HUNDREDS of dead mutton birds have been discovered on Craignish beach at the end of Petersens Rd.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had received many reports about dead short-tailed shearwaters, or mutton birds, being found on Queensland beaches, a spokesman said.
“The shearwaters are on their annual migration from northern Russia to rookeries in Victoria and South Australia,” the spokesman said.
“Unfortunately, the birds can succumb to exhaustion along the way.”
The spokesman said it would probably not be the last sighting of dead birds across Queensland this summer.
Anyone who sees the birds is advised, as a precaution, not to handle them.
Thousands of short-tailed shearwater birds were found dead around Moreton Bay in 2011 and Fraser Island in 2006.
Thanks for all the dead fish
AUTHORITIES are investigating the deaths of several hundred baitfish found washed up in mangroves near a Darwin suburb.
The NT Environmental Protection Agency and the NT Fisheries Department have taken samples and have been investigating.
Builder Paul VeJesus, who lives in Coconut Grove, said he found the bait fish by the horrible stench from the sea near his Orchard Rd home yesterday morning.
“It was just a sheet of white fish,” the 43-year-old said.
“At 9am the sun was out more and you could really smell them.
“I went down the creek and just saw millions of dead fish. “I’ve closed all the windows in the house.”continue
The wicked wintry weather that pummeled the West Coast is now barreling across the country, threatening to wreck millions of holiday travel plans just before Thanksgiving. The storm has already contributed to at least 10 traffic fatalities. Nearly 400 flights have been canceled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — not exactly a bastion for snowstorms. Sleet and freezing rain will keep blanketing parts of the Southern Plains and Southern Rockies on Monday. And after the storm deluges parts of the South with rain Monday evening, it’ll start zeroing in on the Northeast, the National Weather Service said. And that could spell more travel nightmare.
It’s not just the bad timing that has travelers riled up. In many of the places, this kind of weather isn’t supposed to happen. ”This is not Texas weather, man,” driver Ron Taylor told CNN affiliate KTVT. “This is Alaska, or Idaho.” Even parts of Lubbock, known for its warmth and flatness,turned into a snowboarding park as several inches of snow covered the western Texas city. An Arctic air mass will probably keep temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal along the East Coast through Thursday. But even if the system fails to deliver heavy snow, fierce winds could still hamper air travel, forecasters said. Airlines flying in and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport “pre-canceled about 300 departures to reduce the number of stranded travelers” Sunday in anticipation of the harsh weather, the airport’s official Twitter account said. And 10% of flights at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport were also canceled because of the weather Sunday. More
A deadly menace stalks the loons, gulls, and other water birds of the Great Lakes region: Type E botulism, a neuromuscular disease caused when birds eat fish infected with toxin-producing bacteria. Cases of the disease are on the rise, killing approximately 10,000 more waterfowl in 2007 than when it was first reported in 1963. To understand die-off origin and distribution, ocean engineers from the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Institute for Ocean Systems Engineering in Dania Beach, Florida are using their expertise in experimental hydrodynamics. They have teamed with the U.S. Geological Survey to help develop a novel way of tracking waterfowl carcasses to determine the source of lethal outbreaks that infect fish eaten by waterbirds. Monitoring the drift of waterbird carcasses associated with marine oil spills is another potential application. At the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics, held Nov. 24 26 in Pittsburgh, Pa., the team will present experimental measurements conducted to support the development of tracking software that will better determine the origin of waterbird die-offs. More
The Australian Passport Office (APO) seeks to expand its use of biometric technology, according a request for tender published today. The APO has use facial recognition in the passport production process since 2005, but wants to enhance that capability and potentially use other kinds of biometrics, the APO said in the tender request. The APO said tenderers should have expertise in facial, fingerprint, iris (eye), voice and signature recognition and analysis. The winning companies will provide biometrics equipment, analysis software, system integration and training for APO staff. “The APO has requirements for the provision of specialised biometric support, particularly in relation to the facial recognition system/s and is looking to further develop its capabilities in this area with a view to achieving business improvements,” the APO wrote. “It is also investigating the potential utilisation and integration of other biometric technologies into its passport issuance and analysis systems.” The existing facial recognition system contains facial images from late 1999. It was introduced to combat identity fraud and facilitate travel using ePassports. More
A federal judge has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances is unconstitutional. The exemption applies to an estimated 44,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others. If the ruling stands, some clergy members could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Friday (Nov. 22) in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, saying the exemption violates the establishment clause because it “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” The case, decided in the District Court for the Western District Of Wisconsin, will likely be appealed to the the 7th Circuit, which could reverse the decision. If the 7th Circuit lets the ruling stand, then it could become precedent for courts in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit barred the enforcement of the contraceptive mandate, a church-state issue being considered by the Supreme Court. If the court decision stands, it could have a significant impact on clergy income. Clergy that earn an average of $50,000 per year, may receive another a third of income, or $16,000, from a tax-free housing allowance, essentially earning $66,000. The cut in taxes ($4,000 in this case), would mean an 8 percent cut in salary. The Hosana-Tabor v EEOC case decided last year that a teacher could be considered a “minister,” so the exemption could extend beyond traditional members of the clergy. The exemption is worth about $700 million per year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation Estimate of Federal Tax Expenditure. Judge Crabb ruled that the law provides that the gross income of a “minister of the gospel” does not include: “the rental allowance paid to him as part of his compensation, to the extent used by him to rent or provide a home and to the extent such allowance does not exceed the fair rental value of the home, including furnishings and appurtenances such as a garage, plus the cost of utilities.” More
A handful of bone fragments that allegedly belonged to St Peter have been displayed in public by the Vatican for the first time. The nine pieces of bone, which were once kept in a shoe box, were displayed in a bronze case and placed on the side of the altar during a Mass at St Peter’s Square led by Pope Francis. The pontiff, who prayed before the fragments at the start of the service, later clutched the case in his arms for several minutes. Experts disagree on whether the fragments, which were found during excavations under St Peter’s Basilica in the years after Pope Pius XI’s death in 1939, belong to St Peter. Archaeologists working beneath the building discovered a funerary monument with a casket built in his honour, as well as a Greek engraving which read “Petros eni” or “Peter is here”. However, no pope has ever declared the fragments belong to St Peter. Pope Paul VI came closest, announcing in 1968 that they were “identified in a way we can consider convincing”. Margherita Guarducci, the late Italian scholar, said the relics were given to one of the basilica workers, who stored them in a shoe box in a cupboard. They were presented to Pope Paul VI in 1971 but have not been seen in public since. Sky News HD
After one of them called for the “forced resignations” of President Obama and congressional leaders in response to multiple grievances, including the alleged political purge of hundreds of senior military officers, two retired U.S. generals are creating a citizens’ commission to scrutinize Obama administration actions on national security and economic issues. “America’s Provisional Leadership Council” will look at major concerns, as outlined by Army Gen. Paul E. Vallely and Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Jones, in an eight-point paper titled “The Americans Project.” Vallely told WND he sees The Americans Project as a “citizens’ commission” of prominent Americans to provide advice to legislative and executive branches of government. America’s leaders, he said, will be “held to high standards of performance to solve the nation’s problems of governing. We will scrutinize and provide guidance to federally elected officials on behalf of the citizens.” The Americans Project, Vallely added, is a “movement, not a new party necessarily. We want candidates to run as Americans first before being a Democrat, Republican or Independent.” Vallely, who today is chairman of the organization Stand Up America, served as the deputy commanding general of Pacific Command. Jones, who is vice chairman of The Americans Project of Stand Up America, held numerous Air Force command positions including a tactical fighter wing, a strategic airlift wing and a special operations group. In calling for the forced resignations of Obama and the leadership of Congress, Vallely outlined suggestions for nationwide rallies and said a peaceful “civil uprising is still not out of question.” The current crop of leaders, he said, must face a “demand resignation” process, which he explained requires massive grassroots protests and social networking which he envisions can be undertaken through his organization. And example of a “forced resignation,” he said, was that of President Richard Nixon. “Our federal government continues down the path of destroying America,” Vallely said. “Americans must now stand up and put America back on the right track.”More
A volcano in western Indonesia has erupted eight times in just a few hours, “raining down rocks” over a large area and forcing thousands to flee their homes. Mount Sinabung has been erupting on and off since September, but went into overdrive late on Saturday and early Sunday, repeatedly spewing out red-hot ash and rocks up to eight kilometres into the air. Several thousand people left their homes overnight, taking the total number of those who have fled since the volcano rumbled to life to about 12,300, said the national disaster agency on Sunday.
“People panicked last night as the eruption was accompanied by a loud thunderous sound and vibrations. Then it started raining down rocks,” said local government official Robert Peranginangin.”They ran helter-skelter out of their homes and cried for help.” He said there were no known casualties from the latest eruptions. The volcanology agency raised the alert level for the volcano, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, to the highest point on a four-stage scale, meaning a hazardous eruption is imminent or under way. National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the government was calling for people living within five kilometres of the volcano to leave their homes. Sinabung, one of dozens of active volcanoes in Indonesia which straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the “Ring of Fire”, erupted in September for the first time since 2010. In August five people were killed and hundreds evacuated when a volcano on a tiny island in East Nusa Tenggara province erupted. The country’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in 2010.
A series of private, bilateral meetings between US and Iranian officials preceded public rapprochement between the two nations, Obama administration officials acknowledged on Saturday night. The resumption of direct talks between the two governments — after a hiatus of over three decades — led to an interim deal announced Sunday that will freeze much of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. ”We’ve made clear that we were open to having bilateral discussions with the Iranians,” one senior US official said on a conference call with journalists. “When President [Hassan] Rouhani was elected and indicated a new direction, we decided to take that seriously and to to test it.” The senior US official said that four of the secret US-Iranian meetings took place since Rouhani’s August inauguration, a sign that the United States was trying to exploit the opportunity presented by the Iranian official’s ascent. Most US-Iranian interaction had been made “quite public,” the official said, and the number of talks that were kept private have been “limited.” US officials briefed their Israeli counterparts on substantive conversations on an individual basis. Contrary to the statements from US officials, Channel 2 reported on Sunday evening that Washington tried to hide the talks from Jerusalem at first, but that Israeli intelligence quickly found out about them. This, according to the report, caused an outrage in the Israeli government. More
And they will share also the blame, whatever deal comes out, they are responsible for it.” The prince, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, invoked the prospect of a confrontation with Iran, saying, “We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region.” He would not deny a report to the effect that one of the West’s greatest fears – a regional nuclear arms race – is already in play, with Saudi Arabia inking a deal with Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapons, only saying, “Let’s just leave it there, all options are available.” Prince Mohammad did, however, deny a recent report in the Sunday Times according to which his country had granted Israel leave to use its airspace, and would even provide Israel with tactical support, should the Jewish state decide to launch an airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “There was “absolutely no approval” for Israel to use Saudi airspace, he reportedly said, before affirming that his country demanded that Israel’s nuclear facilities be subjected to the same treatment as Iran’s. “The whole region will suffer from producing these weapons,” he was quoted as saying. “It happens everyone is talking about Iran, but Israel also has to prove that their program is a peaceful program, as we are demanding from the Iranians.” The Times Of Israel
SAUDI ARABIA -The Saudi monarchy and other Sunni Muslim rulers in the Arab Gulf are eager to counter Shiite Muslim-led Iran. The Gulf countries view any normalizing of ties between Tehran and the West as a direct threat to their own stability. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of funding Shiite rebellions in the Gulf countries of Yemen and Bahrain and whipping up fervor among the kingdom’s Shiite minority.
SYRIA – In Syria’s civil war, Iran is siding with President Bashar Assad, while Saudi Arabia is backing rebels trying to topple him. Iran has given significant financial support to Assad and is also believed to have sent military advisers to Syria, trained pro-government militiamen and directed one of its proxies, Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group, to fight alongside Assad’s troops. Saudi Arabia has sent weapons and money to the rebels, most of them Sunnis. It’s unclear what effect the precedent of successful nuclear negotiations will have on Syria’s civil war and on efforts to broker a political resolution to the conflict. The West acknowledges that Iran is a major player in Syria, but the U.S. and the Syrian rebels remain opposed to Tehran taking part in a proposed peace conference that Washington and Russia are trying to convene. Assad ally Russia, meanwhile, wants Iran at the negotiating table. It may all be a moot point, since it’s unclear whether the peace talks will even take place. Assad’s government and the rebels disagree on the ground rules.
IRAQ – Iran and the United States have considerable influence over Shiite and Sunni political groups, respectively, in Iraq. If they were to reach an agreement on Iraq, as they did on the nuclear issue, they could play a major role in defusing sectarian tensions. Such tensions have been running high, with sectarian attacks, including assaults on Shiite and Sunni mosques, taking place almost daily.
ISRAEL – PALESTINIANS – The issue of Iran has loomed in the background of U.S.-mediated negotiations on the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The talks resumed in late July after a five-year break. Israel has argued that it cannot take security risks in a deal with the Palestinians because it faces a potential existential threat from Iran. It could now make that point more forcefully, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintaining that the nuclear deal endangers Israel’s security. The nuclear deal has also strained Israel-U.S. ties and might make it more difficult for Washington to exert pressure on Israel on the Palestinian issue, should it decide to do so. Palestinian negotiators on Sunday praised the nuclear deal as a precedent in which the international community came together to solve a difficult issue. They said the major powers should do the same to try to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has festered for decades. However, the U.S. has been unwilling to share its role of mediator with others, and Israel has been staunchly opposed to broader international involvement in the negotiations. Yahoo
ITALY – An Italian photographer has filmed a town being blanketed in stone and ash as it fell from the sky like hail stones after Mt Etna erupted again on Saturday. Footage shows the town covered in inches of black ash spewed out by the volcano and pushed hundreds of kilometers across the Strait of Messina from Sicily to the mainland. It rained down from dark cloud above and spread over the town’s streets and cars. Some residents used umbrellas to shield them from the chunks of ash that were almost 2cm in size. Mt Etna has erupted several times this year, one as recently as Saturday 16 November, but its last major eruption was in 1992. There were no evacuations from yesterday’s eruption, but a highway was closed for half-an-hour and four air corridors that service Sicily’s Catania Airport, south of the volcano, were closed for some time. Extinction Protocol
A Washington-based Christian ethics organization has scheduled a national day of prayer against pornography on Tuesday, December 10th. Morality in Media (MIM) recently announced the day of prayer, urging Christians across the nation to join thousands of others to stand in the gap on behalf of those that struggle with or are affected by porn. “The war on pornography can only be won with the blessing of almighty God, and we humbly join together to seek that blessing,” said MIM President Patrick Trueman. “This day is set aside to help those who are struggling with pornography addictions as well as their families, and to inspire and encourage those involved in this fight.” The organization has listed a number of prayer points on its event page, including that those who are struggling with porn use will receive help, that the spouses of those who view porn will find strength, that children will be protected from exposure, and that those who have been exploited and abused due to porn will find support and comfort. A Washington-based Christian ethics organization has scheduled a national day of prayer against pornography on Tuesday, December 10th. Morality in Media (MIM) recently announced the day of prayer, urging Christians across the nation to join thousands of others to stand in the gap on behalf of those that struggle with or are affected by porn. “The war on pornography can only be won with the blessing of almighty God, and we humbly join together to seek that blessing,” said MIM President Patrick Trueman. “This day is set aside to help those who are struggling with pornography addictions as well as their families, and to inspire and encourage those involved in this fight.” The organization has listed a number of prayer points on its event page, including that those who are struggling with porn use will receive help, that the spouses of those who view porn will find strength, that children will be protected from exposure, and that those who have been exploited and abused due to porn will find support and comfort. More
The United States Supreme Court has ordered Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Justice to respond to a petition to appeal from a Christian homeschooling family that is fighting deportation to their homeland of Germany. As previously reported, Ewe and Hannelore Romeike have been battling the matter in the courts for several years while continuing to raise their six children in rural Tennessee. The Romeike family fled to the United States in 2008 after German authorities demanded that they stop homeschooling in violation of national law. Homeschooling was made illegal in the country in 1938 under the dictatorship of Adolph Hitler, and the law has never been repealed, but rather strengthened. In 2007, the German Supreme Court ruled that the country’s mandate that children be sent to public school is necessary to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” German officials have been cracking down on families that keep their sons and daughters at home, and have threatened them with fines, imprisonment and even the removal of the children from the household. The Romeike children were taken from their parents for a time before fleeing to the United States for refuge. More
Parents of a sixth grade student at the Milam Elementary School in Tupelo, Mississippi were shocked when their daughter brought home a political beliefs worksheet that teachers told students to fill out. The in-class assignment entitled “Are you a Democrat or Republican?” was posted to the “Stop Common Core in Mississippi” Facebook page with a message alleging that the young female student was told not to talk about or take the assignment outside of class, although some parents refute the claim. Regardless, the assignment, written for 11-year-old children, asks students what their beliefs are on such issues as abortion, gun control and gay marriage, before having them tally up their “D” and “R” answers to determine which establishment party they belong to. The worksheet, which has a clear bias towards more government control, goes on to frame such topics as healthcare as supporting care for everyone including the poor if your a Democrat, and essentially denying care to those who cannot afford it if you are a Republican. The paper gives no historical context of the incredible failures of government run healthcare, the millions currently losing their health insurance due to government intervention, or the government’s direct relation to dwindling quality, skyrocketing costs and loss of charity care as the push for government monopoly by both parties’ leadership continues. The section regarding beliefs on military spending attempts to paint the Democratic party as more anti-war and pro-veteran with Republicans supporting more military intervention and bare minimum aid for those who served. Despite the so called anti-war left becoming nearly non-existent as President Obama expands his drone program and foreign entanglements, the reality of the Republican and Democrat leadership’s continued support of groups who kill our soldiers, while ignoring our veterans perils at home, is unsurprisingly absent.
Many parents not only found the assignment highly inappropriate, but question if the assignment was an attempt to gauge families’ political affiliations given the fact that many sixth graders would likely repeat what they heard at home, not having a true personal understanding of the listed topics. The assignment also clearly attempts to push children into the mindset that there are only two political parties and two mainline opinions to hold on any important topic. Just last month, 12-year-old students in Colorado were given a similar assignment as well. A quiz entitled “Righty or Lefty?” had near-identical questions, clearly leading children towards the assumption that government is the answer to all issues facing the country. In similar fashion, parents in Arkansas were shocked to learn that their sixth grade students were being asked to revise the “outdated” Bill of Rights after an assignment informed them that the U.S. government decided that it “may not remain in its current form any longer.” Other outrages, such as fourth grade students in Illinois being forced to read a biography of the president that labels all white voters as inherently racist, have contributed to the rise in homeschooling as parents reject the MSNBC talking point that all children belong to the “collective” and not their parents. Info Wars
The agreement stipulates that Iran will stop enriching uranium over 5% and dismantle its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium. A nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched over 90%. In addition to IAEA inspections, Iran has also agreed to stop construction on its heavy water reactor at Arak. Officials in Israel reacted predictably after the deal was reached. “What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it’s a historic mistake,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. “It’s not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.” The Saudi royals also expressed outrage. Earlier this month, the Sunday Times reported that Saudi Arabia agreed to allow Israel use of its air space. The Saudis said they would provide drones, tanker planes and helicopters for an Israeli attack on Iran. The newspaper said Mossad was working closely with Saudi intelligence and they were making preparations in the event a deal was reached in Switzerland. “Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table.
The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” a source said. Netanyahu and Israeli officials attempted to persuade the United States to reject a compromise. The Israeli president said any agreement would directly threaten the existence of his country. “It is highly unlikely that the Saudis and Israelis would want to attack Iran because at the end of the day both countries would be losers, they would be seen as aggressors and obviously the Iranians would retaliate,” Iranian political analyst Seyed Mohammad Marandi said after the Sunday Times published its report. “It would create an economic catastrophe for the world and only the Saudis and the Israelis would be to blame.” Egyptian officials, according to WorldNetDaily reporter and blogger Aaron Klein, confirmed that Israeli personnel recently visited Saudi Arabia and inspected military bases. “The officials said Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other Arab and Persian Gulf countries have been discussing the next steps toward possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites,” Klein writes today. Klein also notes the United States told Israel and the Saudis it controls radar capabilities over Iran and that no strike should be launched without permission from the Obama administration. MoreDevastating effects of antibiotic overuse strike Europe as ‘superbugs’ develop resistance to last-line antibiotics
The most powerful class of antibiotics known to man appears to be losing its ability to fight deadly infections in Europe, says the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). A recent announcement by this European Union (EU) monitoring agency warns that carbapenems, an extremely powerful class of antibiotics typically used as a last resort when all else fails, are simply no match to the many emerging “superbugs” that have developed resistance to them. This latest round of warnings, which follows several years’ worth of previous warnings, draws fresh attention to the continued overuse and misuse of antibiotics all around the world. With each passing year, more and more infection types are failing to respond to carbapenems, which means that all available conventional options for treating and defeating them have basically been exhausted. ECDC also says there has been a sharp uptick in resistance rates just within the past four years, especially in Southern Europe. ”Carbapenems are the last-line class of antibiotics, so the situation is really worrying,” says ECDC director Marc Sprenger. “Since 2009, it has become increasingly common for hospitals to be faced with treating patients that have carbapenem-resistant infections, often meaning that old and toxic drugs are used.”
According to the latest data gathered by ECDC, almost every European country now has documented cases of carbapenem-resistant infections at hospitals. In some areas of Southern and Eastern Europe, including in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, as many as 5 percent of Klebsiella pneumoniae infections are resistant. And as for the Acinetobacter bacteria, as many as 25 percent of infections in at least eight of the 18 reporting countries are resistant. ”We need to find ways to use valuable antimicrobial drugs more wisely and to develop new drugs and treatments,” says Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. The EU recently approved funding for a joint project between Switzerland-based drug giant Roche and Polyphor to develop and commercialize an experimental antibiotic that the two companies say might be able to help fight hospital superbugs. Since most of the world’s major drug companies are focused on other projects unrelated to antibiotics, the goal is to help fill this gap and develop new therapies to overcome the superbug epidemic. More
Israel will do “whatever is necessary” to stop Iran from going nuclear, declared Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon in a radio interview Sunday. Speaking on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s WABC Radio, Danon warned all options are on the table after Iran and six world powers reached what is being described as an historic deal. “We were not part of the negotiations,” he said. “We have not signed this agreement. And we will do whatever is necessary to protect Israel.” Danon said, “We cannot allow ourselves to make a mistake. If it is a bad agreement and Iran is playing with the world, maybe the Western superpowers can afford to make such a mistake. It is not the case for Israel.” Israel will do “whatever is necessary” to stop Iran from going nuclear, declared Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon in a radio interview Sunday. Speaking on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on New York’s WABC Radio, Danon warned all options are on the table after Iran and six world powers reached what is being described as an historic deal. “We were not part of the negotiations,” he said. “We have not signed this agreement. And we will do whatever is necessary to protect Israel.” Danon said, “We cannot allow ourselves to make a mistake. If it is a bad agreement and Iran is playing with the world, maybe the Western superpowers can afford to make such a mistake. It is not the case for Israel.” WND
US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on Sunday from Air Force One to discuss the interim agreement struck between world powers and Iran over its controversial nuclear program. In the call, Obama told Netanyahu that the P5+1 — the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany — would use the next several months to forge a “lasting, peaceful and comprehensive” solution to the slow-motion nuclear crisis causing consternation throughout the Middle East. ”The president told the Prime Minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution,” the White House said in a readout of the call. ”The President underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.” While the White House said both leaders expressed their mutual desire to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, it did not acknowledge any disagreement voiced in the phone call. Netanyahu on Sunday called the deal, hailed by the US, a “historic mistake” that would make the region more dangerous tomorrow than it was before. After a hard series of negotiations, Iran agreed late Saturday night to pause much of its nuclear program, including construction on its heavy-water plutonium reactor in Arak and the installation of advanced centrifuges made to efficiently enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels. Iran also agreed to allow unfettered access to its nuclear sites and to dilute stockpiles of uranium already thoroughly enriched. In exchange, the Islamic will attain relief from financial sanctions from the international community valued at up to $7 billion. Jerusalem Post
The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late — with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century — prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth. Sunspots have been observed for millennia — first by Chinese astronomers and then, for the first time with a telescope, by Galileo in 1610. The sunspots appear in roughly 11-year cycles — increasing to a daily flurry and then subsiding drastically, before amping up again. But this cycle — dubbed cycle 24 — has surprised scientists with its sluggishness. The number of spots counted since it kicked off in December 2008 is well below the average observed over the last 250 years. In fact, it’s less than half. ”It is the weakest cycle the sun has been in for all the space age, for 50 years,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association physicist Doug Biesecker told AFP. The intense electromagnetic energy from sunspots has a significant impact on the sun’s ultraviolet and X-ray emissions as well as on solar storms. More
The U.S. West faced more stormy weather Saturday after a powerful system buffeted several states, stranding drivers in Nevada, forcing the postponement of sports games in Arizona, causing water rescues in California, and leading to the deaths of four people. The system was expected to head east and reach the opposite coast by the middle of next week, but not before hitting the Southwest again with rain, snow and wind, forecasters said. Parts of northern New Mexico have already received a dusting of snow, but forecasters say the latest storm to bear down on the state is far from over. The National Weather Service in Albuquerque said the brunt of the storm is expected to cross into New Mexico on Saturday, bringing widespread snow through the rest of the weekend, frigid temps and gusty winds. The fierce weather was linked to three deaths in California. Officials and news reports said the death of a person Thursday near downed power lines and a tree was being investigated in Oakland, another person died in Oakland after the man crashed into a fallen tree while apparently trying to avoid debris, and a 52-year-old woman died in Yuba County when a tree fell on the parked car in which she was sitting. More
QUEENSBURY, N.Y. — Coming soon to your local sheriff: 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicles with gun turrets and bulletproof glass that were once the U.S. answer to roadside bombs during the Iraq war. The hulking vehicles, built for about $500,000 each at the height of the war, are among the biggest pieces of equipment that the Defense Department is giving to law enforcement agencies under a national military surplus program. For police and sheriff’s departments, which have scooped up 165 of the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPS, since they became available this summer, the price and the ability to deliver shock and awe while serving warrants or dealing with hostage standoffs was just too good to pass up. ”It’s armored. It’s heavy. It’s intimidating. And it’s free,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, among five county sheriff’s departments and three other police agencies in New York that have taken delivery of an MRAP. But the trucks have limits. They are too big to travel on some bridges and roads and have a tendency to be tippy on uneven ground. And then there’s some cost of retrofitting them for civilian use and fueling the 36,000-pound behemoths that get about 5 miles to the gallon. More
Leading US banks have warned that they could start charging companies and consumers for deposits if the US Federal Reserve cuts the interest it pays on bank reserves. Depositors already have to cope with near-zero interest rates, but paying just to leave money in the bank would be highly unusual and unwelcome for companies and households. The warning by bank executives highlights the dangers of one strategy the Fed could use to offset an eventual “tapering” of the $85bn a month in asset purchases that have fuelled global financial markets for the last year. Minutes of the Fed’s October meeting published last week showed it was heading towards a taper in the coming months – perhaps as soon as December – but wants to find a different way to add stimulus at the same time. “Most” officials thought a cut in the interest on bank reserves was an option worth considering. Executives at two of the top five US banks said a cut in the 0.25 per cent rate of interest on the $2.4tn in reserves they hold at the Fed would lead them to pass on the cost to depositors. Banks say they may have to charge because taking in deposits is not free: they have to pay premiums of a few basis points to a US government insurance programme. More
On the morning after President Obama announced a breakthrough in international talks in Geneva to halt Iran’s nuclear program, Secretary of State John F. Kerry hit the Sunday-morning talk-show circuit to defend the deal. Mr. Kerry pushed back at critics, including U.S. lawmakers and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who have said the proposal will allow Iran to continue to make progress on a nuclear weapon. Asked on CNN if he trusts Iran, Mr. Kerry said: “None of this is based on trust. It’s not a question of trust.
It’s a question of having the verification and the intrusive inspections … so that you are in fact creating a fail-safe mechanism by which you are making your judgments.” Mr. Kerry said the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a gradual easing of economic sanctions takes a realistic approach and will make the world safer for allies such as Israel. “This negotiation is not the art of fantasy or the art of the ideal,” he told ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “It’s the art of the possible, which is verifiable and clear in its capacity to be able to make Israel and the region safer.” He said Iran’s 3.5 percent uranium stock will be “frozen” at its current level and subject to daily inspections, although critics say the United States is not being aggressive enough. More