Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are committed to continuing peace talks, despite grumblings over a lack of visible progress in almost five months of negotiations, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday. Kerry made his remarks at Ben Gurion International Airport before taking off from Israel, after three meetings with Netanyahu and one with Abbas over the last two days. The secretary dismissed reports that talks were floundering, saying that progress had been made despite the complexity of the issues. “I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and prosperity that all the people in this region yearn for,” he said. Kerry quoted recently deceased South African leader Nelson Mandela’s remark that “it is always impossible until it is done,” saying that the Middle East needed to take that idea to heart. “Despite the fact that we are discussing really difficult, complicated issues, I am encouraged by the continued commitment of both leaders to the pursuit of peace, and they both underscored their commitment to continue to work through these difficult issues in the days ahead,” continued Kerry. “The naysayers are wrong to call peace in this region an impossible goal.” More
What would you do if you logged in to your bank account one day and it showed that you had a zero balance and that your bank had absolutely no record that you ever had any money in your account at all? What would you do if hackers shut down all online banking and all ATM machines for an extended period of time? What would you do if you requested a credit report and discovered that there were suddenly 50 different versions of “you” all using the same Social Security number? Don’t think that these things can’t happen. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against U.S. businesses last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, big banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”. These attacks are becoming more powerful and more sophisticated with each passing year. Most of the time the general public never hears much about the cyberattacks that are actually successful because authorities are determined to maintain confidence in the banking system. But if people actually knew the truth about what was going on, they would not have much confidence at all. More
As news editor for Charisma magazine, I read hundreds of stories every week about the good, bad and ugly. Unfortunately, most of it is bad and ugly. Through this lens, it’s clear that anti-Christ agendas and false gospels are rising. In the world, we see the homosexual agenda, the socialist agenda, the atheist agenda and so on. In the church, we see the hyper grace movement, sexual scandals in the church and cessationist wars that grieve the Holy Spirit. Still, Jesus is Lord. Over the Thanksgiving break, I was encouraged by some seemingly trivial observations. For example, the Gideon Bible was still in my drawer at the Embassy Suites in downtown Tampa. When I went down for breakfast, a couple sitting next to me held hands and prayed over their meal in the name of Jesus. In nearby St. Petersburg, a nativity scene was displayed in all its glory. Yes, the culture wars are real. The atheists really are trying to drive Christianity out of the public square, and radical gay activists really are trying to redefine traditional marriage. Yes, there is trouble in the church. High-profile pastors really are falling into sexual immorality or committing suicide. Yes, it’s likely to get darker in the days ahead. Still, Jesus is Lord. Peter warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). And to that I say a hearty amen. But nowhere in that verse does it call us to be paranoid or to be afraid of what will happen next. In fact, the Bible tells us repeatedly to “fear not.” More
Experts were baffled after video footage emerged of a glowing “alien-like creature” swimming in Bristol harbour. Stunned eyewitnesses filmed a mystery luminescent, tentacled being, which was flashing a variety of colours, floating close to the top of the water. Videos of the strange marine object in the city’s historic docks were posted on Youtube and Twitter with many claiming to have seen an alien. Marine biologists admit they are baffled, but claim the footage could be a marine salp which had drifted off course by the weather. Dr Steve Simpson, senior lecturer in Biosciences at the University of Exeter, said: “It’s very intriguing, I don’t really know what to make of it. ”There is a possibility that it is a special type of jellyfish or a marine salp. It’s very unusual and I haven’t really seen anything like it before though.
“What makes it even more unusual is that fact that it showed up in the middle of a really busy area. ”There are various marine animals that have biological illuminating abilities and they are able to make themselves flash. ”It is entirely possible that it is a marine creature which has been brought into the harbour because of the storms or maybe it was trying to shelter from the stormy seas. ”We are currently experiencing spring tides too which may have dragged whatever this is in from the sea. ”This is either a very interesting animal or someone’s very cool interpretation of a marine creature. ”It looks really cool – it’s incredible. I don’t know if it will make a return tonight but I’m sure if it does it will be met by an eager crowd.” It is not known what the creature was and whether it was alive or not. Dozens of people were left mystified after spotting the creature and capturing it on camera. More
China’s quality watchdog announced on Wednesday that the nation has recently rejected 120,643 tonnes of corn imports from the United States which contain unapproved genetically modified content. Local entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureaus in the southern port city of Shenzhen, Fujian and Shandong provinces found MIR162, a type of insect-resistant GM corn, among five batches of 120,643 tonnes of corn imported from the United States, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). MIR162 is not authorized by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, and the three bureaus returned the batches of imports, in compliance with
A scene in the 2004 film “I, Robot” involves an army of rogue NS-5 humanoids establishing a curfew and imprisoning the citizens of Chicago, circa 2035, inside their homes. That’s not how Knightscope envisions the coming day of deputized bots. In its far less frightful future, friendly R2-D2 lookalikes patrol our streets, school hallways, and company campuses to keep us safe and put real-time data to good use. Instead of the Asimov-inspired NS-5, Knightscope, a Silicon Valley-based robotics company, is developing the K5. Officially dubbed the K5 Autonomous Data Machine, the 300-pound, 5-foot-tall mobile robot will be equipped with nighttime video cameras, thermal imaging capabilities, and license plate recognition skills. It will be able to function autonomously for select operations, but more significantly, its software will provide crime prediction that’s reminiscent, the company claims, of the “precog” plot point of “Minority Report.” “It can see, hear, feel, and smell and it will roam around autonomously 24/7,” said CEO William Santana Li, a former Ford Motor executive, in an interview with CNET. At the moment, the K5 is only a prototype, and Knightscope next year will launch a beta program with select partners. But the company is shooting to have the K5 fully deployed by 2015 on a machine-as-a-service business model, meaning clients would pay by the hour for a monthly bill, based on 40-hour weeks, of $1,000. The hourly rate of $6.25 means the cost of the K5 would be competitive with the wages of many a low-wage human security guard. Servicing and monitoring of the bots will depend on client needs, Li said, with either Knightscope or the customer employing someone to manage the bots full-time. Crime prediction is one of the more eye-popping features of the K5, but the bot is also packed to the gills with cutting-edge surveillance technology. It has LIDAR mapping — a technique using lasers to analyze reflected light — to aid its autonomous movement.
“It takes in data from a 3D real-time map that it creates and combines that with differential GPS and some proximity sensors and does a probabilistic analysis to figure out exactly where it should be going on its own,” Li explained. It also has behavioral analysis capabilities and enough camera, audio, and other sensor technology to pump out 90 terabytes of data a year per unit. Down the line, the K5 will be equipped with facial recognition and even the ability to sniff out emanations from chemical and biological weapons, as well as airborne pathogens. It will be able to travel up to 18 mph, and later models will include the ability to maneuver curbs and other terrain. The K5 will not be armed. Still, teens with late-night bot-tipping ambitions had best beware, lest their hijinks be recorded for posterity, and possible prosecution. Li said that messing with a Knightscope bot — which would be difficult given its weight — will have serious ramifications, as would tampering with any other form of security equipment on private property. Still, the most sci-fi of all its features, the crime prediction algorithms, do sound too good to be true. And to be more precise, the K5 won’t be so much predicting crime as much as it will be analyzing multiple data points simultaneously and knowing when a situation may be on the precipice of becoming dangerous. More
A man accused of murdering a British soldier on a London street says he attacked the first serviceman he spotted, saying “it was almost as if Allah had chosen him.” Michael Adebolajo told police in an interview played Thursday at his trial that he and his co-accused decided a soldier was “the most fair target because he joins the army with kind of an understanding that your life is at risk.” “We sat in wait and it just so happened that he was the soldier that was spotted first,” Adebolajo said in the police interview. Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale are accused of running Fusilier Lee Rigby down with a car before hacking him to death with knives and a meat cleaver near Woolwich Barracks in London on May 22. In the interview, Adebolajo described himself as a soldier in a war between Muslims and the British people and said that after mowing Rigby down, he had tried to cut the soldier’s jugular because it was the most humane way of killing him. More
Next Friday, on December 13, the Sporteque compound in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park will host an event that should make it easier for Israel’s gay and lesbian community to get in touch with the country’s athletic community. Early that morning, the GayOlmpic event will begin, featuring a host of competitions in various sports, meant primarily for the gay community. The event’s organizers are not trying to pull anyone out of the closet by force or squeeze heartfelt confessions out of them – they only wish to afford the opportunity to compete in a supportive environment, and to encourage athletics and healthy living among the gay and lesbian community. Who knows? Perhaps some young talents that had previously flown under the radar will be discovered. “Unfortunately, there are many soccer players, basketball players and other athletes in Israel who remain in the closet,” says Hofit Manishevitze, one of the event’s organizers. “I don’t personally know of any famous Israeli athletes who are gay or lesbian, but I’m sure they’re out there. It’s hard to be a proud gay athlete, and the goal is to a create a place that is supportive and accepting for any members of the gay and lesbian community, where they can enjoy sport without fear of criticism.”
The event, organized by the organization “Six Colors” with support from the Culture and Sports Ministry, will include 5- and 10-kilometer running competitions as well as soccer, basketball, volleyball and table tennis tournaments. Alongside the competition, the event will feature other attractions such as yoga, zumba and aerobics classes, a DJ and dance class, and talks on health and nutrition. Members of the gay and lesbian community are not content with just parades or mass gatherings, but rather want to create a joint athletic platform to participate in growing trends in Israel and around the world. “We can find lots of strange reasons to meet, but here the emphasis is on athletics and healthy living,” says Asaf Zagrizak, the event’s public relations officer. “Athletics and healthy living is a hot topic among the public, so it’s no surprise that it’s important to the gay and lesbian community as well. There’s a lot of awareness on these subjects, backed by surveys carried out by companies that target this community through advertising.” More
Opposition activists again accused President Bashar Assad’s forces of using poison gas in Syria’s civil war on Thursday, and said victims had been discovered with swollen limbs and foaming at the mouth. The activists told Reuters two shells loaded with gas hit a rebel-held area in the town of Nabak, 68 km northeast of Damascus, on a major highway in the Qalamoun region. They reported seven casualties. Separately, the Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union also accused Assad’s forces of using poison gas. ”We have documented nine casualties from poison gas used by the regime in neighborhoods of Nabak,” it said on its Facebook page. Amir Kazk, another activist in Nabak, said the two shells were part of a heavy barrage that hit the Tariq al-Mashfa district near the centre of the town. The source of the fire, he added, appeared to be an army barracks on a hill in the nearby Deir Attiya area. Video footage posted on YouTube by activists showed a man who said he had seen white smoke from the shelling, inhaled it and then passed out. Reuters cannot confirm its authenticity. More
Better start investing in some warm clothes because German scientists are predicting that the Earth will cool over the next century. German scientists found that two naturally occurring cycles will combine to lower global temperatures during the 21st century, eventually dropping to levels corresponding with the “little ice age” of 1870. “Due to the de Vries cycle, the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the ‘little ice age’ of 1870,” write German scientists Horst-Joachim Luedecke and Carl-Otto Weiss of the European Institute for Climate and Energy. Researchers used historical temperature data and data from cave stalagmites to show a 200-year solar cycle, called the de Vries cycle. They also factored into their work a well-established 65-year Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle. Global warming that has occurred since 1870 can be attributed almost entirely to both these factors, the scientists argue. According to the scientists, the oft-cited “stagnation” in rising global temperatures over the last 15 years is due to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle, which lasts about 65 years. Ocean oscillation is past its “maximum,” leading to small decreases in global temperature.
The de Vries solar cycle is currently at its “maximum,” explaining why temperatures have risen since 1870, but leveled off after 1998. However, this means that as solar activity starts to decrease, global temperatures will follow. “Through [the de Vries solar cycle’s] influence the temperature will decrease until 2100 to a value like the one of the last ‘Little Ice Age’ 1870,” the scientists wrote. Most scientists argue that human activity — mainly burning fossil fuels — is driving global temperatures higher as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. In response, governments from countries around the world have agreed to limit temperature rises to two degrees Celsius by 2100. Most of this effort focuses on cutting each nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. Scientists, however, have been increasingly turning against the global warming consensus and arguing that the world is actually in line for a colder century. More
The growing stature of the Chinese yuan in global trade and finance has brought exciting opportunities in yuan-related businesses, said Standard Chartered Group CEO Peter Sands in Beijing on Tuesday. The renminbi is now among the most actively traded currencies in the world as the Chinese government moves to make it easier for the yuan to flow across its borders. “We are very excited at the prospects of the renminbi becoming even more integrated into the global economy,” said Sands, who is accompanying British Prime Minister David Cameron on his second visit to China since taking office. Sands added that the process of promoting the yuan’s use beyond Chinese borders, though it still has a long way to go, has been “extraordinarily rapid.” Trading of the yuan in global foreign exchange markets has more than tripled from three years ago after China allowed the currency to be traded in offshore markets. Latest figures from global payment services company the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication placed the yuan as the second-most used currency in trade finance in October.
“At the beginning of 2010, less than 0.4% of China’s trade was denominated in renminbi, and now in the first half of this year, it’s 14.7%,” said Sands, calling the increased use of renminbi an “incredibly rapid change.” So far the currency is partially convertible under the capital account, but authorities in China have stepped up their commitment to make it fully convertible in a carefully managed process to prevent systemic risk to the country’s sheltered financial market. Standard Chartered announced on Monday a renewed cooperation with the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) to be the first two banks to offer renminbi clearing services in London, as the world’s leading financial hub competes against Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan to become a key outpost for offshore yuan trade. According to Sands, it is “logical” for London to become a major offshore yuan center given the city’s status as the world’s largest foreign exchange market and home to a string of multinational firms’ financial centers. More
What does Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and the author of “Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All,” say is a “very, very dangerous” development in America? Speaking on the Glenn Beck Program Thursday, Bongino — who is also running for Congress in Maryland’s sixth district — described bureaucracy that has “grown so large” as a cause for grave concern. “My experience in the government is, when something arrives on your desk, you assume it’s been through these massive layers of bureaucracy and management – that you don’t even ask the basic questions,” he explained. That applies whether the threat is external, or whether that question should be, “is this constitutional?” he added.
When Beck asked whether the nation is facing more or fewer dangers than in the past, Bongino didn’t hesitate before responding: “I think it’s actually more dangerous — the irony being that as we’ve expanded our surveillance safety net and become a literal surveillance state – this isn’t a movie anymore, it’s very real.” “It’s bureaucratic laziness at its worst,” he continued. “Instead of looking at common sense measures to combat a real threat going forward, we’re now blanket surveilling everyone, (who have) now become de facto criminals.” Bongino concluded with a warning: “Liberty’s a zero sum game, Glenn. It can’t belong to you and the government at the same time.” Beck said that he “can’t think of anybody” he’d rather have in Congress than Dan Bongino. The Blaze
East Asia is trapped in a vicious cycle of escalating tensions, with China’s rising power giving Japanese hawks legitimacy in their bid to bolster the military — exactly what Beijing says it fears. The United States — rival to one power, ally to the other — finds itself walking a tightrope, with Vice President Joe Biden in China this week urging restraint to “reduce the possibility of crisis or mistake”, according to a US administration official. But that is hard when relations between Asia’s two biggest economies are so poisoned by history. Every time Beijing summons the demons of Japan’s past aggression, Tokyo plays on fears of Chinese domination to come. ”This is a battle about pride,” said Takehiko Yamamoto, international security professor at Japan’s Waseda University. “I cannot, for now, see there being any compromises.” Simmering tensions heated up with Japan’s September 2012 purchase of some of the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, in the East China Sea, from their private Japanese owners. China, which calls them the Diaoyus, regards them as its territory.
Since then, China has sent ships and aircraft into the area on scores of occasions, prompting counter-deployments by Japan, and last month Beijing declared an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering a large stretch of the East China Sea. Japan already has an ADIZ, which now overlaps China’s. In October, a Chinese drone flight prompted Japanese threats to shoot down unmanned aircraft that enter its airspace, something Beijing said would amount to “an act of war”. Each escalation is blamed on the other side, with Japan claiming China is trying to “forcefully change the status quo”, and China saying it must stand up to a re-emerging militarism it sees in Japan under conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe’s bid to stoke Japan’s slumbering economy has given him political capital to push his long-cherished aim of also rehabilitating Japan’s military, which under the post-war pacifist constitution is restricted to defence only. Abe has used the tense diplomatic situation “cleverly” to manage his government, said Tomoaki Iwai of Nihon University, painting each Chinese action as a crisis and promoting policies that might otherwise be unpopular among a populace deeply wedded to peace.
The security plan, which US Secretary of State John Kerry brought with him Thursday, Dec. 5, on his eighth trip for reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, entails deploying a regional international force including US troops along the Jordan Rift Valley and West Bank in a future Palestinian state. This is reported by DEBKAfile’s military and counterterrorism sources. The plan, drawn up by Gen. John Allen, was presented by Kerry for the first time to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The security provisions Washington promised Israel under a final settlement of its dispute with the Palestinians are assuming a broader, regional form as a US blueprint, on which the Obama administration is still working, for a Middle East regional force to combat Al Qaeda. This force would secure parts of Syria, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the future Palestinian state and Israel against Al Qaeda attack from positions in Syria, Iraq and Sinai. The secretary of state proposed integrating Israeli and Palestinian special forces units in the planned regional counter-terror force, alongside the American, British, French, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian and Qatari units enlisted to the new framework Since its area of operation would be extensive, ranging from southern Syria to Sinai, including Israel and the potential Palestinian state, the IDF would be able to continue performing its security functions in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, as part of the new force.
But by the same rule, Palestinian forces would be allowed by mutual consent to serve in parts of Israel in the same multinational framework. The public groundwork for this plan is already being laid by means of extensive reporting in Western media which magnify the ever-present menace Al Qaeda poses to the United States and West Europe from its concentrations in Syria and Iraq. The US and British media have been fed materials depicting thousands of young American, European, Saudi and Jordanian Islamists flocking to Syria to fight with Al Qaeda-affiliated rebel militias against Bashar Assad and their potential as ticking terror bombs on their return home. More
A street ministry in Olympia, Washington focused on feeding the homeless is currently fighting attempts to have their work criminalized by the city. Ben Charles, founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, has fed the area’s homeless population every Thursday and Saturday from the same parking lot for the last two years, handing out as many as 5,000 meals per month. “As anyone who works with the impoverished will know, the best and sometimes the only way to help them is to meet them right where they are, rather than expect them to come to you,” said Charles. Although the group has had a long and highly supported presence in the area, complaints began arising regarding issues such as vehicle traffic being blocked from the growing number of hungry people coming to be fed. In October, Charles received notice from the Olympia Police Department that his group would no longer be allowed to use the lot, although unable to cite any law broken. Despite the city’s attempts, Crazy Faith politely declined to comply, saying the lot was the only area available to use. Charles, who is of Native American decent, refused to give up the Native tradition of helping others in his community.
“We and our street family are the public and we are peacefully gathering together for our common good. That is the birthright not only of Native people, but the constitutional right of all Washingtonians,” Charles said. Unsuccessful in getting the group to vacate, the city is now attempting to use red-tape and bureaucracy by passing a new ordinance that would require the group to purchase permits for any activity in city-owned parking lots. Using any lot without permission from the city government could result in fines and jail time. During a Tuesday City Council meeting, the council voted 6-1 to send the ordinance to a second reading, opposing ministry supporters in attendance. More
The Empire of Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. 68 years later, Japan has fallen back into fascism. Despite large protests outside of the Japanese Senate. Xinua reports: Meanwhile, protests comprising more than 7,000 demonstrators continued around the Diet building, mobilized by civic groups, unions and concerned individuals, following similar scenes Wednesday that saw more than 6,000 anti-secrecy law opponents march around the Diet building hand-in-hand. And the impassioned pleas of Japanese Senators (via Xinhua): So outraged was opposition lawmaker Hirokazu Shiba in the committee meeting Thursday, that he rose from his seat and shouted “This is the way the reign of terror begins!” His fervor led to his fellow lawmakers having to physically restrain Shiba, as tensions in the meeting reached fever pitch.
The secrecy bill is headed for passage Friday. Indeed, the bill has likely already passed by the time you read this. Another Japanese Senator said: “The path that Japan is taking is the recreation of a fascist state. I strongly believe that this secrecy bill represents a planned coup d’état by a group of politicians and bureaucrats,” he warned. Just like the U.S. Japan is responding to crises of its own making by banning journalism. The Guardian notes: Whistleblowers and journalists in Japan could soon find themselves facing long spells in prison for divulging and reporting state secrets, possibly including sensitive information about the Fukushima nuclear disaster …. “It is a threat to democracy,” said Keiichi Kiriyama, an editorial writer for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper …. “It can be used to hide whatever the government wishes to keep away from public scrutiny,” said Mizuho Fukushima, an opposition MP. …. [The] justice minister, Sadakazu Tanigaki, refused to rule out police raids of newspapers suspected of breaking the law. Indeed, the number 2 government official said last week that protest equals terrorism. Foreign Policy notes that the U.S. is largely behind the bill: More
A new Transportation Security Administration directive that mandates airports provide security for terminal exits is likely to lead to the installation of more ‘detention pods’ which have the capability of subjecting travelers to biometric scans. “Airports across the country have sued to block a new Transportation Security Administration directive that requires them, starting Jan. 1, to begin guarding exit security doors, as passengers leave flights and head for baggage claims,” reports the Associated Press. The article notes that in order to comply with the regulation and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in staffing, airports may follow the example set by Atlantic City International, which has “installed five cylinder-shaped glass exit portals since 2009.”
These ‘detention pods’, which temporarily hold a traveler inside the portal until a green light and a voice command signals that the person can leave, have been compared to cattle grids by critics who see them as another way in which travelers are treated as prisoners inside the airport. According to Karen De Coster, the pods are a way “to remind you that you are a captive” and are “meant to make you feel like a prisoner who cannot leave.” The detention pods, which are also in place at Syracuse International Airport, “were designed and approved by TSA,” according to Syracuse Airport Commissioner Christina Callahan. Travelers have expressed confusion at the necessity of the pods. “I don’t understand those doors,” Cindy Katz, of Jupiter, Fla. told the Boston Globe. “What are they supposed to do? It slows everyone down.” The article also notes how some are concerned about “being scanned somehow while closed inside.” Mindy Carpenter, who was waiting for friends to arrive at the airport complained, “It just took so long for the four of them to come through.” The report adds that the detention pods “could be the wave of things to come,” and that their manufacturer, Eagle Security Group, is currently in talks with other airports. More
Amidst tensions with the United States over the disputed Senkaku Islands, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is bragging that its aircraft carrier combat task force, led by the inaugural Liaoning warship, is now close to rivaling the U.S. Navy. The article features on the China Military Online website, which is described as “the only authoritative media of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army,” acting with the “official authorization of the related departments of the state and the PLA.” The report heralds the prowess of the Liaoning, along with its accompanying battleships, the “Shenyang” and “Shijiazhuang” missile destroyers as well as the “Yantai” and “Weifang” guided missile frigates. The “combat effectiveness” of the fleet, once additional warships are added, will transform its firepower to a level, “very close to a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in its heyday,” states the report.
Beijing plans to rival “the usual practice adopted by the U.S. Navy” by supplementing the combat force with a further two destroyers, an assault nuclear submarine and one supply ship. “Given the consideration of the smaller tonnage and bomb load of the warships of the PLAN than those of the U.S. warships, the combat effectiveness of this taskforce is probably close to the current carrier strike group (CSG) of the U.S. (1-2 cruisers, 2-3 destroyers and other supporting warships),” states the report. Some will see no coincidence in the timing of the report given the current stand-off between China and the U.S. over the disputed Senkaku Islands. It dovetails with a separate announcement that Beijing, “has begun mass producing and delivering its J-15 carrier-based multirole fighter jet.” More
An ice storm will affect millions of people into Friday and threaten to cut power for hundreds of thousands from northern Texas to western Kentucky. Travel by vehicle or foot will be dangerous during and after the storm, due to icy roads and falling trees and power lines. Metro areas from Dallas to Little Rock, Ark.; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Evansville, Ind.; and Louisville, Ky.; will be affected by a period of freezing rain that will build up on exposed surfaces, including trees and power lines. In some locations, the storm has the potential to allow one half an inch or more of ice to accumulate on the ground and accrue on elevated surfaces. The storm is similar in size and may be similar in magnitude to a storm just several years ago. According to Jesse Ferrell, weather expert and storm chaser for AccuWeather.com, “This will be the worst ice storm for the United States since January 2009 and will affect many of the same areas as that storm.”
The New York Times reported that 1.4 million homes and businesses lost power in that late January storm. Lingering, and in some cases intensifying, cold air in the wake of the storm will prevent the ice from melting quickly and can make immediate cleanup difficult, if not impossible. Many road crews have limited ice-melting compounds at their disposal. Adding to potential damage or complicating cleanup further, a second round of ice will follow in some areas over the weekend, as a second large storm rolls in from the Southwestern states. ”Every few years there is a blockbuster ice storm somewhere in the U.S. and these storms are no stranger to the South Central region,” Ferrell said. A storm cut the power to over 500,000 people from New Mexico to Arkansas in late December of 2000. Another ice storm hit hard in February of 1994 from Arkansas to Tennessee and Alabama. ”One of the worst ice storms in recent decades hit in 1998 in the Northeast U.S. and neighboring Canada where close to 3 million utility customers lost power,” Ferrell added. For some areas, enough cold air may come in at critical layers of the atmosphere to bring more sleet and snow, rather than freezing rain. This is most likely on the northwest fringe of the storm over the Central states and farther to the northeast over part of the Ohio Valley and central Appalachians. More
A resurgence of measles in Europe was blamed Thursday for a spike in cases in the United States, raising concern about parents’ refusal to vaccinate children against the highly contagious virus. After a decade of near total US elimination of measles, due in large part to blanket immunization of children, a surge of 175 US cases have been documented so far this year, experts said. That number is almost triple the average 60 cases of US measles per year over the last decade, said the findings of a government study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And Europe was the source for almost half (25) of the 52 measles cases that were classed as direct importations from abroad this year, a CDC spokesman told AFP. They include six cases linked to Germany, four to Britain, four to Poland and two to Italy.
“We are getting cases from the UK, from Spain, from France, not just from the resource-poor countries,” said Samuel Katz, Chair Emeritus of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical School, at a news conference. ”So the failure to eliminate measles in these countries has been a critical part of the importation into the United States,” said Katz, who was a key player in the development of the measles vaccine, which was approved in 1963. He said the rise in cases in Europe and beyond is “in great part due to vaccine hesitancy.” EU countries documented more than 8,100 cases of measles from April 2012 to March 2013, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The trend against vaccination threatens to cause more outbreaks, reviving memories of the days when nearly every child in America was sickened by it and hundreds died each year. ”It is not a failure of the vaccine. It is a failure to vaccinate,” said US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden, who briefed reporters on the research. ”Around 90 percent of the people who have had measles in this country were not vaccinated.” The United Kingdom and Italy were among a handful of countries linked to causing 20 or more cases of measles in the United States from 2001 to 2011. Others were China, Japan, India and the Philippines. The concerns come as the United States marked a milestone of success against measles, documenting fewer than one case per million from 2001 to 2011, said the JAMA study. ”The United States is the most populous country to have documented elimination of endemic measles,” it said.
MEXICO – Activity remains elevated. Strombolian-type explosions and lava flows / glowing lava avalanches on the upper slope continue. Colima is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico and in North America. It has erupted more than 40 times since 1576. One of the largest eruptions was on January 20–24, 1913. Nevado de Colima, also known as Tzapotépetl, lies 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) north its more active neighbor and is the taller of the two at 4,271+ meters (14,015+ ft). It is the 26th most prominent peak in North America. Prior to 2013, Colima had been relatively quiet since its last major eruption in 2008. EP
Take immediate steps to protect your wealth . . . NOW! That’s exactly what many well-respected economists, billionaires, and noted authors are telling you to do — experts such as Marc Faber, Peter Schiff, Donald Trump, and Robert Wiedemer. According to them, we are on the verge of another recession, and this one will be far worse than what we experienced during the last financial crisis. Marc Faber, the noted Swiss economist and investor, has voiced his concerns for the U.S. economy numerous times during recent media appearances, stating, “I think somewhere down the line we will have a massive wealth destruction.
I would say that well-to-do people may lose up to 50 percent of their total wealth.” When he was asked what sort of odds he put on a global recession happening, the economist famous for his ominous predictions quickly answered . . . “100 percent.” Faber points out that this bleak outlook stems directly from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s policy decisions, and the continuous printing of new money, referred to as “quantitative easing” in the media. Faber’s pessimism is matched by well-respected economist and investor Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital. Schiff remarks that the stock market collapse we experienced in 2008 “wasn’t the real crash. The real crash is coming.” Schiff didn’t stop there. Most alarming is his belief that daily life will get dramatically worse for U.S. citizens. “If we keep doing this policy of stimulus and growing government, it’s just going to get worse for the average American. Our standard of living is going to fall . . . People who are expecting Social Security can’t get all that money. People expecting government pensions can’t get all their money . . . We simply can’t afford to pay them.” More
Ten whales have died and as many as 30 more are stranded after a pod beached off Florida’s Everglades National Park, US government officials have said. The pilot whales were swimming in only 3ft (0.9m) of salt water at a remote beach on Tuesday. Initial rescue efforts have been stymied because the water around the animals is too shallow for boats. Scientists believe the whales may have become stranded during low tide and were unable to return to deeper water. “This scenario is very challenging because of where they are,” Blair Mase, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters. “They are very out of their home range.” She said the pilot whales, part of the dolphin family, and normally inhabit deep waters. Ms. Mase said that 25 people had joined the rescue effort. If the non-endangered whales cannot be coaxed out of the shallow waters, they may be euthanized, she concluded. Everglades National Park comprises much of the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. EP
Kabanjahe, INDONESIA – The Lippo Group handed out the aid to refugees in Kabanjahe, North Sumatra, who have been evacuated following a series of eruptions by the Mount Sinabung volcano. “Lippo Group hopes the aid that we bring can ease the suffering experienced by people who have to evacuate because of Mount Sinabung eruption,” Lippo Group president director Theo L. Sambuaga said on Thursday. The company handed food, medicine, blankets and sanitary products to the evacuees. The Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) has recorded Sinabung’s increasing volatility since Nov. 1 — raising the alert level from “normal” to “high” on Nov. 3. Between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, the volcano became significantly more unstable, with at least nine eruptions in the short period prompting the alert level change. The PVMBG has urged the evacuation of thousands of residents of 19 villages within a 5-kilometer radius of the crater, as well as four other villages outside the range, to the southeast, citing the direction of the eruption. In its latest update, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said at least 6,300 people had been evacuated from around the 2,640-meter-high volcano, but that thousands more still had to be evacuated. Torrential rain in Berastagi around Sinabung led to tragedy on Saturday after the buildup of surface water triggered a landslide that killed nine people as authorities continued to patrol villages in the area. BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho urged everyone living in landslide-prone areas to be especially vigilant over the coming months as the rainy season increases the risk of destabilizing soil layers. Jakarta Globe
Nelson Mandela, the revered statesman who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid, has died, South African President Jacob Zuma announced late Thursday. Mandela was 95. ”He is now resting. He is now at peace,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.” ”What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human,” the president said in his late-night address. “We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.” Mandela will have a state funeral. Zuma ordered all flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff from Friday through that funeral. Mandela, a former president, battled health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations. With advancing age and bouts of illness, Mandela retreated to a quiet life at his boyhood home in the nation’s Eastern Cape Province, where he said he was most at peace. He was later moved to his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, where he died. Despite rare public appearances, he held a special place in the consciousness of the nation and the world. More
Satellite images of one of North Korea’s largest political prison camps suggests its inmate population is expanding, Amnesty International said Thursday in a report detailing rape and torture in the North’s notorious gulag. The report by the London-based rights watchdog included rare testimony from a former camp guard, as well as from former inmates about the brutality prevalent in the prison system. ”For Amnesty International, which has been investigating human rights violations for the last 50 years, we find North Korea to be in a category of its own,” said Amnesty’s East Asia researcher Rajiv Narayan.
North Korea denies the existence of the political prison camps which, according to independent estimates, form a network holding between 100,000 and 200,000 people. The images analysed in the Amnesty report were taken over a two-year period from 2011 to 2013, and were of Camp 15 in the south of the country and Camp 16 in the north. Amnesty estimated the size of Camp 16 is 560 square kilometres (216 square miles) — three times the size of Washington, DC — with around 20,000 prisoners. Analysis indicated a slight increase in the remote camp’s population, with new housing blocks clearly visible and signs of “significant” economic activity such as mining and logging, the report said. More
One evening this past August, an employee at a Staples office supply store in a Wake Forest, N.C., strip mall heard a bang, and then a woman’s cry for help. The worker and another shopper rounded a corner to discover Danielle Hayes, 29, bleeding from her hand. The pistol she kept in her purse had accidentally discharged as she was trying to keep it away from her 2-year-old son, Hayes said. Although police initially said they would charge Hayes for failing to secure a firearm from a minor, a misdemeanor under state law, they didn’t bring charges, and the story disappeared from local news outlets. But 600 miles away in Indianapolis, a newly minted gun-control activist took note. Shannon Watts, founder of the organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, saw the Staples shooting as an opportunity to rally supporters to a new fight. Her goal: pressuring businesses, especially national chains, to ban guns. “Businesses have to make a choice,” Watts said in a recent interview. “They can side with the gun lobby, or they can choose to protect their customers.”
Welcome to the newest front in the battle over the role of guns in American life. In recent months, gun-control advocates and pro-gun forces have squared off in an increasingly heated contest over the right to carry firearms into stores and restaurants, drawing businesses into a conflict that they have diligently tried to avoid. For leaders on both sides, the fight offers the opportunity to keep supporters energized after a federal gun-control bill was effectively mothballed. Pro-gun forces say they have the advantage. For years, they’ve lobbied efforts to roll back local and state gun restrictions. Thanks to their efforts, it’s now easier than ever before to legally carry a firearm, both openly and concealed, in many public places. North Carolina, for example, just lifted prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons inside bars and restaurants, a move that was backed by the legislative arm of the National Rifle Association. In targeting businesses directly, Moms Demand Action is trying to circumvent the legislative process, which with a few exceptions rarely yields positive results for gun-control activists. By Watts’s account, the group has already had a major win: Starbucks in September asked its customers to stop carrying firearms into the coffee chain’s 10,000 stores. More
LAGOS, Nigeria – A Nigerian man who miraculously survived after spending three days at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is crediting God for sustaining his life. In May of this year, 12 men aboard the Jacson 4 found themselves in the fight of their life when their tugboard capsized off the African coast. One man, Harrison Odjegba Okene, who was the cook for the team, was in the bathroom when the incident occurred. It was very early—approximately 4:30 a.m. Okene told reporters this week that after the ship turned over, he searched for an air pocked, piled couple of mattresses on a rack and waited—for three days. He was dressed in only his boxers and could hear sea creatures fighting over their next meal. However, the night before, Okene’s wife had texted him some Psalms, as the couple are Christian. He recalled those Psalms as he waited patiently 100 feet below the surface of the water. “I started calling on the name of God,” Okene told the Nation. “I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalms 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed.” “O God, by your name, save me,” he recited. “The Lord sustains my life.” As Okene waited, temperatures dropped to freezing and the oxygen began running low. But he trusted in God. More
Two Los Angeles city councilmen are attempting to make history in Southern California by banning the growth, sale and distribution of genetically modified (GM) seeds and plants anywhere in the city of Los Angeles. Congressman Mitch O’Farrell’s 13th District website explains that both O’Farrell and his colleague, Paul Koretz, are leading the charge with the new motion, which thousands of local supporters are already pushing to have passed with a new petition. The motion would make all 502 square miles of Los Angeles an official “GMO-Free Zone,” protecting homes, schools, community gardens and public spaces from being contaminated with GMOs.
If passed, Los Angeles would become the largest GMO-free zone in the country, a move that both O’Farrell and Koretz say would serve the best interests of Angelinos by preserving the integrity of their local food supply. Introduced on October 18, the motion takes particular aim at the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, a phenomenon in which large numbers of bees get lost and never return to the hive, or simply drop dead. Some of the latest research on CCD points to plant pesticides, and especially those applied to GM crops, as a major culprit in CCD, which continues to threaten the perpetuity of agriculture all around the world. ”Los Angeles has a healthy honey bee population and we want to keep it that way,” stated O’Farrell, who chairs the city’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging, and River Committee, during a recent news conference. “The worldwide disappearance of bees is unnerving at best and, at worst, a serious threat to our food supply. We need to do everything in our power to protect them. This motion will help us do just that.” More