied however that US pressure had anything to do with the decision to surrender the arsenal. “Syria is transferring its chemical weapons to international control because of Russia,” he said in an interview the Rossia 24 television channel. “The threats of the United States had no influence on the decision to put the weapons under [international] control.” In excerpts released by the channel on Thursday afternoon, he added that Syria is sending the United Nations documents for preparing the agreement on the weapons. The interview came as John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, arrived in Geneva for talks with Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, on Syria’s chemical weapons. American officials said the key test of the talks was a mechanism that guaranteed Damascus would make a quick declaration of its stockpile before putting it under supervision and out of use. The Russian and American deal is expected to be backed by a UN resolution compelling Damascus to comply but not threatening force. America has indicated to its allies that it is ready to concede that a UN Security Council resolution can be adopted under Chapter 6 of the UN Chapter. That is a less punitive regime than Chapter 7 which authorises the use of force to impose its terms. ”The US is ready for a resolution that does not have the use of force included because it is determined to ensure the UN demonstrates Syrian culpability for chemical weapons attacks,” the official said. Full Story
A startling proportion of Americans believe that we’re currently living in the End Times, according to a stunning new poll that was conducted by the Barna Group, a research firm that focuses on faith. In fact, more than four in 10 individuals (41 percent) over the age of 18 believe that “the world is currently living in the ‘end times’ as described by prophecies in the Bible.” While this number is certainly noteworthy, among various cohorts, the results were even more stunning. While 54 percent of Protestants agreed that we are currently living in these times, the vast majority of evangelicals — 77 percent, to be exact — embrace this same sentiment. Meanwhile, more generally, Catholics took on very different views on the matter. Seventy-three percent felt that the End Times are not upon us; 45 percent of practicing Catholics (a more narrow group) answering affirmatively, though, potentially showing a closer tie between the literal practice of faith and the belief in End Times theology. On the racial front, there were also some intriguing disparities. While 39 percent of white Americans said that we’re living in the End Times, 48 percent of Hispanics and 54 percent of African Americans said the same.
Those who are married (46 percent) and families with kids at home (47 percent) reported the same. Both of these latter statistics are larger than the national average (41 percent). The thought-provoking question was commissioned by WatchWORD Bible New Testament producer Jim Fitzgerald, whose Bible digitization project was featured by TheBlaze back in May 2012. The results of the intriguing curiosity shocked him, as the numbers ended up much higher than he had anticipated. “Even I was surprised by the findings. I thought the numbers could possibly be as low as 10% for the overall population and maybe 30% for Christians in general, or less,” he said. “I had no way to know before the survey. But the response of the overall population was higher than what I expected from Christians, and the Evangelical’s response was nearly twice what I thought.” The original question, “Do you, personally, believe that the world is currently living in the ‘end times’ as described by prophecies in the Bible, or not?,” was asked of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in a Barna Group survey that was conducted online from July 29 through Aug. 1, 2013. The sample was representative of all U.S. adults, with a margin or error of +/- 3.2 percentage points. The study comes on the cusp of a plethora of interest in the Bible’s End Times theology. While some might argue that 1,000 is a small sample size, it is considered scientifically sound. Past studies have also found that nearly four in 10 Americans see some of the signs and events of late to be evidence of the End Times as well, corroborating some of the elements in this most recent inquiry. Regardless of where you stand, interest in the subject is nowhere near subsiding. The Blaze
BREAKING NEWS: Syrian rebels claim that the army of President Bashar Assad again used poison gas in an attack on rebel forces in the Damascus area Thursday, an Israel Radio report said. The report was based on rebel sources, who said the attack took place in the Jobar neighborhood of the capital. The rebel sources said they could not tell what kind of chemical weaponry had been used, but that it was a poison gas of some kind, and was causing injuries, including breathing difficulties. The news broke amid word that a United Nations investigative team has amassed a “wealth” of evidence indicating that Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical attack that took place on August 21, killing as many 1,400 people. Foreign Policy magazine reported that the investigators will present their findings on Monday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and will offer strong circumstantial evidence that government forces were responsible for the deadly attack. The report, quoting an unnamed senior Western official, is based on the team’s examination of spent rocket casings, ammunition, and soil, blood, and urine samples.
It will stop short of directly accusing Assad of perpetrating the attack on his own people. The investigators have “gotten very rich samples — biomedical and environmental — and they have interviewed victims, doctors and nurses,” the official was quoted as saying, adding that “they are very happy with the wealth of evidence they got.” US officials expected the report to confirm US allegations that sarin gas was used in the attack. The UN delegation consisted of 20 members and was led by Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom. They arrived in Syria on August 18 to investigate allegations that Syrian President Bashar Assad had employed chemical weapons in earlier attacks. In June, US President Barack Obama said he had “conclusive evidence” that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons used in those earlier attacks. Three days after the delegation arrived in Damascus, the large chemical attack was launched, allegedly by government forces. Several days later, on August 26, the investigative team came under sniper fire when it arrived at the scene of the attack to conduct an examination. One of the UN vehicles was damaged, but nobody was injured by the gunfire. The team left Syria on August 31. Assad has all along denied responsibility for the alleged chemical weapons attacks, claiming that opposition forces were behind them all. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad’s key ally, wrote in an op-ed piece published Wednesday that “no one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons.” Earlier this week, US Secretary of State John Kerry, in an apparent offhand remark, suggested that direct US military intervention could be averted if Syria agreed to place all of its chemical weapons under international control. Russia, which has long been an ally of the Assad regime, pitched the idea to Syria, whose foreign minister, Walid Moallem, welcomed the proposal. The initiative prompted Obama to announce that he would be putting on the back burner plans to appeal to US lawmakers for approval for a military strike. The Times of Israel
It is obvious that China is up to something hoarding gold like a dragon. In fact, it is taking a leap forward to control the world currency and to replace it with the yuan, Dr. Thorsten Pattberg, China expert at the Peking University, told RT. China is vowing to make more reforms, among them cutting red tape and establishing the yuan as a world currency. The 7th Annual Meeting of the New Champions is opening in the Chinese city of Dalian, the gathering has become known as a ‘summer Davos’. RT has talked to Dr. Pattberg about China’s prospects for introducing a new world currency.
RT: Do you think when China says it wants to make the yuan a global alternative to the dollar, is there any possibility of that happening at some point?
Thorsten Pattberg: Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that the Chinese want to see their currency become the next world currency, there’s a plan. And of course China at the moment is purchasing more and more gold, this also plays into this. We heard they recently purchased several hundred tons of gold through Hong Kong, the trading hub. And of course if you hoard gold like a dragon, this is a lot about prestige. The mere presence of gold in your country gives rise to even more self-confidence and to this bling-bling sensation that China is really up to something. The mere intention to buy more gold in the future will certainly have an impact on the rise of gold prices in the world. So China is taking a leap forward to control the world currency and to replace it with yuan.
RT: The current Chinese leadership seems almost obsessed with reforms. Why? Isn’t China in good enough shape as it is?
TP: It is still growing by 7.5%, it’s enough for the current leadership. And of course China naturally is a reform-based society that announces reforms regularly. The new government is pursuing a range of new reforms, tax reforms basically. They want to transform the investment economy into an economy that is more focused on domestic consumption.
RT: With increasing wealth comes enormous changes in society, in national identity, can China itself keep up with its own economic growth?
TP: I believe that it will keep it up for the next 10 years at least. But there are a lot of things to do. The economy growth is actually faster than a lot of other things in China like the political maturity. Social problems are still looming in China. And one of the topics at the global forum is the work ethic. China wants to have a stakehold and make the rules of the game and shape them in the future, and it has to come to the table and discuss with Europeans and Americans how we deal together in the future. Not only on economic issues, but on political ones, on ecological ones, social and cultural ones. China has to catch up in all those fields quickly. RT
The armed wing of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah faction has declared war on Israel over what it said are attempts to lay the groundwork for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade issued a statement on Tuesday decrying renewed visits by Jewish groups to the Temple Mount, calling such visits an “invasion…by settlers” that had no other purpose but to harm Muslim interests. In response, the group threatened to green light a new wave of terrorism against Israel if the Jewish visits to the Temple Mount did not cease by Friday. Hours later, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, got in on the game and declared that Israel was trying to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque that occupies the southern portion of the Temple Mount. Hussein labeled Israeli policy that says Jews have a right to visit the Temple Mount as “dangerous” and an “insult” to Islam. Israel Today
A minor earthquake was felt in the Jerusalem area this morning (Thursday). According the Israel Geophysical Institute, the quake measured 3.5 on the Richter scale. There were no reports of injury or damage. According to the Institute, the quake occurred at 4:20 Am local time. The epicenter of the quake was in an area north of the Dead Sea, about 30 kilometers outside Jerusalem. Residents of Jerusalem and its eastern suburbs reported feeling the tremor. Last June, an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale was felt in southern Israel. In May 2012, an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale with its epicenter in Cyprus was felt throughout Israel. More than a 100 calls by concerned citizens were received in the northern city of Tzfat alone, reports said. The quake was felt as far as Bat Yam, Kfar Saba, Ramat Hasharon, Ra’anana and other areas in central Israel. In recent years, school children around the country, from kindergarten age and up, have participated in annual earthquake drills in their schools, practicing safe steps to take when the ground starts shaking. In a recent interview, Dr. Ephraim Laor, who headed the National Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness, told Arutz Sheva that each Israeli must prepare himself for a major earthquake that could hit Israel. Experts have warned that Israel is expected to be hit by a major earthquake in the coming years. Arutz Sheva
For the last three days, locals in La Fortuna de San Carlos have reported that they believe the Arenal Volcano might be awaking from a period of low activity, saying they have heard rumblings and have taken photos of plumes of vapor emerging from the volcano. The possibility of an increase in volcanic activity at the volcano has brought a sense of optimism to some in the community, which depends highly on tourism but has seen a fall-off in tourists since the volcano went essentially dormant three years ago. However, experts are cautioning not to get too excited. The Volcanolgical and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) said that the plumes are steam containing mostly water, which may be the result of a recent increase in rainfall that subsequently makes its way into the fractures of the volcano, producing steam when it reaches het sources. OVSICORI noted that plumes of steam have appeared frequently in the last few years, especially when rainfall increases, and ruled out the possibility of magmatic gas emissions. OVSICORI Volconalogist, Geofrey Avard added that the phenomenon in recent days is not due to an increase Arenal’s activity. Experts also added that there has been no recorded seismic activity at the volcano, and the ‘rumblings’ were likely falling rocks and boulders after recent heavy rains. Inside Costarica
Federal authorities warned overnight of an attack threat targeting Los Angeles International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, but questioned the seriousness of the threat. In the hours leading up to the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, federal authorities repeatedly said they had found no specific, credible threats to the U.S. homeland. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy chasing down specific threats with – at best – questionable credibility. Overnight, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security notified law enforcement agencies across the country of the threat information, ABC News has learned. According to a notice from the FBI and DHS, a man told authorities he had information indicating the head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, was in the “final stages” of coordinating a spectacular attack in Los Angeles and New York City. The man said the attack would target Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the notice.
What’s more, he claimed three Columbia University students have already been recruited to wear explosives-laden suicide vests and detonate them at the New York airport, according to the notice. The bombing in New York would be followed by a second attack involving men posing as New York City taxicab drivers, the alert said the man told authorities. Authorities said they were “highly suspect” about the source of the information and noted in the alert to local police departments that the source said he would provide even more information if the U.S. government gave him a “large and specific” amount of money. They also said his information has yet to be corroborated. However, because his information was so specific, the FBI and DHS passed it along out of an abundance of caution, sources said. Authorities are currently assessing the man who provided the tip, and his life and associations are being dissected. The New York Police Department does not believe the threat is credible and is positioning no additional resources, a law enforcement source said. ”The FBI and our Joint Terrorism Task Force receive hundreds of threats daily, and we work around the clock with our partners to protect this city and nation,” the FBI said in a statement. “We remain on a heightened state of alert, but stress that there is no specific or credible threat at this time.” ABC
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